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The BEST time to holiday in the most popular destinations

Deciding when you should jet off can make or break a holiday. After weeks or months of planning, the last thing you want is a holiday plagued by monsoon rains or unbearable heat and crowds. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research and found the best times to visit all your favourite destinations. Pick your continent, find your country and get booking.

When is the best time to visit… Asia?

Photo credit: Tokyo – Jezael Melgoza

As the world’s largest continent, Asia has both a temperate seasonal climate to the east and a year-round summer in the south. You’ll be able to experience wet and dry seasons, avoid the monsoons and find the sun as you reach the equator – Asia has something for everyone.

– Hong Kong’s peak season runs from October to mid-May and avoids the hottest and most humid summer months of July and August.

– Before booking your travel, make sure you take Hong Kong’s national holidays into consideration: Golden Week (usually the first week of May), National Day (1 October) and Chinese New Year (which changes annually but falls between January and February) are when the locals are celebrating and travelling, with attractions and businesses changing their working hours.

– Avoid the wet monsoon season that runs from July to September with a trip from October to March.

– If you’re thinking of visiting north west India, the winter months can be surprisingly cold so if you’re looking for some winter sun, maybe give this one a miss… or dig out those thermals.

– Join the locals in celebrating Diwali, the five-day festival of light that begins on 27 October 2019.

– Indonesia is divided into two seasons, wet (October to April) and dry (May to September).

– Although the high season of July and August brings more crowds, it also offers more parties and festivals for you to enjoy.

– The popular cherry blossom season in late March/early April is a pretty time to visit, but the pink hues bring higher hotel prices and more tourists.

– Summer can be overly hot, so take in the pleasant weather that early autumn offers and you’ll see the changing colour of the leaves.

– Avoid Golden Week (normally the last week of April/beginning of May) when the country celebrates four national holidays in one week and the Japanese take advantage of travelling around the country to visit friends and family.

– Winter brings snow to the region, whereas summer can be uncomfortably hot with temperatures reaching 40ºC. Travelling between May and October brings warm, pleasant weather across most of the country.

– As a predominantly Muslim country, Ramadan is observed (6 May-3 June 2019) which may impact shop, restaurant and attraction opening times.

– April to August are the driest months in Singapore but, with year-round summer temperatures, an afternoon shower shouldn’t put you off visiting in the wetter months.

– It’s worth seeing Singaporeans celebrate Lion Day, their National Day, on 9 August with parades, festivities and fireworks.

– The only days this busy hub really shuts down are the first two days of Chinese New Year (which falls on a different day each year but always in January or February) – all other national holidays often result in busier crowds as locals eat, shop and visit friends and family.

– Peak travel time for the dry, hot holiday climate is March to May. This is when you’ll also be able to join in with the Thai New Year celebrations on 13 April.

– After the wettest months of September and October, you’ll find less crowds and cooler weather in November and December before the hot season fully kicks in.

– You’ll want to avoid the exceptionally hot sun from May to October when daily temperatures exceed 30ºC.

– Visit in the cooler climates of March and April or November and December.

– As a Muslim country, the religious fasting month of Ramadan, which runs from 6 May-3 June in 2019, means you can expect some altered opening times. Attractions operate shorter days and some restaurants remain closed until after sunset.

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When is the best time to visit… Africa?

Photo credit: Kilimanjaro, Kenya – Sergey Pesterev

Africa brings to mind dry, open plains and hot, really hot, temperatures, perfect for those summer travels. From once-in-a-lifetime safaris to the perfect white sands of the Seychelles, here are the best times to visit Africa.

– For a safari, visit in Botswana’s dry season that runs from May to September. At this time of year, the days are sunny and clear, but remember that early morning game drives can be cold.

– Avoid the rainy season of June to October when the Okavango Delta plains flood – that’ll quickly put a stop to your safari plans.

– June to August can be overwhelmingly hot, especially once you move away from the coast. Daily temperatures exceed 30ºC, but if you’re looking for a hot, relaxing beach holiday this may suit you nicely.

