Where to go on holiday in September
The passing of August might appear to herald the end of summer. Don’t believe a word of it. September is one of the best months of the year to travel, particularly to the Mediterranean where conditions are perfect, with air temperatures settling down a bit, but the sea still comfortably warm enough to swim in.
The best thing about this time of year is that the crowds disappear and prices tumble. There are no traffic jams in resorts, or queues to get tables at restaurants. Suddenly, waiters and taxi drivers are pleased to you again. That beach that was crowded a few weeks ago – now you have it almost to yourself.
If you are travelling alone, see our pick of the best singles holidays in September.
Note: all the travel companies featured are personally recommended by our editors.
Beach holidays in September
If you want beach holidays, there are plenty of places in the Med where you can find perfect spots. We recommend the Costa de la Luz in the south-west corner Spain and the tiny, sleepy Greek island of Paxos.
The French island of Corsica has superb beaches, along with dramatic mountain countryside and authentic villages, while the Ile de Ré off the west coast of France has endless white-sand beaches, small harbours, cycle paths and great seafood. It’s one of our top holiday suggestions for September.
Villa holidays tumble in price after the end of the school summer holidays. If you want privacy – and a private pool – check out these luxury villas. Top destinations include the Côte d’Azur, The Dordogne and Biarritz. Find more holidays in France.
The Balaeric islands of Mallorca and Ibiza are not known for their quiet beaches but once you get away from the big resorts you can find beautiful rural villages, quiet beaches and great villas. See more holiday ideas in Spain.
Puglia in the south of Italy has great beaches, along with beautiful hotels and luxury self-catering trulli with pools. The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia are also great for beach holidays in September, and very quiet because the Italian tourists all visit in August. We recommend Forte Village in Sardinia and Verdura Resort in Sicily.
If you want to go further afield, Bermuda is beautiful in September with long sunny days, brilliant blue skies, pink sand beaches and superb hotels such as Elbow Beach and the Fairmont Southampton which is great for families.
More ideas in the Mediterranean
The coastline of Catalonia has many pretty coves tucked between rocky escarpments and traditional fishing villages, while the quiet friendly island of Gozo is perfect for exploring by car or cycle. The cycling and diving are also fab.
The Amalfi Coast of Italy has historic hotels, classic coastal drives and wonderful restaurants. The southern Greek island of Crete is wonderful in late summer – check out these stylish houses. For an upmarket stay on Crete, we recommend the Daios Cove hotel.
September is a good month for an activity holiday. If you enjoy culture and walking with like-minded people, try a walking tour with Kudu Travel. For a lazy indulgent alternative, try a luxury barge holiday in France with European Waterways. You’ll watch the countryside roll by as you enjoy gourmet cuisine served on deck with fine wines and an open bar all included in the price. Destinations include Bordeaux, Gascony, Champagne, Burgundy and the Canal du Midi.
Northern Spain is often overlooked yet it’s a beautiful slice of authentic Spain where you’ll find unspoilt countryside, charming medieval villages, great food and wide empty beaches. It’s very good value and a long way from the costas of the south. We recommend the specialist tour company Casas Cantabricas and its sister company, Caminos, which offers some great driving tours of Spain and Northern Portugal including the option to travel by ferry.
It’s a great time of year for a cycling holiday in France – how about this gentle 8-day Secret Provence itinerary. Find more ideas from Headwater. Other options include a self-guided cycling holiday in Catalonia with Inntravel which offers a selection of routes from easy to moderate.
If you like to be independent and get away from it all, we recommend a hotel-to-hotel walking holiday. There are many possible destinations from Portugal to Turkey: all include accommodation at charming local inns or hotels, plus walking notes and maps and your baggage is transferred each day to your next overnight stay.
For a totally healthy holiday, you could indulge in a luxury detox with in:spa retreats or join one of the UK’s leading yoga teachers at a beautiful location in Italy, Crete or India, with destination yoga.
Although not strictly in the Med, the Italian Lakes is one of the best holiday destinations in September. The mountain scenery is divine, plus you have charming hotels and a great public transport system for exploring the area.
Mainland Italy is wonderfully quiet in September after the Italians have gone back to work. Umbria is a feast of culture and natural beauty while its neighbouring region, the lesser known region of Le Marche, boasts charming countryside and great villas.
Explore our selection of the best holidays in the Mediterranean.
UK holidays in September
While the UK weather in August has been unreliable in recent years, September has a good record of providing late summer sunshine and steady temperatures. Following the high season rush, it’s a great time to explore this country.
If you love the idea of camping but aren’t so crazy about the idea of insects and sleeping bags, head to Trevella Park on a beautiful stretch of Cornish coastline, where you’ll find nature trails, fishing lakes and a heated outdoor swimming pool. We recommend the luxury safari tents with comfortable beds, duvets and outdoor decking.
If you’re travelling with a large family or group of friends you could rent one of these historic houses. How about this 18th-century rectory near the coast in Suffolk which sleeps 12 and has its own tennis court.
If you want to be pampered in a remote countryside setting, try Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel on the Welsh-Shropshire border.
