The back-to-school hordes may have to vamoose by autumn, but for the rest of us, a September escape is an excuse for the holiday we’ll all been craving. As the world at large sharpen their pencils, us free-spirits pick up where the masses have left off, taking advantage of recently vacated beaches, bars and hillside retreats the world over.
September is prime time for travelling, not only for the lack of crowds and lower prices but also because of that subtle shift in energy that heralds the start of a new season in so many of our favourite places.
Days become milder, leaves turn yellow and nights begin to crisp and cool. Meanwhile, in some of the world’s hottest destinations the summer heat eases off, letting greenery blossom while the sea remains toasty warm. Meanwhile south of the equator, you’ll hit spring-time, with new life bursting forth and temperatures gently warming up. It’s a win-win.
Here’s our pick of the best places to go in September for solo travel:
Average temperature: 27°C/ 81°F
Cultural attraction: meditation overlooking the floating temple of Pura Ulun Danu
Rainfall eases off in Bali come September time, creating prime conditions for two of its greatest attractions: powdery white beaches and the jungle highlands.
Make yourself at home in the secluded coves around the fishing village of Amed, or in the mist-clad hills of Ubud – where many a fledgling writer and artist have found solace.
Even in busier hubs such as Seminyak, you’ll find the summer hordes will have retreated slightly, created a more relaxed atmosphere in its many beach bars and restaurants.
Average temperature: 17°C/ 63°F
Cultural attraction: Lakes and forests in the fall
Hiking paths are still open in Western Canada in September, and the leftover warmth from summer – combined with a hint of autumnal crispness – create days that were just made for walking.
Soak in the vast panoramas of Banff and surrounding areas while the summer crowds are back at work, and catch the first tinge of autumnal colours that start turn from mid-September onwards.
For a different scene entirely, head west to the Vancouver International Film Festival, kicking off in late September.
Average temperature: 23°C/ 73°F
Cultural attraction: Sun-dappled Sicilian towns
All hail the pastel-coloured beauty of Sicily, which take on an added veneer of charm on a September vacation. The piazzas are still warm enough to knock back aperitivo in but the crowds have thinned, meaning you can weave your way around the more popular towns (Noto and Taormina) with ease.
This is your chance to soak in the island’s ravishing architecture, from golden baroque masterpieces to ancient Greek ruins. And let’s not forget the water has had all summer to warm up, so an al fresco dip –whether in the sea or the rock pools of the Alcantara Gorges – will feel positively balmy.
Not many people realise this, but Sicily is also a great call for adrenaline-pumped adventure; whether you’re river canyoning or cruising the slopes of Mount Etna in a fleet of 4x4s.
Average temperature: 18°C/ 65°F (warmer in the Amazon region)
Cultural attraction: The Sacred Valley and Inca ruins
September falls into Peru’s winter season, creating dry weather with blazing blue skies and crisp mornings in the Peruvian Andes. With clear days and cooler temperatures, the climate is ripe for a mountain bike ride through the Sacred Valley.
Inca ruins abound in this spectacular landscape framed by a horizon that stretches out for miles. Meanwhile over in the capital Lima, the full-on heat of summer (December to March) is still a few months off, allowing you to enjoy those Pisco Sours in peace.
Vietnam and Cambodia
Average temperature: 28°C/ 82°F
Cultural attraction: Pchum Ben festival in Cambodia
This nook of South-East Asia is a good bet for adventure no matter what time of year you visit; but September is a particularly good call. In the north, you can enjoy Hanoi as it dips below the 30°C mark, but the summer rains will have eased a little. Cool, clear days make for lovely hiking in the emerald hillsides of Sapa, while Halong Bay is warm and misty.
Moving down south to Ho Chi Minh and into Cambodia, monsoon season is still in full swing – but don’t let this put you off. There’s a definite romance to the brief tropical downpours that hit during the afternoons, with the rain clattering off tin roofs and steaming the alleyways. And the blazing sunshine either side will guarantee your Vitamin D fix, with fewer crowds around Angkor to boot.
