The 21 best places to visit in August

August is an extremely popular month to travel, especially to Europe, when temperatures soar. Prices tend to skyrocket, too, as the school holiday rush means that families nab flights to make the most of their fixed six weeks off.

Of course, there are brilliant places to visit all over the world during August. Whether you’re after a hot island holiday, a life-changing wildlife experience or an unexpected long-term adventure on the road less travelled, we’ve got you covered.

Skip ahead to your chosen travel type by clicking on one of the below, or keep scrolling for the full list:

The best August destinations for nature and ideal weather

1. Off-the-beaten-track Croatia

Sibenik, Croatia (Shutterstock)

Croatia’s hottest (and driest) month is August – with temps climbing as high as 28°C – so of course the likes of Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar and other classic destinations will be packed with visitors making the most of the sun.

If you want to enjoy the sparkling weather in Croatia without the crowds, head to the Mamma Mia island of Vis. Or for a city vibe, discover all of the amazing things to do in Sibenik, or Rovinj. But hurry, these gems are starting to be discovered.

Alternatively, why not skip Plitvice and Krka and head to one of Croatia’s six lesser-visited national parks? Kornati may be tricky to visit, but it is perfect for true explorers. Paklenica National Park is another gem, ideal for hikers unafraid of a hot, hot hike.

2. Matera, Italy

Matera, Italy (Shutterstock)

Matera is one of Basilicata’s biggest draws and was named one of two 2019 European Capitals of Culture. A few days is the perfect amount of time to delve deeper into how Matera turned its reputation around from ‘Italy’s shame’ to ‘iconic cultural hot spot’.

With highs of 29°C in August, summer is the ideal time to explore its fascinating cave districts in the sun, enjoy the natural beauty of Polino National Park, Italy’s largest, and sample the region’s authentic cuisine. For a longer trip, rent a car and head towards Pompeii, Sorrento, or in the opposite direction to coastal Bari.

3. Medellin, Colombia

Medellin, Colombia (Shutterstock)

August in Colombia, weather-wise, is a bit hit and miss. Whether you’ll get sun or showers really depends on which region you’re visiting, whether you’re after a wildlife adventure in the Amazon or some time in the city.

One thing Medellin has in August that makes up for its – at times – overcast appearance? The spectacular 10-day celebration of nature, known as Feria de Flores(Festivals of the Flowers).

Every August, the city blooms with the bright colours of flowers, paraded down the streets. Hundreds of concerts, crafts sessions and floral parades take to the streets and fill the city’s best venues. It’s a must for any nature lover’s travel wish list.

4. Off-the-beaten-track Greek island hopping

Ithaca, one of our off-the-beaten-track Greek Island picks (Shutterstock)

Sunseekers won’t be surprised to see Greece on our list for August. It’s a classic summer holiday destination, whether you’ve booked with a travel agent, arranged an island-hopping boat tour or you’ve planned your trip yourself.

As with Croatia, just because it’ll be busy doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the perks. After all, there’s a reason it’s so rammed.

Simply take the road (or waterway) less travelled to one of Greece’s secret islands, for an unforgettable beachside break with a difference. It’ll be incredibly warm, whichever island you choose. Average highs in August are 31°C, so make sure you’re prepared.

5. Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia (Shutterstock)

When you think of Tallinn, you may find the peach-coloured Alexander Nevsky Cathedral springs to mind, surrounded by droplets of crisp white snow.

We don’t blame you. Though freezing, Estonia and its neighbours Latvia and Lithuania make fine winter breaks. But they shouldn’t be overlooked in summer.

Walking through Tallinn’s comprehensive Old Town and soaking up the atmosphere in Freedom Square is just as satisfying in the sun. With plenty of steep hills to climb, to get to the best views of the city, it’s almost easier without all the ice…

The best longer-term travel experiences to take on in August

6. Guyana & The Guianas

The rainforest of French Guiana (Shutterstock)

South America’s smallest wonders Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname are prime for visitors at the end of August. It’s the perfect time to witness the breathtaking Kaieteur Falls in Guyana, follow in Papillon’s footsteps in French Guiana, and sample Suriname’s tasty, speciality rums.

Firstly, the weather’s always warm, but it’s dry season on the Guianan coast during August, andFrench Guiana tends to be drier and warmer in August – as does Suriname.

All three countries are sandwiched between Venezuela and Brazil, so we’d say you’re best off lengthening your trip and visiting all three at once. At least you’ll have the benefit of being as far off the beaten track in South America as possible.

7. Mongolia

Mongolia (Shutterstock)

You can’t really go wrong in Mongolia at this time of year. Expect vibrant steppes rich in shades of green during August, and just-right temperatures between 20°C and 25°C.

