Last minute vacation destinations


WHERE TO GO NOW

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 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.
Read on to find out our month-by-month recommendations for the best last minute vacation destinations.

May last minute vacations


This is a crowd-free time to visit Spain, particularly if you want to go hiking or cycling in Andalucía or Catalonia minus the costa crowds. Longer days are also starting to warm up Sweden, Finland and Norway. And they're mosquito-free, which can be an issue towards the summer. Southern Europe is definitely heating up too, and even locals start to swim after Easter in the likes of Croatia, Montenegro, Italy, Greece, southern Portugal and Turkey. This is also a great time, weather-wise, for water-based activities like sailing, taking you well away from the summer crowds.
Heading east, keep an eye out for late availability to Sri Lanka, as May is the best month to visit by far. You'll miss the summer and winter monsoon seasons, and there's plenty of wildlife visible in Yala National Park. Similarly, this is the driest season for Borneo, so the best time for visiting the rainforest and Mount Kinabalu. You'll also catch some great weather in China during May. The north will have thawed from the winter chill, while the summer heat and humidity won't yet have kicked in down south, making this a great last minute vacation destination.
You can often get late availability in Africa in May, as it is just at the end of the rainy season for some countries, so some people are still wary of booking. Which is silly, because Namibia and Botswana's landscapes are still fresh from the rainy season, plus you'll have clear skies and plenty of wildlife. Madagascar is similarly lush and green following its recent rainy season. And this is also your last chance to visit Morocco before the summer heat really kicks in.

For Peru, May is the start of the dry season, but the winter chill hasn’t kicked in yet, so it’s a good one to snap up at the last minute. The winter has thawed in Norway and Finland, where long daylight hours give you plenty of time to spot the splendid wildlife all around too.

June last minute vacations


There is often a surge of demand for late availability vacation destinations in June, when those who don’t want to join the family mass exodus try to squeeze in a trip before the schools break up. Europe is starting to book up at this point, but you will find spaces coming up on group walking, cycling or other activity vacations, so keep your eyes out for those. And many of these don’t offer activities in the hotter months, so get in quick. In regions such as southern Spain it is already very hot, so if you want a last minute activity vacation in Spain, do also look at the northern regions. Catalonia, the Pyrenees and the Picos de Europa are gloriously warm and sunny without being unbearable.
In Northern Europe, one of the joys of a last minute vacation is a huge hit of Vitamin D, with endless daylight in northern Sweden, Finland or Norway – ideal for walking, cycling, boating across lakes and even enjoying the beaches. Bring your bug spray, though! In Iceland, there’s 24-hour daylight and, just to add to the joys of that, migrating whales can be seen in the surrounding waters here during June too.

Talking of bugs – and they are inevitable – if you are lucky enough to get availability in Namibia and Botswana, the landscapes are still fresh from the rainy season, but you'll have clear skies and plenty of wildlife. The Great Migration's Mara River crossing starts now as well, so consider travel to Kenya or Tanzania. You'll also beat the summer vacation rush to witness this incredible spectacle. But last minute places on these trips are pretty rare.

Heading east, although the monsoon rains hit Cambodia from June to October, they're often short, sharp afternoon storms. If you are traveling on a budget and looking to avoid the Angkor Wat crowds, June can be a great month to travel if you are lucky enough to get late availability. The stormy skies and green landscapes also make for some gorgeous photos.

July last minute vacations


July 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 Montenegro’s mountainous national parks, Croatia’s inland wonders, or the Picos de Europa in northern Spain.
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. June is the driest month in Borneo, so it's the best time for visiting the rainforest and Mount Kinabalu. June is 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 and during early morning game drives, though; hats and gloves are recommended. 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. However, you won’t have a chance of getting an Inca Trail permit at the last minute, as they sell out months in advance.

Another unusual choice for July 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. Just be sure to pack mosquito repellent. The 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, 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 also head to the coast 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 last minute summer destinations 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, and the best time for visiting the rainforest and Mount Kinabalu. Similarly, Sri Lanka has the southwest monsoon season 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.

In terms of tranquillity, you will always find empty beaches and lakesides in Canada or Alaska (barring the clam-seeking bears). Or head to the lesser-known 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.
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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Photo credits: [Page banner: Paxson Woelber]
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