The leaves are turning and there is a distinct chill in the air. Yes, autumn is upon us and our endless heatwave is but a distant memory. September, ripe for new beginnings, is the perfect time to escape to warmer, more exotic climes. Our thoughts are turning to the blooming blue violet jacaranda trees of South America, the spiced sands of Zanzibar, the clear cobalt waters of the Balkans and exotic palm fringed lagoons.
September is the perfect time for a late summer escape. Many popular holiday destinations get ridiculously hot in the summer months, but September temperatures are warm and comfortable, ideal to wander around all day or laze on the pool side. Check out our selection of the best escapes for September and beyond, dream of iconic Santorini or Barcelona, and picture yourself on the seaside with a glass of chilled wine, without sunburn!
Balmy Barcelona is still basking in warmth during September with daily temperatures averaging around 25ºC in the daytime, and a pleasant 19ºC at night. With the local Spaniards back in town and the mood of fiesta sweeping over the city, it’s time to take your dancing shoes and join them.
Catalonia’s national holiday is on 11th September, when the city celebrates with parades, concerts and fireworks. Don’t miss the Fiestas de la Mercè, a week-long festival, with hundreds of musicians and carnivals, performances and gigs, planned and impromptu, all over the city. Did someone say fiesta?
Stay at the hotel everyone is talking about, the impressive glass W Hotel, which attracts a hip beautiful crowd and is a place to see and be seen. Obviously, don’t miss the unique ‘Sagrada Familia’ basilica, buy local products at La Boqueria, Barcelona’s oldest market, and explore the Picasso museum and the iconic Park Güell.
September ushers in a calmer, cooler, rosy glow over the romantic island of Santorini. The summer rush is over, the sea is warmer than ever and the skies are a pure Tiepolo blue. Autumnal sunsets paint the town of Oia gold, casting a glimmer over the azure Aegean ocean.
Santorini is home to many luxurious hotels adorning the craggy coastline, many with private pools or your very own hot tub. The Grace Hotel is famed for its infinity pool and endless ocean views. Santorini’s capital Fira, is dotted with beautiful white and blue houses along narrow, winding streets interspersed by boutique and luxurious hotels.
The glamorous and exclusive Oia village, not to be missed, is located in the North of the island and the place to be at sunset. A sunset here is said to be one of the most spectacular in the world. Best views guaranteed at the ruins of the Byzantine Castle!
This exotic clove scented isle transports you entirely to another time and place. Relax at a Persian hammam, enjoy a pot of mint tea overlooking ornate domed mosques and gothic churches.
In the distance the deep azure oceans laps against the powder white palm fringed sands. Explore the labyrinthine mythical Stone town enjoying the last days of summer before the short rains of November arrive. We love the newly opened luxurious Zuri Zanzibar’s thatched villas complete with spice garden and excellent restaurants serving organic, homegrown ingredients. Head down to Darajani Market in Stone town to shop local products, take a look at the numerous unique shops around and end your day by dining at a rooftop restaurant.
For nature lovers, we recommend visiting prison island, where you’ll meet ancient giant tortoises, and snorkel or dive in Mnemba Atoll, where beautiful coloured fish and corals await (it’s also common to spot dolphins). Book a safari blue tour for your own private boat trip on turquoise waters, a local seafood feast and a memorable snorkeling experience.
Budapest is a grand and romantic city, with a complex history and beautiful architecture. September here is still warm and balmy. The evenings may be drawing in, but as night falls its quirky ‘ruin pubs’ glimmer with fairylights and fill with the beautiful people of Budapest drinking wine amongst the crumbling ruins. At night, make sure to grab a drink at the most edgy and iconic of all the ruin pubs,’Szimpla Kert’.
During the day, your travel list must include a visit to one of the grand thermal baths Budapest is famous for (our favourite is Gellért Thermal Bath) and treat yourself to a coffee and sweet pastry after. Cross the chain bridge, arching over the River Danube and go explore Budapest citadel, for stunning views of the city from above.
Visit St Stephen Basilica for stunning architecture and don’t miss peaceful Margaret Island, a 2.5km-long island of greenery on the Danube, linked to Buda and Pest by bridges. Take a chilled Danube boat tour and visit the picturesque Buda castle, a 13th century Unesco world heritage site that also contains the Hungarian National Gallery, the Castle Museum, and the National Széchenyi Library.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Wandering the tree-lined avenues of Palermo, past blossoming jacaranda trees and bohemian coffee haunts, quirky galleries and fashion boutiques you can see why Buenos Aires is often referred to as the Paris of South America.
