Where to go on holiday in August
We’re all going on a summer holiday… Ditch your vain hopes of a decent British summer, pack your bags and get out there this August. Whether you want a sunny city, a sandy beach or a silly festival, we’ve got you covered. You can always catch up on the DIY in the autumn...
Best city breaks in August
Average temperature: 24°C
El Botxo (or ‘The Hole’, as locals lovingly refer to their home) has captured the world’s attention with its reinvention as a centre of art and architecture. Set in the verdant heart of the Basque country, August is a great time to visit, with the nine-day city festival, Aste Nagusia kicking off on August 22nd with flotillas, regattas, strongman competitions, live music and dancing. Don't miss the iconic Guggenheim Museum, home to a world-class collection of twentieth century art, which turned the city's industrial decline on its head in the late 1990s. Amble through the medieval streets of the old town on the Nervión River, and you'll find many more layers of history, bijou boutiques and quirky cafés waiting to be uncovered. Stop for pintxos, the local tapas consisting of bite-sized pieces of toast with all manner of tasty toppings, or if you want an example of Bilbao's modern beauty, check out its underground stations - it has one of the 15 most beautiful subways in the world.
Average temperature: 26°C
The spiritual home of the hipster, this coolest of northern cities was mercilessly parodied in the hit sitcom Portlandia. Like your ale? There are at least 30 breweries in so-called ‘Beervana’, specialising in all sorts of strange and funky potions. Head to the Commons Brewery, just off the Willamette River, to try the notorious Rouge Mélangé, mixing grape and grain in one beer. Having worked up a hunger, check in at one of the city’s food carts, purveyed by everyone from cordon bleu chefs to traditional cooks from around the globe, or dig the community vibe at one of Portland's six Farmer's Markets in locations across the city, where you'll find delights like artisanal pies and local chestnuts, vinegars and charcuterie. With temperatures likely to hit the low 20s, August provides the perfect weather for biking around the city’s characterful lanes and hiking in Forest Park (NW 29th Ave & Upshur St) or the seemingly boundless Colombia River Gorge out of town. Should you ever get bored, you can always shoot the breeze with that knicker-bocker-clad guy on the unicycle - after all, this is the place where weird is the new norm. You can find more tips on what to get up to in the city, including where to buy voodoo doughnuts, in our top-ten special things to see and do in Portland.
Average temperature: 23°C
Warsaw is a rising star, transforming itself in recent years into a cutting-edge cultural hub rivalling the likes of Stockholm or Amsterdam at a fraction of the price - good news if you're travelling in the popular month of August. This modern city is awash with gourmet restaurants, trendy bars and concept stores to peruse. But it hasn’t forgotten its past, which is writ large in the monumental Palace of Culture and Sciences, Stalin’s ‘gift’ to the then-subjugated nation (worth a visit for the high-speed lifts alone). Tour Stare Miasto, the reconstructed old town, through the gardens of Baroque palace Ogród Krasińskich to the Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews (open every day except Tuesdays) and you'll get a true sense of Warsaw's history, both grand and grim. Later, dine at the Inn Under The Red Hog, where the Communist top-brass used to eat under crystal chandeliers and with a menu featuring bigwig specials like Brezhnev’s kolduny (dumplings) and Fidel’s Star (meringue cake), all washed down with some Polish vodka. Learn more about the city, from beer to borscht, in our guide.
Average temperature: 30°C
Panda capital Chengdu is one of China’s new high-tech hubs but despite the changing skyline - which includes the largest building in the world (the New Century Global Center - 500 metres long by 400 metres wide!) - the mood remains relatively laid-back. First stop: the Panda Breeding Base in the north of the city, home to more than 80% of the world’s giant pandas. This done, take it easy in the summer heat at the Wangjiang Pavilion Park on the south bank of the Jin River, with its waterside pagodas and profusion of bamboo plants. For more of old Chengdu, head to the Wenshu Monastery to view some of the best-preserved Buddha statues in the country or have yourself a cup of cha at the Yue Lai Tea House downtown, where you can play some mahjong (a traditional Chinese card game) and, on Saturdays, catch an opera performance on a lantern-lined stage. Fiery Sichuanese food is a journey in itself - hunker round a ‘hot pot’ of broth, dunking in meat, seafood and greens while knocking back some beer and you'll have the quintessential Chengdu dining experience.
Michaela from This FP Planet gives us the low down on why this is the best place to go in August:
Why should anyone else bother going there?
Berlin is a city to satisfy any holiday-goer, with world class art galleries, big bucket list sights, wild nightlife and an incredible international cuisine. Nicknamed the ‘Grey City’, don’t expect Berlin to ooze the ‘old world’ charm of Europe’s other capitals; instead, Berlin is totally content with being the cool and creative cousin to the rest of the continent. Berlin is bold, innovative and changing; your ideal alternative city break.
