School’s out and the mercury’s soaring. Despite the world and his wife being on their holidays in July, your own slice of paradise can be found in quieter corners of the Mediterranean and Aegean (yes, they do exist), or go all-out with a wild-card adventure in Mongolia or Fiji.
Here’s where to go.
The Corsicans, it seems, are partial to a festival: there are annual celebrations for everything from guitars (20-27 July) to olives (21-22 July) plus techno-pop bash Calvi on the Rocks (5-10 July). That only adds to the appeal of this sun-kissed French island – along its craggy Mediterranean coast, windsurfers will find paradise in Bonifacio, while for sand-seeking sunbathers it’s all about Porto-Vecchio. To escape the crowds, the mountainous, green interior beckons, threaded with hiking trails and time-capsule villages. Corsica’s dreamiest place to stay has to be Domaine de Murtoli, which has 13 secluded rental properties – let’s call them “shepherd chic” – set within a 2,000-hectare rural estate.
Average temperature in July: 22°C
Average flight time: 2h 15m (to Bastia)
The South Pacific isn’t the first place you’d think of for Bastille Day celebrations, but as a former French colony, Fiji goes big on 14 July. Expect fireworks and parades in the capital, Suva; more festivities then follow with the annual Bula (meaning welcome or hello) festival, a week-long shindig celebrating local culture, food and history. Another reason to pack your swimsuit and hotfoot it to Fiji in July is the start of dry season, when temperatures are pleasantly lower and the sea clearer. Scuba divers will be in their element on some of the world’s most dazzling reefs (Fiji is known as the “soft coral capital of the world”, after all), keeping eyes peeled for underwater giants such as whale sharks, manta rays and barracuda.
Pushing the boat out for a special getaway or honeymoon? Arriving by private seaplane sets the tone at Kokomo Private Island, where each villa has its own infinity pool and legendary Great Astrolabe Reef lies metres from Kokomo’s white-sand beach.
Average temperature in July: 26°C
Flight time: 24h (to Nadi via Hong Kong)
There’s never a bad time to seek some R&R in Baden-Baden, one of the most famous spa towns in Europe. This Black Forest gem is especially glorious in July, though, when the Summer Nights festival brings open-air classical music concerts to the grounds of Belle Epoque landmark, the Kurhaus. Between taking to the healing thermal waters and unwinding with massages – try the 120-year-old domed bathing hall of the Friedrichsbad, or Caracalla Therme for a more high-tech version – the weather should be perfect for hiking up Merkur Mountain and strolling along the tree-lined Oos river. No doubt that’ll work up an appetite for the Grande Dame of German desserts, Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte (Black Forest gateau). As for accommodation, antique-filled Hotel der Kleine Prinz is a super-central hotel with bags of charm.
Average temperature in July: 25°C
Flight time: 1h 25m (to Karlsruhe)
It might seem counterintuitive to head far north for your summer holiday, but Finland is a dreamland for outdoorsy types in July, with an archipelago of more than 40,000 islands and sunset holding off until around 11pm. Taking advantage of great ferry and bridge connections, follow the Archipelago Trail beginning in the medieval city of Turku. After checking out the cathedral and castle, it’s island-hopping time: fresh air pursuits like kayaking, sailing, paddle-boarding and fishing are the order of the day, crashing out in a cute timber cabin or camping under the stars.
Average temperature in July: 21°C
Flight time: 2h 50m (to Helsinki)
In-the-know travellers are sidestepping the more famous Greek islands (we’re looking at you, Santorini) in favour of lesser-known Aegean gems, which offer the same white-washed, languorous charms minus the crowds. Enter Tinos, part of the Cyclades chain, where ancient donkey paths (now with the handy addition of hiker-friendly signposting) carve between the olive trees.
Tinos Festival is in full swing in July, a mix of plays, concerts and exhibitions entertaining through the balmy evenings, while Running in Greece arranges various races, from 1km to half-marathons, if you can handle the heat. Looking for a stylish base? Upping the ante for island accommodation is artily-restored former bishop’s lodgings Xinara House (sleeping up to 13).
Average temperature in July: 27°C
Flight time: 3 hr 40 (to Athens, then a ferry)
Raw and remote, Mongolia is for travellers who really want to escape the madding crowd. Experience a slice of nomadic life in the Gobi Desert at Three Camel Lodge, sleeping in a ger (a round tent) and observing the timeworn lifestyles of local families tending to their livestock. If you can time your trip for the Naadam Festival from 11-15 July, so much the better – as competitors throw themselves into wrestling, horse racing and archery, after parading in decorative costumes for the opening ceremony, it’s a real sight to behold.
Meanwhile in Khustain National Park, 100km southwest of the capital, it’s all about wildlife spotting opportunities: from Mongolia’s endangered wild horse, the takhi, to predators like wolves, Pallas’s cats and lynx.
Average temperature in July: 16°C
Flight time: 11h 10m (to Ulaanbaatar)