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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.

For wildlife: Sri Lanka

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 — temperatures hardly vary after dark.

Average temperature in Sri Lanka in August: 31°C (89°F) depending on region

Average hours of daily sunshine in Sri Lanka in August: 7 hours

Elephants in Uda Walawe National Park
Uda Walawe National Park, Sri Lanka

For the beach: 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 snorkeling 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.

Average temperature in the Cook Islands in August: 24 - 27°C (75 - 81°F) depending on region

Average daily hours of sunshine in the Cook Islands in August: 11 hours

Muri Lagoon in Rarotonga
Rarotonga, the Cook Islands

For the great outdoors: Switzerland

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.

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

Matterhorn views
Matterhorn view, Switzerland

For culture: Portugal

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.

Average temperature in Portugal in August: 25 - 28°C (77 - 82°F) depending on region

Average daily hours of sunshine in Portugal in August: 11 hours

Skyline, Porto
Porto, Portugal

For an epic journey: 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.

Average temperature along the Trans-Siberian Railway route in August: 21 - 22°C (70 - 73°F) depending on region

Average daily hours of sunshine along the Trans-Siberian Railway route in August: 8 hours

Circum Baikal railway, Irkutsk
Trans-Siberian Railway line, Russia

If you like it really hot: the USA

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.

Average temperature in the USA in August: 33 - 41°C (91 - 106°F) depending on region

Average daily hours of sunshine in the USA in August: 8 to 11 hours

Uptown Design District, Palm Springs
Palm Springs, USA