Chic it certainly is, but with a more seductive and pulsing Latin underbelly at its heart. Tango the night away in one of the many cocktail bars, sample the local steak and shop until you drop from an array of hot Argentinian fashion designers. Some of the great steak establishments in the city include Don Julio and La Cabrera. In the evening, go to Plaza Serrano for a drink and don’t miss visiting the authentic San Telmo market on a Sunday.
La boca is also an inevitable neighborhood to visit. It’s the most colourful area of the city, and has a strong influence of migration and art. Looking for a fancy hotel? We adore the Faena Hotel, a ruby-red riverfront palace designed by Philippe Starck. This sumptuous gem occupies a converted granary with soaring ceilings and prime city views.
September is the perfect time to visit French Polynesia, quieter than July and August. The sun is still shining and the days are dry. No heavy rains until November; and none of the humidity that calls for the air-con switch.
French Polynesia consists of five archipelagoes in the south-central Pacific Ocean but anywhere you pick will be an unforgettable experience. Take your pick between Tahiti, formed of two ancient volcanic cones, close by Moorea, a marvel of white coral sand beaches, Society Island, a coral-reef laggon or breathtaking Bora Bora.
Get lost in paradise amongst the deep blue lagoons, go swimming with sharks (it’s safe we promise you..), hike the paths of the ancient Polynesian Kings winding their way deep into the lush verdant jungle and admire the views of the azure ocean. Celebrate with a delicious dinner on the beach by candlelight. We love the Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora, their over water thatched villas are incredibly sumptuous and the spa is unforgettable.
We are familiar with most destinations lining the Adriatic sea, from Puglia on the heel of Italy, to Croatia and more recently Montenegro, but there has been a notable missing piece of the puzzle. Albania is now fast becoming a hotspot and its easy to see why. Sharing the same stunning emerald green sea Croatia is famed for, with soft powder beaches, pine tree forests and ancient sites to explore.
Explore the Albanian Riveria, a great place for beautiful stretches of golden beaches and turquoise seas, visit the Capital Tirana famed for its colourful Ottoman architecture and don’t miss the National History Museum, covering prehistoric times to the communist history of the 1990s.
Nature lovers will love the Llogara National Park where they can spot golden eagles, European wildcats and fallow deer. Also go check out the ‘Blue Eye’, a water spring and natural phenomenon located in southern Albania. The clear blue water of the river bubbles forth from a depth of more than fifty metres. It’s a mysterious place as no one knows what the actual depth of the hole is.
Fashionable, bohemian and incredibly hip. Hot right now Mexico City has a young, artsy vibe with colorful organic coffee shops adorned with exotic tiles and shabby chic decor, farm fresh brunches using homegrown ingredients, craft cocktails made with home brewed botanicals and local designers selling their unique wares from pop up shops around the city.
It’s a little known fact that September is the last drop of rainy season, and that most of this rain falls at night and upon waking you are greeted with bright sunshine and a freshness in the air. We suggest spending your day nibbling on street eats like the delicious lime doused grilled corn and fish tacos, exploring the fashionable and leafy neighbourhood of Roma Norte and paying a visit to the cobalt blue home of Frida Kahlo.
Our favourite place to stay is the Nima Local House Hotel, a small boutique hotel with only four rooms, it feels like an intimate home away from home. Light, bright and botanical; the interiors are fresh and elegant.
Visiting Japan in September does mean that you miss the cherry blossom season that sees thousands of tourists descending on Kyoto to witness this in all of its fluffy marshmallow like perfection. Yet September ushers in the onset of the autumnal beauty in Kyoto, the ornate temples and gardens are adorned with leafy trees brushed scarlet and gold, and the bright blue sunny skies make for enjoyable afternoon meandering.
You could also find your zen in Japan’s spiritual heartland; a land of forest, ritual and storytelling. The Kii region spirits travellers away to holy mountains and misty woodlands. This enchanting region is relatively untouched by travellers, try exploring the pilgrimage trails, remote shrines and detoxing steam onsens before anyone else does.
To really get in touch with the spiritual feel of the Kii region and channel your ‘Memoirs of A Geisha’ vibe we recommend staying at the Maeniwa Machiya, a tatami floored townhouse complete with silk screens and a perfectly pruned private garden.
The long clear, sunny September days make this the perfect time to trek the Inca Trail whilst taking in those spectacular Andean views. Be sure to see the ‘Rainbow Mountain’ so named due to the brightly coloured striations in the rock.
