There’s something about September that signals the start of a new year. For many of us it’s the memory of stocking up on new shoes, bags and notepads in supermarkets emblazoned with the words ‘back to school’. For others, it’s how it marks the beginning of the biannual wardrobe reshuffle, the last few weeks of al fresco dining (before the furniture’s inevitable relegation to the garden shed) and the opening notes of Neil Young’s Harvest Moon. But unlike January, where crisp nights, short days and Christmas blues have the tendency to scupper all resolution plans, September, with its myriad aisles of academic diaries, can be the perfect time to put them into action – particularly if it’s a holiday. In fact, September is probably one of the best times to hit southern Europe and indeed the southern hemisphere (think coastal towns without the crowds, and bars and restaurants without round-the-corner queues). Read on to discover where’s hot in September…
Where’s hot in September you ask? Well Australia of course. With spring in full swing – boasting an average temperature of 24°C – a trip Down Under is the perfect way to elongate summer. Unleash your inner bohemia along the Sunshine Coast’s string of chic seaside towns (head to Noosa if you’re craving good food, rivers and rainforest); join swooping pelicans and gliding paddleboarders at the Northern Beaches and head to the Red Centre for a crash course in geology and killer Outback sunsets. While temperatures in the bushland still tend to congregate in the high 30s – even in spring – the country has come up with the perfect antidote: the Lord Howe and Hayman islands. Located close to the Great Barrier Reef, and scoring high in romance and relaxation, this is the ultimate base to see off summer.
Turkey’s west coast sees the sun a whopping 300 days a year, making it a worthy contender for our September sun list. A popular destination for Istanbulites during the sizzling summer months, the Turkish Riviera has become well versed in the art of hedonist holidays, but the area has still managed to retain its timeworn charm thanks to its sleepy whitewashed village and unspoiled natural beauty that luxury hotels have tried so hard to preserve. That, and the fact it has one of the most interesting and varied ancient histories. Discover sunken cities in Kekova, abandoned villages in Kayakoy and primordial ports in Pamphylia that harbour over 2,600 years’ worth of history. Better still, temperatures hover around 30°C so you can easily flip between sun loungers in Alacati and bohemian markets in Ephesus (where, according to the Post Office’s 2022 Holiday Money Report, a three-course meal will cost you just £16).
Lisbon may be having its moment, but we think there is something to be said for its quieter sibling, Porto. Besides the obvious charm of its cobbled centre, azulejo-adorned streets (the country’s beautiful hand-painted tiles) and sky-high miradouros (lookouts), it is the Portuguese city’s laid-back charm, charismatic locals and culinary prowess that gives it its signature style. From experimental ten-course menus at Euskalduna Studio to the hallowed port cellars and petiscarias (Portuguese-style tapas bars) nestled along sleepy side streets, Porto rarely misses a beat. Plus, with highs of 24°C and lows of just 15°C, you’ll be able to comfortably enjoy walks along the Douro, devour pastel de natas (custard tarts) in colourful cafes and climb up to the viewing platform above Parque das Virtudes to enjoy the sweeping views and balmy sea breeze over the neighbouring Atlantic. The nearby Douro Valley isn’t to be overlooked either, especially if you’re after a fix of viniculture, country living and outstanding hiking.
Greece is always in the sun’s good books. With an average temperature of 29°C, this perennially sunny country excels year-round. But once the heatwave passes and the droves of snap-happy tourists have trundled back to reality, September reveals itself to be one of the best months of all. From the iconic Cyclades Islands, which are sure to make all your Mamma Mia dreams come true, to the slightly more off-the-beaten-track Peloponnese, that’ll have you transported back to times when gods walked on earth and the city of Troy wasn’t lost, Greece is the stuff of legends… literally. It’s not often you come across a place that is so varied either. Want to dig into the country’s history? Head to archaeological Athens. Sample some of the best feta? Epirus. While away evenings with thirst quenching sundowners? Santorini. And trust us when we say that Greece knows how to do a sundowner.
When we asked our Middle East experts where’s hot in September, Morocco was the answer. Free from the scorching days and freezing nights that plague the country during high summer, September welcomes a considerably cooler climate. And with balmier days comes the chance to really get under the skin of the country’s spice-laden souqs, crimson desert and melting-pot culture. Run wild through the Azzaden Valley (preferably early in the morning to beat the midday heat); cool down in the quaint town of Chefchaouen, famous for its azure painted medina (old town); and enjoy a slice of serenity while staying in a traditional citrus-scented riad. You may not think it either, but Morocco does have the best of both worlds. Sporting multiple beaches along its Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as mountain ranges (that were made to be trekked up) and sweeping deserts (that always call to be ridden across by camel), Morocco was quite simply built for adventure.