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Envy-inducing Instagram accounts often conceal a host of less than picture-perfect realities, subtly cropping out crowded beaches and tourist-packed sights. But for savvy travellers no such filtering is required – just hop on over to one of these off-season secrets to beat both the hordes and peak prices.
Impending hurricanes eclipse a large part of the year, causing most travellers to visit during the British winter. But while June is the official start of hurricane season, temperatures actually remain wonderfully high and rainfall relatively low from April until August. What’s more, the lull in visitors has most luxury resorts slashing their prices by up to 30%. For the least chance of rain head to Aruba, Antigua, Curucao or St Maarten and avoid the Bahamas and Martinique.
Official wet season is May to October, deterring the crowds and leaving pristine, empty beaches. May and June are usually only subject to the occasional downpour, best avoided by heading to the southern islands of Palawan or Visayas.
The swarms descend upon the Greek islands come the summer so visit in spring or autumn to shun the crowds. Head over to Crete, the Peloponnese or Ionian islands in May for the best of the spring sunshine but in autumn opt for the southern islands where – if you’re willing to put up with reduced services and amenities – deserted beaches await.
Steer well clear of most of the European hotspots during school holidays, primarily over the festive period, February half term and Easter. If you’re willing to brace colder temperatures then book your alpine adventure in January when most resorts receive their fewest winter visitors. The real risk of January skiing is bare slopes, so head to the higher resorts or those with glaciers; Val D’Isere, Cervinia/Zermatt and Lech/Zurs being our pick of the bunch.
With most British travellers chasing winter sunshine, South Africa’s quietest months are during our summer. Daytime temperatures can still reach the comfortable highs of 25 degrees but night times do get colder. If you’re prepared to layer up, August can be the best time for a safari with bare foliage giving the best chances of game viewing and emptier lodges allowing for a more secluded experience.
The flip-side of visiting Iceland in winter is the impossibly short days, with just four hours of sunshine at their worst. But along with temperatures, prices also plummet and you can tread along the tourist trail in relative isolation. Embrace the hygge, pack your thermals and bag yourself the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights in peace.
Even the Venetians leave Venice during the summer months, when waves of camera-wielding tourists spoil the city’s romance. Winter can bring with it too much bite so shoot for May with its rising temperatures but still relatively quiet air, or October when the crowds have started to depart but the sun continues to shine. Just be sure to wrap up warm as the evening chill descends.
The infamy of India’s summer monsoons deters visitors who overlook the vast geographical variations. Unbeknown to most, the Himalayas are at their best in July, with roads cleared of snow, warm sun in the sky and an absence of other travellers making for ideal hiking and sightseeing circumstances.
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