Best city breaks in September
Average temperature: 24°C
Venice is packed full of amazing sights – St Mark’s Square and the undulating roof of the basilica with its easily recognisable bell tower, the surprisingly tiny Bridge of Sighs, and the wonderfully large and impressive Rialto Bridge, complete with shops suspended above the water. The city is a maze of art treasures and treasured architecture. To get your bearings it’s worth climbing the 98.6-metre-high St Mark’s bell tower (the campanile) before you do anything else (open 8.30am–9pm in September and 9.30am-6pm until 27th October, €8)*.
It’s warm enough in September to visit Venice’s most surprising secret, its beach. Venice Lido is a long, thin island that separates the city’s lagoon from the sea, and it boasts a twelve-kilometre-long beach to boot. Although it’s just ten minutes away from St Mark’s Square by water taxi, most tourists leave the city without even realising it’s there.
Best time to book flights to Venice: 9 weeks before departure
Saving: 17% on average flight prices from the UK to Venice
Average temperature: 26°C
Bordeaux was long known as La Belle au Bois Dormant, or Sleeping Beauty. After many years of decline, this classic French city, with grand boulevards, open spaces, and elegant buildings, has emerged rejuvenated after a serious revamp – which led to a UNESCO listing in 2007. Bursting with first-rate museums, trendy galleries, and gourmet restaurants, head for Place de la Bourse, a crescent of eighteenth-century buildings in the heart of the city, which looks onto the Garonne River – particularly alluring by night when the buildings are lit up. Cross the majestic Pont de Pierre Bridge linking the left and right banks of the Garonne. It was built during the Spanish campaigns, with 17 arches in honour of Napoleon’s victories.
Take in some opera, ballet, or classical music at the Grand Théâtre on Place de la Comédie, a sumptuous showpiece filled with marble muses. Hang out at Chartrons, where the wine aristocrats used to live, now the city’s trendiest area with chic boutiques and galleries à go-go. Take advantage of the still-balmy weather to hire a car for a day trip to the châteaux and vineyards of the surrounding countryside. Château Latour is recommended for some upscale sipping and spitting. This being France’s wine capital, there will be much imbibing of the fruits of the vine. But don’t leave without trying the city’s other speciality – the Bordelais canelé, an unassuming, yet highly addictive caramelised cake with vanilla and rum. Compact and bijou, with its pedestrianised streets, well-tended parks, and futuristic network of trams, Bordeaux is the perfect city for a sun-filled September break.
Best time to book flights to Bordeaux: 28 weeks before departure
Saving: 13% on average flight prices from the UK to Bordeaux
Average temperature: 29°C
Tbilisi means ‘warm’, which pretty much describes the clement conditions you’re likely to encounter in early autumn. The name also points to the city’s fifth-century origins. Legend has it that King Vakhtang the Wolf Head (so named because of his helmet) was out hunting in the forest when his falcon caught a pheasant. Both birds fell into a hot sulphur spring and he decided to build a city around these warm waters.
Tbilisi has endured centuries of invasions, with the Persians, Byzantines, Ottomans, Russians, and Soviets all leaving a little of their souls. The result is a city of many faces, its features flashing from Moorish to Art Nouveau to utilitarian. Scrub up at one of the city’s dome-roofed baths, famed for their healing properties: the breathtakingly blue Orbeliani Baths are recommended. Take a walk around the remains of the fourth century Narikala Fortress. It’s Tbilisi’s most ancient monument, often described as the city’s heart and soul.
Or visit Sioni Cathedral, originally built in the sixth century and rebuilt several times since. Its pretty multi-hued walls and arched ceilings are cut with rich swathes of gold stars on deep blue. Sioni is home to the cross of Saint Nino, often referred to as the patron saint of wine. Speaking of which, there’s no better place for a glass of plonk, this being the oldest wine-making nation in the world. Locals discovered the art of winemaking some 7,000 years ago. Go on a wine-bar crawl through Tbilisi’s old town and scoff sour sulguni cheese and flatbreads as you quaff.
