Yachts at dawn in beautiful Sardinia © Hemera / Thinkstock

Bathe in the shallow waters of one of the most beautiful beaches on earth in Madagascar, or head down to South America just in time for Argentina's peak ski season, with our round-up of the best travel destinations for your August holidays.

Best August holidays for ... beaches

Short haul: Sardinia
With around 300 days of sunshine a year, Sardinia is a pocket of craggy shorelines and flower-strewn hillsides in the middle of the Mediterranean. White-sand beaches, Evian-clear waters, charismatic towns and a rich history all combine to create a magical island setting. Sardinia's Costa Smeralda (‘Emerald Coast') is home to La Cinta, one of the most famous beaches in Sardinia. This stretch of stunning coastline is Sardinia's answer to the French Riviera and is the perfect place to spot the Prada-clad glitterati whilst sipping a cocktail or two. The popular resort of Alghero also offers lovely, unspoilt beaches: long, sandy and etched with cool fragrant pine trees.

Long haul: Madagascar
Surrounded by golden beaches, the world's fourth largest island is one of the most diverse and beautiful beach destinations on earth. One of the best beaches in Madagascar is Sakalava Bay, where you can bathe in the shallow waters on crisp white sands or explore the stunning coral reef with snorkel and flippers. The remote spot also has rustic bungalows for a budget-friendly stay with character. For an even more remote island, Ile Sainte Marie sits just off Madagascar's east coast and is a virtual tropical paradise with lush vegetation and stunning wildlife.

Best August holidays for ... outdoors

Short haul: Azores
Discover volcanoes and hot springs on the beautiful Azores islands, west of Portugal. Starting in the capital of Ponta Delgada, take in the volcanic craters of the Lagoa de Furnas and the lush island of Terceira. A boat trip into the wildlife-rich waters surrounding the islands is the perfect place for whale and dolphin spotting, whilst an exploration into the subterranean caves of Terceira are reminiscent of Lord of the Rings territory. A highlight of the islands is a walk through the lava-hewn landscape of Biscoitos, before taking a cooling dip in one of the natural pools as the sea crashes against the rocks below.

Long haul: Argentina
Whilst the northern hemisphere might be hotting up in August, those hankering for snow, slopes and après-ski should head to Argentina, just in time for the country's peak ski season. Patagonia and the resorts around Bariloche are the best places to head, with snowboarding, skiing and a range of fantastic runs on offer. Enjoy the powder at the resorts of Las Leñas and Penitentes or slalom through the forested terrain at Chapelco. With fantastic amenities, accommodation and ski schools, Argentina is one the great unsung ski destinations in the world. 

Best August holidays for ... cities

Short haul: Edinburgh
For 11 months of the year, Edinburgh is a relaxed capital city, enjoying the calm that comes with a small population. But come August, it all changes when the city stages the largest arts celebration in the world. August in Edinburgh is like no place else on earth. The city fills with thousands of visitors anxious to catch the rising stars of the comedy circuit, hear their favourite authors read from their books, or immerse themselves in the classical music and challenging theatre of the three-week Edinburgh International Festival, starting on 13 August.

Long haul: Jakarta
Jakarta's tropical climate means the dry season (May-September) is the best time to visit as the humidity starts to drop and temperatures hover around 30°C (86°F). Jakarta is the beating heart of Indonesia, the archipelago in a nutshell. Indonesia's capital is also the ultimate city of contrasts, a city of surprises and many faces. The historic old town (Kota) is like a time warp and brings to life the city's colonial roots, while just streets away gleaming new glass and steel skyscrapers reach for the heavens in a skyline that has been transformed beyond recognition.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.