July is a tricky customer when it comes to travel. In the Northern Hemisphere, temperatures start to soar and, with schools across Europe and the USA breaking out for summer, so do tourist numbers. Suddenly, everywhere feels busier. And noisier. As a result, trying to find a summer retreat at a reasonable price can feel like banging your head against a brick wall.
Traditionally, us Brits tend to make a beeline for the beaches of Southern Europe in July. But don’t stop there! Beyond Europe, there are all kinds of adventures up for grabs, from animal encounters in the Amazon to classic USA road trips and faraway beaches in Fiji. If you start looking long-haul, you'll find dozens of fascinating ways to squeeze the most out of summer.
The golden rule about travelling anywhere in July is to book as far ahead as you possibly can. These days, booking early is the only way to get a great price for a long haul summer escape. If you plan ahead, you’ll be laughing later. To help you on your way, here are 9 of the best places to visit in July:
It might seem counter-intuitive to swap the European summer for Aussie winter but, in South Australia, the temperature rarely dips below mild. On average, the temperature hovers around 13 degrees centigrade, and Adelaide is the driest capital in Australia, so the outlook is chilly but bright. If you’re a fan of gentle spring temperatures in the UK, you’ll love South Australia in winter.
South Australia doesn’t draw nearly as many tourists as the East Coast, and Aussie schools don’t break out until late July, making it an excellent destination for dodging the crowds. Explore the beautiful vineyards of the Barossa Valley, visit the rainbow beach huts on Adelaide’s beaches, drive the stunning Great Ocean Road to Melbourne or head over Kangaroo Island to hang out with the wild ‘roos, wallabies and wombats.
In terms of weather, most of South East Asia is a bit of a gamble in July. However, while the monsoon wallops many regions, you can bet good money on some decent sunshine in the Gulf of Thailand. Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan both see a welcome break from the heaviest rains in July and August, making them perfect for a summer escape in Asia.
Despite their hedonistic reputations, these islands offer plenty of quiet nooks and exclusive resorts for some real R&R. Beyond the backpackers and buckets, there are dozens of small, dozy beaches with just a handful of laid back hotels. Yes, July is high season, but it’s worth it for tropical sunshine, spicy green curry and ice cold Singha beer.
Neatly tucked between Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia, Botswana rarely gets the spotlight all to itself. However, it’s the perfect destination for a summer safari without the crowds of Kenya’s Masai Mara. Home to Africa’s largest population of elephants, Botswana is roughly the same size as France but home to just 2 million people. In other words, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have plenty of your own space.
July is the dry season, so the bush is sparse, making the wildlife easier to spot. Despite very little rainfall (and therefore very few mosquitoes!), the Okavango Delta is flooded in July, and the animals gather in high numbers along the banks of the waterways. It’s likely to be very chilly on morning game drives or mokoro (dugout canoe) trips, so wrap up in warm woollies and follow your sense of adventure. You won’t regret it!
If hiking, kayaking and camping is your cup of tea, head for Western Canada in July. Mixing warm temperatures with long days and dreamy alpine scenery in the Rockies, it’s a real winner. Head North to the Yukon, explore Vancouver Island or laze on the shores of Lake Louise. Canada Day is celebrated on 01 July with free-flowing beer and correlative high spirits, while the legendary Calgary Stampede takes place across ten days in July, giving you lots of chances to get in on the action.
Western Canada is almost perfect in July. The only drawback is the people. With such a short summer window to explore Canada’s Great Outdoors, everyone – understandably - wants their slice of the wilderness at the same time. Yes, it’s busy, but there’s no getting around it, so book early, take a deep breath and dive in. Between tourist hotspots, there are still plenty of places to pull over, sit back and soak up the breath-taking scenery.
Brazil’s Amazon may get all the press, but further south, the Pantanal is home to the highest concentration of wildlife in South America. Covering a whopping 81,000 square miles, it’s the largest wetland area in the world. Home to around 325 species of fish, 159 mammal species and 656 species of bird. In short, the Pantanal is positively bursting with life. If you’re a wildlife lover, there’s nowhere better.
While you’re guaranteed fantastic animal experiences here on a year-round basis, the Pantanal is perfect in July. It’s the dry season, so the receding floods bring wildlife to the shrinking water’s edge. Spot toucans, macaws and parrots in the canopy, see capybara and caimans in the wild and listen to playful monkeys scampering through the trees. This is, quite literally, the wildest summer holiday out there.
If you’re a snow bunny who spends all summer pining for the slopes, head for New Zealand’s South Island in July. It’s midwinter over this side of the planet, and there’s powder a-plenty in the gorgeous Southern Alps. The area around Queenstown and Lake Wanaka is home to 4 world-class ski areas that cater to all abilities: The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, Cardrona and Treble Cone.
Queenstown is a beautiful base for a skiing or snowboarding trip, with lively bars and loads of activities up for grabs. Between snowboarding adventures, why not try a winter-bungee jump or a scenic flight over snow-topped Mount Cook. After an active day on the slopes, get on the gondola and spend the evening warming up with a large glass of New Zealand wine as you gaze out over Queenstown.
Packed with welcoming people, colourful culture and gorgeous scenery, Colombia is an exceptional choice for a July holiday. Sitting close to the Equator, temperatures hold pretty steady during most of the year, but rainfall is a different matter. Colombia’s Amazon area is always wet, but, in July, the weather is largely dry and sunny from the Andes to the jungle-fringed beaches of Tayrona National Park.
With its crumbling walls, brightly painted buildings and swashbuckling pirate history, Cartagena is a city crammed with atmosphere and makes for a wonderful base in July. Take boat trips to the tiny Rosario Islands, stroll along the city walls and watch the locals dance salsa as the evening falls.
Colombia is slowly creeping into the popular imagination, but it still attracts far fewer tourists than most other South American destinations. If you go now, you’ll beat the crowds and get a real spin on the regular summer holiday.
For a summer holiday packed with vintage spirit, try heading for Boston and New England in July. You won’t be alone, but that’s beside the point in these parts. A holiday on the East Coast of the USA in July is a real celebration of summer, from Fourth of July festivities in Boston to lazy beach days on Cape Cod, clambakes in Maine and grape stomping in Connecticut. Eat, drink, sail, swim and be merry.
One of the most historic cities in the USA, Boston pulls out on all the stops on Independence Day, making it a great place to visit in July. You’ll need to book ahead, but the spectacle will be worth it, and the atmosphere is second to none. Then, spend a couple of weeks driving through New England, from rural New Hampshire to Rhode Island and dreamy Vermont. It’s the iconic American summer escape.
Home to 330 castaway islands, Fiji is the archetypal tropical paradise. Holidays here are all about sunshine, clear seas, white sands, coconut palms and cheeky afternoon cocktails. Technically, July is winter in Fiji, but in real terms, this means blissfully warm temperatures, unbroken blue skies and little rainfall. In other words, perfection.
Kids in Australia and New Zealand are on their winter school holidays in July, so expect family-friendly resorts to be busy and prices to be higher than other times of the year. However, there are all kinds of sleepy boutique island retreats to try, where the pace is deliciously slow and there’s plenty of privacy. While it may not be the cheapest time of year to travel to Fiji, if you’re strapped down to a small summer timeframe, it’s a winner.
We are experts in multi-stop trips, round the world holidays and tailor-made long haul breaks. We can organise everything from road trips in New Zealand to island-hopping escapes in French Polynesia and iconic American adventures. To start planning your next big trip, give us a call on +44 1273320580 or send us an email with your request and we’ll quickly get back to you.