Summer is the best time of year for pretty much every kind of activity that isn’t wearing your coat in the house and buying discounted mince pies. Long hours of sunlight and liquid gold (aka Vitamin D) combine to give us all more energy so why not channel that into trying out a new hobby?
These are the places that Booking.com reviewers recommend for picking up unusual pastimes this summer.*
Join the Friday Night Group Skates in Barcelona
Rollerblading in Castelldefels, Spain
Castelldefels’ 5km long beach attracts athletes from all over the world and newbie skaters benefit from the many skating schools. Once you’ve found your wheels the Friday Night Group Skates in Barcelona (which is less than an hour’s travel up the coast) are a weekly event when large packs of skaters break away from their usual haunts on the boardwalk and take over the city streets. All ages and all abilities are welcome, making it a great destination for first-time skaters and aspiring roller derby jammers alike. Although skaters are recommended to slow down when passing the mesmerising Casa Mila.
A view of the Visoko pyramids
Amateur archaeology in Visoko, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Amateur archaeologists really dig the historical town of Visoko in central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Previously the centre of the Bosnian medieval state and currently the site of a massive excavation into the area’s Neolithic settlements, Visoko is a great destination for keen archaeologists. And make sure to check out the infamous “Bosnian pyramid scheme”, as in 2005 it was claimed that the natural hills surrounding Visoko were actually artificially created pyramids. This claim was later debunked but local archaeologists are usually happy to dish the dirt.
Bottrop, home to the world's longest indoor ski slope
Indoor skiing in Bottrop, Germany
Finally got all that extra sun-fuelled lust for life but not a snowy slope in sight? Travellers hoping to brush up on winter sports but unable to get away during the festive season should head straight for Bottrop, Germany. The city of Bottrop is famous for its impressive winter sports centre, alpinCenter, home to the world’s longest indoor ski slope. Lessons are available all year round, with provisions made for everyone from novice skiers right up to international athletes. And for those travellers who aren’t as committed to picking up a new hobby, the nearby Movie Park Germany is a Hollywood-themed amusement park.
Where to stay. Booking.com recommends: Ferienwohnung in Fuhlenbrock
Alternative destinations: Landgraaf in The Netherlands and Druskininkai in Lithuania are also popular with indoor skiing enthusiasts.
Brush up your flamenco skills in Jerez de la Frontera
Flamenco in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
Flamenco was developed by the Spanish, and in recent years this energetic, high-drama, dance form has spread throughout the world. Today there are more flamenco academies in Japan than there are in Spain but travellers interested in the art form should still check out its birthplace in Andalusia. The Southern city of Jerez de la Frontera is known for the heady combination of sherry, horses, and flamenco. While these three interests probably shouldn’t be combined, fledgling flamenco dancers still can’t get enough of Jerez’s laidback atmosphere.
Where to stay. Booking.com recommends: Apartamentos Jerez Alameda del Blanco
Alternative destinations: Sevilla and Granada are two other Andalusian cities that take their flamenco very, very, seriously.
Get on stage in Sibiu, Romania
Re-enactments in Sibiu, Romania
Sibiu is one of the most visited cities in Romania thanks to it’s amazingly well-preserved historical sites and an impressive programme of summer festivals. The Sibiu International Theatre Festival kicks off the summer with over a week of performing arts, film screenings, international networking events, and over 62,000 spectators, most of whom are encouraged to get on stage. For those who favour realism over high-drama the city’s August Medieval Festival celebrates the medieval spirit of Transylvania by filling the city streets with knights, troubadours, royals, minstrels, and merchants.
*The data analysts at Booking.com looked at which cities were endorsed by reviewers for ‘Rollerblading’, ‘Amateur archaeology’, ‘Indoor skiing’, ‘Flamenco’ and ‘Re-enactments’.