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Where to travel in June: five of the best destinations

Don a floral crown for springtime festivities in Sweden or look out for the flame-red fur of orangutans collecting fruit on Borneo’s forest floor — there’s all this and more to explore in the month of June.

Nashville hits a high note this month, with a chock-a-block calendar of music festivals.

Photograph by Getty Images
By Stephanie Cavagnaro
Published 11 May 2022, 15:00 BST

June is the month of plenty. Waterfalls are in full flow, wildlife is abundant and the days are at their longest. Sandwiched between the May bank holidays and the packed peak of July and August, this month brings sunny settings without the cost or crowds.

While some parts of the world are braced against hurricanes, monsoons and heat waves, the Northern Hemisphere is in its prime. Europe’s pleasant days mean kicking back in piazzas and beer gardens and on sultry beaches. The southern Med is ripe for striking out on a Croatian sailing tour or crisscrossing the Cyclades. North of the Arctic Circle, the solstice ushers in brighter nights and scores of midsummer parties across Scandinavia.

The dry season starts in safari spots across the globe like Uganda, Tanzania, Borneo and the Peruvian Amazon, making June an ideal time to view the Serengeti’s Great Migration or orangutans swinging through Sabah rainforests. Meanwhile, as Arctic ice melts, cruises begin plying these remote waters for a glimpse of cold-weather creatures.

The comfortable temperatures also afford opportunities for lovers of the great outdoors, including hiking the mountainous Inca Trail or trekking through North America’s national parks for big-sky adventures. In Yosemite, waterfalls are booming and paths push through carpets of wildflowers. Take a deep breath — June is for luxuriating in the heady outdoors.

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1. Nashville, Tennessee

Music City hits a high note this month. Its chock-a-block calendar of music festivals includes the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. ‘Bonnaroo’ is Creole slang for ‘good stuff’ and there’s heaps of it: over 150 performances, as well as comedy, cinema, interactive art installations, food trucks, yoga and even sustainability workshops. It sprawls across a 700-acre farm on the city’s outskirts, a short shuttle ride from the centre.

While in the Deep South, take a deep dive into country music at the annual four-day CMA Fest in downtown Nashville. Musicians like Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood perform free to help raise funds for the Country Music Association Foundation’s music education programmes.

There’s plenty more to sing about, too, with tons of free music in June. Make Music Nashville takes tunes to the streets, sidewalks, breweries, parks and even the airport each solstice (21 June, this year), while concert series Musicians Corner hits the stage at Centennial Park each weekend in May and June. Inspired by London’s Speakers’ Corner, this Nashville version was created as both a musical landmark and community gathering space, drawing artists such as Emmylou Harris, Chris Stapleton and Vince Gill.

Responsible travel tip: The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development has more information on festivals, attractions and accommodation with sustainable practices, including Tennessee Music Pathways. This state-wide programme aims to highlight Tennessee’s rich music legacy by connecting visitors to people, places and genres across small communities and big cities.

Wildlife lovers should make for Pembrokeshire in June for ample birdwatching opportunities.

Photograph by Getty Images

2. Pembrokeshire, Wales

Puffins parade across windswept Skomer in June. The island off the Pembrokeshire coast is a wildlife haven, hosting around half the world’s population of manx shearwaters, plus guillemots, razorbills and great cormorants. From April to September, boats slip between Martin’s Haven, on the mainland, and Skomer, but this month is when Atlantic puffin numbers are at their peak. They migrate en masse, waddling along cliff tops pocketed with pink thrift and red sea campion or soaring towards burrows with broad, multicoloured bills bursting with sand eels. Skomer’s offshore rocks and sheltered bays are also visited by dolphins, harbour porpoises and curious grey seals.

For more of the wild west, lace up your hiking boots for the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, a trail tracing 186 miles of coastline, passing soaring, heather-dotted cliffs, sandy coves and salt-licked towns. Flora and fauna are on display this month, with some stretches of the path plied by wild ponies. Adrenaline junkies can try coasteering, a sport invented by surfers in the county in which the foreshore is a playground: ride swells, hop across rocks, explore caves and jump off craggy cliffs.

Responsible travel tip: Fuel up at St Davids’ sustainable restaurants. Insects are a green (and brown) alternative to meat at The Bug Farm, whose buzzing wildflower meadow is harvested to stock its Grub Kitchen. Try mixed insect pakoras or spiced cumin and mealworm hummus. An eco-conscious shop and seasonal restaurant in The Really Wild Emporium serves wild plants and seaweed foraged from Pembrokeshire, including laver, pepper dulse and rock samphire.

June marks the fruiting season in Borneo, which coaxes orangutans to come down from the canopy to feast on the forest floor.

Photograph by Getty Images

3. Malaysian Borneo

Swing into the Sabah rainforests for sightings of the increasingly rare orangutan. These rust-red primates are found only in the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo — the latter shared by Indonesia and Malaysia.

Borneo is one of the few dry spots in Southeast Asia this month, basking amid warm and humid days. It’s also fruiting season, which coaxes the arboreal apes down from the canopy to feast on the forest floor. Keep your eyes peeled as you head along Sabah’s Kinabatangan River and through the lush Danum Valley.

Slow things down on remote Selingan Island, where turtle-hatching season is starting. A pinprick off the northeast Bornean coast, it’s one of three islands that form Turtle Islands National Park, a conservation sanctuary for green and hawksbill turtles since 1977. Only 50 visitor permits per day are issued for Selingan Island and all visitors are required to stay the night there — no bad thing, because as darkness falls, turtles slink ashore to lay eggs in the velvety sand. Guests can also help release turtle hatchlings into the sea.

Responsible travel tip: Deforestation is devastating this fragile island, home to many endemic species. It’s lost over half its forests in the past four decades to palm oil plantations and logging. Make an impact by visiting forests and research stations, supporting local communities and buying Fairtrade products. WWF has more information on how to help support Borneo’s rainforests. 

Head to Sweden in June for midsummer festivities.

Photograph by Getty Images

4. Sweden

Sleepless in Sweden? Daylight stretches into night north of the Arctic Circle this month due to the Earth’s axial tilt. In Swedish Lapland, the sun lingers low on the horizon from June until mid-July, painting the evening sky an ethereal gold. Night owls can try the Aurora Sky Station’s midnight sun hike in Abisko National Park, which takes trekkers up Nuolja mountain in a chairlift before a climb to the summit, where forests, mountains and an alpine lake glow beyond. The long hours mean days packed with outdoor pursuits, from whitewater rafting and moose safaris to river plunges.

While you’re wide-eyed, experience the merriment of Sweden’s midsummer parties. As the fields burst with wildflowers, revellers rush to their sommarstuga (summer cottage) for the national holiday at the end of June. There’s maypole dancing, flower garland stringing, garden games and a feast of new potatoes, pickled herring and plump strawberries.

Dalarna, peppered with green forests and red cottages, is a great spot for traditional celebrations. If you can’t bag an invite, don your floral crown for a three-day festival at Stockholm’s open-air Skansen museum.

Responsible travel tip: The Swedish Nature & Ecotourism Association is behind Nature’s Best, the nation’s only sustainability label for nature-based experiences. Conscious travellers can check their list of approved responsible companies.

Cusco becomes a stage for Inti Raymi in June: a 500-year-old tradition dating back to the days of the Inca Empire.

Photograph by Getty Images

5. Cusco, Peru

Sun worshippers congregate in Cusco in June. This ancient city in the lofty Peruvian Andes becomes a stage for Inti Raymi, a 500-year-old tradition dating back to the days of the Inca Empire. The Festival of the Sun culminates in a celebration of the benevolent Inca sun god on the winter solstice, marking the beginning of longer days ahead. It involves a procession from Qoricancha that passes through the main square and ends at the ruined Inca citadel of Sacsayhuamán. Salute the sun with a faux llama sacrifice, folk dancing and traditional Peruvian bands.

Investigate more Inca heritage on a four-day trek to the 15th-century citadel Machu Picchu, whose legendary ruins dot a rugged mountain slope. June is in the dry season in the Peruvian Highlands, meaning ideal conditions to strike out on the sun-soaked Inca Trail. It’s less crowded at the ruins outside the July-August peak, too, but only 200 trail permits a day means places have to be booked in advance. A less-trodden alternative is the five-day Salkantay Trek past coffee farms, glacial lakes and cloud-covered mountains.

Responsible travel tip: Many Inca Trail porters experience poor working conditions and low wages. Rainforest Alliance’s Green Vacations is a good resource on ethical operators. Two pioneering sustainable operators are Llama Path and worker-owned Evolution Treks, whose porters carry only cooking and camping equipment. Evolution Treks has also launched women-only treks using Machu Picchu’s first female porters after a long history of only men being permitted to do the job.

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