July is usually one of the busiest months for travel. School's out, and the weather in many parts of the world is at its warmest and sunniest. In the northern hemisphere, summer celebrations are in full swing, national parks are prime for exploring and the world's best beaches burst into action.
Of course, this year though will be different. We don't yet know which counties will be open to visitors, or which ones our government will see as safe for us to travel to. So, do check our Coronavirus updates and, if you're in the UK, our Green List article.
But, we hope we can give you ideas for where to go in July if we can... and if we can't get to them this year, to plan them in for next. So, whatever you're looking for from your July getaway – be it short, sunny and sweet, or packing in as many culture and natural highlights as several weeks allows – you'll surely find something to suit you from our selections.
Skip ahead to your chosen travel type by clicking on one of the below, or keep scrolling for the full list:
Here are the 26 great places to visit in July...
The best July destinations for nature and ideal weather
1. Portugal, Madeira and the Azores
July is one of the hottest months of the year in Portugal, with average temperatures of 24°C during the day. The Portuguese islands of Madeira and the Azores in the North Atlantic are a few degrees cooler, but all three destinations are ideal if you’re seeking the sun.
Nicknamed the Floating Garden of the Atlantic, Madeira is in bloom all year round. As the name suggests, Pride of Madeira – a bush with purple cone blooms – is native to the island, but if you visit in July you’ll see magnolias, red hot poker trees and hydrangeas. Hydrangeas are also popular in the Azores, particularly around Sete Cidades near Lake Azul.
Festival goers might want to book a trip around Fiesa, an annual summer sand sculpture festival in Pera on the mainland. As well as watching artists carving 12m high sculptures and seeing them illuminated at night, visitors can attend workshops. Meanwhile, over in Tomar, women parade through the town carrying bread on their heads during Festa dos Tabuleiros, which is held every four years – the next one is in 2023.
Over on Madeira, visitors can attend a 24-hour folk dancing festival in Santana, a jazz festival in Funchal and a canoe regatta and games during Sea Week in Porto Moniz from 26 July to 1 August. The Azores meanwhile hosts a week-long party and regatta on Sao Jorge Island every July and Santa Maria Blues festival on the eponymous island between 15 and 17 July. And while spring is best for whale-spotting in the Azores, sperm and minke whales do ply its waters year-round, so take a whale-watching trip and keep your eyes peeled on land.
Set on the southern tip of Spain, this peninsula hits highs of 28°C in July and benefits from 11 hours of sunshine a day. If you’re after beaches, visit the east side of the hill that dominates the centre, which is dubbed The Rock.
Visitors can explore the Gibraltar Botanic Gardens all year round, while the endemic Gibraltar sea lavender blossoms on rocks and cliffs around Europa Point and Camp Bay in July.
The height of summer is also the best time to experience festivals. Calentita Food Festival takes place in early July, while Gibraltar Regatta is usually held in late July.
3. Albania and Montenegro
Most of Europe benefits from sparkling weather in July, but along with August, it's when you'll find the beaches most crowded, and the cities packed with visitors.
Fortunately, it is possible to find a European hot spot that, even in peak season, is slightly less crowded than the others: the Balkan countries of Albania and Montenegro. Temperatures in both countries reach the hot, hot heights of 30°C to 35°C.
Spend a day or two in Albania's capital Tirana for an unusual city break, and discover that the resort town of Sarandë is a dreamy combination of beaches, history and hiking, and don't miss The Blue Eye natural spring in Muzinë.
Travel via a roughly four-hour bus to Montenegro, settle in and enjoy a stroll around Dubrovnik-esque Kotor, soak up the rays on Budva's beaches, and get your nature fix in Durmitor National Park.
4. Provence, France
Provence's fragrant lavender fields come into their own in July, best seen from the Sénanque Abbey in Gordes. There are few floral sights in any part of the world as pretty and purple as this.
A July visit to Provence should also be well timed with France's national day, La Fête Nationale, commonly known as Bastille Day. It's an annual celebration in France taking place on 14 July, often marked with festivities, fireworks and the odd parade.
Tour de France, a must-watch in any cycling fan's calendar, also takes place in July. So, if you're into the excitement of sporting events, and want to extend your visit beyond Provence, the time is right...
With highs of 29°C and minimal rainfall, July is an excellent month to pay a visit to Lebanon. There's plenty to be said about a break to the capital, Beirut. Visit Martyrs' Square, a central spot highlighting Beirut's past, or stroll the marina, Zaitunay Bay. There are countless museums: a national museum, an art museum and more.
When you're ready, head further afield to hike through scenic Kadisha Valley, discovering the monasteries hidden in the hills. Also see the Cedars of God, a forest of rare cedar trees and a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. The Seychelles
Expect glorious weather across the Indian Ocean archipelago to continue throughout July, reaching pleasant highs of around 28°C, usually averaging out around 25°C to 26°C.
