Sun, Sea and Storms – the Worst Time to Visit the World’s Most Popular Holiday Destinations

Loch Lomond, Scotland
Scotland // Photo by unknown1861/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Greg Dickinson, The Telegraph, November 20, 2018

Shocking footage emerged from Tenerife over the weekend as powerful storms battered the Canary Islands, creating waves up to 40 feet high.

The storm hit Tenerife’s north coast on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, waves crashed into apartment buildings in the north coast resort of Mesa del Mar, destroying balconies on the lower floors.

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The Canary Islands are popular among Britons seeking sun during the winter months, with temperatures often entering the early twenties from November through to February. However, as holidaymakers discovered this weekend, November and December are also the rainiest and windiest months to visit Tenerife, with an average of 47mm falling in November and 56mm in December – compared with 2mm in July and 3mm in August.

From hurricane seasons to monsoons, midge swarms to an Easter shutdown, here are the months to avoid when planning your next holiday to the world’s most popular destinations.

Midges in Scotland

They’re only small, right? Well yes. But when you multiply the microscopic midge by 139 billion (the most recent estimate of total annual midges in Scotland) they become more of a problem.

The non-biting male midges generally arrive in the Scotland in May, but it’s when the blood-thirsty females hatch in June that midge season officially begins. Midges thrive in still, humid weather conditions – often operating in clouds around bodies of water. However, midges don’t like sun, and even the lightest breeze can blow them away.

When to go The midge season lasts from June until September, so arguably the best time to visit the Scottish Highlands is during the shoulder months of April, early May, late September and October. The roads will be much quieter, too.

Monsoons in Sri Lanka

Anyone planning a visit to Sri Lanka should know that the south Asian island has two monsoon seasons – book your trip on the wrong side of Sri Lanka in the wrong month and you could be in for a very wet holiday indeed.

The southwestern monsoon runs between May and September (wettest April to June). The north and eastern parts of the island are affected by a less severe northeasterly monsoon from October to January (wettest November to December). If there’s one month to avoid, October is the time when thunderstorms can occur across the entire island.

When to go With dry periods on either side of the island, you can take your pick depending on where you want to visit. For the southwest, you’ll be looking at December to March (considered the "peak season"), while the less-visited east coast is at its finest between May and September.

Hurricanes in the Caribbean

The Atlantic hurricane season, which encompasses the Caribbean, runs from June to November with the majority hitting between August and October. The peak time for storm activity is typically early to mid-September.

Some islands fall outside the storm zone, so consider the Netherlands Antilles islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, or Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada or Barbados. 

When to go The most popular time to visit the Caribbean is between December and April, when the weather is cooler and less humid. These are also the busiest months. Our destination expert Fred Mawer says: “Taking into account the weather, cost and crowds, May is an ideal month to visit. The weather then is often almost as good as in the peak winter months, but accommodation costs significantly less. For similar reasons, the first half of December is also a good time to travel.”

Floods in Venice

While Venice is flooded with tourists during the summer months, it receives a quite literal flood – the acqua alta – during the winter months.

The phenomenon is most likely to occur between late September and April, although the worst months are November, December and October (in that order). When the acqua alta is at its worst, a siren will go out to alert that high tide will peak in a few hours’ time – in the heaviest affected areas pedestrians have to get around via elevated wooden walkways.

When to go In recent years the acqua alta has been known to occur at any time of the year, but to avoid the worst of the flooding and crowds a good bet would be to visit during early May or mid-September. Or, for the most authentic experience, visit the city in January or February (with the exception of Carnevale in the fortnight leading up to Shrove Tuesday), when tourists are few and far between, rooms are cheap and the city is reclaimed by Venetians.

School holidays in Australia

Beware of visiting Australia in January. Yes, it’ll likely be hot, but schools are off during January and many Australians go on their holidays, meaning hotel prices and domestic air fares prices go up and popular tourist sights will be busier. Some parts of the country will be uncomfortably hot during the height of summer, including Uluru, Perth and the tropical north.

When to go Our destination expert Mark Chipperfield suggests winter months are worth consideration. He writes: “Winters are generally mild throughout the southern states, but temperatures can be surprisingly nippy in Tasmania – ideal if you are planning to do some vigorous outdoor activities, but not really suitable for the beach. Many people also prefer to visit the Great Barrier Reef during the cooler months: water temperatures are still pleasant, and swimmers can avoid the threat of marine stingers or jellyfish.”

Easter in Greece

Greece takes Easter very seriously, so think twice before booking a getaway that overlaps with the public holiday. Hotels outside of Athens are often booked up by locals heading into the countryside, while many tourist attractions and museums are closed on Good Friday, Easter Saturday and Sunday. If that doesn’t bother you, this is a great time to fit in with the Greeks and join in a candle-lit vigil in a village square. Just don't expect the supermarkets to be open.

When to goHold fire for a week or two after Easter, if you can. May and early June are great options to visit the more popular islands before the summer crowds descend – they’re often carpeted with wildflowers, too.


This article was written by Greg Dickinson from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected]

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