Welcome to a year of wonderful destinations & the best times to visit
If you know when you are free to travel but not sure where to go, then look no further. We have collated some of the best holiday destinations by month. Simply choose a month to travel and discover the best places to visit at that time of year – whether it’s for the country’s climate, festivities, wildlife viewing or cultural attractions.
For more inspiration, please take a look at our Compass blog, full of articles from journalists, Cox & Kings experts and past travellers. Alternatively, you can speak to one of our experts who will be happy to discuss your ideas and make suggestions relevant to your requirements.
Holidays in January
In the UK, bleak January may only be brightened by New Year celebrations, but elsewhere the weather is ideal for exploring. The harsh but dazzlingly beautiful landscapes of Antarctica are more easily accessible at this time of year, when the sea ice breaks and the sun shines near on 24 hours a day. The best time to travel to Botswana is in January and wildlife lovers should head to the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Rainfall sweeps across the grasslands attracting an abundance of animals feeding on the sudden bounty of vegetation. For culture seekers, For culture seekers, January is the month to explore Cambodia’s impressive temples in Angkor, when oppressive heat and heavy rain makes way for cooler temperatures and clear skies. In January, Colombia is also in the middle of its dry season, making this the ideal time for excursions around the country’s colonial cities, pre-Columbian sites and coffee plantations.
The best time to visit this vast, icy wilderness is between November and March. Known as the austral summer, tough sea ice begins to melt and expeditions can make their way between icebergs and sheet ice to land. Although you may not see as many spectacular ice formations due to the warmth, visitors often get the chance to see the Scott and Shackleton exhibition huts that are usually covered. January has less extreme temperatures and longer hours, with 24 hours of daylight to be expected in the first few weeks. It is the perfect time to spot baby seals and newly hatched chicks in large penguin colonies on the shore. Discover Antartica
The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is one of the world’s largest wildlife reserves. However, wildlife can be tough to spot because of the generally dry and arid environment that sees animals scatter. Although January can be one of the warmer months, it is also a period of good rainfall, turning the valleys and pans of the Central Kalahari a lush green, bursting with nutritious grasses. With this come herds of antelope, giraffe and blue wildebeest, naturally followed by predators: cheetahs, leopards, black-backed jackals and Kalahari black-maned lions. January also spells the low season for tourists due to bursts of heavy rain. If you can cope with rain, you will have the area and animals all to yourself. Discover Botswana
Cambodia often experiences extremely hot temperatures and high rainfall, but January is the exception and the best time to visit in regards to the climate. Popular between November and April, January is the driest month and tends to be cooler. The clear blue skies make it the best time to head out to explore impressive temples like Angkor Wat, enjoy relaxing boat trips along the Tonle Sap lake seeing Cambodia’s floating villages and relax on the beaches of the southern coast. Discover Cambodia
Located so close to the equator, Colombia doesn’t experience a great deal of temperature fluctuation throughout the year, although where you are in terms of altitude will obviously play a part. However, visit during the dry season from December through to March and your holiday is less likely to be hampered by heavy rain. This is the best time to explore on foot: wander the picturesque streets of Cartagena or discover Bogotá’s hip versus historic districts; pore over local market stalls; walk among the lush plantations of the Coffee Triangle, learning about the production process from bean to table; and finish up with well-deserved relaxation time on the idyllic beaches of Colombia’s Caribbean coastline. Discover Colombia
Holidays in February
Wondering where is the best place to travel to in February? Craving somewhere to cheer you out of your winter blues? Read on to find out about the best destinations for festive February flair. Brazil tops the list as it’s carnival season: cities hum to the beat of parades of dancers in a cultural extravaganza like no other. On the opposite side of South America, off the coast of Chile, the people of Easter Island are also celebrating their annual Tapati cultural festival. Team this up with a visit to the mainland where the summer months bring warm, dry weather. Foodies shouldn’t think twice about flying the distance to New Zealand for gastronomy galore at the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival. Work off the excess indulgence on summer hikes through the glorious landscapes of Marlborough Sounds.
