If you’ve decided on July for your next cruise, you’ve chosen well. You’ll have a range of sizzling destinations to choose from, both in terms of temperature and appeal. Our guide on where to go in July takes you through popular European ports, with guides to what they have going on during this fine month.

Greek islands

If you’ve ever wanted to go to Greece but can’t decide which island, cruises in July show them all in their best light. Quite literally, that is, as July provides the most hours of sunshine and some of the warmest temperatures of the year. Averages are 25⁰C, but it’s not uncommon for the mercury to rise to over 30⁰C. The sea temperature is also reaching its peak for warm, 24⁰C dips in the transparent water.

A cruise around the Eastern Mediterranean will encompass some of Greece’s most iconic islands, including such historic places as Rhodes Town. Its medieval walled city was built by the Knights of St John and you can take an excursion to the famed Acropolis, in Lindos. Meanwhile, Chania has an old town, excellent beaches and nearby monasteries to explore.

There are also plenty of ports where you can experience the more slow-paced Greek life. Argostoli in Kefalonia is where Captain Corelli’s Mandolin was filmed and the entire island of Santorini is a romantic place that indulges the senses with caldera views. The glistening sunshine of July will only enhance the whitewashed buildings and bluer than blue seas here.

Lands of Fire & Ice

To really get to grips with the awe-inspiring landscapes of northern delights like Iceland and Norway, July is a top time to travel. Sightseeing and hiking excursions into the heart of the countries are made all the more easy due to the mildest temperatures of the year.

One of the first stops on an exploration of the lands of fire and ice is often the Orkney island capital of Kirkwall. For one of Great Britain’s most northerly towns, it has a surprising number of outside influences, including an Italian Chapel and French Renaissance style Earl’s Palace.

Then it’s on to Iceland, whose terrain is interspersed with volcanoes, glaciers and geysers. Temperatures stay around 10-14⁰C during Iceland holidays in July and this month provides the best opportunities for spotting whales on organised trips. All of Iceland’s main museums and attractions will be open in July, plus there are a host of summer festivals. In Reykjavik alone you can attend the Reykjavik Fringe Festival, Frum Contemporary Music Festival and Krás food market.

A more unusual Icelandic attraction is the Midnight Sun, which provides almost 24-hours of daylight in July. You can make the most of it while onboard ships like the Marella Explorer, overnight. It has 10 bars and 10 restaurants, including Indigo bar, where you can enjoy beautifully-lit panoramic views all night, as well as heading to the casino and nightclub.

After Iceland, it’s on to the Norwegian fjords, which have similar weather to Iceland, but an entirely different outlook. July brings gushing waterfalls, which flow down green ravine-sides as you glide along the mirror-like water below. You can spot wildlife like puffins and white-tailed eagles and you’ll stop at busy towns including medieval Bergen and quieter spots like Flam, at the end of the world’s longest fjord, Sognefjord.

Spain

When asked the question ‘Where is hot in July?’, people will invariably answer Spain. A cruise around Spain in July will show you all of its sides, from ancient cities, to those with very modern twists. And glorious sunshine is almost guaranteed. On Spain’s east coast, Valencia averages 24⁰C in July and has next to no rain, with temperatures often creeping up towards 30⁰C. Down in the south of Spain, places like Malaga and Cartagena are a couple of degrees warmer still.

The majority of Spanish cruises will trace the coastline, starting from the east at ports like Cadiz, with its 3000-year history and fine city beaches. Cadiz is also the gateway to Seville, where you can visit the Gothic cathedral, which is the resting place of Christopher Columbus. You can also take in the traditional British vibes of Gibraltar and the Costa Del Sol gem of Malaga.

Heading around to the southeast coast, the cities of Alicante and Valencia both serve up beaches, museums and lots of attractions but have very different vibes. Alicante’s centrepiece is the hilltop Castillo de Santa Bárbara, whereas taking pride of place in Valencia is the space-age City of the Arts & Sciences complex.

For further things to do, when visiting Malaga, you can take an excursion to beautiful Granada and visiting in July means you can also enjoy the city’s International Music and Dance Festival. Or, staying closer to port, witness the Virgen del Carmen annual feast of the fishermen from 2nd to 9th July. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried to sea in a procession to bless the waters. You can be a part of it in Alicante, or travel to nearby Fuengirola or Estepona, from Malaga.

Italy and its islands

The lush olive and lemon groves of Italy are in full bloom in July, offering tapestry-like scenery across the fields. They’re fuelled by the rising heat at this time of year, when Sorrento averages 24⁰C and you can add a couple more degrees to that in southerly Naples.

As Italy’s largest island and the biggest of all islands in the Mediterranean, Sicily deserves a stop. Your cruise will take you to ports like the pretty harbour town of Trapani or the capital Palermo, which boasts Middle Eastern and baroque architecture.

Over on the mainland, Tuscany’s coast offers up Livorno, renowned for its seafood and being a stepping stone for photo opportunities at Pisa. Heading south, you have the shoppers’ paradise of Naples, with Pompeii on hand, as well as trips to the suave little island of Capri. From there, it’s not far to romantic Sorrento to sip on an Aperol Spritz at cliffside restaurants.

Naples, in particular, is awash with art, music and film festivals in July, with many al fresco venues to enjoy. Take some time out to experience the ticketed theatre and musical performances at Napoli Teatro Festival Italia, as well as free events as part of Open Estate a Napoli.

Now you know what Greece, Iceland, Spain and Italy have going on in July, all you have to do is choose your cruise deal.

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