And where better to enjoy such warm sunshine than on one of the 115 islands that make up the Seychelles? Beach relaxation is a given, but you can certainly make an adventure trip out of the islands...
Seek the elusive giant Aldabra tortoise, snorkel and admire the natural beauty of St Pierre Island, or get your feet dirty hiking through the rich green forests of Morne Seychellois National Park .
If you're craving sunshine, then head to the island of Cyprus this July. Slap on the factor 50 as temperatures can soar up to 30°C on the west coast and a few degrees higher on the south east coast. Inland is hotter still, with temperatures reaching a baking 37°C.
Hire a kayak or boat and explore the sea caves around Ayia Napa, which are close to the entrance of the Cape Greco national forest park – they can also be explored on foot at low tide. If it's too hot for you then relax over a glass of wine instead. Cyprus is best known for the dessert wine Commandaria, and the Commandaria wine route connects 14 villages and vineyards that produce it.
With average daily temperatures of 25°C and little rain, it's little wonder that Greece is a popular spot in July and many people are dreaming of a sojourn in the Greek Islands. Santorini has grabbed the limelight in recent years, with its Instagrammable blue-domed churches. White Beach, on its southern tip, has a calm cove which is perfect for swimming while Eros Beach is a secluded spot known for the cliffs that drop dramatically on to its dark volcanic sandy and pebbly seashore. However, the island can be almost too popular, so try one of the equally beautiful but less-visited islands; there are plenty to choose from.
Kythira has an authentic feel with sleepy villages and quiet beaches. The quiet island of Skyros has some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece, and a dramatically-set main town of white cube-shaped houses. You can cool off underground in the Catacombs of Milos on the island of Milos or hike the 16km Samariá Gorge in Samaria National Park on the island of Crete – start later in the day to beat the heat. Whatever your interest, there's an island for you. Or explore the delights of the mainland, whether the spectacularly-set monasteries of Meteora, the historic sites and beautiful scenery of the Peloponnese peninsula, or the Pindos mountains with its bears and wolves.
There's never a better-time weather wise to get in your car and road trip through Ireland (unless, maybe, you count March, for St Patrick's Day). In July, you can expect 18 hours of daylight, and a cool temperature. There may be the odd surprise summer shower, but you can't have it all...
Where you drive is up to you, but a stop in colourful Kilkenny can lead you straight to the capital, Dublin, via County Carlow's wild countryside.
If you can, ensure you stop over in Galway, and pay a visit to Connemara National Park, soaking up the nature and hikes, and also the coves and bays along the coast. County Cork is also a must-visit... but we could go on.
Sun-seekers can rejoice in Mexico's July temps, reaching highs of a hot 28°C. It does cool off in the evenings, so you won't be sweltering all day. You may fancy a lightweight jacket, and even a brolly just in case there's a touch of summer rainfall.
Mexico's best-known beaches and hidden coves are often found on the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula in Tulum and Cancun. But there are other benefits to the warmth beyond catching a few rays for yourself: July is peak sea turtle season in Mexico.
Even in the colourful cities, away from the beach, you can find natural wonders to enjoy in the sun. Nature reserves and national parks are aplenty.
The best July destinations for wildlife watching
11. Whale watching and puffins in Iceland
While you can see sheep, cows and Icelandic horses – a breed of intelligent, petite horses – all year round, in summer you can also spot herds of reindeer around Snaefell and colonies of Atlantic puffins breeding on cliffs around the isle. July is also peak season for whale watching. The best place to take a trip to see humpback, minke and blue whales is from Husavik, in the north of the island.
The days are long, the temperatures at their highest, and so this is the perfect month to really explore Iceland's delights
12. Brown bear watching in Sweden, Finland and Arctic Norway
Early to mid July is often the best time to spot a brown bear in Finland, Sweden or Arctic Norway. Typically, brown bears arise from hibernation around April time, and tend to disappear for mating in June, before becoming visible again – often to feed.
Your best bet of a sighting is at night, often from a 'bear hide' hotel, and with the help of a specialist guide – a.k.a. a 'bear safari'. You'll have plenty of tours and locations to choose from.
The Lakeland region of Finland is covered in thick forests, and has approximately 2,000 bears in its midst. In central and northern Sweden, it's even harder to catch a glimpse of the region's reported 3,000 brown bears – though Hälsingland, Bollnäs and Sandviken are all popular choices.
Honestly, it's much rarer to see a bear in Norway – if you do, it'll be near the Swedish and Finnish border.
13. Birdwatching in Vanuatu
The 80 islands making up the Pacific Ocean county of Vanuatu may not have the largest number of birds in history, but the ones it does call its own are rather special.