February is Chile’s summer and the weather is warm and dry. This elongated country has magnificent scenery from top to toe. Patagonia, in the far south, is not that far from Antarctica and the summer months are a great time to explore Torres del Paine National Park. In the central belt, this time of year tends to be when the residents of Santiago take their holidays, which makes visiting the capital more relaxing. Easter Island holds its annual Tapati cultural festival; together the whole island celebrates their culture through music, dance and traditional sports. Discover Chile
While the Amazon and Rio de Janeiro can be visited all year round, summertime is best with warmer and sunnier days. Although February is southern Brazil’s wet season, it is also when the biggest party in the world occurs, carnival! Competing for the title of Brazil’s best carnival are the cities of Salvador, Rio and Olinda – the vibrant and exuberant festival is an expression of culture that has been running for over 100 years. The main event at Rio’s carnival is the Samba parade; take your seat in the Sambadrome and watch the extravagant floats and costumed dancers go by. After which, you can soak up the atmosphere at one of the city’s street parties. Discover Brazil
February is one of the warmest months in New Zealand and a perfect time to fly straight from a British mid-winter into glorious mid-summer. It is also the month when the Marlborough Wine & Food Festival takes place on the beautiful Brancott Estate. The region is particularly known for its crisp sauvignon blancs, and there are countless wines to sample and local produce to taste, as well as tutorials from the region’s leading winemakers. The Marlborough Sounds are a series of intricate waterways with spectacular coves, islands and peninsulas, crystal clear waters and lush, coastal forest. There are spectacular walking trails in the region, or it can be explored from the water on a ferry cruise, aboard a hired kayak or on a luxury yacht tour. Discover New Zealand
Holidays in March
As the UK hopes to see the beginning of spring, it is still a while until higher temperatures return. Some of the best escapes to warmer climes at this time include Cuba, where there are sunny skies, warm weather, little rain and fewer crowds than usual. March to April is the last opportunity to visit Oman before real summer highs set in. Peak tourist season has past, so you may be lucky enough to combine warm temperatures with uncrowded sightseeing. Burma is similarly coming to the end of high season as March sees the last of the dry weather – the perfect time for peaceful Irrawaddy cruising and temple visits. Meanwhile Argentina is moving from summer into autumn, the season of plenty. Grapes are harvested and the wine flows freely at Mendoza’s 10-day wine festival.
Temperatures are creeping up but rainy weather and hurricane season will hold off until after April making this an ideal time to explore the historic cities, magnificent landscapes and exuberant culture of this island nation. Tour Havana, the beating heart of the country; Santiago, the cradle of the Cuban revolution; and colonial ports that thrived on the sugar trade. Away from the cities relax amid the green valleys and tobacco plantations of Viñales or spend idle hours on the glorious stretches of white sand that fringe the cayes of Cuba’s enticing coastline. Discover Cuba
The best months to visit Oman are between October and April while temperatures will be between 20–30°C, and cooler in the mountains. April will also be less busy than the winter months and is the end of the rose-blooming season in the Jabel Akhdar mountains, near to Muscat. As a conservative country, Omani traditional culture is very welcoming and hasn’t been completely shrouded by great wealth like its neighbours. Discover Oman
Visiting Argentina in the autumn months, between March and May, has numerous advantages. The weather is most temperate in Buenos Aires and autumnal leaves turn the Patagonia region into a spectacular scene. It’s also harvest season, and the country celebrates with their wine festival in the region where most of it is produced – Mendoza. The revelry lasts for 10 days with the Queens Carousel Parade, a spectacular stage show, fireworks, dancing and, of course, plenty of wine to taste. With the country being the world’s fifth largest wine producer, it is no wonder the festival is such a popular event. Discover Argentina
Holidays in April
With spring fully sprung across Europe in April, there is much on offer closer to home. The bucolic charm of Romania is now at its best as the countryside begins to bloom. It’s also the perfect time to tour the fortified Saxon churches, medieval towns and magical castles before temperatures get too hot. In Malta, April brings with it fascinating cultural traditions as the fervently Catholic locals celebrate Eastertide. Moving into the Middle East, warm temperatures and lower rainfall makes April a great month to explore the religious sights of Israel and the OPT. Further afield, Japan celebrates Hanami as a blanket of pink cherry blossom (sakura) spreads across the country, while tiger sightings in central India’s national parks become more likely as they come out in search of water in the drier weather.
