Top 5 International Travel Destinations for Summer 2021

Molly Steckler
tall weeds blowing in the wind in front of water

Adventure awaits outside the borders of the United States. Many Americans find themselves venturing outside the U.S. to stunning beaches with fascinating wildlife or to ancient cities with a rich history.

We are breaking down the top five most popular international travel destinations for Americans in the summer months of June – September so you can add them to your bucket list.

Discover the hype about each of these countries and what you can’t miss seeing while you’re there. Also, learn about COVID-19-related travel restrictions and requirements for each destination so you can be prepared.

See the top travel destinations for 2022!


Where will Americans be traveling this summer? We know where. WorldTrips’ data analysis team has gathered the top five most popular travel destinations for Americans this summer to help you find your summer vacation spot.

How we did it: we assembled the data of policyholders who indicated their home country was the U.S. and their destination country was international. The data appended was for coverage that became effective during the summer months between June and September of 2021.

The percentages in the graphic below represent the % of total policies sold based on the destination country. (For example, 14% of policies with effective coverage during the summer months in 2021 are for international trips to Thailand.)


where in the world are us travelers going this summer map


Read on to learn more about what each of these countries has to offer as far as summer events and tourist attractions. (Hint: Think beaches and ancient cities.)

Also, find out each country’s current travel restrictions as provided by Sherpa, WorldTrips’ travel partner and your go-to guide for understanding up-to-date COVID-19 test requirements, mask requirements, quarantine protocols, and more.


5. Costa Rica


costa rica water front by forest


Quick Facts About Costa Rica

  • Population: 5,094,118
  • Capital: San José
  • Official Language: Spanish (about 10% of the adult population speaks English)
  • Best Known For: Incredible parks and wildlife


What’s Costa Rica Like in the Summer?



The summer is the most affordable time to visit Costa Rica. Tourists aren’t as bountiful, so you won’t have to compete for booking reservations and prices tend to be lower. Temperatures in this time of year sit between 61°F and 79°F.

This is also the middle of Costa Rica’s rainy season (also known as the “green season” because of the beautiful foliage), so it’s likely you’ll run into some rain showers.

Rain showers briefly pause during June and July, so try to book during these months to see Costa Rica’s forests explode with greenery. Make sure to book reservations early if you are aiming for this time.

You can also opt for drier areas like Guanacaste where afternoon showers only last a few hours. Try to avoid the Caribbean coast where rain showers can be longer and more frequent.



Check out these events and holidays that go on each summer in Costa Rica:


Must-See Tourist Attractions in Costa Rica


Manuel Antonio National Park


manuel antonio beach in Costa Rica


This park is known for its beautiful beaches, lush forests, and unique wildlife. Discover colorful birds and butterflies, monkeys, and sloths.

The oceanfront is a great spot for catching noon soccer matches, while the waves are gentle enough for even the most amateur surfers.


Arenal Volcano National Park


arenal volcano national park in costa rica


This park sits in the rugged Cordillera de Tilarán. The main attraction is the Arenal Volcano, a cone-shaped mountain with large ash columns streaming from the crater.

This volcano was dormant from AD 1500 until 1968 when it erupted, killing 82 people and destroying two villages. The volcano has since seen regular activity. Visitors can expect to see clouds of ash or even red lava flowing down the mountain.

The Arenal Volcano National Park is also known for its biodiversity with birds, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals calling this park their home. The park offers many hiking trails that lead to waterfalls and old lava flows.




tamarindo beach are in costa rica


This top tourist destination is one of the best locations for surfing and lounging on the beach. This city was once a quiet fishing village but is now a tourist haven with a range of restaurants and accommodations.

The town sits along Tamarindo Beach, which offers its best surfing in the months of November and December. Tamarindo is also known for its eco-friendly adventures and activities like snorkeling, diving, horseback riding, ziplining, and turtle watching.


Want to know more about ecotourism and what this type of travel is all about? Read “The Pros and Cons of Ecotourism” for an in-depth look.


*Travel Restrictions

  • Mandatory Travel Insurance – Travelers are required to provide proof of international travel insurance or travel insurance purchased in Costa Rica. Travelers must provide a certificate from their insurance company verifying:

    • The insurance policy’s effectiveness during the visit to Costa Rica
    • Coverage of at least $50,000 for medical expenses pertaining to COVID-19
    • Coverage of at least $2,000 for lodging expenses incurred as a result of the pandemic

  • Mandatory Form(s) – Travelers must fill out an Epidemiological Health Pass Form before departing to Costa Rica

  • Masks – Mandatory in public spaces

  • Temperature Checks – Not required upon entry


Visit Sherpa’s Costa Rica page to explore more details regarding the country’s travel restrictions.

