Take a trip away this August. Check out our recommendations for what to do, where to go and what to eat in some of Cayman’s favorite overseas destinations.
CULTURE: The city is crowned by the grand turreted silhouette of the 11th century castle, and it’s well worth a climb up to explore this complex of history-steeped buildings and battlements. In the Old Town, Edinburgh’s rich literary heritage has left its mark at every turn. You’ll find snatches of Scottish poetry carved into the buildings around the Writers’ Museum, a gem stuffed with artefacts relating to local authors extraordinaire Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.
SHOPPING: Quality Scottish-made knitwear is excellent north o’ the border; Elgin Cashmere on the Royal Mile sells the genuine article for oh-so-soft sweaters and scarves. Then, load up on classic Scottish literature at Armchair Books, a treasure trove of second-hand novels.
FOOD: Gothic history surrounds diners in The Witchery, with its elegant wood-panelled dining room located just a shuffle along from the castle. From the crisp linen tablecloths and flickering candlelight to an epic wine list, this is the place to wine and dine that special someone.
COCKTAILS: Descend to New Town basement bar Bramble for some of the best craft cocktails in town. There’s a relaxed Speakeasy vibe, with its alcoves and tea lights, and a live DJ on the weekends packs in a cool crowd.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH: The medieval streets will be packed with artists, actors, buskers and comics for Edinburgh’s legendary performing arts and fringe festivals. There’s a jam-packed program featuring established and emerging talents alike – whether you’re catching a stand-up routine in a dive bar or international dance troupe in a grand theater.
CULTURE: Welcome to one of the U.K.’s most romantic coastlines, studded with castles and fishing villages. Follow in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims along the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail, and potter around a quintessential settlement such as Tenby, where cobbled lanes and grand Georgian houses tumble towards a famous working harbour.
SHOPPING: The town of Newport offers a bevy of quirky little shops for unique souvenirs. Check out the Carningli Centre for art, antique homewares and books, while Newport Collective showcases the work of two dozen North Pembrokeshire artists including jewelry, pottery and clothing.
FOOD: Meaning “safe place” or “hug” in Welsh, Cwtch lives up to its name with cosy rustic interiors where you can dine on hearty regional dishes. Located in St Davids, the menu puts Wales’ sensational produce like Penclawdd cockles, Swansea oak-smoked salmon and locally-reared lamb rightfully center stage.
COCKTAILS: It’s all about characterful pubs in these parts, where you can enjoy a pint of proper Welsh beer. Known as “the life-boatmen’s local,” The Old Point House in Angle Village has gorgeous gardens for summertime sipping. Or there’s the Teifi Netpool Inn, serving real ales from Breconshire Brewery in a lovely estuary-side spot.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH: Wales’ festival season is truly in full swing. Green Man in the beautiful Brecon Beacons is the biggest; a four-day extravaganza of live music and arts. For more idiosyncratic tastes, there’s Solarsphere, combining the science of astronomy with live tunes, or even the World Bog Snorkelling Championships at the end of the month.
CULTURE: The Pantanal is the biggest wetland in the world – at 70,000 square miles, it’s half the size of France. Part national park, part UNESCO World Heritage site, this destination trumps the Amazon when it comes to wildlife-spotting opportunities, thanks to having more open terrain.
SHOPPING: Retail therapy will be restricted to gateway cities such as Campo Grande, Corumbá and Cuiabá. In the latter, you’ll find the state’s landmark mall Pantanal Shopping offering 200 stores, modern facilities and a food court.
FOOD: Veggies look away now: The meat in this region is second to none thanks to a well-established system of sustainable cattle-ranching. Seek out local churrascarias, where skewers of succulent cuts are grilled to perfection, and Pantaneiro dishes such as arroz pantaneiro (rice cooked with sundried beef and sausage) are accompanied by fried banana.
COCKTAILS: When you’re lazing on a river boat or chilling at an eco-lodge after a day of adventure, make sure you have a Caipirinha in hand. A mix of Cachaça (a clear spirit made from sugarcane), lime, ice and sugar, it is ubiquitous in Brazil and for good reason.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH: It’s finally dry season, which means your chances of seeing “big game” are optimal. The Pantanal’s water holes entice caimans, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, storks and – most exciting of all – jaguars.
CULTURE: Perched on the edge of Lac du Bourget, the largest lake in France, Aix-les-Bains is all gorgeous views of snow-capped mountains and sparkling waters. Make the most of the great outdoors by renting a bike, row boat or kayak to explore the lake. Or take the pace up a notch on a water ski or white-water rafting excursion with local company Takamaka.
SHOPPING: The best buys on this trip will be of the gastronomic variety. Pick up delicious Savoyarde specialities from Aix-les-Bain’s Saturday market, especially local wines like Chignin, artisan sausages and cheeses.
FOOD: Auberge Lamartine boasts a Michelin star for its inspired French cuisine, celebrating freshly caught fish from the lake and other seasonal fare. There are few prettier spots for lunch or dinner than its shaded terrace tables, which overlook the lake.
COCKTAILS: Savor a glass of wine or Champagne in an atmospheric, rustic setting at Vintage Bar Les Vins, where the knowledgeable sommelier will help you navigate the local vintages.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH: While the French Riviera is inundated with tourists, the French alpine lakes make a smart alternative. They boast waters just as clear, and food and wine every bit as French, only sans crowds.
CULTURE: This French-speaking city is older than Canada itself, with its most historic quarter Vieux dating back to 1642. Navigate the gas lamp-lined cobblestone streets to the extraordinary Notre-Dame Basilica – North America’s largest cathedral. Dip into the thriving contemporary art scene at the Belgo Building, packed with small galleries and artists’ workshops, then catch a mind-blowing, multi-media circus performance at Cirque Éloize.
SHOPPING: Rue St Denis is the prettiest shopping street imaginable, with clothing boutiques, bookstores and antiques shops set into gabled buildings.
FOOD: Produce grown, reared or caught in Quebec shines at Toqué! – a fine dining favorite ever since it opened in 1993. Topping a list of Canada’s top 100 restaurants, its chef-patron Normand Laprise really put Québécois cuisine on the map. We’d also recommend deli-style Chef Schwartz for a taste of the city’s renowned smoked meats.
COCKTAILS: Prepare to knock back some seriously good drinks, as Montréal is in the throes of a cocktail resurgence. Speakeasy-style Cold Room serves up exceptionally creative concoctions, Escondite is the best for tequila and mezcal, and at Bar Cloakroom you’ll even get hand-carved ice cubes in your tipple.
WHAT’S HOT THIS MONTH: EDM fans will be in their element, as îleSoniq festival, Mutek (dedicated to emerging forms of electronic music and sound design) and al-fresco Sunday celebration Piknic Électronik are all going on. August is also the time for Pride and Montréal World Film Festival. What’s more, there’s a slew of events to celebrate the 375th anniversary of Montréal’s founding.