Take a Break: The Best Places to Go in June

Macchu PIcchu

June signals the beginning of the European summer, with sunshine warming up the continent and hotels and resorts emerging from winter hibernation. In Africa, animals flock to the Okavango Delta and North America goes festival crazy. If you want to embrace the cold, consider New Zealand – and if it’s a beachy break you’re after, Bermuda and the Maldives are both great options. These are our top spots for a June holiday.

Montreal, Canada

Montreal

By June, Montreal locals have peeled off their thermals and are rejoicing in the return of the sunshine. The cosmopolitan city is the beating heart of French Canada, with history, culture, architecture and nightlife – all best enjoyed in temperatures that don’t put you at risk of hypothermia. 

The Québécois go festival-mad come summertime: there’s the Montreal International Jazz Festival (27 June-6 July); the Montreal Film Festival (23 August-3 September); and every Sunday there’s electronic music at Piknic Électronic at Parc Jean-Drapeau. This year’s La Fête Nationale, the Québéc national holiday, occurs on 23-24 June and promises parades, performances and neighbourhood parties. 

Portland, USA

Portland

Keeping Portland weird is a full-time job for some locals – you only have to check out the hilarious homage Portlandia to get to know them. This port city is known for being progressive and green: there’s a plethora of vegan restaurants, e-scooters available all over the city and tonnes of parks and reserves. Less than ten minutes drive out of the city is Forest Park, one of the largest urban forest reserves in the US that’s crisscrossed with hiking trails, and in June, sunny days make for perfect walking weather. The city is in the Willamette Valley where top-notch pinot varietals are produced and there are more than 75 breweries. It’s a place that has music in its bones: Sleater-Kinney, The Shins, The Decemberists and the late, great Elliott Smith have all called Portland home. Live music is on any night of the week at one of the many bars and theatres. 

And just in case you were questioning the weird Portland schtick, here’s a little sampler of events in June: First Caturday (8 June), in which cat owners gather at Laurelhurst Park with their feline charges on leashes, in prams or in baby carriers; the Portland Horror Film Festival (5-8 June); and the World Naked Bike Ride (29 June) —it’s a protest against oil dependency, FYI.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik

In June, the days are balmy – an average high of 27 degrees – and the sea is warm enough for languid wallowing.. After exploring the fabled beauty of Dubrovnik’s old town – it’s the last completely walled city in Europe – and floating around in the clear Adriatic, try island-hopping – there are three gorgeous isles nearby, including Lokrum, a UNESCO-protected nature reserve. When it’s time for a break, head to one of the hole-in-the-wall bars set into the rocky bluffs overlooking the sea. 

Get here before the peak summer crowds arrive. Prices at hotels and restaurants skyrocket in July and August, the beaches are crowded and the medieval facades of its beautiful old town become the backdrop for innumerable Instagram snaps. 

SEE ALSO: The World's Most Amazing Canal Cities 

Cusco, Peru

Cusco

Machu Picchu, the mysterious Inca city in the clouds, is a must-visit. Base yourself in the charming city of Cusco and take a day-trip to the UNESCO World Heritage site, or book a walking tour and spend days climbing to the top. Rise in the pre-dawn to arrive at the Sun Gate and take in the sunrise view without the crowds. In June, there are numerous celebrations and festivals to take part in, including Qoyllur Rit’i (15-19 June), when thousands of indigenous Andeans celebrate the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation (it disappears in April and reappears in June). There’s also Inti Raymi (22 June), the Festival of the Sun. To honour the Incan god of the sun there are parades and celebrations across the city and in the fascinating ruins of Sacsayhuamán (pron. “sexy woman”. Seriously) on a hill overlooking the city.

Virunga Mountains, Rwanda

Virunga Mountains, Rwanda

This tiny country in East Africa was once associated with tragedy. Now, it’s emerged as one of the continent’s best travel destinations. The capital, Kigali, is forging ahead as a modern, green city with cultural museums, restaurants and friendly locals. The real reason to visit, though, is the mountain gorillas. There are just over 1000 of these critically endangered creatures left in the wild and there are seven groups here in Rwanda. Visitors, accompanied by an expert guide, can trek through the jungle to find a group going about their business. The gorilla visits are as unobtrusive as possible: groups cannot exceed eight people, humans are not permitted within seven metres of the animals and one hour is the maximum amount of time it’s possible to spend in their vicinity. 

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm

In countries like Sweden, where winter is long, dark, and freezing, the advent of summer heralds much merry-making. These people are wont to skip around a May Pole and picnic well into the early hours. Make like a local and cycle around cute medieval streets and clean, green parks. The city is spread across 14 islands – museum lovers should catch a ferry over to Djurgården (or on a sunny day, make your way there via footbridge) to explore Skansen, an open-air expanse that showcases houses and farmsteads from all eras of Sweden’s history; there’s also the Vasa Museum, which houses a salvaged 17th century wrecked ship, and, most excitingly, ABBA the Museum. 

To the east, along the coast, is the Stockholm archipelago, some 30,000 islands and rocky islets ripe for summertime exploration. Stick around until late June to celebrate Midsommar, or Midsummer Eve, in 2019 on 24 June. It’s the most revered holiday in Sweden and involves much dancing, singing, pickled herring and schnapps – all enjoyed outdoors, of course.

