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Where to go on holiday in September

Holidays in September 2019Where to go on holiday in SeptemberBeach holidays in September

By Mark Hodson, Sunday Times Travel Writer and Editor of 101 Holidays

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.

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Beach holidaysMediterraneanUK holidaysShort breaks – Long haul – America

Bali beachesFun in the sun with new friends in Majorca

Beach holidays in September

If you want beach holidays, there are plenty of places in the Med where you can find perfect spots. I recommend the Costa de la Luz in the south-west corner Spain and the tiny, sleepy Greek island of Paxos.

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 both good for beach holidays in September, and quiet because the Italian tourists all visit in August. I like Forte Village in Sardinia and Verdura Resort in Sicily.

Turkey is a great option at this time of year. The Turquoise Coast offers clear, clean – and warm – seas, and you can find good-value hotels and villas in authentic resorts such as KalkanDalyan and Islamlar.

The French island of Corsica also has superb beaches, along with dramatic mountain countryside and authentic villages.

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’AzurThe Dordogne and Biarritz.

The Balaeric island of Mallorca is not known for its 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.

In Portugal, escape the crowds in the beautiful undiscovered Alentejo region where long sandy beaches, white-washed villages and coastal cliffs are reminiscent of the Algarve 40 years ago.

I also recommend exploring Portugal by car staying in historic pousada hotels. Prices for tailor-made self-drive itinerary start at just £395 including flights.

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 the Rosedon Hotel and the Fairmont Southampton.

Find more beach holidays. If you have pre-school kids, see our tips for the best family holidays in September.

Italy one of the best holiday destinations in September

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, I recommend the Daios Cove hotel.

Other great destinations include Sani Resort in mainland Greece, which has excellent beaches and sporting facilities, and a gulet cruise with Peter Sommer along the coastline of Turkey or Greece.

In the Adriatic, tiny Montenegro (it’s just half the size of Wales and great value) packs a big punch with dozens of small beaches, historic cities, lakes and mountains. See our recommended places to stay.

Slovenia ticks many of the same boxes, from the beautiful capital Ljubljana to the dramatic Soca River valley and sparkling Lake Bled. This fly-drive holiday is understandably popular.

For a lazy indulgent cruise, hop on a luxury barge 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 included in the price. Destinations include Bordeaux, Gascony, Champagne, Burgundy and the Canal du Midi.

river cruise in Europe is a great way to see a host of cities, picturesque towns, countryside and cultural treasures, all from the comfort of your floating cabin. You sail at night and explore by day, with most excursions included in the price. September is a great time to travel. Top destinations include the Danube and the Rhine.

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. You can take a low-cost flight or overnight ferry and rent one of these villas.

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 strike out alone, I 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 at venues including Marrakech, the South of France and Spain.

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 also 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.

CHeap holidays in SeptemberUK holidays in September

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.

Get in touch with your inner child rediscovering the Isle of Wight or enjoy a lazy boating holiday on the Norfolk Broads. You’ll find good prices on self-catering cottages in Cornwall plus some luxurious houses to rent in the Cotswolds, the Lake District and the Peak District.

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. Their luxury safari tents have comfortable beds, duvets and outdoor decking.

Britain has many outstanding hotels, including Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa near Bath and the Sands Resort in North Cornwall. If you want to be pampered in a remote countryside setting, try Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel on the Welsh-Shropshire border. Other hotels we recommend include foodie-favourite Maison Talbooth in Constable Country in Essex, a short drive or train ride from London.

How about taking a ferry or flight to the Channel Islands. Jersey is easy to reach with flights from more than 30 UK airports. Stay at the Pomme d’Or Hotel in St Helier, or be pampered at Greenhills Country House Hotel.

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.

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.

wine tours FranceDresden

Short breaks

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 probably best left until October.

Venice is wonderful in September once the summer crowds have started to disperse. Kirker Holidays has a great selection of hotel ideas including the Hotel Flora, a charming three-star pensione. You can get to Venice from London on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, but there are also options to take the luxury train to BudapestVerona or Vienna.

In Spain, 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. Portugal’s capital Lisbon is a buzzy city of lively bars, great food, rattling trams and art galleries, and it’s great value.

Germany offers something different, from the Gothic architectural of Cologne to the buzzing streets and world-class 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.

If you’re interested in art, music, history and architecture, see these group tours with The Cultural Travel Company. Destinations in September include France and Italy’s Veneto.

See more ideas for short breaks in September.

Blissful islandsPyramids of Giza in the morning lightluxury holidays in September

Long haul luxury holidays in September

September is a great month to take a cruise on the Nile (we recommend Abercrombie & Kent) or explore the pristine mountains of Nepal where the end of monsoon season brings clean air, warm sunshine and lush countryside. You can see rhino, monkeys and elephant in Bardia National Park and Chitwan National Park.

It’s one of the best months to visit Peru which is now served by direct British Airways flights from the UK. 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, visit Botswana to view the Big Five, or track endangered black rhino in the National Parks of Namibia. You can take a self-drive holiday in Namibia – try this 11-night Essential Namibia itinerary – as you can in South Africa where this driving tour takes you to the best of Cape Town, the Eastern Cape, the Garden Route and the Winelands.

If you’re looking for a unique wildlife experience, how about the island of Madagascar, which also has sensational beaches. This two-week Madagascar Wildlife Discovery small group tour features spectacular National Parks, lemurs, chameleons, baobabs and orchids. Or join a 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.

For culture and art, you can’t get much more exciting than Russia, the world’s largest country and one of its most misunderstood. Cox & Kings has a great range of escorted tours (small groups), plus tailormade private holidays, and river cruises, and classic rail journeys.

Or simply laze on a tropical beach in Mauritius, the Maldives or the Seychelles (check out the latest special offers).

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.

One of the most popular escorted itineraries is this nine-day Best of California luxury coach trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Yosemite National Park, Santa Barbara, Monterey and Hearst Castle. Perfect if you want to tick a lot of places off your bucket list.

If you want to travel independently, you could take a self-drive tour of the California Winelands or travel by train from Vancouver to San Diego on this Discover America’s West trip.

For high-brow stimulation, try one of these cultural tours. You could delve into the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Chicago School of architects.

Getting married? Find the best honeymoon destinations in September. Also see where is hot in September.

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: 13 November 2018

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