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A Great Place

When should you visit very special and unique places in the world that touch you? Places with an atmosphere you can’t describe or where you even get overwhelmed with emotion.

As one of the world’s great cities, Melbourne has plenty going on all year round, so there’s not really a bad time to visit the city. That said, there might be a few things to consider depending on when you’re visiting – so here’s our guide to the seasons in Melbourne.

Summer (December, January, February)


Summmer on the boardwalk by Chris Leishman, CC BY

  • Pros: Warm, sunny weather that’s perfect for the beach or the many summer festivals
  • Cons: It can get HOT, and also busy

For many people, a visit to Australia is synonymous with enjoying sun, surf and sand – so it’s no wonder that summer is peak tourist season in Melbourne. With blissfully warm temperatures and many great events, summer is a fantastic time to visit the city and especially enjoy attractions like St Kilda beach and the bustling night life. Summer is also cricket season, so it’s the perfect time to check out the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground.

That said, there are a couple of drawbacks about Melbourne in the summer. Firstly, it can get very hot: temperatures often hover around 30 degrees and even climb above 40 degrees sometimes – so be sure to be sun smart! Also, prices can be higher and accommodation options booked out, so it’s a good idea to plan your trip and book ahead.


Autumn (March, April May)


Easter Monday Melbourne 2018 by Peter Myers, CC BY

  • Pros: The climate is usually very pleasant, and there are lots of great festivals
  • Cons: It can get a little colder the closer you get to winter

Fall can be a lovely time to visit Melbourne, when the climate is not too hot but not too cold, averaging around a maximum temperature of about 20 degrees. Plus, there are several exciting events that happen in autumn, such as the Melbourne Grand Prix and Melbourne Fashion Week, which both happen in March. The Botanic Gardens are also beautiful, as many trees turn to golden autumnal hues.

Autumn can still see some extreme weather events, where it be late heat waves or early cold snaps, so you may need to pack a wider variety of clothes to be ready for whatever the weather brings.


Winter (June, July, August)

  • Pros: The quietest time to visit Melbourne, the city has a very cozy feel
  • Cons: There isn’t that much rain in winter but it’s cooler and sometimes foggy, which is not exactly beach weather

Winter is the quietest time for tourism in Melbourne, which means that there are less queues and more opportunities to truly live like a Melbournian. Plus, although it is winter, the city certainly doesn’t entirely hibernate! There are still lots of fun things to do, including lots of all-weather activities such as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image or the SEALife Aquarium.

Of course, winter does mean the weather can be a bit gloomy, so make sure to pack a warm coat to keep you toasty warm since the average winter low temperature is 6 – 7 degrees. That said, the climate is rarely too cold in Melbourne and rain spells don’t tend to last, so even outdoor activities such as visiting St Kilda can be great fun in winter.


Spring (September, October, November)


Coop's Shot Tower in spring by Bernard Spragg

  • Pros: The weather in Spring is glorious yet the crowds aren’t quite as overwhelming.
  • Cons: There aren’t many!

Spring is a wonderful season in Melbourne, where the weather is starting to warm up and so too is the social calendar. There are many great festivals, such as the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, and of course the usual attractions such as catching a gig at the Tote or swinging by the Astor Theatre are great fun in the springtime. A particular highlight is a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens while all of the flowers are in bloom.

Although temperatures are usually pretty warm, with an average high in the low to mid-twenties, spring can still see late wintery weather, so we recommend chucking a coat in your bag, just in case!


Monthly Weather

 

AU Australia

Sweet spot months in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) without the heavy summer crowds, open Trail Ridge Road and a good chance of nice weather are late May until early June or September after Labor Day (mid-week) until mid-October. However, snow is possible at both times. September is also great for wildlife because of the elk rutting season (peak mid-September to mid-October). In fall the air is clear and crisp and the skies are blue.

