Volopa discovers the best destinations for your September and October holidays
While June to August is a staple holiday period for many of us, there’s nothing like stretching out your summer by way of an Autumn break. With the 2019 British summer set to be a scorcher, you can take advantage of the rise in stay-cations to travel further afield at lower costs – and those in the know will tell you that now is the perfect time to start planning your September or October break and keep that holiday feeling alive well into Autumn.
Yes, trawling through booking sites might be the last thing on your mind as you enjoy all the joys of being home during the summer months – al fresco dining, pop up festivals, trendy beer gardens, and cocktails terraces – and when the temperature is high, you’re more likely to want to climb into the fridge than start considering where to catch our winter sun. But with lower costs and less consumer competition, it can pay to start thinking ahead.
With vacationing families all abroad, savvy shoppers will have their pick of travel agents, hotels, and seat sales. With annual fairs, fashion weeks and festivals hitting European cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Milan in September, the usual suspects can be booked up early, while Seville and Rome are in high demand a little later in October. So instead, why not head to one of our pick of 2019’s best Autumn breaks?
The art of slow travel
If you’re looking to relax and escape the daily grind, then picturesque Northern Italy and the Swiss Alps is one of the hottest picks for a short break this year. With the newly opened Glacier Express Excellence Class providing a classic train journey with astounding Alpine views – marketed as the world’s ‘slowest express train’ – it’s the chicest way to take in some R&R.
Elsewhere, in Florence and throughout Tuscany, the locals play host to one of the country’s oldest and most traditional festivals – the Festa della Rificolona – on the 6th September. Said to be the eve of the Virgin Mary’s birth (or alternatively the date of Florence’s victory over Siena in 1555), the Festival of Lanterns includes a stunning parade with hundreds of hand-made lanterns and a boat parade along the Arno.
Another great way to watch the world go by is a sailing trip around the islands of Croatia. With pleasantly balmy temperatures promised by this popular Mediterranean destination until late Autumn, make the most of the drop in school-holiday-popularity and explore the historic cities and sandy beaches that populate the islands between Dubrovnik – the jewel of the Adriatic, where you can explore the myriad ice cream and sweet shops in the old town to Game of Thrones filming locations along the battlements – to Split, which is packed with history from its picturesque ruins to its colourful street art and wonderful hideaway bars. Stop on islands Hvar, Korcula or Brac for the most relaxing resorts, and a slice of traditional Croatian life – including tasty local treats.
Off the beaten track
Morocco might seem like an obvious choice for year-round sun, but you can make it a little more interesting by ditching Marrakesh in favour of rocking the ancient Kasbah and its spectacular October sunrises and sunsets. Ouarzazate (pronounced ‘war-zazat’), a city south of the Atlas Mountains, is known as the gateway to the Sahara, and experienced a film industry boom in the 1950s – pleasingly known as ‘Ouallywood’).
Now, it’s a perfect staging post for visitors looking to make the most of the surrounding areas of natural interest, such as the Fint Oasis and Barrage El Mansour Eddahbi, and delivers up traditional desert vibes along with a blooming tourism appeal.
Elsewhere, Serbia is livening up the must-visit maps to travellers in the know. Rock fans might flock to the country’s northern Novi Sad city for the 20th year of award-winning music festival, EXIT, but the historic fortress of Petrovaradin offers far more than just summer song.
This year’s European Youth Capital, Novi Sad is also gearing up to take on the mantle of European Capital of Culture in 2021. Its historic Citadel’s Lower Town is enjoying a bustling new regeneration, but you can still explore the ramparts and 16km of underground tunnels for an insight into the past. Novi Sad’s ‘Chinese Quarter’ has become a bustling district for artists and culture vultures, with plenty of music and dance venues.
Not impressed? Head outside of Europe’s mainstays to Mestia, in the highlands of Georgia. Located 1,500 meters above sea level, this is an adventurer’s paradise and the perfect starting point for any hiking trip through the region. Stand out hikes include the Chaladi Glacier on the Caucasus Mountains or the lakes at the base of Mount Ushba – both offering awe-inspiring views. Mestia is also a haven for foodies, with local Svan cuisine including Kubdari, a delicious meat pastry; Tashmijabi, or cheesy mash; and a cheese-covered pan-based cornbread called Chvishtari.
Whether you’re planning traditional adventures or want to step away from the bustle of city life, now is the perfect time to book that Autumn adventure.