By July, summer is in full swing – and so is the holiday season. Schools are out, temperatures are soaring – as are prices – and beaches and coastal towns across Europe are packed. If you’re looking for heat and sunshine, a July holiday makes sense…but, when you also want to escape the crowds, things can become more challenging.

However, by thinking outside the box, you’ll find some stunning destinations that aren’t too congested. For example, swapping the coast for the mountains, heading north rather than south, and avoiding the most popular places are all good ways to find peace – and perhaps some new favourite destinations.

So if you’re wondering where to go on holiday, here are 10 of the best holiday destinations in July.

1. Alaska, USA

Alaska, USA

If you’re dreaming about heading into the wilderness and visiting one of the most remote corners of the world, you may want to think about an Alaskan adventure. While most people imagine thick snow and frozen landscapes when they picture Alaska, a July holiday here is wonderful. Not only is the weather mild, which makes exploring easier, but there are many opportunities to spot wildlife.

July is the best time to spot humpback whales swimming in the ocean – although you have a good chance of seeing orcas, otters, and sea lions too. On land, you may spot the Alaskan Big 5: moose, bears, caribou, wolves, and Dall sheep. Plus, there are 17 to 18 hours of daylight in July, so you’ll have so much time to explore this wild region – which is one of the world’s last frontiers.

2. Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena, Colombia

Thanks to its equatorial position, the weather in Colombia never strays far away from warm and tropical – but for a sultry, sun-soaked escape, a July holiday is best…particularly if you want to explore the Caribbean coast. The beautifully preserved colonial city of Cartagena has something for everyone: history, art, culture, character, and truly blissful beaches.

With highs of 32°C and lows of 26°C in July, you’ll have plenty of chances to hit the beach – and the nearby Rosario Islands are only an hour away, so you should try to leave time for a boat trip. In the city itself, you can spend days losing yourself in the buzzing streets, admiring colonial architecture, and sampling street food. Then, as the sun sets, you can enjoy drinking and dancing into the night.

3. Kenya

Kenya

If you’re passionate about wildlife, why not visit Kenya? Few natural spectacles can compete with the Great Migration, which has been dubbed ‘the greatest show on earth’. The world’s biggest and most impressive wildlife migration sees over 1.5 million wildebeest and zebras move from Tanzania’s Serengeti and head towards the Masai Mara Nature Reserve in Kenya.

The raw beauty of the sweeping plains will likely take your breath away, and being a part of this migration is like nothing else. July is Kenya’s cool season, and temperatures hover around a pleasant 23°C – which is warm enough to treat yourself to a safari-and-beach holiday! The beaches of Watamu are dreamy and blissfully quiet…the perfect place to reflect on your incredible animal adventure.

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4. Iceland

Iceland

There’s no real bad time to visit Iceland – but if you’re not a fan of the cold or the dark, holidays in July are best. Temperatures are at their highest – a balmy 14°C! – and the days are exceptionally long. It also never gets fully dark in July, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the ethereally beautiful natural landscape.

Wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element too, as aside from being peak season for whale watching, you can often spot herds of reindeer and colonies of Atlantic puffin in July. The capital Reykjavik is at its liveliest in summer too, and the Nordic folk-food movement is in full swing. Plus, if you enjoy trekking, the mountain huts and campsites in the Central Highlands are open all through July.

5. Albania

Albania

If you’re set on a sunny continental break, but also looking for a cheap holiday in July – and perhaps fewer crowds – it’s better to avoid family favourites like France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, and head to lesser-visited countries. Sandwiched between Greece and Montenegro, Albania has beautiful beaches, charming cities, and absorbing history – and, in July, highs of 30–35°C.

The winding coastline is known as the Albanian Riviera, and there are all kinds of lovely beaches and resorts here. The capital, Tirana, is lively and packed with culture, and inland there are hulking mountains, fortress towns, and ancient ruins. While Albania has recently made a name for itself in the travel sphere, it gets a fraction of the crowds of its neighbours – and has much lower prices!

6. Azores, Portugal

Azores, Portugal

July holidays in Portugal can be uncomfortably hot – so why not escape the heat (and the crowds) and head to the Azores instead? Located over 1,500km from mainland Portugal, the nine islands of the Azores archipelago rarely get hotter than 25°C in July, and if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Known for its mesmerising landscape, these volcanic islands are a dream.

