Cook Islands' azure shores

Pining for your August holiday that doesn’t seem to be getting any nearer? Why wait? We’ve selected the hottest destinations this June, from mountaineering in Alaska to relaxing on the Cook Islands’ stunning beaches.

For beach bums…

Short haul: Formentera, Spain

Formentera beachCeleb spot on Formentera's beaches
Creative Commons / Hans Werner Schneider

The smallest of the Balearic Islands, Formentera is also the most unspoilt, with stunning white sand beaches, bays lapped by crystal clear water and laid-back beach restaurants. Take a break from soaking up the rays on the sweeping Playa de Illetas and head to celeb hangout Juan y Andrea, where you can quaff cava and devour succulent seafood while squeezing sand between your toes. At low tide, wade across to yachties’ paradise S’Espalmador, with its sparkling lagoon; or cycle around the island, stopping off at the numerous pristine stretches of sand.

Away from the beach, you’ll find a handful of charming villages, including the island’s capital, San Francisco, with its 18th-century church and charming square. June is the perfect time to visit before the beaches and villages are filled with boatloads of day trippers from nearby Ibiza – the fast ferry takes just 30 minutes from Ibiza Town.

Long haul: Cook Islands

Scattered in the South Pacific, the Cook Islands’ 15 paradise isles boast shell-freckled beaches sandwiched between verdant vegetation and coral-fringed lagoons. The largest island, Rarotonga, resembles a pulsating jellyfish with its milky-blue lagoon encircling the shore. It has many nice beaches, including Titikaveka and Arorangi, while arguably the most spectacular is Muri lagoon with its picturesque motu (reef islands).

Time your trip to coincide with the Manureva International Aquafest (10-14 June) kitesurfing competition in Aitutaki, where contestants twist and turn with a stunning backdrop of opalescent water. Join in the watersports action by booking a diving or snorkelling trip, or attempt windsurfing, kayaking or sailing.

Off the silica, there’s no escaping the infectious Polynesian culture, with activities, shows and traditional banquets taking place throughout the island chain. Atiu Island, which has magnificent fossilised coral cliffs, is a particularly good place to get a taste of island life – just go easy on the homebrew at the tumunu (ceremonial drinking place).

For culture vultures…

Short haul: Denmark

Revel in the party atmosphere at Roskilde Festival (29 June-7 July), one of the largest music festivals in Europe, 40km (24 miles) west of Copenhagen. Over the years, some of the world’s top artists have performed here and 2013 is no exception, with the likes of Rihanna, Queens of the Stone Age and Kraftwerk confirmed acts. Be sure to arrive early on the Sunday before the festival to find the perfect spot for your tent.

Roskilde festivalParty at the popular Roskilde Festival
Creative Commons / Stig Nygaard

Earlier in the month, Denmark celebrates Flag Day (15 June), with a parade through the streets of Copenhagen honouring Danish troops before a concert in Christiansborg Palace Square. Expect flashes of red and white as locals and visitors alike line the confetti-strewn route waving small flags.

The Danish capital is blooming in June with the clement weather perfect for exploring the city on foot or by bicycle, or for relaxing in the many leafy parks such as King’s Park, a popular spot for sun-worshippers.

Long haul: Cusco, Peru

Inti RaymiFollow the Inti Raymi procession
Creative Commons / Jack_g

Join in the celebrations during Inti Raymi (Festival of the Sun) (24 June) in Cusco, the captivating Incan capital nestled high in the Andes. A colourful procession winds its way from the ruins of Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) and current site of Santo Domingo Church, past the packed Plaza de Armas square, and up to the Sacsayhuamán ruins. Here, a theatrical re-enactment of the Incas’ winter solstice festival takes place, with Sapa Inca (the emperor) held aloft on a golden chariot.

Cusco is more than a gateway to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, with centuries-old Inca ruins, magnificent colonial architecture, lively restaurants and salsa-fuelled bars. Make sure to wander around the charming San Blas neighbourhood with its pretty buildings topped with terracotta-tiled roofs and small shops selling authentic woven items and local art.

For adventure-seekers…

Short haul: Corsica, France

A jewel in the Mediterranean, Corsica is dominated by majestic mountains, pretty oak and pine forests and quaint historical towns. The French island’s rugged landscape makes it the perfect spot for adventure-seekers with activities on offer for all interests and abilities, from hiking to horse riding.

Corisca sceneryExplore Corsica's rugged scenery
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Avid climbers can head to one of many challenging spots, including the Bavella Needles and the terrain around Corte; while those wishing to try canyoning can choose from a number of locations, with the craggy Bavella Valley the most spectacular.

The island is the starting point of this year’s Tour de France (29 June-21 July), which unlike previous years will stay solely within the country to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Follow the riders’ lead by cycling winding clifftop roads affording spectacular scenery, or ride woodland paths and mountainous tracks cutting through the rugged interior. Popular routes include the finger-like Cap Corse and the coastal trails around pretty Calvi.

Long haul: Alaska, USA

Denali National ParkExperience Alaska's wilderness
Purestock / Thinkstock

North America’s highest mountain, Mount McKinley, was climbed for the first time by Hudson Stuck, Harry Karstens, Walter Harper and Robert Tatum on 7 June 1913. While descendents of the climbers attempt to emulate their forebearers to mark the centenary, there are exhibitions documenting the historic climb at the University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks for all to see.

If you’re inspired enough, emulate the mountaineers by climbing to the summit with a guide or tackling the sheer walls of the glacier-carved Ruth Gorge. Those seeking slightly more leisurely pursuits can instead hike the trails that spread out from the visitors centre in Denali National Park. There are 2.4 million hectares (6 million acres) of wilderness to explore here, with the chance to see black and grizzly bears, caribou and wolves amongst other wildlife.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.