September is one of the very best months to travel. The lazy days of summer might be over, but temperatures throughout Europe are still pleasant, and days are long and bright. Now schools are back in session, airports, beaches, and cities are less crowded, and prices are significantly lower. Plus, in the UK, the prevalence of Indian summers means it’s a good time for a staycation too.
So if you’re planning to defer your summer holiday gratification by a month or two, and seek new adventures at the start of autumn, where should you go? To inspire you, here are 10 of the best travel destinations to visit in September.
1. Corsica, France
While the South of France remains busy throughout September, Corsica is a different matter, and this sun-drenched, mountainous island somehow remains one of France’s best-kept secrets. Located just over 100 miles from southern France – and only seven miles north of Sardinia – it boasts astonishing geographical diversity. Plus, in September, the crowds have dispersed, so it’s the best time to explore.
The landscape here ranges from rugged mountains and lush valleys to ancient forests and sparkling bays. You can stay in vibrant coastal cities or historic hilltop villages, and spend your days hiking and canyoning or swimming and sunbathing. Culture enthusiasts can explore the island’s French, Italian, and African influences, while history buffs will enjoy visiting the imposing fortresses and castles.
2. The Cotswolds, United Kingdom
The Cotswolds is one of the loveliest places in the world, not just the UK – and it’s a joy at any time of year. If you’re thinking about a staycation, however, September is perhaps the very best time to visit. The tour buses and crowds of tourists have (mostly) gone, yet the weather is still fine enough to make the most of the gorgeous rural scenery, with average highs of around 19°C.
Early autumn also brings the best of the harvest, and local produce is at its most delicious. You can spend mornings hiking through fields of weeping willows and past trickling rivers, and afternoons admiring the famous honey-coloured cottages that are clambered over by wisteria and roses. Then, in the evenings, head into one of the region’s many cosy pubs and restaurants and enjoy a feast.
3. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona in September isn’t exactly quiet but the summer tourists have gone – and if you’re hoping for a city break that also combines a beach holiday, there’s nowhere better. Temperatures are still warm, with highs of around 26°C, yet it’s far more pleasant than the often-scorching summers. Locals are still in holiday mode, spending days lounging on the beach, and nights eating and drinking til late.
Plus, if you like immersing yourself in local culture, you’ll be interested to know that there are two cultural events in September. On 11th September, it’s Catalonia’s National Day, and the city closes for traditional celebrations and concerts. Then, later in the month, it’s the week-long Fiestas de la Mercè, and lots of exciting music performances, carnivals, and parades appear all over the city.
4. Crete, Greece
September is the perfect month for exploring the Greek Islands. Temperatures are milder than their summer peak but still hot enough to sunbathe, sea temperatures are at their balmiest best, and the sky is a dazzling blue. Plus, now the families have left, exploring the busiest islands is a far more pleasant experience, and you can enjoy a relaxed, lazy holiday, away from the crowds.
Of all the Greek islands, Crete arguably has the most going for it. It’s not only the largest, but it’s also the most diverse, and you can visit the traditional villages of the untouched western part of the island, as well as the beaches along the coast. Plus, Crete is also known for its delicious cuisine, so foodies can make the most of the excellent local produce, from cheese and wine to olive oil and Cretan sweets.
5. Maine, USA
New England is a haven for summer holidaymakers, who are drawn by its beautiful beaches, famous lobster shacks, and charming coastal towns. September is your last chance to make the most of this state’s delicious seafood, as well as its sunny days and warm weather; the only reason Maine isn’t more of a year-round tourist hub is due to its unfeasibly bleak and snowy winters.
Plus, while Maine is as big as the other five New England states combined, its population is the size of Rhode Island, which means you can enjoy a unique sense of solitude. The hiking in Acadia National Park is second to none, and you can hike up Cadillac Mountain to watch the sunrise, marvel at the huge rock formations, and take some time for reflection as you watch the ocean crash onto the rocks.
6. Zanzibar, Tanzania
If you’re dreaming about an exotic beach break, few places can compete with Zanzibar. Made up of four main islands and a smattering of smaller ones, the Zanzibar archipelago is located off the Tanzanian coast, and it’s difficult to convey the beauty of this part of the world. It can seem like a mirage, all salt-white sands, pastel-hued skies, swaying palm trees, and warm, electric-blue waters.
