The month of September may signal the end of the traditional ‘summer’, but that definitely doesn’t mean the holiday season is over. In fact, September is the perfect time of year to visit some of Europe’s most popular destinations. As late summer drifts into early autumn, the stifling heat begins to abate, the crowds lessen, and local life begins again as regions gather to celebrate the harvest season. A truly magical time of year throughout the continent, here are five places in Europe where a September holiday is especially spectacular.
1. United Kingdom
The British countryside is at its finest in September as the deep green forests become speckled with orange and red; there are few better places in Europe to witness the changing of the leaves. The weather in September actually tends to be a bit warmer and drier than August, making it the perfect time for a long stroll through Trossachs National Park on the border of the Scottish Highlands or a scenic drive through England’s Lake District. And, as the busy season has come to an end, you’ll be able to enjoy more of the local hospitality the Brits are famous for. There are also dozens of local festivals to celebrate the harvest season over a pint of ale or a nip of whiskey.
Let’s be honest, there is no bad time of year to visit Italy, but the boot-shaped peninsula is truly at its best during the late summer. The crowds are dying down, the intense summer heat is giving way to a pleasant warm breeze, but the food and wine scene is just heating up. Harvest festivals take place all around the country, each region offering a tantalising array of seasonal dishes. And the wine harvests are also coming in, so local wine festivals are plentiful, providing the perfect opportunity to sample the latest vintages. September is also the perfect time of year to head to the coast to enjoy a few days at the beach. The temperatures are still warm, but not oppressively hot, and the crowds are a fraction of what they are in the August high season.
The Emerald Isle starts turning shades of amber in September as the leaves put on a spectacular autumn show. There is a sharp dip in tourist numbers in Ireland in September, but this month still falls within the “shoulder season”, so the small villages and quaint B&Bs that operate seasonally will still be open, the Guinness still flowing. One of the highlights of this month is the annual Galway International Oyster and Seafood Festival, the most recognized international celebration in Ireland after Saint Patrick’s Day. Fresh from the boat seafood and plenty of knee-slapping live music marks this culinary extravaganza.
While cooler temperatures are settling in over much of mainland Europe, the summer sun is still shining bright in Spain during the month of September. There’s no better time to hit the beaches that stretch from Barcelona to the Costa del Sol or sample the local harvests in this gastronomical mecca. And, as in Italy, the wine harvests are coming in, so head to any village to watch the locals roll up their pants and battle it out in a grape stomping competition. The oranges and reds that dot treetops in much of northern Europe can be found blanketing the endless vineyards as the grape leaves change colour marking the change of the season.
There’s a phenomenon in Poland called “Golden Autumn” that is much-anticipated by locals and tourists alike. During roughly two weeks of every year, the leaves of the towering oak and sycamore trees change from green to gold, and the shortening days mean the sun shines at an angle that perfectly illuminates the gilded treetops. The weather is cooling down, and the crowds have left the major cities like Krakow and Warsaw, and with harvests coming in, the local markets are brimming with fresh produce and locally made goods. Similar to the UK, September sees less rainfall than the summer months, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy this magical moment in time.
September travel may be one of Europe’s best-kept secrets, but at Trafalgar, we have long known the appeal of a shoulder season holiday. Check out our September on Sale deals to get amazing last minute discounts to see these fantastic destinations.