UPDATED: This article was originally published in June 2018
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.
Say “hello” to September! Asia, Europe and the Middle East are finally starting to cool off after the height of summer, and Africa’s dry season is helping to coax the wildlife out of hiding. Whether you’ve always wanted to sink your teeth into a juicy souvlaki in Cyprus, spot black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe or stroll along a section of the monumental Great Wall in China. Here’s your guide for where to travel in September.
Crazy traffic, crusty bánh mì and the claustrophobic Cu Chi Tunnels – just a few of the things that make Vietnam a great fun place to visit. Whilst parts of the country are delightful year-round, September is the perfect time for exploring the far north and deep south. Days tend to be warm and sunny, and any tropical downpours are often short-lived. Be warned though, as Hue is heading into the height of its wet season now.
Sapa is stunning in September and offers up the ideal trekking conditions in order to enjoy amazing views of its famous golden rice terraces. Hanoi should top your must-see list, you won’t be able to help falling in love with the infectious energy and fascinating history here. Halong Bay is best cruised during spring and autumn, due to the promise of clear skies, and Dalat is a brilliant place to unwind before experiencing the buzz of Ho Chi Minh City.
If you’re craving a smidgeon of September sun, then look no further than Cyprus. With temperatures averaging a balmy 30°C (86°F) and 12 hours of sunshine to be enjoyed each day – you’re onto a winner. The unsettled history of this small Mediterranean island also forms a big part of its intrigue. From the Ottoman invasion of the 1500s through to the Turkish invasion a little over 40 years ago, there’s a lot to be learned.
Step into the pages of a fairy-tale at St Hilarion Castle, the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s Snow White. Visit Lefkosia or Nicosia, the last divided capital, where you can experience both Greek and Turkish Cypriot culture. Take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of the Med and laze on the sun-soaked beaches. Plus, sit down to all manner of delicious Cypriot dishes, such as grilled halloumi, stuffed vine leaves and pitta-wrapped souvlaki.
Consider yourself an adventurous traveller? Well, this Central Asian nation offers the ideal opportunity to move away from the mainstream and into the (relatively) unknown. Get ready to witness it all – craggy landscapes, surprisingly cosmopolitan cities, distinctive culture, ornate Islamic architecture, unrivalled local hospitality and more. It’ll take just a few days for Uzbekistan to steal your heart.
Head to Tashkent for a taste of its Soviet past and to sample a modern twist on local Uzbek cuisine. Stop off at Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva to be awed by soaring minarets and mind-blowing mosaics. Follow in the footsteps of ancient merchants on a journey along a stretch of the Silk Road. And shop for silk paintings, intricate embroidery work, delicate pottery and antiques in the country’s many markets.
Whilst Zimbabwe is gifted with enviably nice weather year-round, May to October marks the official dry season and it’s now when wildlife watching is at its peak. Animals flock to the watering holes to drink, making them remarkably easy to spot. Kenya and Tanzania are world-famous for their safaris, but there’s a lot to be seen here too, including lions, hippos, crocs and black and white rhinos.
Aside from these beautiful beasts, Zimbabwe is also home to one of the most impressive water features on the planet – Victoria Falls. You could easily spend a day (or two) whitewater rafting, ziplining, canoeing and helicopter flying around them. Be sure to stop by Matobos National Park too, for an education in the local plant life, as well as unearthing historic bushmen paintings and unusual rock formations.
Captivating history, taste bud-tingling food and wine, incredible hospitality, splendid scenery and a mass of exhilarating outdoor pursuits make Georgia enticing to everyone. From September to mid-October it tends to be warm and sunny, and early autumn also brings about the festive grape harvest in Kakheti. It’s a momentous occasion when the whole nation comes together to celebrate the art of winemaking.
History buffs should stop by the capital of Tbilisi, where the ruins of Narikala Fortress and Jvari (a 6th-century mountaintop monastery) are sure to wow. Keen hikers should make their way to Mestia for the Shkhara glacier trek and enjoy immersing themselves in the gorgeous Georgian countryside. And foodie fiends should pop into the Kindzmarauli winery to savour the flavours of the local cheeses and wines.
