While you can't control the weather when you travel, you can increase your odds of an enjoyable trip by matching your dream destination with the ideal season to visit.
Important factors like an area’s typical amount of rainfall, average temperatures, crowds, and available activities are all dependent on the time of year. Whether you’re in need of perfect hiking weather or an ideal Northern Lights lookout, this seasonal travel guide will help you decide which dates to circle on your calendar!
A noteworthy perk of spring travel is the possibility of wildflowers, and some destinations have especially impressive blooms. Head to Japan’s major cities in April to witness the pink explosion of cherry blossoms. Or, visit the Netherlands for tulip-focused festivities throughout the season—try the annual Tulip Festival in Amsterdam or drive western Holland’s picturesque Flower Route.
Travelers should also keep the weather in mind, as spring is a great time to check out places with otherwise extreme temperatures. Jordan is a great example—the heat of summer and unpredictability of winter give way to mild, pleasant, and generally sunny spring days perfect for hiking in Petra.
Summer beachgoers will appreciate the Mediterranean coastal stretches throughout Europe, including Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the French Riviera. These hotspots are far from hidden, though—beaches tend to be chock-full of fellow tourists looking to catch some rays. Try Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast instead, a less-crowded (and generally more affordable) option with all the stunning beauty of its more popular neighbors. You can take your pick of islands to explore (there are hundreds that dot the coast), complete with secluded coves and historic towns.
Interested in trekking? This is a great time to head south to Peru, where temperatures are mild (even a bit chilly in early summer), making it ideal for multi-day routes like the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or the more remote Cordillera Huayhuash.
The low season for many European destinations, fall is an excellent time to use your vacation days in some of the continent’s most notoriously crowded areas. Venice, Italy, is a prime example. Packed with tourists at the peak of summer, the island is much more enjoyable starting in September, when you’re guaranteed some breathing room as you stroll the canals.
Fall is also ideal for safari adventures in Kenya, Tanzania, and throughout Southern Africa. Dry weather thins out the otherwise lush vegetation, leading to better wildlife viewing conditions. Be sure to remember that fall in the Southern Hemisphere is March, April, and May.
And of course, autumn colors are a legitimate reason to book a trip—photographers will love the Julian Alps in Slovenia where the foothills are blanketed in changing leaves and framed by dramatic mountain peaks.
Travelers generally choose this season for one of two reasons: to revel in winter conditions or to escape them entirely. If you’re in the former camp, give northern Norway a try. Days may be (very) short, but options for snow activities around Tromsø are plentiful: dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and even downhill skiing under the Northern Lights in the Lyngen Alps. Skiers can also get their runs in at more traditional ski areas like the Swiss Alps or the French Pyrenees—just be sure to book your accommodations well in advance.
If you’re craving sunshine instead of snow, check out Belize, where gorgeous weather (think long, sunny days without a cloud in the sky) lends perfectly to beach lounging and adventure activities alike. Hike through a tropical rainforest, take a dive to explore unspoiled Caribbean reefs, visit Mayan ruins, or simply relax at a luxe resort with your toes in the sand. Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean destinations also make excellent winter retreats for travelers in search of an endless summer.
Jennifer Kotlewski is a writer for kimkim.com, an online travel booking resource that specializes in many international destinations.