On the main island of Sao Miguel, you can explore the capital Ponta Delgada, stroll around subtropical gardens, go whale watching, and kick back on the beach. But while the beaches here are pretty, the rest of the landscape is too special not to soak up as well. Home to bubbling mud pools, ancient forests, mystical caverns, and astonishingly blue crater lakes, adventure truly abounds in the Azores.

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7. Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is another destination not revered for its weather – though, if you want to stay dry, a July holiday is a safer bet. As local legend Van Morrison sings in ‘Warm Love’, one minute you can “lay and laugh in the sun”, and the next “the sky is crying”. But the landscapes, particularly along the rugged Antrim Coast, are hypnotically beautiful – no matter how changeable the weather is!

While you’ll likely still get showers in July, it’s the driest month, and with 17 hours of daylight, you have so much time to explore. If you’re thinking about a hiking holiday, Northern Ireland is the perfect place as the trails are pretty quiet. While Giant’s Causeway will be busy, the 55km Causeway Coast Way, with its craggy coastline and pretty villages, is a joy to trek.

8. Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

If going to Japan has always appealed to you, you might want to visit in July. Kyoto was Japan’s imperial capital for thousands of years, and today it’s considered the cultural heart of the country. The city is packed with exquisite temples, beautiful streets, elegant architecture, and refined teahouses – and it’s also one of the top gastronomic spots in Japan, so foodies will be truly spoilt!

And, in July, Kyoto has even more going for it as it’s when the annual Gion Matsuri festival takes place – and has since 869! The festival is a huge part of Kyoto’s identity, and is an unforgettable experience. The streets are filled with revellers, elaborate floats, and mouthwatering street food stalls, and if you’re interested in Japanese culture, it’s truly magical.

9. Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

If you’re thinking about a European city break, Berlin could be your July holiday destination of choice. While the German capital is always busy in the summer, it isn’t quite as crowded as cities like Barcelona or Rome – and because the temperatures are much milder (with highs of around 24°C), exploring is usually an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Plus, it’s easy to get there by train too.

July’s warmth means you can take advantage of what Berlin excels at: café culture, beer gardens, and park life. Stroll along the River Spree, enjoy lazy picnics in the Tiergarten, and sip coffee or cocktails in the city’s trendy bars. Plus, there are events: music, food, and arts at Kreuzberg, the folk funfair at Zentraler Festplatz, and the illuminated Botanical Night in the Botanical Gardens.

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10. St. Lucia

St. Lucia

The Caribbean isn’t short of island paradises, but St. Lucia is a top contender for the most dazzlingly beautiful and diverse. Boasting warm azure waters, sandy beaches, sultry rainforests, and thundering waterfalls, St Lucia is also home to the ridiculously photogenic Pitons – two huge jungle-cloaked volcanoes that loom dramatically across the skyline.

While July is technically wet season, St Lucia has a tropical climate, so you can still expect average highs of 30°C and plenty of sunshine. Plus, a July holiday means you can attend the St Lucia Carnival – a main highlight of the Caribbean summer. There are all kinds of fun fêtes (planned parties) to attend, and the streets pulse with the melodic sounds of Soca, Calypso, and steel-pan bands.

Final thoughts…

The combination of the Northern Hemisphere entering its warmest season and the start of the school holidays means that July holidays are typically busier and more expensive.

If you don’t mind crowds, visiting Europe can be a blissful experience, and the beaches and town squares are full of families and happy holidaymakers. But if you’d like to enjoy peace and solitude, there are still places in Europe where things are much less congested – whether it’s the Northern Irish coastline, the mountains of Albania, or the volcanic hills of the Azores.

If you’re happy to travel further afield, places like Kenya, Alaska, and Iceland make for wonderful holidays in July – as not only can you escape the crowds, but you can also enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife adventure, and make the most of the jaw-dropping scenery.

For more inspiration for your next adventure, check out our article on 10 of the best holiday destinations in August. Or, use the button below to see this week’s top travel deals.

Are you planning a July holiday? Have you been to any of the destinations on this list? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.