- 10-day Armenia & Georgia Food Expedition
- 11-day Georgia Adventure
- 20-day Azerbaijan & Georgia Experience
There’s no disputing that China is a destination of completely epic proportion, and its size plays a major role in its diversity. From the bright lights of its big cities to the old-world charm of its rural villages – it feels like several countries rolled into one. Given China’s topographical variation you might imagine that it’s hard to pin down a good time to travel here. However, you’d actually be hard-pressed to find a bad place to visit in September.
Temperatures are warm but not humid and the rains have dissipated bringing idyllic conditions for walking the Great Wall, taking a picturesque boat ride down the Yangzi River or exploring the narrow side streets of Shanghai. Apart from digging into as much local Chinese food as you can, make sure you go and see the Terracotta Army in Xi’an too; this astounding archaeological discovery will blow you away.
Since escaping the clutches of a ruthless communist dictator in 1991, Albania has strived tirelessly to catch up with the rest of Eastern Europe. Their hard work has absolutely paid off though, as this small Balkan nation is fast becoming a traveller favourite. With its striking mountain scenery, beaches to rival the Caribbean, mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine and exceedingly friendly locals, it’s easy to see why.
Short on time? Try to include these hotspots on your Albanian itinerary. Check out Bunk’Art, a museum set in an old war bunker. Visit the ruins of Venetian-style Rozafa Castle for amazing panoramas. Spend some time relaxing on the Albanian Riviera. Tuck into a plate of fëgesë, a dip made from baked tomatoes, peppers, onions and cottage cheese. And, unearth the country’s colourful past at the National History Museum.
- 12-day Western Balkans Uncovered
- 15-day Kosovo, Albania & Macedonia Explorer
- 15-day Dubrovnik to Athens
Despite often being misunderstood, Iran is frequently described as one of the friendliest and most welcoming places on Earth by those who have been lucky enough to travel there. It’s also pretty as a picture and delightfully easy on the old wallet too. September is a fantastic time to visit, as rainfall is almost unheard of and the scorching heat of their summer months is slowly beginning to taper off.
Prepare to lose yourself in the winding alleys of Tehran’s enormous Grand Bazaar, a must-see in the Iranian capital. Marvel at the spectacular Persian architecture of Isfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan Square and its accompanying gardens. Stand in the rainbow glow of the stained-glass windows at the Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque. And experience real Iranian hospitality as you dine on fesenjan, a traditional stew flavoured with pomegranate and ground walnuts.
Sandwiched between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique, this landlocked spot is small yet mighty. In September, you’re looking at average temperatures well into the 20s (or late 60s) and the days are clear, dry and sunny. It’s a terrific time for experiencing Lake Malawi, where it’s possible to sail, snorkel, dive, kayak, paddle board and water ski. Given that the lake occupies 20% of the country’s land, it’d be criminal to miss it.
Malawi is also an animal lover’s paradise, and during September the elephants and other species of wildlife are out in their droves. Make your way to Liwonde National Park for the chance to see leopards, crocodiles, antelopes and endangered black rhinos. Or, go to Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Kasungu National Park to find buffaloes, hippos, warthogs, zebras, jackals, hyenas and more.
Next stop: South Korea. A place of futuristic cities and serene Buddhist temples, vibrant markets and wildly diverse terrain. Whilst spring in this corner of Eastern Asia comes dusted with the palest pink cherry blossoms, Autumn brings with it the most remarkable red and orange hues – making it a special time to travel. The milder temperatures and a slim chance of rain are also perfect for exploring on foot.
Did you know, South Korea is home to one of the most underrated cuisines on the planet? If you fancy yourself as a bit of a foodie, make sure you check out the budding craft brewery scene in Busan. Organise a pitstop in Jeonju, the country’s food capital, for a plate of their famous bibimbap. Try a taste of the local KFC (or Korean Fried Chicken) in Seoul and visit the traditional produce markets in Gyeongju and beyond.