Last minute vacation destinations


On this webpage we will regularly update the best last minute vacation destinations for you to visit over the next few weeks and even months, with details of vacations that that have late availability. To some travelers, booking three months in advance might not seem like ‘last minute’ at all, but if you are hoping to do something that usually requires booking a year or so in advance, like hiking the Inca Trail, going gorilla watching or climbing Kilimanjaro, then three months in advance is actually super last minute. And for something like Kili, you will need to make sure you have a few months to get in training anyway. If you just want to go cycling in Croatia, or horse riding in Catalonia, then you have a better chance of landing a place on the saddle at short notice – and forget about any notion of getting in training.
See our month-by-month guide for the best last minute vacation destinations below.

July last minute vacations

This is when you really need to start thinking outside the box, because so many vacations have booked up by now. However, people do drop out, spaces free up, and good things do also happen to those who wait. Europe is pretty self-explanatory. The coasts are packed, the mountains and lakes are less so, and cooler in many ways, so keep an eye out for last minute vacations in the likes of Montenegro’s mountainous national parks, Croatia’s inland wonders, or the Picos de Europa in northern Spain.
Further afield, there are some excellent alternative summer vacation options which are often sold as small group vacations, and therefore may have spaces coming up at the last minute. Such as Borneo, where June is the driest season, so the best time for visiting the rainforest and Mt Kinabalu. It's also the dry season in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, so you'll enjoy clear skies and plenty of animals congregating around the ever-shrinking waterholes. It's very cold at night though and during early morning game drives - hats and gloves are recommended. So not everyone’s idea of summer. If you want to see the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, you will be very lucky to get a last minute place, as these book up as quickly as a gazelle.

Peru is another interesting last minute place to visit in July, as it has dry weather in the Andes and drier-than-usual weather in the Amazon - making this a great time for trekking and seeing wildlife. You won’t have a chance of getting an Inca Trail permit though at the last minute, as they sell out months in advance and are like gold dust. Another unusual choice for July, and not one for those who like to sunbathe all day, is Iceland. It has virtually 24-hour daylight in July and it is also the time to see migrating whales in the surrounding waters. Warmer weather also means great conditions for hiking. But be sure to pack mosquito repellent. Same goes for Alaska which is fantastic at this time of year. If you can get last minute flights, India is also an interesting option in July if you head north, because it is still sunny, while the monsoon drenches the south.

August last minute vacations

Of course, our last minute August offerings are often thinner on the ground, but they do happen, especially on small group vacations if people drop out and spaces free up. You need to think outside the box a little bit when it comes to Europe, however, when the coasts are crammed, but the mountains and inland lakes are often less so. Typically, in countries like Montenegro or Croatia, local people head to the coast too in August, so the inland natural playgrounds of national parks and mountain ranges, many of which are within easy driving distance of the coast, are extremely quiet. In France, Spain or Portugal, you can escape the seaside throngs and oppressive heat by heading not too far inland (and uphill) to the Mercantour National Park, the Picos de Europa or the Serra da Estrela respectively.
Less obvious summer destinations where you might catch something at the last minute include Iceland, where there are still gloriously long days – and migrating whales can be seen in the surrounding waters. Warmer weather also means great conditions for hiking. But be sure to pack mosquito repellent! Keep Borneo on your radar at this time of year too because, although much of South East Asia has monsoon at this time, this is one of its driest seasons, so the best time for visiting the rainforest and Mt Kinabalu. Similarly, Sri Lanka has monsoon in the southwest at this time of year, although it should be drawing to a close in August. However, the northeast of the country escapes it, and it also has very undeveloped beaches, as it was closed to tourism for years due to war, which ended in 2009. In terms of tranquility you will always find empty beaches and lakesides in Canada or Alaska. Or head to the lesser known USA national parks, with most of the crowds heading to Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.

If you are lucky enough to see last minute availability on wildlife wonders such as Arctic expedition cruises or safaris in South Africa or Namibia, grab them. This is a perfect time to catch the wildlife at its most active, but they do book up way in advance, so last minute tickets are golden ones.

September last minute vacations

People in the know, and those who are lucky enough not to be controlled by school vacation restrictions, can make the most of the fact that this is often the magic month for vacations in so many parts of the world. And you have more chance of getting a flight at the last minute as well so, all in all, happy (holi) days. The B-team is particularly strong in September, being the top time of year to visit Brazil, Borneo and Botswana.

The Mediterranean countries have cooled just enough to make hiking and cycling survivable, and yet the sea is still gorgeously welcoming after a workout on the highways and byways. And some of the less obvious European destinations are still very much open for business at this time of year too, such as Romania, where you can start to catch the autumn foliage changing as you hike through its colossal Carpathians. Outdoor activities in Scotland and Ireland during this time are also wonderful with highlands and islands particularly tranquil.

Staying north, this is also one of the best months to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, as they're said to be more likely around the equinoxes. There's still some daylight, meaning you can get out and do other activities. Norway can also have some lovely mild weather at this time, along with very long daylight hours – and few other visitors.
The visitors have also dispersed from safari countries, but the wildlife hasn’t, with the Great Migration still going on in Kenya and Tanzania - including the Mara River crossing. Heading east, although Thailand's Andaman Coast gets the worst of the monsoons the climate in the Gulf of Thailand is drier at this time – so check out last minute trips to this part of the country.

October last minute vacations

This can be a tricky month when it comes to late availability as it can be quiet early on in terms of bookings, but then school half term creeps up on us at the end of the month, and so it can be harder to book transport. Or, of course, the early birds have got the worms. Morocco is one of our favourite places in October, as the searing desert temperatures have subsided, the sea is warm, and the mountains are still snow-free. Lanzarote is still lovely too, and Andalucia, Croatia, Greece, southern Italy, southern Portugal and Turkey's southern and western coasts also still have great weather for cycling, hiking or water-based activities – while avoiding the summer crowds and prices.

October brings balmy beauty to Northern Vietnam, Burma and Southern India and, for perfect hiking conditions, Nepal is the place to go at this time, so look out for any injured parties having to drop out of the big treks at the last minute – if you are fit and ready to go that is.

You won’t need any training to take in the Northern Lights, however, in Iceland where the days are still long enough for you to engage in other activities such as hiking and exploring the glaciers, lava fields and gorgeously hot pools. Being on the equator, you'll be told that Ecuador has no "best time to go" as its climate is pretty constant. However, we think October is a great time as you'll miss the summer school vacation crowds. This is also the drier season, so the Amazon is more accessible and wildlife more easily viewed.
Wildlife is also still teeming in Botswana and Namibia in October as the dry season is at its peak, so animals come out in search of water holes. And if you can get last minute availability in Madagascar, it’s baby lemur time. Everyone say ahhhh.
Photo credit: [May: Patty Ho] [June: Patrik Jones] [July: Ignorant Walking] [August: Moyan Brenn] [November: Leo Hidalgo] [December: kansasphoto]
Written by Catherine Mack
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