Between the fine wines and delicious dishes, this month’s foodie escapades will have your hands doing a mad dash between your cutlery and your glass in an attempt to savour all the flavours.
After you’ve lapped up the flavours of Peru’s gastronomic capital city and chowed down on some sumptuous seafood in Sweden, cleanse the palate with a vin from the rolling countryside of Provence or raise a stein in Germany and toast the bountiful feast that September brings.
Raise a stein to toast the world’s greatest beer festival
In Bavaria, an alternative holy trinity has been revered for 500 years: water, barley and hops – the only ingredients permitted in beer, according to the purity law (Reinheitsgebot) adopted by the south German state in 1516. In September, aficionados make a pilgrimage to the tent city on Munich’s Theresienwiese meadow to drink, sing, drink, dance, drink and… well, you get the idea: over seven million litres of beer are swilled each year.
Oktoberfest actually runs for 16 days from mid-September, finishing on the first Sunday in October. Colourfully bedecked horse-drawn brewery carriages brighten up the opening ceremony, followed by an evening concert showcasing traditional folk music and a big procession. There’s plenty of Bavarian cuisine on hand to soak up the suds, plus activities to keep the family happy. Don your dirndl or lederhosen, raise a Maß (one-litre glass) and get glugging.
- Trip plan: As you’d imagine, Munich during Oktoberfest gets busy – it pays to book transport, accommodation and a place in a beer tent well in advance.
- Need to know: Munich’s beer halls are a delight at all times, but particularly during Starkbierzeit in February and March, celebrating the eponymous strong beer.
- Other months: Mar-Apr & Sep-Oct – cool; Nov-Feb – very cold, Christmas markets; May-Aug – warm, frequent rain.
Savour the flavours of South America’s culinary capital
Peru’s capital is a huge, ancient, chaotic, modern, vibrant contradiction, where Spanish colonial architecture meets pre-Columbian remains and gleaming high-rises. It’s also the continent’s gastronomic hotspot, with a host of renowned chefs such as Gastón Acurio producing both long-time favourites such as ceviche (lime-marinated fish) or carapulcra (pork and potato stew) and innovative creations. As Peruvian cuisine makes waves overseas, so its proponents continue to push the envelope in Lima.
In September you can discover the latest taste trends at the annual Mistura food festival, with cooking demos, samples of new products and restaurant awards. This is a fine month to explore further afield, too, offering great weather but lower numbers on Inca Trail treks (book well ahead anyway) and at other key sites.
- Trip plan: Explore the colonial gems and museums of Centro, including the cathedral and the catacombs of the Monasterio de San Francisco, and visit the pre-Columbian ruins at Pachacamac, 20 miles (32km) to the southeast. Many of the finest restaurants are clustered in the Mirafores and San Isidro districts.
- Need to know: Half- and full-day food tours usually include a market visit and a cooking class, learning to prepare ceviche and other typical dishes.
- Other months: Year round – hottest and driest Apr-Oct.
Roam the vineyards during Provence’s grape harvest
France isn’t short of vineyards. With more than 300 appellations producing 4.5 billion litres each year, you don’t have to go far to find a hillside clad with neat rows of vines. Come September, the pickers are out in force harvesting the grapes in the annual vendange (grape harvest) – and with fine weather blessing the Provençal countryside, and the masses departed back to the cities, this is a dream month for exploring the region.
Villages are bustling, market stalls are laden with autumn produce, and communities celebrate the harvest with festivities. The trickiest challenge is picking where to explore: coastal Cassis or Côtes de Provence, the rocky hills of the Vaucluse or famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape along the Rhône between Orange and former papal seat Avignon?
- Trip plan: Make a multi-day loop from Avignon, first heading northeast into the Vaucluse to the vineyards and charming hilltop villages beneath mighty Mont Ventoux, before heading west to admire the monumental Roman theatre at Orange and meandering down the Rhône Valley through Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
- Need to know: Look out for menus featuring another less-known but delicious Provençal product being harvested in September: riz rouge – Camargue red rice.
- Other months: Jul-Aug – summer, very busy; Sep-Oct – warm, beautiful light; Nov-Mar – cooler, wetter; Apr-Jun – warm, spring blooms.
Think pink along Sweden’s seafood-crazed shore
Love shellfish? The world’s your oyster on West Sweden’s Bohuslän coast north of Göteborg (Gothenburg). This tessellated shoreline, noted for its pink granite rocks, produces Sweden’s finest seafood. September marks the start of lobster season, the perfect time to explore the 8000 or so islands and rocky islets along the coast, sampling the local langoustine, prawn, mussel, oyster and, of course, those big-clawed crustaceans.
Join a ‘seafood safari’ with fishermen from Smögen to catch and cook your own, or – even better – hire a canoe and paddle among colourful fishing villages such as Gullholmen, Käringön and Fiskebäckskil, stopping off to taste test the area’s welcoming eateries: try Salt och Sill in charming Klädesholmen.
- Trip plan: Göteborg, Sweden’s second city, is the gateway to the Bohuslän coast and has international flights. Travel is easiest with a vehicle, though cycling around local centres is a great idea. Islands are linked to the mainland by bridges or short ferry rides.
- Need to know: Don’t be alarmed if someone proposes fika – Swedes are partial to these regular pauses for coffee and cake.
- Other months: Jun-Aug – sunny, busy; May & Sep-Oct – pleasant, quiet; Nov-Apr – cold.
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.
Last updated August 2017.