>After a day of hiking you may feel inclined to treat yourself to a slap up dinner at one of the world’s more ambitious restaurants. If you haven’t tried high altitude haute cuisine we suggest you start now. Virgilio Martínez, of Lima’s Central (hailed the world’s fifth-best restaurant), has launched Mil restaurant which overlooks the awe inspiring Inca ruins of Moray, just 30 miles from Cusco. The extensive menu features unique ingredients and tells a story of the landscapes, history and culture of Peru.
We recommend getting away from it all deep within the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba draws on the grand haciendas of old with its terracotta floors, rustic beamed ceilings, alpaca bed trows, traditional Andean wall hangings and hand carved antiques. Lit by candlelit chandeliers and the golden flames of the wood burning fire, the restaurant serves local cuisine complete with organic home grown ingredients and majestic mountain views.
Lisbon is a city for walking, afternoons are best spent climbing its seven hills in search of the best miradouros; terraces with enchanting views over its higgledy piggledy rainbow coloured houses and red rooftops.
Evenings are spent in cosy traditional taverns that serve up delicious fresh seafood complete with a glass of crisp Vinho Verde. Night owls spill out into the narrow lanes of the historic neighbourhood of Bairro Alto, the place to go if you fancy a post prandial cocktail or two.
Spend an afternoon in nearby Sintra if the idea of exploring a fairytale 19th century hilltop town is your thing. It’s forested terrain is studded with pastel coloured villas and majestic palaces. Seek out the magical stone towers, mystifying wells and moss covered grottos of the enchanting gardens of the Quinta da Regaleira which will leave you feeling like you’ve stepped into an Escher painting.
We recommend staying at Verride Palacio Santa Catarina; this elegant and historic townhouse will seduce you with its airy yet ornate rooms and it’s decadent rooftop terrace with it’s sun-kissed bar and pool; the perfect place to devour oysters and champagne whilst taking in some of the best views of Lisbon.
September is the perfect time to visit Morocco, the rose coloured land of mint tea and tagines, where the sun sets across a minaret dotted cityscape and the majestic Atlas Mountains provide a stunning backdrop. Meander the exotic souks of Marrakesh loading up your bags with fresh spices, beautiful hand embroidered linens, embellished leather bags, handmade silk abayas, traditional bronze lanterns and floor cushions.
Explore Casablanca, a Moroccan jewel that demands to be explored, and make sure to stop by Hassan II Mosque. Visit the Medina in Fez, a thriving cultural scene filled with everything from artists galleries to amazing crafts. The picturesque Aït Benhaddou village is worth a detour. It’s a small UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks like it’s carved within the mountain itself. Don’t leave without seeing the Blue Village of Chefchaouen. Painted in a palette of mesmerizing blue, Chefchaouen’s offers a thousand photo opportunities.
Where to stay? We love the ravishing and regal La Mamounia hotel in Marrakesh set in lavish jasmine scented gardens; be enchanted by its Moorish opulence, its sensuous spa and the world class chef led restaurants that will cater to your every whim.
Ibiza and Formentera, Spain
The summer rush is over once September arrives on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera, leaving only those bohemian free spirits who don’t have to worry about the back to school season hanging on for the closing parties and the extra room to shake out their towels on the white sand beaches.
Finding a last minute table at one of the popular seafood restaurants now becomes a distinct possibility and the villas suddenly become a lot more affordable. Spend your days exploring the crystal clear waters, rugged coastline and pine covered hills, stopping to take in the views and enjoying a glass of chilled wine.
We recommend staying at the pleasantly affordable yet luxurious Mirador De Dalt Vila, with stunning views across Ibiza Town from the peaceful Unesco protected hillside location, this is a marble adorned colonial hacienda that combines baroque beauty with a treasure trove of antiques.
Long sunny days and a bathlike Ionian sea is what September in Corfu means to us, when our morning swim is a warm and relaxing affair, when the island’s forested hills are still lush and verdant for afternoon naps underneath the olive trees.
This beautiful island’s green hills are studded with whitewashed houses, Byzantine churches, and the ruins of Venetian fortresses and ancient Greek temples. Spend a day wandering the ancient maze like lanes of the Roman village of Kassiopi and tuck into freshly caught seafood and a glass of the local wine in a cosy beachfront taverna.
We love the sumptuous Corfu Imperial Grecotel Resort which majestically occupies a secluded promontory overlooking the Ionian sea. Stylishly modern with a hint of old world glamour, this hotel feels elegant and luxurious. Enjoy the top end spa and swimming pools, or try your hand at an archery lesson.
The Cotswolds, England
No matter the time of year, the Cotswolds always captivate. September is the ‘season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’, as the leaves begin to turn burnished golden tones.
