The World's Best Mountain Towns For The Summer

Instead of looking for creative ways to beat the summer heat, head out to a cool mountain town where you won't have to hide from the sun to enjoy water sports and wilderness adventures. Reach for the hills and immerse yourself in off the beaten path's serenity. Mountain towns have several advantages – the air is fresher, there is always a breeze, massive crowds are rare, easygoing festivals are common, and the outdoor activities are thrilling.

Whistler, Canada

Whistler is a dream destination for ski enthusiasts, but the summer has a lot to offer to adventurous travelers as well. The eclectic mix of events will energize you, the family-friendly atmosphere will make you want to move there with the kids, the fun and vibrant arts and culture scene will inspire you. Bear viewing tours are very popular in the summer. The best time for them is from April/May – September/October.

Lucerne, Switzerland

The mountains surrounding Lake Lucerne make it the one with the greatest scenic variety in this already gorgeous country. It even looks a little but like a fjord landscape, but it's characterized by a mild lake climate. Boat cruises on board five historic paddle wheel steamers and 15 elegant salon motor vessels count among the highlights of this region, according to My Switzerland. A boat trip can be ideally combined with a walk, such as the "Weg der Schweiz" or Swiss Path, a themed trail on the history of the country.

Stowe, Vermont

If you are looking for a low key getaway with some outdoor access, the charming mountain town of Stowe, situated in a valley between peaks of the Green Mountains, is your destination. Hike to a beautiful waterfall with swimming holes or wade in local rivers and fly fish. If you're new to the sport, there are clinics and outfitters available. Drive the back roads to Mount Mansfield for some gorgeous views and go on a canoe trip to Boyden Valley Winery. Long hiking and biking trails will also keep you active.

Gyalthang, China

The town is located in a remote mountainous region, set among Himalayan snowcaps, and is rich in natural beauty and cultural diversity. The area was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003, according to Yunnan Mountain Heritage Foundation. The main ethnic group is Tibetan. Locals lives far from the influence of the outside world. Called "the bejewelled land" by its inhabitants, the region offers many day hikes. Just outside town, grasslands and meadows open up to alpine lakes, valleys, and rivers.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is known for being one of the best ski resorts in the world. Snuggled between the Rockies, this charming small mountain town is a favorite summer destinations as well. Try skeet shooting or go on a thrilling river tour. With summits higher than 14,000 feet, there is always something to see and explore. Festivals showing off art, wine and music are scheduled year-round, many in the summer. Visit Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed peaks in the country, take your family summer camping in the wilderness, or go ballooning and paragliding.

Riobamba, Ecuador

Riobamba is perfect for mountain excursions. It's a small, charming Andean city with colonial architecture, cobble-stone streets, and impressive plazas. The Monasterio de las Conceptas, Parque Maldonado, the Riobamba Cathedral, and the Municipio are ideal places to spend a day or two exploring, according to Ecuador Explorer. La Nariz del Diablo Train Ride is one of the most attractive activities for visitors. It takes people through the mountains and allows passengers to ride on the roof of the train.

Torla, Spain

The tiny town high in the Spanish Pyrennes has just over 200 residents. It is the gateway to the Ordesa national park, one of the best in the world. Torla is known as being for being a place where traquility is king. This is where you'd go to truly feel nature. The town is popular with walkers exploring the mountains through small mountain tracks, according to Unique Spain. Other favorite activities include rafting and canyoneering.

Hallstatt, Austria

Stay in the mountains of Austria and sleep in authentic 16th-century Alpine houses. The market municipality was already inhabited in the Iron Age, during which the civilization flourished. The Hallstatt-Dachstein alpine landscape is a World Heritage Site. Soaring mountains rise abruptly from narrow valleys. If you visit in the winter you will be walking through a wonderland.

Val Di Funes, Italy

People who love trekking will love Val Di Funes. The various hikes are enhanced by the majestic beauty of the landscape. The valley is surrounded by a jagged chain of rocky peaks, knows as the Odle Group, in the Puez Odle Nature Park. Val di Funes boasts the broadest net of Nordic walking paths. Many of the activities such as mountain bike tours, horse riding, swimming, climbing lessons, are geared towards kids.

Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid, which is set in the Adirondacks, has a rich winter sports history but it also offers many summer activities. The Olympic Center is open, offering bobsled and luge rides with a professional. Hiking is the most popular activity when it gets warm, with trails for every skill level. Many nearby waterways are perfect for paddling—whether that be by canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Paddle around Mirror Lake, enjoy a concert at Mid's Parks and relax in one of the city's many spas and wellness centers.

Olden, Norway

Journey through the beautiful Olden Valley up to the spectacular Briksdal Glacier.From Briksdal Glacier Mountain Lodge to the glacier there is a choice between a hike or a ride in the popular Troll Cars, according to Cruise Norway. Take a scenic bus ride through the valley or go on a refreshing walk with gorgeous views of the lake and gaklcier, ending up with refreshments by the fireplace in the Stone Age Cave.

Shirakawa-go, Japan

This is definitely a vacation spot you probably haven't thought of yet. This is where go if you want to see an authentic part of Japan. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, the Shirakawa-go and neighboring Gokayama are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old, according to Japan Guide. Staying overnight at one of them is the best way to experience the town.

