School’s out for much of the world right now, meaning you’ll be doing the high season hustle and competing for selfie room if you don’t pick the right places to travel in August. Of course, sometimes it’s worth joining the throng and getting stuck in, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find lesser-known spots or quieter corners to enjoy if that’s what you’re after. Need some nuggets of inspiration? From the wilds of Alaska and East Africa’s plains to palm-fringed Pacific isles and wintery South America, here are our top picks for where to go in August.
Best places to travel in August
August is slightly rainier in August than earlier summer months, but with fewer crowds and lower prices to be found, the benefits often outweigh the weather risks. It’s a wonderful month to spot caribou, wolves and golden eagles in Denali National Park, as well as grizzly bears, who are busy hunting salmon in order to fatten up before hibernation. They also nibble on the season’s abundant berries—blueberries are particularly fat and juicy in Alaska—and you can taste them too at the annual Alyeska Berry Festival in Anchorage. Don’t miss Alaska State Fair in Palmer, which marks the last days of summer with concerts, fairground rides and street food.
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Slovenia might just be Europe’s worst-kept secret. In August the capital Ljubljana and Lakes Bled and Bohinj are packed with locals and tourists alike, but there are still plenty of lesser-known corners of this compact country to explore. As the holiday resorts sizzle, alpine regions offer respite from the heat, making it the perfect time to climb Mount Triglav. But if you really want to get off the beaten track, head east to wander pretty towns Maribor and Ptuj, or go wine tasting in the surrounding Styrian vineyards.
It’s winter in Buenos Aires, but the low season is the best time to live like a local, as residents often escape the city during the busier summer months. Culturally the capital is very much alive and kicking, with the two week long Tango Festival and World Cup showcasing the best of Argentina’s national dance with free performances, workshops and talks as well as the pro competition, ending with a final in Luna Park Stadium.
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If you want an affordable European break in August, make it Riga. With its colourful old town and beautiful parks, it’s easy to wile away the summer days here without breaking the bank. Time your visit for the Riga City Festival weekend, which sees the capital come to life with open-air concerts, street performances, sporting events, pop-up food stalls and firework shows. Bonus: public transport is completely free during the event.
It’s the height of summer—though the weather is, as always, unpredictable—and the entire country is awash with festival fever, particularly on the long bank holiday weekend. London’s Notting Hill Carnival is an essential rite of passage, while elsewhere in the city you’ll find outdoor film screenings, rooftop pop-ups and gigs galore. As for other UK cities, take your pick: Edinburgh’s booming with comedy gold at the Fringe, there’s International Beatleweek in Liverpool, Manchester Pride, and of course, the famous World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Wales.
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All kinds of adventures await in East Africa in August. The Great Migration is in full swing, meaning wildlife spotting opportunities abound in Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, and it’s also one of the best times of year to track silverback gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda. Beach bum? Weather is warm and dry and the waters around Pemba Island and Zanzibar are brimming with marine life, ideal for snorkelling or scuba diving.
Ready for long summer days spent partying on the beach? Make a beeline for Bulgaria’s affordable Black Sea Coast resorts, where there’s a sun lounger (and a glass of rakia) with your name on it. If you need a little culture, you’ll find the antidote to the region’s Irish pubs and Brit-filled clubs in Burgas, where the International Folklore Festival (17–21 Aug.) welcomes traditional singers, musicians and dancers from all over the Balkans and beyond to showcase their talents. Inland, adventurous types should tackle Bulgaria’s highest peak, Mount Musala (2,925m) before the snows return in earnest.
Looking for a low-key paradise isle? Samoa is blissfully free of flashy resorts and tourist traps, letting its natural and cultural riches speak for themselves. Samoa is popular with New Zealanders and Australians looking for a little winter sunshine, so book ahead to nab yourself a beach hut (known as a fale) and spend your days hopping between the islands’ must-sees, including Instagram-ready To Sua Ocean Trench, the Alofaaga blowholes and Falealupo Canopy Walk. For a taste of local life, flag down a brightly-coloured public bus anywhere (there are no bus stops) and see where you end up.
Madeira’s mild temperatures make it a winner with travellers year-round, but summer is the best time to spot or swim with whales and dolphins, of which there are over 20 species around the island. It’s also a fine time for scuba diving, canyoning and coasteering, as well as hiking the interior’s rugged hillside trails, which follow a network of levadas, ingenious aqueducts constructed between the 16th and 20th centuries to transport water to communities living in the southeast.
There are 17,000 islands in Indonesia – but few travellers venture beyond Bali. August brings the best weather and the inevitable accompanying crowds, so you’re better off skipping the chaos of Kuta and yogi-saturated Ubud for underrated isles such as Sumba or Pulau Weh, both of which boast white sands, turquoise waters and cheaper accommodation. Raja Ampat in West Papua receives some rain at this time of year, but don’t let that put you off booking a homestay and exploring its colourful coral reef.