9 last-minute summer trips for 2017

It’s not too late to plan a trip this summer; here are our favourite long-haul holidays and short-haul city breaks to take during this July and August...
Roman Baths in Bath Spa, England.
Roman Baths in Bath Spa, England. Photo: DAVID ILIFF/Wikimedia Commons

Some holidays are easier to organise with little notice than others. With the summer almost upon us, we’ve tracked down the best places to visit on a whim

1. The Galápagos Islands

Travelling halfway around the world might not appeal to everyone as a last-minute holiday. However, cruising the wildlife-rich archipelago from a luxury motor yacht and exploring rugged shores, sandy beaches and a scattering of islands, appears to be quite the adventure to us.

2. Madrid, Spain

Beautiful parks, elegant architecture, an interesting history, as well as endless cafés and restaurants make Spain’s capital city the place to recharge and relax. Madrid is a world away from other modern European capitals, we’re not sure whether it’s the charm of the old town, the superb art collections or simply the vibrancy of the long Spanish evenings – whatever the cause, we love it.

Madrid is a city that never sleeps thanks to its buzzing bars, terrific tapas and eclectic nightlife – from exclusive clubs to corner-café flamenco. These varied locations – and the clientele they attract – make the city the perfect fit for travellers on any type of budget. Insight Guides' Made for Madrid trip takes in the best this alluring city has to offer.

Forum Romanum.Forum Roman Forum. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Rome, Italy

Italy’s capital city is home to a riot of traffic-fuelled madness and tourist crowds. Surprisingly, the summer months can be a great time to visit (especially August) when many locals head for the coast or countryside on their own holidays. Insight Guides' Eternal Rome for the Weekend trip is a great way to get acquainted with this vast metropolis. Traffic is lighter and public transport quieter leaving the city generally easier to explore. But be warned, the temperatures can reach up to a toasty 32°C in July. Although, this simply presents the perfect excuse for a gelato or two, no?

4. Thailand

This South-East Asian favourite has developed from a backpacker haven to a world-class holiday destination for everyone. From island-hopping to diving, jungle trekking to cooking classes, Thailand has you covered. Plus, as one of Asia’s favourite holiday destinations it’s now easier than ever to travel to and around this unmissable country. Click here to browse our existing itineraries to Thailand. 

5. The USA’s national parks

August marks the 100th anniversary of the country’s National Parks Service, and what better way to celebrate than with a trip? From stargazing to camping in the wilderness, climbing mountains to trekking through deserts, there’s something to keep every type of traveller busy.

Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is home to the most pristine waters in the United States, which you can make the most of on a daily boat cruise. Alternatively, kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding are on offer for the adventurous in Alaska’s Kenia Fjords National Park. And, of course, there are the big hitters: Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyons, which all prove unmissable.

Grand Canyon National Park seen from Desert View.Grand Canyon National Park seen from Desert View. Photo: Shutterstock

6. Iceland

A must-visit destination for active travellers, June-August provides fine weather and is only a short hop from the UK. The White Nights in June – where the sun stays above the horizon for almost 24 hours – combined with breathtaking waterfalls, impressive landscapes and endless hiking trails offers plenty of opportunities for explorations. Plus, with strong competition between budget airlines, flights can still be a bargain even a week or two in advance.

7. The UK

Sometimes the easiest – and often the most interesting – trips can be taken in your own country. With midsummer’s day fast approaching, we think it’s high time you explore a little closer to home. Camping across the UK can be a fun and enjoyable experience, especially for families. Dartmoor National Park allows wild camping – where you pitch freely and not in a designated campsite. For those with less love for the outdoors, Oxford, Bath and Canterbury all make for summery city break destinations. Either way, it's probably best you pack your raincoat!

8. Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a fairly safe bet weather-wise year-round, not because it has a flat climate but because you can experience all seasons at once, all the time. It’s possible to travel from tropical heat to cool, misty weather to bone dry, all in one day. Click here to browse our existing itineraries to Sri Lanka.

July and August offer up some of the island’s best festivals, though. The lunar month of Esala sees celebrations across the country, of which the finest is Kandy’s Esala Perahera. The sacred Buddha Tooth Relic from – yep, you’ve got it – the Temple of the Tooth is carried at the head of an enormous procession. This winds its way round and round the city by night, becoming longer and more lavish over the 10-day duration of the festival.

Women tea pickers in Sri lanka.Tea pickers in Sri lanka. Photo: Shutterstock

9. Tanzania

An African safari is an unforgettable experience; Tanzania provides the perfect location. Quieter – and easier to visit – than neighbouring Kenya or further afield South Africa, Tanzania is home to an impressive range of wildlife. Plus, June-August marks the dry season and the best time to witness the astonishing Great Migration. We've tracked down the best national parks, game reserves and generally all-out wild destinations in Tanzania: read more here.

This article was originally published on June 16, 2016

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