– Temperatures between October and April are more enjoyable, especially when you consider most tourist attractions are located in the desert.

– Shops, restaurants and attractions may have different opening hours during Ramadan (6 May-3 June 2019).

– For a safari, visit during the hot, drier months, when animals rely on watering holes and have less vegetation to hide in (January to March and July to October).

– The wet season is divided into the long rains (April to June) and the short rains (November to December), but the added green landscapes and smaller crowds mean it’s still a good time to visit.

– The wet season runs from late December to March and often includes cyclones.

– The north of the island is often hot and humid, whereas towards the east the weather tends to be wetter. The south of the island is much drier.

– To see baby lemurs, visit from October to December when they’re still newborns and close to their mothers.

– Avoid the hot summer months of June to August and visit in the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to October.

– Spring is ideal for hiking activities when the mountains are green and lush but not too hot.

– As a predominantly Muslim country, Ramadan will impact opening times of many attractions, restaurants and shops. The dates you need to know for 2019 are around 6 May-3 June.

– April, May, October and November are the transition months between the humid and hot months (November to March) and the colder months (June to October).

– October is the peak season for nature lovers, with sightings of whale sharks more common. It’s also when hawksbill turtles start laying their eggs.

– March to May has warm dry weather across the country and avoids the tourist peak season that coincides with school holidays.

– Summer in November and December can be very hot and you’ll find that the majority of visitors arrive around the Christmas holidays.

– For a successful whale watching trip, visit from July to November.

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When is the best time to visit… Europe?

Photo credit: Lisbon – Sean Pavone

We’re all too familiar with the European climate, and its unpredictability, in the west. That’s why it’s imperative that you get the booking right. From snow sports in the Alps to tulip spotting in the Netherlands, here’s all you need to know about the optimum time to visit Europe.

– Summer brings higher temperatures and more crowds, but the shoulder months of May and September are pleasantly warm and an ideal time to escape the tourists.

– For Dubrovnik, visit in September or October when the cruise ships have left port and the city walls are quieter.

– Across the colder winter months, most beaches and coastal resorts shut up shop and it’s not uncommon to find snow inland.

– Winters are mild in Cyprus and spring can arrive bright and early from February onwards on this Mediterranean island.

– However, winter has the highest rainfall, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re on the hunt for winter sun.

– For a summer visit, June hosts the Festival of the Flood (celebrating a certain Noah and his ark) with open-air fairs at most beach resorts.

– For plenty of snow sport options, the Alps have guaranteed snow with ski resorts open from late December to April.

– As many of the French like to holiday in their own country (and who can blame them, it’s beautiful) the tourist peak season of mid-July to August is busy and often more expensive. Instead holiday from April to June or September to November for pleasant weather and less crowds.

– For le capital, take your umbrella in May as Paris can be sprinkled with showers.

– Forget the summer holidays, Germany is also worth considering later in the year, especially for Oktoberfest (which, you guessed it, occurs in October) and the many Christmas markets that pop up in December.

– Spring attracts fewer crowds, making it the optimum time to travel, and it ends with the Karneval de Kulturen (festival of culture) in June.

– The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn still have warm weather and you’ll have the islands more or less to yourselves.

– Autumn, especially September to mid-October, has the benefit of a sea that’s been heated up all summer long; sea temperatures sit at around 25°C. Ooh, toasty.

– If the Northern Lights are on your bucket list (and they really should be), your best viewing opportunities are from late September to late March.

– You’ll have an even higher chance during the Equinox (when the centre of the sun is directly above the earth’s equator). The Equinox occurs twice a day in March and September.

– Italy has a selection of mountain resorts with snowboarding, skiing and après ski options. January to March has the best weather, but it’s worth avoiding the February half term when school trips descend on the slopes.

– For the popular cities of Rome, Venice, Pisa and Milan, visit in spring or early summer (April, May and June) to avoid the overcrowded (and often sweaty) streets.

