September sees the peak tourist hordes head home for another year, as children return to school and the summer season draws to a close. For those who can travel in this ‘shoulder season’, there are great bargains to be found, with fantastic weather and fewer crowds. Here’s our pick of the best places for a late summer getaway this September.
Morocco – France – Jordan – Malawi – Peru
California – China – South Africa – Montenegro
Planning a trip in September? Contact us for inspiration, information, and a free travel consultation.
Wares for sale in Morocco – Image by Mikadun
Join September’s bi-annual migration of the Berbers, when Morocco’s indigenous Berber people trek with their animals from their summer grazing pastures on the High Atlas Mountains down to the Dades Valley. Experience nomadic life as you travel with families and their livestock, eating traditional Moroccan meals under the stars and sleeping in Berber camps.
Also in Morocco, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site and film set favourite Ait Benhaddou, the filming location for movies, including Gladiator, Jesus of Nazareth and Lawrence Of Arabia.
Brush up on your haggling skills in Marrakech’s famous souks (markets). These vibrant, chaotic labyrinths of commerce, creativity and culture are the beating heart of Marrakech. Souk Semmarine and Souq el-Kebir are the main ones but head to the specialist souks at their northern end for lower prices. Enjoy fresh mint tea and Moroccan food on the main square Djemma el-Fna, where storytellers and acrobats entertain the crowds to a backdrop of live music and fragrant smoke from the food stalls.
Vineyard and Chateau in Provence, France – Image by ZM Photo
If you can’t spend a year in Provence, a visit in September is the next best thing. The summer tourists have left, children are back in school, and the region settles into a blissful, post-peak calm. It’s now that you can appreciate the natural bounty that makes France the epitome of epicurean excellence. Meander through the markets in idyllic villages, such as coastal Sanary-sur-Mer or medieval Vaison-la-Romaine, to enjoy the colour, variety and freshness of the first produce of harvest season, from plump, sweet tomatoes to famous Provencal Thyme.
Tour the vineyards of the Cotes de Provence to sample the region’s specialty; rosé. The Clos des Roses vineyard near Fréjus offers visitors the chance to help with the harvest and production before tasting the wines over lunch.
The lavender harvest may be over but the scent of freshly cut flowers lingers in the air, and lavender distilleries run demonstrations on extracting the essential oil from the region’s most famous flower.
France is also included in our 12 Great Family Travel Destinations for more information and inspiration.
Petra by Night – Image by Richard Yoshida
The stifling summer heat begins to cool in September, making it more pleasant to explore the Nabatean temples, Roman amphitheatres and tombs carved into the vast sandstone cliffs of must-see UNESCO World Heritage site Petra. ‘Petra by night’ is an unforgettable experience. Candles line Petra’s streets, illuminating the ancient architecture with an ethereal golden glow against the dark, starlit skies.
Experience Bedouin life with a camel tour through the dunes of desert reserve Wadi Rum, before sleeping under the stars in a traditional desert camp.
For exceptional diving and snorkelling, head to Aqaba Marine Park on Jordan’s 20km Red Sea coast. It boasts pristine reefs, abundant tropical sea life (some 100 species of which are not found outside the Red Sea), and interesting shipwrecks, but without the crowds found in Egypt’s dive spots.
Kayaker on Lake Malawi, Malawi – Image by SAPhotog
With warm and sunny weather, clear blue skies and abundant wildlife, the dry season is ideal for a trip to Malawi. Most visitors head to Lake Malawi, with its long stretches of idyllic golden sand beaches and calm waters popular for kayaking, sailing and fishing. The exceptional biodiversity in this vast lake makes it one of the world’s best locations for freshwater diving and snorkelling.
The Lake of Stars Malawi Arts Festival is held in Leopard’s Bay in September. Local and International acts perform during a three-day celebration of music, poetry, art, dance and theatre. Check out our article 16 Great World Festivals for more information on this event and others around the world.
At this time of year, the vegetation in some areas is thinning, concentrating Malawi’s exceptional wildlife and big game around waterholes and rivers, so it’s a great time to visit one of Malawi’s National Parks. The Shire River runs through Liwonde National Park making it one of the best places to spot elephants, hippos, crocodiles and big cats.
Salkantay Mountain Hike, Peru – Image by Scott Bailes
Machu Picchu is a must for travellers to Peru and the dry season is the time to do it. Hike the classic Inca Trail, which takes you through the cloud forests and alpine tundra of the Andes mountain range to the most renowned archaeological site of the Inca period. September is the last month of the dry season and it’s quieter than the peak months, July and August. Underfoot conditions for hiking remain good, and daytime temperatures are pleasant. Permits are limited though so plan well in advance. Alternatively, consider one of the other fantastic, and less busy, hiking routes, such as the Salkantay Trek.
