August is one of the best times of year to travel. In the Northern Hemisphere, the peak-season crowds have slightly thinned, the summer’s heat has begun to dissipate, and long days become balmy nights. In the Southern Hemisphere, destinations known for being hot and sunny are cooler—it’s their winter!—and more laid back, with fewer travelers between you and the most spectacular sights. From Italy’s most star-studded lake to the African country teeming with wildlife, these are the nine best places to travel in August.
If you want to stay cool in popular European destination, visit…
1. Northern Italy
Venice being on a lagoon, doesn’t get as humid as Rome or Florence, making it one of the best places to visit in August. Plus, Lake Como is beautiful and vibrant this time of year, and there’s something for every personality type. Take a cruise past some of Italy’s most jaw-dropping estates and gardens, or watch the annual Menaggio Fashion Show at a park overlooking the lake during your free time.
The sun and the sea are two of the things that make Portugal so special. Even if the former is hot in August, the latter will keep you cool, with the winds from the Atlantic Ocean keeping temperatures fairly mild toward the end of summer. Portugal is small enough that you can visit its two world-class cities, Porto and Lisbon, and have a beach day on the Mediterranean all on one trip. And trust us when we say a summertime beach day in Portugal is top-notch. “My favorite parts were staying and visiting along the coast—I would definitely sign up for a ‘beaches of Portugal’ tour!” said traveler Brenna.
3. The French Riviera
The French Riviera, located on the Mediterranean coast, stays cooler than France’s inland areas. That makes it one of the best places to travel in August—that is, if pristine beaches, celebrity-favorite villages, and glamorous seaside restaurants are your thing. In a single day, you can hike up to Cap Ferrat for unforgettable coastal views, enjoy ice cream in the Saint-Tropez sand, and feel like you’re in a Matisse painting in Nice’s Old Town. Imagine all the summer fun you could have in 48 hours on the French Riviera!
If you want to see the wildest of wildlife, visit…
Kenya is one of the few destinations where your dreams of its awe-inspiring wildlife—cheetahs and leopards, rhinos and elephants—actually match reality. It’s one of the best places to visit in August because of the annual Great Migration, when millions (yes, millions) of wildebeest, zebras, and gazelles travel to the Maasai Mara. If you’re lucky, you might get to watch a treacherous river crossing, when herds of animals try to survive rushing waters, lions, and crocodiles.
5. Ecuador & the Galápagos Islands
Few places are as diverse in their flora and fauna as Ecuador and the Galápagos, where Charles Darwin famously noted the islands’ unique animals, from marine iguanas to the finches eventually named after him. If you’re wondering where to travel in August that’s south of the equator, the Galápagos are hard to beat. “There is no way to describe the majestic volcanos, vegetation, landscapes, or fascinating wildlife,” said traveler Linda. “You are mesmerized and surprised every time you turn around.” In fact, you might have its lava flows and red sand beaches mostly to yourself!
If you want to explore the coastal lands of gods and kings, visit…
6. The Balkans
Fascinating human history meets epic natural landscapes on the Balkan Peninsula, an underexplored region of Europe that should absolutely be on your list of places to go in August. From the ancient charms of Athens to the kaleidoscopic colors of Dubrovnik, there are so many reasons to visit the Balkans. Traveler Eric said of the Croatian coast, “Imagine walled cities with cobblestone streets, narrow passages, doors and shutters of different colors, and window boxes overflowing with flowers, with a backdrop of clear aqua ocean waters of the Adriatic.”
One of the most serene and surreal places to travel in August is Iceland, where the midnight sun stays up until around 10 at night in the summertime. That extra summer sunlight means you won’t see the northern lights this time of year, but you can more easily explore Reykjavik and the country’s waterfalls and geysers when everything isn’t covered in ice. And don’t worry about being too chilly—one of the surprising facts about Iceland is that half of its energy comes from geothermal water. In the words of traveler Sylvia, Iceland is “the most interesting country in Europe.”
If you want to get off the beaten path, visit…
8. Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way
The western coast of the Emerald Isle is, dare we say, a real hidden gem—a “mind-bending” land of “alien beauty” whose “dazzling vistas can leave you stunned into silence,” according to traveler Ronald. It’s here that the country’s green countryside meets the wind-whipped Atlantic Ocean. Walk along the Cliffs of Moher, 700 feet above the sea, and stroll through historic cobblestoned villages as you travel in August through Ireland’s most freeing landscapes.
You might “lose” a day by crossing the International Date Line in flight to Australia, but by the end of a trip to the Land Down Under, you’ll have gained so much more. Australia is a place of unique animals, iconic natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef and the Uluru in the Outback, and two cities, Sydney and Melbourne, that are as laid-back as they are lively. Before the 20-hour flight that kicks off one of the best trips to take in August, here’s what to know about visiting Australia.