It’s time for a last-ditch effort to squeeze every last ounce of sunshine out of the summer; August is here and Europe sizzles. In the heat, quench yourself with a dry white wine in Portugal or gulp an amber beer in Ireland – both are gorgeous green countries that love to laugh and swell with activity in August. In South Africa, temperatures in Cape Town dip to 12°C and peak at 20°C and, if you’re looking for something balmier, you can head to Kruger National Park which occasionally teases travellers with highs of 30°C in August, the ideal climate for days spent spotting wildlife. In Costa Rica, turtles begin their nesting season - an unforgettable sight (especially for mini adventurers) - or, why not a trip to the US? The world’s third-largest country covers six time zones and there’s always a state where the weather is fine, a pin-drop-quiet museum with fascinating artefacts to marvel at, a national park to stretch out your legs in and a small piece of American myth to capture your imagination. Here are our top picks for where to go in August.
BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN AUGUST
The United States is so utterly vast there’s somewhere to discover in all seasons, but head there in the month of August and you’ll see heatwaves befall the southern states. Desert areas like Arizona, or subtropical regions like Florida and Louisiana burn under a glowing sun that just won’t quit. It requires a certain amount of grit to withstand the midday sizzle there, but pockets of tranquillity and beauty are found everywhere – escape the heat with a pre-dawn yoga session, take a dip in the sparkling ocean, or sink a cocktail in a cliffside bar under a starlit sky. Alternatively, head to New York, San Francisco, New England, Chicago, Boston and the California coast where the thermometer is less ambitious. To top it all off, visit some of the most natural and exotic US getaways: stop by the unforgettable Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah border; fulfil your fantasy of a tropical paradise on the beaches of Honolulu; or experience the sheer immensity of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
August marks the peak of the Canadian summer and from Edmonton to Montreal and Vancouver to Toronto, it’s prime time for festivals of all shapes and sizes. From the epic, electronic, glow-in-the-dark Shambhala Music Festival to artsy folk festivals and Shakespearean plays acted out on the sand during Bard on the Beach, there’s a joyful hum in the air and a good humour that’s all-encompassing. In such a colossal country, the climate varies across regions, but on the whole, August brings with it warmer, dryer, sunnier days perfect for exploring the wide-open spaces and diving into all things outdoorsy and sporty from hiking to mountain biking and climbing to rafting, adrenaline sports are just part of the scenery here.
Nicknamed ‘The Land of Fire and Ice’, Iceland is astonishing in its geological beauty. A volcanic island with soaring fjords, glistening glaciers, lava fields and black-sand beaches – every sight is a reminder of the power of Mother Nature. August is one of the country’s hottest months with temperatures hovering between 10°C to 15°C - not exactly balmy, but warm enough to explore the wilderness and feel its full force from vast canyons where rivers merge and overflow to deep emerald-green valleys ; from towering cliffs that plunge into the pulsing ocean to intricate rock formations that are the stuff of fairy tales. Swap natural wonders for urban ones with an evening stroll in Reykjavik or join in with Verslunarmannahelgi festivities – a huge bank holiday celebration held on the first weekend in August that sees an explosion of music and food festivals that are utterly enchanting.
Greece in August is practically a no brainer. Scorching heat, heap-loads of history, lip-smacking cuisine, incredible beaches and an island for every mood - it’s a summer paradise of epic proportions. At times, the scorching sun of the Mediterranean reaches unprecedented highs during the height of the season, rendering travellers at the mercy of their sun loungers, hiding under the shade of trees sipping cocktails (oh, how hard life can be). But fear not, a gentle sea breeze offers sweet relief, cooling you down just enough to warrant an afternoon outing. Meander sleepy seaside villages in Crete, sink under crystal-clear azure waters in the Cyclades, transport yourself back to the first Olympics in Olympia, tour sprawling olive groves in Corfu and experience a classic theatre performance in an ancient amphitheatre built into the Acropolis. An August holiday in Greece is unforgettable on every level.
Brazil is South America on steroids. Ranging from far-reaching metropolises to mammoth jungles, all topped off with awesome biodiversity and a wealth of historical importance – it has fascinated pioneers and adventurers for over five centuries. The endless, mysterious and unknown allure of the interior of Brazil is irresistible to intrepid travellers. Brasilia, the country’s capital, was built in the mid-Fifties and surprises all who visit with its strong, curved architecture, while Manaus sits in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest, a gateway to the green wilderness that lies beyond. Brazil also attracts serious sun-worshippers and there’s no shame in zenning out on the beach all day here, especially when the sands look as good as those on Rio’s Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. August remains a highlight for those who want to hop between the legendary beaches of the region, from Fortaleza’s sun-drenched shores to Natal’s rippling dunes.