Best time to book flights to Tbilisi: 20 weeks before departure
Saving: 16% on average flight prices from the UK to Tbilisi
Seoul, South Korea
Average temperature: 29°C
Not for nothing is Seoul known as Asia’s coolest city. Mashing up time-honoured tradition and sci-fi strangeness, the city is fast leaving the likes of Tokyo in the dust. Some put it down to the unique psychogeography of the place, the shimmering energy of the guardian mountains surrounding the city – Naksan, Bugaksan, Inwangsan, and Namsan. Take a cable car up Namsan to the needle-like tower up top, where you can survey this sprawling metropolis of 10 million.
Temperatures reach the mid-20s at this time of year, perfect for a moonlit stroll at Changdeokgung Palace, with its magical secret garden featuring a lotus pond and medieval pavilions. Amble through Ikseon-dong, an old-fashioned neighbourhood filled with traditional wooden homes called hanok. Then, fast-forward to the present by dropping into a PC bang (a ‘bang’ being a room), where space-starved Seoulites hang out to play video games. You can also sweat it out in a jjimjilbang, a public bathhouse with hot tubs, kiln saunas, and massage tables (some of the fancier ones resemble entertainment centres with nail salons and restaurants).
In this mega-city, even the normally banal act of drinking coffee can be weird. Head to Café Namu Guneul (37-1 Myeongdong), where you can get a fish pedicure while sipping your latte. Or try the Thanks Nature Café (486 Seogyo-dong) in Hongdae, where you can hang with a flock of sheep. Eat, eat and eat – whether it be a lavish hanjeongsik, the full-blown feast traditionally served up to royalty, or crispy hotteok pancakes from a street vendor. Drink soju (a bit like weak vodka) and mix it with beer to make somaek. See the exclusive Gangnam district – of ‘Gangnam Style’ fame – with its posh shops and 500 plastic surgery clinics – Korea is the world’s capital of eyelid lifts and jaw reductions. However you do it, Seoul is mind-blowing in every sense.
The best time to book flights to Seoul is around 30 weeks before travel, when flights are the cheapest on average.
Best time to book flights to Seoul: 30 weeks before departure
Saving: 14% on average flight prices from the UK to Seoul.
Soča Valley, Slovenia
Drew Seaman from Drive on the Left gives us the low down on why this is the best place to go:
Where would you go in your chosen destination?
I would base my stay in Kobarid, a quaint small town at the foot of the Julian Alps, with narrow streets and brightly colored homes. It is also close to many of the best outdoor activities that the area has to offer.
Why should anyone else bother going there?
The Soča Valley is simply one of the most beautiful areas in all of Europe. It is just as photogenic as Switzerland, but at a fraction of the cost. It’s an ideal location for any outdoor lover, with activities ranging from hiking to paragliding. Also, the Soča River, with its stunning blue-green water, has to be seen to be believed.
What makes it such a great place to go in that month in particular?
The summer is the busiest time for most of Slovenia, so September brings fewer crowds. The weather cools slightly in September, averaging in the low 20s (70F). You can enjoy the outdoors and the water is still warm enough for a dip.
Where would you stay?
Just a short drive from the village of Kobarid is Hiša Franko, a restaurant/inn that has a funky, modern design, but still feels welcoming and relaxing.
What would you do/which attractions would the visit?
A hike through the Tolmin Gorge is beautiful, with waterfalls, thermal springs, and fantastic views of the valley. The Kozjak waterfall, located about a 30-minute walk from Kobarid, is accessed through a path in the woods. You reach it by crossing small footbridges over the river, ending at a secluded cave that contains the idyllic waterfall.
Any recommendations for bars, restaurants or cafes?
A stay in Soča Valley is not complete without a meal at Hiša Franko. They have an extensive wine cellar, their own cheese cave, and manage a large garden on the property. They also utilise many products from the Soča Valley, including the famed marble trout from the Soča River.
