September is a great time to get away. It's often cheaper, less crowded and an ideal opportunity to enjoy some peace and quiet before the mad Christmas rush begins.
These are the best places to visit in September, whether you’re looking for a staycation, European mini-break or long-haul adventure.
The best September holiday for… a bargain break in paradise
July and August is monsoon season in the Maldives, but the rains start to clear in September. There may still be some rainfall but it will be patchy, and temperatures will be balmy (in the high twenties).
Because the weather is less predictable, now is the chance to bag a bargain in the Maldives – a couple of weeks in a luxurious over-water villa, perhaps? Shop around: there are some great savings to be made, so you can bag a high-end resort holiday for a fraction of the usual cost.
The best September holiday for… Late summer sun
September is the perfect time to visit Croatia. Temperatures are still in the mid-twenties, but the high season crowds will have dispersed and accommodation will be slightly cheaper.
Take a cruise around the beautiful islands in the Adriatic, where you’ll find breathtaking beaches, pretty ports, Venetian architecture and more… Or visit the annual Giostra Festival in Poreč, which recreates a historical knight tournament held in 1745.
3. Corfu, Greece
The best September holiday for… wildlife and sunshine
Corfu is perfect for September holidays: the extreme heat of the summer has subsided, and the crowds have long departed. It’s the ideal time to visit historic Corfu Town, which boasts numerous museums, 39 churches and twin peaks each capped with a huge fortress.
Then take inspiration from Lee Durrell – famous naturalist and wife of the late Gerald Durrell – and book a tour of the village of Danilia on the east coast. Modelled on a 1930s Corfiot village, it was the setting for much of the second season of ‘The Durrells’ and also featured in the James Bond film ‘For Your Eyes Only’. And don’t forget to take a boat trip to the Greek port of Parga and the tiny, unspoilt island of Paxos.
4. Scilly Isles, UK
The best September holiday for… an easy family beach break – no passports required!
Thanks to the warm winds of the Gulf Stream, the Isles of Scilly – just off the tip of Cornwall – stay warm and dry well into September. And with the summer crowds gone, September is the perfect time to hit the white sand beaches, cycle the bike trails around the islands, or get active on the coast with kayaking, SUP, and even snorkelling with seals.
The five inhabited islands feel wonderfully far-flung, but of course you don’t even have to worry about airport immigration queues or visas. Getting around is all part of the adventure: it’s easy to explore by ferry, and the islands look even more spectacular from the sea.
Top tip: The island of St Mary’s is the gateway to the rest of the archipelago: it’s a quick hop by plane from mainland UK – Cornwall, Newquay and Exeter.
5. Pompeii, Italy
The best September holiday for… food and culture
This month is perfect for exploring Pompeii, the perfectly-preserved slice of Ancient Italy which was engulfed by the cataclysmic eruption of Vesuvius in AD79. With September’s cooler, crowd-free days, Pompeii is yours to explore. Naples makes a great base to start from – it’s only a 30 minute drive or 40 minute bus ride from Pompeii.
As well as visiting Pompeii itself, save some time to tour the galleries of the wonderful Naples Museum, walk the streets of Herculaneum and explore the opulent villas and saltwater baths of the seaside resort of Baiae to see for yourself how Rome’s senators, gladiators, slaves and citizens lived 2,000 years ago.
The best September holiday for… Great weather, and a fab view of the Great Wall
After the heat of the summer, September is the best time to visit China. Temperatures are still mild – perfect for exploring Beijing, meeting Chengdu’s pandas, or walking the Great Wall – and your views won’t be obscured by cloud.
If you’re cruising the Yangtze River, you’ll be rewarded with long days, cool nights, and clear views of the beautiful countryside. Its ancient water towns make a perfect day trip if you’re based in Shanghai.
7. South Africa
The best September holiday for… Whale watching and safaris
South Africa’s dry season falls from May to September, and generally offers some top-notch safari conditions. The animals congregate around watering holes, temperatures are mild (with no rainfall), and the malaria risk is low. In September, you won’t have to do battle with the school summer holiday crowds – so you won’t have to jostle to get great views of the Big Five.
