It’s the height of summer and much of the Northern Hemisphere is drenched in golden sunshine. Watch the sun set over the Santorini skyline, explore ancient ruins in Croatia, find your own pocket of peace in New Zealand or dance to the unstoppable beats that float in the cities of Mexico. July is well and truly a glorious time to pack your bags and head off on an adventure. Whisk yourself away to Australia to hike the outback; take a car and venture into the lush, green landscapes of Bali; stalk a pride of lions in Namibia; or kick back on the beaches of Florida – your options for an unforgettable July holiday are never-ending. Here are our top picks for where to go in July.
BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN JULY
Australia has been at the top of destination wish-lists for generations of travellers – a legendary island continent with incredible, sprawling landscapes, glittering cities and fantastic wildlife, it has always possessed an intrigue that does not dampen when seen with your own eyes. The seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere and July – mid-winter – sees temperatures cool considerably in the south of Australia. But fear not, Sydney and Melbourne still bask in breezy, sunny days - ideal for exploring deeper into the city. The northern side of the island, from Darwin to Cairns, dance to a different tune and daily maximums hover around 30°C, the perfect balmy conditions for sipping cocktails under the night sky and diving between rocks and waterfalls in Kakadu National Park.
In mid-July, the Italian peninsula sparkles. The sun is omnipresent and its light splashes across the landscapes from north to south, the blue sky knows no bounds and the striking coastline shimmers, beckoning all to enter. Tuscan hills with delicious Chianti wine; expansive olive groves in Sicily; wild, baking valleys in Sardinia; Puglia’s distinctive conical Trulli houses – the possibilities for a mesmerising Italian holiday are endless. For an unmissable July event, watch the rival neighbourhoods of Siena battle it out during the Palio - one of the world’s greatest, most dramatic horse races and a major spectacle for all who dare attend - which has been running since the 1600s.
July brings with it the dry season in Indonesia, with hot sunny days, blue skies and throngs of travellers eager to unearth all of its charms. Temperatures linger in the thirties for most of the islands and the optimum weather conditions make it an excellent time for various pursuits, from deep-sea diving to valley hiking, wildlife watching to volcano climbing. Discover Java’s immense active volcanoes, meander the rice fields of Ubud, spot turtles in the calm waters of Lombok and stumble across your own version of paradise on the deserted beaches of Sulawesi. It may be peak season across Indonesia, but peace and serenity are ubiquitous here.
The third month in Costa Rica’s seven-month rainy season, the Central American country doesn’t instantly strike as the perfect July destination, but for those in the know, it’s a heavenly summer escape. A weather phenomenon that occurs in July means it typically experiences a mini dry season for at least three to four weeks, so you can enjoy the good value and reduced crowds that low season brings, while relaxing in sun-kissed surroundings. And if it does rain? Well, that’s all part of the fun and it’ll only serve to make the greenery even greener. Watch turtles nesting on immaculate beaches, disappear behind natural waterfalls, walk in a cloud forest, see monkeys play in treetops, get lost in traditional beach towns and dance in the streets during carnival – you’ll leave Costa Rica hopelessly lovestruck and longing for more.
July is one of the best times to discover the beautiful surroundings of Norway. The summer in the south of the country sees the landscape lose its snow while retaining its charm as it fully shakes off the winter chill and flourishes with life. The best way to experience the majesty of Norway is on the water – hop onto the Coastal Express - which travels from Bergen in the south-west to Kirkenes in the far north, with over 30 stops in-between - and you’ll be part of an exclusive club who get to witness the emerald waters of the fjords, forested mountains and serene fishing villages in all their glory. It’s thanks to these voyages that remote, magical places like Lofoten have made their way onto the international tourism map. During summer, Norway knows how to let its hair down with food and music festivals aplenty. It’s a time of national merriment when the thermometer sometimes even flirts with 30°C for a brief, beautiful moment.