When the half-way point of the year hits, it’s the perfect time to be out on your next adventure. Sitting pretty just outside of the soaring peak-season prices, June’s sunny summer days in the northern hemisphere are ideal for exploration. In the southern hemisphere, June brings the dry season and incredible opportunities to embrace nature.
Want to find the perfect destination for your mid-year break? Here are the best places to go in June.
Where are the best places to travel to in June for relaxation?
The ABC islands: for a Caribbean experience like no other
It’s the Caribbean, but not as you know it. The ABC islands, as Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao are playfully known, sit just off the north coast of Venezuela. Although they’re geographically part of South America, they’ve been governed by, and been part of, the Netherlands since the early 17th century. June is the sweet spot between the high season (which also happens to be the rainy season) in the northern winter, and the slightly hotter summer months. Since the islands are outside the hurricane belt (unlike most of the other Caribbean islands), they’re a safe bet at this time of year, yet hotel rates are low and beaches less crowded.
And what beaches: from gorgeous Eagle Beach on Aruba, beloved of honeymooners, to the resorts of Curaçao’s southwest. Come to Aruba for nightlife, Bonaire for wonderful diving and snorkeling, and Curaçao for Dutch-influenced culture and cuisine, and to explore its colorful capital, Willemstad.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique: dive and snorkel clear, warm, turquoise waters
Are these the most beautiful tropical islands on Earth? The Bazaruto Archipelago faces stiff competition from other Indian Ocean destinations (and Mozambique’s own Quirimbas Archipelago) – but wriggle your toes into the silky sand on a glorious June morning (the start of the dry season), or gaze through your mask at impossibly colorful reef fish, and maybe a humpback whale migrating past, and they could stake a fair claim.
Much of this chain of five islands off Mozambique’s southeastern coast is protected as a national park, conserving dolphins, dugongs, sea turtles and around 2000 fish species. Oh, and Nile crocodiles – but perhaps you’re not so keen to see those… This is a paradise for divers, but also for anyone seeking a truly barefoot beach holiday.
Sardinia, Italy: soak in the Mediterranean sun before the crowds
Italy’s second-largest island is, fair to say, famed mostly for one key asset: beaches. Nowhere else is the Mediterranean such an incredible shade of jade-turquoise-azure, lined with such perfect white-sand beaches. Best known is Costa Smeralda, the archetypal millionaire’s playground, but there are plenty more for mere mortals to enjoy. And June’s the time to enjoy them, with fine, clear weather but before the hordes of high summer descend.
Which beach? South of capital Cagliari is Chia, with not one but five fine beaches; The Sinis Peninsula has good snorkeling and Greek ruins; Alghero has popular resorts; from Cala Gonone on the east coast boats depart for secluded beaches; and the Costa Rei further south is exquisitely beautiful. If you can stir from the sand, you’ll find great hiking in the Gennargentu Mountains, historic old town centers – Cagliari included – and 3000-year-old nuraghi dwellings to discover.
Where are the best places to travel to in June for wildlife?
Rwanda: see eye-to-eye with a silverback gorilla
That something so huge (a male gorilla can top 400 lbs/180kg) can be so vulnerable is hard to understand. Yet only 1000 or so endangered mountain gorillas survive in two isolated subpopulations. June, the start of Rwanda’s dry season, is the time to venture to Volcanoes National Park to track one of its 10 habituated groups; prepare for muddy, steep trails, heady altitude (around 9850 ft; 3000m) and the heart-melting sight of a precious primate family.
A gorilla encounter is far from the only reason to come to Rwanda. The calm, neat capital, Kigali is a fine place to start, redolent with the aroma of Rwanda’s great coffee; Nyungwe Forest harbors large populations of chimpanzees and Rwenzori colobus monkeys, while to the east Akagera National Park is a pretty mix of savannah, hills and valleys, with giraffe, zebra, elephant and some shy lions.
