We’ve narrowed down some of the best places to visit in the second half of 2020.
Our favourite thing to do when we’re not travelling is planning our next trip, and with so much uncertainty around at the moment, it doesn’t look like any of us will be holidaying any time soon.
So we’ve taken this time to narrow down the best places to visit in the second half of the year when, hopefully, we’ll be able to leave our homes and get back outside.
Here’s our top picks for the best places to visit from July to December.
July – Banff National Park, Canada
Given its natural beauty it’s hard to imagine there’s a bad time to visit Banff and things really get going from July onwards. This is the time when the national park comes alive with activity thanks to the numerous festivals and events that take place, plus the temperature is great to be outside all day long.
This place is a real hiker’s paradise with the most breath-taking mountain views imaginable. The trails begin to get busy at this time of year so don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and find your own route. A good tip is to pack some food in your backpack, not only will it fuel the rest of your hike, it’ll be the most scenic picnic of your lifetime.
If hiking’s not your thing, don’t worry, you can still take in the views from the top via the chair lifts. Banff Gondola located at the summit of Banff’s Sulphur Mountain is a must visit for the outstanding scenery. The floor-to-ceiling glass windows are perfect for taking in the stunning panoramic scenery. There’s a rooftop deck and boardwalk to walk off your lunch on too.
August – Mauritius
Despite it being winter in at this time of year, the skies are clear and the sun is out making Mauritius one of the world’s best places to visit in August. It’s recommended to stay on either the west or northern coasts, as they’re sheltered from the southeastern winds, so it’s perfect for enjoying the great outdoors. Mauritius is home to some of Africa’s best beaches with 300 kilometres of stunning coastline and there aren’t many places in the world with warm tropical waters like these – ideal for some deep sea fishing.
Underwater adventures rank highly on the appeal of Mauritius, snorkelling and scuba diving are popular with tourists thanks to the hundreds of coral species and hundreds of marine animals. On a good day you’ll see whales, dolphins and turtles. You can also see the two-century old shipwrecks on the seabed. Should you be looking for a more relaxing time, you can visit tea plantations, Hindu temples and national parks, which bring people to the island from around the globe – often to see the century-old giant tortoise.
If you’re not on a budget, make the most of Mauritius’ award-winning golf courses and comprehensive fine-dining scene. This place boasts a melting pot of cultural cuisine, guaranteed to impress the foodie within you. While the temptation might be to not leave the comfort of your hotel restaurant, there are some incredible family-run eateries and delicious street food markets on the beach, which are well worth a meal or two.
September – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Cruising around the beautiful islands in the Adriatic is the ideal way to soak up the last of the summer sun. Whether you’re looking for delicious food, a tan or culture you’ll find it all and more in Croatia. Exploring the incredible Venetian architecture is a great way to spend a day or two.
Dubrovnik, in Southern Croatia, is famous for its Old Town and huge stonewalls dating back to the 16th Century. Shops and restaurants pave the way as you wander around this ancient city – buildings like St. Blaise Church and Renaissance Sponza Palace are incredibly impressive and draw crowds from around the world.
Game of Thrones fans will be well aware of the scenery as some of the series’ most memorable scenes were filmed here. There’s now a very popular tour, which takes fans to the GoT hotspots including Fort Lovrijenac (Red Keep) and walking the iconic path from the Walk of Shame scene. You can also catch a ferry to the island of Lokrum to explore the City of Qarth and pay a visit to the Game of Thrones museum.
If you’re not a GoT fan, Dubrovnik is still worth a visit, especially in September as it’s slightly less crowded. Tours and guides are plentiful taking you on walking tours, cable car rides or island excursions, where the beautiful beaches are surrounded by warm, crystal clear water.
October – Cape Town, South Africa
With seasons here reversed, October is the perfect time to visit thanks to incredible weather, fewer crowds and best of all, cheaper prices. Technically it’s springtime in October so while it’s not quite high season you still get to experience the city at it’s best. The International Kite Festival, held at False Bay, attracts over 20,000 people from around the globe showing off their creations.
Cape Town is home to Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the world’s best road trips, where the coast meets the cliffs. It’s full of excitement with hairpin turns and death defying drops so drive carefully. For something more chilled you can ride a horse along the white sand beaches in Noordhoek. It’s a great chance to be at one with nature and take in the indigenous bird life in the wetlands just off the beach.
No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to Table Mountain and a great way to see it is via the aerial cableway giving you superb all-round views on your way to the top in the rotating cable car. It operates seven days a week and runs every 10-15 minutes so you’ll have no problems getting a spot. When you reach the summit you’ll be 3,500ft above the city – making it one of the best places to visit for a picnic.
November – Philippines
The dry season officially starts in November and all the islands are open for business, including some of the more remote areas. The most popular islands with tourists are places like El Nido, Boracay, Cebu and Coron, all of which have something different to offer.
The boat tours in El Nido are arguably the best in the Philippines (and probably the ones you’ve seen most of on Instagram) kayaking in the Big Lagoon is an incredible experience and even more so if it rains (which it may do in November). If you’re looking for a party island Boracay is the place for you. Although it isn’t as rowdy as it has been in previous years, which is probably a good thing given that the island was closed by the government in 2018 over concerns of pollution and over population.
If you’re moving around in the Philippines the chances are you’ll go through Cebu at some point, especially if you’re flying internally. Just a few hours drive south and you’ll find yourself at Kawasan Falls, one of the most fun things to do in the whole country. It’s a maze of waterfalls and pools that’ll have you swinging like Tarzan into the turquoise waters. Be sure to take a GoPro with you to capture it all. And a top tip is to take some cash with you and zip in in your life jacket. The experience will take about three hours and the food stop halfway is a much-needed rest.
Coron should also be on your hit list of place to visit while you’re in the Philippines. The boat tours are quieter than those in El Nido, but just as impressive. Kayangan Lake, known as the cleanest lake in the Philippines, is another Instagram hotspot with a stunning viewpoint looking out onto Coron’s unmistakable limestone cliffs. Generally speaking the queue for the lookout isn’t that long at this time of year. After a day on the water head up to the ‘Coron Sign’ for a view of the sun setting over the island. It’s a sweaty trek, but worth the view.
December – Dubai
The winter months in Dubai are the perfect time to get some sun with temperatures averaging 26 degrees, so it’s a perfect time to hit the beach or hotel pool. It’s also one of the best places to visit for some shopping at this time of year, with a plethora of malls to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find something to take home for Christmas – and at the right price too. The famous Dubai Shopping Festival is on at this time of year throwing up some real bargains.
Winter is a great time to get a good deal with travel and tourism companies too, as competition is high. Ask at your hotel reception what offers they have on, and search websites like Group On for deals on attractions and tours too.
If you’re in the city on Christmas day why not join the thousands of ex-pats heading out for a festive brunch, with all the trimmings, and of course sunshine. Hotels are usually packed with party-goes celebrating with a traditional turkey dinner. These events get booked up long in advance though so make sure you book a few weeks before your trip at least.
Finally, no one does New Years celebrations quite like Dubai. Fireworks will be going off all around the city from the stunning spectacle that is the Burj Khalifa, the Burj Al Arab, Atlantis the Palm, JBR beach and others. If you’re savvy (and if it’s a clear night) you can actually see most of these from JBR beach. The Burj Khalifa display is generally the most popular but be warned, if you’re not staying in Downtown it’ll take you a good few hours to get back to your hotel.
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