There’s never a bad time to explore the world, but October offers a particular wealth of experiences for those wanting to get a little closer to another culture.
Journey across the continents to discover remarkable ruins in the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, breathtaking world wonders in Jordan, prime climes and the happiest of people in Bhutan, and the city that never sleeps settling into its most laid-back season.
Visit Bhutan for clear skies, sights and trails in the pristine Himalaya
For the happiest holiday, visit Bhutan. This Himalayan Shangri-La measures success in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than material wealth, and most Bhutanese people live guided by traditional values and spirituality. It’s as refreshing as the mountain air on a crisp October day. Yes, October – the most beautiful month.
Delightful temperatures and dry, blue skies are perfect for hiking and sightseeing; rare black-necked cranes arrive in the Phobjikha Valley too (they stay until February). Cultural journeys involve dramatic drives to dzongs (fortresses), many of which – including Thimphu and Gangtey – host colourful tsechus (festivals) this month. More active trips head into the mountains. There are hikes to suit all levels, from the essential half-day climb to cliff-perched Tiger’s Nest Monastery to the Jhomolhari, a seven-day trek into one of the most pristine parts of the Himalaya.
- Trip plan: A seven- to 10-day trip could include Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, taking in dzongs, views, short walks and traditional activities (archery, hot-stone baths). Allow longer to include multi-day hikes.
- Need to know: Visitors must pay a minimum fee of US$250 a day (US$200 Dec-Feb, Jun-Aug).
- Other months: Dec-Feb – cold, clear; Mar-May – flowers, warm; Jun-Sep – wet; Sep-Nov – cooler, clear, dry.
Discover cool ruins and warm seas in the Peloponnese, Greece
You don't have to visit the Peloponnese in the off season. Inexplicably, though this hand-shaped peninsula has some of Greece’s least-developed beaches, best-preserved sites, most appealing mountains and even the original Arcadia, it sees only a fraction of the tourists that besiege other corners of the country. October offers even smaller crowds as well as clement temperatures (around 22°C; 72°F) for walking amid both hills and ruins.
Must-sees include Olympia, where the Olympic Games was held for 1000 years; the citadel of Mycenae, swirled by Homeric legends; Epidaurus’s 14,000-seater amphitheatre; and the Byzantine port of Monemvasia, huddled on a battleship-like islet. The wild Mani peninsula offers fine hiking, particularly around Výros Gorge, while the west coast has some of Greece’s best sand – head to curvaceous, unspoilt Voidhokilia.
- Trip plan: From Athens, cross onto the Peloponnese via ancient Corinth, and visit nearby Mycenae, Epidaurus and the pretty Venetian town of Nafplio – doable in a few days. With more time, head south to Monemvasia and the Mani, then back north via the west coast and Olympia.
- Need to know: Athens to Corinth is 53 miles (85km; 55-minute drive); buses, trains and ferries run from near Athens to the Peloponnese.
- Other months: Nov-Mar – cold; Apr-May – warming, flowers; Jun-Aug – hot, busy; Sep-Oct – warm, quieter.
Fall fun in the Big Apple
Given that New York never sleeps, there’s no really bad time to visit. The Big Apple will always be expensive, exciting, busy and brilliant, its shops and museums enticing whatever the weather. However, autumn offers respite from the stickiness of summer, while retaining the chance of some lovely warm days (10-20°C; 50- 68°F). The trees are on the turn too. You can see flaming hues in Central Park, Fort Tyron Park and Staten Island’s Greenbelt. Or venture into upstate New York for a full-on fiery feast – try the Adirondack Mountains or the Finger Lakes region (which is also in delicious grape-harvest mode right now).
October is an especially comfortable time for a guided NYC walking tour. Themed options on offer are eclectic, from foraging in Brooklyn and food heritage in Harlem to the gargoyles of Manhattan and the ghosts of the Upper West Side.
- Trip plan: Allow at least five days for NYC. Add an extra five to head upstate – NYC to Syracuse (for the Finger Lakes) is 5½ hours by train.
- Need to know: New York Open House Weekend is held in October – a good chance to peek behind some of the city’s usually closed doors.
- Other months: Nov-Feb – cold, snow possible; Mar-May – warming, showery; Jun-Aug – hot, humid; Sep-Oct – cool.
Southern Jordan has prime climes for exploring world wonders
With scorching summer cooling to balmy autumn (27°C; 81°F), and a few drops of rain greening the countryside, October is a refreshing time to explore two Jordanian gems. Petra, the rock-hewn city carved by secretive Nabateans 2000 years ago, is a man-made wonder to rival any in the world; inching down its Indiana Jones–trodden Siq to reach the Treasury is a bucket-list moment.
Then, a little north, sits Dana Nature Reserve, a wilderness of 1500m sandstone highs and below-sea-level wadis (dry river valleys). Here, there is millennia of human history and rampant nature – junipers and date palms, pistachios and pomegranates, ibex and mountain gazelle. This pretty pair combine easily by road, but best on foot. The 28-mile (45km) Dana to Petra trek – the ‘Middle East Inca Trail’ – follows old Bedouin paths and mule tracks across the rocky desert from Dana’s wadis to Petra’s mighty facades. Nights camped under the stars add extra magic.
- Trip plan: Travel south from Amman, via Madaba’s mosaics and the salty Dead Sea, to Dana. Spend four or more days trekking to Petra. Return to Amman. Allow eight to 10 days.
- Need to know: Amman to Petra direct is 130 miles (210 km; drive of 2½ to three hours).
- Other months: Mar-Apr & Oct-Nov – warm, greener; Dec-Feb – coldest; May-Sep – 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.