In Jersey, The Atlantic Hotel is a stylish bolthole with great facilities and amazing ocean views. It runs regular special offers. Other hotels we recommend include foodie-favourite Maison Talbooth in Constable Country in Essex, a short drive or train ride from London.
If Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome have inspired you, try a cycling break in the UK with Skedaddle. Choose between road cycling and mountain biking, perhaps in the Lake District or Cotswolds. In the Shropshire town of Bishops Castle, the 300-year-old Castle Hotel is popular with both cyclists and walkers.
Explore our complete selection of UK holiday ideas.
September is a good month for city breaks. We wouldn’t recommend you go too far south unless you really enjoy the heat – Istanbul, Cairo and Marrakech are arguably best left until October – although it’s a great time for trekking in Morocco where the high altitude brings lower temperatures.
Venice is wonderful in September once the summer crowds have started to disperse. Kirker Holidays has a great selection of hotel ideas. And it’s a perfect time to explore the art galleries, tapas bars and pavement cafes of the Spanish capital, Madrid. Or head south to Barcelona where you can enjoy the art of Gaudi, Picasso and Miro along with legendary fish restaurants and a fine beach.
Other sunny cities in Europe include Dubrovnik in Croatia, Palma, the stylish capital of Mallorca, Sorrento for Neopolitan style and the Renaissance gems of Florence including Michaelangelo’s David and the Uffizi Gallery.
Germany offers something different, from the Gothic architectural of Cologne to the buzzing streets and glorious museums of Berlin. Other options include the Bavarian charm of Munich or historic Dresden.
Prague and Budapest are both fascinating, beautiful cities rich in art, architecture, music and food. We particularly like The Augustine, a 13th-century monastery in Prague that has been turned into a luxury hotel.
Or head north for a dramatic ride on Europe’s highest railway between Olso and Bergen on this four-night Roof Across Norway break.
Portugal’s Douro Valley is an unspoilt beauty, best seen from the deck of a river cruiser. Set off from the historical city of Porto where you can tour the famous Port lodges and scoff wonderful seafood.
See more ideas for short breaks in September.
It’s a great time to visit America
September is a great month to visit America: high season has passed and temperatures are off their summer highs, but you’ll still find hot sunny weather at the beaches and lakes.
Decide whether you want to stay in one place, drive yourself in a rental car or motorhome, take an escorted tour (typically in a luxury coach) or take a two-centre or three-centre holiday (for example, you can combine city, ranch and beach).
One of the most popular escorted itineraries is this two-week coach tour of California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada that takes in Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Bryce Canyon, San Francisco and Yosemite. Perfect if you want to tick a lot of places off your bucket list.
You can explore America’s Deep South on this Southern Glamour coach tour. Starting in Atlanta, you’ll visit Savannah, Charleston, plantation estates and the sandy shores of Jekyll Island.
Texas is almost a country in itself. This 14-day escorted tour visits Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and Houston along with Lafayette and New Orleans across the border in Louisiana. Another facet of the South can be explored on a tour of Louisiana plantation homes. See more coach tours. Or you could get your kicks on a coach tour of Route 66.
If you want a fly-drive the options are almost endless. September sees the start of the autumn leaves leaves season in New England – try this selection of escorted coach tours. Further down the East coast, you could explore Virginia or the often-neglected New York State, or drive the Civil War route.
You can visit the Grand Canyon on a fly-drive – it’s a good month to visit: avoiding the heat and crowds of summer and catching the low season in hotel rates.
Alaska is still warm enough to visit in September. This vast state will blow you away with its natural beauty and fascinating stories. One day you could be tracking grizzly bears, the next you could be on a cruise watching whales and icebergs.
Find more holiday ideas in America.
Long haul luxury holidays in September
September is a great month to take a cruise on the Nile (we recommend Abercrombie & Kent) or laze on a tropical beach in Mauritius, the Maldives or the Seychelles (check out the latest special offers).
The weather will be superb in Iran. This beautiful, fascinating and very friendly country is now firmly back on the tourist map, with its exquisite palaces and mosques, ancient cities, temples and dizzying souks. This Treasures of Persia group tour is a great introduction to the country. Check the dates of Ramadan – it’s probably best to avoid this time.
The weather is ideal in Peru where you can hike the Inca Trail, visit the Lost City of Machu Picchu, soak up the beauty of the Andes mountain range and delve into the Amazon rainforest. Check out these Peru holiday ideas.
In Africa, this is an ideal times to visit Botswana or the island of Madagascar, a first-rate wildlife destination with amazing beaches thrown in. You can also take a self-drive holiday of Cape Town and the Winelands, or join a thrilling gorilla tracking safari in Rwanda.
Talking of wildlife, September is also a fine month to visit the Galapagos Islands. Take a small-ship cruise to explore this fascinating and pristine destination.
Try our holiday quiz
If you’re still stuck for ideas, why not try our fun holiday quiz. Answer 10 easy questions like the one below to find out what kind of holidaymaker you are, and get personalised travel recommendations. Try the quiz now.
Last updated: 21 November 2016