There’s plenty of culture and history here too, and in the island’s capital, Zanzibar Town, you can lose yourself in the maze-like, UNESCO-listed Stone Town. Influenced by African, Indian, Arabic, European, and Persian cultures, it’s intoxicatingly unique. In September, it’s dry and warm rather than stifling, so it’s the ideal weather to explore these old, spice-scented alleys, sip coffee, and barter in the bazaar.
7. Rome, Italy
Rome, the Eternal City, is one of the busiest and most popular capitals in the world. Thanks to its wealth of historic and cultural attractions, millions flock here each year, and in the height of summer, the stuffy heat and throngs of tourists can make exploring rather arduous. In September, however, temperatures are manageable, and the city’s ancient ruins and iconic landmarks are less crowded.
Rome’s history stretches back 3,000 years, and as you explore the ruins of the Colosseum, the weight of the city’s past is palpable. There are so many things to see and do here that you’ll never be able to tick them all off, so it’s best to take your time; enjoy lazy mornings sipping an espresso in a piazza, feast on thin-crust pizza while people-watching, and enjoy gelato and local wine in the evenings.
8. Tbilisi, Georgia
It wasn’t long ago that Georgia was viewed as a backpacking secret, but in just a few short years this unique South Caucasus country has surged into the mainstream. And it’s easy to see why; the diverse landscape, ancient history, and rich culture mean there’s something here for everyone. While cities like Batumi and Mtskheta are packed with charm, it’s the capital Tbilisi that’s most compelling.
Home to more than one in three of Georgia’s citizens, Tbilisi is the beating heart of the country, and this historic city boasts a picturesque valley setting, characterful Old Town, eclectic architecture, and delicious food and drink. Summers are hot and humid, and winters are freezing, so September is the ideal time to make the most of the South Caucasus’ most cosmopolitan and intriguing city.
9. Galway, Ireland
Colourful, bohemian Galway is one of Ireland’s most scenic and engaging cities, and while it’s fun at any time of year, September has a special kind of charm – particularly if you’re a fan of seafood. The last weekend of the month marks the beginning of the Galway International Oyster Festival, and you can take part in cooking classes, tasting trails, and even the World Oyster Opening Championships.
When you’re not washing down these local delicacies with stout, there’s plenty more to keep you occupied. Brightly painted pubs throb with live music, the cobblestoned streets are lined with buskers and street theatre performers, and traditional shops sell handcrafted Claddagh rings and unique books. The River Corrib is also perfect for leisurely strolls and gorgeous riverside views.
10. Sicily, Italy
There’s never a bad time to go to Sicily, but September is one of its most idyllic months, and the wind that blows from Africa makes this captivating island warm, yet not oppressively hot. Due to the popularity of the TV series White Lotus, Sicily has experienced a surge in tourism this year but, by September, the enchanting baroque towns and rugged beaches won’t be so crowded.
Plus, if you’re planning on doing some hiking, the cooler weather means challenging hikes, like the trek up Mount Etna, become more manageable. The food here is also delicious in any season, but the September harvest is an excellent opportunity to experience the best of Sicily’s gastronomy – while culture fans will be pleased to know that September marks the beginning of opera season.
As summer holidays draw to an end, and the cooler autumn weather begins to hit, travelling to warmer climates can seem seriously appealing.
September offers a very different travel climate from the one experienced in the heady days of summer, and aside from temperatures being milder – which is often a very good thing – the prices are lower, and the crowds fewer.
But while European islands like Sicily, Corsica, and Crete have never been more alluring – and city break destinations like Rome and Barcelona come into their own – you might also want to consider staying closer to home. The Cotswolds is stunning in September, and Galway is the perfect choice for a city break with lots of seafood.
Or, if you’re up for longer-haul travel, why not head across the pond to Maine – another hotspot for seafood enthusiasts, as well as those seeking solitude? If you’re searching for sun, sea, and sand instead, then Zanzibar is a truly blissful destination – or for something unique, Georgia’s Tbilisi will offer an unforgettable experience.
Or to browse more holidays at great prices, check out our round-up of top travel deals below.
Have you been to any of these destinations in September – or are you tempted to go this year? Do you have any other recommendations for the best places to visit in September? We’d love to hear about your travel experiences in the comments below.