|Photo by Freeimages.com/Luca Biagiotti|
Chris Leadbeater, The Daily Telegraph, September 02, 2015
You know a month has a good deal to recommend it when William Wordsworth has serenaded it in verse. “Departing summer hath assumed, an aspect tenderly illumed, the gentlest look of spring” the great Romantic mused in his poem “September, 1819”. He did not, it must be admitted, say much about it being a wonderful juncture for a holiday, but in describing it as “unfaded, yet prepared to fade” he hit upon a basic truth, that September may just be the ideal month for travel. The warmth of summer is still with us, but children are back at school, beaches are less busy and the first hint of autumn is starting to have intriguing effects on scenery and wildlife.
In short, should time and opportunity present themselves, now is the moment to pack bags and passports, ignore all thought of clocks going back, leave coats in wardrobes, and seize the chance of a week (or two) away. Perhaps via one of these splendid suggestions…
New England’s old favourite
America’s north-eastern shoulder dons its finery every autumn in the haze of orange, pink and red that is the New England “Fall”. This feast of coloured foliage drapes itself across the region in September and October, with its early flushes brightening the corners of Maine almost as soon as August is over. In general, the farther north you go, the more striking and wild the scenery, which makes the “New England Discovery” road trip with North America Travel Service (020 7499 7299; northamericatravelservice.co.uk ) an alluring option. This 15-day tour starts and ends in Boston, but has dates in the Maine coastal towns of Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor, plus the forested trails of Acadia National Park (nps.gov/acad). From £2,220 a head, with flights, hotels and car.
Tooth, claw and roar in Tanzania
September is the peak period for the natural spectacle that turns Tanzania and Kenya into an incomparable frenzy of heavy hooves and snapping jaws. The Great Migration is the movement of some 1.7 million wildebeest (plus a supporting cast of zebras) north through the Serengeti grasslands of Tanzania in search of fresher pastures in the Maasai Mara of Kenya, their main obstacle being the Mara River, where crocodiles wait attentively for the infirm and the unfortunate. Expert Africa (020 8232 9777; expertafrica.com ) offers an 11-night “Bustard Guided Safari” to some of Tanzania’s key game-viewing areas, with five nights in two camps in the Serengeti migration area. From £7,851 a head in September, fully guided, with flights.
A French fancy in calmer climes
The Côte d’Azur is a sumptuous summer playground, but can also be oversubscribed in August. September relieves some of this pressure without lowering the temperature. You can expect days bathed in a 24C glow throughout the month. All this makes the direct Eurostar (0343 218 6186; eurostar.com ) service between London St Pancras and Marseille, launched in May, an appealing idea. Three trains run each week during September and October – Friday, Saturday, Monday – making this six-and-a-half- hour ride ideal for pre-autumn detours to the biggest Gallic port city. Return fares are available for £224 a head for the long weekend of September 18-21, with three-night stays at the four-star New Hotel of Marseille costing £331 in total via Eurostar’s accommodation portal. The city has much to offer, including the eateries of the Vieux Port, and is an easy base for quick hops east to the chic seaside town of Cassis or south to the limestone crags of Calanques National Park ( calanques-parcnational.fr ).
An Indian summer in the Indian Ocean…
With the thermometer pinned to 30C for all but a few weeks of the year, the Maldives is as reliable a destination as you can find for raw warmth. The caveat to visiting this scattered Asiatic archipelago in the coming months is that September falls within the country’s wet season (May-October). There are, though, upsides to a holiday in the Indian Ocean when the skies may open. Not only is the region a safer post-summer bet than the Caribbean, where the hurricane season is now in swing, but rain is a relative (and often welcome) concept in such heat, and often reflected in lower prices. For example, Scott Dunn (020 3468 9117; scottdunn.com ) sells September breaks at the five-star Viceroy Maldives Resort, set around a lagoon with 61 villas and five restaurants, from £2,591 each for seven nights, two sharing, with flights and breakfast (as opposed to a starting cost of £3,315 during high, dry season).
… or in India itself
August 15 saw India become more accessible with the inclusion of Britain among the countries whose residents can apply for “e-visas” ahead of a trip to the subcontinent . This move (from £39) does away with the need for paperwork and personal appointments and is reason enough on its own to consider a tour in the coming days. Add in the fact that late September marks the end of India’s monsoon season – the tempest being replaced by cooler air and sunny skies – and a great leap east becomes even more enticing. Cox & Kings (020 7873 5000; coxandkings.co.uk ) serves up “Taj Mahal to Tropical Kerala”, a 17-day escapade that takes in a sizeable slice of this exotic nation (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Kochi), from £2,795 per person, with flights. A current special offer means the second passenger travels half-price.