– As the nation is known for its tulips, arrive between mid-April and mid-May to see the famous flower in bloom.

– Amsterdam’s Tulip Festival takes place between March and May every year 35 km from Amsterdam in the town of Lisse.

– While you’ll get snow-sprinkled Insta pics, the day time temperature from December to February hovers just above freezing.

– Avoid the summer crowds with a visit from March to early June, when temperatures are in the high teens.

– Autumn has similar temperatures but often with more showers throughout the day.

– Visit in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn to avoid busy summer crowds (and the hottest temperatures).

–  Holy week (the week preceding Easter) is celebrated across the country with each city and town holding a procession. The best celebrations of Semana Santa take place in Seville, although be aware that some businesses and restaurants may close early for the national holiday.

– Avoid the very hot summers (and crowds) with a trip between September and mid-November. Plus, join the locals in celebrating Republic Day on 29 October.

– It’s worth noting that, as a predominantly Muslim country, some shops and restaurants may close early during Ramadan (6 May-3 June 2019).

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When is the best time to visit… North America?

New York

North America’s climate drastically differs, from Canada’s subzero winters to the humid tropics of the Caribbean. Then you’ve got the whole of the USA to consider. So whether you’re after a fly-and-flop beach getaway or an ice cool skiing holiday, there are many options available to you.

– High season across the Caribbean islands is from December to mid-April, with dry and less humid weather. It’s a peak time for sun hunters arriving from the northern hemisphere.

– Avoid hurricane season that runs from June to November (with September and October bringing the worst storms). Unless you’re a crazy storm chaser of course.

East – Toronto:

– The harsh Canadian winters can bring a fair amount of snow to the city and temperatures can drop well below freezing.

– From June to September weather is warm and pleasant, although July and August have the most rainfall.

– For Niagara Falls, visit between June and August for the best weather, plenty of open attractions and shuttle bus options running from the city.

West – Vancouver:

– April to October has the most enjoyable weather (after the freezing winter has passed).

– The whale watching season lasts from March to October, as the humpback, orcas, grey and minke whales migrate through Vancouver waters.

– June to October is prime time to visit, with baseball games, outdoor festivals and concerts bringing tourists into the city.

– September and October are still warm (and less sweltering than July and August) with slightly fewer crowds and reduced hotel rates.

– Winter is known for being cold and often freezing temperatures take over the city. Spring brings warmer weather but it’s also typically Chicago’s wettest season.

– Summer can be hot and sticky, with the good weather bringing more tourists to the lakes and beaches. June also hosts plenty of outdoor music and food festivals.

– Autumn is therefore considered a perfect time to enjoy warm weather while avoiding the bustle of summer.

– The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn allow for more breathable temperatures (in the low twenties), less crowds and more reasonable room rates.

– Spring gives you the opportunity to go whale watching, while autumn is a surfer’s paradise with waves galore at the beaches. Although we’d recommend avoiding the Thanksgiving and Halloween rush in October.

– Florida has a hurricane season running from June to November, which is worth avoiding if you’re after good weather and a holiday without 80 mph winds.

– Miami’s high season is the winter months (late November to February) when Americans flock south to the warmer weather.

– November to May has enjoyable weather and less rainfall than the summer months.

– For Orlando’s theme parks, visit in January and February when the kids are in school and you’ll have shorter queues. Disney World’s Epcot also runs its International Festival of Arts towards the end of February.

– Surprisingly, autumn (September to November) has warmer weather than the summer months.

– The first weekend in October hosts a free music festival, the three-day Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival takes place in Golden Gate Park.

– The cheapest time to visit the Big Apple is from January to mid-February – but you’ll have to wrap up warm.

– For warmer temperatures and less tourists, late spring and early autumn are prime times to miss the summer crowds.

– May gives you Fleet Week and Memorial Day (27 May) celebrations across the city. While September boasts one of two annual Broadway Weeks, where smash-hit shows are on a 2-for-1 offer.