The honey hued Cotswold stone cottages shine in the low early morning sunshine, the sunlit glinting on the dew of the rambling roses and wisteria, trickling rivers with graceful wild swans, babbling brooks canopied by weeping willows; the bucolic landscapes and quaint chocolate box villages makes this our choice for an idyllic weekend escape. September brings the harvest to the table, when the local produce is at its best, and autumn’s rich pickings are cooked magnificently in the country house hotels and cosy little pubs.
Our favourite place to stay is Foxhill Manor, a bijoux boutique hotel with only eight bedrooms, this revitalised Arts and Crafts mansion is set in 400 acres of verdant rolling hills. Lie back in your roll top bathtub overlooking the lush valleys, pop the champagne open and enjoy the roaring log fire whilst dreaming of the full breakfast spread you have to look forward to.
As the dust settles on years of political upheaval for the country, once again Zimbabwe is back in the game and becoming the safari destination of choice. September is a popular month for safaris, the game viewing is exceptional at this time of year as wildlife congregate around the watering holes, herds of elephants gathering as the sun sets over the plains.
We recommend staying at the Bumi Hills Safari Lodge on Lake Kariba. This famous and beloved hotel first opened in 1975 and since been renovated and now gleams with a new level of luxurious comfort. We particularly love the breathtaking infinity pool with incredible views of the lake beyond and the new premium spa. Another highlight is the lodge’s own private aircraft, making access from Victoria Falls Airport a breeze.
Other stunning safari include The Land of Giants at Hwange National Park, great to spot leopard, The Biblical Land at Matobo National Park where you can spot highly endangered black and white rhino, or The Golden Child at Mana Pools National Park where you can see endangered wild dog or ‘painted wolves’.
Like the famous paintings of Andalucia’s notable native son, Pablo Picasso, this region is wild, vivid, striking and full of passion. Each of Andalucia’s eight provinces has its own unique style with each ancient city offering a unique slice of authentic Spanish culture: Almeria’s rock carved dwellings, Granada’s gorgeous Moorish Alhambra, Seville’s mosques and abundant whitewashed World Heritage sites to explore.
After the summer crowds have departed in September and the climate begins to cool, Andalucia puts on its dancing shoes to celebrate the wine harvest. Andalucia is famous for its fruity sherry like tipples, as well as some lighter traditional wines. In September all of the wine-producing towns, Competa, Jerez, Vinuela amongst others, host harvest festivals to celebrate the year’s produce.
We love the Mercer Sevilla hotel, an opulent Andalucian gem hidden behind ornately studded doors. Set amongst the labyrinthine narrow streets of Seville’s historical neighbourhood, the 19th-century former palace conceals fine filigree and sparkling fountains as a nod to Seville’s Moorish culture.
Uzbekistan, Central Asia
Uzbekistan has been a little known destination until recently. Travellers are now being drawn to the country to experience its exotic culture, stunning architecture, cosmopolitan cities, wild landscapes and friendly local hospitality.
The ornate Islamic grand palaces, mosques and mausoleums are decorated in every shade of blue imaginable. The scent of spices hangs in the air and the warm breeze envelops you. Journey along the Silk Road from Samarkand, following the footsteps of the ancient merchants did, haggle over silk paintings, intricate embroidered linens, delicate pottery and glassware and antiques in Uzbekistan’s many markets.
Bukhara is also an ancient city worth visiting listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers a wealth of beautiful mosques, madrassahs, and palaces. Don’t miss the Ark, a fortress from the 5th century AD at the heart of the city, the Chor Minor mosque, part of the World Heritage Site Historic Centre of Bukhara and the Samanid mausoleum which is one of the oldest and only surviving building from the prosperous Samanid dynasty that ruled Central Asia in the 9th and 10th century.
Bermuda, North Atlantic Ocean
The beautiful archipelago of Bermuda is bathed in the balmy turquoise waters of the Sargasso Sea. With its ice cream shades of sun-washed stately mansions draped with fragrant frangipani and bougainvillea, Bermuda conjures the mood of the quaint English countryside with a tropical twist.
Choose to spend your days lazing on idyllic pink sand beaches or hop on a jet ski or head to the golf course. If you prefer something less active then visit one of the many art galleries or museums or one of the historical monuments such as Fort St Catherine dating from 1614.
Nature lovers and adventurers should visit the Crystal Caves of Bermuda, an otherworldly network of caves and subterranean lakes. Here a guide will take you deep inside these two Ice Age caves where you’ll descend about 120 feet below ground. For more nature adventures, hit the Blue Hole park where you can swim, jump from cliffs, and explore caves. If you’re looking to snorkel or swim, we recommend Jobson’s Cove, one of several smaller coves at the beach’s western end.