10 Best Places to Travel in August

Celebrate the arts, relax in nature, and embrace peak summer with lively fests this month.

Picture your ideal summer. Is it heading to an idyllic far-flung island for some enriching R&R? Perhaps it’s heading to the wilderness of Canada’s easternmost reaches to hike in bracing, salty air and sunshine? Or could it be a short-haul jaunt to boogie down to some disco classics off-season in the Caribbean?

Well, we have you covered if you crave any of these trips for your summer vacation—and we have more ideas, too, with our top picks for the best places to travel in August.

People along the shoreline of a beach with a green mountain in the background

Come to Curaçao for its small, secluded beaches and its music.

Photo by Tony Dunn

1. Curaçao

August is great for: Retro-minded music fans ready to boogie

It’s back, after a five-year, pandemic-sparked hiatus: The North Sea Jazz Festival returns to this Dutch Caribbean island for a three-day event over the last weekend of August. The name is a misnomer, as it’s really a retro-minded fest, aimed at offering crowd-pleasing performances from classic artists across all genres.

In 2024, expect to see Seal and Marc Anthony recapture their 1990s glory days, and hustle through the sets of disco pioneer Nile Rodgers and redoubtable soul diva Gladys Knight. There’s even a performance scheduled for Eros Ramazzotti, the heartthrob who’s Italy’s answer to Enrique Igelsias. The music plays across three different stages, right by the water, so you can stroll to the beach if you need a break from the dance floor.

Where to stay: Dreams

Indulge a little and stay at one of the new all-inclusive concepts cropping up all over the Caribbean. In Curaçao, try the outpost of Hyatt-owned Dreams, right on Piscadera Bay next to the concert venue.

How to get to Curaçao

This is a vacation hub, so the air connections are fittingly convenient: Try United Airlines from EWR or Delta from Atlanta, among others.

Green hills with spaced rows going through it

Tea farming earns Sri Lanka more than a billion dollars each year.

Photo by maheshg/Shutterstock

2. Sri Lanka

August is great for: Adventures in the misty highlands

In August, Sri Lanka’s monsoon months of June and July recede but the occasional shower keeps the vegetation of this wild island in full bloom. Many of those plants, of course, are the camellia sinensis, whose budding shoots are turned into world-class tea across the countless Sri Lankan plantations. Explore the history and culture of tea via a visit to farms, many in the central highlands (sample some of the finest at Nuwara Eliya Plantation).

And this month is also a chance to glimpse the Buddhist traditions of the island. From August 10 to 20, the Kandy Esala Perahera takes place, or the festival of the tooth of Lord Buddha. It’s one of Sri Lanka’s most important festivals and will feature musicians and dancers partying in celebration, all in honor of the procession where Buddha’s tooth is carried through the streets of Kandy, which sits on a plateau amid those tea plantation highlands.

Where to stay: Kotiyagala Luxury Villas

The brand 12-villa, all-pool, resort opens in Yala National Park in June, with a sustainable design by local, award-winning architect Mano Ponniah—the hotel sits elevated above the canopy level of the forest so as to minimize the intrusion of the local environment.

How to get to Sri Lanka

It’s a long trip to reach Sri Lanka, wherever you start out stateside. Try one of the Middle Eastern carriers, like Qatar: From Chicago, for example, you’ll take a 13-hour first leg, breaking in Doha, before the second, five-hour hop to Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

Group of people with mime-themed face paint on a European street

Spot performers on the Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Photo by Jan Kranendonk/Shutterstock

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

August is great for: Spotting the next Oscar winner making a live debut.

Think of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe as a combination of Broadway, Saturday Night Live, and the Groundlings—a comedy-skewing live performance fiesta with more than 3,000 shows taking place across 250 venues over almost four weeks (from August 2 to 26 this year). The dizzyingly full schedule is constantly updated, so download its app for the easiest planning.

