by Roxanne Wells
If you haven’t yet booked this year’s summer holiday, or need inspiration for summer 2018, this destination guide should help you decide where to go as we have selected top five destinations for the season.
Those who love the warm Mediterranean climate, but maybe fancy a change from Spain or Greece, could consider beautiful Croatia. Stretching along the dramatic coastline, and including a smattering of unspoilt Adriatic islands, the Dalmatian Coast is one of Europe’s hidden gem holiday spots – although it’s quickly rising in popularity!
The combination of scenic, sunny shores and historic towns and cities particularly appeals to those who like to mix both sightseeing and sun-worshipping while on holiday. On our tour of Dubrovnik, the Dalmatian Coast & Montenegro you can explore within the medieval Old Town walls of Dubrovnik and marvel at the spectacular Mostar Bridge in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as experiencing the unique characters of Split and Trogir, plus visit the serene Krka Valley with its abundance of gorges, lakes, rapids and waterfalls.
When to go: mid June – mid August
Average summer temperature: 25°C (Dubrovnik)
Key features: Krka National Park, Emperor Diocletian’s monumental palace, the Mostar Bridge, Trogir, UNESCO World Heritage sites Perast and Kotor, Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian coastline
Departures available: May to September 2017
2. The Rhône Valley
What could be more pleasurable than sailing through the South of France’s lush Rhône Valley wine region while the sun shines? Leading up to harvest season in September, the grape vines will be full and ripe, and it would be rude not to appreciate the local winemakers’ efforts at a traditional cellar in Burgundy.
On our Burgundy, the River Rhône and Provence river cruise you can also sample some of the best food in the world in culinary-capital Lyon, see the stunning Pope’s Palace in Avignon, marvel at the Pont du Gard Roman aquaduct and cruise through the towering rock formations at Ardeche Gorges. If your idea of summer holiday heaven includes cruising between quaint French towns and cities surrounded by lush, green countryside – plus fine wine and good food – a Rhone Valley river cruise ticks every box.
When to go: July – late August
Average summer temperature: 22°C (Lyon), 24.5°C (Avignon)
Key features: Ardèche Gorges, Beaune wine tasting, Pont du Gard, Lyon, Vienna, Arles, Avignon and the Pope’s Palace
Departures available: June to September 2017 & May to October 2018
3. The Austrian Lake District
There are few places with prettier scenery than Austria, with its glass-clear lakes, fragrant pine forests, rugged valleys and snow-capped mountains. Exploring this magical landscape under a blue sky will guarantee a summer holiday to remember.
Our Lakes and Mountains of Austria tour whisks you from the tranquil lakeside fishing villages of the Austrian Lake District – like Mondsee, famous for its church featured in ‘The Sound of Music’ – to the thundering Krimml waterfalls, said to be the highest in Europe. You’ll also have numerous opportunities to conquer a mountain, either by steam hauled rack railway or by cable car, and take a guided tour of beautifully baroque Salzburg, a castle-crowned fairytale city famous for being the birthplace of Mozart. Nearby Hellbrunn Palace is also on the ‘must visit’ list, and there’s no better time to wander its landscaped gardens and perhaps get caught out by the surprise fountains in summertime!
When to go: June – August
Average summer temperature: 18°C (Salzburg)
Key features: Salzburg, Hellbrunn Palace, Krimml National Park and Grossglockner, St Wolfgang, the Alps and the Alpine Road
Departures available: May to September 2017
4. South Africa
Our summer is dry season in South Africa, which is when you have the best chance of seeing wildlife as they congregate around watering holes and rivers. Lower temperatures also mean less crowds, so if you can live without intense sunshine you’ll be rewarded with little rain, mainly clear skies and, fingers crossed, an incredible, uncrowded safari experience.
As well as a fully guided safari in Kruger National Park, our South Africa tour includes a wine tasting at a 300-year-old wine estate, a visit to the Zulu War battlefields, time in Cape Town where you can take a cable car ride to the top of Table Mountain, and a scenic drive along the rim of the Blyde River Canyon. Guests travelling between July and November will also stop at Hermanus, the world’s best spot for on-shore whale watching, while on-route to endless greenery at South Africa’s famous Cape Winelands.
When to go: August – mid October (great time to see the flowers and animals)
Average summer temperature: 24°C (Cape Town), 28°C (Kruger)
Key features: Kruger National Park, the Garden Route, Zulu battlefields, Cape Town & Table Mountain, the Winelands, Cape of Good Hope, Hermanus whale watching, Blyde River canyon, Johannesburg and the Apartheid Museum
Departures available: September to November 2017 & January to November 2018
5. The Rocky Mountains and Alaska
Summer in Canada and Alaska means the very best weather and endless hours of daylight to explore its wonderful landscape. In June, the sun only sets for three to four hours a day in Alaska! From the end of August, you can experience the season start to change as both Canada and Alaska explode into ‘fall colours’ of red, gold, purple and yellow.
Our Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska cruise includes one of the world’s greatest train journeys, a two-day trip through the Rocky Mountains on the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer train. You’ll also enjoy guided visits to glacier-fed lakes Louise and Peyto, and have the chance to walk on the magnificent Athabasca Glacier. After a two-night stay in vibrant Vancouver, guests then embark on a seven-night Alaskan cruise, with humpback whales, harbour seals, snow-sprinkled mountains and vast glaciers on the sightseeing agenda.
When to go: mid June – mid September
Average summer temperature: 19°C (Calgary, Canada), 18°C (Vancouver, Canada)
Key features: the Rocky Mountains, Alaskan cruise, Lake Louise, Peyto Lake, Athabasca Glacier, Icefields Parkway, Glacier Bay National Park, Banff and Vancouver,
Departures available: September 2017 & May to September 2018
Hopefully this guide has helped you create a summer holiday shortlist. If you need any further advice or information, our holiday experts are always happy to answer your questions, either on the phone, by email or using the online chat facility. Alternatively, take a look at all of our tours and cruises here.
Please note all above dates are subject to availability and date ranges are correct a the time of publishing (May 2017). All temperatures are estimates.