Here Comes the Glorious Sun
August has long held its place at the head of summer’s bountiful table, but it’s often the time of year when diehard travellers choose to lie low. There are swarms of school children to avoid, their teachers determined to blow off a year’s worth of stress, and sun-burned elderly gentlemen dripping ice cream onto their distended bellies.
These clichés we’ve lazily conjured don’t stop August being a great time to travel. Destinations usually too cold for a visit are at their warmest, and others that are typically too hot are finally cooling to reasonable temperatures.
So, without further ado, here are our August travel recommendations.
Northern Ireland’s capital city is ideally suited for a long weekend at almost any time of year – cold and rain almost feel tailored for it – but it’s nice to be able to explore without wearing five layers of winter clothes.
You can stay inside the city and visit the Gaeltacht Quarter to see the peace walls and political murals, picturesque Stormont and its massive castle or the Titanic Belfast monument, before stopping at a pub or bar in the Cathedral Quarter for a Guinness or seven. At this time of year, you might even be able to sit outside!
If August’s weather holds up its end of the bargain, you should make an effort to escape the city. The Antrim Coast holds some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, including the iconic, otherworldly Giant’s Causeway. Game of Thrones is filmed around here, but a day in the sun will make you forget that winter is coming. (We’re so, so sorry). I don’t get it…
Tanzania is a bit different to Ireland. This south eastern African nation is a bit on the toasty side for much of the year, but August is when things cool down a bit. We stress a bit; temperatures still hit the mid-20s, but that’s more bearable than the 30°C+ experienced at other times in the year.
Our suggestions for Tanzania are a bit obvious, but they’re popular for a reason. Serengeti National Park is the ultimate safari destination, as it’s home to the Big Five game animals: elephants, lions, rhinos, buffalo, and leopards. Try and see ‘em all! Then go for a quick stroll to take in the views from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s only 19,341ft high, after all. On the other end of the geographical spectrum, Tanzania is one of the best places in the world for scuba diving: visibility is exceptional and the marine life abundant.
New York, USA
We won’t pretend New York City won’t be busy at this time of year. August is prime tourist season, and people will be flocking from all over the world. Regardless, the weather there at this time of year is just lovely, and all the landmarks you recognise from TV – the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the interminable gridlock – are particularly striking with a blue sky backdrop.
If the bustle of the city is too overwhelming, you could escape upstate to the Adirondacks region. There’s green, sprawling scenery full of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, and fishing, and a wealth of wineries and craft beer breweries to keep you busy of an evening (and bedbound of a morning).
Norway isn’t considered an especially warm country. And that’s alright. Its grim, wintery frigidity is probably its biggest selling point. Still, August sees temperatures nudge 20°C, the locals give their near-translucent skin its yearly airing, and the beauty spots around Oslo really come into their own.
Oslo Fjord could have been handmade to feature on postcards, you can take a relaxing boating jaunt at Bygdoy Peninsula, go on a rail trip, or explore the dense forest, fairytale of Oslomarka. The August temperatures are perfect for long walks, and the days are long, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy it all. Bliss.
Alright, some people like to get absolutely baked. No, wait, not like that! We’re talking about lying in the sunshine until your skin is the colour of old leather and your lifespan has been shortened by three years. Few places are as overwhelmingly, unrelentingly hot and sunny as the various Greek Islands in August.
Of course, there are plenty to choose from. Kefalonia and Lefkada are known for their ludicrously photogenic beaches, Corfu boasts great nightlife alongside some quieter spots, Santorini is the template for ‘home of extravagantly tanned, exotic, and skimpily-dressed foreigners’ in any fantasy fiction, and Delos houses so much history the whole island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Just remember your sun lotion.