Another of Peru’s treasures is the city of Cusco, a charming mix of Spanish Colonial architecture, narrow cobbled streets, vibrant plazas and colourful markets, as well as numerous ancient Incan ruins in the vicinity. At this altitude, nights get chilly, so warm up with a glass of local Te Piteadao, a hot herbal, Pisco and anise liquor, in the main Plaza de Armas.
Also visit candy-striped, Instagram favourite, Rainbow Mountain. It’s not an easy trek, so an experienced guide and preparation are advised. It should only be attempted in dry conditions, but the view from the top is worth the effort.
For more information and inspiration, Peru is included in our 5 Must Visit Adventure Places.
Two Glasses of Wine Overlooking Napa Valley, California, USA – Image by FloridaStock
September is California Wine Month in the US, which is reason enough to visit the Golden State at this time of year. The annual grape harvest is celebrated with tastings, festivals, concerts and wine events across the state. Try making wine the traditional way at a grape stomp party, usually accompanied with live music, fresh food and, of course, wine.
World famous Napa Valley has over 475 vineyards, so you will be spoilt for choice. The Berlinger Estate is particularly worth a visit for the tasting rooms in the historic 1884 Victorian mansion, the Rhine House.
In San Francisco, the summer fog lifts and the holiday crowds disperse, leaving you free to explore the city under clear blue skies. Take a bike tour over the Golden Gate Bridge, or take a cruise from Fisherman’s Wharf past the bridge to Alcatraz and Angel Island.
Thinking of planning a trip to California or any other destinations on this list? Why not drop us a line for a free travel consultation and get started planning your next adventure.
Great Wall of China in Autumn – Image by Fotohunter
Visit China in September and experience one of the most important festivals in Chinese culture, the Mid-Autumn Festival, when the moon is at its fullest and people gather to celebrate. Colourful lanterns adorn streets and houses. The Marco Polo Bridge in Beijing plays host to one of the biggest celebrations, where you can join the locals watching lion and dragon dances, enjoying local folk art, and eating the traditional festival mooncake.
Follow in the footsteps of the ancient emperors and take a cruise on the lake at Beihai Park, a hotspot for watching the huge moon’s reflection on the water.
The weather is slightly cooler at this time of year for exploring the cultural highlights: Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven. Take a trip to the Summer Palace, where the traditional Osmanthus trees are in full bloom.
The pleasant, clear weather and thinning crowds make this an excellent time to trek the Great Wall and admire the autumnal colours of the surrounding countryside.
September is also the only month of the year when Beijing Palace museum displays its most treasured exhibits.
For information on the Mid-Autumn Festival and other world carnivals and events, check out our article 16 Great World Festivals and get started planning.
Mother Southern Right Whale and her Calf, South Africa – Image by Exclusive Aerials
The small fishing town of Hermanus on South Africa’s Western Cape is known as the heart of the whale route and September sees Southern Right whales gather in their hundreds for calving season. Sightings are plentiful and visitors can view these magnificent giants from land, sea or air as they play, mate and breach off the shores, before continuing their migration south. Humpback and Brydes whales also grace the coast at this time of year and the marine visitors are lauded at the annual Hermanus Whale Festival.
Explore the Walker Bay wine region with a tour through the Hemel-en-Aarde valley. With 15 wineries boasting 120 award-winning wines, there’s something for every palate. Try the 7-course food pairing menu at Creation Winery, or enjoy pink bubbles and a picnic at the scenic Domaine Des Dieux.
Hermanus is about a 3.5 hour drive to Mossel Bay, the start of the famous Garden Route drive, which features in our Top Ten Romantic Road Trips.
Tara Canyon, Montenegro – Image by Mariusz Hajdarowicz
The ‘shoulder season’ month of September is an ideal time to visit Montenegro, one of Europe’s most up-and-coming holiday destinations. The weather is still reliably warm but the tourist crowds have subsided. With picture-perfect beaches to rival Croatia, vast mountain ranges, cavernous canyons and ancient towns packed into a country smaller than Wales, this Adriatic gem punches above its weight.
The UNESCO-protected Tara Canyon, one of the world’s’ deepest gorges, cuts through Durnitor National Park, where visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountaineering, canyoning, mountain-biking and the longest zip line in Europe. The Tara River, which runs through the valley, is one of the best places in Europe for white water rafting. With routes to suit all levels, it’s the most exciting way to experience this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Soak up Montenegro’s impressive antiquities with a visit to Kotor old town. Narrow cobbled streets wind through charming medieval buildings before opening out to sunny palazzos, where you can grab a gelato before attempting to climb the steep, 14th-century town walls. The effort is rewarded with panoramic views over the Bay of Kotor and surrounding mountains.
If any of these destinations have piqued your interest, contact us for more information and a free travel consultation. Where will your next adventure take you?
Samantha Roberts is a creative content writer, web designer and travel enthusiast currently based in Malaysia.