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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.

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

Lofoten - Our complete guide! The answer to the ever popular "when is the best time to visit?" is difficult. Of course, there are common patterns in the weather that can help you to plan out your trip to Lofoten based on what you wish to see. This guide will help you to narrow that down (scroll directly to the winter, spring, summer or fall section if you'd like to find out about a specific season only):

Winter (November, December, February, March)


Fredvang Bridges Lofoten Islands by Peter Edwards, CC BY, cropped

  • Weather: It's cold – but not unbearable (average lows around -5°C, average high 2°C). Unpredictable in November/December with either rain or snow. January - March provide more predictable winter conditions.
  • Crowds: Quiet season, but February and March became slightly more popular recently.
  • Highlights: Polar Night (24 hours of darkness) from December 9 - January 4 and Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) throughout the winter. Fishing: Historical seasonal cod fishing in February/March.

For many, the quintessential landscape of Lofoten is a wintery one, with white-capped mountains and regular snowfall. However, in November and December the weather is usually very unsteady. Besides snow, a lot of rain is also possible during both month. That's why those who seek this famous winter wonderland view, should visit between mid-January and March, when there is less rain and more snow. However, keep in mind that even in February it may rain for a full week. By mid-January, the days are also slightly longer, with the sun at least peering over the horizon for a few hours each day to give you some exploring time. You should still expect long periods of darkness, however. But the lack of light is usually worth it: Because at night, you may see the Northern Lights (possible during the whole winter season).

By March, you can expect the sun to hang around for long enough to make wintery adventure activities a possibility. For those who seek fun in the snow, March is a great time to enjoy things like skiing and snowboarding, all against Lofoten's stunning backdrop. Lofoten's ski slopes cater to all ages and abilities, and the resorts are beautiful to see even if you aren't quite ready to brave the slopes.

Of course, this all assumes that you want some time in the daylight during your visit. There are many arguments in favour of visiting during the Polar Night (December 9 – January 4), where the sun does not rise at all. For those who have never experienced this phenomenon, it is a unique experience that is an attraction in itself. Plus, the pitch-black conditions mean that this is a great time to seek out the elusive Northern Lights in Lofoten, which are jaw-dropping in their beauty.

Tourist Crowds:
Tourism usually is at its lowest in November, so if you wish to experience a bit of peace and quiet amongst the striking environment, this may suit you well. Many tourists avoid this time as it does tend to be quite rainy and dark, but for others this only adds to the atmosphere. The chance to miss the crowds makes it an appealing time to visit Lofoten as you will have plenty of time and space to really embrace all it has to offer.

Activities:
Main ski season is February - April. If you're not into winter sports: It's the perfect time for visiting those small but very unique museums (see below). You definitely need a car to get around. Taking photos along E10 and exploring the must-see places. The best time to photograph the Northern Lights with snow covered mountains as backdrop is from mid-January until late March. Also check out the offered tours in winter like the Trollfjord Cruise or Lofoten Lights Tours (Winter Orca Whale & Safari or Northern Lights Tour). While the warmer months are perfect for hiking, winter is definitely not. Darkness, rain and snow make a hike on your own very difficult and even dangerous. Exceptions are guided hikes/walks like this a Snowshoe Walk or a Guided Lofoten Winter Hike. In general November and December are probably the worst month for longer outdoor activities, as it's usually very rainy, windy and icy. A traditional and memorable activity is the famous historical cod fishing every winter in February and March.

Roads:
Road conditions depend on the weather and you need to drive carefully in the winter. However roads are cleared on a regular basis and are usually open to traffic and drivable. Experienced Lofoten visitors and locals say a 4x4 is not necessary if you stay on the main roads.

Eating:
Some restaurants are closed in the winter. However, in towns like Svolvær or Leknes you'll have no problem finding open restaurants, even in deep winter. Shops are usually open regardless if they're in 'smaller' or bigger town. Which means that self catering is an option in the small towns.
 

Spring (April - May)

  • Weather: Still chilly, snow can continue until May. April feels and looks like winter. More sunshine than in winter, however!
  • Crowds: Quite reasonable, although they begin to pick up a bit as the days get longer and warmer.
  • Highlights: Northern Lights are still visible until mid-April. Midnight sun begins May 26.

The months of April and May are usually still fairly chilly, while snowfall is quite common in early April. It may also snow throughout May. Those who visit Lofoten should bring warm clothing to keep warm on the crisp days and nights. Many consider this a great time to visit, as the conditions are more accessible yet you avoid the heavy crowds of the summer months.