Western Australia: dive with giants on the other barrier reef
Now’s the time to think Big. Visit Australia’s largest state (area: around one million sq miles; 2.5 million sq km) in June to swim with the world’s heftiest fish, the whale shark (length: up to 60ft; 18m) and manta rays (wing width: up to 18ft; 5.5m) as well as watching humpback whales (weight: up to 30 tonnes) on – OK – only Australia’s second-largest reef, Ningaloo.
Coral spawning from March prompts a zooplankton explosion, attracting the sharks until mid-August, while manta rays – present year-round at Coral Bay – tend to visit Exmouth May to November, and humpbacks migrate past June to November. The turquoise waters are beautifully clear for snorkeling and diving among dazzling reef fish, too.
Borneo: explore jungles and see turtles hatching in the dry season
For some of us, Borneo seems a long way to travel for a beach. But if that beach is liable to erupt with hatching turtles and is backed by wildlife-rich rainforest – well, then the long journey seems entirely worthwhile. That’s Borneo – or, more specifically, the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah, at their best in the (relatively) dry month of June, when turtles hatch and orangutans thrive on plentiful fruit.
Sarawak has the longhouse communities along the Batang (River) Rejang, the bat-thronged caves of Gunung Mulu National Park, the proboscis monkeys and enormous rafflesia flowers. Sabah has mighty Mt Kinabalu, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center, fine diving and those turtle-nesting beaches. Both offer incredible wildlife and cultural experiences. And yes, both have beautiful stretches of sand on which to simply lie back and relax.
South Luangwa National Park, Zambia: walk with the wild animals
The eyes of a lion give nothing away: not anger, not fear, not curiosity. That’s something you notice when you encounter this majestic carnivore without the protection of a vehicle – on foot in the birthplace of the walking safari: Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. June’s the ideal time to explore ‘the valley’ as it’s the start of the dry season, before vegetation has withered.
Amble alongside one of the continent’s finest guides, spotting elephants, giraffes, dazzling birdlife and, if you’re lucky, even wild dog. Seeing wildlife of any kind on foot is both electrifying and enlightening, bringing into focus not just the sights but also the sounds and smells of the bush. Leopards and various nocturnal species are often seen on night drives, too.
Where are the best places to travel to in June for culture?
Iran: explore ancient cities before the heat builds
The land once called Persia is where misconceptions come to die. Political posturing wins column inches, but there are so many treasures that really deserve the headlines: the extraordinary Islamic architecture of Esfahan, with its intricate blue patterned tiles; the huge, bustling bazaars of Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz or Tabriz; the magnificent remains at Persepolis, dating back two-and-a-half millennia; the deserts; the poems; the food; and – most of all – the warm, welcoming people.
By June the mercury is rising fast at lower altitudes, but prices and crowds are dropping. Summer is also the season for hiking in the Alborz Mountains, particularly the ascent of Mt Damavand, a true icon of Iran.
Armenia: explore the world’s oldest Christian country in the summer
Armenia does ancient like almost nowhere else. This landlocked nation is packed with churches, monasteries and caravanserais dating from the first millennium AD, and with relics stretching back even further, including Karahunj (literally: ‘stone henge’), reputedly constructed 7000 years ago. More than that, the dramatic backdrop of the Caucasus, with snow-capped Mt Ararat peering across the Turkish border, matches Armenia’s turbulent history of invasion, oppression and aggression by neighboring states.
The weather is most clement in June, after the icy chill of winter and before the mercury soars into the high 30°Cs. From capital Yerevan’s chilled cafe culture to the cave village of Khndzoresk and hilltop monasteries such as Tatev and Noravank, it’s a mesmerizing, diverse land that’s not quite like anywhere else. The wine’s not bad, either.
Croatia: discover the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’
A crescent of terracotta roofs curling round to embrace an azure coin of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik has been assaulted many times through the centuries – besieged by Saracens, overtaken by Venetians, devastated by earthquake in 1667, then by Napoleon and the war of 1991–92. Yet it’s emerged more beguiling each time, and never more so than in June, the tipping point between spring’s warmth and summer’s somnolent heat, but before cruise passengers cram every alley.
