Where to go in September, October and November

Looking for inspiration for where to go in September, October or November? From the vineyard towns of France to the diverse landscapes of Vietnam and the Mayan ruins of Mexico, our local experts' recommendations can help you take the perfect trip.
Northern lights over Budhir Church in Iceland. Photo: Shutterstock
Northern lights over Budhir Church in Iceland. Photo: Shutterstock

Planning a trip in September, October or November? Check out our whirlwind tour of the world taking in some of its best destinations to visit during the autumn months, according to our local experts.

Where to go in Europe

1. Italy

For opera buffs, a visit to Italy in October is in order. The annual Parma Verdi Festival hosts a vibrant performance programme each year in the city of Parma, and opera tours to boot. This year's festival runs from 27 September until 21 October. Further west there's Venice, known for its melancholy air in the late autumn months as the crowds disperse and those in search of a romantic long weekend can discover that it holds a unique appeal. The lagoon city becomes swathed in atmospheric mists and is far quieter than during the summer. From tours of the Italian Lakes to relaxing escapes on Sicily, Insight Guides' Italian trips are perfect for the months of autumn.

2. France

September is a great time for wine lovers to visit the vineyard towns of France, with Provence hosting festivities to welcome the much-anticipated grape harvest. The Ban des Vendanges (wine harvest celebration), in the beautiful coastal town of Cassis, provides an excellent opportunity to sample the region’s best wines. Add a stop here to Insight Guides' From Paris to Provence: Perfect Personified trip

Chateau de Cassis through autumn trees. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Germany

If you're more of a beer connoisseur, look no further than Oktoberfest. The world-famous German beer festival, held in Munich, dates back to the celebration of Ludwig I and Princess Therese’s wedding in 1810 – and the party has never stopped. Traditionally taking place in the 16 days running up to the first Sunday of October, revellers enjoy all the fun of the fair and consume gargantuan quantities of beer, ferried to them 10 litres at a time by energetic barmaids. This year the party begins on 22 September (contrary to the name).

Celebrating Octoberfest in Munich. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Iceland

The bewitching aurora borealis, commonly known as the northern lights, flashes, flickers and pulses across Iceland’s autumn skies, caused by streams of charged particles – ‘solar winds’ – that flare into space from our sun, and glow. In Iceland, September and October are months when the lights can be seen, as well as March and April. Choose a cold, moonless night, then gaze to the heavens and hope. The further north in Iceland you travel, the more hours of darkness at night – and therefore the greater the chance of glimpsing the northern lights. Insight Guides’ The Magic of Eastern Iceland trip takes you to the far-flung Arctic Circle and the Arctic Henge – stunning places to visit even if the northern lights fail to make an appearance.

Where to go in Asia and the Pacific

5. Australia

Make your way to Australia to explore the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest living entity. Visit this astonishingly diverse and complex ecosystem in October or November (Australia’s springtime) for warm, dry weather before the schools break for the summer holidays over Christmas. 

6. Thailand

Autumn is an ideal time to visit Thailand – the heat and humidity of the summer passes, and the cool season arrives. September and October are great months to travel to the north of the country and the Gulf of Thailand coast. The northern city of Chiang Mai is generally considered to be the cultural centre of Thailand, and the surrounding mountainous countryside is peppered with towns and villages where traditional lifestyles remain unscathed. Lovely Lanna-style temples, markets and museums abound. In the south, the Gulf of Thailand is home to the palm-fringed white sand beaches and tropical islands of the resorts of Ko Phi Phi, Ko Samui and Phuket.

Doi Ang Kang , Chiang Mai , Thailand. Photo: Shutterstock

7. Japan

Did you know that October and early November is a favourite time of year for the people of Tokyo? There are many mellow fall days when the city can show off its autumnal colours – perfect for strolling in Tokyo’s famous parks and gardens. Meanwhile, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka makes for the ultimate destination for families (and Potter fans of all ages).

8. Vietnam

Speaking of Asia, November is an ideal time to visit Vietnam as the weather is cool and the rainfall is low – ideal for exploring the wide diversity of landscapes squeezed into the country’s relatively compact area. The beginning of the peak season is in mid-December so fly out earlier to enjoy the jungles and beaches without the crowds. Insight Guides' Wonders of Vietnam tour takes in the country's highlights while steering clear of tourist traps.

