The Lonely Planet states that ‘there is no better month to travel than September’. Now that’s a seriously bold claim. But we don’t disagree.
September is a savvy and often stress-free time to travel. Schools are back in full swing, tourist numbers are tailing off and peak season prices have, mercifully, come to an end. Spring is bursting into blossom on one side of the world and, on the other, late summer is sliding into autumn. The weather, in many places, is pretty near perfect.
So, yes, September is a stunner. If you have the freedom to travel, pack your bags and see the world. Wondering where to go in September? Here’s a handful of our favourite destinations:
South Africa has it all going on in September. In Namaqualand, bright blooms start to spread rapidly across an area of almost 1,000 square kilometres, forming a gorgeous, gigantic floral carpet. It’s a mega-meadow that will leave you lost for words.
Off the southern coast below the cliffs of Hermanus, migratory whales are beginning to arrive and it’s a great month for a Big Five safari too. The summer rains have ended and the dry season has set in, so the bush is less, well, bushy. This makes it far easier to spot the wildlife. Less rain also means fewer mozzies, which is a huge added bonus on safari.
New York and Boston can feel suffocating during the midsummer tourist madness, but wait until September and you’ve got two different cities on your hands. The heat has calmed down and the hoards have thinned, but the sun is still shining, making it perfect for picnics in Central Park under a canopy of yellow branches.
On Long Island and Cape Cod, the end of season vibe is beautifully snoozy, while the tips of the leaves in the Catskills are beginning to turn crispy oranges and reds. It’s a wonderful time to take a road trip up to the beautiful Finger Lakes, so put your foot to the pedal and hit the open road.
Buenos Aires is an atmospheric city all year round, but September sees the city hit full stride. The jacaranda trees lining the leafy boulevards of Recoleta and Palermo have started to bloom, while the spring sunshine bounces off the multi-coloured buildings of La Boca. Beyond the capital, it’s warm enough to wander around the vineyards in Mendoza and dine al fresco with a bottle of local Malbec.
Further north, the weather at Iguazu Falls is dry and bright, allowing you to hike along rainforest trails to breath-taking viewpoints. At this time of year, it’s best to visit early in the morning, when the sunlight hits the spray and sends rainbows springing off the water.
Don’t buy into the cherry blossom hype. Japan is just as beautiful in early autumn. During September, the trees of Hokkaido burst into flame with a medley of orange, yellow, red and maroon leaves. The autumn hues grow more intense as the month goes on, so late September is stunning. It’s the flipside of cherry blossom and every bit as spellbinding.
In the cities on the mainland, the skies are clear but the heat is gentle, making it easy to explore without melting into a puddle as you pound the streets. Rainfall has dwindled, so you can enjoy long days of sightseeing and sushi in the parks of Kyoto.
The Canadian Rockies can feel a bit like a world camping convention in the summer. Over the school holidays, the mountains are overrun by RVs and Lake Louise is busier than the lido down at Tooting Bec. In other words, it’s not the most wilderness-y experience. The area is beautiful, but bursting at the seams with family travellers and excitable kids.
In September, Banff, Jasper and Lake Louise are still pretty busy, but they are far less noisy once the school term begins. There may be more of a chill in the air, but the cooler weather creates good hiking conditions. The salmon-run also starts in September, drawing bears onto the riverbanks in search of a snack. If you’ve ever dreamt of watching a bear catch a salmon in its paws, now’s your chance.
Divers and snorkellers, assemble! If you’re a water baby, September is a brilliant time to set sail for the Whitsundays in Australia. Rainfall is minimal and visibility is great below the waves, providing excellent conditions to explore the psychedelic underwater world. Grab your mask, throw on some flippers and get amongst the Great Barrier Reef.
All of southern Queensland is superb in September and with the kids back in their classrooms, it’s a far quieter time to travel. Between snorkelling expeditions, try going off-grid on car-free Hamilton Island and spending some time around Whitehaven Beach. There are 74 islands in the Whitsundays, so you can find a new sunny spot every day.
If you're heading to Australia in September, try adding a Singapore stopover to your trip. Singapore is gorgeous in September, and all kinds of events kick off in the second half of the month. The Mid-Autumn Festival is a riot of colour of light, with gigantic lantern shows at the Gardens by the Bay and moon-viewing parties that begin at dusk.
If you’re a petrol head, pick up some ear-defenders and head for the Singapore Grand Prix. Held annually in September, there’s an electric buzz in the city streets during the build-up to the race. Head for a hip rooftop bar, sip a Singapore Sling and do some celeb-spotting. Just be sure to book well ahead – it’s a popular (and pricey) time to visit.