Highlight (Trail Ridge Road & Tour)

The stunning Trail Ridge Road is open from Memorial Day (last Monday in May) until mid-October. The official closing date is October 23, but they often close it a few days before that date. Even in June or September, it’s possible that it’s closed for hours or a day due to snow, often between 8 PM and 10 AM. Special Tour Tip (from Denver): If you're staying in Denver and would like to experience the Trail Ridge Road hassle free, we suggest the Rocky Mountain National Park Day Trip (booking via TripAdvisor & reviews). It's a 10 hour day tour which includes driving the amazing Trail Ridge Road as well as other mesmerizing parts of RMNP. The views you'll get to see on this trip are just spectacular. Visitors who did this day trip said, it was just awesome and that they saw a lot more than others. You'll start at Denver Union Station in the morning and return in the evening. They have the best guides and bus drivers you could get for the Rocky Mountains. (In case you need a hotel in Denver, check here: Denver Hotels)

Weather / Wildlife / Fall Colors


Sunset in Fall at RMNP by Mark Byzewski, CC BY

Regardless of the season: The higher into the mountains you go, the colder it gets. In general, RMNP is known for its extreme weather patterns which can change very quickly, as well as wide variations between day and nighttime temperatures. Find detailed weather data here: Climate Estes Park - Colorado

April - May (Spring): The weather is unpredictable: Up to 70°F (21°C) on one day and a temperature drop together with blizzards on the next day. It varies between warm and cold, wet and dry. Many trails are still snow-covered well into May, often even at the end of May. Snowfall is not uncommon. Temperature ranges between 70°F (21°C) and 60°F (16°C)

June - August (Summer):  The most comfortable weather is from July to August: the temperature climbs up to 75°F (24°C). However, afternoon thunderstorms and wind are normal. Always prepare for temperature drops of 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that the highest elevation trails are snow covered well into June. Wildflowers are in bloom from late June to early August.

September - November (Fall): Usually a great time as well. September and October bring clear, crisp air, blue skies, and generally dry weather. However, early snow is already possible. Looking for fall foliage? Leaves start changing colors in late August at higher elevations, peak is around mid-September and the beautiful fall foliage lasts until October in most years at lower elevations. Early October is often still a good time for leaf peeping at lower elevations. At higher elevations it will be already gone then. Elk rutting season begins in September as well and continues through mid-October at least. Like in spring you need to be flexible, check the forecast and bring gear for various conditions.

November/December - March (Winter): Snow and arctic conditions. However, lower elevations on the east slope of Rocky Mountain National Park are usually free of deep snow. The west side of the park experiences more snow, less wind, and clear cold days during these months. Most high country overnight trips require gear suitable for freezing temperatures. Skiing and snowshoeing conditions are best in January, February, and March. There are lots of other exciting activities in Winter: Sledding at Hidden Valley, Winter Wildlife Viewing, Ice Climbing and more. Visit NPS Rocky Mountain Winter Activities and 20 Things To Do in the Winter.

Avoiding Tourist Crowds

With over 4 million visitors each year, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited Parks in the U.S. Expect the most crowds in summer and fall. The busiest months are June until August, with heavy crowds in July/August. During the week it starts to thin out after Labor Day in September (first Monday in September), but not on weekends. Visiting mid-week in September means significantly fewer crowds as well as enjoying elk rutting and pleasant fall temperatures at the same time.

In general from July through September: Avoid weekends and/or go early in the morning to beat the crowds. In the peak months arrive between 7 and 8 AM to get a parking spot. Usually, it starts to get busier after 9 AM. Especially popular entrances like Estes Park or trailheads like Bear Lake Trail are extremely busy. In general, the west side (Grand Lake) is less crowded than the Eastern side (Estes Park Entrance). Regardless of the month, season or entrance: Go as early as possible, head out on a trail, hike a couple of miles from the busy areas and you won’t see too many others.

