The i-escape blog / Alice Tegg

By Alice Tegg, Editorial and Marketing Assistant

I love going away in September. Europe is still basking in late summer sunshine but the crowds have simmered down. The sea has warmed up while the prices are starting to fall. School has resumed, so no rowdy kids to share the pool with. It’s bliss. These are our five favourite places to go in September.

1 Algarve, Portugal

 Average September temperatures: Highs: 26C; Lows: 19C

It’s no secret, September is a popular time to visit the Algarve. But the hectic family crowds are replaced by couples seeking quieter beaches during the dry, mild month. The Algarve sees an average of 300 sunny days a year, so you can count on plenty of sunbathing on the renowned golden shores. But the searing heat of mid-summer has eased off, meaning sightseeing and city breaks are also much more enjoyable in September.

Visit Faro’s vibrant marina and browse the Moorish Old Town for trinkets, then head to Olhao, our favourite town in the Algarve, for the freshest fish on the coast. The picturesque Ria Formosa Natural Park is a short boat ride from here; nature-lovers should visit in late September to see the start of the autumn migration, when species like the Northern Wheatear complete their Atlantic crossing. You may also spot the shy European Chameleon, who leaves its shrubbery hideout to lay its eggs, and late summer blooms of the Sea Daffodil.

Side shore winds continue into September, making the Algarve a prime spot for windsurfing, while throughout the month the swell gradually builds on the west coast, enticing surfers to Sagres with the promise of decent waves and warm waters. The mild weather will also be perfect for hiking the scenic Seven Hanging Valleys trail that hugs the south coast. And as a reward for completing it, head to Tavira to try the local specialty: fig ice cream, at its best in September once the ripest fruit has been harvested.

Where to stay in Algarve

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2 Umbria & Le Marche, Italy

 Average September temperatures: Highs: 25C; Lows: 13C

To escape the crowds in Italy, Umbria and Le Marche are our top choice year-round. These central regions are rich in unspoilt medieval towns, rolling hills and vineyards, snowcapped mountains and half-empty beaches, with proudly traditional communities at the heart of it all. They boast the same bucolic beauty as nearby Tuscany, but prices and tourist numbers are drastically lower, especially outside of peak summer.

Agriculture and cuisine are a big deal here, so the locals are unsurprisingly food-obsessed. September is harvest season and food festivals dominate the social calendar. The one not to miss is I Primi d’Italia in Foligno, which celebrates the stars of Italy’s first course: gnocchi, pasta, risotto and so on. And yes, there are tastings! Both regions are big wine producers, too, and September is prime picking season. Many vineyards will let you take part in the grape harvest before you sit back and sample the finished product.

But there’s more to a trip here than just stuffing your face (though it does play a major part). This pocket of Italy is steeped in history, culture and the arts. The mild September days are great for strolling through ancient hilltop villages and Renaissance-era cities, like Montone, Citta di Castello and Urbino. Re-enactments and festivities take place throughout the month to honour the medieval heritage of the regions. Or if music’s your jam, Perugia holds the Sagra Musicale, showcasing classical and chamber music, and The Jazz Festival in the first half of the month.

Where to stay in Umbria & Le Marche

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3 The Cyclades Islands, Greece

 Average September temperatures: Highs: 25C; Lows: 18C

If I told you to picture Greece, the images of whitewashed villages, iconic blue domes, and rocky landscapes sloping into turquoise bays that no doubt come to mind all belong to this archipelago. For balmy temperatures both on land and in sparkling Aegean, September is the perfect time to explore The Cyclades.

As they’re so close together, this is prime island-hopping territory – you can easily see 3 in a week. But during July and August the long queues for ferries and boats packed to the rafters could put people off taking more than one essential journey. Come September, the hordes have tapered off, while crossings remain frequent and conditions aren’t so sweaty; it’s all round a more relaxing experience. Once on solid ground, temperatures hover around the mid-20s; ideal conditions for exploring the many historical sites, quaint fishing villages and beautiful beaches across the isles.

So which to choose? There are between 20-30 inhabited islands in The Cyclades, all with their own distinct identity. Party people might choose Mykonos or Santorini, whose lively nightlife and luxe beach clubs operate well into autumn. They are two of the most expensive Greek islands, but take advantage of falling prices post-summer. Tiny Folegandros is one of our favourites, and in mid-September the whole population gathers in Chora to celebrate Stavros Festival; expect live music, traditional dancing, lots of food and an electric atmosphere.

Where to stay in The Cyclades Islands

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4 Languedoc, France

 Average September temperatures: Highs: 25C; Lows: 17C

If summer in the South of France appeals to you, but the eyewatering prices don’t, you should try the Languedoc in September. This region, within the newly formed Occitanie, delivers in every way that Provence does – reliable sunshine, bucolic villages, chic beach towns and perfectly-preserved remnants of bygone eras – but flies relatively under-the-radar compared to its more glitzy neighbour.

While the days remain long and hot, hire a boat and pootle down the Canal du Midi, starting in Beziers. The heat outside will tempt you into the fresh water, while the trees lining the edge will be turning glorious gold and red. Follow the waterway to the many medieval towns of the Aude region, known as Cathar Country. The castles and settlements scattered here date as far back as the 12th Century; the citadel of Carcassonne is particularly spectacular, with its 52 towers and hilltop setting, and holds lots of events throughout the year to celebrate the city’s fascinating past.

Languedoc is home to some of the biggest wineries in France, so come in September to join the grape harvest and see the vineyards at their liveliest. The ever-changing landscape is ideal if you’re easily bored on holiday: in under an hour you can go from hiking in the foothills of the Pyrenees to sipping wine in the grounds of a chateau, or tanning beside the Med, somewhere between the coastal cities of Perpignan and Narbonne. You could even hop over the border to spend the day in Spain!

Where to stay in Languedoc

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5 Namibia

 Average September temperatures: Highs: 27C; Lows: 12C

September is arguably the best month to go on holiday to Namibia. It’s the only true month of spring, marking the transition from the cool, arid winter to the hot and humid summer. Though the landscape is pretty barren, the weather across the country tends to be warm and dry; clear skies mean sun-filled days and crisp evenings that guarantee unforgettable stargazing.

No trip to Namibia is complete without a safari. September is a great time to spot lions and the rest of the Big 5 in Etosha National Park, as the dry weather draws the wildlife to the watering holes. As temperatures haven’t reached their sweltering peak yet, it’s also a perfect time to explore the urban inland capital, Windhoek, and the strikingly beautiful red dunes and white salt of the Sossusvlei pan.

If you crave the coast and don’t mind slightly cooler temps, head to Swakopmund. This seafront town charms with its unique contrast of desert setting and colourful colonial-era German architecture. It will be too cold to swim in September, but it’s the ideal time to spot whales on their migration to the Cape. At the end of the month, the whole country celebrates the Harvest Festival with displays of traditional customs and delicious street food made with the season’s bounty.

Where to stay in Namibia

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Like the sound of an autumn getaway? Have a look at our top picks for where to go on holiday in October