What makes it such a great place in August
In the height of summer, Berlin is a capital that exudes happy, easy-going vibes. The extra Vitamin D seems to give the place a certain boost, and the order of the day is lazy al-fresco brunches by the kerbside, ‘biergarten’ hopping (catch the International Berlin Beer Festival in early August), cocktails by the river Spree, exploring the burgeoning creative scene, long strolls in Berlin’s largest park; Tiergarten and finally, preparing to embrace the city’s infamous nightlife as the sun’s sets behind the Berliner Dom.
Where would you stay?
Similar to many capital cities, Berlin expands over many districts with each area boasting its own unique vibe. With the uber efficient S-bahn and U-bahn seamlessly connecting up the city you’d be hard pushed to put a foot wrong in choosing an area to stay, but if you’re wanting to book up a trip in what is arguably the ‘heart’ of Berlin, pick Mitte. The area around Alexander Platz, a central shopping area, rich in bars, cafes and restaurants, is bubbling over with hotel choices. You’ll find all your big name brands here; Park Inn, Metro One, Ramada, ibis and Mecure as well as boutique aparthotel’s such as Lux11 and The Weinmeister. Base yourself here, and branch out to the historical neighbourhood of Nikolaiviertel, take a walk to Museum Island, head down the grand promenade of Unter den Linden to the Brandenburg Gate, or spread out further afield to the trendy Friedrichshain district, or take the train across town to Charlottenburg.
What would you do/which attractions would you visit in Berlin?
Berlin is largely regarded as one huge and incredible open-air museum. With the city’s recent history glaringly evident around every corner, it’s a fascinating place to grab a pair of comfortable shoes, hop on a bike or simply take a walk. A first–timer in Berlin shouldn’t miss out on ticking off the big bucket list sights such as East Side Gallery, Brandenberg Gate and the Reichstag, or educating yourself at Topographie des Terrors. But for something a bit different opt to take a boat tour in a city that has more bridges than Venice, spend a lazy Sunday in Mauerpark, strolling about the flea markets and getting involved with bear pit karaoke, or beat the August heat and cool off in Badeschiff, a converted barge turned swimming pool floating in the river Spree!
Any recommendations for bars restaurants or cafes?
Being a vast multicultural city with global influences, Berlin plays host to an array of bars and restaurants, with tastes to please any foodie. For traditional German dishes however, indulge in an evening at Nikolaiviertel. Mutter Hoppe offers up huge, home-style meat-heavy plates; come hungry and leave happy. For a real Berlin experience don’t pass up on a Currywurst at Curry 36. This rather bizarre blend of German sausage, ketchup-sauce and curry powder is the ultimate Berliner street food, love it or hate it, you won’t get this anywhere else. Locals also claim that the Kebab was in fact invented right here in Berlin, so forget Turkey, if you want an authentic Kebab you’re in the best place.
Best beaches to visit in August
Average temperature: 27°C
Located 55 miles off the Italian coast, this rough diamond is known as L’Île de Beauté (the Isle of Beauty) and instantly charms with its sandy coves, piercing blue seas, pine forests and jagged mountains. There's plenty of coast to go around: from Bonifacio in the extreme south, with its medieval houses teetering on the edge of chalk white cliffs, to the Riviera chic of Ajaccio in the west, which boasts the birthplace of a certain Napoleon Bonaparte (the old family mansion is open for visits), along with gorgeous beaches like Propriano and Porticcio. Further up the west coast, don’t miss the other-worldly rock formations of Les Calanches, glowing crimson in the sun. Porto-Vecchio in the east is the island’s oldest resort, with some text-book white beaches to visit by day and plenty of restaurants and clubs filled with bronzed cosmopolitan types to keep you busy by night. Now feel better about your lazy beach holiday and read this entertaining account of a how NOT to trek in Corsica.
Black Sea Coast, Bulgaria
Average temperature: 26°C
Reliably hot and sandy, this 235 mile stretch of coastline faces an inviting blue sea. Varna is queen of the resort towns, but along with the club scene, there's a variety of boat tours, sports like wake-boarding and chances to dive amongst the mysterious wrecks of the Black Sea. Varna is also an ideal base from which to explore other parts of the coast - just half an hour’s drive north will take you to Golden Sands, which glitters just as much as the name suggests, while an hour and a half’s drive south is Irakli, one of the country’s last remaining wild beaches featuring a gorgeous lagoon. And right by the Turkish border is Strandzha Nature Park, with long, lonely stretches of shoreline, diverse vegetation and wildlife from golden jackals to the eagle owl. To cap it all off, Bulgaria is one of 2016's cheapest destinations, so it's perfect for a summer holiday that won't dint your savings. To make the most of this cheap destination, book 6 weeks in advance to save 13% off the average booking price.
