Where to go on holiday in August
By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer
August is peak season for holidays. It can be a challenge to dodge the crowds – and inflated prices. Remember that the first half of the month is busier so, if you want to cut costs, delay your departure until the second half.
The Mediterranean is the most popular region in August, but if you don’t like the heat – or you want to experience a different kind of holiday – you could go north to Scotland, Scandinavia or Iceland.
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UK holidays in August
One of the best ways to holiday in the UK is to rent a cottage in a beauty spot such as Cornwall or East Sussex. You could explore Dorset’s Jurassic Coast where ITV’s Broadchurch was filmed, staying in one of these charming cottages. Or enjoy the short ferry ride to the retro-cool Isle of Wight.
You can stay on a working farm in Devon, or take a boating holiday on one of the many rivers and canals that criss-cross the UK. In the Norfolk Broads, for example, you can rent a cruiser or narrowboat (sleeping between 2 and 12) and stop for lunches at riverside pubs. In Cornwall you can stay in a log cabin or a cottage with your own hot tub.
How about a holiday cottage set in the magnificent countryside of the Yorkshire Dales where you can explore market towns, castles, walking trails and historic pubs. Or walk in the Lake District and stay in one of these luxury cottages.
For something different, rent a luxury woodland lodge in the Sherwood Forest or stay in a former lighthouse keeper’s cottage. You could hop across the Channel Islands to Jersey for sandy beaches, gourmet food and blokarting.
This collection of boutique hotels in the UK chosen by i-escape includes budget options such as a riverside pub near Bath, and upmarket choices such as Olga Polizzi’s Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall. If you don’t want to leave your dog at home, pick from hundreds of dog-friendly cottages in the UK and Ireland.
Need a quick escape from London? This collection of luxury Cotswold rentals includes cottages, farmhouses and lavish houses.
We love the Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel which is set in the remote hills of the Wales-Shropshire border. In the handsome market town of Bishops Castle, The Castle Hotel is a 300-year-old coaching inn with a dozen lovely rooms and a great restaurant.
If you’re going on holiday in August with a large group you could rent a Downton Abbey-style house with Oliver’s Travels.
For “posh” camping, Trevella Park is located near a stunning Cornwall beach and has its own nature trails, fishing lakes and heated outdoor pool. Choose from a range of tepees, safari tents and bell tents that sleep 4-6 and come with comfy beds, duvets, decking, a fridge and stove.
The Edinburgh Festival takes place throughout August and it’s a great time to visit the city. You can also find a wide range of short breaks in Scotland with McKinlay Kidd including whisky tours on Islay, and the chance to see Minke Whales, otters, seals, porpoises on the island of Mull.
France holidays in August
August is a great month to slip across the Channel and enjoy the classic charms of France. It’s not easy to find cheap holidays in August, but families on a budget could head to a Siblu holiday parc.
If your budget is a little bigger, consider this collection of villas in France, each with a private pool, in the Dordogne, the Côte d’Azur and Provence. If you feel a bit more energetic, take a gentle cycling holiday in France with your luggage transported each day to your next hotel.
For something more unusual, you could join a battlefield tour focussing on World War I history.
Find ideas for cheap holidays in August 2020.
Mediterranean holidays in August
In August we generally recommend a private villa with pool rather than a busy resort. We love the coast of Catalonia for its fishing villages, pretty coves and mountains, and Paxos, a wonderfully lazy, quiet Greek island. Gozo – little sister to neighbouring Malta – is a beautiful island ideal for exploring and lazing in cafes.
For beach holidays in August, you could go to Spain’s Costa de la Luz or the stylish French island of Corsica. On the island of Mallorca – away from the busy resorts – you can find beautiful rural villages, quiet beaches and great villas. Neighbouring Menorca has some charming hotels and self-catering accommodation for couples and families.
Portugal is another country that works well on a fly-drive. Stay in some of these beautiful and historic pousada hotels. They’re tremendous value and a smart way to explore the backroads of the Algarve or the Alentejo.
If you want beach activity, head to Mark Warner’s new Paleros Beach Resort in Greece where water skiing, wake boarding, sailing and windsurfing are all included in the price. It’s set on a lovely sheltered bay 30 minutes from Preveza Airport.
Mainland Italy is great in August. Away from the crowds, Le Marche has magnificent countryside and lovely villas, while ever-popular Tuscany never fails to disappoint. Or head south to Puglia – the heel of the boot – to stay in a luxury self-catering trullo with pool. A visit to the Verona Opera Festival with open-air performances in a candlelit Roman amphitheatre is a magical experience.
