Ever arrive in a city to find the sights closed for a national holiday? Ever started your beach break during the monsoon? Timing is everything when it comes to planning a holiday.
Where to travel in January
It’s dry season (or dryish) in Uganda, which means good conditions for tracking endangered mountain gorillas. It’s estimated that approximately 700 of these magnificent creatures survive, with half of them in the forests of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park.
For a shot of culture, head to Vienna for its winter ball season to dress up in your finest gear and waltz with the locals.
Where to travel in February
Carnival celebrations in Rio and Venice
Hemis National Park, India
Winter mating season peaks for the snow leopards of India’s Hemis National Park, making the elusive cats easier to spot.
Where to travel in March
Conditions in Vietnam are usually variable, but March is fairly fine across the country. Go trekking in Sapa, enjoy the beaches of Mui Ne or Phu Quoc, or explore the historic town of Hoi An.
Where to travel in April
It’s sakura season in Japan, which means cherry blossoms are blooming. They spread northwards, appearing in Kyoto, Tokyo and Hiroshima in late March and April.
Baseball season starts in early April in the sports-mad city of Boston, which also hosts the world’s oldest city marathon this month.
Where to travel in May
The Adriatic Coast
Montenegro is the place for a multi-activity holiday. May is the start of rafting season, conditions are good for hiking, and the coastal spots aren’t yet packed with visitors. On the other side of the Adriatic, Abruzzo in Italy is taken over by wildflowers and butterflies.
It’s the start of mating season for Komodo dragons, and you may be lucky enough to see a dramatic fight between males in Indonesia’s Rinca or Komodo islands.
Where to travel in June
It’s White Nights festival in St Petersburg, where the sun doesn’t set and the city is buzzing with ballet, opera, music and other cultural events.
Where to travel in July
Red Centre, Australia
July is peak dry season in Brazil’s Pantanal wetland, with thinning foliage and shrinking water pockets increasing the chances of sighting jaguars—the park is home to the world’s highest concentration of these elusive predators.
Where to travel in August
An otherworldly natural landscape can be found over in Iceland’s bubbling lava fields. This unique environment becomes more accessible in August, allowing visitors to explore the volcanic craters and rock formations, boiling lava flumes and a turquoise hot-water caldera lake.
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Hop on a traditional twin-masted sailboat (gület) to explore the gems of Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, the wind in your hair and nothing but the sea, skies and a whole lot of relaxation to contend with.
Where to travel in September
Sipping a Guinness in a Dublin pub is one of the Irish capital’s essential cultural experiences (and rightly so), but come September it’s another series of historic venues that take centre stage as the Dublin Fringe Festival rolls into town, bringing with it an exciting mishmash of off-the-wall theatre, film and art installations.
The Silk Road
It’s not too hot in the ancient cities of Uzbekistan and the deserts of Turkmenistan, or too snowy on the lakes of Kyrgyzstan, so if traveling along the vast Silk Road is on your bucket list, then September is the best time to do it.
Where to travel in October
Autumn temps in Jordan are around 27ºC/81ºF, making it a decent time to visit the mystical city of Petra and follow the old Bedouin paths onwards to Dana.
The crowds have moved on from the golden sands of Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. It should still be warm, but if it does turn chilly, dig your own thermal bath at Hot Water Beach.
Where to travel in November
Mesmerising landscapes are on offer in Northern Thailand, where hiking trails that thread through waterlogged rice paddies to waterfalls and hilltop stilt villages are even more special without the selfie-snapping summer crowds.
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is 1-2 November, so expect skeleton outfits, sugar skulls and tequila across Mexico in honour of the departed.
Where to travel in December
Rovaniemi in Finnish Lapland is the “official” year-round home of Santa Claus, but for the real festive feeling, is best visited in December.
Patagonia, South America
This article was first published on November 19, 2019 and updated on December 26, 2021