*Information provided by Sherpa on 06/10/21. Sherpa provides this information as guidance only. Always check government websites and airline materials before booking and traveling.


4. Mexico


mexico street with colorful buildings


Quick Facts

  • Population: 126,014,024
  • Capital: Mexico City
  • National Language: Spanish (about 5% of the population speaks English)
  • Best Known For: Food and drink culture, Day of the Dead festival, and Mayan temples


Are you traveling to a country where you don’t speak the local language? Read “Tips for Traveling Without Knowing the Language.”


What’s Mexico Like in the Summer?



Weather in Mexico can vary widely based on where you are in the country. Mexico sees quite a bit of rain with vibrant flora and higher temperatures in the summer. The southern part of Mexico has more of a tropical climate, while the northern part is drier.

Certain areas of Mexico, like the Baja California peninsula, and higher altitude cities, like Mexico City, tend to be cooler than the rest of the country and are great for people who don’t like it too hot. Consider the climate of your destination before traveling to Mexico.



Consider planning your trip to Mexico around these popular events:


Must-See Tourist Attractions in Mexico




cancun stretch of beaches in mexico


This beach city is lively and populated with resorts, hotels, and beaches. Visit one of the many seafood restaurants, explore the Mayan ruins, and venture into the jungle habitats nearby. Cancun boasts plenty of waterfront for swimming and relaxing.


Chichen Itza


chichen itza in mexico


This ancient city is the largest Mayan city in the Yucatan Peninsula and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Mexico. The most famous landmark in this ancient city is El Castillo pyramid. This pyramid has 91 steps on each face adding up to 365 steps – the number of days in a year.

The Great Ballcourt and El Caracol are other noteworthy highlights of Chichen Itza. These ruins are just a mile and a half away from the town of Pisté.


Visit the official website for Chichen Itza to purchase tickets.


Copper Canyon


copper canyon at sunrise in mexico


This network of canyons – several times larger than the Grand Canyon – is a spectacular part of Mexico worth seeing. The best way to take in this magnificent landscape is by train.

The Chihuahua al Pacífico Railroad passes over 37 bridges, through 86 tunnels, and goes as high as 7,900 feet above sea level for spectacular views of the canyon below.


*Travel Restrictions

  • Land Border Travel Restrictions – Only essential land travel is allowed across the border to Mexico, but travel by air is allowed

  • Mandatory Form(s) – Travelers must fill out a health questionnaire form

  • Masks – Mandatory in some cities


Visit Sherpa’s Mexico page to explore more details regarding the country’s travel restrictions.

*Information provided by Sherpa on 06/10/21Sherpa provides this information as guidance only. Always check government websites and airline materials before booking and traveling.


3. Turks and Caicos


turks and caicos islands water at sunset


Quick Facts

  • Population: 42,953
  • Capital: Cockburn Town
  • Official Language: English
  • Best Known For: Island life featuring impressive beaches and marine life


What's Turks and Caicos Like in the Summer?



Turks and Caicos features warm weather all year long, including in the summer. Temperatures range between 79°F and 88°F. The peak travel months are December to March, so the summer presents a less congested vacationing time.

The summer season usually means more mosquitos, so don’t forget to pack your bug spray. Also, be aware this is the beginning of the hurricane season. Statistically, hurricanes are more likely to impact the islands in August and September.


Be a smart traveler and learn how to travel safely during hurricane season.



On days off from bathing in the sun, check out these annual summer events in Turks and Caicos:


Must-See Tourist Attractions in Turks and Caicos


Grace Bay


overhead shot of grace bay in turks and caicos


Grace Bay is considered one of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Its powder sand beaches and clear water are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and snorkeling. The beautiful coral reefs just off the coast are popular spots for snorkelers to explore.

The bay is also home to “JoJo,” a friendly bottlenose dolphin who has been known to interact with swimmers. The Turks and Caicos government recently declared this friendly dolphin a national treasure.


Chalk Sound National Park

This turquoise lagoon features limestone deposits separated from the ocean by a thin strip of sand. This park is a beautiful spot for vacation photos.

Bonefish, barracudas, stingrays, and small lemon sharks all share the water of the lagoon. The tiny green-topped rock islands are home to many iguanas too.

While the use of powered watercraft is prohibited due to Chalk Sound’s status as a national park, you can jump onto a pontoon cruise that has a special permit. Or you can rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards for exploring the waters.


Crossing Place Trail

This coastal path was established in the 18th century by plantation settlers and slaves. It stretched from Lorimers to a place where islanders would cross the sandbars to trade with those in North Caicos.

