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Bookend your traditional holiday with a timely break during the secret season. This is traditionally a time when there are fewer crowds, temperate climates, and lower rates in some of our favourite countries.

Our travel experts have collated the ultimate top 10 destinations from the Amalfi coast in spring to a Zambian safari in winter.

The secret season tends to be a time when a destination is still at its best, rates are competitive, the crowds have dispersed, and children tend to be in school. This provides a more adult environment in counties that are popular with families such as Italy and California.

Not only is a holiday during this season one of the best ways to enjoy a country without the crowds but it can also be slipped in between your main holidays.

A sojourn during the secret season is just the tonic we all need.

 

Top 10 secret season destinations

 

 

Botswana

Secret season: December-January

Climate: Temperature average 32 degrees Celsius with daily afternoon rain that freshens up the air 

Highlights: This is one of the best times to visit Botswana due to the incredible zebra migration and the start of the birding season. View big cats on the prowl in the remarkable Moremi Game Reserve with our safari guides and without the crowds. Botanists and birdwatchers will delight in the lush landscape which sees the trees and flowers coming into bloom. Migratory birds such as kites and kingfishers arrive in the parks, but the big draw is the Great Migration. Wildlife in Botswana moves seasonally, with zebras, buffalo, wildebeest, and elephants spending the dry months around the rivers which include the Chobe, the Kwando-Linyanti and the Okavango Delta. During the wetter months, they move into the Kalahari Desert where they can be easily spotted. Zebras travel up to 1,000 kilometres each year. Travel here during the secret season and you can witness the circuit between the Chobe and Nxai Pan, which is recognised as the longest terrestrial wildlife migration in Africa.

Top tip: In 2013, researchers discovered a separate zebra migration to the Makgadikgadi Pans which you can witness in all its glory at this time of year. 

Uganda

Secret season: September-October

Climate: Temperature average 23 degrees Celsius - rain reduces in October

Highlights: Viewing the Uganda gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is very much on the menu at this time of year. After a trek through the jungle, your efforts will be rewarded with the sight of the majestic silverback. While September sees the beginning of the rains, this allows tropical butterflies which are found throughout the country to become more visible and active. In October, the north sees the end of the rains while they’re just beginning further south. Head up to Kidepo Valley National Park to see a vast variety of species, from the African golden cat to the elusive and endangered African wild dog. The Kavirondo bush baby is one primate that can only be found here. This is one of the best times to marvel at the incredible power of Murchison Falls, where the mighty Nile squeezes through a mere seven-metre gap. If you're interested in bird watching, Uganda is the continent's finest birding destination, especially during the secret season. It is home to around 1,000 species including the extremely rare shoebill stork. The Kampala City Festival also takes place at this time of year, and it takes the form of a huge street party, complete with music, dancing, and food galore. 

Top tip: This is a much quieter time of year which makes it easier to obtain permits for the national parks.

California

Secret season: November-December

Climate: Average temperature of 23 degrees Celsius, sporadic rain and snowfall in the mountains

Highlights: California dreaming can become a reality, even during the winter months. During November, the ‘Sunshine State’ is mild, and showers are usually short and infrequent. Los Angeles and San Francisco are quieter, so it’s the best time to travel to avoid the high season crowds. During this time, you can take the ultimate road trip along the coastal Highway 1, regarded as one of the world's most beautiful drives or head to Disneyland safe in the knowledge there will be short queues for the thrilling rides. This is a fun time to mingle with the locals as Thanksgiving falls in November which marks a four-day weekend. Snow starts to fall at the ski resorts surrounding Lake Tahoe. A visit during the festive period offers the promise of a white Christmas and sleigh rides. You can also go ice skating overlooking the beach in San Diego or watch the festively decorated yachts during the Newport Boat Parade, which lights up the harbour. For the ultimate Californian New Year celebration head to San Francisco or Los Angeles for their fabulous firework displays.

Top tip: Southern California in winter enjoys pleasant weather, more attractive prices, and fewer crowds.

