Greece's Porto Katsiki beach makes the perfect July getaway

If Britain’s version of summer is not exactly what you were expecting, why not take a trip to one of our recommended July destinations? If the idea of paragliding in the French Alps, experiencing a Creole carnival in Toronto or relaxing beneath Malaysian palm trees appeals to you, keep on reading.

For the adrenaline seeker…

Short haul: Rhônes-Alpes, France
This region of France may be famous for skiing and alpine lodges but there is a lot more to the Rhônes-Alpes than you may think. During the summer months, the alpine snow on the peaks melts, revealing a different landscape that will appeal to adrenaline seekers. The Savoie area, home to Western Europe’s highest mountain Mont Blanc, is a fantastic destination for hiking, biking and rock climbing.

White-water rafting enthusiasts are in for a treat too, with trips running throughout the summer the 286km long (178 miles) Isere River. Only the boldest rafters should attempt the infamous Doron de Bozel section; its narrow, tree-lined canyons make this particularly challenging. The Rhônes-Alpes boasts one of France’s biggest natural lakes, Lac d'Aiguebelette, which is a great spot for sailing. The Alps also provide idyllic conditions for paragliders, who are commonly seen floating over the mountaintops.

Kawarau Bridge bungee jumpTake a leap of faith from Kawaru Bridge
iStockphoto / Thinkstock
Long haul: South Island, New Zealand

Now it might be winter in New Zealand in July but don’t let that deter you from visiting. Undeniably one of the most beautiful countries in the world, New Zealand’s South Island, comprised of snow-peaked mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, rainforests and magnificent sweeping plains, provides a spectacular backdrop for adrenaline junkies.

Take your pick of bungee jumps; South Island plays host to some of the scariest leaps anywhere on earth. Kawarau Bridge, at 43m high (141 ft), may not be the highest but its location over a turquoise river certainly makes it a picturesque plunge. Alternatively, there’s zorbing, white-water rafting, glacial heli-hiking, sea kayaking and canyoning.

For the culture vulture…

Short haul: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik Old TownSoak up the culture in Dubrovnik's Old Town
Creative Commons / jrover
Described by poet Lord Byron as the “pearl of the Adriatic,” the pretty walled city of Dubrovnik is steeped in history. The city was founded 1,300 years ago and in the centuries since it has fought off numerous invasion attempts by outsiders. Most recently, during the 1990s, Dubrovnik faced shelling by the Yugoslav army but has since emerged to become a popular tourist destination.

This gem that juts out of the Dalmatian coastline has lots to offer culture buffs. To experience the best of what this UNESCO World Heritage site offers, visit between 10 July and 25 August to see the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. The festival has been held annually for more than 60 years and includes a rich programme of open-air theatre, ballet, music and opera performed in venues across the city’s Old Town.

Long haul: Toronto, Canada

There is more to Canada’s most populated city than first meets the eye. Toronto, sometimes falsely labelled as the country’s capital, is not just another sky-scraper-filled metropolis. Of course, the 553m-high (1,815ft) CN Tower is worth a visit but Toronto’s cultural offerings are plentiful. Explore the Fort York National Historic Site, where modern Toronto was born, Frank Gehry’s Art Gallery of Ontario and the Distillery Historic District.

Every July, central Toronto plays host to more than a million visitors who descend on the city’s streets and parks for the colourful Toronto Caribbean Carnival (formerly known as Caribana). During this time the city is awash with French-Creole culture in the form of food, music and dancers.

For the beach bum…

Short haul: Lefkada, Greece

Lefkada is an unspoilt, relatively unknown gem on the west coast of Greece’s mainland. Part of the Ionian islands, expect long stretches of white sand, crystal clear waters and stunning cliff-top scenery.

When it comes to heading for the beach, you’ll be spoilt for choice. The jaw-dropping Porto Katsiki beach is one of the island’s finest beaches. Located at the base of steep cliffs, this stretch of silica boasts toothpaste-white sand lapped by emerald seas. If you want more action, visit Kathisma beach popular with paragliders and watersports enthusiasts. Traditional fishing villages and typically Greek tavernas are found dotted along the island’s coastline, as well as popular nightspots.

Langkawi beach sunloungersSit back and relax on Langkawi's sunny beaches
iStockphoto / Thinkstock
Long haul: Pulau Langkawi, Malaysia

Malaysia often gets overlooked by long-haul jetsetters in search of beautiful beaches, who chose neighbouring Thailand instead. But Pulau Langkawi, the largest island in an archipelago of more than 100, has enough miles of sand to satisfy even the most obsessive beach-lover. The most popular beach on the island is Pantai Cenang on the west coast featuring fine powdery sand, turquoise waters and shops, bars, restaurants and street food hawkers.

For more peaceful beach settings try one of the many huge, yet unimposing resorts which usually have their own, seemingly unending beaches. Most beachfront hotels have their own watersports facilities, from sailing to jet-skiing, scuba diving and snorkelling, plus luxury on-site spas.

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