Where to go on holiday in July
July is the month when early summer turns to peak season – if you travel towards the beginning of July you can escape the school holidays and pick up some surprisingly low-priced deals. As you move further into the month, prices rise, as do the temperatures across Europe and the Mediterranean.
Although the Mediterranean is the obvious place to go on holiday in July – see below for our suggestions – there are many other exciting options: you could go north to Scandinavia or Iceland to enjoy long days and midnight sun, or enjoy the clear mountain air in the Alps. You could book an activity holiday, go long haul or save on flights and stay in the UK. Here’s where to go on holiday in July. If you have children, check out our recommendations for family holidays in July.
Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.
Mediterranean beach holidays in July
Renting a private villa with pool is one of the best ways to enjoy the Med. We recommend the pretty coastline of Catalonia for fishing villages, pretty coves and mountains, and Paxos, a step-back-in-time Greek island. Malta offers sun, sea and a fascinating dose of history while neighbouring Gozo is all about sleepy rural charm.
If you want beach holidays in July, head to the Costa de la Luz in south-west Spain, or the delightful but often overlooked French island of Corsica. The Balaerics – once you get away from the busiest resorts – are superb, especially Mallorca and Ibiza.
If money is no object, Scott Dunn has some luxury staffed villas complete with private chef, host and nanny.
Mainland Italy is one of the best holiday destinations in July. We recommend Le Marche for its luscious countryside and good-value accommodation. Or head south to Puglia where you can stay in a five-star masseria or one of these luxury self-catering trulli with pools. For something different, you could get ringside seats to the traditional Palio horse races in Siena. Or head to the Verona Opera Festival where in July you can see open-air performances in a candlelit Roman amphitheatre, the world’s largest opera stage.
The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia have superb beaches: we recommend Forte Village in Sardinia and Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily – both world-class holiday ideas. July is also a great month to be on the Amalfi Coast. Find more holiday ideas in Italy.
For families, we recommend the Sani Resort on a spectacular stretch of protected beach on mainland Greece. The island of Crete has many charming houses to rent and some first-class hotels including the contemporary-styled Daios Cove. In Turkey you can stay at one of these attractive boutique hotels, or explore the unspoilt coast on a gulet cruise.
See our selection of the best Mediterranean holidays, and more holiday ideas in Spain. We also list some cheap holidays in July, but you’ll usually need to travel before the start of the school holidays.
Family holiday ideas in July
For a great value family holiday in July, rent a self-catering apartment in a car-free holiday village in France. These villages come complete with aqua parks and slides, golf, tennis, farms and free kids clubs – so they work well whatever age your children. Belle Dune in Normandy is just an hour’s drive from Calais, though there are resorts across France and Spain.
Another option that is easy to reach by ferry is Sunpark Holiday Villages which has four beautiful settings in Belgium each set around a large covered pool complex with waterslides and wave machines, plus indoor and outdoor sports and a choice of restaurants and cafes. See the latest offers.
A great way for families to bond is on a sailing holiday, or enjoy some watersports at Lakitira Beach resort.
The Italian Lakes offer a picturesque setting for family holidays in July, with charming hotels, great beaches and lots of opportunities for boat trips and activities.
The coastline of Northern Spain is perfect for families in July. It offers beautiful beaches, green countryside, excellent food and wine, mountains and historic villages – but unlike southern Spain, it doesn’t attract crowds of package tourists. Fly or take the overnight ferry, staying in a self-catering cottage or traditional small hotel. Alternatively, explore the region on a good-value self-drive holiday.
In Britain we particularly like Sands Resort in North Cornwall, which has a great programme for children.
If you’re travelling with a large group of friends or families, rent a large house that sleeps 12 or more. The Big Domain has an inspiring collection of houses, villas and chalets in the UK and overseas, by the sea, in cities and in the countryside. Or rent a chateau in France with Oliver’s Travels (see their latest special offers).
If you want to combine adventure, culture and relaxation, take the kids on a cruising holiday aboard a traditional Turkish gulet. Explore the coastline of Turkey, Italy or Greece, with lots of swimming in deserted bays, and guided visits to cultural sites.
Find more ideas on our sister website, 101 Family Holidays.