South-east Asia 

Secret season: July-August

Climate: Average temperature 30 degrees Celsius, monsoon season

Highlights: Whether you’re jetting off to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, or Laos you have the advantage of fewer crowds and lower prices during the secret season. From gold-steeped stupas to sparkling blue waters; grand cities to remote islands; South-east Asia has all the ingredients for a memorable holiday. In July Koh Samui enjoys less rainfall compared with other popular island destinations in Thailand. Even as the monsoon period rolls in, Koh Samui's fishing villages are perfect for a swim. The tropical island Koh Tao, renowned for scuba diving and turtles, is blessed with almost year-round pleasant weather. Travelling through Cambodia at this time of year reveals the lush greenery of the countryside. Angkor Wat looks spectacular during the wet season, with moats high in water. This is also the perfect time of year to visit the flooded forests and floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake by boat. Travel to Laos during the secret season is ideal. Northern Laos experiences a tropical climate, while the southern part of the country is subequatorial. It is the perfect time to visit the Buddhist temples and shrines. In Vietnam, the rainy season extends from May-October when average temperatures in Ho Chi Minh City are 30 degrees Celsius. View the mighty Mekong Delta from a traditional sampan boat or cruise this vast network of rivers, stopping in at lively markets or floating villages. Mid-July to August is a great time to see baby green turtles hatching and making their way to the sea along the sandy beaches of the Con Dao archipelago. The turtle incubation centre at the Six Senses Con Dao hotel is an excellent place to get up close to these amazing animals. With so many superb destinations, a multi-centred trip is the best way to explore.

Top tip from A&K expert, Annie Jensen: Fewer crowds and better prices. There may be short shower bursts, the countryside is lush and green at this time of year.

 

Sri Lanka 

Secret season: July-August 

Climate: Average temperature 31 degrees Celsius with showers

Highlights: Travel to Sri Lanka, the teardrop off India, in July and bask in tropical warm weather. The secret season is the perfect time to visit tea plantations or immerse yourself in Buddhism at temples. Visit historic coastal towns such as Galle or the capital Colombo which has a cosmopolitan vibe and indelible colonial heritage. The building winds during this time of year mark the start of surf season. Arugam Bay is one of the top surfing beaches in the world. On Kalpitiya Peninsula, the kitesurfing is at its best. The Indian Ocean provides the perfect set-up, while the lagoon on the other side is ideal for beginners. Why not escape to a wellness retreat and learn the medicinal benefits of the indigenous plants? Take your yoga, quite literally, to the next level, as you climb Sigiriya Rock Fortress and breathe in the fresh air. The annual Kataragama Festival attracts pilgrims from all parts of the island each July. Kataragama is one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka, sacred for both Buddhists and Hindus. Occasional evening showers can occur in August, but the warmer climate continues.

Top tip: Rain to the south and west but dry in the east and north – lower prices and fewer crowds.

Zambia 

Secret season: November-December

Climate: Average temperature 29 degrees Celsius with sunny weather and occasional showers

Highlights: A safari in Zambia during the secret season provides the chance to see one of the greatest wonders of the natural world - without the crowds. Zambia enjoys a pleasant climate compared to most tropical countries due to its altitude. November-December marks the end of the hot, dry weather and the advent of the warm, wet season. During this time, you can experience the wildebeest migration to Liuwa Plains National Park a vast golden grassland in northwest Zambia. This is one of Africa’s great natural phenomena yet is scarcely known. For this reason, there are fewer people than during the East African Masai Mara and Serengeti migration and is considered a more authentic experience. Each year 45,000 wildebeests migrate to fresh grazing plains in the remote Liuwa which is second only to the Serengeti’s Great Migration. The wildebeest migration follows the rains, reaching Liuwa Plains between September and November each year. This is also a haven for birdwatchers as there are 334 species of bird living here, including spoonbill, white-bellied buzzard, and the rare and endangered wattle crane. 

Top tip: A safari to Zambia in November would offer the best chance of seeing the migrating herds of wildebeests reaching the Liuwa Plains.

Caribbean 

Secret season: May-June

Climate: Average temperature 26-27 degrees Celsius

Highlights: After a long, dark winter bring the light back into your life and make a beeline for one of the idyllic Caribbean islands from Barbados to the Bahamas. The clear waters are warm during the secret season, perfect for swimming or snorkelling among effervescent shoals of fish. Nothing beats escaping to the Caribbean to recharge especially during term time when beaches are quieter, and rates are more competitive. From Anguilla to Turks & Caicos, every destination has its own personality. but all share sunshine, stunning shorelines, and a dash of rum. Hopping from island to island will add extra spice to your Caribbean holiday. From the fun-time atmosphere of Antigua, where you can recline on one of 365 beaches, to the brightly coloured villages of Barbados. Round off your visit with a trip to Saint Barths – the Caribbean’s best-kept secret – which offers a sophisticated French vibe that ripples through its culture and cuisine. 

Top tip: The weather is warm, it’s the perfect destination for adults (except during the May half-term) and there are better rates at this time of year.

Tuscany and Puglia, Italy

Secret season: Autumn

Climate: Average daily temperature is 17 degrees Celsius

Highlights: As one of the most popular destinations in the world, we would recommend visiting Italy during the secret season. The crowds have dispersed from the popular regions of Tuscany and Puglia and the weather remains warm and balmy. In autumn you can extend your holiday by exploring Puglia’s historical treasures around the heel of Italy’s boot and witness the grape harvest in Tuscany. This is the perfect time to visit vineyards and take part in exclusive wine tastings and sample Tuscany’s finest extra virgin olive oils. September is the best month for foodies, as fresh local produce fills the local markets and restaurants. Enjoy shorter waiting times to see such famous attractions as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The feast day of San Michele is celebrated all over Italy, but the biggest event is held in Puglia. October brings a little more rain, but the climate is still generally warm. Tourist numbers drop, and the countryside explodes with rich autumn colours. Truffle hunting can be enjoyed at our properties such as Castello del Nero throughout October and November.

Top tip: Extend your summer with a trip to Italy in autumn and see the rich harvest.

Iceland 

Secret season: Summer

Climate: Average temperature 12-13 degrees Celsius

Highlights: The land of the midnight sun beckons. Summer is one of the best times to visit the spectacular country of Iceland. The special season is an excellent opportunity to explore without the Scandinavian winter chill and when children are on holiday. During the summer solstice, experience a night where the sun shines for 24 hours in the north of the country. You will discover a land of extreme contrasts from powerful geysers, crashing waterfalls to volcanic craters. There is something for everyone - whatever your age. Bright mornings are ideal for whale-watching as the Atlantic Ocean tends to be unencumbered by fog or cloud. Take the Golden Circle tour during warmer weather and see Iceland’s Big Three including the geological phenomenon that is Thingvellir National Park, the site of Iceland's historic parliament. Go on a super-jeep safari in the Thorsmork Valley and tour the Westman Islands to see the puffin colonies. During the secret season get close to Iceland’s volcanoes on the south shore where you’ll see Seljarlandsfoss waterfall and Eyjafjallajokull glacier and visit the Reykjanesskagi Peninsula to experience the rainbow soils of the Seltun Geothermal Area. Enjoy family fun at the Hafnarfjörður Viking Festival, or party through the light nights at the Secret Solstice festival. 

Top tip: Experience round-the-clock sun and an incredible summer landscape. 

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Secret season: Spring

Climate: Average temperature 21 degrees Celsius

Start the year living la dolce vita with a visit to the sparkling Amalfi Coast – the perfect destination to brush off the winter blues. As confetti-coloured hotels and restaurants re-open for the season, be the first to enjoy a fresh glass of freshly made limoncello overlooking the turquoise coastline. Why not start by exploring by taking your seat in a sea kayak where you will see hidden gems from caves to coves and breathtaking views of the Sorrentine Peninsula dotted with lemon groves at Ravello. Avoid the crowds during the secret season to explore the marvels of Pompeii and the might of Mount Vesuvius. Make the most of the open roads and drive the romantic Amalfi coastal road, considered the most scenic route in Europe. Visit Duomo fronted by a beautifully coloured 13th-century façade. The town became a famous tourist destination in the 1900s when the beautiful people arrived from Rome.

Top tip: Stay ahead of the crowds at a time when hotels and restaurants first open for the season.

Travel planners for all seasons

Still looking for inspiration?

We have a huge range of destinations, experiences and hotel options available.

Learn more about our luxury tailor-made holidays and unparalleled escorted tours in our Annual Travel Planner

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