With summer reserved for beach-lovers and sun-worshippers, spring is an ideal time to tour Israel’s cultural treasures with warm weather, long days and little chance of experiencing ‘April showers’. There can still be a significant difference in temperatures throughout the country, with Tel Aviv more humid than cooler Jerusalem. Galilee (northern Israel) can be quite fresh at this time of year, so it’s best to pack some layers to be on the safe side. If you’re planning on taking a dip in the Dead Sea, the average high temperature in April is a warm 29°C, making it a relaxing experience. Visitors should note that Passover – Pesach as it is known in Hebrew – is celebrated in April, which can be a busy and expensive time to travel and is best avoided. Discover Israel
In terms of climate, Malta experiences warm weather all year round. However, one of the highlights is visiting during a religious holiday. The tiny island nation is home to 359 churches and, as the locals are devout Catholics, Easter is taken very seriously. Sombre processions through the streets are followed by the ‘seven visits’ to different churches. The mood changes come Easter Sunday when bands play lively music in the streets and food can be eaten from outdoor carts. This is also when families meet to swap gifts and enjoy festive meals. Discover Malta
Romania has four distinct seasons, with May to September best avoided for those that shy away from the heat. April – before or after Easter – is a delightful time to visit for those with the main aim of soaking up the country’s numerous cultural highlights, arriving before the summer crowds and while the wildflowers are in full bloom. The temperature is just starting to increase, yet it’s still cool enough for walking in the mountains and villages that dot the countryside. As an alternative time to travel to Romania, September and October also work well with mild temperatures, fewer crowds and kaleidoscopic autumnal hues, as well as a number of events including harvest, All Hallows Eve and the chamber music festival, SoNoRo. Discover Romania
Central India is home to some of the best wildlife reserves in the country, including Bandhavgarh, Kahna, Panna, Pench and Satpura national parks. As one of the drier months, April is one of the better times for tiger sightings as they emerge looking for water. In Bandhavgarh, grassland meadows and a high density tiger population means there is a good chance of spotting big cats. The same is true for Kanha National Park, the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book. Meanwhile, central India also plays host to beautiful temples in Orchha and exquisite carvings in Khajuraho. Travelling in April means you can enjoy cooler temperatures than the rest of the year. Discover India
April is the perfect time to enjoy Hanami – the Japanese custom of celebrating the arrival of cherry blossom season. Both tourists and locals alike enjoy picnics underneath the pink and white trees that are in full bloom across the country. To continue the festivities through the night, lanterns are hung up. In Tokyo and Kyoto, the best time to visit for the blossom is in early April. While the festival begins in the southern islands of Okinawa in January, it spreads through the central islands between March and May, ending in Hokkaido in early May. Discover Japan
Holidays in May
In May, Uzbekistan sees rainfall at its lowest and temperatures at their mildest, making it the perfect time to explore souks and visit the beautiful cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. Meanwhile, in the Himalayan foothills, the temperature is warming with tea pickers out in force on the hillsides of Darjeeling alongside vivid wildflowers, ensuring beautiful mountain views. In Latin America, wildlife comes alive amid calm seas in the Galapagos throughout May, just as the tourists begin to dwindle. While northern China’s pleasant weather makes it an ideal time to explore before the summer crowds flock. For those with adventure in mind, Lebanon makes for a fascinating escape in May, combining the country’s coast, mountains and numerous historic sites.
Lebanon is a relatively small country that’s packed with impressive Roman remains, beautiful vineyards, quiet fishing villages and soaring mountains. The best time to visit Lebanon is late spring (May) or autumn (October and November) when the weather is pleasantly warm and dry. The scenery here is at its most beautiful, and the archaeological sites are less busy. May and June are also the best months for a wander in places such as the Kadisha Valley or Horsh Ehden as well as for wine tasting in the Bekaa Valley. Discover Lebanon
As the temperature in summer can reach 40°C, the best months to visit are between mid-April and early June. Temperatures during this time are mid to high 20s and there is still a cool breeze. In the Tien Shan mountains, the wild flowers of Uzbekistan are in bloom, predominantly red poppies and tulips. In Bukhara, the Silk and Spices Festival is held in May. The weekend is dedicated to cultural heritage and supports local arts and crafts, from gold embroiderers and hand weavers to wood carvers, carpet weavers and fine art. Before the summer heat begins, you can also stay the night in a yurt in the Kyzylkum desert. Discover Uzbekistan
