August is one of the warmest months of the year in the UK, and while it's slightly cooler than July on average, there's also the chance of heatwaves and higher-than-average temperatures, particularly in southern England. The weather is usually dry, but be prepared for unseasonably cool or wet conditions.
The average summer temperatures across the UK span from 64°F to 69°F (18°C to 21°C), but this varies from north to south, and London and other parts of southern England often swelter in temperatures in the high 80s°F (low 30s°C). Average lows/highs in the other capitals are as follows: Edinburgh 52°F/64°F (11°C/18°C), Belfast 54°F/66°F (12°C/19°C), and Cardiff 57°F/72°F (14°C/22°C). Although daylight hours begin to decline as the days progress in August, they are still quite long. London receives 15 to 13.5 hours, while Edinburgh has 16 to 14 hours.
Crowds & Costs
August is one of the busiest travel months, along with July; schools in the UK and across Europe are on summer vacation. With generally good weather, coastal areas, in particular, get crowded. Edinburgh is especially busy throughout August due to the month-long Edinburgh Festival Fringe and related events held in the city at the same time. As it's one of the world's largest arts festivals, it's essential to book accommodation and plan trips to Scotland well in advance.
And if you’re prepared to walk rather than drive and sidestep the bigger towns and resorts, you can still find your own little patch of calm on the coast or in the mountains of Wales.
Where to Go
Many vacationers head to the coast in August, but the United Kingdom has a very long coastline, and many places aren't quite so popular with the locals (avoid England's busy Brighton, Whitby, Scarborough, or the beaches of Cornwall if you don't like crowds). For a more relaxed beach vacation and if you're prepared to walk a little way, head to Wales' North Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, the Llŷn Peninsula, and Anglesey. As well as beautiful beaches, you can enjoy cliffside hikes, water sports, and wildlife spotting.
If you're trying to avoid the masses, you may prefer to skip Edinburgh in August. Yet if you're planning a visit centering around the arts, now is a fantastic time to plan a holiday, thanks to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (see more below). Be sure to book your holiday well in advance. London's Notting Hill Carnival (see more below) is an excellent reason to spend time in the English capital toward the end of the month. The Caribbean-themed street festival has been running for over 50 years.
In Northern Ireland, drive along the Causeway Coast, and stop to see the Giant's Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and the Sperrin Mountains.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
August is a great month to hike along the coastlines or through the UK's national parks. The weather is generally decent for outdoor activities, and it's not as hot as in other European destinations. Hike along the Jurassic Coast in the south of England if you're into fossils and paleontology, through Wales' Brecon Beacons National Park or Snowdonia National Park for hills and mountains and wide-open spaces, or Scotland's Cairngorms National Park for a taste of the rugged Scottish Highlands.
August is also a good time to go on a road trip. The UK is fairly compact so you can cover a lot of ground in a relatively short time. With many beautiful beaches, parks, and historic attractions dotted through more rural areas, getting off the busy main highways is a perfect way to see the real UK. Make sure to carefully plan your overnight stops to always have somewhere to overnight. Favored places like the Cotswolds or the Lake District can be pretty busy in August.
Northern Ireland offers the Ulster Way where you can hike segments like the Lough Bradan-Gortin or the Gortin-Moneyneany for some of the best vistas. And if wanting to take to the water, August is an excellent month to do so. Rent a kayak and paddle a section of the North Coast Sea Kayak Trail between Co. Londonderry and Co. Antrim. Though if it's beaches you're after, make a point to see Downhill Strand in Co. Derry. And there's the province's biggest mountain range, the Sperrin Mountains—an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty—offers four scenic driving routes, worthy of your time and camera.
Events in August
The Proms, London, England. This prestigious classical music concert series is held at London's Royal Albert Hall throughout late summer (mid-July to mid-September).
Féile an Phobail, Belfast, Northern Ireland. This is Ireland's biggest community arts festival, taking place in West Belfast at the beginning of August.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh, Scotland. This spectacular arts festival puts on thousands of events in almost every artistic genre imaginable throughout August and has been doing so for more than 70 years. Other parallel events are held in Edinburgh simultaneously, including film festivals and other exhibits.
Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Edinburgh, Scotland. Another reason to visit Edinburgh in August is to see this massing of military bands, which can be quite a spectacle. It takes place by the beautiful Edinburgh Castle.
Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Bristol, England. Thousands of hot air balloons from around the world gather in mid-August.
Pride Cymru, Cardiff, Wales. Celebrating equality and diversity, Pride Cymru is an annual gay pride festival in late August.
Notting Hill Carnival, London, England. This Caribbean-themed celebration in late August rivals the carnivals of Latin America and the Caribbean, with music, dancing, and colorful costumes.
International Beatleweek, Liverpool, England. Fans of The Beatles (hailing from Liverpool) shouldn't miss this fun music festival held in their home city for seven days in late August.
World Bog Snorkelling Championship, Llanwrtyd Wells, Wales. Where else but in Wales could you see or even participate in the unusual sport of bog snorkeling? Definitely one for the you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it files.
Traveling to the UK in August? Check out these great itineraries
Ultimate Scotland: Golf, Whiskey & Trekking in the Highlands - 14 Days. This epic two-week adventure brings together some of Scotland's most iconic experiences, from golfing at St Andrews to whiskey tasting on the Isle of Skye.
Walking in Beautiful North Wales: Snowdonia & Anglesey - 8 Days. Experience the best of North Wales' rugged highlands, beaches, and historic villages on this eight-day self-guided walking tour through Snowdonia National Park, the Llyn Peninsula, and Anglesey Island.
Walking Tour of Wessex: Salisbury, Stonehenge & Shaftesbury - 8 Days. This self-guided 8-day hiking holiday explores the beautiful countryside of the Wiltshire/Dorset border in southern England.