With the northern hemisphere awash with sunny days, inviting beaches and top-notch festivals, travellers are spoilt for choice when holidaying in August.
If you’ve been dreaming of a European summer, you’re in luck – August is one of the best times to experience the jewels of the northern hemisphere. In this guide, uncover four of the finest destinations for sun-soaked days and balmy nights – best enjoyed with a cocktail in hand.
Soak up some Vitamin D on the stunning islands of Malta, explore the ancient wonders of Old Town in Dubrovnik, appreciate some of the world’s best talent at Edinburgh Fringe Festival or immerse yourself in the legendary La Tomatina in Valencia. No matter what your interests are, August is the perfect time to enjoy one – or all – of these beautiful destinations.
From breathtaking coastline to medieval architecture, spellbinding dive sites and mysterious megalithic temples, Malta offers an enthralling escape in the heart of the Mediterranean. Located just 80km south of Sicily, the nation of Malta consists of three islands – Comino, Gozo and Malta. Whether you’re visiting for the exciting culinary scene (including six Michelin-starred restaurants), the impressive diving opportunities or the staggering 8,000 years of history, Malta never disappoints.
As a lesser-known tourist destination, Malta is the perfect place to get your European summer fix. In August, rain is largely non-existent and average daily temperatures sit around 32°C. Take advantage of the superb weather conditions and spend an afternoon exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed city of Valetta on foot – wander the narrow streets, marvel at magnificent churches, intricate mansions and medieval fortresses, and visit historical museums and quaint cafes. History buffs should venture further afield to see some of the oldest temples in the world, including Hagar Qim on Malta and Ggantija on Gozo, which date back as far as 3000 BCE.
If it’s natural wonders you seek, Malta has it in spades. Visit the sea caves of Blue Grotto, swim in the Mediterranean’s crystal-clear waters or simply relax on the soft white sand with an ice-cold Cisk beer in hand. August is also the ideal time to discover Malta’s dazzling underwater world through a scuba diving expedition to one of 120 world-class dive sites, including Cirkewwa and Blue Hole. With visibility up to 40m at some sites, it’s the ultimate time to explore historic wrecks, statues, caves and coral reefs. Due to the warm sea temperatures, night diving is also popular at this time of year, with many of the region’s most interesting marine creatures emerging after dark.
Back on dry land, August plays host to an abundance of mid-summer festivals and events including the Gozo edition of the Malta International Food Festival, the Delicata Classic Wine Festival and Pinta Beer Festival. Music lovers won’t want to miss the iconic SummerDaze Festival, a week-long music event held across various locations and headlined by the Black Eyed Peas in 2023.
Make your Maltese adventure one to remember with a stay at Rosselli AX Privilege, in the heart of Valetta. Home to the Michelin-starred Grain restaurant, as well as an outdoor swimming pool and rooftop terrace offering panoramic views over the city, it’s the perfect base for any traveller.
If beachside bliss is more on-brand, a stay at Corinthia St George's Bay is sure to excite and delight. Offering ultimate oceanfront luxury, with six pools and eight restaurants, the creators of this hotel have simply thought of everything.
Lovers of avant-garde architecture, beautiful beaches and gourmet food and wine will be enchanted by a visit to Valencia. Located on Spain’s sparkling east coast, Valencia offers an insight into everyday Spanish life – without the crowds of cities like Madrid and Barcelona. From the cobblestone streets of Old Town to the futuristic design of museums like the City of Arts and Sciences and the vast golden sands of Las Arenas Beach, Valencia is full of historic, cultural and culinary surprises.
Ask any local and they will tell you – Valencia is best enjoyed in August. Spend your days relaxing on the shores of Las Arenas or the slightly quieter Malvarrosa Beach, just a short drive from the city, to soak up the very best of the Balearic. Savour a refreshing dip in the balmy sea, before visiting a local tapas bar to cool off with an Agua de Valencia – a potent yet invigorating cocktail made from sparkling wine (cava), freshly squeezed orange juice, vodka and gin. And of course, no visit to Valencia is complete without tasting the local specialty: paella.
Summer brings with it an impressive line-up of cultural celebrations in Valencia. On the last Wednesday in August, thousands of locals and tourists flock to the sleepy village of Bunol to paint the town red – literally – at La Tomatina. This one-hour, city-wide food fight allows just one weapon: tomatoes. A whopping 160,000 kilograms of tomatoes to be exact. La Tomatina is part of a week-long fiesta celebrating Bunol’s patron saints and features several events including paella cook-offs, parades and fireworks.
If you prefer a little more decorum, the Requena Harvest Festival might be more suitable. Held in the village of Requena, just one hour from Valencia, this two-week event is an annual celebration of the harvest and includes grape stamping, colourful processions and bullfights. One of the most-loved parts of the festival is the annual fair where local wine and cava producers offer information, tastings and sales. It’s the perfect place to pick up a liquid souvenir.