In May the weather tends to be clear, sunny and warm with little rain. However, southern China is humid and tends to have heavy monsoon rainfall. Across the countryside, the surroundings are verdant and wildflowers are in bloom, making it the perfect time to visit natural attractions such as Tiger Leaping Gorge, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Shilin Stone Forest before the crowds arrive. The weather also makes it pleasant to roam the streets of Lijiang, whose old town has been declared a Unesco world heritage site. In neighbouring Hong Kong, the Dragon Boat Festival is held at the end of May, a colourful traditional event where paddlers race in long narrow boats. Discover China
Ecuador & Galapagos
Luckily, the Galapagos Islands are a year-round destination as the weather is temperate. However, in May, the skies are at their bluest and the seas are calm. Wildlife activities are rife: the eggs of marine iguanas and sea turtles begin to hatch and many birds begin their courtship rituals, including the unmistakable blue-footed boobies. Flowers are now in bloom and the water is warm, making snorkelling a delight. Plus, as the peak season begins in June, you will be able to experience the Galapagos with fewer tourists. Discover Ecuador & Galapogos
With winter’s snowfall thawed, rhododendrons and magnolias bloom in the charming Indian Himalaya hill stations of Shimla and Darjeeling. The quintessential sight of tea pickers scatter Darjeeling’s mountain slopes and Shimla enjoys its warmest month of the year with temperate days and cool nights, as well as the start of the city’s Summer Festival which erupts into a riot of colour and celebration. Darjeeling enjoys ideal weather conditions in May ahead of June’s monsoon season, making it a popular time to visit, whilst bustling Dharamsala’s pleasant weather makes it easier to explore the Dalai Lama’s local community in comfort. Discover India
Holidays in June
Choosing where to holiday in June can be tricky. Not only is Europe now warming up, but destinations further afield also have plenty to offer. Some of Europe’s best festivities take place in the north, celebrating the midnight sun. Countries such as Norway, Finland and Sweden experience days on end where the sun doesn’t set. Celebrations marking the summer solstice on 21 June come in the form of toasts, bonfires, saunas and any daytime activity you can think of – at any time of night. June is also a great time to visit Ladakh in India, where the Hemis festival is celebrated with colourful costumes and traditional music. Meanwhile in Africa, the dramatic and spectacular river crossings of the wildebeest migration can be viewed in the western area of the Serengeti.
June is an ideal month to visit all three states of the southern Caucasus: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Travelling in June will mean you avoid local summer holidays when accommodation is crowded, as well as the bitter chill of winter when the majority of tourists are of the skiing variety. The culturally rich cities of Tiblisi, Baku and Yerevan are still cool enough to explore comfortably before the humidity of summer sets in, and May’s sporadic rain showers have dissipated leaving the mountains lush – ideal for a spot of alpine exploration. Discover Georgia
One of the best times to track mountain gorillas in Rwanda is June, as the weather is cooler, drier and the tourist crowds have not yet arrived for peak season. It’s also when Kwita Izina is held – the gorilla naming ceremony – which is usually attended by the prime minister of Rwanda, important members of the Rwandan community and the park rangers. Kwita Izina is a way of monitoring the birth rates year by year and is also held to bring attention to the importance of gorilla conservation. Tourists are more than welcome to attend the ceremony as well. Discover Rwanda
June is the dry season, where days tend to be sunny and warm, making it a great time to visit Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and the Sacred Valley. One of the main attractions in June is the theatrical Inti Raymi festival in Cusco. For nine days there are banquets, street celebrations and traditional Peruvian music is played. The main procession begins at the Sun Temple and proceeds through the streets to the Incan ruins of Sacsayhuaman. With the king and queen present in lavish, colourful costumes, an ancient Incan ceremony is re-enacted to honour the Sun God, complete with a pretend sacrifice. Discover Peru
During the summer, St Petersburg experiences days of long sunshine while some days the sun does not set at all. These Belye Nochi – White Nights – are celebrated with the Scarlet Sails water show and fireworks on the Neva river. During these celebrations, St Petersburg’s museums, including the Hermitage, offer free entry late into the night as well as putting on special workshops and author tours. The Mariinsky Theatre also features daily performances of ballet, classical music and opera. However, the best part of these White Nights may be simply wandering the warm, luminous streets at 2am with an ice cream in hand. Discover Russia
Holidays in July
In northern Tanzania, July is when one of nature’s biggest and most sought-after spectacles plays out upon the plains of the Serengeti – the annual wildebeest migration. The dry season here is a prime time for viewing wildlife gathering around rivers and watering holes. The same goes for neighbouring Zambia, where leopards and hippos can be spotted in the country’s uncongested parks and reserves. In Central Asia, the summer months are ideal for discovering the unspoilt landscapes of Kyrgyzstan, where rolling pastures and snow-capped peaks are reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. For awe-inspiring scenery, the western provinces of Canada are difficult to match; July is a great month to visit, when whales and bears can be spotted in British Columbia, and Alberta’s iconic national parks are at their best.