By far the world’s largest performing arts festival, the Fringe was established soon after World War II. Since then, it’s proved a spotting ground for future superstars at the earliest stages of their careers. It cost intrepid festivalgoers just a few pounds to see the likes of the late Alan Rickman (aka Professor Snape from the Harry Potter film series), Mr. Bean actor Rowan Atkinson, and comedian turned chat show host Graham Norton make their debuts here in the past. Many of this year’s emerging talents will likely follow in their fame-finding footsteps.

Where to stay: Prestonfield House

The location alone, right next to Arthur’s Seat, makes this 23-room boutique hotel compelling, but its lush, maximalist decor and the romance of crashing in a building that dates back to the 17th century—not to mention its own, 20-acre gardens—are the clinchers.

How to get to Edinburgh

You’re in luck: There’s a range of options in summer for direct nonstop flights, whether United from EWR, Delta from BOS, or even Virgin Atlantic from MCO.

Waves crashing onto a beach seashore

The crashing waves and thrashing currents of the north Atlantic barrel into Africa right here, and create superb swells as they do.

Photo by Karol Kozlowski/age fotostock

4. Morocco

August is great for: Catching a wave in the Atlantic

Morocco’s northern coast, facing the Mediterranean, is well known; indeed, we tipped you off to the renewed buzz on Tangier. But the lesser-trafficked east coast, overlooking the Atlantic, has an appeal all its own, especially for anyone interested in surfing.

Consider Oualidia if you’re keen, but not pro: A lagoon there allows the ocean to squeeze in through a narrow opening, which better paces the wave patterns or venture to Sidi Kaouki, on a mile long stretch of sand where the waters are equally manageable. More practiced Hang Tenners can try Les Tomates, a renowned spot a little further south, or even try to catch a tube wave near the fishing town of Safi, where the swells are widely recognized as among Africa’s finest.

You could also head to Essaouira, which offers superb kite-surfing as well as surfing, thanks to a confluence of sirocco winds from the Sahara and seasonal Atlantic trade winds. Otherwise, consider Taghazout, where there are facilities for all levels, be it mellower options around Panorama, or Anchor Point, a world-class break first popularized by adrenaline-chasing Australians in the 1960s.

Where to stay: La Sultana Oualidia

Hide out in this oasislike hotel, a reimagining of a one-time Moorish fortress with just a dozen rooms, each with a private terrace and Jacuzzi.

How to get to Morocco

The easiest option is to fly to Casablanca, where most long-haul flights touchdown. Try national carrier Royal Air Maroc, which flies non-stop from cities including Miami and New York City. The spiffy new high-speed train, Al Boraq, can shuttle travelers up and down the country.

Row of colorful European buildings by a body of water

Gdańsk is located on Poland’s Baltic coast.

Photo by Zbigniew Guzowski/Shutterstock

5. Gdańsk, Poland

August is great for: Attending a fair older than America itself—and then some

St Dominic’s Fair is one of the largest and oldest open-air markets in the whole continent; this year, it’s running through August 18. The tradition dates back eight centuries (yes, more than 750 years) when the then-Pope extended leeway to locals around the founder’s feast day. That indulgence eventually resulted in a month-long fair where treasures like silk, spices, cloth, and other goodies were traded, all against a boisterous backdrop full of parties and performances. It was largely abandoned as a result of World War II, but was revived in the 1970s. It’s now bigger and better than ever, with more than 1,000 artisans and traders shilling their wares, mostly suitcase-sized, souvenir-ready trinkets like picture frames.

Combine a trip to this traditional fiesta with some time by the sea: Gdańsk, a longtime shipping hub, sits on the Baltic in a region once known as the Polish Riviera. Try the family-friendly Stogi Beach, or take a short taxi ride outside town to the Sobieszewo promontory for a quieter, more nature-forward afternoon by the water.

Where to stay: Gotyk House

Fittingly for a centuries-old fair, bunk down in this 15th-century family home that’s been converted into a shabby chic boutique hotel, with antique-filled rooms and a cozy vibe.

How to get to Gdańsk

Hop on national carrier LOT’s direct, non-stop service from JFK to the capital. From there, it’s a four-hour drive from Warsaw to Gdańsk.

Boats in water at sunset

Come to Washington D.C.'s wharf area for some jazz in August.

Photo by AevanStock/Shutterstock

6. Washington D.C.

August is great for: Celebrating the city’s signature musical style

DC JazzFest, which runs over two days from August 31, is celebrating its 20th anniversary and pays homage to the city’s connection with this musical tradition; composer Duke Ellington lived here, and the jittering, intense Bebop style of music and dance emerged here. It takes place on the wharf, where there are restaurants and shops aplenty, and you can even watch performances for free from the promenade there. Last year’s lineup included the smooth-voiced crooner Gregory Porter among its headliners,

Even better, for bargain-minded travelers, the event coincides with D.C. Restaurant Week, a chance to sample its toniest eating spots at a bargain with lunches from $20 per head and dinners from $40.

Where to stay: Pendry Washington D.C.

New restaurants and hotels have reinvigorated Washington, D.C.’s wharfside, including the 2022-opened Pendry Washington D.C. With minimalist rooms and a prime location near restaurants, bars, and activities, it’s a great choice, especially for those traveling with kids.

How to get to Washington, D.C.

Take your pick on flights—the city’s well-networked across the country—but also consider Amtrak if you’re in the Northeast, espeically its sleek, reliable Acela service.

Green field with mountains in the background

Head to Big Sky for the Wildlands Music Festival, which runs from August 2-3.

Photo by thierry dehove/Shutterstock

7. Big Sky, Montana

August is great for: Big Sky Country, literally.

It’s Big Sky Country for sure this month, thanks to the Wildlands Music Festival, on the first weekend in August. It lures major names from the country music circuit to perform here, with headliners for 2024 including Maren Morris and Dierks Bentley; Wyatt Flores and Lukas Nelson will also perform.

This festival is expressly staged as a conservation event, with profits earmarked for wildlife and river preservation in and around the area. Last year, more than half a million dollars was generated and donated to the Gallatin River Task Force and American Rivers, which aim to safeguard waterways. Just make sure to bring some rainwear: Last year’s al fresco bash was bedeviled with unseasonal showers, though it didn’t stop headliners like the Foo Fighters from taking the stage.

Where to stay: Montage Big Sky

The three-year-old resort sits just an hour from Yellowstone National Park. Luxe but rugged rooms feature stone and wood detailing, a natural nod to the log cabin lifestyle that once dominated here.

How to get to Bozeman

Fly into the fireplace-festooned Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, which is around an hour’s drive from Big Sky. There are direct nonstops on United (Chicago), Delta (Los Angeles), American (Dallas), and JetBlue (New York JFK).

Mouse among the highlands of an island

The dramatic highlands of Cape Breton Island are often likened to those in Scotland.

Photo by Wally Hayes/Nova Scotia Tourism

8. Nova Scotia, Canada

August is great for: Dark skies, bright days and midtempo music

Cape Breton Island has a thrillingly diverse cultural heritage, with a palpable Acadian presence from the settlers who came from France in early colonial days—try rappie pie or rapûre, the chicken-and-potato dish that’s one of their signature hand-me-downs. The Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival from August 8-11 offers a program of folk music that emphasizes acapella singing and acoustic instruments as well as the Clare Bluegrass festival over the same period, where the program’s intended to reflect and highlight the Acadian traditions here.

Come in summer, and you can stroll those wild hillsides by day or by night. Nova Scotia was the first North American destination to receive a Starlight Certification by the U.N. tourism-supported foundation, a nod to the pristine, light pollution-minimized state of its night skies. Join a walk in Kejimkujik Park, especially over Dark Sky weekend, this year from August 2 to 4.

