August in the hottest month of the year in many countries, which makes it a very tempting month to stay at home. Why go away when the weather is so splendid? We’ll tell you why.
There’s commuting in the heat, working in the heat (especially if you don’t have air-con), shopping in the heat, basically doing most things in the heat. Then there’s sitting in an office staring at the beautiful weather, unable to enjoy it other than a few snatched minutes at lunchtime.
And also because August in other countries can be even nicer. Which is why we’ve compiled some of the best places to go in August for a solo holiday.
Average temperature: 30°C/ 86°F
Cultural attraction: take a salsa class
Some people say that August isn’t a great time to visit Cuba, due to it being ‘the rainy season’. They’re missing a trick. Not only do such rumours bring prices down for the more savvy traveller, but the usually-brief afternoon showers also give respite from the summer heat.
They also make it a good time to visit the capital Havana. If you do need to shelter, then there are plenty of places that are well worth ducking into. You can wander the Centro Habana district, full of the smells, sights and sounds of true Havana, or go for a traditional Cuban meal.
There are museums, markets and galleries. There are bars full of rum and dancing. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Cuba without at least sniffing a hand-rolled cigar.
Average temperature: 34°C/ 93°F
Cultural attraction: the Medina
Souk and you shall find. That’s the motto in the ancient city of Marrakech. And while the markets are its bustling heart, there’s much more to the place than world-class haggling and trying not to catch anyone’s eye.
The city almost blinds you with colour and this effect is turned up a few notches in the summer sun of August. But don’t fear the heat: Moroccans have been dealing with the heat for centuries and there’s always a cool spot to relax.
Bars and restaurants, hammams, yoga retreats, cafes, shopping malls (if the markets are a bit much for you), tagine cooking classes: all these are available in abundance. You also have a selection box of magnificent beaches, suitable for swimming, surfing or even horse-riding.
Average temperature: 20°C/ 68°F
Cultural attraction: kayaking across pristine lakes
If you’re a city-dweller anywhere in the world right now, would you want to take a look at your lungs? Hmm? No. Because no matter how healthy you are, you wouldn’t be confident of them looking all that clean. So why not give your respiratory system a detox with a trip to Banff.
Banff is The Great Outdoors on a protein and weights regime. It’s not ‘pretty’, it’s magnificent. Imposing mountains, deep forests and vast turquoise lakes make this national park a wonder of the natural world and one well-worth visiting in August.
The temperature is warm, but not boiling, which means that it’s ideal for all kinds of outdoor pursuits, from hiking to kayaking to climbing to canyoning. And Instagramming, of course. There is civilisation nearby, but really, who wants that in a place like this?
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Average temperature: 27°C/ 81°F
Cultural attraction: the landscape in rainy season
Can you guess what the most popular food is in Kandy? No idea. It could be candy, but frankly, it could be anything, because Kandy is something of a gastro hub for Sri Lankan cuisine. This beautiful city, a UNESCO world heritage site, is particularly renowned for its delicious street food (often with a spicy kick), but is also littered with great restaurants and bars. For added bite, there’s also the must-see Temple of the Tooth: home to one of Buddha’s molars.
August is a particularly good time to visit because it’s monsoon season. Yes, you read that correctly: because it’s monsoon season. You’ll need a rain jacket, for sure, but it’s well worth it because Kandy and the surrounding area transforms under the rains.
The mountains, the rainforest and the tea plantations come alive: the water enhances fragrances and wakes up the wildlife. The rains, which come roughly every other day, also cool down the days making more physical activities a lot more appealing.
Average temperature: 28°C/ 82°F
Cultural attraction: all the beaches
Game of Thrones, blah, blah, dragons, blah, blah, death and nudity, blah, blah. Yes, in case you’ve just returned from a 10-year holiday in a well, you’ll know that Dubrovnik is a major location in possibly the biggest TV show of all time. But, guess what? It was there before Game of Thrones and was a fantastic place to visit even then.
Its medieval walls surround one of Europe’s most picturesque cities, with roads and alleyways winding around churches, markets, shops and restaurants, many offering up local Dalmatian cuisine (does not contain Dalmations).
