Where to go for your summer adventure
Whether you plan to travel this year or the next, these thrilling destinations promise a summer escape to remember
When you think ‘summer holiday’, do you imagine soft sands, warm ocean and blue sky? Or are you more tempted by adventure — perhaps alpine camping in Kyrgyzstan, joining colourful street parties in Peru, or admiring masked monks in the mountain kingdom of Bhutan?
To aid you in your quest for the perfect summer escape, we’ve selected two of our favourite destinations for each of the summer months. Be sure to delve into more possibilities with Cox & Kings’ dedicated month-by-month travel planner.
This ancient Christian nation in the South Caucasus brims with appeal. Amidst its steep valleys and rolling hills you’ll find old churches, verdant vineyards, huddled villages, Roman fortresses and rock-hewn monasteries. The lively capital of Tbilisi is full of cultural and culinary highlights, whilst the rugged Black Sea coast is dotted with resort towns.
June is an ideal month to visit Georgia and its South Caucasus neighbours, Armenia and Azerbaijan. You avoid the business of the local summer holidays, whilst dodging the chill of winter. The fascinating cities of Tiblisi, Baku and Yerevan remain cool enough for comfortable exploration, and the May showers have quenched the mountains, making them especially scenic.
Peru is perhaps best known for its Incan relics, including the mountaintop citadel of Machu Picchu. Yet there is much more to admire about this South American nation, from the natural beauty of its Andean peaks and Lake Titicaca to the mysterious, millennia-old Nazca Lines and colonial-era cities such as Cuzco.
It’s dry season in June, affording visitors excellent conditions in which to explore Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Sacred Valley. This is also the month of the nine-day Inca festival of Inti Raymi, which sees locals celebrate with colourful, costumed processions, banquets, street parties and live music.
Tanzania is a photographer’s dream. Here you can focus your lens on the wildlife of the Serengeti, the snowcapped peak of Kilimanjaro, the sugary sands of Zanzibar and the vast, natural amphitheatre of the Ngorongoro Crater.
At this time of year, it’s the dry season, affording you excellent conditions for a safari. With less vegetation behind which to hide and fewer water sources from which to choose, creatures great and small congregate around the remaining watering holes in high concentration. Between June and July, the countless wildebeests of the Great Migration move north across the Serengeti towards Kenya — and many fearsome predators follow.
The deep gorges, towering mountains, azure lakes and winding valleys of Kyrgyzstan make this Central Asian country quite the setting for a summer adventure.
July is an ideal time for exploring northern Kyrgyzstan’s mountains and national parks. The variety of altitude and terrain means the climate is variable, but there tends to be little snow and rainfall at this time of year. Stay overnight in a traditional yurt near Lake Issyk-Kul, hike the alpine meadows of Chon Kemin, and barter at the bustling bazaar of Bishkek — hot at this time of year, but with relatively low humidity.
Despite its forward-thinking, technologically advanced credentials, Estonia’s medieval charm remains intact, exemplified by the charming cobbled streets of Tallinn’s old town — best explored on foot. This Baltic nation also boasts natural beauty in abundance, with its sprawling forests, vast wetlands and scattered coastal islands, popular for summer breaks.
August is a clement time to visit Estonia in combination with its Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Lithuania. In the summer months, up to 16 hours of daylight per day gives you plenty of time to wander round the historic capital cities. This is also a time of cultural festivities, with Tallinn hosting the Birgitta Festival within the ruins of a monastery, and Riga hosting both the Riga City Festival and Balta Nakts — or ‘White Night’.
South Africa is rich with reasons to visit, from its diverse culture and world-class safari parks to its gorgeous vineyards and spectacular coastal scenery.
August is dry season in South Africa. Whilst you may have to endure cooler temperatures at the national parks — especially during nocturnal and early-morning safari drives — the pay-off is some of the best wildlife viewing of the year. This is also a great time for a marine safari, especially in whale-watching capital, Hermanus, where whales can be seem within three metres of the shoreline.
Shaped by a characterful blend of Balkan and Mediterranean influences, North Macedonia is often overlooked by tourists. Yet here you’ll find many a reason to explore, including stunning mountains, glittering lakes, blissful hiking trails and charming, historic towns.
In September, pair North Macedonia with neighbouring Kosovo and Albania for an in-depth Balkan adventure. The dry Mediterranean climate provides pleasant conditions in which to visit the mosques, monasteries, landmarks and lakes. Enjoy a spot of culture at the Skope Jazz Festival, sample local tipples at the Kavadarci Wine Carnival in the Tikves region, and join North Macedonia’s Independence Day celebrations on 8 September.
Tucked amidst the soaring Eastern Himalaya slopes is the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. This isolated Buddhist nation hasn’t long been accessible to visitors, which has helped to preserve its unique, deeply spiritual culture from outside influences.
By September, the monsoon season has ended; clear skies and low rainfall make exploring the mountains and valleys easier. This is also the time of Thimphi Tshechu — Bhutan’s biggest festival — which is held every year in the capital, Thimphu. This religious celebration, which draws villagers from every corner of the country, is marked with choreographed dances by masked monks and the opening of lively markets.