If you head to the mountains, you’ll probably find it’s slightly colder than everywhere else – arguably better conditions for longer treks, which won’t require sweating it out in the heat. Wild camping and cycling are other must-do activities in August – as is heading to the Gobi Desert in the south.

It’s also prime time to visit Lake Khövsgöl in northern Mongolia, near the Russian border. The country’s biggest and most beautiful freshwater lake dazzles in the sunlight, and seems to stretch for miles on end.

8. Northern Kyrgyzstan

Burana Tower in Chuy Valley, northern Kyrgyzstan (Shutterstock)

August lands firmly in the middle of Kyrgyzstan’s peak season (May to October), so certain areas will be packed with visitors and locals (here’s looking at you, Lake Issyk-Kul).

However, it is a good time to take on the epic hikes that Central Tien Shan (the ‘Celestial Mountains’ in Chinese) has to offer. The highest peak reaches 7,439m, so this is no casual climb. You’ll need to be an experienced walker, with a high-level of fitness to make the most of it.

9. Jodhpur, India

Jodhpur, India (Shutterstock)

The Blue City of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, is a travel photographer (and Instagram lover’s) dream come true. A seemingly endless maze of blue houses, winding alleys, and colourful doors awaits.

Of course, there’s much more to it than that. Expect history and art in the renowned, 15th century Mehrangarh Fort. Admire the ornate decoration of Jaswant Thada. Get out into nature at the impressive Mandore Sculpture Garden, get active with water activities in Lake Kaylana, or picnic at the 12th century Balsamand Lake.

Visit in August particularly for bearable heat (lows of 26°C and highs of 34°C), and the good chance that you’ll find some savvy accommodation deals. August is off-season, so though you won’t find yourself a lone visitor at any stage, it’s likely you may experience a tiny bit less of the typical bustle.

10. Langkawi, Malaysia

The stunning views of Kilim Geoforest Park in Langkawi, Malaysia (Shutterstock)

There’s so much to explore in Malaysia, it almost seems unfair to single out the archipelago of Langkawi. Though we suppose, with more time, there’s nothing to stop you heading further afield…

But with suitably warm temps (often around 28°C to 31°C), incredibly natural beauty to marvel, cable cars and boat trips galore, and unusual wildlife sightings practically guaranteed it’s an appealing all-rounder for a sunny getaway without the ‘packaged holiday’ feel.

The best August destinations for arts & culture

11. Edinburgh, Scotland

A sign for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, in 2018 (Shutterstock)

In August, you won’t struggle to find a variety of culture and entertainment festivals in most of the major British and European cities. For the best of the best in summer fun, you need to head to the Scottish capital.

Not only does the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival and its world-class comedy and theatre take over the architecturally-stunning city for the entire month of August, but you’ll also find a host of other big name festivals.

Expect arts exhibitions, orchestras and dances at the Edinburgh International Festival, performances at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival – both throughout the month. Towards the end of August, there’s a fireworks concert in the city centre, and a mix of multicultural events at the Edinburgh Mela Festival on 31 August.

12. London, England

London, England (Shutterstock)

Every month in London has something for everyone, but August really ups the ante in terms of arts and culture offerings for travellers.

As the name suggests, Greenwich + Docklands International Festival takes over south east London. Performance art takes place indoors and outdoors – expect everything from laser shows and colourful powder fights to stilt walkers and acrobats abseiling down historic buildings.

For classic music fans, BBC Proms has performances running throughout August.

As the month draws to a close, embrace the colourful madness of the iconic Notting Hill Carnival. The London Craft Beer Festival takes place in the middle of the month at Tobacco Dock, a former warehouse in Wapping.

And for those foodie travellers, the many street food markets dotted across London will delight in warmer months – go beyond Borough Market and try visiting Mercato Metropolitanoin Elephant and Castle, or Boxpark in Shorditch.

13. Papua New Guinea

Mount Hagen Cultural Show in Mount Hagen township, Papua New Guinea (Shutterstock)

The city of Mount Hagen in the western province of Papua New Guinea comes alive in the middle of August for days-long performances, feasts and musical festivities hosted by locals during the Mount Hagen Cultural Show.

Drier than June and the coolest month of the year overall, the weather also makes a compelling argument for August as the best time to explore Papua New Guinea’s exotic cities and towns.

Of course, Papua New Guinea is a challenging destination and truly off the well-trodden trail. As such, only very experienced travellers should plan to visit, keeping a close eye on the FCO’s Official Travel Advice before going, too.