Activity holidays in July
If you don’t want to lie on a beach, how about a cycling holiday in Europe with Headwater, or a walking holiday in the splendid mountain countryside of northern Spain. You can also take a (less expensive) cycling break in the UK, either road cycling or mountain biking, from just £225.
The Alps in summer are gorgeous: great weather, clean air, low humidity and sparkling lakes where you can swim or enjoy a range of watersports. We recommend a stay at Evian, near the lake at Annecy or in the mountains at Les Deux Alpes. This is also a great time of year to get a deal at The Lodge in Verbier, a luxury chalet owned by Sir Richard Branson.
If you want to get away from the crowds and discover beautiful places in the company of like-minded people, consider a cultural walking tour.
Take a golfing holiday in France and keep the costs down by staying at a self-catering holiday village.
In the Cotswolds you could combine sailing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and fishing at the Cotswold Water Park Hotel. Nearby you’ll find Whatley Manor which is a fabulous country house hotel with a two-Michelin star restaurant and an outstanding spa.
UK holidays in July
In recent years July has been the month with the most reliable weather in the UK. In 2014 it was sunshine all the way. It’s a great month to rediscover the quaint charms of the Isle of Wight or rent a boat with Waterways Holidays, perhaps on the Norfolk Broads.
You don’t need to go abroad for white-sand beaches – just nip across to the Scilly Isles. Or go self-catering in Devon or Cornwall. There are several ways you can enjoy the gorgeous beaches and coastal paths of Cornwall – rent a cottage with Classic Cottages, stay in a log-cabin or find a luxury self-catering apartment from Boutique Retreats. In Devon you could try one of these pubs with rooms, or farmhouse B&Bs.
For a touch more pampering, stay at one of our recommended hotels including Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District, Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa near Bath and Pentre Mawr Country House in the beautiful North Wales countryside. If you want stylish self-catering in Wales check out the beautiful cottages offered by Sheepskin.
If you want a stylish place to stay in a remote location it’s hard to beat Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel which is set in five acres of grounds in the rolling hills of the Welsh-Shropshire border. It has an award-winning restaurant, lovely bedrooms and also welcomes pets.
From London it is easy to reach Maison Talbooth in Constable Country. Or why not explore the capital staying in a serviced apartment - it’s cheaper than a hotel and you get all the freedom and home comforts.
This is a great time of year to visit Scotland. You can rent a cottage or choose from a range of short breaks including whisky tours on Islay and the chance to see Minke Whales, otters, seals, porpoises on a wildlife cruise around Mull. You could also discover Viking history on a group tour of the Orkney Islands.
Camping is all the rage but if you can’t face cramped tents and damp sleeping bags, check into Feather Down Farms which has luxurious and spacious fixed tents at 20 working farms across the UK. If you can’t bear to leave your dog behind, try one of these dog-friendly caravan parks across the UK.
Or go “glamping” at Trevella Park which is set beside a stunning beach near Newquay, Cornwall. The park has nature trails, fishing lakes and a heated outdoor swimming pool and a range of accommodation including tepees, safari tents and bell tents that sleep 4-6 and have comfortable beds, duvets, decking, a fridge and camping stove.
For something more grand, you could get together with family or friends to rent a Downton Abbey-style stately home.
Turn the Hampton Court Flower Show into a four-day tour with a small group, also visiting Sissinghurst, Hever Castle, Chartwell and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. See more group tours in the UK and special offers.
Explore the best of Britain on a small-group cultural tour. Under the guidance of an expert in art, music or architecture, you can get together with like-minded people and visit some of the Great Houses of England or attend a classical music festival. New itineraries include Turner & The Sea, Charles Dickens and Mediaeval Middle England.
You could also hop across to Ireland for one of these special experiences. We love the idea of pottering around the picturesque backroads in a Mini or on a Classic Car, although for rugged coastline, mountains, unspoilt beaches and pretty villages, you can’t beat Connemara.
Long haul holidays in July
Borneo is at its best in our summer. As well as getting the chance to encounter orangutans in the wild, you can laze on sandy beaches, walk in tropical forests and visit indigenous villages. This nature tour covers all the best bits.
