Best places to go for a holiday in July

COUNTRIES

IRELAND

Why you should go: July and August are the warmest months to visit Ireland, and light lingers long into the evenings, prolonging that chance to admire its magnificent landscapes. Galway, which is surrounded by fabulous scenery and considered Ireland's most charming city, hosts its multidisciplinary International Arts Festival (www.giaf.ie), Ireland's biggest celebration of the arts, involving hundreds of artists and performers.

Don't miss: The remote, west-coast region of Connemara, with its moors, mountains and deeply indented coastline, rich in Irish culture and literary heritage. The picturesque seaside town of Clifden is a good base for exploring what Oscar Wilde called the "savage beauty" of the countryside and coastline. See www.ireland.com 

See also: The most eye-catching chunk of Ireland's coastline

FINLAND

Why you should go: When you've survived a freezing and almost permanently dark winter, there's nothing like the arrival of summer to boost spirits, and the Finns certainly do that in July, season for merrymaking and festivals. Try a tango festival in Seinajoki (www.tangomarkkinat.fi), folk festival in Kaustinen (www.kaustinen.net), chamber music in Kuhmo (www.kuhmofestival.fi) or rock music in Joensuu (www.ilosaarirock.fi).

Don't miss: Finland's collage of forest and lakes is at its best in summer. The 10-hour ferry ride between Savonlinna and Kuopio (www.visitkuopio.fi) in eastern Finland is a scenic sail along canals and across lakes. Take in beautiful island town Savonlinna (www.savonlinna.travel) and picturesque Olavinlinna Castle (www.nba.fi). Linnansaari National Park (www.outdoors.fi) is a great wilderness perfect for kayaking. See www.visitfinland.com

See also: Swirls of a green dream: A trip to the Northern Lights

US

Why you should go: The weather is mostly great – especially if you want to visit Alaska or northern states – and the baseball season is in full swing. Plus nothing says America more than Independence Day, the July 4 eruption of flags, fireworks, carnivals, parades and marching bands. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans or Chicago are great places to be on the big day.

Don't miss: It's impossible to pick just one place in such a varied country, but Boston (www.bostonusa.com) is great. Follow the Freedom Trail and learn about the significant role Boston played in the fight for American independence, then explore the attractive and easily walked North End and Beacon Hill neighbourhoods. The city has excellent shopping, museums and cultural life. See www.visittheusa.com 

See also: Beyond New York, LA: The other US cities you must visit

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NEW CALEDONIA

New Caledonia.

French paradise: New Caledonia. Photo: New Caledonia Tourism

Why you should go: As the winter chill sets in across much of Australia, just a short flight away this French territory enjoys Goldilocks weather: not too hot for getting about, warm enough for beach lounging. Fish-filled lagoons, big-game fishing, bird spotting and hiking peninsulas and interior mountains are among varied activities. For the ultimate tropical getaway, head to the Loyalty Islands (www.iles-loyaute.com).

Don't miss: The capital Noumea (www.noumea.nc) is set on a blue lagoon, emerald hillsides and white beaches on bays shaded by flame trees and jacaranda. The modest town is blessed with a clash of cultures. Think French flair and posh nosh matched with a languid Pacific lifestyle and vibrant native Kanak culture. See www.newcaledonia.travel

See also: Twenty reasons to visit this heavenly French paradise

SINGAPORE

<i>Gardens by the Bay, Singapore</i>

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: Running from July 13-29, the Singapore Food Festival adds an extra dimension to a city already famous for its blended Chinese, Malay and Indian food culture. Local chefs preside over workshops and food events, street stalls offer Michelin-star dishes, food kiosks erupt across the city and there are even screenings of food-themed movies.

Don't miss: Chill out at Clarke Quay and catch river breezes over beer and satay beef at the food stalls. Chinatown is close by, and its spruced-up Tanjong Pagar district is lined with trendy bars and cocktail lounges. Along Chinatown's lantern-lit Smith Street, woks flare as more street stalls dish up finger-licking chilli crab and laksa noodles. See www.visitsingapore.com

See also: Ten things you didn't know about Singapore

CITIES

ST ANTON, AUSTRIA

Why you should go: St Anton may be a top ski resort, but you have every reason to visit in summer, when mountainsides erupt in wildflowers, rivers gurgle and you can soak up the sun on restaurant terraces. The alpine resort has 350 kilometres of signposted hiking paths, with some cable cars still running to help you on your way, or hoist you straight into high alpine scenery.

