June holidays are just around the corner and it’s time to plan your annual vaycay. But with so many travel-worthy destinations around the world, it can be hard to decide where you and your family or friends should spend your precious vacation time. Take your cue from these Instagrammers who have explored the most magical and picturesque of places. With pictures that are at times ethereal and captivating, you’d be inspired to plan an epic trip there yourself.
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
This beautiful city houses the most stunning and quaint gabled houses that are narrow, crooked and sometimes tilted. Weird and wonderful, every photo you take is guaranteed to be gorgeous. The city is known for its picturesque canals, charming architecture and boat houses, with winding cobbled streets thronged by cyclists and trams.
There’s also plenty to see, from the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum to the Anne Frank House, Vondelpark and Dam Square (its main town square). Unfortunately, the iconic I amsterdam sign outside the Rijksmuseum — possibly the most photographed spot in the city — was removed by the authorities in December 2018. You can still find smaller versions around the city, such as at the plaza of the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol.
2. Lucerne, Switzerland
What’s most iconic about this charming little city is its photo-worthy Chapel Bridge, a landmark medieval wooden bridge from the 1300s that is accompanied by a distinctive water tower. Straddling the River Reuss and with the Jesuit Church and postcard-worthy Mount Pilatus as its backdrop, it’s easy to see why this spot has been a coveted spot for many a photo. After snapping your #ootd here, make sure you cross the covered bridge and look up while you’re there — there are amazing restored paintings at the eaves of the ceiling.
While at Lucerne, make sure you stop by Lake Lucerne, Switzerland’s fourth largest lake which is reminiscent of a fjord landscape. A boat cruise on board a historic paddle wheel steamer on a sun-filled summer’s day will be unforgettable. Another must-see tourist attraction is the incredible Lion Monument, a staggering statue of a dying lion carved into a cliff face in 1820 to remember the hundreds of Swiss soldiers who were massacred during the French Revolution.
3. Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
With brightly coloured restored buildings, narrow cobbled streets and a festive air, this historic city is simply enchanting. One of the most Instagrammed streets is the Calle Fortaleza, a romantic street that leads up to the Governor’s residence, a blue and white colonial building at the end of the street which is equally picture-worthy. Stop by the Plaza de Armas, found along Calle San Francisco, which is near places to eat and shop.
It’s beautifully decorated during Christmas and is the site of the San Sebastian Street Festival (Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian) in January. Plaza Dársenas is another spot you have to be — overlooking the San Juan Bay, the public plaza has a lovely view and celebratory vibes, with street vendors harking their products, food trucks selling nosh and impromptu musical performances by buskers.
4. Patagonia, South America
Rugged terrain, scenic lakes and forestry, glaciers, clear blue lakes and majestic peaks — these are just some of what will take your breath away when you visit the Patagonia region, which stretches across Chile and Argentina. This vast and wild land is pristine and almost mythical, and will thrill any traveller with its incredible display of nature’s magnificent creations. The Torres del Paine, with soaring mountains, bright blue icebergs and grasslands with rare wildlife such as llama-like guanacos, is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chilean Patagonia. An extremely popular hiking destination, it’s impossible to get a bad photo in this gorgeous area.
Other picturesque spots include the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse at the historic Beagle Channel where you can spot the Magellan Cormorant bird and seals. The Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the southern region of Los Glaciares National Park, is another epic attraction in Argentine Patagonia. The monumental ice mass towers above turquoise glacial water and is a blinding white and blue hue. The glacier inches forward up to 2m per day and is one of the world’s few glaciers that is still growing.
5. Sigiriya, Sri Lanka
An ancient rock fortress located in the northern Matale District near the town of Dambulla in the Central Province of Sri Lanka, the Sigiriya is often referred by locals as the Eighth Wonder of the World. Also known as Lion Rock, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is extraordinary mainly because of its massive rocky outcrop that rises dramatically over the grounds at nearly 200 metres high. Its steep, near-vertical walls sport a flat-topped summit that contains the ruins of an ancient civilisation, and is spellbinding especially when shrouded in the mist of the morning. The palace complex there houses beautiful landscaped gardens and canals.
To get a spectacular view and that Instagram-worthy snap, climb the nearby Pidurangala Rock instead. It’s not an easy hike (it takes roughly 30 minutes and requires you to go through dense forests and clamour up some boulders with the help of a guide), but the expansive panoramic views of the Sigiriya rock and the surrounding plains is astounding. Watch the sunrise here for an unforgettable experience. While at Sigiriya, visit the nearby Golden Temple of Dambulla, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a view of the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. Also make a stop at the Minneriya National Park to experience elephants in the wild.