Missed out on a summer break and not sure where to go for a holiday in the coming months? Worry not! We have compiled a year-long calendar of the best times to visit some of the most popular tourist destinations around the world.
It goes without saying that each tourist season has its pros and cons. What works best for you is a matter of choice. For most casual travelers, peak season is typically the choice, offering ideal weather and the most thriving environment for tourists. However, costs can spike significantly and for some of us it can get a tad bit “too tourist-y”/ crowded. For many destinations, the weeks and months surrounding these peak months, called “shoulder season,” often represents an optimal mix of good weather, lower rates and smaller crowds. For off-beat travelers and bargain hunters, off-peak months are a good time to go as well, primarily to get the biggest bang for one’s buck.
So, here is a quick snapshot of 22 most popular destinations (countries/cities) to give you a bird’s eye view of peak tourist seasons the world over.
Note: While referring to the table above, bear in mind that there are bound to be localized spikes/ ebbs in tourist demand within each season, influenced by events like festivals (Christmas, New Year’s, Easter) and school holidays which sends locals packing elsewhere. So within low seasons, there may be times with peak pricing and vice-versa.
We have summarized the ebb and flow of the tourist season for each destination in a little more detail below for your ready reference.
Australia has great mix of adventure, nature, nightlife and modern cityscapes to offer. To plan an Australian holiday, you must bear in mind though that it is huge island continent and seasons vary vastly within. Also since it lies in the Southern Hemisphere, seasons are reversed from India and the farther one travels to the south, the colder it gets. Summer lasts from December-February, March-May constitutes autumn, winter from June-August and spring is from September-November. This is with the exception of the north (Darwin, Cairns), which have just two seasons, the hot wet season from October-March and the blazing dry season from April-September. For outdoor activities like rock concerts, film screening, food festivals, sporting events and adventure sports, busy summer months of December-February are most fitting. However, this time coincides with Aussie summer vacations so expect crazy rush and peak pricing. Spring months of September-November are also a good time to visit when the weather is warm enough to hit the beaches but cool enough to explore the outback and rains have not yet arrived in full fury to the North.
A trip to magnificent Bhutan is best planned in spring (March-May) or autumn (September-November) when the weather is ideal and perfectly suited to trekking and backpacking. Himalayan views are the best in October whereas forest hikes for rhododendron blooms are most sought in March-April. It is advisable to skip June-August as these months bring in rains, making it impossible to trek.
Brazil’s high season spans from December-March. The festive time and carnival spirit makes for an unforgettable visit. But before heading to Brazil during this time, you must be prepared to bear the heat and high prices. Other than school holidays in July and Easter, the prices are lower between April-October but most tourist spots are closed during this time.
Peak season for Costa Rica is from mid-December to April, an ideal time to explore rainforests and lounge on beaches. It could be said that January is the best time to visit when holiday crowds have departed driving prices down and rains are over but rainforests are still lush. The period from May-November witnesses moderate rainfall but also has fewer crowds and the lowest prices on accommodation and airfares. Do keep in mind that rainfall and temperatures vary across regions within Costa Rica so plan your itinerary accordingly.
A unique blend of marvelous architecture and old alleys fitted with some of the most exciting pubs and bars, Prague is an enchanting destination for wanderers. Spring (April-May) and Fall (September-October) are considered high season in Prague, spring with its magnolia blossoms being more beautiful of the two. Months of July-August are considered shoulder season, though with an upside of discounts at most hotels. While winters and snow can hinder a trip to Prague from December-March, Christmas and New Year still witness a hoard of tour groups descending on the city.
France presents a unique conundrum. Though July-August is considered peak season for tourists, it is also the time when the French themselves take their beach breaks; so you may find tourist facilities and infrastructure low or understaffed at this time in main cities. Plus, roads leading out of cities like Paris are quite crowded as locals escape to their holiday destinations. With Christmas, New Year and Easter, December and March are also busy and expensive months. Book your accommodation well in advance as the best ones get lapped up very quickly. April-June and September-October are shoulder seasons with fewer crowds and maybe a better time to go. The weather, local produce and flowers are ideal at this time. The Vendange (grape harvest) is also a reason to visit in autumn.