US United States

This is a free guide with tips you can use for your next Death Valley visit! The desert in Death Valley is one of the hottest places on our planet! Between May and September the temperatures reach extreme highs and exceed 115 °F (46 °C). The best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. Read on for our detailed tips:

Spring (March - early May)


Zabriskie Point by Giuseppe Milo, CC BY
This is a very popular time for a visit with pleasant temperatures. On the other hand, spring also brings the most wind. The blowing sand, which may last for days, can make camping uncomfortable. A real attraction is the gorgeous spring wildflowers. However, it’s an exception to see whole the desert filled with all kinds of colorful wildflowers. In some years, there are only a few. Regarding crowds: Keep in mind that spring is also a busy season. It gets very busy during spring break holidays from the last week of March through the week after Easter. Make sure to book well in advance for a spring visit.

Summer (mid-May – September)


Death Valley (July) by Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA cropped
Summer arrives early in Death Valley. In May, the average daily high is already 100 °F (38 °C). June, July, August are even hotter (up to 120 °F), as well as September. At least it’s a dry heat with low humidity, which helps a little. The month of August and early September also bring thunderstorms, sometimes causing dangerous flash floods. Always check the weather forecast. Camping or hiking is not recommended during these months with boiling heat. Hikes during the day in lower elevations are dangerous and can become life threatening because of the extreme temperatures. If you do anything outside at lower elevations: Do it until 10 AM. However, there are two summer hikes at higher elevations which can be done: Wildrose Peak and Telescope Peak. Most visitors tour by car on the paved road along the main Points of Interest. Despite the heat, July, and August are the months with the highest visitation from Europe and other continents. However, almost all of them stay in their car for a short tour between 2 hours and half a day or a little more, while stopping at the main viewpoints. Also read the 9 Summer Tips in the section below.

Autumn (October – November)


Death Valley - Badwater Basin (October) by Paxson Woelber, CC BY cropped
Warm but more pleasant temperatures and usually clear skies. You may hike at lower elevations now. But still, start early to avoid the possible midday heat. Ranger programs and camping season begins in October. It’s relatively uncrowded, except for the Death Valley ‘49ers Week and Thanksgiving (both in November).

Winter (December - February)


Death Valley National Park (December) by Rob Rattray, CC BY cropped
Temperatures drop, but it never gets cold except at higher elevations. However, since it's cooler in the mornings, we suggest that you bring an extra jacket. Less daylight but it usually lasts long enough: Sunset - Sunrise. Employees and park rangers say, the months of January and February are among the best months weather-wise. January and February bring the most rain, but it usually doesn’t rain heavily. Soaking rain, going for hours, can happen but it’s the exception. Winters also bring snow to the higher elevations and coat Telescope Peak (Panamint Mountains) in white. December, January and most of February are quieter months. Except for public holidays/holiday weekends (see below: Avoiding Tourist Crowds).


Weather (Overview)

A very helpful weather and climate overview can be downloaded here: Death Valley | NPS | Weather & Climate. Rule of thumb for strenuous and longer outside activities: During summer, stay at higher elevations. During winter: Longer activities at lower elevations are possible. Bring layer of clothes for higher elevations.


 

Highlight (Blooming Wildflowers)

Depending on the winter rain, it can be a great year for wildflowers or a moderate one with less blooming flowers. Check the official website: NPS Death Valley - Wildflowers. Another great website with updates and photos for each year: Death Valley NP Wildflower Reports


Desert Early Bloom - Death Valley by Marc Cooper, CC BY cropped

Peak Blooming Periods:

  • Mid-February - Mid April: Lower elevations (Areas: Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn, base of Daylight Pass)
  • Early April - Early May: 2000 to 4000 ft. Elevations (Area: Panamint Mountains)
  • Early May - Mid July: Above 4000 ft. Elevations (Area: High Panamints)

Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The busiest times are: Spring (March/April) - even busier from the last week of March till the week after Easter - and summer from July to August (mostly visitors from Europe and other countries), as well as September. According to a park ranger, the least crowded months are December and January. However, even during low season, it gets busy on certain days: From Christmas to New Year's, on Martin Luther King Day weekend in January, and Presidents' Day weekend in February.