Don't miss: After a day's hiking, there's no better remedy for sore muscles than terrific public wellness retreat Arlberg Well (www.arlberg-well.com), with its saunas, steam rooms and swimming pools. Then tuck into hearty traditional Austrian dishes at Restaurant Museum (www.museum-restaurant.at). See www.stantonamarlberg.com 

See also: The Austrian town where Italy, Germany and Switzerland meet

MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND

Why you should go: Dipping its toes in Lake Geneva, backed by vineyards and gazing on the French Alps, Montreux is lovely year-round but in July comes alive when its world-famous, three-week Montreux Jazz Festival (www.montreuxjazz.com) sees the world's top jazz, blues and rock artists take to various stages.

Don't miss: The European aristocracy came here in the 19th century to enjoy Montreux's balmy microclimate and lake scenery. Do the same on the lovely, flower-flanked promenades that lead in about 40 minutes towards Chillon Castle (www.chillon.ch), whose medieval turrets are backed by fanged mountains. The 13th-century castle is an explore-worthy labyrinth of banqueting halls, hidey-holes and ramparts. See www.montreuxriviera.com 

See also: Three-minute guide to Montreux, Switzerland

QUEENSTOWN, NEW ZEALAND

Queenstown Airport reported a 25.9 per cent rise in passenger traffic to and from Australia in 2015.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand. Photo: Tourism NZ

Why you should go: One of the world's most scenic ski destinations is at its best in July. Queenstown is surrounded by great ski fields such as Coronet Peak (www.nzski.com), Treble Cone (www.treblecone.com) and The Remarkables (www.nzski.com). If you see skiing as an enjoyment rather than a fitness challenge, you'll love the undulating terrain, variety of runs, and options for sunny, scenic lunches.

Don't miss: The drive along Lake Wakatipu to the Dart River between panoramic peaks is magical, but the journey upriver by jet boat (www.dartriver.co.nz) is even more spectacular. The river's glacial waters gleam and swirl, crystal-clear waterfalls tumble down rock faces, and snow-peaks jostle in 360-degree majesty. See www.queenstownnz.co.nz

See also: Twenty reasons to visit Queenstown and its neighbours

CALGARY, CANADA

Why you should go: July's Calgary Stampede (www.calgarystampede.com) is North America's richest and the world's largest outdoor rodeo competition, and attracts the continent's best cowboys. Rodeo events – roping calves, riding broncos, wrestling steers – are the top attractions, along with the Chuckwagon Race. But the Stampede is much more than that, featuring agricultural competitions, livestock shows, concerts and amusement rides.

Don't miss: Heritage Park Historical Village (www.heritagepark.ca) gives a glimpse into the history of Calgary and pioneering life. It features a working streetcar, paddle steamer and steam train from the 19th century, as well as many historic buildings relocated from other parts of Alberta province. See www.visitcalgary.com

See also: The 10 things Australians need to understand about Canadians

ST PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

satmar3coverrussia?cover story russia ; rext by Ute Junker credit: Shutterstock *** REUSE PERMITTED *** *** CHECK RIGHTS WITH SHUTTERSTOCK FOR ANY USE OTHER THAN EDITORIAL *** Isaac cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia.

Isaac Cathedral in St Petersburg, Russia. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should go: The midnight sun is up and about in summer, providing plenty of extra hours in which to enjoy Russia's most beautiful city. Locals love this time of year, and the city is lively with concerts, open-air music, outdoor dining and clubbing into the wee hours. The pale, luminous light is the perfect complement to baroque buildings and their shimmering reflections in canals.

Don't miss: Innumerable churches, cathedrals, palaces and the Hermitage Museum (www.hermitagemuseum.org), one of the world's best repositories of European art. In summer, the gardens of the Catherine Palace (www.tzar.ru) and summer imperial residence Peterhof (www.peterhofmuseum.ru) beyond the city are at their very best. See www.visit-petersburg.ru

See also: Best places to go for a holiday in June

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