It’s officially summer, and we know what that means: time for people to start outdoing each other with vacation plans and Instagram posts.
Fret not; even if a picture-perfect getaway isn’t on your schedule, there’s plenty of inspiration and armchair travel to pick up on from the celebrities who do it best. Just look to stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Drake and Gwyneth Paltrow, each known for summer vacation expertise — because summer isn’t a season: it’s a lifestyle. Celebrities have long played a role in travel trends, and they’re continuing to enjoy the faroff destinations are as the weather heats up. As it turns out, many of these places are of course not just Instagram-worthy backdrops. They also have long histories as cultural crossroads.
Here are some of the spots where celebrities are popping up this summer.
Last year, Lindsay Lohan debuted her new reality show set in Mykonos: Lindsay Lohan’s Beach Club, documenting the parties and pitfalls of a group of American bartenders and nightlife hosts transported to her beach club on the ever-popular Greek island. But long before Lohan opened up her namesake establishment (which has since shut down, as on-the-scene reports contend), Mykonos has been the summer hotspot for travelers — particularly Europeans — seeking out techno music for years. Even before that, however, Mykonos has been a getaway for Greeks, as it’s just a few hour ferry ride from Athens. And it’s always been a cultural crossroads of sorts, existing as part of the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman Empires during its long history, even as it was primarily a sleepy fishing village for most of those reigns. Grace Kelley and Jackie O. were once fans, upping its status. Now, it draws stars like Ariana Grande, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mariah Carey. This summer, Katharine McPhee celebrated there before getting married. Far from a sleepy town, Mykonos is Greece’s party central.
After the Cannes International Film Festival each spring fills the region with bold-faced stars, nearby Saint-Tropez and the entirety of the French riviera remain sought-after destinations all summer long. Leonardo DiCaprio is a known fan, launching his charity foundation in the area and throwing annual yacht events; U2’s Bono has a house in the town of Eze-sur-Mer; and Beyoncé and Jay-Z are known to enjoy spending time on the coast. Elton John, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have also been regulars. Cannes and its surrounding towns have long figured in the vacations of the European elite and celebrities going back to the 1850s and the advent of the train to Nice, while books like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night served as lush narratives from the 20th century that helped illuminate its allure. In his day, Fitzgerald cavorted with artists like Pablo Picasso, while designers like Coco Chanel also took a liking to the area. And then there was the star Brigitte Bardot, who established her claim to fame in the 1956 film And God Created Woman, which simultaneously helped put St. Tropez on the global vacation map and created an indelible image of the starlet as an archetypal pin-up. Now, it’s where Cristiano Ronaldo goes for a romantic getaway.
Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi Coast might be one of the most photogenic places in the world, thanks to the sunny, colorful cliffside towns of Positano, Ravello and Amalfi itself. Just this June, Rihanna made it her go-to vacation spot, getting noticed on an early summer trip. Last year, model Karlie Kloss got engaged to now-husband Josh Kushner while in the area. Paul McCartney also joined in a yacht party with the happy couple. In 2018, Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Alex Rodriguez, Hugh Jackman and Heidi Klum were just a few of the other tourists that dropped through. Perhaps this shouldn’t be such a huge surprise; between the appeal of classic Italian food, postcard views and the fact that the the whole region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there’s plenty to keep visitors busy while hopping from town to town. Many also take a day trip via boat over to the glamorous island of Capri to check out the famous Blue Grotto, a watery cave that glows an incandescent sapphire when the light hits just right.
It’s known now as a party island and vacation hotspot, but Ibiza wasn’t always nightclub central. Before David Guetta and Paris Hilton called its cavernous dance venues home, it was simply a remote, wilderness-covered island off the Spanish coast with a history as a port town dating back to the 7th century B.C. Ibiza was conquered or occupied in turn by Phoenicians, Vandals, Byzantines, Moors, Norwegians and the Spanish over the ensuing centuries; it’s now considered an autonomous region, alongside its fellow Balearic islands of Menorca, Majorca and Formentera, and parts of the island are also designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So yes, you can go to Ibiza to spend your nights and dawns in gigantic clubs with thousands of partiers, hypnotized by the bass — but you can also explore its quaint port towns (before jaunting to ritzy beachside restaurants). Before 1950, Ibiza’s tourism was limited; the island later evolved into a hippie hangout known for free-wheeling culture and music. It wasn’t until later in the 1970s and onward that the club scene developed. Now, celebrity DJs (like Hilton) settle in for summer residencies in the massive nightclubs, while many celebrities escape to more remote villas or go for yachts. Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender were married in Ibiza in 2018; Idris Elba put his DJ talents to use; Katy Perry spent time at the beach; and soccer star Lionel Messi is an island regular. This year, basketball star Blake Griffin and singer Ed Sheeran have already put in appearances.