A city of stunning harbours and a mix of urban and rural energies, Hong Kong can dazzle you. The best time to visit Hong Kong is the cool, dry season from October-December. Late January or early February, though cold, is also high season due to festivities surrounding the Chinese New Year. Other busy periods coincide with major trade fairs which can take place any time; it’s best to check and book in advance when planning a trip. Summer months from June-August are quite hot and humid. Though typhoons and cyclones can occur anytime from May to November, they are especially prevalent in September.
Though Bali is a year round destination and sees consistent temperatures, the only significant change comes from the level of rainfall. Dry season in Bali runs from April-September and the rainy season from October-March. High levels of humidity and intermittent bursts of torrential downpour coupled with frequent storms make the latter difficult to travel in. The best time to visit therefore is during dry “summer” months of April-September. This, along with Christmas and New Year’s is also the peak season when fares are at their highest.
Italy is an amalgamation of art, culture, nature, thermal spas and adventure with indulgent spreads of food. July-August sees maximum tourist footfalls. This means that there will be longer queues for all tourist spots and will make for an overall costlier affair. The spring and fall months of April-June and September- October are also good times to visit due to affordable prices and conducive weather. The off peak period of November- March offers up to 30% less prices on accommodations than high season. But many sights and hotels are closed in coastal and mountainous areas during this period. It is a good period for cultural events in large cities, though.
Malaysia is two worlds in one; one half has the rich heritage and history while the other is bustling with a cosmopolitan vibe. You can travel to Malaysia whenever you wish to but if you want to avoid the rains, March-June is not a great time. There are two peak seasons; one from July-August and other from December-February at the time of school holidays, Christmas, New Year’s and Chinese New-Year. These peak times see the most tourists and a hike in prices overall.
The islands of Mauritius with its clear water, and sandy beaches offer a tropical hotspot for watersports and luxury retreats. Mauritian summer months of December-January are without doubt the most popular times to visit with December topping the list in terms of number of tourists. This time also coincides with school holidays, driving crowds to local beaches. Diving enthusiasts should note that visibility is highest from December-March whereas July-August are the best times for surfing and windsurfing. Make sure to check the weather before heading out to Mauritius during February so as to avoid cyclones.
The weather during summer months from June-August is a mixed bag of clear sunny days with short spurts of rain and humidity (as with many European cities). This is considered high season and is a good time to explore the city and its lush countryside on bikes or foot. The vibe is great with locals trying to get as much outdoor time as possible and the city is bustling with energy; that means though that the queues for tourist attractions are long, downtown is congested and accommodation is expensive. March-May and September-November are shoulder seasons but still a good time to visit with mild temperatures, smaller crowds and more reasonable prices. April to early May is also the time to catch the gorgeous spray of flowers known as Tulip season.
For busy beaches, outdoor explorations, festivals and sporting events, you can plan to head to New Zealand in peak summer months from December-February. Spring (September-November) and Fall (March-May) are shoulder seasons with beautiful blossoms and autumn colours donning the landscape respectively. Ski season spans the months of June-August with peak pricing at major ski resorts. While months of May-August cater to tourists on their Southern Alps, the rest of the region is mostly shut down for tourists.
A blend of the ancient and modern life, Singapore is a highly systematic city-state. Weather wise Singapore is hot and humid through the year. Irrespective of the time of the year that you visit, you are likely to encounter some rain since Singapore has a monsoon climate. The hottest months are May-June and the wettest are between November-January, when showers can last for long periods of time. Despite that, peak season is considered to be December-June with December, January and February being the busiest out of those. July-September is the time to go if the Great Singapore Sale and the Singapore Food Festival are on agenda.