Northern Kyrgyzstan is a summer destination, with July being the ideal time for touring the mountainous regions. Given the range of landscapes and altitude – from mountains to arid desert – the weather can be still variable. It will be cold at night in areas such as Ala Archa National Park, but snow should only be visible on the highest trails and the alpine scenery should be vibrant with low rainfall. At this time of year you can experience an overnight stay at a traditional yurt camp near Lake Issyk-Kul, or walk comfortably in the alpine meadows of the Chon Kemin valley. Although it’s the least humid month in Bishkek, expect the low lying capital to be very warm. In July, local people hold small festivals to celebrate Kyrgyzstan traditions. Discover Kyrgyzstan
Tanzania’s dry season runs from late June until October; during these months, the southern and western circuits are the best to visit. The Great Migration in the Serengeti is a dramatic spectacle best seen in June and July, as the wildebeest move north towards Kenya. Hundreds of wildebeest try to cross rivers where crocodiles await them. As the land becomes drier, it’s easier to spot wildlife as it clusters at watering holes and rivers. The temperature at night can drop, so morning drives can be cold and it’s advisable to take warm clothes. Zanzibar is a perfect add-on to any safari, with temperatures in the mid-20s. The Indian Ocean is also in the mid-20s, making for great water-based activities such as snorkelling around the coral reefs. Discover Tanzania
The dry season in July is the best time to visit Zambia, as wildlife often emerges looking for water. The temperature is warm, but not baking and drops at night. It is also the time of year that Livingstone Island opens for visitors; this is where David Livingstone first caught sight of ‘The Smoke That Thunders’, the powerful Victoria Falls. It’s a spectacular place to view the waterfall, where the rising mists do not block your view, and at a time when the water levels are still high enough to create a dramatic impact. Discover Zambia
Summer in Western Canada is warm and dry, making July an ideal time to enjoy the country’s lakes and mountains. Explore vibrant Vancouver, which has many events in summer, with the option to visit Vancouver Island – particularly popular for bear and whale watchers (April – September). Nature lovers will also enjoy nearby Whistler, with the Peak 2 Peak gondola offering remarkable views. Further into the interior you can spot endemic wildlife in the national parks, including Banff, Yoho and Jasper. The Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper offers one of the most scenic drives on earth, with the option to tour the Athabasca glacier via the Skywalk or in an Ice Explorer vehicle. Recommended activities in July include kayaking on the calm waters of picture-postcard Lake Louise, exploring the national park walking trails and journeying on the iconic Rocky Mountaineer train. On 1 July, Canada Day is celebrated with parades, picnics and fireworks. Discover Canada
Holidays in August
With the European summer in full swing, August is naturally a popular time to visit the continent. Consider the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where the long, bright August evenings will provide ample time for getting acquainted with their historic capitals. Further afield, August is a great time to explore the rainforests and tropical islands of Madagascar; mild temperatures and less rainfall make lemur-seeking jungle treks a pleasure. In South Africa, the dry season (June - October) makes for superb wildlife viewing, with the added advantage of fewer fellow travellers. Meanwhile, August sits between monsoons in Sri Lanka, making it ideal for exploring the island’s lush tea plantations, ancient architectural sites and unspoilt beaches.
