Editor’s note: Last updated in January 2024.
You’ve decided you want to travel more this year (good on you), but you’re struggling to choose your next destination. Surely there’s an easier way than trawling through endless travel mags and guidebooks for the answers, right? That’s where our ultimate month-by-month travel guide comes in: your easily digestible list of places to visit, things to experience, and amazing weather to chase around the world.
This month, we’re going to approach our popular month-by-month travel guide a little differently. Normally, we’d help you choose your next destination for an international adventure, without having to trawl through endless travel mags and guidebooks for answers. Instead, we’re celebrating our range of local experiences in Europe.
Europeans, here are our recommendations for your close-to-home adventures in October.
October blows through Portugal as a welcome breeze after a fiery summer. Visit during this time and you’ll be rewarded with the very best of its cities and beaches. Climbing Lisbon and Porto’s steep cobbled streets in the summer can be hot work, but by October the concrete has cooled off, which makes exploring these beautiful cities all the more enjoyable. The sea in Portugal is a lot chillier than that of its Mediterranean neighbours, but after a long cloudless summer, the water is finally warm enough for a comfortable swim. The locals say the best time to eat seafood in Portugal is any month with an “r”, so be sure to get your fill. For the wine lovers, head to the picturesque Douro Valley to participate in the annual grape harvest activities.
There’s never a bad time to visit this stunning country, but anyone who has queued outside the Colosseum in the sweltering peak of summer can attest to the benefits of waiting until October. The weather is still gloriously warm and ideal for al fresco dining, but a lot less sticky than the preceding months. Millions of visitors pour through Italy from June through to August, but October is considerably quieter, which means shorter wait times for attractions, less sweaty tourists to contend with, and a more relaxed experience. October is also in the middle of the harvest in Italy, which means a delicious array of fresh fruits and veggies, and plenty of lovely local vino.
Swap views of sunbathing tourists for turquoise blue waters, and trade in time spent in queues for hours freely exploring ancient ruins. Forget about jostling for sunbeds or service at the bar, as the worst of the crowds have thinned out by October, and the gorgeous weather clings onto Greece and its islands long after everyone has returned home. There’s no better time to visit this Mediterranean jewel. For those looking for a unique cultural experience, the lively island of Syros is also known as the “island of festivals”, and every October it plays host to the Syros Jazz Festival, where bands from Greece and abroad perform, as well as improvisation seminars and screenings of jazz films at the Apollo Theater.
4. United Kingdom
Those who visit the UK in search of summer weather will likely leave disappointed, but in October the country can go back to doing what it does best. The sun has given up and gone home, so it’s time to return to cosy pubs and indulge in roast dinners followed by apple crumbles in front of a crackling fire. Local breweries and artisan producers have lots on offer, with tastings aplenty and many little pop-up farmers’ markets. The countryside comes alive with an exhibition of autumn colours, best appreciated on a brisk walk with leaves crunching beneath your feet, or for the more courageous visitors, by taking a refreshing dip in one of the country’s many lakes.
It doesn’t get more colourful than Turkey in October; the sea is bluer than blue and the vibrant magenta bougainvillea is in full bloom. Ruby red pomegranates are once again plentiful in markets across the country, and watermelon, quince and grapes are at their most delicious – so be sure to get your hands on a freshly pressed juice. The shoulder season is the best time to avoid the scorching summer and bitterly cold winter that envelops much of the country. The coastal city of Fethiye still boasts splendorous temperatures of up to 30 degrees and the sea is warm, calm and crystal clear. The conditions are perfect for hikes through the mountainous landscapes – keep an eye out for ancient Greek ruins along the way!
Not looking to travel in October? No worries, check out our guides for the rest of the year:
Hero image by Cliff Bielawski.