Summer is upon us and it’s finally time to jet off on that holiday you’ve been dreaming of all year. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just want a sun-kissed beach getaway, read on for The Luxury Editor’s guide to the best destinations this July.
Best for: variety
From its lush purple lavender fields and slow pace of life to its charming Mediterranean fishing towns, Provence really does have it all. And there are few better times to visit the region than July, when it is bathed in glorious sunshine. But it is the immense cultural importance of this month that makes it an even more attractive proposition to visit. Over 200 years ago, on the 14th July 1789, the key military fortress of the Bastille was stormed, providing the impetus for the subsequent events of the French Revolution, and this momentous occasion in the shaping of modern-day France is celebrated across the country to this day – Provence is no different, with spectacular fireworks displays found throughout the region. July also sees the staging of the Tour de France, one of the world’s most iconic sporting events. The race makes an almost annual pilgrimage to Provence and the 2020 edition is no exception: this year stage 5 (1st July) carves through Provence’s famous vineyards on its way from Gap to Privas. Any trip to the region should be rounded off with a visit to Avignon, home to the immensely impressive Palais des Papes, the residency of no less than seven Popes amidst increasing tension in Rome during the 14th century, as well as the Pont du Gard, a spectacular aqueduct constructed during the Roman occupation of Gaul.
Best for: city adventures
Renowned for its world-famous nightlife and tangible sense of history, Berlin is one of Europe’s leading weekend getaway destinations. There is no better way to start your exploration of the city than by walking through the iconic Brandenburg Gate, constructed by the King of Prussia at the end of the 18th century as a major entry point. Just a short walk away lies perhaps the most famous feature of Berlin’s skyline, in the form of the Bundestag building and its distinctive dome. Home to the German feudal parliament, there are daily tours of the building that allow visitors to go up to the roof terrace and enjoy superb views of the government district below. But despite being a thriving modern city, there are remnants of Berlin’s troubled 20th century history scattered around the city for history buffs to explore. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the chilling memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, which was opened in 2005. There are also remnants of the Berlin Wall, which separated the city for almost thirty years during the Cold War, as well as Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous crossing point from East to West.
Best for: slowing down the pace
Known as the heel of Italy, Puglia boasts some of the Adriatic’s most important ports. First on any visitor’s itinerary should be the region’s capital, Bari, home to the celebrated Basilica di San Nicola. Overlooking the glistening sea below, this 11th century Romanesque church contains the remains of St. Nicholas himself, as well as a hugely impressive art collection. It is also worth paying a visit to the harbour and the adjacent Teatro Margherita, but be warned that looking at the ferry destinations board may fuel even more wanderlust: boats depart regularly from here to Dubrovnik, Crete and Corfu, amongst many other enticing locations. But, that said, Puglia’s innate beauty is enough to keep even the most wandering mind from straying. This is certainly true of the Trulli of Alberobello, one of Italy’s astonishing 47 UNESCO World Heritage sites. These striking stone houses, featuring conical roofs, are unique to Puglia and are testament to the creative nature of the locals, who built them as an alternative to stables at a time when their construction was heavily taxed. Puglia can also lay claim to having some of the country’s finest beaches: our favourites include the sandy bays and turquoise waters at the likes of Lecce, Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo. And of course, no trip to Puglia is complete without sampling its world-famous olive oil and the region’s distinctive orecchiette pasta!
Best for: beach & adventure
Sometimes all you want from a holiday is to indulge in pure, unadulterated relaxation: if this rings true with you then look no further than the idyllic Seychelles. Located in the Indian Ocean, this stunning archipelagic nation enjoys a global reputation for its inviting turquoise waters and gorgeous sandy beaches. Boasting more than 150 islands and thousands of beaches, there really is something for everyone. For families we recommend visiting Mahé, the country’s largest island, where the shallow waters are ideal for young children, whilst teenagers will love the snorkelling opportunities offered by La Digue’s rockier coastline. Feeling really adventurous? The Seychelles’ diverse marine life lends itself to some of the most breath taking scuba diving experiences on Earth – head to one of the dozens of PADI accredited dive centres and go swimming with the sharks whilst you explore the famous coral reefs. But the Seychelles’ interest is by no means confined to its coasts: if you head to the Morne Seychellois National Park on Mahé you will be rewarded with incredible hiking trails, as well as some of the world’s rarest birdlife.
Best for: wildlife
After a peaceful summer retreat this July? Look no further than the idyllic coastal region of Lakeland in Finland. Covered with dense forests and lakes, Finland is known for its natural beauty – this area in particular attracts visitors from across Scandinavia, as well as further afield, who are enticed by the thousands of picturesque cottages perched on beautiful islets, offering the perfect antidote to the stresses of everyday life. And, whilst you are recharging your batteries, there is plenty to keep those of all ages occupied. We recommend heading to the city of Kuopio, which hosts a prestigious wine festival (which runs until 4th July), whilst the region also enjoys an enviable reputation for its water sports activities and of course traditional Finnish saunas. However, Lakeland is above all revered for its stunning variety of wildlife: a haven for birdwatchers, it is also unquestionably the best place in Europe to see bears in the wild. But don’t worry – the expert safari guides ensure that you are close enough to take pictures of these incredible animals whilst remaining in perfect safety.