From pristine islands to snow-covered mountains and cosmopolitan cities, these are the world’s best destinations to explore in July.
Whether you’re looking for bucket-list experiences, breathtaking natural wonders or simply want to bask in the serenity of a secluded island, there is something for every kind of traveller in July.
Adventure-seekers can take to the world-famous slopes in New Zealand’s Queenstown, while aspiring sommeliers can taste their way through world-class wine regions in Cape Town, South Africa. If it’s a beach holiday you’re seeking, explore the untouched coastline of Lombok Island in Indonesia or experience the magic of swimming with humpback whales in the dazzling Cook Islands.
If you’re planning a July holiday and aren’t sure where to go, keep reading to discover Luxury Escapes’ guide to the world's most exceptional destinations to visit in July.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Surrounded by dramatic snow-capped mountains and the azure waters of glacial Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is the definition of a winter wonderland. Your adventure begins before you might expect: the flight into Queenstown Airport offers panoramic views over the rugged Southern Alps, providing a stunning glimpse of what’s to come.
Commonly referred to as the ‘adventure capital of the world,’ Queenstown is home to some of the best ski resorts in the Southern Hemisphere. From the rollercoaster-style terrain of Coronet Peak to the powdery slopes of The Remarkables, there are trails for every skill level – whether you’re a professional or a complete beginner.
With plenty of overnight snowfall and spectacular bluebird days, July is a great time to hit the slopes. If you’re visiting later in the month, pack your reindeer antlers and head along to a Christmas in July event at Coronet Peak or The Remarkables – it’s essentially a mountain-wide dress-up party with plenty of food, drinks and music.
If you’re seeking a little more excitement, head to Coronet Peak to experience night skiing, a thrilling bucket-list activity held every Wednesday and Friday in July. Watch the sunset behind the majestic Southern Alps as you glide down some of the resort’s best runs. Later, enjoy a mulled wine by the fire to celebrate your twilight adventure.
July is also a perfect time to sample Queenstown’s vibrant après-ski scene. Whether it’s tasting your way through the picturesque Gibbston wine region, enjoying a meal at one of the world-class restaurants or indulging in a scenic soak at Onsen Hot Pools, there’s plenty to help you recover after a big day on the slopes.
If you need a break from skiing, take a scenic drive to nearby Arrowtown, just 20 minutes from central Queenstown. Explore heritage buildings, boutique shops and tree-lined streets as you learn about the gold mining history of this riverside village. In July, visitors can also experience the town’s unique Matariki Arrowtown Lights festival. This one-day cultural event, held on July 14, is a celebration of the changing of the seasons and the beginning of the Māori New Year.
Make your Queenstown escape one to remember at The Carlin Boutique Hotel. Offering spectacular vistas over Lake Wakatipu, each suite is a luxury retreat with a fireplace, private terrace and outdoor heated spa.
For a more secluded experience, enjoy a stay at The Rees Hotel, Luxury Apartments and Lakeside Residences. With an enviable position on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, this outstanding hotel features an onsite library, wine lounge and award-winning restaurant.
Immerse yourself in the ‘real’ Indonesia with a visit to the majestic island of Lombok. Located a two-and-a-half-hour boat trip east of Bali, or a three-hour flight from Singapore, Lombok is a tropical paradise of lush forest, rugged mountains, cascading waterfalls and impressive beaches. Initially rising to fame for its exceptional surf, Lombok is quickly becoming an alternative to Bali for those seeking a more relaxed and authentic beachside escape.
July is one of the driest months in Lombok. With an average daytime temperature of 28°C and overnight lows of 20°C, it’s an ideal time to enjoy the crystal-clear water, sunbathe on the white-sand beaches or explore the island’s natural wonders in depth. It’s also a great way to escape winter in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy a sunny holiday, while also avoiding the busy tourist season in Europe.
Whether you’re a surf pro or amateur paddler, no visit to Lombok is complete without catching a wave. Visit the island’s main town of Kuta (a quiet and peaceful village unlike its Balinese counterpart) and hire a board at Kuta Beach. If you’re after guidance, there are plenty of local surf schools offering lessons – you’ll be riding the world-class waves to shore in no time.
Adventure-seekers will love exploring Lombok on foot, and with sunny days and little rainfall, July is an ideal time to do so. Enjoy a scenic trek through clove and coffee plantations, plentiful rice paddies and local villages to the top of Pergasingan Hill or take on the more challenging hike to the summit of Mount Rinjani, Lombok’s highest peak.
Lombok has no shortage of beaches for swimming, snorkelling or simply sipping fresh coconuts. Spend a day soaking up the relaxed atmosphere at Senggigi Beach or take a day trip to the untouched Gili Islands, where you can snorkel through the calm, clear waters alongside green and hawksbill turtles.
While the white-sand beaches are stunning, Lombok is also home to one of Indonesia’s famous pink-sand beaches, which is worthy of a visit during your stay. After a day exploring all this tropical paradise has to offer, experience a spectacular Indonesian sunset from a hilltop viewpoint, a secluded west coast beach or your resort’s beachfront bar.
Make your Lombok adventure one to remember with a stay at Amber Lombok Beach Resort by Cross Collection. This Mediterranean-inspired eco-retreat offers spectacular villas and suites, as well as an edible garden, opulent spa and onsite restaurant.