Experience five-star luxury in the heart of Valencia with a stay at Hospes Palau De La Mar. Offering palatial accommodation within a 19th-century manor house, this boutique hotel offers everything you need to recharge after a busy day.
For an indulgent beachside retreat, a stay at Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort ticks all the boxes. This glamorous oasis features elegant rooms, luxurious suites, a decadent day spa and a fine-dining restaurant, all just 200m from Malvarrosa Beach.
From enchanting castles to winding cobblestone streets and an impressive line-up of world-class cultural events, Edinburgh is one of the UK’s most charming cities. Scotland’s capital encompasses two unique halves: a medieval Old Town and an 18th-century New Town.
Home to the picture-perfect Royal Mile, the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle and an intricate underground dungeon system, the maze-like Old Town is a wonderland of history and culture. Once you’ve had your fix of castles and cobblestones, head north to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed New Town – a haven of neoclassical architecture, green squares, boutique stores and chic bars.
There’s little that compares to the buzz of Edinburgh in August. With long days and plentiful sunshine, the city comes alive with live music, street food, art performances and festivals including the world-renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This three-week arts festival is one of the world’s biggest, with artists, comedians and performers from all over the world descending on the city. From ticketed comedy shows, theatre performances and operas to free live music and street exhibitions, there is something for every taste and age group. Go with zero expectations and allow yourself to be surprised and delighted by the carnival-like atmosphere and breadth of talent on show.
With a reputation as The World's Leading Festival City to uphold, Edinburgh offers so much more than just Fringe. Cinephiles will love the Edinburgh International Film Festival, a six-day event showcasing an eclectic range of local and international films spanning multiple genres. August also plays host to the two-week-long Edinburgh Art and Edinburgh International Book Festivals, as well as the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, an iconic display of pipe music, drums, dance and daredevil feats.
Between festivals, visit Edinburgh Castle or join the pilgrimage of tourists hiking to Arthur’s Seat to experience 360° views and a magical sunset. After a busy day, head to New Town for dinner – your choice of fine dining, Scottish pub grub or international cuisine – or visit Old Town for a taste of Scotland at the Scotch Whisky Experience.
Unwind after days exploring the busy streets of Edinburgh at Kimpton Charlotte Square, an IHG Hotel, a heritage escape located in New Town. Featuring a magical inner courtyard as well as a cocktail bar, pool, spa and acclaimed Mediterranean restaurant, this hotel offers everything you need for a stylish Edinburgh escape.
Level up your Edinburgh experience with a stay in a 19th-century Victorian townhouse at The Roseate Edinburgh. Select rooms at this five-star property offer a deep-soaking bathtub, perfect for luxuriating in after a day of arts and culture in town.
Immerse yourself in a paradise of Croatian culture, history and cuisine alongside the sparkling Adriatic Sea, with a visit to Dubrovnik. With its distinctive stone city walls, grand architectural buildings, splendid beaches and vibrant food scene, Dubrovnik lives up to its reputation as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’.
Dubrovnik’s unparalleled beauty is only heightened by the August sun, making it a truly excellent time to visit. Spend your days exploring the ancient city walls, forts and monasteries on foot or embark on a guided tour of the city’s best sights – Game of Thrones theme optional. After a busy day learning more about the history of this medieval city, return to the limestone-paved main street, Stradun, for a world-class dining experience.
With no shortage of clear and sunny days, August is the perfect time to take a ride up the Dubrovnik Cable Car to Mount Srd. From the top, enjoy a signature cocktail at Panorama Restaurant & Bar and admire breathtaking views over the terracotta-coloured rooftops of the old city, fringed by the striking turquoise waters of the Adriatic.
One of the best activities for late summer is a sunset kayak tour. Navigate your way around the sparkling coastline as you watch the late afternoon sun cast its enchanting pink and orange glow on the iconic city walls. Explore the beaches and caves of Lokrum Island, stop for a swim in the azure water and watch the sun set behind the Elaphiti Islands with a glass of wine in hand.
By August, Dubrovnik’s annual Summer Festival is also in full swing. Beginning in mid-July, this long-running festival takes place inside the walled city, with shows spanning theatre, ballet, opera, classical music, jazz and folklore held across several open-air stages. Travellers flock to the city to experience performances from some of the best Croatian and international artists, with the highlight being an annual production of Hamlet at Fort Lovrijenac.
Elevate your Dubrovnik escape with a stay at the sophisticated Hotel Kazbek. This former 16th-century palace turned boutique hotel offers the very best in five-star luxury and features a lush walled garden, onsite restaurant and serene outdoor pool.
Those looking to escape the buzz of downtown Dubrovnik may prefer a stay at the relaxed Sun Gardens Dubrovnik, located 30 minutes north of the city. Taking up residence on a prime spot of Croatian coastline, Sun Gardens offers breathtaking sea views, seven restaurants, three swimming pools and an indulgent day spa.
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