Chilled-out city trips and relatively crowd-free beaches are on the agenda in November. Find your ideal hideaway on Goa’s quieter shores; combine luxury and adventure in pre-peak season Abu Dhabi; surf, swim and sip cocktails on Australia’s sunshine coast; or have a cooler cultural break in Spain’s foodie capital.
Unwind with these recommendations from our (tension-free) travel experts.
Dry skies and blissful boltholes abound in Goa, India
Goa is no longer the hippy enclave it once was. The boho beaches of Anjuna and Vagator are increasingly commercialised – though still fun for fleamarket browsing and a party vibe. However, Goa has plenty of other peaceful, palm-wafted enclaves. Seek them out in November (average 28°C; 82°F), when the landscape is lush from the recent monsoon but barely a raindrop falls. The state’s south tends to be quieter – there are fishing villages and scenic sands around Canacona where you can chill in coastal bungalows or heritage homestays. Try Agonda Beach or Galgibag. In the north, head for the area around Morjim and Mandrem, home to funky bars and boutique hotels, as well as an inventive Goan-fusion foodie scene.
- Trip plan: Fly to Goa’s Dabolim Airport and choose the bolthole that best suits. There are backpacker cabins, converted Portuguese mansions and a proliferation of yoga retreats (especially in the north). Allow time for a spice plantation tour, the ruins of Old Goa and a houseboat cruise along the Siolim River’s backwaters.
- Need to know: The scenic Mumbai – Mangalore Konkan Railway crosses Goa.
- Other months: Oct-Mar – dry, cool; Apr-May – hot; Jun-Sep – monsoon, wet.
Head to Abu Dhabi for manageable heat and artistic masterpieces
A few decades ago, this spot on the Persian Gulf was no more than a fishing village. Now UAE capital Abu Dhabi is a metropolis of glass and steel, dripping in oil money and six-star hotels. If you want a luxe stay with guaranteed sun (30°C; 86°F), unlikely rain and well-groomed sandy beaches, a November visit to this Emirate might be just the thing. The overpowering summer heat has subsided, but the winter peak hasn’t yet begun, so cheaper deals are possible. You can enjoy Abu Dhabi’s expanding cultural side too. See Islamic worship at its most opulent at the vast Sheikh Zayed Mosque, which has 80 domes and the world’s largest hand-loomed carpet. Also, the new Jean Nouvel-designed Abu Dhabi Louvre and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim (open in 2017) add significant architectural and artistic heft. Works by the likes of Andy Warhol and Leonardo da Vinci will be on display.
- Trip plan: Combine a luxury hotel stay with activities: walk the Corniche, visit the mosque and museums, venture inland for camel rides and dune-bashing.
- Need to know: Sheikh Zayed Mosque is open to non-Muslims in conservative dress.
- Other months: Apr & Nov – hot, quieter; May-Sep – roasting; Dec-Mar – mildest, busy, wettest (though still dry).
Laid back shores, with waves and wildlife, await along Australia’s sunshine coast
The clue is in the name: Queensland’s Sunshine Coast – stretching from Caloundra to Noosa – enjoys warm weather year-round; even winter days can top 20°C (68°F). It’s also less brash and blingy than the Gold Coast, further south. In November (late spring), temperatures are around 27°C (81°F), and the beaches are emptier and inviting. Nestled alongside a headland at the mouth of a river, gorgeous Noosa is the pick of the shoreline. Vintage shops and cheap cafes mingle with chic boutiques and restaurants – part surf-grunge, part Côte d’Azure. Alternatively, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore are less fancy, but offer great waves, surf schools and cool bars. The best base for families is Caloundra, with its watersports, boardwalks and soft sands. For something different, head into the hinterland for hikes in the Glass House Mountains, fine arts and fresh produce in Mapleton and Maleny, and a visit to Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo.
- Trip plan: With four/five days, mix beach time with a zoo visit, surf lessons and a river cruise.
- Need to know: The Sunshine Coast is around 60 miles (97 km; two hours’ drive) north of Brisbane.
- Other months: Dec-Feb – hot, busy; Mar-May – warm; Jun-Aug – mild; Sep-Nov – warm, cheaper.
Mingle with the locals in Madrid
The main reason to visit Madrid is not its monuments or museums – though there are some good ones. The Spanish capital’s chief draw is the lifestyle of the madrileños themselves, whose infectious energy flows from tapas bars and terraces all night long. Consequently, for a more local atmosphere, visit Madrid when it’s largely free of tourists – such as off-season November. Weather can be variable – some sunny T-shirt days, some wet ones – but the latter don’t dampen the marcha (action). When it’s warm, stroll the grand plazas and medieval alleys, and browse the massive Rastro fleamarket (Sundays, year-round). If the weather turns, shelter in the Prado, Reina Sofía and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, home to world-class art, including paintings by Goya, Velázquez, Dalí and Picasso. Allow lots of time to eat, too. Foodie Madrid has everything from gastronomic hotspots to traditional tapas bars. Do try churros con chocolate (fried pastries and melted chocolate), just the thing to warm up a November night.
- Trip plan: Madrid warrants at least three days. Try to catch a football match at the Bernabéu (advance booking required).
- Need to know: Lunch is the main meal; dinner is usually eaten late (9pm to 10pm).
- Other months: Dec-Feb – cold; Mar-May & Sep-Nov – warm/cool; Jun-Aug – hot.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out our book Where To Go When for 360 ultimate escapes from family-friendly adventures to animal encounters and relaxing retreats.