For a front-row seat to unforgettable sunsets, Katamaran Hotel & Resort is the perfect place. With a sparkling infinity pool, sunken beachfront booths and an ocean-facing spa and restaurant, this luxurious resort makes it hard to leave.
Cape Town, South Africa
Home to spectacular natural wonders, extraordinary architecture and a cosmopolitan atmosphere, Cape Town is a beloved tourist destination. The vibrant city, which stretches around the flat-topped Table Mountain, lies between the sparkling Atlantic Ocean and the famed Cape Winelands region – home to some of the world’s finest wines. With plentiful beaches, scenic hiking trails, unique wildlife encounters, vibrant nightlife, rich history and a plethora of gastronomic delights, Cape Town really does have it all.
Avoid the intense heat and heaving crowds of summer with a visit to Cape Town in July. The winter months are known for mild temperatures and clear days, so you can spend your days exploring the region’s natural wonders and your nights by the fire, enjoying the local wine.
By July, whale season is at its peak. Take a trip to one of Cape Town’s stunning beaches and look for southern right and humpback whales calving in the shallow waters. If you have time, it’s worth driving the two hours to the seaside town of Hermanus, which is known as the best land-based whale-watching spot in the world.
Cape Town is also home to a 2,500-strong African Penguin colony. Visit Boulders Beach, 50 minutes south of the city, and watch from various viewing points as these cute animals make their way across the sand.
Take advantage of the clear days and enjoy a picturesque journey to the top of Table Mountain on the aerial cableway – July is the greenest time of year in Cape Town, so it’s a perfect time to ride. From the top, take in panoramic views of the city and the sparkling ocean before exploring one of the hiking trails, or savouring a glass of local wine from The Table Mountain Café.
Complete your Cape Town experience with a tour through the Cape Winelands – an area encompassing six mini wine regions, including Paarl, Franschhoek and Constantia. Join a group tour or hire a car and take a self-guided adventure through this world-class region. Sample famed South African cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, chenin blanc, pinotage and more, alongside delectable food pairings. Return to the city with a bottle or two of your favourite drops – a delicious reminder of your visit.
Of course, Cape Town is also known as the gateway to some of South Africa’s top safari destinations, including Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve and Kruger National Park. Here you will experience opulent accommodation, world-class food and wine, and plenty of opportunity to see the Big Five in the wild.
Base yourself in the heart of Cape Town with a stay at President Hotel. Boasting spectacular views of Table Mountain, an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and three onsite restaurants, President Hotel has everything you need.
For a lavish escape, treat yourself to The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa. Located on the shores of the shimmering Atlantic Ocean, this bespoke hotel offers two restaurants, a restorative spa, heated infinity pool and private cinema.
With its turquoise lagoons, dazzling white-sand beaches and swaying palm trees, the Cook Islands is the epitome of paradise. Tucked away in the South Pacific, about halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii, this stunning archipelago is made up of 15 islands offering the perfect blend of culture, adventure and relaxation.
The beating heart of this exquisite destination is the island of Rarotonga. Easily accessible from nearby cities including Auckland, Sydney and Honolulu, Rarotonga is home to soft sandy beaches, coconut groves and Muri Lagoon – a glittering bay fringed by lush jungle. For the ultimate seclusion, many visitors prefer to stay on the pristine island of Aitutaki (just a 50-minute scenic flight from Rarotonga), which boasts diamond-clear waters, porcelain sand and access to more than a dozen untouched islets.
In July, the Cook Islands plays host to a dreamy combination of balmy days and warm seas. With average temperatures of 25°C, this is the peak of the dry season, so humidity and rainfall are at their lowest. Take advantage of the idyllic weather conditions and spend your days kayaking on serene lagoons, swimming among colourful fish and vibrant coral gardens, or trying your hand at water sports like parasailing and kitesurfing. While kitesurfing is on offer year-round, it’s best enjoyed in July due to the trade wind season. Enjoy the adrenaline rush as you glide atop the crystal-clear waters of Muri or Aitutaki Lagoon.
This is also the best time of year to spot humpback whales on their annual migration from Antarctica. Visit the western shores of Rarotonga or embark on a whale-watching cruise from Aitutaki to watch humpback whales, big and small, frolicking in the warm water. For an unforgettable, bucket-list-worthy moment, choose a whale swim tour and experience the thrill of gliding through the water alongside these majestic mammals.
Diving enthusiasts will also love visiting the Cook Islands in July. It’s a beautiful time to explore the diverse underwater world of canyons, caves and drop-offs filled with schools of tropical fish, unique coral species and larger sea creatures like sharks, rays and turtles. At this time of year, enjoy excellent visibility – up to 60 metres – and clear conditions at the more than 30 dive sites dotted around the archipelago.
Experience a lavish stay in Rarotonga at Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa, on the picture-perfect shores of Muri Lagoon. Boasting beachfront villas just steps from the glittering water, the luxurious resort offers private pools, gardens and an award-winning spa.
If privacy is a priority, Pacific Resort Aitutaki is perfect for you. Beautifully remote and surround by lush nature, the resort’s tropical bungalows invite you to while away days on your personal balcony, taking in views of the shimmering lagoon.
Featured image: Pacific Resort Aitutaki, Cook Islands.
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For more inspiration, check out Luxury Escapes' Top Bucket-List Destinations for 2024.