Today, the eight-kilometer (about five-mile) trail follows the original one along the coast past beaches, cave formations, and inland bush. Join a guided hike to learn more about the trail’s history and ecology.


*Travel Restrictions

  • Mandatory Travel Insurance – Valid health insurance with COVID-19 coverage, like WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel medical insurance

  • Mandatory Form(s) – Travelers must complete a pre-travel authorization form at least 24 hours before departure to Turks and Caicos

  • Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test – Negative COVID-19 test result (NAA, NAAT, Molecular, PCR, RT-PCR, RT-qRCR, RNA-PCR) for a test taken within five days of your arrival to the islands is required

  • Masks – Mandatory in public spaces

  • Temperature Checks – Required upon arrival


Visit Sherpa’s Turks and Caicos page to explore more details regarding the country’s travel restrictions.

*Information provided by Sherpa on 06/10/21. Sherpa provides this information as guidance only. Always check government websites and airline materials before booking and traveling.


2. Portugal


while buildings in portugal


Quick Facts

  • Population: 10,295,909
  • Capital: Lisbon
  • Official Language: Portuguese (about 27% of people speak English)
  • Best Known For: Seafood dishes, beach destinations, and architecture from the 16th century to the 19th century


What’s Summer Like in Portugal?



The summer season in Portugal is usually dry and warm. Travelers will miss most of the rainy season when traveling to this destination in the summer.

Temperatures in Portugal can vary based on where you are in the country. Most of the country sees highs in the 70s and 80s during the summer, while the southern part along the Tejo River can easily rise to over 100°F in the summer.  



Check out these popular events taking place in Portugal in the summertime:


Must-See Tourist Attractions in Portugal


Mosteiro dos Jeronimos


Mosteiro dos Jeronimos in Portugal


Portugal’s capital city is home to this magnificent tourist attraction. Vasco da Gama was an explorer who discovered the pinnacle sea route to India from Portugal in 1498. King Manuel I commissioned this monument to be built in his honor to commemorate the country’s era of exploration and expansion.

This monastery features examples of Manueline architecture, a style that originated in Portugal in the 16th century and features lavish ornamentation and carved stonework. The church also houses the tomb of Vasco da Gama and other national figures.


Palacio National de Sintra

This palace sits in a wooded mountain range in Sintra Valha, a charming town outside of Lisbon. It dates back to the 14th century and is the oldest surviving palace in Portugal.

Many of the floors have a specific theme and are furnished regularly. Perhaps most impressive is the Sala dos Brasões, a domed hall embellished with the coats of arms of 72 noble Portuguese families.


Oceanario de Lisboa


lisbon oceanarium in Portugal


Lisbon’s oceanarium is home to a diverse collection of oceanic species and is well worth the visit while in Portugal. It’s one of Europe’s largest oceanariums with four separate sea landscapes. The four landscapes were created to represent the ecosystems of the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Antarctic oceans.

Large tanks are visible from different levels for a unique perspective of the different ecosystems. Some of the tanks contain an open-air landscape for penguins, sea otters, and other birds and mammals.


Did You Know?

Lisbon, Portugal is the number one most popular destination for digital nomads who can work from anywhere.  


*Travel Restrictions

  • Entry Restrictions – Travelers arriving from the U.S. are not allowed to enter mainland Portugal, but direct travel to Madeira and Porto Santo is allowed for those who follow all entry requirements. The land borders between Portugal and Spain are open.

    The U.S. Department of State urges you to contact the nearest Portuguese embassy or consulate for confirmation of your eligibility to travel to Portugal before purchasing tickets.

  • Mandatory Form(s) – All travelers must fill out a passenger locator card after checking in for their flight and before arrival

    • Travelers to Madeira must fill out a health questionnaire form 12-48 hours prior to departure to the island
    • Travelers to Azores are also required to complete a separate health form before arriving to Azores

  • Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test – Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result from a test taken within 72 hours before departure is required

    • Travelers staying longer than 7 days in Azores must contact health services to receive COVID-19 tests on day 6 and day 12 of their visit
    • Travelers to Madeira who are not fully vaccinated must have a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result from a test taken within 72 hours before departing to Madeira
    • Travelers to Madeira also have the option to receive a COVID-19 test on arrival and isolate until they receive a negative test result

  • Masks – Required in all public transportation and closed spaces

  • Temperature Checks – Required upon arrival


Visit Sherpa’s Portugal page to explore more details regarding the country’s travel restrictions.

*Information provided by Sherpa on 06/10/21. Sherpa provides this information as guidance only. Always check government websites and airline materials before booking and traveling.


Want Even More Travel Recommendations?

Select the country below to download a comprehensive country travel guide on what to do and what you need to know when visiting. 


