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Where to go on holiday in August

holidays August 2015Surfing in DevonRent a log cabin in CornwallCrystal clear water

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

August is the busiest holiday month of the year. Airports are crowded, resorts are hot and prices tend to be high. But if you have school-age children this is probably when you’ll be taking your annual fortnight in the sun.

If you want cut costs, book a departure in the second half of August. Most people want to travel early in the month, so prices are higher. If you can wait until the last week you’ll find prices come down significantly.

The Mediterranean is the most popular place to go on holiday in August, but if you don’t like the heat – or you want to experience a different kind of holiday – you should consider going north, perhaps to Scandinavia or Iceland.

Another option is to stay in the UK. Although the August weather has been variable over the past couple of years, the standard of UK holidays is increasing and the money you save on flights can be invested in high-quality accommodation, whether hotels or self-catering cottages.

Should you book early or wait for a deal? If you have children, or have booked certain dates off work, this is a time of year when it pays to book early. You simply can’t risk disappointment. If you are flexible, you can usually pick up some late deals, although the choice is rarely great.

Here are my tips on where to go in August. If you have children, see our recommended family holidays in August. If you’re travelling alone, check out the best singles holidays in August. Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.

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UK holidaysFranceMediterraneanActivity holidaysFamilyLong haul Go north

Gorgeous beaches and pretty townsUK holiday destinationsFarmhouse and pub stays in Devon

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 Isle of Wight.

You could stay at one of these luxury cottages in Cornwall, or get a great deal on a B&B, pub or farmhouse in Devon. How about a boating holiday on one of the many waterways that criss-cross the UK. Rent a cruiser or narrowboat (they sleep between 2 and 12) and stop for lunches at welcoming pubs.

You could stay in a holiday cottage set in the magnificent countryside of the Yorkshire Dales where you can explore historic market towns, castles, walking trails, fishing villages and friendly pubs. Or explore the timeless charms of the Lake District and stay in one of these luxury cottages.

For something different, rent a luxury woodland lodge in the Sherwood Forest or a former lighthouse keeper’s cottage. Or hop across to the Channel Islands to Jersey, which offers find sandy beaches, gourmet food and lots of activities.

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 including Olga Polizzi’s stylish Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall. If you don’t want to leave your dog at home, pick from hundreds of dog-friendly cottages in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

Our recommended UK hotels include Gilpin Lodge in the Lake District and Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa near Bath. For families we suggest Sands Resort in North Cornwall.

Budget options include these gorgeous handpicked Bed and Breakfasts in Cornwall.

Need a quick escape from London? It’s an easy drive to Maison Talbooth in Constable Country on the Essex-Suffolk border, while 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 a “posh” camping option Trevella Park is located near a stunning Cornwall beach and has its own nature trails, fishing lakes and heated outdoor swimming 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.

You could take a biking break in the UK – choose between road and mountain biking, perhaps in the Lake District or Cotswolds.

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. Or simply treat yourselves to a stay at The Torridon.

Want more tips on where to go in August without flying? Find more UK holiday ideas. Also see my colleague Annabelle Thorpe’s guide to the best city breaks in August.

Fun slidesFamily activitiesCruising the Burgundy canalTop quality equipment

France holidays in August

August is a great month to slip across the Channel and enjoy the classic charms of France in the summer. It’s not easy to find cheap holidays in August, but families on a budget could head to a holiday parc in Brittany.

If your budget is a little bigger, consider this collection of villas in France with 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.

On a tight budget? Find ideas for cheap holidays in August 2019.

Stylish villas and small hotelsMahal Villas_3Attractive villagesPorto Pollensa

Mediterranean beach 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 local cafes.

For beach holidays in August, you could go to the Costa de la Luz of Spain or the superb 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.

Another exciting option is little Montenegro which has an unspoilt coastline, mountains, historic old towns and shingle beaches. Check out this collection of boutique hotels. Pretty, compact Slovenia also works well if you want to explore, rather than lie on a beach. I recommend this fly-drive holiday.

Turkey is firmly back on the map – great value, great food, historic sites, and wonderful hotels and villas. Head for one of the more authentic resorts such as KalkanKas or Islamlar.

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.

Other top tips include the family-friendly Sani Resort on mainland Greece, and these good-value villas in Crete, which is also home to the luxury contemporary Daios Cove hotel.

If money is no object, try a luxury staffed villa in the Med. Each property has a private pool and comes with an experienced chef and host, and the services of a fully-qualified nanny.

See our selection of the best Mediterranean holidays, and our recommended holidays in Spain.

Surfing in Devon

Activity holidays in August

If you don’t want to lie on a beach, how about a walking holiday with Inntravel in the splendid mountain countryside of northern Spain. You can also enjoy the stunning beaches and charming 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.

Tennis coachingFun on the beach and in the seaCrystal clear water

Family holiday ideas in August

If you’re on a budget, here are some great ideas for family holidays in August. You could head to the mountains for an Alpine adventure or try some upmarket camping at a siblu village in France.

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.

Inghams has a great collection of family activity holidays in the lakes and mountains of Europe. They are great value, and include some free childcare. See the best places to stay.

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.

Elephant encountersPeru is one of the best holiday destinations in AugustWildlife on your doorstepluxury 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.

Alternatively you could track mountain gorillas in Rwanda or splash out on a luxury tented safari in Botswana. It’s the dry season in Namibia where you can climb the world’s tallest sand dunes at Sossusvlei on a self-drive holiday.

August is also 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.

Peru is perfect at this time of year, and British Airways flies direct from the UK – you can hike to the Lost City of Machu Picchu, go mountain biking through the Sacred Valley and white-water rafting down the Urubamba River. Another great option in Latin America is small, friendly and incredibly diverse Colombia. Or how about taking a few weeks off to join an overland truck adventure?

In North America, explore the Canadian Rockies where you can take a classic train ride, drive through the mountains or join a wildlife tour. Summer in Canada is spectacular. Drive the pristine coastline of Atlantic Canada where you can spot whales, canoe amongst icebergs and eat fresh lobster.

You could take one of these California fly-drives to see Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe and Death Valley. One of the most popular trips is this tour of California Winelands which includes Sonoma, Napa Valley and a foodie tour of San Francisco.

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.

August is the best month to climb mystical Mount Fuji in Japan. It’s one of many amazing holiday ideas in Japan including the amazing sights, sounds and tastes of Tokyo.

It’s also a great time of year to tour Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, where you will experience some remarkable wildlife encounters in a pristine setting.

The Thai island of Koh Samui is at its best in our summer (but you should avoid Phuket at this time of year). It’s also a good time to be in Borneo where you can visit the Sepilok Orangutan Sanctuary and experience the thrill of an overnight climb of Mount Kinabalu.

Lofoten Islands - Northern LightAdventureMykines, photo by Vitin C Olavur FredriksenAkademik Ioffe

Head north

Head 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 take 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.

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.

where to go on holiday

Last updated: 15 November 2018

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