• 3 January 2020

Ready for your next adventure, but not quite sure if it’s the best time to travel to your chosen destination? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll take a look at: 

  1. Tourism seasons: High season, low season and shoulder season. 
  2. The best time to visit different regions, namely: 
  • Europe
  • The USA
  • The Middle East
  • North Africa
  • South Africa

There’s a great, big world out there just waiting to be explored, and all sorts of climates that go along with it. Furthermore – you can experience wholly different climates within one country at the same time of year, depending on the regions you visit. 

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer variety of destinations on offer, a simple way to narrow down your options is to decide what kind of weather you want to enjoy while on vacation. 

After all, the weather plays a role in everything from how you experience a given destination, to the food you eat and the activities available at a certain time of year. Whether you prefer a warm holiday or a snowy vacation, the perfect destination for you is out there.

We’ve had a look at when the best time is to travel to some of the most popular destinations. Read on to find the best travelling seasons for a list of our top locations, and choose the one for you.

Stopping to capture the moment
Stopping to capture the moment
Picking the best time to visit according to tourism seasons

Each travel destination will have its tourist seasons. These seasons are usually divided into high (peak) season, shoulder season, and low season. Deciding where to go at what time of the year will usually rely heavily on which season you prefer to travel in. Have a look at the pros and cons of each tourist season below. 

High season

This is the busiest time for tourism. Usually when the country is experiencing its best weather, high season – or peak season – brings busy crowds and high rates. This can often give it a bad reputation, and many seasoned travellers will avoid travelling during high season to avoid the crowds.

However, depending on your vacation or destination of choice, the high season can be the best time to visit. You’ll see the best weather, meet loads of other travellers, and possibly even experience better service since hospitality staff are very geared up to serve visitors. 

High season is the perfect time to travel for those who want the full tourist experience of a destination. If you are willing to pay the demanded price tags, don’t mind sharing attractions with plenty of other tourists, and want ideal vacation weather, high season is your best travelling option. 

Important to note: The best weather will depend on the country. For instance, Switzerland’s high season falls in winter, which is the best time for tourists to enjoy skiing in the Alps. On the other hand, Hawaii’s high season will be in summer, making it the best time to travel to enjoy its amazing beaches. 

Skiing in Switzerland
Skiing in Switzerland

Low season

Low season is the exact opposite of high season. During this time, very few tourists are around, and prices for those who do visit are usually considerably lower. However, the shorter lines and cheaper rates do come with a different expense…

For most destinations, the low season means unfavourable weather, fewer touristy activities, and in some instances, fewer accommodation options and transport options. In some locations, resorts and hotels will close during low season, hospitality staff may be less attentive, and flights may be fewer and further between. 

Low season doesn’t appeal to everyone. But for those who are happy to deal with alternate weather, and are looking for a peaceful holiday, it can be the perfect time to travel

Less people around popular landmarks such as the Beatles statue
Fewer people around popular landmarks such as the Beatles statue
Shoulder season

Often the forgotten season, shoulder season can save you money, and give you a fantastic trip. Shoulder season is the season in between high and low season. This usually falls in and around spring and autumn

Many people don’t think about the shoulder season when looking to book their trips. But it is often the best time to visit anywhere. If you go right after high season, you’ll find many of the tourist attractions still open, without the long queues and crowds. 

Visiting soon after the low season can also be a great option, since you’ll likely find still-low prices, as the weather begins to warm up, and the crowds have not yet arrived. 

This season can sometimes mean unpredictable weather patterns, though, so packing correctly for shoulder season is an important task! 

Packing preparations
Packing preparations
Great times to travel to the best destinations

Now that the tourist seasons make a bit more sense, where should you plan your next trip to? Each country has its own unique season, and some are perfect holiday destinations year-round. Have a look at the destinations below, and see their best tourist times, and what to expect from each.  

Best Time to Go to Europe 

High season in Europe is usually summertime. The months of July and August are the hottest, and most European countries experience their busiest times during these months. This is also due to summer school holidays in Europe, making it prime time for travelling and local families alike. 

Low season falls in winter in most of Europe, so you’ll find great deals on accommodation and experiences. However, you’ll also get limited daytime hours, so you’ll need to plan your outings accordingly. Winter in Western Europe is usually full of magical experiences and great travel deals, making it the best time to go to any of these countries for some.

Shoulder season weather in Europe is fickle. Depending on where you’re headed, you may encounter snow, rain, or sunny days on end. The one big advantage is that you’ll enjoy a more authentic travel experience. 

There are fewer tourists around, and the locals are going about their day without the hassle of holiday crowds, so you’ll be able to merge seamlessly with the fabric of their everyday life. If you do want a shot at warmer temperatures, opt for destinations in Southern Europe, like Spain, Portugal, Croatia or Italy. 

Still not sure about the best season to visit Europe? Have a look at our Europe season guide and get all the info you need. 

Summer in Paris, France
Summer in Paris, France
When to travel to the USA

The USA is vast. The climate ranges from one state to the next, but summer tends to be high season no matter where you go. 

As such, attractions like the Statue of Liberty and Central Park, as well as national parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, tend to be pretty crowded. You’re also likely to pay high season entry rates wherever you travel. 

June to August is a very popular season with travellers since the days are warm across the country. During these months, the southern states like Texas and Florida are hot and even slightly tropical, while the northern states like New York and Washington experience warm days and cooler evenings. 

Winter in the USA runs from November to March, and (as with summer) prevailing conditions differ from one state to the next. The southern states don’t dip too low in terms of temperature, so you’ll be able to explore with a few light layers and a parka. In the north, however, things tend to get quite wet and snowy. 