Girdwood, Alaska

Girdwood is also known as the Glacier City because of the two giant snow summits nearby. If you ever wanted to go glacier hiking, Girdwood, which is near Anchorage, should be on your list. Kenai Fjords National Park is close too. You can go whale watching. The icebergs and glaciers there are majestic year-round. Complete the strenuous Harding Icefield Trail and you'll have bragging rights for life. Visit the historic Crow Creek Mine, hop on the Alaska Railroad, and eat delicious fresh seafood.

Banff, Alberta, Canada

This mountain town set beside the Canadian Rockies is best known for luxury accommodation and snowy slopes, but summer in Banff is a treat as well. Easy access to Banff National Park (and the outdoor adventures within) is a major draw for travelers, meanwhile in town you'll find shops, fine dining and several spas to help you recover from your day out on the water or up in the mountains.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. With its proximity to National parks like Grand Teton and Yellowstone, access to the National Elk Refuge and it's placement among practically endless public lands, there's no shortage of trails, waters and wildlife to discover. Paddle the Snake River, which has sections calm enough for kids and others exciting enough for adrenaline junkies, or head out on a wildlife safari. Horseback riding, whitewater rafting and blue-ribbon fly-fishing are other favorite activities. When you're ready for a break, check out some of the art galleries in town, watch a live outdoor concert in Teton Village or experience the  Wild West nightlife at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. 

Chambery, France

This is an art city with many treasures and a lot of cultural events. The old town is admirably restored and a great place to stroll around, with mysterious lanes and many covered passages, mansions, trompe-l'oeil facades, charming internal courtyards, a castle, pedestrian streets, according to France Voyage. People who love water sports go for the big Bourget lake and the Aiguebelette lake, with an emerald color.

Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand

Towering peaks dip into lush valleys as alpine lakes, rivers and glaciers dot the landscape. This is the Wanaka region of New Zealand, Queenstown's lesser-known counterpart, a must-visit adventure area for those looking to escape some of the more touristy areas of the country. Explore the stunning Mt. Aspiring National Park, take in the views by sky diving or paragliding, enjoy the pristine lakes by kayak or take in the town that hasn't yet been overrun by tourism.

Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City is the home of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. It will take you through spectacular old-growth forests and meadows. The charming small town is very close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which means you have access to everything one of the most visited parks in the country has to offer, and the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the country. Stay at in a log cabin as a mountaintop hideout and relax in a hot tub on the deck. Enjoy live music events, meeting with artists and many free concerts.

Metsovo, Greece

Greece is not all gorgeous beaches and antiques. More than 3,000 feet above sea level, Metsovo perches on one of the most beautiful slopes of the Pindus Mountain range. The town was built like an amphitheater. The calming sound of water always on the move enhances the serene atmosphere. Crystal-clear, pure water comes gushing out of some 25 stone "taps" found around the area, according to Discover Greece.

Bend, Oregon

This once-obscure adventure travel mecca is a must-visit mountain town for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing—you name it, you'll likely find it in Bend. Head up into the Cascades for some incredible mountain biking (almost 300 miles of singletrack) or dip your paddle into the Deschutes River for a wild and refreshing ride. After your adventures, check out one of the many summer events, concerts or festivals or enjoy the thriving food and drink scene. Whatever you're into, it's a safe bet Bend is the ideal summer setting.

Wengen, Switzerland

This is the village for the ultimate Swiss holiday regardless of whether you come in the winter or summer. One of the best things about the resort is that it's car-free. With the timber houses and hotels going back to the Belle Époque era, the residents of Wengen have maintained their fairytale, postcard-perfect mountain look.

Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy

The popular mountain village is in the middle of the Dolomites, part of the eastern half of the Italian Alps. It is well-equipped base for a full range of mountain activities. It is a summer hot spot for hiking and also for energetic mountain bikers. Even if you don't care much for the rugged vie ferrate up in the rocky heights or the demanding mountain footpaths, there are still plenty of tours using cable-cars and buses which will take you to spectacular viewpoints and mountain restaurants, according to Italy Heaven.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The No. 1 destination on the rise in the U.S. is Gatlinburg, According to TripAdvisor. People describe it as beautiful, clean, and very peaceful. Gatlinburg offers access to the Great Smoky Mountains and lots of good places to eat delicious southern food. And in 2016, nearby Dollywood will open the world's fastest wooden roller coaster. Cycling in the Smokies, zip lining and mountain golf are some of tourists' favorite activities.

Park City, Utah

Far more famous for its winter adventures, Park City is a gem in the summer too. Take to the mountain for exploits on the Alpine Slide, one of the longest in the world, ride the Alpine Coaster for a rush or take to the air on Park City's zip lines. Check out the mountains on bike or on foot and then head to the public Park City Golf Club and play the back nine. Watch Olympic hopefuls train at Utah Olympic Park and then enjoy one of the many arts and music festivals happening all summer long.

Fussen, Germany

Füssen is the southernmost point of the famous Romantic Road and one of the stopovers along Germany's Alpine Road. Located only an hour from Munich, it's a perfect summer getaway. The famous Neuschwanstein Castle is just a few miles away. Top attractions include a boat trip on Lake Forggensee (available June – October) and a trip on the cable car up to the summit of Mount Tegelberg.

Bled, Slovenia

Summer tobogganing, or summer sledding, is one of the most popular activities around one of the most spectacular lakes on the planet. The route is arranged in a way that lets people see splendid views of Bled, Bled Castle, Lake Bled and the countryside of Bled. Climb the surrounding hills for superb vantage points.