SEE ALSO: Are You Ready For Some Time Travel?

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Okavango Delta, Botswana

In June, the vast Okavango Delta in Botswana’s north is inundated with annual floods where 11 cubic kilometres of water gushes into the Kalahari sands. With water come animals: hundreds of thousands of elephants, giraffes, zebras, buffalo and impala teem into the lush grasslands. So do the predators that follow them, including lions, cheetahs, leopards and the hyenas and rare Africa wild dogs that scavenge what’s left. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the 15,000 square kilometres of national park including safari lodges, houseboats and tented camps.

The Turkish Riviera, Turkey

Lycian Way, Turkey

Its nickname says it all: the Turquoise Coast. This stretch of coastline in the southwest of Turkey is where the ancient Lycians based their empire; relics of this civilisation, which co-existed with Ancient Greeks, are still visible today in the form of rock-cut tombs set into cliffs. 

Today, the Lycian Way, a 540-kilometre footpath, extends along part of the coastline. It’s a fantastic way to see the lesser-known sights of this yacht-heavy coast: tiny fishing villages, deserted beaches, UNESCO World Heritage listed ruins, and, if you’re lucky (or as the case may be, unlucky) the possibly-extinct-but-maybe-not Anatolian leopard. In June, the average temperature is 25 degrees: cool enough for walking but warm enough for throwing oneself into the Mediterranean whenever the urge arises. 

Bermuda

Bermuda

There’s a reason Bermuda has a pair of shorts named after it: this place is for relaxing. June, while technically the beginning of hurricane season, is an excellent time to go. Hurricanes are a rarity here thanks to Bermuda’s location and the weather is balmy – you could even say it’s shorts weather. The beaches have peachy-pink sand and the waters are renowned for excellent diving – many dive sites are so close to shore that hiring a charter boat is unnecessary. 

June has another drawcard: Bermuda Carnival (13-18 June), recently rebranded from the former Bermuda Heroes Weekend . Now in its fifth year, the celebration honours Bermudans who have made a positive contribution to the country. That translates to a musical parade, all-night street parties and street food stalls. And dancing. Much dancing.  

Berlin, Germany

Berlin

Lazy-day strolling, park picnicking and biergarten sipping: these are just some of the activities Berlin brags in the summer months. Winter is cold – freezing, actually – and by October it’s already a bit too fresh to spend much time outside. In June, it’s possible to swim in many of the city’s lakes and rivers, not to mention the Badeschiff, a bar with a large pool that floats in the River Spree. Open-air concerts and theatre performances occur in parks and squares around the city: at ufaFabrik, an urban green space, a covered outdoor stage hosts comedy and live music.

SEE ALSO: 19 Places Straight Out of a Fairytale

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown

Lean in to winter in Queenstown: here, the weather averages around four degrees and the powder has already hit the slopes. Snow-lovers can enjoy the restaurants, entertainment and après scene of Queenstown with the ski fields just 20 minutes away. Surrounded by dramatic mountains and lapped by the clear waters of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is for nature lovers – and the adventurous. What better way to enjoy the alpine beauty than climbing, canyoning, abseiling or throwing yourself off a bridge towards the water below, bungee cord attached?

Rome, Italy

Monti, Rome

Rome is a city to be walked. It’s replete with visually arresting tableaux – a scooter parked on a cobbled street; a cat sunning itself on crumbled ruins – and taking it slowly allows visitors to absorb all the ancient city has to offer. In the height of summer, though, Rome is hot, sticky and crowded. In June, temperatures hover around a very pleasant 23 degrees, making all that wandering a joyful and sweat-free experience. Base yourself somewhere central – think Celio near the Colosseum or the happening neighbourhood of Monti – so that Rome’s biggest drawcards are within walking distance.

The Maldives

The Maldives

It’s a good idea to visit the Maldives pretty much any time of year. June is the so-called rainy season thanks to frequent short showers but you’re still going to enjoy seven to eight hours of sunshine a day. It’s low season, so visitors can be guaranteed excellent rates – and if you’re planning on spending lots of time underwater, who cares about a little rain? 

Canberra, Australia

Canberra, Australia

Keen skiiers have been impatiently waiting for June — the beginning of the snow season in NSW and neighbouring ACT. From Canberra, the ski fields of Thredbo and Perisher are both just over two and a half hours’ drive south, making our nation’s capital a great first stop on a snow-chasing holiday. Winter pastimes extend beyond skiing however, especially in Canberra proper, where the food scene is hotting up despite frosty temperatures. Take up temporary residence in cosy corners of Bar Rochford or Monster Kitchen and Bar in front of a blazing fireplace or eightysix, where a counter seat at the open kitchen will have you warm in no time.

Exmouth, Australia

Whale shark on Ningaloo Reef

Apart from more than manageable winter temps (25C during the day), Ningaloo Reef, an hour and a half south of Exmouth, is a wildlife lover’s mecca. The spectacular reef has its own "big three" — the whale shark, the humpback whale and the manta ray — and late June is the perfect time for all of them. While manta rays are generally an all-year round affair, in June, the lumbering humpback begins its migration up the western coastline and until November, the reef experiences the highest density of humpback whales in the world. Rounding out the trilogy is the bespotted whale shark, which congregates here between March and July.

SEE ALSO: 14 Unique Hotels for Thrillseekers

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