Best beaches to visit in September
Average temperature: 25°C
This remote island in the eastern Aegean is named after Icarus, the mythological boy who flew too close to the sun with his wax wings. Driving down sun-beaten roads, twisting through rocky scrubland, past steep ravines and through sleepy villages to hidden beaches, you’ll get the curious sense of having gone back in time. The island hasn’t changed much since its days as a leftist stronghold, a place of exile for thousands of communist sympathisers during the Civil War of 1946-49. Locals live at their own pace on an organic diet of largely homegrown food. Around one in three people here live into their 90s on the so-called ‘island of long life’.
With temperatures hitting highs of 29°C, you’ll be glad of a swim in the crystal clear waters of Seychelles in the south, with its beach of brilliant white pebbles. Paddle in the curative springs of Therma on the east coast, and visit the sixth-century Temple of Artemis on the sandy beach of Nas in the north-west. Make sure to pop by the ‘vampire village’ of Christos Raches in the north, which doesn’t come to life until sundown – its shops open late into the night. Join in the local Panagiria, traditional festivals held throughout summer, with roasted goat and organic wine aplenty – strange and unforgettable. There are daily flights from Athens to Ikaria. Or you can spend a few days exploring the sights and sounds of Athens before catching the ferry from Pireaus Port, just outside the Greek capital. Clue up on 20 other Greek islands, including Kos and Paros, in our guide on what to see and do to get the most out of island life.
Best time to book flights to Athens: 19 weeks before departure
Saving: 16% on average flight prices from the UK to Athens
Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
Average temperature: 32°C
It’s still relatively unknown, but this 200-mile strip of paradise, studded with solitary beaches, rustic villages, and exclusive resorts, is set to become a major tourist destination. Backed by lush mountains, facing coastal islands, the Mexican state of Nayarit is the perfect place to combine relaxation and adventure. With temperatures in early autumn as hot as the high 20s, it’s the ideal September holiday destination.
Lively Puerto Vallarta is the gateway to the Riviera (and the setting for John Huston’s 1964 film The Night of the Iguana). It’s well worth hanging around for a margarita on the beach and a bop at one of the lively nightclubs. Heading north into Nayarit, you’ll find a more low-key, bohemian vibe in the towns of Sayulita and San Pancho. The waves here are ideal for some surf action, with both towns full of independent shops and restaurants serving up incredibly fresh seafood dishes. Look out for Huichol arts and crafts, including wood carvings and beaded jewellery.
Get yourself up to sleepy San Blas, an ecotourism favourite in the northern section of Nayarit. Here you can hop on a bird and croc-watching boat ride through the mangrove swamps. Go inland into the Sierra Madre to the fish-rich lagoons of the lake region, or join a marine safari of the crystal-clear waters surrounding the Marieta Islands, an hour’s boat ride from Puerto Vallarta. Once a bomb testing site, the islands were turned into a protected national park after a campaign by scientist Jacques Cousteau. One of the explosions had the happy result of creating the so-called hidden beach in a sun-drenched crater, accessible through a 25-metre tunnel.
Best time to book flights to Puerto Vallarta: 1 week before departure
Saving: 38% on average flight prices from the UK to Puerto Vallarta
Average temperature: 27°C
Fiji; the mere sound of it conjures up images of castaways and coconuts. But did you know there’s actually a ‘Castaway Island’ in this South Pacific archipelago? Here you can enjoy 170 acres of fantasy living with your own little stretch of white sand beach and crystal clear sea. Castaway is part of the stunning Mamanuca Group. This is the most popular collection of Fijian islands, catering for sun-loving holidaymakers and divers who are attracted by the area’s kaleidoscopic coral reefs and spectacular marine life.