Due to the ongoing snowfall and the added bonus of much longer days, those seeking wintery activities will not be disappointed if visiting Lofoten. You may also notice a change in the scenery, as the white snow gives way to lush green foliage in many places.

Spring also brings a welcome relief from the short days of winter, you can expect to have long days with plenty of light to make exploring Lofoten much more accessible. Lofoten's waterways and waterfalls will be at their powerful best due to the melting snow.

Activities:
The main ski season is still in full swing in April, and many resorts stay open through May. Other outdoor activities include hiking, fishing and kayaking. While April is too difficult for self-guided hikes, in May hiking tours are more likely. However, you need to be careful, as rockfalls and avalanches can present a danger as much of the ice melts quickly and causes the terrain to be unstable in some parts. Museums are a must-visit in spring and of course you need a rental car to get around on your own. Check with the operators for available tours in the spring like kayaking along the Lofoten islands coast or other Lofoten Tours. Tip: Although the Northern Lights can still be spotted until mid-April, this phenomena shouldn't be the main reason to travel here in April. There are definitely better month for the Northern Lights.

 

Summer (June, July, August)


Lofoten View by Sören Schaper, CC BY-ND, cropped

  • Weather: Best chance of good weather during July and August. Average degrees about 15°C. On sunny days max temp of 25C° is not uncommon. Most sunshine, although rain and especially many cloudy days in a row can happen.
  • Crowds: The most popular time of year, Lofoten is very busy with local and international tourists. Many hotels and attractions will be at full capacity.
  • Highlights: Midnight sun from May 26 - July 17 (24 hours of daylight). Northern lights are back by the end of August

Although it is only in more recent years that international tourists have flocked to Lofoten, it has long been a beloved summer destination for Norwegians. Thanks to its beautiful scenery and up to 24 hours of sunshine per day, summer is peak tourist season in Lofoten as locals and international travellers flock to this outdoor paradise. Expect these months to be lively and busy.

By the time June rolls around, almost all of the snow has melted away and been replaced by lush green plant life, completing transforming the look of the islands. By early July you can spot hillsides covered flowerbeds. Although the weather remains somewhat unpredictable, it sometimes even reaches highs of 25 degrees Celsius. Blue skies are common, although so too are many cloudy overcast days and rain.

Unique is the midnight sun, which means all-day and all-night sunshine. It occurs between late May and mid-July. For those who have never experienced this, it is incredibly surreal to be able to hike in full sunshine at 2am. Even for those who experience it regularly, there is a certain charm that comes with such abundant sunshine and all it allows you to do.

Tourist Crowds:
Given all the benefits of summer in Lofoten, it is unsurprising that this is peak tourist time, with many accommodation places and restaurants completely booking out, even months in advance. While its popularity means that Lofoten in summer is a lively, exciting place, it is recommended to book well ahead of time so as to avoid any disappointments. While the whole summer is busy, the peak month is definitely July. Then all the famous areas like Reine or for example the parking lot to popular Kvalvika beach will be overcrowded. Especially when cruise ships arrive, the well-known places will be packed. Read our tips in the section below on how to dodge the crowds. By mid-August, the crowds have died down a fair bit, although so too has the sunshine. For many, a visit between mid-August and late August is the best of both worlds – allowing you to experience summer in Lofoten, but without the intense crowds.

Activities:
Summer time has the most opportunities to try every outdoorsy activity like fishing tours, canoeing and of course hiking. From mid-June the trails are usually snow-free and you can do almost everything from short 1-3 hour walks at the coast to full day hikes or even longer. Be careful until mid-June, as some routes are still snow covered in early June, especially on Austvågøy. Besides hiking every other activity, except skiing of course, is available in the summer: From amazing day tours, like a midnight sun walk to kayaking or fishing trips. For more flexibility getting around in a rental car is recommended. The museums can be a bit crowded in summer. Visit them early in the morning.

Camping:
Not only is the summer weather perfect for outdoor activities, but it also makes camping a great option. Norway famously gives everyone "the right to roam", and camping in the mountains and countryside is permitted anywhere by anyone as long as you are at least 150m from any inhabited houses or cabins.
 