Once you’ve promenaded a circuit of the Old Town’s walls and roamed the marbled streets (ideally very early in the morning), escape to a nearby island – perhaps Lokrum, Mljet or Šipan – to find a quiet beach, and a taverna serving fine seafood and local wines. Or head around the bay to peaceful Cavtat, founded by Greek settlers who fled Slavic attack to build the more famous Dubrovnik in AD 614.
Where are the best places to travel to in June for food and drink?
Pacific Northwest, USA: sip coffee and wine in epic locations
Think Oregon and Washington are all about dramatic coastlines, forests, volcanoes? Wake up and smell the coffee! And the hops. And the grapes… Sure, the region’s natural wonders demand to be explored – climbing Mt Hood or Mt Rainier, hiking Crater Lake National Park, fishing the McKenzie River – but an adventure in the great outdoors starts indoors with a cup of joe. The proliferation of coffee micro-roasters means you’re guaranteed a fine brew – and its provenance – anywhere.
Then there’s the beer: the draft brewing craze kicked off here, and today over 85% of US hops are grown in the northwest. Tour the brewpubs and bars of Seattle or Portland and you’ll discover citrus tangs from close on 500 microbreweries. The bright, fresh, dry days of June are perfect for visiting the region’s wineries: around Walla Walla for Cab Sauv and Merlot, Yakima for Chardonnay and Riesling, or down the Willamette Valley for Pinot Noirs.
Lisbon, Portugal: indulge in fine wine, food and fado
There are few European cities where you can plant yourself on a sunny terrace outside a hip cafe surrounded by historic architecture and be confident you won’t get stung for an overpriced coffee or beer. Lisbon is the exception: probably the best-value major city outside the former Eastern Bloc, the Portuguese capital feels anything but cheap. Food and drink – sumptuous presunto (dried ham), port, ginjinha (cherry liqueur), seafood – all are delectable and keenly priced.
The city’s at its most enjoyable in June, when flowers bloom and festivals create a friendly buzz. The Feast of St Anthony sees Lisbon go sardine crazy, but at any time you’re liable to smell someone grilling fish on an Alfama street corner. Take Tram 28 – touristy but fabulous – on a tour of the city, and be sure to catch Tram 15 to see the Torre de Belém and Jerónimos Monastery, and to try the finest pasteis de nata (custard tarts).
Cape Cod, USA: celebrate sun, sea, sand and seafood
If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, try New England’s favorite seaside destination. The flexed arm of Cape Cod is lined with beaches, cutesy towns, oysters, clams and lobster rolls – no wonder millions flock here each year. Most, though, come in July and August; after Memorial Day (May 30) the crowds thin, making June a delicious month to visit, with more chances of bagging accommodation and finding space on a beach.
Not that it’s too quiet: the month is peppered with events celebrating the arts (including Provincetown International Film Festival). Trace an arc around the Cape by car, pausing at the pretty harbors and heading out on a whale watching cruise, or cycle the 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail between South Dennis and Wellfleet.
Normandy, France: encounter castles, cathedrals, cider and cheese
It’s over a millennium since the Vikings (‘Northmen’, aka Normans) settled this part of northwest France. Over the intervening centuries, their descendants invaded England, perfected Camembert, cider and Calvados brandy, constructed magnificent castles, abbeys, châteaux and cathedrals, and finished Impressionism.
Explore this gorgeous region in June and you’ll enjoy their legacy at its best, the garden of Claude Monet in Giverny blooming with poppies and roses, and the courageous soldiers of World War II commemorated at annual D-Day celebrations. Before the European holiday season really kicks in, popular destinations such as the rock-top abbey of Mont St Michel (actually just over the border in Brittany) and cutesy villages such as Beuvron-en-Auge are marginally less busy, while footpaths on the cliffs of Étretat and the Cotentin Peninsula beg to be hiked.
Looking to plan further ahead? Here are the best places to travel in every month of the year.