There are thought to be 30 rare species flying around, 11 of which are said to only appear in Vanuatu. The rainbow lorikeet, for example, might be native to Australia, but it frequents Vanuatu – and is quite the colourful sighting for a keen birder.
There's also the coconut lorikeet, the weird and wonderful Vanuatu megapode, and the uber-cute red-tailed tropicbird, to name a few... a must for fans of sensational birdlife.
14. Roos on Kangaroo Island, Australia
July is midwinter for Australians, though don't expect minus temperatures and piles of snow. There may be a little rain, but temperatures rest around a palatable 14°C.
Kangaroo Island is off South Australia, and it's a must-visit for fans of marsupials. Kangaroos roam the island freely, in protected nature reserves, which take up about a third of the island.
Expect to see koalas, and a variety of beautiful birdlife, too. Head to Flinders Chase National Park if you love to see penguins in their natural habitats, as the park is home to a colony. Also worth a visit is Seal Bay Conservation Park, to see protected sea lions doing their thing.
15. The Great Migration, Tanzania and Kenya
One of the world's biggest and boldest wildlife migrations is the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra. It starts in northern Tanzania's Serengeti, and over 1.5 million animals move towards the Masai Mara Nature Reserve in Kenya, as they thirst for water and fresh grass.
You can actually experience a part of the migration at almost any time of year, as our Great Migration calendar goes to show. In July, you can expect to see the herds "spread out from Grumeti Game Reserve and Ikorongo Game Controlled Area to the northern reaches of the Serengeti," according to our expert William Gray.
The crossing over into Kenya really depends on rainfall in Tanzania, so you have to play it by ear. The migration could occur in mid-June, if the waters have run dry – or as late as September, if the zebra and wildebeest aren't so thirsty. There's often opportunity to spot the crossing in July, so choose your timings wisely.
16. Polar bear spotting in Spitsbergen, Norway
A polar bear sighting in the wild is one of life's great joys, whether you're hardcore into wildlife watching, or find it makes up only part of your travel experience.
In the Svalbard archipelago, April to September is prime wildlife spotting season – including polar bears as they roam on a ceaseless search for food. This is when official tours take place, and is your best shot of getting an up-close glimpse of these deceptively gorgeous (and quite dangerous!) creatures in their homes. Sadly, you can't really go off polar bear-seeking on your own.
The most popular way of exploring Svalbard is to take an expedition cruise up Spitsbergen's west coast and around the archipelago. These last several days and mix shore excursions with wildlife spotting from deck. Polar bears are often seen on the cliffs and beaches as they look for any marine life that has been washed up. Alternatively, base yourself in Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen and take tours from there. In July, you'll have missed the deep snows of earlier in the season, and the ice won't have quite melted, as it does by the end of the season. So, July's often thought of as one of the best times, weather-wise, to explore.
The best July destinations for long-haul travel
17. Belize (and its neighbours)
We've talked plenty about the beauty of Belize on Wanderlust, and we reckon July's a great time to take in all this Central American gem has to offer.
The weather, firstly, is at its best. Hot days are followed (often) by rainy nights, with a cooling breeze rolling in shortly after. Now's your chance to dive the Belize Barrier Reef and Glover's Reef, explore ancient Maya cities such as Lamanai, and marvel at the Blue Hole – a natural large sinkhole off the coast that is both mysterious and the largest of its kind.
You could spend weeks soaking up Belize, but make it a multi-country trip (if you've got the time to spare) and tick off the neighbouring Central American countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador while you're at it.
18. Alaska, USA
There's a small window for Alaska's peak season: late May to July. There'll be 17 to 18 hours of daylight each day during a July excursion, and it's also the warmest time of year to visit – with highs of approximately 18°C.
It may not be the cheapest time in-season to visit (that's probably late May), but it is the best for exploring. The prime weather makes exploring the vast Denali National Park and Glacier Bay National Park a total joy. It's a highlight for any nature lover.
Whalewatchers will also benefit from a July trip, as that's when you're most likely to spot humpback whales swimming in the sea. Anglers meanwhile will find it's also the best month for fishing for Alaska king salmon.
It's true that Namibia, in Southern Africa, is a country that has it all. Famous for its towering red sand dunes, it's also a wildlife hot spot, with a sprawling sandy coast. No wonder you often vote it Top Country in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards.
We'd say you'll need the best part of two weeks, if not longer, to really take it all in. July's just the time to do it. The weather is pretty sensational, for one thing. There's low chance of rain, and the temp typically hovers around 20°C – making exploring the Sossusvlei dunes and the desert expanse much cooler than you'd expect.
The lack of rain is perfect for wildlife lovers, too: Etosha National Park's many animals will be gathering around the water holes to quench their thirst, so you've a good chance of spotting zebra, giraffes and elephants side by side.