To avoid the crowds at the main points of interest during peak months: We know it’s a challenge, but get up very early and try to reach most destinations around 8 AM, at least before 9 AM. It’s worth it, as you’ll dodge the crowds at beautiful places like Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, etc. In the summer, you’ll not only beat the crowds but the boiling heat as well. On a single morning, you could cover the quick 2-hour tour: Badwater | Zabriskie | Devils Course - Google Maps

US United States

The 12 Apostles is one of Australia's most iconic attraction and an amazing year-round destination. However, summer and even shoulder seasons often bring heavy crowds. Read our tips about the best time to visit:

Season (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring)

While weather conditions don't vary heavily throughout the year, the tourist crowds definitely fluctuate:

Summer (December, January, February): Best conditions with usually dry and clear weather but also the most crowds. It's peak season and the rates are at their highest (book well in advance for a nearby hotel). 12 Apostles is overrun with visitors during the day.

Autumn (March, April, May): Fewer visitors but still very busy. Even more so during Easter holiday and on weekends. The weather gets a little cooler.

Winter (June, July, August): The best months if you'd like to enjoy a quieter visit. However, it can still be busy on weekends. Excellent months for taking photos from the large viewing platform without hundreds of others pushing each other shoulder to shoulder. The downside is the weather: While definitely not freezing, it's cooler and the most rainfall occurs in winter.

Spring (September, October, November): It's getting warmer but also crowded again. Expect a packed place, especially when the tour busses arrive around 12.

Time of Day (Avoiding the Crowds)

During summer and in the shoulder seasons the place is usually very crowded. In summer, we arrived after midday and got the feeling there were at least a thousand people from many different countries. It's almost impossible to enjoy the scenery with many people next to you taking pictures or being asked to take a photo of them.

How to avoid the crowds? Early Morning is the best time of the day to dodge them when the buses from Melbourne have not yet arrived. It is also the best time for a perfect shot of the famous rock formations. The Twelve Apostles are the most popular place along the Great Ocean Road and very busy except early morning and in the evening. The light conditions for the famous picture of the 12 Apostles are also best in the morning. We know it's hard, but get up very early and try to be there at sunrise: Sunrise / Sunset Times Princetown Tip: Stay close to the 12 Apostles to enjoy the stunning rock formations early morning. Best located is the Clifton Beach Lodge with clean cabins equipped with everything you need.

Weather

In general the Southern Ocean has a strong influence on the climate. It keeps the winter warmer and the summer cooler. In summer the sun is extreme, but it is not too hot always a fresh breeze. Most stable weather in summer from January to March. Most precipitation in winter from June to August. Be prepared for extremely windy conditions.

 

AU Australia

Monument Valley is not a National Park. It’s a Navajo Tribal Park in Arizona and an excellent year-round destination. Seasons with pleasant weather and without a lot of traffic on the scenic drive are early spring (late March/April) and late autumn (October). Cooler but very quiet months are November until March. Read on for more details, the best ‘WHEN TO GO’ tips and our detailed hotel and camping guide, especially if you visit in summer:

Weather and Visitation

Despite the possibility for extreme weather conditions with some very hot days in the summer and a few colder times in the winter, most days of the year are quite suitable for an enjoyable visit. Due to the higher elevation of 5200 feet it’s a little cooler in general. The Wind is a major force in the valley. Even in the warmer months of spring and fall, bring an extra layer of cloth as it can get chilly in the mornings or late evenings. Light rain gear is also a good idea.


 

April - May (Spring): The average maximum daytime temperature in April is a pleasant 19°C (66°F). In May it gets warmer with an average maximum of 25°C (77°F). That means both months are perfect for a visit. Most April visitors report, that it’s still quiet most of the time. In May it gets busier but still not heavily crowded. Keep in mind that particularly from April into June it’s often more windy than usual and it can become horrible dusty due to heavy winds.