Autumn (September - October)


Reine September 2010 by Simo Räsänen, CC BY-SA, cropped, colored

  • Weather: Days are getting shorter and more rainfall. It gets worse in October with storms, even more rain and first snowfall.
  • Crowds: A quiet time to visit Lofoten, as the summer crowds are gone.
  • Highlights: Northern lights are visible in September and October

The autumnal months of September and October bring even more unpredictability to the weather on Lofoten, discouraging the crowds and leaving much more room for visitors to breathe and relax. While autumn's reputation for being extremely unpredictable discourages many visitors, others enjoy seeing this side of the islands. Lofoten is a nature lover's paradise and it is so beloved due to its dramatic landscapes. In many ways, autumn is the best time to experience this, as it is when mother nature shows her true power on Lofoten and the weather becomes the most volatile. This allows visitors to experience the many faces of Lofoten, whether in the midst of a rainstorm or on a crystal-clear day. Another advantage are the lower accommodation rates and the possibility to book last-minute.

September: An interesting month, since the crowds thin out even more. The one downside is falling temperatures together with even more unpredictable weather. However, it doesn't get too cold in September and besides rain and strong breezes it can be sunny and warm as well. Additionally, September is bringing many beautiful colours to the landscape. Visitors can see diverse landscapes where leaves are a startling red-orange. Many outdoor tours from summer are usually still being offered till the end of September.

October: This is the time when it gets 'worse'. Visitors may experience heavy rainfall, storms, dark days, falling temperatures and the first snow. That's why at the beginning of October many 'part time locals' pack their things and leave. Of course, there are often still nice days in October, but the odds are getting lower.

However, autumn sees the return of the Northern Lights to Lofoten, so those looking to experience this unique and enigmatic phenomena may wish to consider September or October. This is a big plus, regardless of the weather conditions.

Activities:
Most summer tours are still available till the end of September. Thus, you can do all kinds great day tours, like kayaking or even a Summer Photography Tour in September. Even self-guided hiking is still an option. However, you need to be careful as the rain can be responsible for a very slippery terrain. No tourist crowds, hiking tours, wide range of outdoor activities and the chance to spot northern lights make September a very interesting month. Later in October the downside is fewer tours offered by operators. Due to first snowfall hiking tours along with longer outdoor activities are no longer a good idea. But still, even in October you can admire the scenery from inside your car, stop at beaches or fjords, get out for taking photos, get back in warm up and drive to the next spot.

NO Norway

The blowholes at Dolomite Point are best visited during high tide with the south westerly swell: Tide times Westport The Pancake Rocks are easily accessible and a popular destination also for tour buses. It's less crowded in the evening, and the sunset is spectacular.

Weather (Westport)

Expect a pleasant summer and mild winter. The temps in summer are up to 25°C/77°F, in spring and fall up to 17°C/63°F. A high amount of precipitation the whole year on average each month more than 200 mm except February which is usually a little drier. Spring is the wettest season influenced by the winds from the Tasman Sea. It increases quickly closer to the mountains. As the locals say “go deep, go steep, get wet”.  Anyhow, some hikes include a river crossing, and it can be more difficult in spring due to heavy rainfall. Check conditions at the visitor center first.

Where to Stay (Nearby)
  • If you want to spoil yourselves close to the Pancake Rocks, this might be the best stay in the Punakaiki Forest Retreat.
  • Another option are the beautiful Hydrangea Cottages within walking distance of the Pancake Rocks. Perfectly located to watch the sunset.
NZ New Zealand

Best Weather:
Long, cold winters. Mild, but short summers. The warmest months are from June to August and a great time for hiking. In spring the weather is unpredictable: Cold and even snow can linger into April and May. A warm jacket and rain gears are a must-have in spring. Fall months, especially SEPTEMBER and early OCTOBER may be the best months with mild weather, fewer crowds and lots of wildlife. In winter heavy snowfall occurs from December to March.

Avoiding Tourist Crowds:
July and August are also the peak tourist months. Crowds start to thin out after Labor Day in September. In October it even gets much quieter. A perfect month to enjoy many places without many others. Just keep in mind that a lot of facilities close sometime in October and November: NPS Yellowstone - Operating Hours.

Please note, that September became busier in the recent years. It's less busy than in summer but not a super quiet shoulder month anymore. Follow our September Tips:

  • Go mid-September, as it gets quieter. A great sweet spot week is the last week in September.
  • Go as early as possible. If you get up early you'll avoid heavy traffic at the busy areas like Old Faithful or elk rutting spots along the road.
     

Another great month is the first week of June with warm weather and fewer crowds before the peak summer season starts. Again, keep in mind that June became much busier recently: Go early in the morning and try to avoid weekends.
 

US United States