The six best places to travel in July 2023, from Sapa to Seychelles

Destinations that shine in summertime include Namibia's salt pan and a remote Vietnamese town

Explore east Bali, the island's relatively tourist-free side, this July. Photo: Darren Lawrence / Unsplash
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For many destinations around the world, July means peak holiday season as tourists get ready to make the most of school holidays. But it also means several destinations struggle with overtourism, pushing hotel prices up or making attractions too busy to enjoy. But there are plenty of places where you can avoid the throngs.

Here are six of the best places to take a holiday this month.

1. Calgary, Canada

Canada Day, which fell on July 1, kicked off a summer of celebrations across the North American destination and Calgary, in the Alberta province, is a good pick for a visit this month.

Each year, thousands of tourists flock to the city to catch the Calgary Stampede, which runs from July 7 to 16 this year. Dust off your cowboy boots and practise your best yahoo, then get set to enjoy the rodeo, music concerts, parades, fairground rides, party tents and nightly fireworks displays.

Away from the festival, there’s plenty to see and do in July, which is one of the best months in Canada’s sunniest city. Calgary is home to the longest urban pathway and cycle path in North America meaning its easy to hop on a bike or a scooter and go see the sights.

Pack a picnic and stop off in one of the city’s many green spaces, such as Confederation Park, for an al fresco lunch in the sunshine. If you want to relish in the city’s Rocky Mountain views, head 30 minutes out of town to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park where more than 1,300 hectares of protected grasslands are home to deer, coyotes, elk, badgers and weasels.

2. East Bali, Indonesia

Made up of about 17,000 islands, Indonesia is an archipelago that attracts travellers year-round, but July is one of the best months to go as dry season arrives and warm, sunshine-filled days are expected. As one of the country’s most famous island destinations, Bali in July is a great idea, but only if you get out of the tourist hotspots and head to the east coast.

Separated from the island’s crowded regions via central highlands, this less-travelled side of the island boasts many destinations that bask in the summer sun while remaining off the beaten tourist path. Head to Bukit Asah with its amazing sea views, or visit Kastala for quintessential Balinese paddy fields minus the tourist throngs.

Diving conditions off the east coast of Bali are also particularly favourable in July, with marine lovers able to swim with sunfish, turtles and tropical fish.

3. Orkney, Scotland

While Scotland is more known for its unpredictable weather than its summer sunshine,July is one of the country’s warmer months. And in far-flung Orkney, the month brings endless hours of daylight with the sun rising around 4.30am and staying in the sky until well after 10pm.

The beaches in this northern archipelago are well worth a visit, with many giving off almost Caribbean vibes thanks to bright blue waters and pristine golden sands, but bring a jacket – even summer temperatures average about 14°C.

Explore history in a destination that’s rich with Norse heritage – visit The Heart of Neolithic Orkney on the mainland, a Unesco World Heritage Site, crawl inside ancient tombs and see Scotland’s only remaining round Viking church.

Known for its diverse culinary offerings, Orkeny also offers visitors the chance to indulge in sustainably caught salmon, crab and other seafood, plus locally produced cheese, oatcakes and sweet fudge. Island-hopping in Orkney is a great way to get around, and a tiny Loganair aircraft operates between Kirkwall and six of the region’s northern isles, including the world’s shortest flight – a quick 53-second hop from Westray to Papa Westray.

4. Sapa, Vietnam

Head north in Vietnam this month, to Sapa, a remote town in the Hoang Lien Son Mountain Range that is known for its rice terraces, mountain surrounds and diverse community. Unlike much of the rest of the country, Sapa’s elevation keeps it nice and cool during the summer months with temperatures averaging 24°C.

It’s also rice season in the hills, meaning the terraces that cover the mountain slopes will be filled with bright greenery. July is also the season for hiking, with walks to villages such as Cat Cat and Ta Phin or guided, multi-day treks to rice terraces and secret waterfalls, with nights spent staying with a local family in a mountaintop lodge or homestay.

Thac Bac's Silver Waterfall – a 30-minute drive north of Sapa – is at its most beautiful at this time of the year. The summit of the region's highest peak, Mount Fansipan, is easily reached via a cable car that whisks riders up to 3,143 metres, leaving tourists with only a 15-minute climb to reach the Roof of Indochina and take in the views.

5. The Seychelles

Popular year-round, the Seychelles is coolest and driest in July. Temperatures in this Indian Ocean holiday hotspot average a pleasant 24°C to 28°C this month, making it the perfect time for unwinding on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Head to Source D’Argent on La Digue island, recently voted the world’s second-best beach by suncare brand Banana Boat, or visit the island of Praslin, where Anse Lazio is perfectly framed by palm trees and granite rocks.

The country’s south-east trade winds also come alive in July, making it a great time for those planning on sailing and surfing, or hiking through the hills with a cooling breeze at their back. The Seychelles is blessed with an abundance of nature, and is home to giant tortoises, natural reserves and forests filled with giant coconuts of the sea. Cooler July temperatures make it a pleasant time to explore these wonders, and birdwatchers will also be rewarded as this month is nesting and feeding season for many of the island’s species.

6. Namibia

Southern Africa’s Namibia glows in July when the days are warm with clear skies and a low chance of rain. Temperatures reach up to 21°C.

Famed for its towering red sand dunes and untouched sandy coastlines, the country is a wildlife haven. The lack of rainfall in July makes it a great time for nature lovers to visit to see elephants, zebras, giraffes and more gather around water holes in Etosha National Park, one of the largest conservation areas in Africa.

July is also the very beginning of safari season, meaning you’ll probably be able to get in and enjoy the park before the hordes of tourists arrive.

One of Namibia’s most famous landmarks is its salt and clay pan Sossusvlei. Surrounded by red sand dunes that tower up to 300 metres, this area is in the southern part of the Namib desert offers untouched vistas unlike anywhere else. The bone dry desert in July makes it one of the most dramatic times of the year to visit.

Updated: August 03, 2023, 8:38 AM