September. It’s back-to-school month for some, but for others it’s the optimal time to squeeze in one last adventure. Think about it. The weather’s perfect for outdoor activities. Hotel rates are easier on your wallet because peak tourist season is in decline. Autumnal Europe is a haven for cultural events and colourful leaves. September in North America is prime time for catching the Northern Lights. And many music festivals take place at this time too, like Epizode (Albania) and Rock in Rio (Brazil).
Of all the magnificent places you could visit, here are the best places to visit in September to get your travel clock a-ticking.
1. Munich, Germany
Your first September offering is Oktoberfest – Munich’s misleadingly named but oh-so amazing festival of beer. Sometimes the simplest things are the best. Like drinking stine after stine of traditional German beer – that supposedly doesn’t give you a hangover – suited and booted in your best dirndl or lederhosen, and dancing on the tables arm in arm like one humongous family (of drunkards).
If you can drag yourself away from the shenanigans long enough, Munich’s other highlights include the English Garden, the Nymphenburg Palace and Marienplatz.
2. Cozumel, Mexico
With friendly locals, myriad marine life and clear-as-glass waters to wade through, this Mexican island is a diver’s paradise – and September is the perfect time to visit. Cozumel is just off the coast of Yucatan state, which is home to popular party city Cancún and Chichén Itzá, one of the seven wonders of the world.
3. Northern Territory, Australia
September is early fall in Europe and the US but for Aus, it’s the first month of spring. In the Northern Territory, it’s still dry but too early for the dizzying heat of summer. National park fiend? The outback is one of the best places to visit in September when you’re Down Under. Just imagine yourself exploring Uluru and Alice Springs in a gentle climate, worrying about how to get the perfect red rock snap instead of worrying about dehydration.
4. Rome, Italy
Imagine Rome’s summery vibe without the overwhelming summer heat or peak season crowds. Too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. This is Rome in September, baby. The Colosseum, the Vatican ceiling, the art galleries. All with personal space and still with a fleck of sunshine on your face.
5. Galway, Ireland
Ah Galway, no wonder Ed Sheeran sings about you now. This harbour city is big on the small town vibes with rugged coastal cottages and winding lanes. Even better, September marks the popular International Oyster Festival so you can slurp and sample super-fresh seafood, plus a whole range of organic cooking.
6. Lisbon, Portugal
September is a great month to visit Lisbon. The masses are back at school and the weather cruises at a balmy 26°C average. Don’t miss your chance to climb Lisbon’s seven hills, seeking out pastel houses and vibrant Azulejo tiles. There’ll be pastel de nata waiting for you at the bottom.
7. Atacama Desert, Chile
Desolate and dramatic, this desert is one of the driest in the world and is often compared to Mars! With mild temps and minimal tourists, ‘shoulder season’ is the best time to soak up the stillness, check out the geysers and dabble in a little stargazing. Adventure time? Head onwards to Patagonia, where at this time of year the ice is melting and temperatures are rising.
8. Istanbul, Turkey
The Turkish capital is a major European cultural hotspot and one of the best places to visit in September. Art and architecture reign supreme and every September, Istanbul proves its artistic worth with Contemporary Istanbul – a show-stopping art fair exhibiting everything from sculptures to canvases.
9. Fairbanks, Alaska
After the rainiest month of the year, early autumn is the time to visit this bucket-list mainstay and all its natural beauty. The mountains are glacier-capped, icebergs float off the coast, and explorers are spoilt for choice. The jewel of Alaska’s many national parks is Denali, with its hiking trails, wildlife (including grizzly bears and caribou) and even the chance to see the Northern Lights.
10. Utah, USA
Sure, the russet leaves are lovely in New York this time of year but how about the stunning ochre-rust landscape in lesser-known Utah? There’s colourful foliage along the scenic drives but the best way to get around is hiking. Follow the trails in Bryce Canyon National Park or go in search of the Potash Evaporation Ponds – shimmering, azure salt pools in the middle of the red desert, no wonder this is one of the best places to visit in September.