Spain has the ideal blend of culture and nightlife. The cities breathe of music, food and beauty. It’s warm and humid from July-August but book in advance as prices surge in these peak tourist months. The legendary Running of the Bulls can be witnessed at Pamplona in mid-July during the San Fermin festival and the epic La Tomatina takes place at Bunol towards the end of August. March-May (Spring) and September- October (Fall) are actually a good time to travel to Spain because of the temperate and clear weather as well as fewer crowds. Unless a ski-trip is on your mind, travelling to Spain in winter months of November-February is avoidable.
Sri Lanka’s proximity to the equator means a hot and humid climate throughout the year. Deciding on an optimal time to visit the island in terms of weather requires an understanding of its two separate monsoons. The main southwest monsoon hits west, southwest and hilly regions (Colombo, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya) from April- September; hence best time to visit these parts is December-March. The Northeast monsoon hits the east coast from November-March; hence the best time to visit if April-September. The inter-monsoonal period of October-November can bring rain and thunderstorms to all parts of the island. While this may sound confusing, it also means that irrespective of the time of the year, some part of the island usually experiences good weather.
Be it medieval landmarks, gorgeous ski resorts or hiking expeditions, visiting Switzerland at the right time for your activity of choice is key. Weather can be erratic and varies widely across terrains like mountains, lakes and valleys. Summer lasts from July-September, though July-August have the best weather coinciding with heaviest crowds. Mountains are lovely in May-June with blooming flowers and snow-capped peaks but since ski season is over and peak summers yet to arrive, this is considered as low season. Mountain resorts go into a lull from mid-October to December and prices decrease by 50% from high season. Ski resorts, however charge peak prices around Christmas and New Year’s, dropping them slightly in January. Do bear in mind though that in off-season for any place, many local sights, restaurants or attractions like cable cars/ cogwheel trains are either shut or open fewer days and shorter hours.
Stunning beaches, shopping extravagance and rich culture adds a unique charm to Thailand. November-March sees the highest footfall as the landscapes are lush and temperatures comfortable. Christmas and New Year’s come with increased rates and decreased availability. July-August is peak monsoon season and therefore many services are shut during this time.
With scrumptious food, culture and history, Turkey mesmerizes you from the minute you set foot in it. June-August is peak tourist season and therefore highly priced. Turkish school holidays take place from mid-June to mid-September, drawing more local crowd out. May and September is considered shoulder season and sees lesser crowds except for Kurban Bayramı (Holiday of Sacrifice). Many tourist areas are closed down from October-March, exceptions being Ski resorts which are at an all-time high and Christmas, New Year’s and Easter time. Istanbul’s peak seasons are April-May and September-October while its shoulder season is June-August.
Dubai is hot around the year but months from June-September are not favourable due to the sweltering heat and humidity, even though the most indoor places are fully air-conditioned. The best time to visit is from November-March with the prospect of clear skies, cool winds and good beach weather. These months are also host to Dubai’s renowned shopping and food festivals. During the month of Ramadan, there are a few restrictions on food and drink during the day but most sights and malls are open, though likely for shorter hours.
United Kingdom/ London
To indulge in the spirit of adventure, history, vintage style and the old world charm, UK/London provides an ideal set up. August is holiday season and also the season of maximum tourists. Weather from June-August is most favourable and accommodations are priced high. March-May has a mix of sunny days and showers while September-October is relatively hotter but bearable. If Scotland is on your mind, pick a time somewhere between May-October. The crowds and prices at this time also reduce. November-February is wet and cold and other than London, most cities shut down their hospitality businesses during this time.
If you plan to travel to the east coast, travel during September-October in fall. May-June are also good with mild rains, while July-August can get quite hot. Winters in the East Coast are extremely cold and bring snowfall, though Christmas and New Year’s are picturesque times in the cities.
For the West Coast, June-August is holiday season and the most ideal time to visit but be prepared for prices that can be 50% higher than normal. April-May and September-October have tolerable weather with a dip in prices and this could be an ideal time if a little weather change doesn’t bother you. November-to March is a difficult time because the areas often experience snow storms.
Clearly, the world is in bloom somewhere or the other on any given day. It is always a season to travel.