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, July is a great time to travel…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 some peace – and perhaps some new favourite destinations.
So to get you inspired, here are 10 of the best travel destinations for July.
1. 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, July is a really good time to visit. Not only is the weather mild, which makes exploring easier but there are so 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, too, as well as otters and sea lions. 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 more time to explore this wild region – which is one of the world’s last frontiers.
2. Cartagena, Colombia
Thanks to its equatorial position, the weather in Colombia never strays far away from warm and tropical – but if you’re dreaming about a sultry, sun-soaked escape, July is the best time to visit… 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.
If you’re passionate about wildlife, why not visit Kenya this July? Few natural spectacles can begin to 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 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.
Because no one visits Iceland because of the weather, there’s no real bad time to go – but if you’re not a fan of the cold or the dark, you should avoid visiting in winter. In July, temperatures are at their highest – a balmy 14°C! – and the days are exceptionally long. It never gets fully dark in Iceland in July, so you have so much more 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, in July, you can often spot herds of reindeer and colonies of Atlantic puffin. The capital Reykjavik is at its liveliest in summer too, and the Nordic folk-food movement is in full swing. Plus, if you want to go trekking, the mountain huts and campsites in the Central Highlands are open all through July.
If you’ve got your heart set on a sunny continental break, but you’re also looking for a bargain – and perhaps fewer crowds – it’s best to avoid family favourites like France, Spain, Greece, and Italy, and instead, head to those 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’s had a fraction of the crowds of its neighbours – and much lower prices!
6. Azores, Portugal
Portugal can be uncomfortably hot in July – 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. Home to bubbling mud pools, ancient forests, mystical caverns, and astonishingly blue crater lakes, adventure truly abounds in the Azores.
7. Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is another destination not revered for its weather – though, if you want to stay dry, July is the best time to go. 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 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, you’re far better off going to Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK, as the trails are quieter. 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
If going to Japan has always appealed to you, you might want to think about visiting 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!
But, in July, Kyoto has even more going for it as it’s when the Gion Matsuri festival takes place – an annual event that’s been celebrated since 869! The festival is a huge part of Kyoto’s identity, and being there 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
If you’re thinking about a city break, you may want to head to Berlin in July. 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 a far more enjoyable, and relaxing, experience. Plus, it’s really easy to get there by train too.
July’s warmth means you’re able to 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 many 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.
10. St. Lucia
The Caribbean isn’t short of island paradises, but St. Lucia has got to be a top contender for the most dazzlingly beautiful – as well as the most 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, visiting in July means you can attend the St Lucia Carnival, which is a main highlight of the Caribbean summer. There are all kinds of fun fetes (planned parties) to attend, and the streets pulse with the melodic sounds of Soca, Calypso, and steel-pan bands.
The combination of the Northern Hemisphere entering its warmest season and the start of the school holidays means that July is one of the busiest, and most expensive, months to travel.
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 a sense of 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 are wonderful to visit 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 the travel section of our website.
Have you been to any of these places? Or do you have your own suggestions for some of the best travel destinations for July? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.