The Baltic States - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - have an undeniable winter charm, but for those looking to venture beyond the sauna, the region is arguably best enjoyed in summer months. With up to sixteen hours of sunshine, it’s pleasant to wander around the historical cities of Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius in August. Alternatively, travel through the thriving countryside, exploring the lakes, castles, palaces and gardens that dot the landscape. A variety of cultural festivals take place in the region throughout the relatively short summer including the Birgitta Festival, within the ruins of a monastery in Tallinn; and both Balta Nakts (White Night) and the Riga City Festival in Latvia’s capital. Discover Estonia
Mild temperatures and little rainfall mean that August is a great time to visit Madagascar’s tropical islands, Sainte Marie and Nosy Komba. Sightings of black lemurs are plentiful at this time of year and, as the rainy season ends in June, the vegetation is still lush and green. Meanwhile, it’s prime time to spot dolphins and humpback whales that come to give birth and nurture their calves off the east coast. As the weather is cool and crisp in August, rainforest and jungle treks are comfortable and huge downpours aren’t as common. Discover Madagascar
The winter coincides with the dry season in South Africa. Although temperatures can drop quite low at night and on early morning game drives, August affords some of the best wildlife viewing all year. Animals emerge to gather around waterholes and are easier to spot as there is less vegetation, raising your chances of seeing elephants, rhinos and lions. It is also low season in August, meaning it may feel as though you have parks all to yourself. This is also an excellent time for an ocean safari, particularly in Hermanus where whales can be spotted within three metres of the shoreline. Additionally, the west coast is transformed by spring flowers, which have just come into bloom, turning the area into a dazzling carpet of colour. Discover South Africa
With two separate monsoon seasons, there is always a side of the island that you can visit with good weather in August. Weather at this time of year can vary as its inter-monsoon and there can be the odd short shower. The yala – southwest monsoon – is wettest between April and June, and the maha – northeast monsoon – between November and March. Temperatures on the coast tend to be mid to high 20s, while in Kandy and Nuwara Eliya they tend to be lower, between 15 and 20°C. August is prime time to spot leopards in Yala National Park, where you can spend a night camping out under the stars. In Minneriya National Park, Asian elephants gather around water tanks, making them easier to spot. Discover Sri Lanka
Holidays in September
As British summertime draws to a close, Italy, Portugal and Greece still offer plenty of sun in September, but with fewer crowds. A lesser-visited European option, North Macedonia offers an intriguing mix of Balkan and Mediterranean traditions. In Kenya, September is an optimal time for combining game viewing in the Maasai Mara with a beach stay on the Indian Ocean coast. Namibia’s wildlife parks also offer superb wildlife experiences in September, when conditions are mostly warm and clear; good roads make self-drive a liberating way to explore this country’s epic, photogenic landscapes. For those seeking an escape from modernity, the landscapes of Bhutan are spectacular at this time of year, when towering peaks, remote temples and fortress-monasteries are set against a clear blue sky.
September is a popular time to visit Kenya as it’s generally sunny with little rainfall. Spotting wildlife tends to be easy as animals flock to water and wildebeest are aplenty in the Maasai Mara. Around two million wildebeest enjoy greener pastures in Kenya before migrating back to the Serengeti in Tanzania in October. As zebras and wildebeest graze, big cats and other predators make their pounce, often leading to thrilling viewing. Migratory birds are also on the move in September, so have binoculars at the ready. Lake Nakuru and Lake Bogoria are great for spotting colourful flamingos, while Lake Naivasha is home to giraffes, impala and hippos. The temperatures at the Kenyan coast start to rise and can reach the high 20s – the perfect relaxation after a safari. Discover Kenya
In September, the temperature steadily rises across Namibia and wildlife viewing is excellent. The dry season between June and October is warm and clear, with low humidity and extraordinary concentrations of wildlife, particularly in Etosha where animals congregate around scarce water sources. The Namib Desert and Sossusvlei are comfortable before the rains and extreme heat arrives in October. Whilst the Skeleton Coast may still be a cool, on balance it remains the best time to visit given that wildlife is the main draw. For this reason, September visitors should consider travelling to the wildlife parks first, as the weather steadily improves towards October. Namibia is very popular at this time of year and should therefore be booked early. Discover Namibia
The monsoon season ends in August, and from mid-September the driest period begins. Rain still falls, but there is less than the preceding months, so travelling in the country is easier. The skies are clear and mountain peaks are set against vivid blues. It is also the time for one of Bhutan’s biggest festivals, the Thimphu Tshechu. Held in the capital, this spiritual festival is attended by people from remote villages around the country. The central focus is on the complex dances performed by masked monks, but markets also open up and the atmosphere is palpable. Discover Bhutan
In September, the weather is warm and dry in most of the country. As high season ebbs away towards the end of August, you compete with smaller crowds at famous attractions. As it turns to autumn, the countryside will be peppered with shades of red and yellow. It is still warm enough to enjoy coastal areas, yet not stifling when exploring historical ruins in the sunshine. September brings harvest, so along with food and wine festivals, it is truffle and wild mushrooms season. Venice is host to the historic boat race, Regata Storica, and the International Film Festival while Verona celebrates Juliet’s birthday. Discover Italy
North Macedonia, paired well with neighbouring Albania and Kosovo, has a dry Mediterranean climate making it a year-round destination. However, summer and early autumn (June - October) are particularly nice times to visit the many mosques, monasteries and historical sights, as well as to explore the lakes and mountains, which offer a cooler climate and breathtaking views. Although September can still be relatively busy, this lesser explored nation does not yet have the hordes of travellers that other European countries draw. The cultural traveller may enjoy Skope Jazz Festival or the Kavadarci Wine Carnival in the Tikves region, while Independence Day is celebrated on 8 September.
