Where to go on holiday in September
Autumn is in full swing, and it’s time to soak up some sun before we have to look further afield to find it. Luckily, there are sunny beach resorts, gobsmacking autumnal colours, and some incredible festivals to enjoy, and we know where to find the best of them.
Best for a UK Break
The Lake District was the home of the famous Lake Poets, a group of early romantic writers who spent hours soaking in the scenery and weaving some of the most important literature of their time. And who could blame them? In autumn, the Lake District is ablaze with colour. Huge, glassy lakes reflect the umbers and ochres and shocking vermillion of the forests at their banks, while a backdrop of undulating mountains completes the picture.
Autumn in the Lake District is beautiful, but with the school holidays over, many of the holidaymakers have cleared off. Walking trails are much quieter, and it's a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the quiet, inspiring beauty those poets spoke of.
Start planning your trip now by exploring our interactiuve guide, 101 Things to do in the Lake District
Best for a Short-Haul Holiday
Munich has a notable chill in the autumn, but it’s worth tolerating for another reason: Oktoberfest. The festival usually starts in mid-September (confusing, but true), and ends around the beginning of October. More than six million people descend on the event every year, making it the largest beer festival in the world.
And it’s very festive indeed: expect jostling crowds, swilling beer, oompah bands, and parades. Over the 16-day festival, approximately six million litres of beer are consumed. If you’re after a relaxing break, this is not it. But if you’re after some of the world’s best beer, big parties and constant festivities, make sure you book long in advance!
Galway can get a little rainy by September, but never mind that - if rain's going to put you off, there's a good chance you'll never visit Ireland. The real reason to visit, of course, is the International Oyster & Seafood Festival. Over the last weekend of September, there are back-to-back events in the city. Live music fills the air and visitors wash down Galway’s freshest oysters with champagne and Guinness.
Galway’s stunning mix of ancient history and contemporary culture make it a great destination for history buffs and nightlife enthusiasts alike. Its rich history as a medieval fishing village integrates seamlessly with its bustling bohemian atmosphere.
Old stone buildings and narrow alleyways bring the past to life, and while the historic attractions in the city are extensive and impressive, Galway is also the beating heart of the West’s arts scene.
Mallorca in September is in its prime. Peak season has passed, taking with it the larger crowds. The island settles into a more peaceful mood, and prices drop accordingly. After a long, hot summer, the temperatures drop to the mild mid-20s.
The surprising thing about Mallorca is just how much it looks like postcards of the Mediterranean coast. Limestone cliffs plunge into turquoise waters and stone cottages line the coast; there are vineyards where local wines are produced; there are terraces overlooking the sea, where you can pair the wines with local food: olives, nuts, spiced pork, fresh seafood and vegetables drizzled in olive oil and flavoured with garlic. It’s as Mediterranean as it gets.
Best for a Long-Haul Holiday
Koh Samui is Thailand’s third-largest island, and it attracts visitors by the boatload for its pristine white beaches and upscale resorts. Peak season dies down throughout August, and by the time September comes the crowds have dissipated a little. The rainy season only really gets going in October, so September is a great time to visit. It’s not too wet, not too busy, and there are many great deals to be had.
The island’s main appeal (aside from the beaches) is the luxurious spas, resorts and gourmet food. Samui also has its authentic side, if you’re willing to go a little off the beaten track. There are brightly coloured temples and shrines dotting the island, and in the south you’ll find authentic family-run seafood restaurants.
Boston & New England
No autumn holiday list would be complete without a nod to Boston and its surrounds. The air is often crisp and cool, but many days are still pleasantly warm. While the weather is good, the real attraction is the spectacle of autumn. New England knows how to flaunt it.
Scenic mountain drives wind their way through the woods, where a kaleidoscope awaits you. The forests are a dazzling display of reds, greens, purples, gold, and orange: it’s enough to wow even the most seasoned traveller. New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway is a 90km road that takes you through the White Mountain National Forest, where the autumnal colours are truly astonishing.
Boston itself is not to be missed. The historic city centre is lined with trees in iridescent shades. The city is relatively quiet at this time of year, as most travellers have taken the path more travelled: into the mountains for their leaf-peeping adventures. If you stay in the city, you’ll be treated to relative peace and quiet.
Other Destinations to Consider
Mediterranean: We appreciate this is a pretty broad category, but it has to be flagged - autumn in the Mediterranean is great. After a long summer, the sea has had plenty time to warm up, but the crowds have dispersed. It’s affordable, beautiful and relatively quiet.
Rome: The summer heat has subsided, leaving warm, mild days. It’s shoulder season (between peak and off-peak seasons), so things are cheaper and the queues are shorter.
Zanzibar: Although it’s technically winter, the weather is near-enough perfect. It’s warm, with very little rain and low humidity. This is holiday weather at its finest.
Italian lakes: Peak season ends in August, so by mid-September it’s relatively quiet. The weather has started to cool down, but there are still plenty of mild, sunny days to enjoy.