The temperature is dropping, the nights are drawing in and the dreaded back-to-school vibe is lingering. It can only mean one thing: it’s time to book another holiday! September is the perfect time to get in your last shot of sunny vitamin D. Peak time is over, and so are the prices and hordes that come with it. In conclusion: warm, cheaper and less crowded? Sign us up.
1. Lanzarote, Canary Islands – fly from £82
Average temperature: 25°C, highs of 29°C
While nearby European destinations start to cool down as summer tips into autumn, the distant-but-accessible Canary Islands stay seriously balmy. When it comes to bikini-baring weather, Lanzarote is a year-round destination. September is a particularly great time to visit: the summer-holiday families have dispersed, the winter sun-seekers have yet to arrive and flights are 16% cheaper than average.
Where to enjoy the sun: You’ll find most of the resorts on the sunny south side of the island, and plenty of beaches to enjoy too. At the southernmost tip, mosey on down to Playas de Papagayo, a string of wild, golden-sand beaches boasting the best weather on the island. Stay near the beach in an apartment at Iberostar La Bocayna Village, from £120 a night.
Escape the crowds: Head north. So far north, in fact, that you leave Lanzarote completely and find yourself on the short ferry ride to La Graciosa, a small islet just off the coast. You’ll have to hike (or hire a bike and cycle) to reach these isolated beaches, but it’s worth it. Paddle in the calm waters at Playa de La Francesa in the south or lay your towel on the vast sandy swathes of Playa de las Conchas on the north side. While it’s slightly windier and a tad cooler on La Graciosa, the payoff is unspoilt beaches you won’t have to share.
2. Rome, Italy – fly from £39
Average temperature: 22°C, highs of 27°C
Leave the sweltering heat of summer behind, and the swarms of tourists that come with it, by travelling to Rome in September. It’s much more pleasant to walk around the cobbled streets of this living museum when there are fewer people crowding the top sights.
Where to enjoy the sun: Wake up early and head for Piscina Delle Rose in the EUR district. Built for the 1960 Olympics and officially the largest pool in Rome, you’ll want to get there bright and early to get your laps in before the crowds arrive. As such a walkable city, you’ll have ample opportunity to catch those warm autumnal rays as you join the dots on Rome’s classic sights, strolling from the Spanish Steps to St Peter’s Square via the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. As the sun sets, head west out of the city and climb Janiculum Hill for panoramic, golden hour city views from the hilltop terrace.
Escape the crowds: Swap the Colosseum tourists for a picnic alongside aqueduct ruins in the peaceful parkland of Parco degli Acquedotti on the outskirts of the city – stay nearby at the romantic Hotel Piccolo Borgo from £81 a night. Or, head even further afield for a seaside day trip. The Roman locals escape to the coast during August, but by September these stretches of sands will be quieter. For the best beaches, take the train north to Santa Marinella, or south to the picturesque beach town of Sperlonga.
3. Lisbon, Portugal – fly from £57
Average temperature: 23°C, highs of 27°C
Over the past years, Lisbon has exploded in popularity as a European city break, and with good reason. Thanks to its unique mix of photogenic azulejo tiles and yellow trams, fresh seafood, hilly miradouros, warm weather and fado music, there’s plenty to draw travellers.
Where to enjoy the sun: September in Lisbon promises sunny days, with little chance of rain. The best way to soak it all up? Exploring on your own two feet. Wander Lisbon’s pretty tiled streets in the Old Town, and put those calves to work as you make your way to the hilltop Castelo de São Jorge for amazing views across the city. Afterwards, take the short trip west along the coast to Belem – it’s only 25 minutes by car. Here, you can admire its namesake riverside tower and the impressive Jerónimos Monastery before spending all your euros on custard tarts at the iconic Pastéis de Belém. (There’ll be a queue here whenever you go but trust us, it’s worth the wait.)
Escape the crowds: There’s a slow, lazy feeling to Sunday mornings in Lisbon: tourists lie in, locals spend time with their families and shops are closed. It’s a great time to explore usually busy neighbourhoods like Alfama. Want to leave the crowds fully behind? It’s time to get outta town. Catch the train to the coastal resort of Cascais, where you can stop off on the way at Carcavelos, for a gorgeous sandy beach, or at the quiet, upmarket town of Estoril. Stay just outside of Cascais at the stylish Blue Boutique Hostel & Suites, with shared dorms from £21 a night, and doubles from £55.
4. Zanzibar archipelago, Tanzania – fly from £415
Average temperature: 25°C, highs of 27°C.
Visit the east African islands in September and you’ll manage to avoid the peak school holiday season and both rainy seasons – guaranteeing sun-drenched Indian Ocean beaches and clear skies for your adventures. Fun fact: Unguja is the largest island in the archipelago, but it’s known more colloquially as Zanzibar.
Where to enjoy the sun: Stone Town is the oldest part of the capital, Zanzibar City. The atmospheric, clove-scented tangle of streets showcase the port town’s varied history as a hub of trade and culture. It’s worth stepping into the shade for the authentic Darajani Bazaar: the spices, fresh seafood and bright fruits make for a sensory overload. For brilliant beaches, head east for lagoon-facing Paje or Jambiani where you’ll find sparkling turquoise waters at high tide. Or, make for Kendwa or Nugwi on the north coast for more beaches, bars and a backpacker vibe.
Escape the crowds: To get off the beaten track, take a trip to neighbouring Pemba Island – you can fly or catch a ferry. It’s no surprise its name translates as Green Island. Here you’ll discover clove plantations, lush mangrove forests and hidden beaches, empty save for swaying palms and your own footprints. Stay on the west-facing Pemba Misali Sunset Beach for great value (rooms from £62 a night) and epic sunsets.
5. Bangkok, Thailand – fly from £448
Average temperatures: 29°C, highs of 32°C
Full disclosure: you will need to pack a brolly if you head to Bangkok in September, but don’t worry, it’ll still be hot and humid. While September falls in the rainy season, you’ll still get glorious sunshine in-between those showers.
Where to enjoy the sun: For better weather, hop a one-hour flight from Bangkok down to the Gulf Islands. You’ll get to enjoy the last of the fine weather here before their rainy season creeps in from October. Fly to the largest island, Koh Samui, where you’ll be spoilt for choice with glorious beaches and boutique hotels (we like Banburee Resort & All Spa Inclusive, from £37). Next, don your dancing shoes, or flip flops, and catch the ferry to Koh Pha-Ngan for a full moon party. As you’d expect, they’re a monthly ritual, and there’s one on 13 September. Lastly, visit Koh Tao for snorkelling, diving and relaxing on the beach.
Escape the crowds: Travelling in the rainy season has its perks: you’ll find more affordable flights (September is 12% cheaper than average) plus you’ll miss the crowds as many travellers wait for the peak winter months to roll around.
Are you ready to book your September sun adventure?
All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 13 August 2019.