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September has long been one of my favorite months to travel. With the heat of summer starting to cool and tourist crowds thinning, it’s an optimal month for visiting many destinations around the world. While I’d avoid most Caribbean islands, which have one of the highest risks for tropical storms and hurricanes this time of year, there are countless others to consider. These destinations offer something for everyone as some of the best places to visit in September.
While many travel experts might suggest heading to Munich in September to experience Oktoberfest, unless it’s on your bucket list and you don’t mind the big crowds, you might want to consider an alternative like the Black Forest in the state of Baden-Württemberg in the southwest part of the country. It’s easy to find tranquility in this place that immediately conjures up images of half-timbered villages, cuckoo clocks, and deep woodlands with countless scenes looking like they’ve stepped out of a fairytale. In fact, this is where stories by the Brothers Grimm like Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel, and Snow White, all come to life. The picturesque town of Gengenbach is no exception, nestled among rolling hills and vineyards at the western edge of the Black Forest, with cobbled streets, half-timbered homes, and whimsical statues portraying jesters and fanciful figures.
Scotland has become one of the world’s top travel destinations with countless visitors arriving in the summer months, but September means fewer crowds while still enjoying the benefits of the last vestiges of summer, including long days with just a hint of the coming season often enjoyed under sunny skies while vibrant purple heather still blankets the hills and mountains. Highland games take place on weekends all over Scotland, featuring traditional competitions with lots of bagpipes and kilt-wearers. You might start by exploring the capital of Edinburgh and its majestic castle before enjoying a scenic drive and hikes through the Highlands. Sailing to one or more of the Scottish islands is still enjoyable, and you’ll find plenty of whisky distilleries for sampling the nation’s most popular drink.
Having visited Iceland six times, at least once in every season, I’ve found September to be especially ideal. The airfare is lower, the crowds are thinner, and the days are still long but not so long that you can’t see the northern lights. At the end of the month in particular, there’s a chance that you might spot them, and you can still chase the aurora comfortably with the weather still relatively warm. Whale-watching tours are still on, bringing the chance to watch humpbacks dramatically leap from the water’s surface, and snow is unlikely to block the roads, making it possible to reach more hidden waterfalls. When viewing famous cascades like Skogafoss, you’ll often be rewarded with large volumes of roaring water while rainbows appear in the mist.
September is one of the best months to visit Greece, especially during the second half of the month when summer’s high temperatures start to ease and the year’s biggest tourist crowds have thinned significantly. While there are hundreds of destinations to choose from, the Ionian island of Kefalonia is particularly ideal, providing plenty of tranquility, ideal weather, and breathtaking scenery. You’ll find everything from lush mountains and pristine white sandy beaches surrounded by pine forest to historic towns with Venetian-style architecture.
While popular beach destinations like Cabo and Cancun aren’t the best to visit in September with extreme heat, humidity, and a risk of tropical storms or hurricanes, Mexico City is ideal for a September visit. It’s the last month of the rainy season, though showers are typically short-lived and arrive in the afternoon. The average high temperature is a perfect 75 degrees, and this is also the month that brings one of the most important Mexican holidays: Independence Day. The bells ring throughout the night before the official day, September 16, with tens of thousands filling Zócalo, the capital’s main square. There will be music, dancing, cultural celebrations, and lots of delicious food. Plus, you’ll be able to enjoy its many other delights, from world-class museums and spectacular parks to the famous Teotihuacan pyramids less than an hour’s drive away.
September often continues the pleasant days of summer in Quebec City while the landscapes slowly take on some of the most beautiful hues as the month progresses. As this is harvest time, the markets will be jam-packed with fresh, local produce, and you’ll find many hiking trails nearby to enjoy the changing colors of the leaves. The biggest francophone Celtic festival in North America will take place from September 8-10 in 2023 along the banks of the St. Lawrence River with music, beer, and all sorts of festivities, while the Quebec City Film Festival starts right afterward, from September to 17.
