August brings intense heat to several parts of the world. It’s searingly humid in Sri Lanka and the South of the USA, while there’s more moderately humid yet still tropical weather in the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. In Europe, you’ll find sunny, comfortable temperatures for hiking and exploring places including Russia and Switzerland, while the heat is even higher in Portugal.
Combine sultry temperatures and sunshine with seeing one of the planet’s greatest wildlife set-pieces. August in Sri Lanka sees hundreds of wild Asian elephants come to drink from the Minneriya Tank, a royal reservoir built in 200 AD in Minneriya National Park. This annual thirst-quenching is known as The Gathering.
Type of heat in Sri Lanka in August: Expect sunny days and humidity, which continues into the evenings — maximum temperatures of 32°C (90°F), which hardly vary after dark.
Average temperature in Sri Lanka in August: 25°C (77°F) depending on region
Average hours of daily sunshine in Sri Lanka in August: 7 hours
Average flight time to Sri Lanka: 11½ hours (London to Colombo)
The Cook Islands
If you’re looking for a South Pacific island escape in the middle of the Northern Hemisphere’s summer break, why not visit the white-sand beaches, coral atolls, and turquoise lagoons of the permanently laid-back Cook Islands? You can punctuate your beach relaxation with snorkelling and kitesurfing at this time of year, too.
Type of heat in the Cook Islands in August: This is your classic tropical heat, with sunshine and the constant possibility of rain — it’s one of the reasons the Cook Islands are so green — but the humidity is fairly moderate at this time of year, and nights are colder. Maximum temperatures during the day are 27°C (81°F).
Average temperature in the Cook Islands in August: 25°C (77°F) depending on region
Average daily hours of sunshine in the Cook Islands in August: 11 hours
Average flight time to the Cook Islands: 27¾ hours (London to Rarotonga, via Los Angeles)
August often brings clear blue skies and brilliant sunshine to Switzerland, making it a standout time for hiking and enjoying the mountain scenery of the Alps. Depending when in the month you go, you might get the first hints of harvest season and autumn, with grapevines loaded with fruit.
Type of heat in Switzerland in August: If you’re at altitude there’s brightness and freshness in the sunshine but no humidity, making for easier hiking conditions. Maximum temperatures can reach 25°C (77°F)
Average temperature in Switzerland in August: 22°C (72°F) depending on region. The highest-altitude areas can drop to below 10°C (50°F).
Average daily hours of sunshine in Switzerland in August: 6 hours
Average flight time to Switzerland: 2 hours upwards dependent on airline (London to Zürich)
As temperatures spike during the Portuguese summer, its citizens decamp to its coastline. This makes it an excellent month to tour the culturally rich cities of Lisbon and Porto, for example, which are quieter than usual. The fantastical grottoes of Sintra, a fado music evening, and port wine tastings could all be on the menu.
Type of heat in Portugal in August: Days are long, very warm (especially in the cities), and sunlight-filled, though not muggy. Maximum temperatures can reach 29°C (84°F).
Average temperature in Portugal in August: 27°C (81°F) depending on region
Average daily hours of sunshine in Portugal in August: 11 hours
Average flight time to Portugal: 2 hours 30 upwards dependent on airline (London to Lisbon)
The Trans-Siberian Railway
Late summer in Russia is an inviting time of year to travel aboard the refined Golden Eagle train on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Journeying across some of the remotest parts of east Russia, you’ll enjoy sunny, comfortably warm days as you hop off the train to explore cities such as Kazan and Ekaterinburg, plus the freshwater spectacle of Lake Baikal.
Type of heat along the Trans-Siberian Railway route in August: Days are usually pleasantly warm with little humidity, though expect some rain alongside bright sunshine. The maximum temperature in Russia during August is around 24°C (75°F).
Average temperature along the Trans-Siberian Railway route in August: 22°C (72°F) depending on region
Average daily hours of sunshine along the Trans-Siberian Railway route in August: 8 hours
Average flight time to Russia: 4 hours (London to Moscow)
Temperatures skyrocket in California and the South in August. If you like desert heat, try Palm Springs, a chic oasis city 160 km (100 miles) from Los Angeles that’s surprisingly lush, with fine dining and natural spas. For sultry, jazz-infused nights, swamp boat safaris, and delicious Cajun and Creole food, there’s New Orleans.
Type of heat in the USA in August: In Southern California there is a dry desert heat, a bit like a blast of hot air from an oven door. In the South it’s a sticky, densely humid heat. Maximum temperatures can reach 41°C (106°F).
Average temperature in the USA in August: 35°C (95°F) depending on region
Average daily hours of sunshine in the USA in August: 8 to 11 hours
Average flight time to the USA: 11 hours 10 upwards (London to LA)