You’ll also enjoy low season rates everywhere, apart from ski resorts and warmer getaway spots (score!). Larger cities like Chicago and New York embrace the cold weather with winter events and festivals, so there is plenty to see, do and enjoy, no matter how cold it gets! 

Shoulder season in the USA is synonymous with fewer crowds and milder temperatures. It is often the best time to tick off some of your American landmarks bucket list spots. 

Springtime brings blossoms, and fall is quite spectacular, especially in the New England region, where the golden and amber hues of the changing leaves attract visitors from far and wide. 

Green spaces in cities like NY and Washington also put on quite the show. Hawaii stays balmy and tropical for large parts of the shoulder season, so if you want some sand and surf you can still enjoy fine temperatures on the island. 

Times Square, New York
Times Square, New York
Best time of the year to travel to the Middle East: Israel, Jordan, Turkey.

Shoulder season in the middle east is during the summer months. The period between June and August is a water lover’s paradise in countries like Israel and Jordan. Turkey’s summer offers fantastic coastal temperatures, but inland the heat can be stifling.

During high season, the beaches in these countries bustle with visitors who flock here to take advantage of the wonderful weather and waterside attractions like beach bars, etc. It’s also prime time for water sports like skiing and snorkelling. It’s best to stay close to the coast, however, so that you can find relief from the heat in the cool seas. 

Winter in the middle east is the official low season, but can still be a great time to visit. Turkey in winter still provides many tourist opportunities, including scenic skiing, and a chance to attend the well-known Whirling Dervish Festival.

Israel’s winter consists of heavy rainfall and cold temperatures and is not often enjoyed by tourists. Jordan, however, offers some amazing hiking opportunities during winter, and if you are dressed warm, it’s quite enjoyable. 

Shoulder season means fair temperatures and excellent sightseeing opportunities throughout the middle east. This is the prime time to view the ancient heritage of Turkey’s inland towns and cities. There are also many festivals happening in Turkey’s shoulder season, as well as fantastic activities on offer. 

For Israel and Jordan, the shoulder season can sometimes be just as busy – if not more – as the high season. This is because the relief from the smothering heat offers better opportunities to enjoy popular landmarks. This can mean that prices are not as low as would be expected, but it’s definitely a worthwhile time to visit. 

Hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey
Hot air balloons in Cappadocia, Turkey
When to go to North Africa: Egypt

Egypt’s high season falls between the winter and spring months of October to February. Temperatures are warm, but not too hot, and this draws in large crowds. Days are usually a comfortable warmth, while nights become a bit colder. You can expect Egypt to be busy during these months, and prices to be quite costly. 

Low season in Egypt is usually between May and October. These are the summer months and tend to be extremely hot. Young children and older travellers seldom fare well at these types of temperatures, so perhaps schedule a visit to Egypt at a cooler time of year if you want to avoid the sweaty season. 

However, if you don’t mind the extreme heat, you could still enjoy some summer travelling through Egypt. There are some great opportunities to take advantage of during these months, such as scuba diving in the red sea, browsing the cool, air-conditioned museums in Cairo, and a sunset visit to the pyramids on a camel. 

February to May is considered the shoulder season months in Egypt. The weather is still quite pleasant but can be fickle at times. From March to April “The Khamsin wind” season runs, bringing hot winds that disturb the desert sands, and create an adventurous atmosphere! This season doesn’t see many travellers arriving in Egypt, so you’re sure to have a peaceful visit if you travel during this time. 

Ruins of Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt
Ruins of Karnak Temple in Luxor, Egypt
Best time of the year to visit South Africa

Even though South Africa’s climate is usually enjoyable year-round, high season is considered to be in the summer months. This is the best time to partake in the many outdoor adventures and activities that the country has to offer. 

Whether you want to go hiking in the Knysna woods, visit an ostrich farm in the Karoo, or try your hand at surfing in the Eastern Cape, this is an excellent time to do it. The country falls across a few longitudinal sectors. So you’ll find that Cape Town and its surrounds are dry and hot, while Gauteng and the safari destinations towards east experience summer showers. The weather around the coast tends to be pleasant and temperate. 

While the low season for the entire country falls in winter, this is the southern hemisphere winter. As such weather is cooler than at other times of the year, making for pleasant days and chilly nights. 

There are still plenty of things to do and places to visit in the major cities, and the temperatures seldom deter sightseeing tourists. The majority of the hotels in the country stay open for the winter months, but you can expect to find cheaper deals on accommodation, transport and activities. This means winter is still a great time to go.

Shoulder season in sunny South Africa is less obvious than in other places. The country has such mild weather that spring and autumn in places like Cape Town can actually feel like full-blown summer in Europe. 

However, as with the rest of the globe, the weather tends to be a little capricious, but if you go prepared with a waterproof jacket and plenty of light layers, you’ll do fine. These in-between seasons are also ideal for animal encounters. Safari destinations like the Kruger National Park have more wildlife sightings since many species are calving and tend to stick closer to food and water sources.

If you’re still not sure when to visit this sunny country, read our full guide on the seasons and climate in South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

There you have it – a concise guide to when to travel where if you’re planning your holiday according to the seasons. You should now have an answer to “when is the best time to visit?” your favourite destinations. As well as a clear idea of where you should head to next. 

We hope this has answered many of your travel questions, such as where to go, when to go, and what to expect when you get there. Now, all that’s left to do is book your tour, pack your bags, and mark your calendars.

A good thing to remember is that our Expat tours are scheduled during the best times to visit each location. So we do the thinking and you just need to join and enjoy!

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