Discover North Macedonia
Holidays in October
October is a good time for visiting many countries in northern Africa and the Middle East. In Jordan, temperatures in October have become more comfortable – ideal for exploring the abundant historic sites and for relaxing on the shores of the Red Sea. The same goes for Egypt, where slightly lower temperatures allow for comfortable exploration of the ancient ruins and Pharaonic tombs before peak tourist season starts in December. In Morocco, combine a stay in Marrakech with a hiking trip in the High Atlas. Alternatively, October is one of the best times to witness the majestic mountain landscapes of Nepal; clear skies allow for incredible views of the Himalaya and there are walking routes suitable for all levels, from gentle strolls and soft treks to more adventurous multi-day hikes.
As the temperature dips at home, Egypt’s desert landscapes start to cool in late October, making winter the ideal time for Nile cruising and cultural immersion. As well as pleasant weather, you’ll avoid the peak tourist season in December and January at ancient sites including Karnak, Abu Simbel and the Pyramids of Giza, which can become very busy. In October, you’ll also have the opportunity to join the crowds before sunrise to celebrate the bi-annual Abu Simbel Sun Festival and witness the sun cut through the temple’s inner chamber like a scene from Indiana Jones. Discover Egypt
A year-round destination, autumn in Jordan sees cooler temperatures and the first rain tends to fall in mid-October, helping the greenery and flowers colour the parched countryside. This is the best time to walk through the mountains as it’s not too hot or too wet and the vistas are even more beautiful after rainfall. Snorkelling in Aqaba is prime in October, with an abundance of marine wildlife including eagle rays and turtles, and warm waters of around 26°C. Discover Jordan
Morocco comes into its own during spring and autumn. October’s warm weather is sandwiched between the heat of summer in the desert and the chill of winter in the Atlas Mountains, making it a lovely time to visit. Pleasant daytime temperatures in the mid-20’s are accompanied by cool evenings, and it’s still warm enough in the coastal regions which can be enjoyed year-round. There are also a number of festivals held during October, including the three-day Date Festival at the end of the harvest in Erfoud. As with many Middle Eastern countries, Morocco observes Ramadan, so be sure to check the dates before you book, as this will affect your stay. Discover Morocco
Nepal’s dry season begins in October and lasts until May. It’s also autumn, which means that the weather is still warm and balmy. As the wet season has just ended, the countryside is a stunning, luscious green and the air is clear and crisp. Views of the Himalaya are at their very best in October, so it is one of the best times to go trekking. Meanwhile, the colourful Dashain festival normally falls in this month. Held to celebrate the symbolic triumph of good over evil, celebrations bring communities together and create a joyous atmosphere. Expect to see local fairs, kite flying, bamboo swings and sales in the shops – it is tradition to wear new clothing during Dashain. Discover Nepal
Holidays in November
Looking to escape the cold, long evenings in November? If so, November is a great time to visit northern India: the monsoon is over, the heat is comfortable, national parks begin to open and some fabulous festivals take place. For first-time visitors, it’s an ideal month for exploring the Golden Triangle of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. In Mexico, the rains have also come to an end and the beginning of the month sees colourful Day of the Dead festivities burst into life – a joyful and life-affirming celebration when people pay respect to their deceased family members. If you’re looking towards south-east Asia, Vietnam is a good choice for November; in the north, conditions are ideal for cruises in the Gulf of Tonkin – consider less-visited Lan Ha as an alternative to Halong Bay – and in the south, the beaches of Phu Quoc are at their most idyllic.