Average temperature: 29°C
You’ve seen it in the films, from Jurassic Park to The Descendants. Yet the Garden Isle is one of Hawaii’s lesser-visited islands, a lush paradise of sugary beaches, sparkling waterfalls, fertile valleys and tropical rainforest that has somehow managed to remain wild and free. With these dramatic backdrops to make your beach snaps stand out, you'll also avoid both the rains and the high tourist season of the winter by coming in August. Get to the North Shore, where the mountains meet the rolling waves, for golden sands just made for lazing, or follow the highway west to the legendary shoreline of the Na Pali Coast, with crags towering 1,000 metres above the surf and coves teeming with tropical fish. End the day by heading to Polihale State Park on the island’s westernmost point and watch the sun set over the cliffs. For some good ole Hawaiian kitsch, check in to the Sheraton Kauai Resort in Poipu for a flower-laden luau accompanied by the sound of the surf and the lilting sounds of live guitar. As close as it gets to paradise on earth.
Best events in August
La Tomatina, Buñol, Spain, August 30 (2017)
Average temperature: 30°C
It’s the world’s biggest food fight! Tens of thousands of people pack the streets of Buñol for this juicy, pip-filled event on the last Wednesday of August, chucking an incredible 40 tonnes of tomatoes at each other. It all started in 1945, possibly as a raucous festival prank, although some say it was an anti-Franco protest. These days, you can paint the town red for the princely sum of €10. For €750, you can even jump into one of the trucks carrying the tomatoes into town. Don your whitest t-shirt and a pair of goggles ready for 10am and remember to squash your tomatoes before throwing them. La Tomatina is part of a week-long festival in Buñol, featuring music, parades, dancing, fireworks and a paella-making contest. To get there fly to Valencia and hire a car, Buñol is about 25 miles away. Once you’re done with the festivities, use your wheels to discover the sights and sounds of the surrounding area.
Esala Perahera, Kandy, Sri Lanka, July 29- August 8
Average temperature: 28°C
Sri Lanka’s greatest religious festival commemorates the arrival of Buddha’s tooth in Sri Lanka in the fourth century AD. The legendary sacred relic has been carried through Kandy once a year since the reign of Kirti Siri Meghawann, in successive processions of bell-clad dancers, drummers, torch bearers, fire jugglers and jewel-encrusted elephants over a ten-day period. It all kicks off with a tree-planting ceremony, with the perahera - or processions - becoming more spectacular by the day, culminating in a great parade coinciding with the full moon that can include as many as 100 elephants! Sure to provide unforgettable memories. Travellers usually reach Kandy via Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, but make sure you build in some extra trip time before or afterwards for a visit to Sri Lanka’s capital.
Best time to book flights to Sri Lanka: 23 weeks before departure
Air Guitar World Championships, Oulu, Finland, August 25
Average temperature: 18°C
Who hasn’t wielded a guitar of air in front of their bedroom mirror to the strains of The Final Countdown? Now it’s time to show off your moves at the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. You’ll be duking it out with the world’s finest, from as far afield as the US, Belgium and Kazakhstan. Decide on a one-minute music clip, start cultivating that mullet or mohawk, perfect your whizzing windmill and your scissor-kick. Alternatively, you can just watch and perhaps sign up to a few workshops on the art of plucking your invisible instrument. Claiming to promote world peace, air guitar ideology holds that wars would end, climate change stop and all bad things disappear if all the people in the world played air guitar. Not implausible. The event's held at the Cultural Centre Valve on Hallituskatu 7, and you can check the website or the Facebook page for the 2016 dates.
The Yacht Week, Split, Croatia, June 4 - September 3
Average temperature: 28°C
It's a simple plan - hire a yacht for a week, then sail it around the Adriatic Sea off Croatia while stopping off at a different island and a different party every night. The Yacht Week has expanded to include 45 routes in six countries including Italy and Thailand - but the original Croatian route is still arguably the best. Champagne corks come raining down in every destination from self-styled St Tropez of Eastern Europe, Hvar, to the historic Vis island, as revellers get on with the serious business of drinking, eating and sunbathing. Don't worry if you can't sail - you can hire a skipper to steer your boat, and even a chef if you can't be doing with cooking yourself. The only downside is that with the non-stop partying, you may well need another week to recover... The Yacht Week(s) runs from June until early September - check the website for prices and itineraries - and there's a bus from the airport to the Split Harbour terminal (around 40 minutes) where you can meet your vessel. Chill out in the Roman city of Split after your tour - we've got 9 top tips for things to do here.
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