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The 10 best holiday destinations in July for summer sun

by Staff

Crystal Beach in Bali is known for wonderful snorkelling (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Falling in the middle of the school holidays in the UK, July is one of the most popular month for packing bags and heading off on holiday. It’s also (usually) the warmest month – in the northern hemisphere, at least – making July a good bet for those who prioritise hot weather for their summer getaway.

And while record breaking temperatures can be a risk you run in some destinations in July, there are plenty of holidays hotspots around the world that guarantee uninterrupted sun without the threat of days so hot you can barely make it down to the pool.

Admittedly, prices tend to be higher and destinations busier at this time of year, but there are always deals to be found, as well as hidden gems where you can escape the crowds.

From exploring European cities and Greek Islands to adventures in Indonesia or Mexico, here’s our pick of the best destinations to visit for idyllic summer holidays.

Barcelona, Spain

Plaça Reial, in Barcelona, is popular with tourists in the evening (Getty Images/iStockphoto)Plaça Reial, in Barcelona, is popular with tourists in the evening (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Plaça Reial, in Barcelona, is popular with tourists in the evening (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Catalan capital enjoys great weather even during the winter months, but July is its warmest and driest month of the year. Temperatures can regularly reach into the 30s, but don’t let that put you off this excellent city (just make sure you have air conditioning where you’re staying).

With miles of coastline and a gentle sea breeze, the availability of the beach and port areas provide a great alternative to rambling the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter or visiting the historic sights. That said, the many cobbled streets provide some much-needed shade as well as dozens of cafés and bars to dip into if the mercury gets too high. The nights are milder and provide a great opportunity to see some of the sights, with the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell among those opening to visitors as late as 8pm.

The Azores, Portugal

The twin lakes of Caldeira das Sete Cidades (Getty Images)The twin lakes of Caldeira das Sete Cidades (Getty Images)

The twin lakes of Caldeira das Sete Cidades (Getty Images)

Located in the Atlantic Ocean just over 1,500km from mainland Portugal, the Azores is a volcanic archipelago with excellent opportunities for adventure activities. With average highs of around 24C in July, the days are rarely swelteringly hot and rain is typically only seen three days a month.

Ponta Delgada is the capital of the Azores, with a peculiar mix of architectural styles, including a Gothic entrance gate, Baroque religious retreats and some examples of Moorish influence. Outside of the towns and cities, there are several areas of natural beauty, including the twin lakes at Caldeira das Sete Cidades, the Lagoa do Fogo and Parque Terra Nostra.

Bologna, Italy

Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore sits at the centre of the city (Getty Images/iStockphoto)Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore sits at the centre of the city (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Bologna’s Piazza Maggiore sits at the centre of the city (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

This city is famous for its university (the oldest continually operational one in the world) and porticoes (themselves a designated Unesco Heritage Site). Bologna may not receive the same level of attention as other Italian hotspots but it is certainly worth visiting.

With average highs of 30C in July (and virtually no rain), visitors are all but guaranteed sunshine as they discover Piazza Maggiore and the Santo Stefano complex of ancient churches. A true bastion of Italian cuisine, Bologna is an excellent dining destination, whether you’re a devotee of deli staples like Mortadella or a pasta fanatic.

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Provence, France

Lavender fields are a well-known sight in Provence (Getty Images/iStockphoto)Lavender fields are a well-known sight in Provence (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Lavender fields are a well-known sight in Provence (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A historical province of France that has since been incorporated into the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, Provence is perhaps most famous for the lavender that blossoms in its countryside and parks in the summer.

While Marseille, the capital of the region, is an attractive proposition for many tourists, smaller towns in the region, such as Aix-en-Provence, are far less crowded and provide an authentic experience of France. With it comes opportunities for hiking or cycling, while the many lakes, rivers and coastal areas provide a welcome relief if the days get too warm.

Santorini and the Cyclades, Greece

Oia, a cliff-clinging village on Santorini (Getty Images)Oia, a cliff-clinging village on Santorini (Getty Images)

Oia, a cliff-clinging village on Santorini (Getty Images)

With an incredible 13 hours of sunshine per day and average highs of 30C, it’s easy to see why the Cyclades – especially islands such as Santorini – have become so popular with tourists. The rows of white buildings on rugged coasts and cliffs makes for amazing photo opportunities, while the weather allows an opportunity to swim, sunbathe and explore to your heart’s content without worrying about those pesky raindrops.