1. Thailand


waing kum kam temples in thailand


Quick Facts

  • Population: 69,950,850
  • Capital: Bangkok
  • Official Language: Thai (about 27% of people speak English)
  • Best Known For: Beaches and temples as well as delicious food


What’s Thailand’s Summer Like?



Summer travelers can avoid the rainy season based on where they plan to travel in the country. On the west coast, the monsoon season begins around May while on the east coast it starts around September.

Rain showers at the beginning of the season tend to be brief spurts that only last an hour or two, so try to travel earlier in the summer if you want a dry beach trip. 

However, the rainy season tends to be the best time to visit the rainforest, when the flora is at its best.

Temperatures in Thailand stay fairly high all year long, so make sure to hydrate and stay in the shade if you aren’t used to such warm weather.  



These are the top cultural festivals in Thailand during the summertime:


Must-See Tourist Attractions in Thailand


Railay Beach


railay beach in thailand


Railay Beach is Thailand’s most famous beach promising white sand and turquoise-blue water. The island is only accessible by boat but is well worth the trip.

Railay is well-known for its ocean rafting, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. It’s also a popular rock-climbing spot for both beginners and experienced climbers.


Koh Phi Phi


koh phi phi in thailand


Resort lovers will have heard of this popular resort area in Thailand. It has clear blue waters, white sand, and beautiful views that attract tourists from around the world. Monkey Beach is a fun spot nearby that is home to many macaques, while Long Beach is ideal for watching an evening sunset.


The Grand Palace


the grand palace in thailand


The Grand Palace is the number one sightseeing attraction in Thailand’s capital city, Bangkok. The grounds consist of an endless maze of royal halls, temples, and ancient relics.

It is also home to Wat Phra Kaeo, “The Temple of the Emerald Buddha.” It is said to hold a fragment of either hair or bone from the Buddha himself.


*Travel Restrictions

  • Mandatory Travel Insurance – Proof of medical insurance with a minimum coverage of $100,000 that covers COVID-19 treatment in Thailand, like WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel medical insurance

  • Mandatory Form(s) – Travelers must complete Thailand’s Certificate of Entry before traveling to the country. It is also required to download and register on the ThailandPlus mobile app.
  • Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test – Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test result issued within 72 hours before departure to the country is required

  • Mandatory Quarantine – Travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival to a government-designated facility

  • Accommodations Booking – Travelers must have a reservation at an approved Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) accommodation

  • Masks – Required in public places


Visit Sherpa’s Thailand page to explore more details regarding the country’s travel restrictions.

*Information provided by Sherpa on 06/10/21. Sherpa provides this information as guidance only. Always check government websites and airline materials before booking and traveling.


Are You Looking for Travel Health Insurance with COVID-19 Coverage?

Some travelers may seek coverage for COVID-19-related expenses while on vacation. WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel provides international health coverage including medical coverage for expenses related to COVID-19. Choose your deductible, coverage length, and overall maximum coverage to fit your needs.  


Medical Coverage

Though Atlas Travel does not cover COVID-19 tests prior to entering the country nor non-symptomatic testing, it does cover eligible unexpected medical expenses resulting from COVID-19. These could include medically necessary testing, hospital room and board, physician care, and other necessary medical expenses.

See other included medical benefits, including Emergency Medical Evacuation.


Emergency Quarantine Coverage

Atlas Travel also includes an Emergency Quarantine Indemnity – COVID-19 benefit for eligible travelers. This benefit provides $50 a day for each day you are quarantined abroad (for up to 10 days). It is not subject to the policy deductible. It does not cover country-based mandatory entry quarantines. 

The following is required to be eligible for this benefit:

  • You must have a minimum of 30 days of coverage
  • You must be traveling outside of your home country
  • Proof of quarantine mandated by a physician or governmental authority is required
  • Quarantine must be due to you testing positive for COVID-19/SARS-CoV2 or being symptomatic and waiting on diagnostic test results

Proof of Coverage

An Atlas Travel policy also includes a visa letter that can be used as proof of medical coverage. Your visa letter will include important highlights such as your:

  • Name
  • Home country
  • Destination country or countries
  • Effective date of coverage
  • Termination date of coverage
  • Coverage highlights (maximum per injury/illness, maximum for emergency medical evacuation, etc.)


Additional Travel-Related Benefits

Atlas Travel provides other travel-related benefits as well, like:

  • Trip Interruption
  • Travel Delay
  • Lost Checked Luggage
  • Political Evacuation
  • Lost or Stolen Passport/Travel Visa
  • Natural Disaster - Replace Accommodations


Get a Quote for Your Atlas Travel Plan


Need Help Preparing for Your International Vacation?

Check out the below links for advice on planning and preparing for an epic vacation abroad.

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