Where do we begin with Indonesia? The island-hopping? The many moving and unusual religious festivals that take place? The melting pot of cultures, evident particularly in its cuisine? There's so much to see and do – you could spend months here and never get bored.
It won't be the quietest month in Indonesia, as temperatures reach up to a scorching 30°C and visitors do come to many of the 17,000+ islands that make up Indonesia for a dose of glorious sun. But as its dry season, you've got a good chance of ideal weather on all the islands.
Bali is a classic, as is Java – the most populous island in the country, where you'll find the capital city, Jakarta.
We'd also suggest Sumatra, and Komodo Island for a unique glimpse at the Komodo Dragon in its natural habitat. Finally, Nusa Tenggara (the Lesser Sunda Islands) are all good places to start.
July is rainy season in Thailand, but rainy season gets a bad rap. You have to expect downpours of course, but they rarely last all day and have the added bonus of creating incredible waterfalls. Accommodation tends to be cheaper, too.
Visit the north of Thailand in July to experience Phi Ta Khon, or Ghost Festival. The festival's origins are partly based on one of Buddha's past lives when he was a prince who was presumed dead after a long journey – but his safe return led to celebrations so huge they were said to wake the dead. As well as parades, music shows and pageants, you can watch locals dressed in ghostly masks compete in games.
Ubon Ratchathani Candle Festival also takes place in the north this month. What began as a Buddhist tradition of donating candles to monks has morphed into spectacle of float-like candles parading to local temples.
The best July destinations for arts and culture
22. San Francisco, USA
A sprawling, metropolitan city in the United States of America seems an obvious choice for July, right? There'll be fireworks galore and parades aplenty in celebration of Independence Day, which takes place annually on the fourth.
You'd probably do just as well in New York, Seattle, Portland, Houston, or anywhere, really, if you're looking for the full red-white-and-blue experience.
We've chosen San Francisco because it's known for being tolerant and visitor-friendly. Maybe it's a little luxe price-wise, but its riverside firework display is immensely beautiful against the backdrop of the iconic red Golden Gate Bridge. You can expect countless parades and parties across the city.
23. Copenhagen, Denmark
Roskilde, one of the largest music festivals in Europe, has been taking place in Denmark every July since 1971. Most musical tastes are catered to: Bruno Mars, Robyn, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, Cardi B and The Cure are among the varied line-ups of festivals past.
The 130,000-strong festival takes place just south of the city its named after, which is west of the Danish capital. If anything, a stop by the festival is the perfect excuse to spend a few days perusing Copenhagen's many high-end shops, minimalist cafes and colourful harbour, Nyhavn. It's just half an hour away by direct train, or 40 minutes by car.
One word of advice? Book your accommodation in advance, as naturally it'll be a busy time!
24. Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto's Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival) is one of Japan's most famous annual celebrations, taking place throughout July. It's been going since the year 869, when the reigning emperor ordered worship at the Yakasa Shrine, in hopes that it would prevent the plague.
Now, the plague – or Covid-19 pandemic – is not the driving force behind the festival. It's part of the fabric of the city, with rituals, ceremonies and parades taking place throughout the month. On the 17 and 24 July, traditional parade floats glide through packed streets, and the festivities culminate on the last day of the month, resulting in another street celebration, known as the 'purification' closing ceremony.
It's worth witnessing the magic, especially if you have a keen interest in Japanese tradition and culture. But if you want to experience Gion Matsuri among welcoming locals, you should book what needs booking well in advance.
25. Montreal, Canada
Montreal's Just For Laughs festival does involve people in the streets and arty parade floats, but it's all decidedly a bit less serious.
The comedy festival started in 1983, and has laughed its way to the top: it's now said to be the largest comedy festival in the world. Typically, it takes place over two to three weeks in July, and offers locals and visitors a variety of stand-up shows, comedy nights and evening events – taking place in many different locations across the city.
Expect showcases for the biggest names in US and Canadian comedy, a few of British comedy's biggest stars, as well as new talent and a bit of off-beat entertainment...
26. Mallorca, Spain
One of the four main Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Mallorca comes alive in mid July with the Virgin of Carmen Festival. The festival dates back to the 13th century, when a monk had a vision of the Virgin Mary with her baby son in her arms. Today, particularly in coastal areas, visitors can watch an effigy of the virgin guide a procession of floats carried by fishermen down to the sea, where the parade continues on illuminated boats as fireworks are set off to music.
Later in the month, on 28 July, you can also attend a festival dedicated to Saint Catalina Thomas, Mallorca's only patron saint. A procession of carriages decorated with ribbons and flowers takes place in the saint's former home town of Valldemossa.
When and where else to go: