UPDATED: This article was originally published in April 2018
You’ve decided you want to travel more this year (good on you), but you’re struggling to choose your next destination. Surely there’s an easier way than trawling through endless travel mags and guidebooks for the answers, right? That’s where our ultimate month-by-month travel guide comes in: your easily digestible list of places to visit, things to experience, and amazing weather to chase around the world.
Oh hi, July! Summer in Europe is finally in full swing, the once sweltering African heat is starting to simmer down and the Americas are drenched in glorious sunshine. Whether you’ve always wanted to get off the beaten track in Romania, watch the great wildebeest migration in Kenya, or totally immerse yourself in traditional nomadic life in Mongolia. Here’s your guide for where to travel in July.
Often overlooked by travellers, Romania is one of Europe’s better-kept secrets. Boasting unexpected architectural wonders like clifftop castles and ancient wooden monasteries, a captivating history and plenty of hearty traditional dishes to sink your teeth into. Plus, as is the case with much of Europe around this time of year, July brings with it long sunny days perfect for exploring the many towns.
Visit the capital of Bucharest for a taste of modern Romania and take a tour of the gargantuan Palace of Parliament. Escape to the Danube Delta for a peaceful cruise around floating reed islands and enjoy a window into local life here. Make for Maramureş with its folklore, customs and peasant culture. Or, if you’re feeling active, take one of the many hikes where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views.
- 10-day Budapest to Bucharest
- 18-day Eastern Europe Explorer
- 24-day Journey through Central Europe and Romania
Thanks to exceedingly popular neighbours like Peru, the Galapagos Islands and Brazil, Colombia can sometimes go unnoticed. But, this South American dark horse might just surprise you! Home to quaint cobblestoned towns, palm-fringed beaches, tropical rainforests, delightful colonial cities and so much more. Colombia offers up a level of diversity that you won’t find in many other destinations.
For old-world charm head to Cartagena, this heritage-listed town is pretty as a postcard. For natural beauty head to Tayrona National Park, its secluded swimming holes and gorgeous hiking trails are to die for. For urban exploration head to Bogota, where the streets are coated in awe-inspiring street art. For foodie fun head to Medellin, the budding culinary scene here will get your taste buds tingling.
Still relatively untouched by travellers, Mongolia is known for being raw and remote. It’s the perfect destination for those looking to experience a slice of nomadic life. Relish the opportunity to head out onto the sprawling steppes, watch as the local families herd and milk their livestock, and sleep in a ger (a round tent). The simplicity of life here will astound you, along with the generosity of its people.
A great reason to visit Mongolia in July is the traditional Naadam Festival that runs from the 11th to the 15th each year. It has existed for centuries but now commemorates the 1921 revolution, when Mongolia declared its independence from China. Competitors partake in wrestling, horse racing and archery, and the opening ceremony is a real sight to behold with all athletes dressed in local costume.
- 15-day Wild Mongolia
- 15-day Mongolia’s Naadam Festival (departs late June)
- 20-day Trans-Mongolia Experience
Whilst it’s never guaranteed, July tends to mark the start of the great migration when thousands of wildebeest and zebras make the journey from Tanzania into Kenya. It’s a tense watch as these animals leap across the treacherous, crocodile-infested waters of the Mara River in search of greener pastures. Witnessing this phenomenon can only be described as a once in a lifetime experience.
Temperatures in Kenya also begin to dip around this time of year and the milder climate encourages wildlife to congregate by watering holes and rivers, making them far easier to spot. Enjoy taking game drives through the Masai Mara Game Reserve and keep your eyes peeled for the Big Five. Travellers are also able to visit a traditional Maasai homestead and meet the local Maasai tribespeople.
Considering Russia is the largest country in the world, it seems strange to think it’s still shrouded in mystery. Over the past few years, it’s become a better-travelled destination, with many coming to enjoy its vibrant onion-domed churches, incredible cross-country train journeys and stick-to-your-ribs cuisine. It’s worth saying that it’ll take more than the one trip to properly tackle this Eurasian beast.
Educate yourself in Russian history at the Red Square, home of Lenin’s mausoleum. Make a pitstop at the Golden Ring towns, which played a big part in the formation of the Orthodox Church. Unearth the legacy of Tsar Peter the Great during a stroll through the streets of St Petersburg. An overnight train ride is also an absolute must in Russia, offering a great opportunity to interact with the friendly locals.
Granted snowy breaks are more commonly taken during the winter months, but it just so happens that the Arctic (and Spitsbergen in particular) is a great place to travel to in July. For those that aren’t familiar with Spitsbergen, it’s the biggest island in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Pristine landscapes, fresh Arctic air, impressive wildlife and tranquillity are just a few of the things that draw people here.
Jump in a kayak or strap on some snowshoes and get closer to nature. Spot bearded seals, walruses, pink-footed geese, Arctic foxes and the majestic polar bear. Climb aboard a Zodiac and cruise calmly through ice floes, surrounded by icebergs of the most amazing greenish-blue hues. Feel dwarfed by glaciers and have your breath taken away as huge chunks of ice plummet into the Arctic Ocean below.
- 6-day Spitsbergen Highlights
- 13-day Spitsbergen, East Greenland and Iceland
- 13-day Spitsbergen in Depth
Much like Colombia, Nicaragua is frequently overshadowed by other popular destinations such as Costa Rica and Guatemala, but this Central American underdog has a lot to offer travellers too. Gifted with astonishing natural beauty, buzzy local markets, centuries-old cities, Andalusian architecture and exciting nightlife. It’s difficult to know why Nicaragua hasn’t yet received the recognition it deserves.
Kick off in Granada, a city on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, to explore an abundance of Spanish colonial landmarks. Catch the ferry to Ometepe Island, formed by two volcanoes, and if you’re feeling adventurous you can climb to their summits. But, be warned that at 1,700 metres above sea level at the highest it’s no easy feat. A locally guided tour of Leon is another great way to spend an afternoon.
If it’s a sizzling holiday you’re after, then admittedly the cooler climes of Alaska might mean it’s not the right destination for you. However, if you like the sound of days spent trekking, kayaking and climbing your way around spectacular national parks in the most remote and sparsely populated state in America – you could be onto a winner. Just don’t forget to pack your hiking boots, camera and binoculars!
One of Alaska’s biggest highlights has to be the stunning Denali National Park. Spanning a whopping 6 million acres and housing the tallest peak in North America, Mount McKinley. Be sure to keep an eye out for the wildlife here, including moose, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and wolves. Before mixing things up a little with a visit to Valdez to kayak amongst glaciers, sea otters, puffins and humpbacks.
Nestled in the heart of the eastern Pyrenees, tucked away between France and Spain, Andorra offers up some of the best skiing across the mountain range. Whilst it’s better known for its winter antics, this tiny country is also pretty special in summer, providing the opportunity to try out a huge range of outdoor adventures. From ziplining to hiking, there’s an activity for everyone (even the kids) here.
Hop on your bike and enjoy a thrill ride down some of the greatest mountain trails on the continent. Hold on tight as you crash over exhilarating rapids on the Noguera River, one of the top five European rafting spots. Get your blood coursing as you soar through the trees in the idyllic Cortals Valley. And remember, there’s always the quaint little town of Soldeu to explore if you fancy a break from the action.