It’s also the best time of year to visit Peru where you can tick several things off your bucket list: hiking the Inca Trail, visiting the Lost City of Machu Picchu and exploring the wondrous Amazon rainforest. More ideas here.
Many destinations in Asia are wet in July, but the east coast of Malaysia and Thailand is an exception. Head to Koh Samui, where backpacker huts have been replaced by gorgeous hotels such as Anantara BoPhut Resort & Spa, or to Malaysia for the superb Tanjong Jara Resort.
It’s wrong to assume that Australia is only for our winter. The north of the country is perfect for a fortnight in July, staying in the Kimberley, staying at working cattle stations followed perhaps by a luxury island resort on the Great Barrier Reef.
Bermuda is warm, sunny and colourful in July, with its pink sand beaches, lush gardens and pastel houses. Best places to stay include Cambridge Beaches, the child-friendly Fairmont Southampton and the good-value Grotto Bay Resort.
Canada enjoys a short and spectacular summer and this is a great time to explore the Eastern provinces of Québec and Ontario. Take a 14-night Québec Explorer fly-drive or spend a few nights in the charming capital Montreal followed by a stay at the stunning Hotel Sacacomie, a luxury wilderness lodge where you can spot bear, kayak on miles of lakes and hike in the forest. (Read about my family holiday at Sacacomie).
July is not just about going south – it’s also a great month to head north to enjoy long sunny days, beautiful unspoilt scenery and a glimpse of the midnight sun.
Head to Norway for dramatic summer scenery, spectacular skies and fascinating culture. You can take a Coastal Voyage on a ship used by local people, see whales and traditional fishing villages in the Lofoten Islands or take the train along the Roof of Norway between Oslo and Bergen. Visit Tromso – Land of the Midnight Sun – or set off to explore Fjords, Lakes and Mountains.
The Faroe Islands lie 200km north of Scotland between Iceland and Norway, but just 2.5 hours flying time from London. Ideal for walkers and nature lovers, this pristine collection of 18 main islands offers jaw-dropping rock formations, puffin colonies and charming fishing villages.
Sweden is dramatically beautiful in summer – all crystallline lakes, midnight sun, stylish cities and an archipelago of unspoilt islands. Try Highlights of Sweden self-drive tour which includes Stockholm, Lake Silja, Lake Vattern and walking in Tivedens National Park. See this selection of holidays in Sweden in July.
July is a great time to visit America
Rent a car, hit the road and it won’t take you long to get under the skin of America. This is truly the world’s most diverse holiday destination, and home to extraordinary and friendly people. New England is a great place to start: the distances are short and there’s a huge amount to see and do, from historical Boston to the wild shores of Maine.
If you want Big Country, head to Colorado which has some great fly-drive options including this Goldmine Towns and Old Time Trains route. Alternatively, point your car towards Wyoming and South Dakota, where you’ll find Yellowstone National Park, Mount Rushmore, Fort Laramie, Cheyenne and Fort Collins en route.
A camping tour is a great way to see America. Head to the Northern Rockies or New York and Niagara, or take the kids on a 12-day Western Discovery tour that visits the Hoover Dam, Yosemite National Park, Bryce Canyon and San Francisco. Find more family adventures.
Other child-friendly options include this Cowgirls and Beach Boys private tour that combines New York City with a ranch in Montana and a beach in California.
If you want somebody else to do the driving, take an escorted tour. This 14-night Western Discovery tour is packed full of crowd-pleasers including the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Yosemite, LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas. You could take the trip down Route 66 or discover the colonial charm of Louisiana plantation homes.
An escorted tour of Texas will take you to Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston, and everywhere from Southfork Ranch to the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Or you could explore the Great Eastern Cities – New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC – with visits to the Niagara Falls and Amish Country.
A great way to see Alaska is aboard a small ship – try one of these Un-Cruise Adventures. You can even combine a cruise in Alaska with a railroad ride across the Rockies and a city break in Chicago on this fabulous 2-week private tour.
Try our holiday quiz
If you’re still stuck for ideas, why not try our fun holiday quiz. Answer 10 easy questions like the one below to find out what kind of holidaymaker you are, and get personalised travel recommendations. Try the quiz now.
This article was last updated on 8 August 2014.