Meanwhile, the coast of Hermanus – a small town in South Africa – is busy with southern right whales, who migrate from Antarctica to these warmer waters to give birth. Stand on the cliffs for the best aerial views, or sign up for an exhilarating sea kayaking trip to get really up-close.
Top tip: September is also the best time to see the colourful wild flower carpets of Namaqualand, in the far west of South Africa.
The best September holiday for… city break without the crowds
The idea of a city break might not seem so appealing in summer, but in September – when the kids are back at school, the temperatures have dropped, and prices are lower – Europe’s cities are back on the map.
The weather will still be quite warm, so opt for an urban break with some great beaches in Barcelona, with nature on its doorstep and some seriously lovely parks.
The best September holiday for… sunshine and culture – without the sweltering heat
If you want a mix of great weather and bewitching culture, this is one of the best places to go in September. Morocco isn’t much fun in the summer: it’s ludicrously hot, and shops and restaurants close for the holy month of Ramadan. In early Autumn, however, the cities exhale as temperatures cool. It’s still sunny enough to hit the beach or pool, but you won’t wilt away while sightseeing or shopping.
Top tip: Head to Fes, where you’ll get hopelessly lost in atmospheric souks, sip mint tea in beautiful riads, and treat yourself to a beautiful hand-dyed leather handbag from the Tannery Quarter.
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The best September holiday for… wild long-haul adventures
The Argentine spring (from September to November) is the best all-round time of year to explore this magnificent country – from the cosmopolitan capital Buenos Aires to the thundering Iguazu Falls and spectacular national parks.
Head to Peninsula Valdes nature reserve to spy whales, seals and penguins, or the Lake District – in north-west Argentine Patagonia – to hike among beautiful wild flowers.
Top tip: It takes just over 15 hours to fly to Argentina from the UK, so you’ll want to pack as much into your trip as possible – but it’s definitely worth the journey. Be sure to toast your arrival with a glass of Argentinian Malbec.
11. Andalucia, Spain
The best September holiday for… crowd-free beaches and wine harvest festivals
When the summer crowds have departed, Andalucia – Spain’s southernmost region – puts on its gladrags to celebrate the wine harvest. The area is famed for its fruity sherry-like tipples, as well as some lighter traditional wines, and in September all of the wine-producing towns – Jerez, Competa, Vinuela and lots more – host harvest festivals to celebrate the year’s produce.
This is the best time for gentle sunshine, lower prices and quieter beaches too. While the Costa del Sol’s coast can feel a little tired and tacky, head east to Nerja where there are still some lovely natural coves.
Top tip: Take some time to explore the whitewashed villages, high in the hills of Andalucia. Up here the views are magnificent and it’s a joy to wander the quaint (though sometimes steep!) streets.
The best September holiday for… bargain family beach breaks
Greece can be great value at any time of year, but September really sees some great bargains. The summer crowds are long-gone so the beaches are quieter, and hotels (which are entering the low season) are going out of their way to attract new guests.
Top tip: Lots of low-cost holiday companies offer package breaks to Greece, but make sure your operator is ATOL protected – which means that if they run into financial difficulties (which happens more than you might think), your money and holiday are 100% protected.
13. Sussex, England
The best September holiday for… a wine tasting adventure
September is the harvest season for vineyards and one of the best times to visit one of these beautiful British destinations. With similar growing conditions as those in the Champagne region of France, Kent is at the heart of the UK’s wine-growing industry – and there are plenty of vineyards to choose from. The Bolney Wine Estate is one of the oldest in the region and offers a tour and tasting session for a very reasonable £20.
Top tip: Combine your tasting session with a night in a local hotel. After sampling the delicious wines, you won’t be able to get behind the wheel, so take advantage of the beautiful hotels Sussex has to offer. Ockenden Manor is short drive away and offers guests its beautiful spa with stunning countryside views for some pampering, post-tasting. Idyllic!
All images from Alamy