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When is the best time to visit… Central America?

Photo credit: Panama – Pablo García Saldaña

Central America has only two seasons – the dry and the wet. But even in the wet season you can have days of sun and blue skies… just with an hour of heavy rain in the afternoon. The cheaper wet season prices are still worth considering for a bargain trip, but we’d recommend packing your raincoat.

– The dry season (January to April) coincides with Costa Rica’s peak tourist season, with perfect temperatures to explore the rainforest or lie on the beach.

– January is viewed as optimum time, as the rainforests are lush following the wet season but the daily weather is dry and sunny.

– The wet season (May to December) may be cheaper, but be warned if you’re around the forests as rain comes in by the bucket load.

– For sunny weather and less rain, plan a trip between December and April (as the wet season runs from May to October).

– For optimum weather and less crowds, visit from January to March to avoid the Christmas and spring break holiday rush.

– Nicaragua’s dry season can be extremely hot and popular as it attracts the most tourists.

– The wet season (May to November) differs by coast. The Pacific coast often sees rain in the afternoon, while the mornings remain sunny and dry. The Atlantic coast is more prone to tropical storms in September and October, but can be hot and humid year-round.

– January to March is the popular dry season and with less rain you’ll have clearer visibility for diving and snorkeling around the coast.

– As May to December is when the tropical rains arrive, April is viewed as the midpoint between the busy dry season and before the wet season really gets going. Plus, Easter processions across the country add a celebratory touch to an April trip.

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When is the best time to visit… South America?

Photo credit: Chile – O’car Johann Campos

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering the seasons of South America are the opposite to the northern hemisphere – winter is from June to August and summer takes place between December and February. Although the closer to the equator you are, the more consistently hot it will be.

– The Argentinian spring (September to November) gives good weather across the country.

– If you’re keen to climb the Andes, summer (December to February) is the only time to climb the highest mountains.

– The rainy season in the south lasts from October to January, but it arrives even earlier in the northeast of the country. Rain showers may be intense, but they pass relatively quickly.

– Visit in September and early October to avoid the crowds, bypassing the winter months in the south and rain showers in the north – this is when the whole country is at its best.

– Peru’s winter (May to September) is the dry season and the ultimate time to hike the Machu Picchu trail.

– The summer months (December to March) may be warmer but also bring strong rainfall across the region.

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When is the best time to visit… Oceania?

Photo credit: New Zealand – wnjay_wootthisak

The land down under is on its head to Europe, with summer running from December to February and winter from June to August. Spring and autumn switch places too. Australia’s large land mass plus New Zealand’s North and South Islands create a range of climates, from the tropics to the snow covered mountains.

– For such a big country, it’s worth remembering the tropical climate of Queensland is a lot hotter than Victoria’s Melbourne.

– Winter (June to August) can bring cool temperatures to the south but summer can bring temperatures above 40ºC.

– Spring and autumn have more pleasant temperatures across the country, with spring awakening local wildlife.

– Australia’s summer (November to February) brings more crowds and higher prices in the south of the country, with long school holidays and locals travelling for Christmas and New Year.

– For the Great Barrier Reef, avoid the stinger (jellyfish) season of November to May and rainy season (January to March) which has less visibility in some areas.

– Avoid schoolies or leavers’ week (a week long party in late November/early December of high school leavers celebrating the end of their exams). If you’re planning a trip then, you’ll want to avoid the Gold Coast in Queensland and Victor Harbor in South Australia.

– February, as the last month of summer, has fewer crowds and some of the warmest temperatures. Waitangi Day, on 6 February, is New Zealand’s National Day.

– Visit from November to February for the warmest weather (with November and December the more expensive and busiest months).

– Queenstown kicks off snow season with a 10-day winter festival in June. Then skiing and snowing activities can take place up until August.

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Now to decide which country to visit. Search ‘Everywhere’ to find cheap flights:

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All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 16 April 2019.