In the northern hemisphere, summer’s in full swing and that can only mean one thing: it’s festival season. With Pride parades, national days and street fairs to partake in, not to mention the ultimate celebration of athleticism (the 2020 Olympics), July is set to be one big party. South of the equator, throw in some street food, stargazing hotspots and otherworldly wildlife and you have all the ingredients for an unforgettable adventure. Wondering where to start? We’ve picked our top recommendations for the best places to travel in July 2020, from Montreal and Madagascar to Amsterdam and New Zealand.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best places to travel
Best places to travel in July
July in Amsterdam is all about good food, good weather and good vibes. Lazy summer days are best spent hanging out in Vondelpark, where you can catch free open-air comedy, dance and musical performances, or at Roest urban beach, which comes complete with an adult-friendly jungle gym. If, for one reason or another, you find yourself with the munchies, Trek Food Truck Festival (10–12 July) in Amstel Park could satisfy your cravings. Then there’s the effervescent Pride (25 July–2 August) and Milkshake (25–26 July) festivals, which should quench your thirst for all things fabulous.
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Sound the road trip klaxon! California and the Pacific Northwest are calling. Bar 4th July, when roads in the US will be rammed with long weekenders on their way to family barbecues and baseball games, this month is a fine time to discover the best of the West Coast. Whether you want to catch some rays in San Diego, forest bathe in Oregon, tour Seattle’s street art or simply make the most of Vancouver's least rainy month of the year, this slice of North America is as diverse as its days are long.
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Montreal’s Canada Day celebrations kickstart a whole month of summer fun. Highlights include Sainte Catherine Street Fair (the largest in the country) and the world’s biggest international comedy festival, Just for Laughs (15–26 July). Montreal Cirque Festival (2–20 July) ensures you won’t have to bend over backwards to find street entertainment—performers from Cirque du Soleil, the National Circus School and others will be putting on tonnes of shows to celebrate one of Quebec’s most famous art forms. Festival-hopping sound like hungry work? You could always fuel up at the Time Out Market.
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Touted by some as the 'new Iceland,' Greenland is more popular than ever before, but it’s still a long way behind its oversaturated sibling—all the better for those wanting to get off the beaten track. July is technically high season here, and hotels do book up fast, but this is the world’s largest (and arguably wildest) island, and there are plenty of opportunities to find relative solitude. In it for the icebergs? Join a nighttime cruise of Unesco-listed Ilulissat Icefjord (the size of 66,000 football fields), where until around the 24th of the month the midnight sun sets a cast of creaking ‘bergs aglow in hues of pink, purple and orange.
With sweet ski slopes, luxury hot springs and fantastic whale watching opportunities, New Zealand’s South Island is a no brainer when it comes to winter escapes. The coldest months also offer the chance to witness the aurora australis (southern lights) dancing along the horizon, best spotted in Dunedin close to a new moon. And there’s yet more reason to look skyward in July; the rise of the Pleaides star cluster marks the start of Matariki (Maori New Year) which will be celebrated with cultural festivals and feasts from the 13th through the 20th. Visit Mt John Observatory in Tekapo, which sits within an international dark sky reserve, for unbeatable stargazing.
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From Avignon and Marseille to St Tropez and Cannes, Provence is packed with historic cities and stylish towns, with swathes of pastoral bliss in between. Come in July to sample crisp dry rosé at Château Gassier, which runs outdoor tastings and a cinema under the stars in the summer months; frolic in the lavender fields around Aix en Provence and Senanque Abbey before the harvest, or catch a glimpse of Tour de France riders along the dizzyingly high trail of Mont Ventoux.
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Home to some of the most diverse wildlife on the planet, Madagascar is a joy to visit in July, when the weather is cooler and drier, making lemur spotting on rainforest treks more comfortable. Humpback whales migrate here to calve their young at this time of year—spot them in Tulear and Nosy Be, or experience the humpback whale festival on Nosy Boraha. In Morondava, the local community celebrates their precious ecology with the Baobab Fosa festival, where you can, you guessed it, spot fosa (a relative of the mongoose) and walk the dazzling Avenue of the Baobabs.