June - August (Summer): Clear, warm, sunny days and cool nights make this a delightful season to visit. July and August bring the warmest conditions, with temperatures in the 90s (over 33 °C) but rarely exceed 100 °F. The Visitor Center, as well as the scenic drive, become very busy during these summer months. Always check the weather forecast for occasional summer thunderstorms, especially from July to mid-September.

September - October (Autumn): Still warm in September and pleasant temperatures in October. Autumn provides some of the most stable weather of the year. Keep in mind that in September even after labor day the scenic drive and the Visitor Center are often still busy. In October the crowds get smaller and there is less traffic on the road.

November - March (Winter / Early Spring): Mild cold weather conditions start around mid-November. Snow conditions start later around mid-December and can last until February/early-March. Even in the winter, temperatures below 0 °F (−18 °C) are rare. But still, a warm coat is highly recommended. The valley only receives an occasional light snowfall and sometimes snowstorms in the winter. However, the snow melts usually within a day or two. Most visitors report that it's no problem to drive with almost any kind of car in the colder months. Winter is the perfect time for solitude without the crowds and low prices. Lucky visitors can see the valley and rock formations dusted in snow. Later in early spring, March is a great month without the holiday crowds and temperatures can rise up to 60°F (15°C), nights and mornings are still cool and chilly though.

 

Avoiding Tourist Crowds (Visitor Center / View Hotel / Scenic Drive)

Crowds in Monument Valley means a busy road while driving the scenic loop, many tourists at the Visitor Center and a fully booked View Hotel. The busiest months are from May to September with a peak in the summer months: late June, July and August. (The ‘official peak-season’ with different opening times is from April through September) If you plan to stay at ‘The View Hotel’ in high season, book well in advance. Also, keep in mind that the hotel rates are at their highest. Sometimes there are even busy days / weekends on the road in April or October. However, most visitors experience a rather quiet drive in early spring or late autumn and real solitude in the winter. During busier months the traffic starts to pick up around 10 AM. That means you can’t just pull over and take pictures at will because of the traffic and dust. In peak season the major viewpoints are crowded resulting in big traffic jams. Avoid those busy times by starting early in the morning with less traffic and less dust. Even in early spring and late fall, you’ll benefit by heading out at breakfast time. Avoid weekends and try to go on a weekday. Another option is to visit in the cooler months or even in the winter: It’s colder, but especially in December, January and February you’ll experience peace and solace. November (up to 12°C / 54°F) as well as March (up to 14°C / 57°F) bring more pleasant temperatures but it’s still much quieter than during busier months.

Another possible alternative to get away from the crowds during high season: Either take the self-guided hike on the Wildcat-Trail (see below) in the morning or purchase one of the Navajo tours for smaller groups. Some visitors book a tour for their family group only. Further reading on seasons and crowds: Some interesting and useful ‘when to go’ statements on TripAdvisor Peak vs Off-Season

 

Time of Day (Sunrise/Sunset)

Sunrise is not only the best time to dodge the crowds and avoid a busy road, it’s also a magical moment. To experience a stunning sunrise in the winter or late fall, stay at The View Hotel as you can't get into the park before 8 AM in off-season from the outside. In peak season they open at 6 AM. However, most visitors say, that watching the sunrise from the View Hotel is priceless regardless of the season. If you can, stay until sunset as well. It’s spectacular and unforgettable! Quote from our user Ray Downs: “Sunrise is great everywhere and sunset is best from the parking lot of the view hotel parking lot...that is where the banner photo was taken.” Check sunrise and sunset in advance here: Sunrise - Sunset Times Monument Valley

US United States

Milford Sound, one of the wettest regions on earth with up to 9 meters of rain each year is one of the most visited places in South New Zealand. To figure out the best time for your visit depends on the season you plan to come. Continue reading to get the insights we got told by local rangers.

