Where to go on holiday in August

August means school holidays and bumped-up prices for flights and hotels. But in many parts of the world, August is also the best time to visit rather than the worst. The waterholes are busiest in Africa, the turtles are nesting in Costa Rica, and the sea is calmest for whale watching boat tours in the Azores. Rather than skipping whole countries during August, we recommend avoiding the cities where tourists throng. Altiplano de Granada is far quieter than Barcelona, and the Peloponnese region is nowhere near as crowded as the best-known Greek islands. As for families – multi activity holidays in Croatia, Montenegro and Greece are organised to perfection to ensure maximum fun.

1. Azores

Portugal’s Atlantic archipelago is surrounded by deep, dark waters in which nutrients swirl – ideal feeding grounds for cetaceans. And feed they do, in immense numbers. Whales and dolphins can be seen here year-round, but in August the sea is calmest for whale watching boat tours and it’s easier for spotters on land to find them.

2. Baltics

Winters in the Baltics get flippin’ freezing, so you’re much better off travelling to Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia in August instead. Expect long, warm days and crowds in the popular coastal resorts and capitals, although our responsible travel partners will try to steer you clear of the honeypot areas in favour of lesser-known beauty spots such as Lahemaa National Park.

3. Croatia

One of Europe’s finest destinations for small ship cruising holidays, Croatia’s popularity has blossomed hugely in recent years, in part due to Game of Thrones being filmed in medieval Dubrovnik. Escape the mega cruise crowds of August with smaller vessels that can reach island idylls and remote anchorages while sailing your way along the Dalmatian coast.

4. Greece

It gets hot and busy in Greece during August. No surprises there. But you can escape both by choosing holidays that avoid the bustling resorts, perhaps walking routes through island interiors that seek out shade, or small ship cruises that duck into bays larger vessels cannot. You can combine the two, with daily walks finishing back at the coast in time for a refreshing swim every afternoon.

5. Scotland

Scotland is a year-round destination once you learn to embrace the unpredictable weather rather than worry about it. The crowds and midges are at their worst in August, but there are plenty of ways to escape both. Rail holidays take you through landscapes the coach tours and car cruisers never see, while the further up into the mountains you go, the less the midges will bother you.

6. Spain

Spain? In August? Now bear with us. We’re not suggesting a ramble down crowded Las Ramblas or a beach break in Benidorm. Instead, look to Catalonia, where you can hike and cycle to your heart’s content through practically empty countryside, or the glorious Altiplano de Granada in Andalucia, a rural idyll perfect for families with younger kids.
Travel Team
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August holiday advice

We’ve spoken with our expert travel partners to find out where they recommend travelling in August. Here’s what they say…
Morag Prosser, from our travel partners ROW Adventures, says: “We used to have very few people travelling to Galapagos in August, as it’s thought of as being the low season down there. It’s only in the last few years that we’ve seen a huge increase in families travelling during this season. Our family tours are only open to family groups – we don’t do couple or singles. That’s so that if you have a group of seven- to 10-year-olds, they can run the tour at a pace that’s suitable for that group. The kids then have other kids to interact and learn with, and you don’t have single adults chomping at the bit to move faster, and feel like the kids are holding them back so that their parents are getting uncomfortable.”
Steve and Maria Clifford, from our Catalonia holidays partner Catalan Adventures: “We have a High Pyrenees walking holiday that’s quite popular in August; a lot of people come for that. High Pyrenees is really only suitable from April through to the beginning of October, because we’ve got snow either side.”
Diana Syrett, from our travel partner Kerala Connections, has some houseboating advice: “August is still low season in a lot of the lowlands, but sometimes it is hard to get flights from the UK at that time of year, so you need to do that well in advance. It is also the Onam Festival here in August, which is the equivalent of Christmas for Hindus and a wonderful family celebration. Most of the shops will close on the main day of Onam, which is called Thiruvonam, except in the main tourist hubs.”
Petr Ivanek, from our Slovakia activity holidays partner Slovakia Explorer, on trekking in the High Tatras: “August is beautiful, very warm, sometimes even hot – but you get more storms. The weather can change quite quickly within a couple of hours.”
Tom Wilson, from our partner Exodus Travels, on Amalfi Coast family holidays: “We run trips in August – guides just have to be mindful of where shade is as it’s a lot hotter. But Italians are used to having people here all year. We always make sure everyone fills up their water bottles at the hotel every morning.”
Tenille Moore, from our Latin America and Caribbean travel partner Geodyssey, says: “We get a lot of families coming to Costa Rica in the August school holidays. They get showers in the afternoons, but it doesn’t spoil their holiday and you get beautiful sunsets. The best place for beaches is the north Pacific side, as that’s the driest part of the country. So if you’re there in August, that’s the place to go.”
Tim Williamson, customer director at Responsible Travel, offers his August safari tips: “August is one of the best months to take a safari in Southern Africa for three key reasons. Firstly, there’s less water about, so wildlife gathers around the remaining waterholes. Secondly, the vegetation is brown and thinner, so it’s easier to see the animals. In the wet season you could have a lion in the bush next to you and never know it because it’s so thick. And lastly, in August it doesn’t get so stiflingly hot at midday as it does in the summer.”
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Arleen wiese] [Azores: John Eckert] [Croatia: Mario Fajt] [Scotland: Phillip Capper] [Montserrat: Paul Kelley] [Galapagos: shalamov] [Slovakia: Stefan Stafancik]