November is one of the best months to visit the north of India. Although it is one of the driest months, it’s not as hot or humid as other months, nor does the temperature plummet at night. In Pushkar, the annual camel fair is held in November and is one of the largest in the world. This fascinating spectacle runs for five days and around 50,000 camels and cattle are brought to trade. Camels are dressed up, raced and entered into beauty pageants, while traders themselves can enter competitions like the ‘longest moustache’. Cricket matches are played between the local club and tourists, while markets sell jewellery and material, adding to the colour and variety of this amazing festival. Discover India
November is the transition month between the wet and dry season in Mexico; the rains have stopped and tourists have not yet arrived. It’s an especially good time to combine the coast with central Mexico, while visitors to the highlands may find it chilly. Meanwhile, the Day of the Dead festival takes place on 1-2 November, a celebration where spirits of the dead are believed to return to earth to be reunited with their loved ones. Graveyards become packed with colour and sound as families gather to decorate the graves and musicians play the deceased’s favourite music. Street parties and markets are also held, and sugar skulls are sold and swapped between friends and family. Some of the best places to see the celebrations are in Oaxaca and Lake Patzcuaro. Discover Mexico
Although November marks the beginning of winter, it is also the best time to travel in the north and the south of Vietnam as they see the least amount of rain. Hoi An, however, will experience large amounts of rain. Whether you want to walk among the rice terraces in Sapa, see the limestone pillars of Halong Bay or cruise along the Mekong Delta, the land will be lush and days will be cool and clear. The beaches in the south, such as Phu Quoc, Mui Ne and Phan Thiet, tend to have clearer skies and more sunshine in November. Discover Vietnam
Holidays in December
This is a beautiful time to visit Australia’s east coast, where it’s hot but not humid; snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, dip in and out of wine cellars in Hunter Valley or witness the unforgettable New Year celebrations in Sydney. It’s a popular time for exploring the diverse ecosystems of Costa Rica, from pristine rainforests and mist-shrouded cloud forests to coffee plantations and smouldering volcanoes. Or consider Ethiopia with its astonishing mountain scenery and rich Orthodox Christian heritage. In December it’s predominantly dry and temperatures are comfortably warm – ideal for discovering the rock-hewn churches of the northern circuit and for trekking in the Simien or Bale mountain ranges. We would also recommend the south Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where the weather is blissful and there are a host of exciting festivals taking place.
Ethiopia enjoys relatively mild climates and December is one of the more temperate, drier months, making it a great time to explore the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. In higher regions like the Simien mountains, temperatures may be a little cooler at night. It is the ideal time to visit the north, especially Axum where the Hidar Tsion festival is celebrated. An annual pilgrimage, it attracts Ethiopians from all over the country to pay homage to St Mary, under the belief that the Ark of the Covenant is held in Axum. It’s a joyous occasion and provides an ethereal atmosphere both in the city and when visiting nearby holy sites.
While Australia can be visited all year round, it depends where you go. December is the best month for visiting Australia’s east coast, where temperatures can be high but not humid and there is almost always a beach in sight. Christmas brings traditional celebrations, but with an Australian twist. Expect to meet Santa wearing shorts and casual Christmas parties by the barbecue. However, the prime attraction of visiting Australia in December is to see the fireworks over Sydney harbour. One of the first time zones to celebrate New Year’s every year, Sydney goes off with a bang. Fireworks illuminate the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, and shimmer in the water’s reflection. Discover Australia
December sees the beginning of Costa Rica’s peak season and the rain starts to lessen, making it a great time to go in search of the vast wildlife. Temperatures are in the 20s and rain can be intermittent all year round, so there is no guarantee that it will be dry throughout. The Central Valley will be luscious after months of rainfall, offering beautiful, verdant views and looking picture-perfect. December is also a good time to visit the Cloud Forest biological reserve as it will be cooler and not so humid. Discover Costa Rica
With warm days and cool nights, complemented by low humidity ushered in by the end of the monsoon season, December is an idyllic month to explore the south of India. Characterised by its fertile verdant plains, glistening backwaters, tropical forests and splendid ancient relics, this region reaches its pulsating peak at this time of year. The states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala in particular are at their most festive, with a number of exuberant carnivals showcasing folk performances, powerful dance rituals and colourful attires – to pilgrims and tourists alike. We recommended beginning your southern adventure in Chennai on the south-east coast before winding your way through the ancient land of Tamil Nadu and exploring the tranquillity and beauty of Kerala. Discover India
We have highlighted the standard of accommodation featured on a tour immediately above the tour itinerary.
In some cases, tours include some departures in one category and some in another: you can see and select the different tour types under ‘tour variations’. For these tours, the itinerary is generally the same and just the standard of accommodation varies. However, if there are any variations in the excursions included, these are shown within the itinerary.
Superior: Most Cox & Kings tours fall under this category and are based in 4- or 5-star accommodation, or the best available.
Luxury: These tours will usually feature 5-star de luxe accommodation throughout.
Standard: Simpler in emphasis, these itineraries typically feature 3- and 4-star accommodation throughout.
Discovery: This type of holiday is best suited to the hardier traveller, as it will typically include some quite basic accommodation, possibly longer and rougher road journeys and, in some cases, more arduous activities, such as trekking.