Where to go on holiday in August

From a foodie escape on the Adriatic to festival adventures in the South Pacific, look no further for your summer inspiration.

Istria, Croatia 

While the ‘Game of Thrones effect’ means the crowds descend on Dubrovnik, a small set of well-travelled foodies know that Croatia’s most northerly region, Istria, is the place to be. Imagine the best bits of northern Italy – handmade pasta, vineyards, ancient hilltop villages – with a little less bravado and you start to get a picture of this heart-shaped peninsula.

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In fact, its truffles and olive oil have been named the world’s best; sorry Italia.

Venetian architecture lines the cobbled lanes of coastal gem Rovinj, while Pula is all Roman grandeur with its soaring amphitheatre and triumphal arches – behind which is an unexpectedly happening music scene, with dance music festival Dimensions (28 August-1 September) and Last Minute Open Jazz Festival (1-4 August) held in nearby Bale each year.

Pack something with an elasticated waistband: a truffle-hunting expedition with cute dogs at the family-run Prodan Estate, truffle-laced tasting menus at restaurant San Rocco in Brtonigla and Deniz Zembo’s artistic culinary creations at Amfiteatar in Pula are all musts. And who better to be your host than an esteemed winemaker? Producer Roxanich recently opened a boutique spa hotel, with 32 design-forward rooms on the achingly beautiful slopes of Motovun (from £135 per night, B&B). Uncork a bottle of their Super Istrian red and let the indulgence begin. 

Average temperature in August: 28°C

Flight time: 2 hrs

Papua New Guinea

Looking to channel your inner Robinson Crusoe? You can’t beat Papua New Guinea for intrepid, tropical escapism. And the peak of dry season (which runs June to September) is definitely the time to go. You could take on the challenge of hiking the storied, 96km Kokoda Track, once the site of a gory World War II battle between Japan and the Allies, through steaming jungle. Or take a lower tempo kayaking or birdwatching trip, basing yourself at the country’s first eco-tourism accommodation Napatana Lodge. Either way, August’s slew of cultural festivals means you’re in for some incredible encounters with indigenous tribes and local folklore.

There’s the Mount Hagen Cultural Show, where masked ‘mudmen’, heavily-pierced tattooed chieftains and Chimbu skeleton dancers are among the 100 plus communities gathering, or the three-day Sepik River Crocodile Festival, highlighting the major role these scaly residents (some of the world’s largest freshwater and saltwater crocs) play in local folklore.

Average temperature in August: 21°C

Flight time: 21 hr 20m via Manila

East Devon, UK

A floundering pound adds to the case for a staycation this summer. Lucky, then, that the already-idyllic Westcountry has been seriously upping its hospitality game, adding a luxurious new sheen to all those wholesome cream teas, countryside rambles and pristine sandy beaches. With a prime position overlooking the marbled sands of the River Exe estuary and its Michelin-starred tasting menus by local chef Michael Caine, two-year-old Lympstone Manor (rooms from £315 per night including breakfast) is one of Devon’s most lavish retreats, and now the first British hotel to have an on-site vineyard.

Follow the scenic cycle path along to Exmouth, a buckets-and-spades seaside resort that’s smartening up its act with a new strip of beachfront cafes and boutiques, try a cheese-and-wine tasting at Sharpham Vineyard, then live out your Downton Abbey dreams at historic country houses Al La Ronde and Powderham Castle. When the weather plays ball, it’s true that Devon really is heaven.

Average temperature in August: 21°C

Flight time: 1h 10m or national rail 

Svalbard, Norway

Halfway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole, this archipelago comes up trumps for bracing travel adventures and spell-binding wildlife. The unofficial ‘big five’ in these cooler climes has to count orcas, reindeer, walrus and, of course, polar bears – with summer being your best chance to spot them, since ice melts enough for ships to pass into their territories. No wonder the number of polar cruises has jumped 20 per cent year-on-year, cutting through glass-like fjords like Kongsfjorden, passing mighty glaciers and cliffs swarming with nesting birds.

Cruise company Hurtigruten, for example, takes you well within 600 nautical miles from the Geographical North Pole and docks regularly for hikes, kayaking and expeditions on dry land as it circumnavigates Spitsbergen (Svalbard’s largest island). And of course, visiting the Land of the Midnight Sun in August gives you a lot of daylight hours to explore this ice-sculpted wilderness. From £1,008pp for a 12-day excursion.

Average temperature in August: 21°C

Flight time: 6h 10m via Oslo

Cape Cod, US

If it’s good enough for Presidents and movie stars, the sun-kissed dunes of southeast Massachusetts will do for us too. Here, it’s all about wind-swept, salt-tinged beach days mooching between seafood shacks, picture-perfect lighthouses and history-rich spots like the Pilgrim Monument, site of the Mayflower back in 1620. But prettily white-washed Provincetown (‘P-Town’ to locals) is far from puritanical – this fun-loving, bohemian seaside town loves to let its hair down and has a smattering of great art galleries.

The annual Provincetown Jazz Festival (9–13 August), LGBTQ celebration Provincetown Carnival (22 August) and massive Pops by the Sea concert (11 August) are high notes in the summer’s music scene, while jazz venues are open most nights throughout the Cape. It’s worth a boat ride out to iconic summer colonies Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, too. If you aren’t one of the lucky few with your own clapboard beach house in the area, take a room at the Salt House Inn (rooms from $160 per night); this converted salt miners’ house offers a stylish spin on the traditional New England décor. 

Average temperature in August: 25°C

Flight time: 7h 15m to Boston

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