The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia are busy in August, but you won’t be disappointed by the beaches, some of the best in the Med. Try Forte Village in Sardinia or Verdura Golf & Spa Resort in Sicily. Also in Italy, the Amalfi Coast is delightful.
Activity holidays in August
If you don’t want to lie on a beach, how about a walking holiday in the splendid mountain countryside of northern Spain. You can also enjoy the stunning beaches and villages of the region by staying in a self-catering villa with pool. It’s a beautiful and much-neglected part of Europe, and very good value.
The Alps in summer offer great weather, clean air, low humidity and off-season prices. There are freshwater lakes where you can swim or indulge in a range of activities. See the latest special offers. For a luxury holiday in August in the Alps, you can get a low-season deal at Sir Richard Branson’s The Lodge, Verbier.
Over the border in Italy, you have the majestic setting of the Italian Lakes where the weather is ideal for both lounging on beaches and sightseeing.
In the Mediterranean, take a cruise on a traditional Turkish gulet with Peter Sommer, visiting secluded bays and cultural sites in the company of an expert guide. Destinations include the coast of Turkey, the Greek islands and Italy’s Amalfi Coast.
Or take a direct flight to the Azores where you can expect 26ºC temperatures (not too hot) and sightings of whales and dolphins. These nine volcanic islands offer great beaches, but lush mountain landscapes and hotels with real character.
If you just want to be pampered at a spa, or you feel like trying a new activity, check out The Healthy Holiday Company’s recommendations for August, which include the wild west coast of Portugal, sailing in Croatia and Plettenberg in South Africa.
Family holiday ideas in August
These family adventure holidays from PGL cost from £145 (adults) and £125 (children) and include all meals, and activities such as raft-building, circus skills and quad-biking.
If you’re travelling with a large group of friends or families, you could rent a large house. The Big Domain has a collection of houses, villas and chalets in the UK and overseas, by the sea, in cities and in the countryside.
For more inspiration, see our selection of the best family holidays in August.
Long haul luxury holidays in August
August is a great time to enjoy the beaches of Mauritius and the Seychelles. In Kenya the wildebeest migration is in full flow, making this a fascinating time to take a safari. You can also combine Africa with the Seychelles.
Alternatively you could track mountain gorillas in Rwanda or splash out on a luxury tented safari in Botswana. It’s a great time to encounter the mind-boggling wildlife of Madagascar – you can track lemurs by night, witness whales up close then collapse on dreamy white-sand beaches.
If you want to laze on some of the world’s most pristine beaches, head to Bermuda which is at its sunny best in our summer. Check into the luxury Rosedon Hotel or the family-friendly Fairmont Southampton.
The Thai island of Koh Samui is at its best in our summer (but avoid Phuket at this time of year). It’s a good time to be in Borneo where you can go white-water rafting and trekking, and enjoy unique wildlife experiences at places such as the Kinabatangan Wetlands Resort and the Danum Valley Field Centre.
Fly north to enjoy long sunny days and beautiful unspoilt scenery. We recommend a holiday to Iceland or a short break in the capital, Reykjavik. There are some great adventure tours and special offers.
Norway is a country of spectacular natural wonders, whether you want to explore fjords, lakes and mountains on an independent tour or join a cruise through the Lofoten Islands in search of whales and traditional fishing villages. You can enjoy a coastal voyage on a ship used by locals, take a train across the Roof of Norway or witness the Land of the Midnight Sun.
You’ll also find some epic summer holidays in Sweden, such as this Lakes and Lochs self-drive tour which travels from Stockholm to Gothenburg via sparkling lakes, nature reserves, the Gota Canal and deserted islands off the Bohuslan coast.
If you love wilderness, nature and walking, head to the Faroe Islands, just an hour’s flying time north of Edinburgh. You can hop between the islands on a fly-drive break or explore your interests on a tailor-made holiday.
The pristine wilderness of Alaska is never more beautiful than in August, when you can join an expedition cruise through the famed Inside Passage. This week-long Inside Passage, Fjords and Glaciers cruise will blow your mind. If cruising isn’t your scene, check out these self-drive options in Alaska.
When is the August Bank Holiday?
In 2019, the August Bank Holiday falls on Monday 26 August.
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.
Last updated: 10 February 2020