From a much-needed dose of sun in Argentina to diving into harvest season in Italy, the summer holidays might be over, but autumn brings all sorts of great travel experiences around the world. Read on for great trips to be had in September, October and November. And remember, if you're thinking of planning a trip, get in touch – Rough Guides can connect you with local experts to offer tailor-made trips to all these destinations and more. Here's where to go this Autumn.
Where to go in September
For a small place, Georgia has a surprisingly diverse climate – from Mediterranean-style sunshine along the Black Sea coast to cooler weather in the Caucasus Mountains. September is one of the best times to visit, as the humidity dies down, but the winter freeze has not yet arrived.
The country is home to nine national parks and many other reserves, making it a paradise for hikers and adventure enthusiasts. Hiking in the Caucasus (you’ll need to go with a guide) will provide dramatic vistas over snow-capped peaks and the unique tower houses of the Upper Svaneti region – former mountain fortresses that are still used as homes today. Closer to the capital, Tbilisi, you can go white-water rafting on the Mtkvari river and make it back into the city in time for dinner.
Tbilisi skyline with Narikala Castle © MehmetO/Shutterstock
As with many places across Europe, late September in the Douro Valley means wine harvest season. The vines that line the region’s rolling hills turn golden brown and the grapes that make rich Douro wine are collected. If you’re keen on learning more about Portuguese wine (and port, of course) now’s the time to visit.
Many vineyards are open for tastings, and there’s even a train that makes the round-trip from Porto so you don’t need to worry about over-indulging at the tasting sessions. Opened in 1887, the Linha do Douro railway once went all the way to Madrid. That might not be the case anymore, but the line hugs the riverbank for most of the journey, offering the perfect vantage point from which to enjoy the lovely scenery.
The rolling hills of the Douro valley, Portugal © Sergey Peterman/Shutterstock
If you’ve seen the new Lion King (or the original for that matter) you’ll remember the key scene where the stampeding wildebeests change Simba’s future forever. You can see this spectacle for real in September as 1.5 million wildebeest make the journey across the Serengeti from Tanzania to Kenya. And they’re not alone – some 200,000 zebra and antelope also make the journey, in the annual great migration.
The herds move at a different pace every year so you’ll need to be flexible to catch them on their journey. The best approach is to travel with a guide in a mobile tent camp that can move around as needed to track the migration in action.
Wildebeest jumping into the Mara River, Tanzania © GUDKOV ANDREY/Shutterstock
Where to go in October
As any local will tell you, the weather in Madrid can be extreme. There’s a well-loved saying in the city – nueve meses de invierno y tres de infierno, nine months of winter and three months of hell (summer!). In July and August temperatures can top 40 degrees, which makes sightseeing almost impossible – the most you’ll manage is lying in a hotel room with a cold flannel on your forehead until nightfall.
When autumn comes around, the city’s grand buildings and welcoming squares bathe in the golden sunlight and it’s still warm enough to enjoy coffee outdoors. Held in the first week of October, Madrid Architecture Week offers the chance to go behind the scenes at over 50 important buildings, many of which are not usually open to the public.
Madrid cityscape overlooking Gran Via © Bertl123/Shutterstock
If Italy is the land of gastronomes, October is surely the best month to discover the culinary riches of the bel paese. There’s no better time to visit. After the heat of summer passes, Italy comes alive with harvests, from winemaking grapes to the truffles and mushrooms that flavour the cuisine.
Small towns and villages across the country hold food festivals that celebrate local produce – like the Crastatone chestnut festival in the walled town of Piancastagnaio, Tuscany. Chestnuts have been a staple here since the 14th century and are celebrated in glorious fashion the last weekend in October, served up a myriad of different ways and accompanied by a festival of folk songs and dancing in the streets.
Golden vineyards in Italy's Piedmont region © Georgio1978/Shutterstock
Nusa Penida, Indonesia
If diving with manta rays is on your bucket list, head to Indonesia – or more specifically Nusa Penida, 30 km off the coast of Bali – in October for a once in a lifetime trip. Measuring up to 6 metres across, the majestic rays flock to the coral reefs here to visit Manta Point, a cleaning station where waiting wrasse fish attend the rays, removing and eating any parasites.
The rays’ lives haven’t always been so easy – until 5 years ago Indonesia was one of the world’s largest fishers of manta rays. Thankfully, the country has come around to the importance of conservation and has created the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary in the area, covering 6 million square metres. Look for a dive outfit that supports conservation efforts to ensure that this wonderful ecosystem is preserved for future generations.
Kelingking Beach, Nusa Penida, Bali © Hanung Dana/Shutterstock
Where to go in November
If you’re not yet ready to accept that winter is coming in the northern hemisphere you can avoid reality for a few more weeks in Morocco, where daytime temperatures can still reach the high 20's. While sightseeing and shopping in cities like Marrakech and Fez can be an ordeal in the sweltering summer months, in late autumn both cities are quieter, with more humane weather.
Coastal cities like Essaouria are starting to cool down by this time, so November is not the time to visit a surf camp or plan a beach break. Heading into the desert is a great choice, but remember that temperatures can drop swiftly a night so layer up. As a bonus, the drop in humidity means clearer night skies too – all the better for desert stargazing.
The entrance to Fez's ancient medina © Migel/Shutterstock
Avoid autumn entirely with a trip to Argentina, where spring is in full swing come November. In the capital, Buenos Aries, November is the month when porteños come out of winter hibernation to populate the city’s parks and restaurant terraces. Jacaranda trees are in full bloom and the city pulses with the potential of impending summer.
In the south of the country, it’s the tail-end of whalewatching season (sorry for the pun!) as the southern right whale heads to Patagonia to mate. To explore the country’s winemaking regions, head to the northwest city of Mendoza to visit the many Malbec producing vineyards that surround the city.
Jacaranda trees in bloom, Buenos Aires, Argentina © Sunsinger/Shutterstock
If there’s one thing that brings Australians together like no other, it’s a sporting event. Enter the Melbourne Cup, the biggest horseracing event in the country, that takes place in the city the first Tuesday in November. It brings a festival atmosphere to the city with celebrations lasting an entire week. Even if you’re not remotely interested in the race it’s a great time to be in town, as every bar and restaurant seems to hold a special event.
Racing aside, Melbourne charms with its eclectic stores, excellent coffee and street art – best explored by wandering the laneways in the Central Business District. The city is famous for its unpredictable weather so come prepared. It sounds like a cliche but you really can get four seasons in one day here.
Melbourne city skyline at twilight © f11photo/Shutterstock
Top image: Langhe vineyards of Piedmont in autumn © Georgio1978/Shutterstock