I am not a vampire, though my reactions to the sun might make you think otherwise. Tragically, I have a mild allergy to the sun, so beach holidays aren’t really my thing. I tried to fight the fates for a while and burned and blistered my way through the Caribbean and Miami. But after my last hospitalization in a remote Mexican hospital run by old-school nuns and with chickens running about, I decided to embrace my paleness and flock to find others of my kind. Due to all the hoopla about bikinis, beach hair and self-tanner, I neglected the possibility of locales that didn’t require a beach bod or SPF-100—until now. Here are a bunch of locations so fabulous even sun-lovers might be tempted to grab their umbrellas and galoshes.
- Dublin, Ireland: I have to go to this country for the accents alone. Cute, skinny boys aside, the capital city of the Emerald Isle has something for the city dweller and country bumpkin alike. Dublin has the gravitas of many major European cities but with a more relaxed breezy quality. The countryside is as green as they come and you can get a lot of nature without venturing too far from civilization. The Irish certainly have a gift for the gab which you will no doubt encounter in one of the ever present pubs. This country lives for a chat and a laugh over a pint with a bit o’ music by local musicians. VisitDublin.com
- Portland, United States: A city known as one of the cheapest and chicest in the continental US. The clouds and rain won’t prove any deterrent to exploring the many funky boutiques, artsy cafes and oddball museums. With premium food and beer at ridiculously affordable prices, you will especially appreciate the plenitude of stunning walks and bike rides in and out of the city. I know Portland has a bit of a hippie reputation, but didn’t you know, green is equivocally good. VisitPortland.com
- Melbourne, Australia: Yes, I do mean Australia. Australia is indeed sunny, but luckily for the sun-challenged here is a friendly and quirky city with plenty of cloud cover. It might just be impossible not to have a blast in the land of Hugh Jackman. I can’t swear that a scientific organization has official conclusive evidence of this, but Australia has to be at least in the top three friendliest places on earth. Known for some of the best street art on both sides of the equator, great shopping (especially the street markets like the Sunday Market at the Victorian Arts Centre) and nightlife so-good-it-never-stops (knock back a few beers true Aussie style at The Prince), Melbourne gives you the best of Australia without the burn. VisitMelbourne.com
- Stockholm, Sweden: I have done my fair share of traveling, and hands down the most attractive country on the planet is Sweden. There has to be something in the water, otherwise how could almost every single citizen be so genetically blessed? Sure, I felt like a cross between an ugly duckling and a midget, but this city with enough canals to earn the nickname “Venice Of Scandinavia,” was well worth any ensuing damage to my ego. A boat tour is the only way to properly ogle the tall blond babes. Well, the real place to hottie-spot is the bar at The First Hotel Reisen, but don’t tell too many others lest this watering hole for the beautiful becomes famous. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. How could the home of ABBA be anything other than over-the-top fun? PS, you can skip the ABBA museum. VisitSweden.com
- Vancouver, Canada: Vancouver is one of those rarities that manages to combine two equally attractive but opposing qualities. Would you believe me if I told you that Vancouver has the city edge of NYC with the peaceful beauty of the great lakes? You really should. It is not often that a city seamlessly combines the best of the urban and the outdoors. For the best of both worlds spend the morning whale watching followed by lunch at the trendy Coal Harbor Cafe. It is easy to see why even the chicest of city dwellers and the most rugged of country-lovers both covet this Canadian escape. TourismVancouver.com
- Tijuca, Brazil: OK, so Brazil is not exactly famous for activities avoiding the sun, but I am only human. Even I need my occasional rays (with massive doses of sunscreen, obviously). At least get some shade in this rain forest enclave right in in the very heart of Rio de Janeiro, The 13 miles of rain forest have the adventure feel of the Amazon with the convenience of being right in the middle of this buzzing city. If you are super-lazy (which I often am), you can even get a tour via a comfy jeep tour for a price not nearly as steep as the incline (think under $60!!!). Take that, Central Park. ExploreBrazilianTours.com