Is there a better time to hit the road than September? The great shoulder season of travel offers prime conditions for exploring a vast array of big-name destinations spanning Barcelona to Beijing.
So whether you want to laze on uncrowded European sands, venture through South American rainforests in full bloom or circle sacred peaks in Central Asia, September offers something to suit every type of explorer.
The world's largest beer festival is a major draw for beer lovers © Francois Cadiou / Getty Images
...for food and drink
Travellers with a fondness for fish dishes should make a pilgrimage to West Sweden’s Bohuslän Coast come September, for the start of lobster season. The region is famed for producing the country’s finest seafood, and visitors here can spend days canoeing between rickety fishing villages sampling fresh prawns, oysters and, of course, those coveted crustaceans. Top-notch seafood dishes also await in Lima, one of South America’s culinary capitals, where ceviche (lime-marinated fish) is an essential eat. A visit in September also coincides with the city’s Mistura food festival, with cooking demos and restaurant awards – plus stacks of free samples – showcasing the best of Peruvian cuisine.
September is also a significant month for any member of the ‘barley literati’, as the world’s most famous beer festival, Oktoberfest, kickstarts in Munich, drawing lederhosen-clad, beer-chugging crowds who dance, sing and... well, drink the night away. A more civilised prospect is on offer in Provence, as September marks the start of the the annual vendange (grape harvest). Local festivals, fresh produce and fine weather mean plenty of chances to sample a flute of the region’s renowned rosé.
Hungry for more? Read more about these foodie forays.
The Great Wall is magnificent in autumn, and receives fewer visitors than during summer © Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock
Sipping a Guiness in a Dublin pub is one of the Irish capital’s essential cultural experiences (and rightly so), but come September it’s another series of historic venues that take centre stage as the Dublin Fringe Festival rolls into town, bringing with it an exciting mishmash of off-the-wall theatre, film and art installations. A more active cultural soirée awaits in Tibet, where the summer rains have eased and conditions are perfect for joining devotees on the kora (pilgrimage circuit) of holy Mt Kailash.
Weather conditions are also highly favourable in Beijing during September, a period locals refer to as ‘tian gao qi shuang’ – ‘The sky is high and the air is fresh’. Visits to historical highlights including the Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Great Wall – which is set against autumnal colours of scarlet, orange and gold – are far more breezy than the hot and busy summer months. Less crowded too are the honey-hued English villages of The Cotswolds, where thatched cottages, medieval stone churches and cosy riverside pubs hark back to a bygone era (especially now the bus tours have eased off).
Learn more about these cultural getaways.
Dine in family-run restaurants and swim in turquoise coves in Corsica © Samuel Borges Photography / Shutterstock
Europe’s beaches are generally quieter come September, but those seeking serious seclusion should head to northern Cyprus, home to some of the Med’s most unspoilt sands. A visit in September also provides the opportunity to see turtles hatching as part of one of Protection of Turtles’ eco-sensitive night tours. Placating wildlife experiences are similarly on offer among the emerald-ringed islands that make up The Whitsundays in Australia. Snorkel in the bath-warm waters to spot dolphins, dive to glimpse manta rays or simply count sheep while dozing on some of the world’s most celebrated shorelines.
For many of us, tranquillity is often found at the dinner table, and a visit to Italy’s Puglia region is good for both the soul and, historically, the finances. Pugliese cuisine is known in Italy as cucina povera (poor kitchen), but despite this handle the Italian region’s specialities are real treasures – think thick urrata cheese, orecchiette pasta and endless varieties of breads. Memorable dining experiences are also on the menu in Corsica, home to family-run restaurants in remarkable cliff-perched towns and time-frozen villages. After lunch stroll to one of the island’s scenic viewpoints or take to the water with a boat tour around the island’s blissful bays.
Delve deeper into these rejuvenating destinations.
Seek out magnificent waterfalls, amazing wildlife and unique local culture in lesser-travelled Guyana © Michael Bluschke / Shutterstock
...for the journey
Shrouded in old-world allure, the Silk Road is one of the classic routes for travellers seeking off-the-beaten-path adventure. September is an optimum month to get your fill: not meltingly hot in Turkmenistan’s deserts, not too snowy in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and largely free of tourist crowds around the grand tiled medressas of Uzbekistan. Equally as intrepid, though opposite in its geography, Guyana’s rainforests are magnificent at this time of year. A hike to Kaieteur Falls, an aweing 226m waterfall, is the big-ticket attraction, but with local cultures to experience and serious wildlife to spot, there’s something here to satisfy every adventurer.
Over in Europe, two aquatic odysseys are primed for the undertaking during September. The recently way-marked Moselsteig footpath, which runs along the banks of the Moselle river, takes travellers on a tantalising tour of Germany’s terraced vineyards, riverside hamlets and medieval castles. Meanwhile in Greece, September poses the perfect time to hop around the Aegean. Skip the tourist ferries and catch the old cruisers to some of the region’s lesser-frequented isles and you’ll likely find a golden stretch of sand and traditional taverna all to yourself.