Milford experiences minimum 200 days of rain; on average 7 meters of rain each year. One of the few places where rain is measured in meters. Usually, it rains 2 days in 3. In 20 17 the precipitation was even 9 meters, and on the opposite, the summer in 2018 was pretty dry even accompanied by forest fires. Anyhow, rain occurs quite often throughout the year. With a high amount of rainfall, the fjord is full of awesome temporary waterfalls, and the existing ones are at its peak. It’s spectacular when waterfalls thunder down from the cliffs.

Bowen Waterfall, Milford Sound

We wanted to experience the sound on a clear day and we did. We just monitored the weather forecast and booked our tour just two days before. We drove 10 hours from Christchurch to Te Anau and another two for the 120 km from Te Anau the next morning before sunrise. 

Crowds on the Cruises

Milford is the most popular place in New Zealand with more than 500.000 visitors each year. If you like to go on a cruise at midday advanced booking is recommended. These tours are frequently fully booked. The morning and afternoon tours are often less crowded but to be sure getting a cruise we recommend to book at least one or two days before. It’s a long drive but one of the most beautiful ones in the world to get there. There are different tours at different times offered. The first starts around 8.30 am, but at this time of the day, there is not much light for a good picture in the sound. It improves a lot an hour later.

Crowds at Milford at midday

Tip If Traveling by Car to Milford

Start early and arrive around 8 latest 8.30 am at Milford Sound parking from December to March. This ensures you don’t need to park far away and have to take the shuttle to get close. The shuttle is offered at the busiest time of the year only. The two different parking areas fill up soon. It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Te Anau very early in the morning.  If you start later schedule two hours minimum for the drive plus half an hour for the shuttle. The sunrise and the sunset on the way back were breath-taking. Keep in mind there isn’t any gas station or fuel stop along the Milford road just an un-manned in Milford. Between May and November, snow chains are required. The Homer Tunnel at an altitude of 945 m above sea level is just one narrow single lane, 1.2 km long, and traffic is controlled by a traffic light.

Homer Tunel to Milford Sound

Weather and Crowds by Season

Spring (September/October until November)
It’s still chilly in the night but days tend to be warmer and longer. It’s the shoulder season, less crowded and overrun. There are hundreds of waterfalls gush down from rocky cliffs due to the spring rain and the melting snow. The countryside is covered with wild flowers. In November and December, the rata and the pohutukawa trees are in full bloom. These trees are also called Christmas trees. Mountains are still snow-capped. The Fiordland Crested Penguin can be seen until November latest December raising the cheeks.

Summer (December-February)
December and January have the highest amount of precipitation but these months are also the warmest and busiest. The average temp is almost 20°C, and it can increase up to 28°C. In turns of sun and rain, the humidity is quite high. The Christmas Trees are in bloom until December. A shuttle service from the overflow parking is offered from December to March.

Autumn (March-April)
Crowds thin a little bit out and the shoulder season starts around mid-March. Days are still long. The temps may be still close to 20°C at daytime. Nights become already chilly. It's the best time of the year for hiking. Waterfalls are not at their peak. There is a slightly higher chance to experience Milford on a clear day.

Winter (May-August/September)
This is the low season and it’s less busy. Snow is common on the road to the Milford Sound especially in higher altitudes. This makes the mountains even more photogenic. Seals and especially penguins are more active when it is cold. The Fjordland crested penguin comes to the same beach for mating each year. They lay their eggs in August and cheeks fled between November and December. The downside the road to the sound can be closed due to avalanche warnings although the roads are accessible. Often the rangers get asked for the reason of closing the road. There is a team monitoring the mountains and snowfields. If they ascertain a high risk for an avalanche the only road to the sound can be closed for days. Hiking is not everywhere possible. Avalanche-prone bridges get removed to prevent destroying by flooding or debris avalanches. The average day temp is around 4°C. This makes the cruises pretty cold outside on deck. Most of the ships offer an indoor and outdoor seating and viewing area.

Warnings for Hiking
The Fjordland experiences a high amount of precipitation and rapidly changeable weather.  Be prepared while hiking for heavy rainfall cold temps, even snow, and wind at any time of the year. Check the road information to Milford first

 

NZ New Zealand