Where to stay: Cabot Cape Breton

The perfect summer hideaway, this 72-room lodge has ocean views from every room, as well as 46 holes of golf and a mile or more’s worth of sandy beaches, right near the Cabot Trail, the 186-mile-long hiking path that quilts Cape Breton Island.

How to get to Cape Breton Island

The best international airport to access the island is YHZ, or Halifax, which has direct non-stops to Philadelphia and Washington D.C. on American Airlines. From there, it’s a 3.5-hour drive to the tip of the Maritimes. If you’d rather fly all the way, connect to YQY airport out east via Toronto or Montreal.

Aerial view of city with a cathedral in the center

Don’t miss the chance to check out the city of Cork on Ireland’s southwestern coast.

Photo by Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock

9. Cork, Ireland

August is great for: Kissing the Blarney Stone, whoever you are

This month there are several events that make this town appealing, notably the Pride festival takes place on August 5th, a reminder of Ireland’s newfound acceptance of LGBTQ+ communities (it legalized equal marriage mere months after the USA, in 2015, and by popular consent, to boot, via a national referendum on the issue). There’s also the Cork on a Fork Fest later in the month, with five days of food demos, masterclasses and talks. Don’t leave town without a pint of two—Guinness or otherwise—at one of the historic pubs in town, like the Mutton Lane Inn, a dark wood-lined den that’s almost 200 years old.

Remember, even though it’s midsummer, a light sweater or two will come in handy in Cork: Its position on the Atlantic means that even this month, there can be crisp spells.

Where to stay: The Montenotte

This four-star, 107-room modernist hotel sits on a hill just outside the city center, with spectacular views over the harbor—don’t miss lunch or dinner at the hotel’s flagship restaurant, Panorama, which relies heavily on locally sourced Irish produce.

How to get to Cork

There are no direct long-haul flights to Cork from the USA. Instead, fly to Shannon or Dublin—all of DHS paperwork’s completed before you board, which means you land stateside as if you were a domestic passenger. There’s ample service on Aer Lingus to either airport from the USA (it serves 14 U.S. airports). The three-hour drive from Dublin down to Cork is a bonus chance to soak up the countryside.

People walking around red and white tents by a harbor

Think Maine, think lobster—and come to the seaside town of Rockland this month to truly relish in the state’s popular dish.

Photo by Wangkun Jia/Shutterstock

10. Rockland, Maine

August is great for: Forgetting the summer diet for the best possible reasons.

For five days, Rockland becomes a crustacean celebration with the Maine Lobster Festival (this year, from July 31 to August 4), with more than 70,000 visitors to gorge on freshly caught, fresh-cooking lobster overlooking Penobscot Bay: Take your pick between turnovers, rolls, salad, bisques, deep fried dumplings, and more.

There’s more to the bash, with a cooking festival for those keen to show off their kitchen prep schools, and a 10K road race. The highlight, though, is Sunday afternoon’s Great Crate Race, where anyone foolhardy and athletic enough can sign up to try to scamper across 50 lobster traps strung together like a bobbing obstacle course across the harbor. This is a true community effort, staffed almost entirely by local volunteers and run by a nonprofit that siphons all the money made back into Midcoast Maine community programs.

Where to stay: 250 Main Hotel

The 26-room hotel right in the heart of town means you can walk to or from the festival (and dry off more quickly if you tumble during the Crate Race). It’s refreshing contemporary, featuring bright accent colors and flat screen TVs.

How to get to Rockland

The only flight to Rockland’s airport is operated by regional carrier Cape Air, from Boston. Hacking the trip, head to Portland, ME, which has seasonal service to a range of cities including Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Charlotte. Then drive up to Rockland, a scenic detour that takes around 90 minutes.

British-born, New York–based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. He is editor-at-large for luxury bible Robb Report and columnist for Bloomberg Luxury. Recent stories have led him to hang out with China’s trendsetters in Chengdu and learn fireside raps from cowboy poets in Wyoming.
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