A high line through sky‑scraping Switzerland
There is an argument that the Alps are at their most attractive in September, still aloof to the chill of winter, yet not so hot that hiking along fractured trails is an ordeal. Inntravel (01653 617002; inntravel.co.uk ) proffers “The High Route”, a seven-day self-guided trek that veers through the Bernese Oberland, and some of Switzerland’s most heavenly high-rise terrain. Notably, it passes the titanic mountain trio of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau as it cuts from Grindelwald to Kandersteg. With some challenging sections, the break is aimed at walkers of reasonable fitness. It costs from £1,232 a head in September, with half-board accommodation, bag transfers and rail travel from the UK.
An unexpected art alliance in Amsterdam
Mired in crowds during July and August, the Dutch capital steps back into semi-calm in September. As well as extra room on the streets, those who visit at the end of the month will encounter an exhibition that could be considered an inventive case of “buy one, get one free”. From September 25 (until January 17), the city’s Van Gogh Museum (0031 20 570 5200; vangoghmuseum.nl ; 9am-6pm Sun-Thurs, 9am-10pm Fri-Sat; €17/£12.40) will host Munch: Van Gogh, the first art show to place, side by side, two men whose works often went to dark places. Kirker Holidays (020 7593 1899; kirkerholidays.com ) offers three-night stays at the five-star Pulitzer Hotel, from £749 a head, including flights, transfers, breakfast and tickets to the Van Gogh Museum (or the Rijksmuseum).
Pints and Pablo at Germany’s biggest party
That Munich is the setting for the annual beer extravaganza of Oktoberfest is no shocking revelation. That this 16-day monument to merriment largely takes place in September (this year’s event is slated for September 19-October 4) is less noted. The concept, as it has been since 1810, is simple – a wealth of colossal ale tents laid out in the open space of the Theresienwiese, including the Augustiner Festhalle, which represents Munich’s oldest brewery, dating to 1328. Read Telegraph Travel's full guide to celebrating Oktoberfest in Munich .
It is all enormous fun, a fine German tradition, and can easily be paired with something more sophisticated. Munich is a city of unappreciated artiness, its cultural side laid bare in the likes of the Pinakothek der Moderne (0049 89 2380 5360; pinakothek.de ; daily except Monday 10am-6pm, Thursday to 8pm; €10/£7.30), a temple of 20th-century flair with works by Picasso, Dali, Miro, Hockney, Moore and de Kooning. A three-night stay in mid-September at the five-star Le Meridien Munich – within walking distance of the Oktoberfest frivolity – costs £1,046 a head (room only) via British Airways Holidays (0844 493 0787; ba.com/holidays ), with flights.
Cabers and capers in scenic Scotland
With Edinburgh and its many festivals vanishing stage left, September is when other areas of Scotland stake their claim for travellers’ attention, not least at the Highland Games. Myriad incarnations of this athletic showpiece take place in towns across the country, a banquet of tug o’war contests, cycle races, pipe bands and dancing demonstrations, all wrapped in some of the UK’s loveliest scenery. Pitlochry, in Perth and Kinross, holds its yearly hurrah ( pitlochryhighland games.co.uk ; £8) on September 12, with double rooms at Kinloch House in nearby Blairgowrie available over the weekend in question for £275 a night, with breakfast.
Some 150 miles to the north in Sutherland, the Invercharron Highland Games are due to light up September 19 ( invercharrongames.co.uk ; £6). Double rooms are available over the weekend at the Highland Hotel in Lairg (01549 402243; highland-hotel.co.uk ), from £90 with breakfast.
Reliable rays in the constant Canaries
There is much to be said for falling back on an old favourite. And Tenerife is certainly that during the shoulder seasons. It revels in cloudless days of 25C in September, more than enough excuse for a sunshine break such as that available via Sovereign (01293 733716; sovereign.com ), which offers escapes to the five-star Ritz-Carlton resort near Abama in west-coast Guia de Isora. A seven-night stay, flying from Gatwick to Tenerife South on September 20, costs from £1,104 per person (two sharing), including breakfast and transfers. The hotel is close enough to Teide National Park to make hikes across the torso of the island’s volcanic giant (3,718m/ 12,198ft) plausible. Or you can simply down tools on a property that boasts 10 restaurants, three bars, a golf course and tennis courts.
This article was written by Chris Leadbeater from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.