The i-escape blog / Lucy Richardson

By Lucy Richardson, Editor

October is a tricky old month for travel – especially if it’s sunshine you’re after. Europe cools down, the tropics are often wet – but fear not! There are destinations where the climates are perfect for making the best of them. And because fewer people travel at this time of year, you might find that availability is better, and securing annual leave is easier. Plus, good news for parents: October half-term is often the cheapest holiday to go away in.

1 South Africa

 Average October temperatures: Highs: 30C; Lows: 18C

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, South Africa experiences spring in our autumn, so it’s a pretty time for visiting. Our founder, Nikki, is a seasoned traveller to this part of the world and rates October as her favourite time to come. Why? Because the rains have eased, the wildflowers have sprouted, and the whales have returned to the shores.

This is a great month for exploring Cape Town and surrounds. Peak summer season usually begins from November, so you should find that crowds haven’t yet arrived and prices haven’t yet jumped. It’s ideal weather for walking and wine touring – make sure you head out to foodie Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. And music fans can coincide with Rocking the Daisies festival, which usually takes place in the first week of the month and attracts international acts.

October is the best time for whale watching along the coast south of Cape Town, so drive to Hermanus and the Walker Bay Nature Reserve (a famous whale nursery). The estuary here teems with birdlife and endangered plant species. And if it’s wildlife you’re after, you’re still in time to catch the end of prime safari season in the Kruger. October is the end of the dry season, so you’ll find animals congregating around the watering holes.

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2 Andalucia

☀ Average October temperatures: Highs: 25C; Lows: 17C

Don’t rule out all of Europe in October; Spain’s far south is perfect at this time of year. The summer months are too hot to explore Andalucia properly, and November is often wet, but come in October and you’ll find the region’s Goldilocks season – just be prepared for some very parched landscapes.

This is a pleasant time for touring Andalucia’s Moorish cities. Seville, Cordoba, Granada are the big ones to see, all connected by rail. Make sure you book in advance if you want to visit their main attractions (Alhambra, Mezquita, Alcazar). It should be warm enough for leisurely alfresco lunches and long tapas crawls around the lively streets – it’s what the locals do, so you should too!

October is a nice time of year for cycling in Andalucia’s mountainous interior around Ronda – though be prepared for some rain. Head to Grazalema National Park and you might catch the sounds of deer rutting season when males lock horns and howl at each other. The forests turn a lovely shade at this time of year when the leaves of the chestnut trees are on the turn.

And over on Andalucia’s coast, if you come early in the month, you might find it’s warm enough for sunbathing and swimming, the sea at its balmiest temperature of the year after heating up over summer. Beach bars may have closed for the season, but the crowds will have gone too so you’ll have the sand to yourself.

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3 Zanzibar

☀ Average October temperatures: Highs: 30C; Lows: 20C

Zanzibar is pretty much a year-round destination bar a couple of months when the rains fall, but October is one of the best times for value-for-weather – it’s the tail-end of high season but it’s still balmy and dry. The first half of the month in particular comes with minimal risk of rain (the second monsoon usually arrives in November). Conveniently, October also falls during the optimal safari season in Tanzania, so it’s a fab time for a beach and wildlife holiday combo.

The wind is usually at its lowest at this time of year, which makes ocean visibility good – ideal for snorkelling and diving. You should experience sea temperatures reaching a peak of 27C towards the end of the month. Head to Kizimkazi on Unguja (the main island) to see dolphins, or go to Mafia island to catch the start of whale shark season.

The peak crowds might still be around in the major resort areas, but it’s easy to ditch them if you go elsewhere. Try Pongwe on Unguja’s east coast, which has a gem of a beach that is pleasingly undeveloped. Or get off the main island and go south to Pemba, a much less explored part of Zanzibar with a mix of white-sand beaches, clove and palm forests.

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4 Turkish Coast

☀ Average October temperatures: Highs: 27C; Lows: 17C

There aren’t many parts of Europe that are still hot enough for a proper summer holiday in October, but the Turkish Coast is. With the Aegean forming the west coast, and the Mediterranean forming the south, this is ultimate beach holiday territory. On both coasts, you’ll find bath-like sea temperatures, the water having had all summer to heat up.

We’d say October is the best time to be in places like Antalya and Kas, both on the Med coast, because you’ll get temperatures in the high 20s and very few crowds. The coast around Bodrum (Aegean) is also pleasantly warm at this time of year, though note that some hotels and restaurants might begin closing for the season. If bumming about on the beach isn’t really your jam, you can do gentle coastal hikes or explore archeological sites like Ephesus, both of which are out of the question in the stifling heat of summer.

If you’re around for Republic Day (29th October), get set for big celebrations up and down the country – parades, fireworks, concerts, the lot. The biggest parties happen in the major cities, but places like Fethiye have fun celebrations too, with torchlit processions and live music.

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5 Rajasthan

☀ Average October temperatures: Highs: 33C; Lows: 20C

Being over 60% desert, the Land of Kings is a scorcher, so exploring can be stifling if you come at the wrong time. October is when temperatures and humidity begin to drop for the winter, though it’s still warm. It also marks the end of the three-month rainy season, so the landscape turns a lush green and looks its most beautiful.

This is a good time to tour India’s Golden Triangle cities – Delhi, Jaipur, Agra – or the forts of Jodphur. But allow time for some wilderness too; the Aravalli Range is beautiful in October, glowing emerald green and often framed by a rim of atmospheric fog. It’s also the ideal time for the Keoladeo National park in Bharatpur, as the migratory birds flock back for the winter.

Rajasthan is known for its calendar of cultural and religious festivals, the dates of which vary according to the lunar calendar. Diwali often falls in October, and it’s a magical time to be in Rajasthan. Lanterns and light shows illuminate the land for five days straight, and everyone comes out to celebrate. Other festivals that usually occur in this month include the Marwar Festival in Jodhpur and Dussehra Mela in Kota, so check your dates to see if you can coincide with the pomp.

Where to stay in Rajasthan

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Keen to go away sooner? Have a look at our top picks for where to go on holiday in September