Halong Bay, Vietnam. Photo: Shutterstock

Where to go in Latin America

9. Mexico

November is a prime time to visit Chichén Itzá, Mexico, one of the best preserved Mayan complexes in Latin America. Keen travel photographers should consider hiring a horse to get a more dynamic view of the site and its surroundings, and be sure to pack a long lens for bird watching. The 1st of November is the Day of the Dead, celebrated throughout Mexico. This is an extraordinarily macabre annual event of skeletons and skulls, altars and tableaux, music, masks and costumes. Nevertheless, from a grisly dwelling on death, the Day of the Dead has become a lively fiesta that puts the celebration of life front and centre.

10. Argentina and Chile

Spring is on its way in the southern hemisphere! October sees longer, brighter days in the south of Chile. And the streets of Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, turn purple when the jacaranda comes into bloom, adding to the vibrancy of the city. Ready to go? Insight Guides' Argentina and Chile: Wine Country Explored trip can take you there.

11. Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast

Costa Rica's wild and varied ecosystems make travelling the country an adventure in itself. Catch the end of the Caribbean Coast's driest weather in September for gloriously hot days, ideal for relaxing on the country's idyllic beaches. Alternatively, visit in November – one of the region's greenest months – for lush jungles and blooming, exotic flowers. Either way, Insight Guides' Costa Rica: Coast to Coast trip makes for an ideal way to tour this stretch of coast.

The Costa Rican coast is spectacular in the summer months. Photo: Shutterstock

Where to go in Africa and the Middle East

12. South Africa

For spotting big game, September is ideal in South Africa. The holiday crowds begin to thin, leaving you with better viewing prospects while on safari. November can be a little rainy but offers spectacular bird-watching opportunities, as many resident species are in full breeding colours. While those with an interest in creatures off-shore will discover September and November offer the best whale watching opportunities. Experience all this and more for yourself on Insight Guides' Cape Amazing: Cape Town Explored trip.

13. Jordan

September, October and November are prime times for visiting Jordan's Red Sea resorts. Indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments or float in the still waters for days on end to relax and recharge. Alternatively, explore the ancient ruins of Petra without the high-season crowds. However, note that colder nights during this time of year mean desert camping is off-limits.  

A typical view of the treasury Al Khazneh carved into the rock at Petra, Jordan. Photo: Shutterstock

14. Namibia

If it's more of an adventure holiday you're after, Namibia has superb areas for mountaineering, including the Spitzkoppe, Brandberg and Erongo mountains. October is early springtime in the country and the moderate temperatures and decreased rainfall make for a more comfortable visit than during the winter or summer months.

15. Dubai

For those looking to escape the northern hemisphere's gloomy autumn and winter weather, Dubai is a sunny option. The destination has two seasons: hot and scorching hot. November is the optimal time to visit as the average temperature hovers just above 30ºC (86ºF). Take a break in this glamorous city on Insight Guides' Dubai Luxury Stopover trip.

Infinity pool with views of Marina Bay, Dubai. Photo: Shutterstock

Where to go in North America

16. USA

Late September is the beginning of the 'leaf peeping' season in the far north of New England. The crimsons and golds of the tree leaves spread southwards as fall rolls on into October. Note that this counts as high season in New England, so hotel rates will climb in popular vacation spots.

The weather is usually crisp yet pleasant at this time of year in northern California and the Pacific Northwest. This makes early fall a great time to plan a visit to the national parks of western USA – beat the crowds before roads and trails close for winter at destinations including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and Mount Rainier.

Both San Francisco and New York City are home to the country's most elaborate and highly spirited costume parades for Halloween. And on the fourth Thursday in November (this year, the 22nd), the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade fills the streets of New York with floats of giant inflated balloons, flanked by marching bands.

17. Canada

From late November, skiers can begin to take to the slopes in Canada. With all the flavour of an Alpine town, Banff celebrates the first snowfalls with the WinterStart festival. This time of year also sees many other exciting events taking place across the country, including the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta, Toronto International Film Festival and Nuit Blanche.

Fancy taking a trip in September, October or November?

Insight Guides can help you with planning, organising and booking your trip this autumn. Simply, get in touch to share your ideas and travel preferences with us. Our local experts will then create a personal itinerary based on your specific requirements, which you can amend until it's exactly how you want it.

Updated 30 August, 2018