There are 33 islands and islets in the Cyclades, and the official Greece tourism website includes extensive detail on 23 of them, including Ios, Neros and Mykonos. From picturesque towns to Unesco World Heritage Sites and the upscale partying of Mykonos, this Aegean island group has something for everyone, in addition to its amazing weather.

Canggu, Bali, Indonesia

Surfers at sunset on Batu Bolong Beach in Canggu (Getty Images)Surfers at sunset on Batu Bolong Beach in Canggu (Getty Images)

Surfers at sunset on Batu Bolong Beach in Canggu (Getty Images)

A southern hemisphere destination that offers warm weather yet receives very little rain in July, Bali has increased in popularity in recent years – the Indonesian province welcomed over 4 million foreign tourists in 2023, with numbers steadily climbing again after stringent entry requirements during the Covid pandemic.

A trip to Bali means embracing nature, whether that’s hikes through jungle, treks up mountains or simply lying back on one of its famous beaches. This is the destination for relaxation and sunshine, although those wanting specific activities can take advantage of numerous animal sanctuaries, temples and, in some areas, a big nightlife scene.

Tulum, Mexico

El Castillo overlooking Tulum beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)El Castillo overlooking Tulum beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

El Castillo overlooking Tulum beach (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Situated on the Caribbean coastline on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, Tulum is well-known for its well-preserved ancient Mayan ruins along with white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters.

The Mayan ruin of El Castillo sits on a rocky cliff overlooking one such beach – backed by forest and palm trees – while other natural attractions include various cenotes, areas where natural limestone bedrock has collapsed, revealing a natural pit and groundwater. With average highs of 33C, you may well need to visit one to cool off.

Namibia

Zebra and giraffe at a watering hole in Etosha National Park (Getty Images/iStockphoto)Zebra and giraffe at a watering hole in Etosha National Park (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Zebra and giraffe at a watering hole in Etosha National Park (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

July is the driest month in this part of southern Africa, with only 1mm of rain on average. While the temperatures aren’t as high as some other destinations – with average highs in the low 20s – and overnight temperatures sometimes dropping low (it is midwinter there during July, after all), this month is one of the best times for safaris. A visit to Etosha National Park offers the chance to see four of the “Big Five”: lions, elephants, black rhinos and leopards.

Other sights include the world’s highest sand dunes at Sossusvlei, as well as Deadvlei, a white clay pan desert. There are another four national parks in the country, including Skeleton Coast and Damaraland.

Oahu, Hawaii, USA

The coast of Oahu and Kualoa Ranch (Getty Images)The coast of Oahu and Kualoa Ranch (Getty Images)

The coast of Oahu and Kualoa Ranch (Getty Images)

Oahu is the third-largest Hawaiian island, and with average highs of 29C and little rain, July is the perfect time to visit. The state capital, Honolulu, is a bustling metropolis akin to many other US cities, but its tropical setting and Polynesian influences make it stand apart.

Waikiki Beach is the most famous on the island, but others such as Sunset Beach and Lanikai offer peace and tranquility in a more scenic setting. Together with the numerous national parks on the island, on Oahu you can find opportunities for hiking, surfing, cycling, snorkelling, and playing golf.

Hvar, Croatia

A view of Hvar harbour, once the main Venetian port in the Eastern Adriatic (Getty Images/iStockphoto)A view of Hvar harbour, once the main Venetian port in the Eastern Adriatic (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A view of Hvar harbour, once the main Venetian port in the Eastern Adriatic (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

With average highs of over 30C and virtually no rainfall in July, Hvar is the perfect summer resort for island hopping in the uninterrupted sunshine. Located in the Adriatic Sea, there are regular ferries (taking between 50 minutes and two hours) from Split, the second largest city in Croatia.

With an old town of limestone streets similar to Dubrovnik, Hvar is full of its own Dalmatian charm. The main activity here is sailing – whether chartering a boat yourself or simply joining an island-hopping tour, you’ll want to get out on the water in some way. For those who prefer to keep on dry land, the island has a host of impressive beaches, such as Dubovica and Pokonji Dol.

Read more on the best hotels in Europe

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