Below them sits the Adriatic, with its crystal clear waters, which are perfect for swimming, diving or kayaking, and a supply of fresh fish. Above them Mount Srd, which can be reached by cable car. You can also escape by boat to one of the local islands: we recommend a trip to Lokrum, a glorious park and ideal spot for beach-lovers.
Average temperature: 31°C/ 88°F
Cultural attraction: the Chinatown food market
One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster. So sang Murray Head in the musical Chess. It’s probably best not to dwell on what that meant, but if you’re after oysters, in fact if you’re after any kind of food, especially street food, then Bangkok is the city for you.
It has one of the best and most exciting street food scenes on the planet and has done since long before street food became trendy. Its Chinatown area, in particular, is heaven for lovers of Chinese and Thai food and oh-so authentic, while night markets like Asiatique and Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Night Market (there’s an actual aeroplane) are a little glitzier and more tourist friendly.
Activities to fill your soul rather than your belly include visiting the reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, treating yourself to a Thai massage and getting a different kind of floating sensation with a boat trip along the Chap Phraya river.
Average temperature: 29°C/ 84°F
Cultural attraction: wild swim at Cavagrande del Cassibile
It’s hard for hidden gems to remain hidden in today’s world. Social media, the global spread of tourism and the ravenous hunt for hidden gems had unearthed pretty much every once-secret town or beach or bar that’s worth finding. However, some gems are still less out in the open and Noto in the south-east of Sicily is one.
This beautiful town is famous for its baroque architecture, which can be explored on foot in a few hours, but, as this is Southern Italy, there’s no rush. Walk, sit, eat, drink, repeat: that’s the way to do it.
Beyond the town you’ll find glorious countryside, perfect beaches and rambling old villages, but the real highlight is Cavagrande del Cassibile. This park is full of steep hiking trails, with several leading down to the Cassibile river and natural pools that are the perfect way to cool off in the August heat.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Average temperature: 20°C/ 68°F
Cultural attraction: the Grachtenfestival (canal festival)
This famous Dutch city has in recent years become a byword for one or two less salubrious hobbies, gaining a reputation as a party town or stag weekend central. But this is a such cruel misrepresentation of one of Europe’s most beautiful and historically and culturally rich cities that it should take it to the International Court of Justice up the coast in The Hague.
Art is everywhere (it’s the birthplace of Johan Cruyff, after all) as is history. There’s also wonderful food and drink, from chips with mayonnaise to beers that you should drink in very small amounts. And all of it it reachable by its canals and trams (watch out for the latter if you’ve been on those beers).
You can also make your way out of the city into the tulip-filled countryside. We recommend doing so by bike because a) it’s all completely flat and b) they sell beer in the country, too.
Average temperature: 25°C/ 77°F
Cultural attraction: the Cultural Summer and Castle Festival
What is one of the best things to do in the heat of August? We’ll narrow it down with an aural clue: glug, fizz, slurp, aaaaah. Yes, drink an ice cold beer (obviously). While many people thinking about a beery central European city will think of Prague, they forget that it used to share a country and many interests, including brewing.
While the pubs and breweries are tempting, Bratislava in the summer becomes an outdoor playground. The city is very walkable and there’s lots to walk to: the castle, the markets, the museums, the cafes.
There’s also the Cultural Summer and Castle Festival, which runs from June to September and offers up a menu of events and activities from theatre to dance to music. Oh, and they serve beer.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Average temperature: 24°C/ 75°F
Cultural attraction: the Great Barrier Reef, obviously
Bucket lists can be ticked at any time of year, but there are few better times than to visit the Great Barrier Reef than in August. It’s not peak heat in Eastern Australia, which is no bad thing, and the seas are particularly calm at this time of year, making it ideal for snorkelling, scuba and boat trips.
What lies beneath them is calming to the soul, too, unless you snorkel past a great white shark (which is highly unlikely by the way). You can swim among or gaze down upon incredible sealife, from rays to whales (including the Migaloo, an all-white humpback that’s migrating at that time of year).
On terra firma you can explore the city of Cairns, which hosts a series of festivals throughout the month to keep divers and passive observers alike well entertained.