Located off the west coast of British Columbia, Vancouver Island may be at its best in September, especially the first half, which tends to see abundant sunshine, while the resident orcas that frequent the southern region and Juan de Fuca Strait are still around, feasting on salmon. There are so many that many of the whale-watching tours offer guaranteed sightings from catamarans as well as smaller Zodiac boats. A wealth of other activities, including hiking and kayaking can be enjoyed too. Don’t miss Butchart Gardens, one of the world’s best display gardens. September offers a gorgeous array of late summer flowers, including classics like Begonia, Pelargonium, Rudbeckia, and Heliotrope (Cherry pie plant), whichflow around every corner. There are many museums and galleries in Victoria, like the Royal BC Museum with its Modern History gallery featuring an authentic frontier town.
Napa Valley, the heart of California’s most famous wine country, is a fabulous place to visit year-round, but arriving during harvest season is especially ideal. Enjoy mild days that are perfect for everything from wine-tasting tours to bike rides and sunrise hot air balloon trips – the clear September skies make this month particularly ideal for a bird ‘ s-eye view of the picturesque vineyards and rolling hills. The renowned Nappy Valley Wine Train has long been a popular attraction, with numerous options to choose from, some of which include lunch or dinner or stops at some of the local wineries. If you come in early September, Labor Day weekend brings many special events, with some of Napa’s best wineries offering open houses or festivals.
September in Cannon Beach often brings weather that’s more pleasant than June through August, with frequent sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s. You won’t have to worry about the summer crowds and it’s a great time for whale watching with gray whales migrating south during this time and often spotted from shore. Guided tidepool tours can be enjoyed around its famous monolith, Haystack Rock, providing an opportunity to learn about the area’s abundant wildlife, and the annual Cannon Beach Cottage & Garden Tour takes place this month, allowing visitors to explore some of the most beautiful homes and gardens in the area. All sorts of other activities, including hikes in Ecola State Park, which offers some of the most breathtaking views of Oregon’s coast, can be enjoyed too.
While Nantucket is a very popular summer destination, a trip in September offers the same outdoor activities like biking, sailing, golfing, and exploring the area’s three lighthouses (Brant Point Lighthouse, Sankaty Head Lighthouse, and Great Point Lighthouse) without the crowds. The weather is often perfect, making it ideal for enjoying beaches like Siasconset or Madaket too, including swimming as the water will be at its warmest of the year. Afterward, head to a waterfront restaurant for some alfresco dining with a view.
Telluride offers breathtaking scenery as one of the most picturesque towns in Colorado. It’s surrounded by the peaks of the San Juan Mountains with miles and miles of trails for hiking, and it also hosts some fabulous festivals in September. The Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is considered one of the best, most scenic, and most intimate music festivals, with an eclectic mix of live blues, funk, indie, rock, jam-band, gospel, and soul performances accompanied by some of the country’s top craft breweries. Plus, there are activities for kids like slides, a climbing wall, and bounce houses along with late-night club shows and free morning yoga sessions. You can take in a dazzling view over it all by riding the gondola that travels between Telluride and Mountain Village, and it won’t cost you a thing.
While Jackson Hole is very busy during the summer months, you’ll have the entire month of September and well into October before frost sets in, bringing the opportunity to hike and bike through the Bridger-Teton National Forest, fly-fish for rainbow trout and raft the Snake River. Bison safaris can still be enjoyed too. Of course, this is the gateway to Grand Teton National Park, which is especially lovely this time of year while offering abundant wildlife that includes elk and moose. While fall colors can be unpredictable, you can usually start seeing oranges, yellows, and some reds by around the third week of September.
September is my favorite month for visiting Yellowstone National Park. The vast majority of the over three million visitors arrive between June and Labor Day weekend, so if you arrive after that the crowds will have receded, yet the weather is still nice enough for enjoying all the activities. Some of the most popular include hiking and viewing sights like Yellowstone Falls, Old Faithful, and other geothermal wonders, along with abundant wildlife from elk and bison to bears and wolves.
There’s lots to do in Savannah in September while summer temperatures start to decline. This is when the city hosts its free annual jazz festival, something that’s a key part of the art culture here, and as the weather will still be warm, water-based activities like kayaking and boating are possible too. There are beaches, state parks, and wildlife refuges to take advantage of, along with many historic homes and museums to explore. The weekly Forsyth Farmer’s Market in Forsyth Park is a great place to mingle with the locals while supporting the area’s farmers and a day trip to the barrier island of Tybee Island, home to the state’s oldest lighthouse, will be enjoyable too.