Bora Bora, French Polynesia
When Demi Lovato began sharing photos of herself rising out of a crystalline ocean in Bora Bora this spring, she put the French Polynesian island in the South Pacific top of mind for her followers, calling Bora Bora “literal heaven on Earth.” The extinct volcanic island has a long history well before it became Insta-bait: it was settled by Southeast Asian explorers around the 3rd century, one in a string of islands in the region settled by early seafaring cultures. By the late 1800s, a series of European explorers and English missionaries had spread Protestantism and contributed to the erasure of much of the local Polynesian cultural and religious traditions, but the island remained independent until French authorities influenced its last queen to abdicate and annexed the territory in 1888. Bora Bora also served as a U.S. military base during WWII, but never saw action — and by the 1960s, luxury hotels were in development on its distinctive lagoon, going for the over-water bungalow style that’s now ubiquitous in island resorts. Back in 2015, Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux honeymooned in Bora Bora; Nicole Kidman and Justin Bieber have been visitors; and more recently, Halle Berry made it her vacation destination. And now it has Lovato’s stamp of approval, too. Unfortunately, a designated beach photographer for glamor shots is not included in the price of the flight.
Lake Como, Italy
By now, it’s common knowledge that George Clooney and Amal Clooney own a home on the shores of dramatic Lake Como; Clooney bought Villa Oleandra all the way back in 2001. But they’re not the only celebrities that have enjoyed the lakeside escape in the Lombardy region. Last summer, Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler were guests of the Clooney family; the Carters also stopped through the area; and former One Direction member Liam Payne has popped up. Meanwhile this year, former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama were spotted out on a boat with the Clooneys. Lake Como is known for the sharp contrast of wooded mountainside and blue water with villas clustered on its banks, some dating back to the 17th century. As the third-largest lake in Italy, it’s been a getaway for aristocrats and artists going back to Roman times; English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley was a noted fan, and Mark Twain wrote about in the 19th century after visiting. Today, visitors to Lake Como spend their days boating around the lake and soaking in the surroundings, plus exploring some of the villas that are open to the public. Not able to make the trip this year? Not to fear: Netflix’s new Jennifer Aniston movie Murder Mystery was filmed on its banks.
Turks & Caicos
What do Drake, Britney Spears and the late Prince have in common? That would be a love for the Turks and Caicos, the Caribbean island getaway that both the rapper and pop star have already visited this summer, while Prince owned a villa that just sold for millions. It’s the picture-perfect tropical beach vacation ideal: turquoise waters, white sand beaches and lavish resorts, homes and golf courses. The 40-island archipelago, which sits between Cuba, the Bahamas and the West Indies, was originally populated by local indigenous peoples before being colonized and claimed by different European powers starting in the 16th century. It’s now a British overseas territory with autonomous rule. And with a more low-key vibe than other party islands, it offers more privacy to stars or visitors looking for a secluded escape. Just don’t plan on running into any of the stars, given the exclusive environs.
The preferred summer weekend getaway of New Yorkers, the Hamptons are really a string of villages along the South Fork of Long Island, including Westhampton, Quogue, Southampton, Bridgehampton, Sag Harbor, East Hampton, Amangansett and the train’s final stop: Montauk. Known for luxury mansions and exclusive golf clubs, the Hamptons are home to some of the U.S.’s most expensive zip codes. Originally settled as a sleepy agricultural region, the Hamptons became the focus of New York City’s socialites by the late 1800s and famously was the lightly-fictionalized setting of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; now, it’s a playground for East Coast families and young professionals who go in on summer house rentals. And celebrities: Anderson Cooper, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, Jennifer Lopez, Alec Baldwin, Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow, Robert DeNiro and many more are all homeowners out east, too, while Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga have been seen enjoying themselves in recent years. There are two ways to do the Hamptons: hang poolside at a private home, or go for the see-and-be-seen route, frequenting bottle-service pop-up clubs and ritzy restaurants — and potentially switching things up with a lobster roll from a roadside stand. The Hamptons are just as much about being in society as they are about getting away, which is perhaps true of every place on this star-approved list.