Time your visit for late September, and you’ll catch a riveting insight into the rituals and processions that are part of Pchum Ben, Cambodia’s “Festival Of The Dead” in which respects are paid to ancestors.
Average temperature: 25°C/ 77°F
Cultural attraction: Oasis Festival 2022
Magical Morocco is forever at the top of most people’s hit lists, and in September it becomes even more beguiling. The summer hordes who’ve gravitated to Marrakech and Essaouira thin out significantly, leaving you elbow room in the bazaars and on the beaches (even Djemaa el Fna square feels a smidgen less crowded).
The days are still warm and sunny, and the Atlas foothills are alive with greenery, for an optimal backdrop to hiking. Over in the desert, the winter chill has yet to kick in, so you can glamp under the stars to your heart’s content.
Oasis Festival 2022, a firm favourite on the party circuit, is the place to be if you want brilliant live performances and DJ sets. The action unfolds at Marrakech’s Fellah Hotel from 16-18 September 2022.
Average temperature: 21°C/ 70°F
Cultural attraction: Goulash Disko
If September sunshine is your thing, look no further than this fabulous neck of the woods in Central Europe. Croatia has it all: beautiful beaches, towns and rugged outdoor scenery, plus a thriving festivals scene that continues on into early autumn.
Goulash Disko, a crowd-funded bash that takes place in a small fishing village every September, is a good example of this. It’s all about like-minded souls swimming, partying and camping by the sea, with before and after parties in Split and Zagreb (you literally can’t get enough of the good times here).
Having had all summer to heat up, the Adriatic is positively balmy in September, but you won’t have to fight for a deckchair – those summer tourists are all back in their offices around about now.
Average temperature: 24°C/ 75°F
Cultural attraction: A first glimpse of autumnal colours
By September, the heat and humidity of high summer has eased in Japan, along with the surge of summer crowds. This is a gorgeous month to visit the Land of the Rising Sun, with clear mellow days and little rainfall conspiring to create prime conditions in which to explore its rich forest and mountain stretches.
Although the vivid blaze of autumn colours in Japan reach their peak in October and November, you will start to catch glimpses of orange here and there in the tapestry of the Great Outdoors. Keep an eye out as you boat down the Hozugawa river and hike through the giant trees of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest.
Average temperature: 25°C/ 77°F
Cultural attraction: The Vendimia grape harvest celebrations
Of course, it wouldn’t be September without a harvest festival or two – and in the Andalusia region of Spain, this means wine time. In the city of Jerez de la Frontera, celebrations kick off early with the Vendimia Festival in early September.
Pop by to see wonderful ceremonies such as the “Pisa de la Uva” (treading of the grapes) on the steps of the cathedral, followed by two weeks of flamenco shows, art exhibitions and tours of regional bodegas and vineyards. Similar festivals take place on a smaller scale in wine-making villages across Andalusia
Meanwhile, cities such as Malaga, Seville and Cadiz are still warm enough to dine al fresco in, and with a notably relaxed vibe that always comes with the end of the summer rush.
Average temperature: 26°C/ 78°F
Cultural attraction: Highland villages in the Himalayas region
September signals the end of the monsoon season in Nepal, which means the mountains appear again from beneath a carpet of mist and fog.
Freshly watered, the Himalayan highlands are dazzlingly green and beautiful. What with the clear blue skies and warm sunshine days, you couldn’t really ask for better climbing conditions.
Although you may still get the occasional downpour, this really is a great time to venture up into the trails and foothills of the Everest region – with easy access to remote villages that are off-limits during worse weather.
Wind down in a world of hanging bridges, gilded stupas and fluttering prayer flags. Modern life will feel a million miles away.
Images: Shutterstock, felfin05 evin, Jorge Fernández Salas, Philip Davison Unsplash, The Common Wanderer and Tony Stevens/ Flash Pack