North of the sugary Mamanucas are the more rugged landscapes of the Yasawa Group. This is generally where budget travellers and backpackers flock to for their island adventures. Swim in the limestone tunnels of the Sawa-i-Lau Caves – a slightly hair-raising experience given the dearth of breathing space, but you haven’t visited the Yasawas until you’ve done it, say locals. Once you’ve had enough of the beach, explore the mountains, rainforests, and remote villages, where the locals’ way of life hasn’t changed in centuries. Sample authentic Fijian dishes like kokoda (raw fish marinated in coconut cream and lime). Then get pleasantly numb on yaqona (also known as kava), local brew served in a coconut shell.
Visit the city of Nadi on Viti Levu, Fiji’s largest island, where you’ll hear Hindi and Fijian music blaring from the storefronts. Nearly half of Fiji’s population is descended from the Indians who came to work the British sugar-cane plantations in the late 1800s. For a taste of Indian culture, visit the mega-colourful Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple. You can also pick up traditional Fijian pottery, baskets, and wood carvings at the open-air market.
Best time to book flights to Fiji: 29 weeks before departure
Saving: 8% on average flight prices from the UK to Fiji
Best events in September
Burning Man, Nevada, USA, August 25 – September 2 2019
Average temperature: 35°C
The thought of joining tens of thousands of happy hippies in the desert may well be your idea of hell. But while the Burning Man festival, which takes place every year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, does involve sun salutations aplenty, it’s more of a mass experiment in radical self-reliance. It’s a surreal community of themed camps and wild art installations that springs up in the middle of nowhere only to disappear without trace a week later. The whole festival culminates with the burning of the ‘man’ on the final Saturday.
Fly to Las Vegas, drive out into the desert, bring your own tent, pack some dried noodles, don some crazy threads and a pair of goggles (the desert winds are pretty unforgiving), and ditch your wallet. There’s no cash here, everything is given and received freely. No mobile connections either, leaving you free to rediscover the art of having real conversations and meeting new people. Get prepared with our must-read tips on the week’s logistical challenges.
Best time to book flights to Las Vegas: 20 weeks before departure
Saving: 7% on average flight prices from the UK to Las Vegas
Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany, September 21 – October 6 2019
Average temperature: 19°C
One minute you were knocking back tankards of beer served by ladies in dirndl and lads in lederhosen. Next, you were passed out under one of the long tables, your brain about to explode out of your temples. Not a nice prospect, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Not if you line your stomach with plenty of bratwurst and giant pretzels beforehand. There’s also ox roasted on a spit if you’re really going for it.
This 16 day beer-for-all festival started back in 1810 as a royal wedding reception. Today, it attracts a whopping six million tourists a year to Munich. This year, enjoy all of the opening festivities in the Schottenhamel tent from 9am on September 21st. Then throughout the week make sure to catch a puppet show and the parades. You might want to avoid the ‘Höllenblitz’ (translated as ‘lightning from hell’) fairground ride. Could be a bit messy on a belly full of Bavaria’s finest.
Best time to book flights to Munich: 12 weeks before departure
Saving: 23% on average flight prices from the UK to Munich
To receive more travel tips, deals and offers, sign up to our free newsletter
Find more destinations to visit in September here:
Glitz, glamour, and Grace Kelly: the south of France has it all in slick spades, so join us as we take you on a tour of the region’s best driving routes .
You’ve heard of the resorts, of course. But did you also know that the Canary Islands are home to the highest mountain in Spain?
Autumn colours + city break = seven pretty cities perfect for a late great autumn getaway, from Bruges to New York.
Our pick of 10 of the best national parks on the planet to see beautiful autumn colours from England to China.
Weather data provided by Weather2Travel.
*Skyscanner looked at 250 million exits on flights over a three-year period to make the data as robust and accurate as possible. Our overall results should be considered as a guide for travellers. While Skyscanner has identified the average flight prices and best time to book, there will never be one date where it can guarantee that flight prices will be at their cheapest. However, there are clear trends we can see that are useful to show travellers.
*Prices correct as of 22nd July 2019.