14. Guča, Serbia

Guča, Serbia’s famous Trumpet Festival (Shutterstock)

The Guča Trumpet Festival, known sometimes as Dragačevski Sabo, is probably a little less well-known than the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe and Notting Hill Carnival.

Nevertheless, the small Serbian town of Guča comes alive for three days in early August for its annual festival, showcasing the best in brass music performances. Hundreds of thousands attend each year.

15. Tunisia

The Roman ruins of Dougga in Tunisia (Shutterstock)

Tunisia’s perhaps not the first place you’d think of for a short break with a focus on the arts. However, August provides a few opportunities to see a different side to this North African country.

Established in 1964, the International Festival of Carthage, is held every July and August, offering live music, theatre, opera and even a bit of ballet.

Dougga International Festival is another opportunity to experience live music – this time in the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre, located in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Roman city of Dougga. The festival ends in the first week of August.

The best places to visit for wildlife watching in August

16. Discover birds and monkeys in northern Ecuador

Squirrel monkey in the Ecuadorian jungle (Shutterstock)

Ecuador is on South America’s west coast. A delightful combination of the Andes, Amazon and the Galápagos Islands (just to name a few), it’s home to many unique and colourful wildlife species. No surprise then, that it’s become one of our top August wildlife trips.

Head to the northern part of the country to give yourself the best chance of seeing the cheeky-looking squirrel monkey, a marmoset or tamarin in the wild.

Birders in Ecuador have the opportunity to see around 1,600 species in total. Undeniably, it’s one of the planet’s best birdwatching countries. Staying in the north, you’ll see rare macaws, the sleek Andean condor, hummingbirds aplenty and brightly-patterned toucans (again, to name a few). Get your binoculars ready…

17. Go polar bear watching in Arctic Canada

Polar bears in the Canadian Arctic sunset (Shutterstock)

Summers in the Canadian Arctic are, unsurprisingly, rather short. They’re also the best time to get out on the water in a Zodiac and do a bit of polar bear-spotting from your expedition boat.

As we all know, polar bears are best admired from a distance. They’re nowhere near as cuddly as as they look. But you may have a chance of getting a little closer than usual, as the Zodiacs can get quite close.

17. Whale watching in San Juan Islands, Washington State

Whale-spotting from San Juan Islands (Shutterstock)

Hop on a Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to reach four of the 172 San Juan Islands. The weather here is mild most of the year, but the sunniest time to come is during August – coincidently also the best time to see killer whales. This is one of the top places in the world to see the black and white beauties.

San Juan is the most popular islands, with its Whale Museum and plenty of outdoor activities. If you want a more peaceful, wild experience, head to lesser-visited Orcas Island and take on the 6km climb up Mount Constitution. If you’re lucky, you can spot Vancouver from the top on a clear day.

19. Watch macaws in Manu National Park, Peru

Macaws in Manu National Park, Peru (Shutterstock)

Visit the south-east region of Peru in August and you’ll find yourself stunned by the natural prowess of Manu National Park. Also classed as a Biosphere Reserve, you’ll be awed by its lush Amazonian jungle, and the striking Andean Highlands.

It’s the perfect place for the avid birdwatcher to see the wow-worthy macaw in its natural habitat. These beautiful parrots – often a mix of red, yellow, blue and green feathers – are best spotted collecting clay at ‘clay banks’ or ‘clay licks’ around the park, to feed on later. It’s quite an incredible sight.

August is typically the beginning of the season for the most sightings, with September and October also thought to be ideal months.

20. Meet orangutans in Borneo

A young orangutan in Borneo (Dreamstime)

Borneo’s orangutans basked in the spotlight when Dame Judi Dench visited an orangutan sanctuary during filming of her documentary, Wild Borneo Adventure, for ITV.

August is one of the best times for us non-knighted folk to head to this South-East Asian island paradise to try for a wild sighting.

Danum Valley in Sabah (in the northern part of the island) offers 400 sq km of rainforest reserve for wild orangutans to swing in. Travel along the Kinabatangan River, too, to try and see these magnificent creatures in their homes.

21. See grizzly bears in Yellowstone National Park

Grizzly on the move in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA (Shutterstock)

Unlike polar bears, we think it’s fair to say that grizzlies do look a little bit mean. They’re quite elusive, too: there are only around 150 bears living within the Yellowstone Natonal Park itself, or around 700 in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

To see one roaming, you’ll need proper viewing kit. Wake before sunrise or wait until sunset and use dusk and dawn to to scour the area with your telescope and/or binoculars.

Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are two of your best sighting spots, but Dunraven Pass, Swan Lake Flats and Gardiners Hole are also good places to try.

