From sunny isles to midnight spectaculars, here's where to explore in July and August
Investigate an eruption
Why go? Back in January 1973, a volcanic eruption on Heimaey – one of Iceland’s Westman Islands, and dubbed the ‘Pompeii of the North’ – lasted for five months, burying over 400 houses in lava and ash. Now, some of the homes have been excavated; visit the dig, and head to the End of Eruption Festival (4-7 July), which includes boat trips, organised hikes and a huge party on the Saturday evening.
Where to stay: The Hotel Vestmannaeyjar has double rooms from £115.
Bask in the wildlife
Why go? The west coast of Scotland is a wildlife wonderland come the summer. Head to the Knoydart peninsula, known as Scotland’s last great wilderness, for the chance to spot basking sharks as well as dolphins, porpoises, minke whales and over 60 bird species, from puffins to peregrine falcons.
Where to stay: Doune Stone Lodge has incredible views and food from £78pppn full-board; minimum three-night stay.
Getting there: There is no road to Knoydart. Hike in, or take the West Highland Line (voted Wanderlust readers’ Top Rail Journey) from Glasgow/Fort William to Mallaig, then catch a boat to Knoydart. Sleeper trains run London-Fort William.
Catch a new flight
Why go? With an economy in turmoil, Cyprus needs tourists more than ever this summer. Lucky, then, that British Airways has launched a new direct flight to Lanarca. And Cyprus is far more than a beach destination – stay outside the touristy resorts (Lanarca, Ayia Napa, Lemesos) and explore the island’s ancient ruins and unspoiled mountains, which are riddled with trails.
Where to stay: Hire your own mountain house in quiet Polystipos (80km from Lanarca airport) from £35 a night with HouseTrip.
Getting there: BA will fly Gatwick-Lanarca three times weekly from 30 June. Returns from £158; flight time 4.5hrs.
Sleep under the stars
Why go? The Perseids meteor shower occurs once a year (2013: 10-13 Aug) and has been observed for the past 2,000 years. Watch this night-time spectacular in out-of-this-world style in Jordan’s most iconic desert, Wadi Rum. Weather permitting, you’ll get the best views between midnight and dawn.
Where to stay: The Bedouin Lifestyle Camp offers a night in a tent, plus all meals, for 25JD (£23) pppn, and can organise a night sleeping under the stars.
Getting there: easyJet flies Gatwick-Amman from around £340rtn in August. To get to Wadi Rum, take a JETT bus to Petra or Aqaba, then a bus or taxi.