7 incredible things you must do in French Guiana

1. Explore the capital city, Cayenne

An aerial view of French Guiana’s capital, Cayenne (Shutterstock)

Cayenne has a familiar name. South and Central America is the birthplace of the Cayenne pepper: perhaps the spiciest pepper known to the world. It’s named after the French Guianan capital.

Wandering the old town with a guide is enough to get your history fix. Much of what you’ll see is inspired by France, the Caribbean, and beyond.

There’s plenty to see and do here: the ruins of the Fort Cépérou, the city’s yellow cathedral, and discover the volcanic origins of the high point, La Pointe Buzaré.

2. See sea turtles at Remire-Montjoly

A sea turtle on the sands of French Guiana’s beach – a fairly common sight (Shutterstock)

The close-by suburb of Remire-Montjoly is also worth a visit, as the beach is a key sighting spot for green, Pacific ridley and leatherback sea turtles. They’re often seen lying on the beach.

Yep, it’s really that simple. There’s little in the way of specific tours, and during nesting season (February to August) it’s highly likely you’ll see a mum-to-be laying her eggs in the sand if you rock up at nighttime.

Remember to visit the pretty park Salines de Montjoly, while you’re in the area, during the day.

3. Get lost in nature in Guiana Amazonian Park

French Guiana’s rainforest (Shutterstock)

Officially France’s largest national park, and spanning across 20,300 km² of French Guiana, Guiana Amazonian Park is big – a huge expanse of protected rainforest. It’s been called ‘one of the largest protected biodiversity zones on the planet’.

As you can imagine, it’s not the most accessible place to visit. You can’t get there on foot, or even by car, or public transport. You’ll need to take a canoe or travel by air, via an official tour. Once you’re there, expect your visit to last around five days.

The park conserves all that is natural about the area: over 719 species of bird, 1000s of bugs and butterflies and nearly 300 reptile species. It’s also home to populations of native people.

4. Fly to space from Kourou

Dreyfus Tower in Kourou, French Guiana (Shutterstock)

A wander around Kourou will be fruitful for history buffs: there’s an archaeology museum, another showcasing the Engraved Rocks of Carapa, and the historic Dreyfus Tower to climb. Rest your legs on one of the many clear, sandy beaches.

Kourou’s main attraction is north-west of the city itself. The Guiana Space Centre, sometimes called The Space Port is ideally located on the planet for rocket-launching due to its position near the equator, and as such 500 rockets have been sent into the atmosphere from the centre to date.

To visit, as a member of the public, you’ll need to book a guided tour in advance. It’s an operational space centre, so you can’t exactly wander around solo. Sadly.

5. Follow Papillon’s footsteps on Devil’s Island

The walls of the defunct Devil’s Island prison, French Guiana (Shutterstock)

Many visitors to French Guiana will hope to walk in the footsteps of Henri Charrière, who wrote his 1969 autobiographical novel Papillon detailing his time as a prisoner here.

Indeed, this can be done on Devil’s Island – also known as Île du Diable – in the Salvation’s Islands, nine miles north of Kourou. Though you won’t, as Papillon does, need to escape this former prison colony.

Instead, you’ll be able to take guided tour of the remains of the prison which closed in 1953 after 100 years of detaining exiled French prisoners. It’s history is particularly brutal, so be prepared.

6. Taste the local cuisine

Cassava, a root vegetable often used in French Guianan dishes (Shutterstock)

You’ll immediately be struck by the variety of influences playing their parts local cuisine: French, Creole, Chinese – you name it, you’ll find it.

First things first, prepare yourself for some spicy cooking. Like we mentioned earlier, the tongue-bitingly hot Cayenne pepper rules the spice rack in French Guiana.

Other unmissable local dishes often include cassava (a root vegetable) among the ingredients, and are made up with smoked fish or chicken, and delicious, doughy roti flatbread. Expect many dishes to be flavoured with fruits, too.

7. Witness the excitement of Carnival

A child dressed in costume to celebrate Carnival on the streets of French Guiana (Shutterstock)

If you’re visiting in January, February or March, you’re in luck. Locals from all different backgrounds – French, Creole, Brazilian – all come together to celebrate Carnival.

This celebration happens in several South American countries each year. The festivities began in the late 1880s, and have been celebrated widely since slavery was abolished. Carnival typically ends around Ash Wednesday, and coincides with the religious calendar.

Don’t be surprised to catch parades in the streets on weekends, hearing jubilant music, lots of exuberant dancing and effervescent costumes, and general merriment all round.

Explore more of the Guianas: