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Best places to travel in October 2021

Whether you’re looking for spring blooms, autumnal foliage or prime wildlife-viewing opportunities, you’ll find plenty of destinations to choose from if you’re planning to travel in October. Below are just some of the places we feel are at their best at this time of year, along with our suggestions on the best things to do there.

You could make the most of excellent hiking conditions in New Zealand, go whale watching in South Africa, or indulge in fresh produce during harvest time in Vietnam, Japan or Italy. And, in many of our chosen countries, you’ll be visiting outside the busiest times of year.

Festivals and events around the world in October

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India

As the monsoon season ends, October heralds the return of warm, sunny days, particularly in the north of India. The south can experience showers, but this creates vivid-green landscapes and freshens the air, making it a great time to explore outdoors, albeit with a waterproof jacket to hand. Average temperatures fall between 20°C and 30°C (68°F and 86°F). Despite the pleasant conditions, visitor numbers are still lower than in the coming months of November to January, so you can enjoy popular sights without the crowds. Your visit might also fall during Diwali, when everywhere is illuminated with candles, lights and fireworks.

Leh Monastery, Ladakh, India
Leh Monastery, Ladakh, India

Australia

In the midst of Australia’s spring, October is warm but not sweltering. Its landscapes are often covered in a vibrant layer of wildflowers as a result of occasional storms in the more humid north, which also add to the lushness of the country’s rainforests and wetlands. It’s a good time for viewing wildlife whether you’re in the north or the south of the country, and conditions are excellent for following hiking trails through national parks and along the coast. We recommend taking the opportunity to explore the Blue Mountains’ well-marked trails before the summer visitors arrive.

Windjana Gorge, Devonian Reef National Parks
Windjana Gorge, Devonian Reef National Parks

Vietnam

While central Vietnam and its southern beaches often experience heavy rainfall in October, the drier north enjoys clearer skies and a fresher feel compared to the humidity of previous months. We find it’s an excellent month for hiking in Sapa, exploring Mu Cang Chai’s rice paddies and soaking up the natural beauty of areas like Ha Giang with its forested limestone and granite peaks. Toward the end of October, conditions in the south improve and warm, sunny days become more common, plus you might see green turtles hatching on the beaches before making their way to the water.

Rice terraces, Vietnam
Rice terraces, Vietnam

New Zealand

As spring dawns, days get warmer and snowmelt feeds waterfalls and makes rivers ripe for white-water rafting. You can still expect rain, as with any time of year in New Zealand, but this isn’t a country you visit for the weather. With warm layers and a waterproof jacket to hand, you can take advantage of New Zealand’s mountainous landscapes, glistening fiords and volcanic parks without the same level of visitors that summer brings, driving quiet roads and enjoying the pick of hotel options.

Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand

Japan

Autumn is unmistakable in Japan, with forests donning coats of bright red, blazing orange and warm gold. For the best displays during October, head to more northerly or high-altitude regions like Hokkaido. The weather is cooler than the summer, but still mild enough to enjoy time in the outdoors, making this a popular month for travel in Japan as people balance national parks with museums and galleries. October is also prime harvest time, so wherever you dine you can enjoy fresh, seasonal produce straight from the fields. You might also come across harvest festivals that range from low-key events to vibrant parades.

Flower fields of Furano and Biei, Hokkaido
Flower fields of Furano and Biei, Hokkaido

China

While China’s vast size means its climate varies by region, October is generally warm and dry. Visiting at this time means you’ll find a comfortable window between the humid conditions of summer and the cold winter months. We recommend avoiding the first week of October, when a national holiday means travel gets busy. But, the rest of the month is a good time to visit to enjoy autumnal displays in city parks and across rural landscapes, as well as mild temperatures and little rain.

Great Wall, Beijing
Great Wall, Beijing

South Africa

Whale watching, wildflowers and wildlife viewing are all at their peak in South Africa during October, making it one of the best months to combine regions. Temperatures begin to heat up across the country, but the rains have yet to fall in the north. It means safari areas like the Kruger are still dry, making wildlife easier to spot as animals gather around vital water sources. Along the coast, southern right whales have yet to migrate south, so you can often see them breaching offshore. And, the country’s renowned wildflowers are still in bloom, covering the west coast’s dry and dusty landscape in a colorful carpet.

Lion in the Kruger
Lion in the Kruger

Italy

With the heat of summer now faded, October makes for a more comfortable time of year to explore Italy, and you won’t see as many visitors flocking to the country’s attractions. As well as enjoying quieter city breaks in Rome and Venice, you could venture into the countryside, where harvest is in full swing. It’s a particularly good time to dine on a bounty of fresh mushrooms, olives, truffles and chestnuts. And, with festivals dedicated to food and wine taking place across the country, you can taste your way through its rolling hills, rustic towns and villages and verdant valleys.

Gondola, Venice
Gondola, Venice

Thailand

While the weather can be difficult to predict in Thailand during October — it depends on the length of the monsoon season — lower humidity and fewer visitors arguably make this a more comfortable time to visit. For the best chance of avoiding rain, aim for the end of the month. That said, the odd downpour shouldn’t affect your trip too much, and creates lush, green landscapes in the north, where you can explore forests and waterfalls. If you’re planning to relax on the beach, be prepared to balance sunshine with heavy showers — staying on the mainland rather than one of the islands gives you a better chance of settled weather.

Waterfall in the Doi Inthanon National Park
Waterfall in the Doi Inthanon National Park

Chile

Enjoying the warmth of spring, Chile in October sees brilliant wildflowers coating its central and northern regions, mild days ripe for exploring and a smattering of rain here and there. While southern Patagonia is still feeling winter’s chill, you’ll begin to experience less rain and longer daylight hours, so as long as you wrap up, it’s a good time for hiking. Elsewhere, the Atacama Desert is a year-round destination, while in cities like Santiago you’ll be rubbing shoulders with fewer visitors than you would during the upcoming summer months, and should get more for your money.

Torres del Paine, Chile
Torres del Paine, Chile

Peru

As Peru reaches the end of its dry season in October, wildlife viewing in the Amazon rainforest and the country’s cloudforests is at its best and trekking conditions are excellent. The Sacred Valley trails will still be relatively crowd-free compared to the summer (though booking in advance is still required), and you can usually enjoy bright, sunny days with clear blue skies, along with mild-to-warm temperatures. Along the coast, surfers can pick up the early summer swells, or you can simply relax as temperatures in the north become increasingly pleasant.

The Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley

The US

In the northern half of the USA, October draws visitors seeking fall foliage, particularly in New England, though many national parks and cities like New York and Washington also put on a display. The weather is usually still mild, and you’ll often experience crisp, sunny days that bring out the autumnal colours even more. While some parts of the South experience hurricanes and storms, it's a good time to visit the Southwest, where temperatures are more comfortable than the hot summer months. Meanwhile, Hawaii sees warm, sunny days with fewer visitors than in the summer or the festive season.

New England Fall colours
New England Fall colours

Sri Lanka

While ranked as one of Sri Lanka’s wettest months, October can vary from one year to the next as it generally falls between monsoon seasons. The southwest monsoon fades off as the month progresses, replaced by a monsoon in the northeast, so you can expect sporadic rainfall wherever you are. However, with few visitors, you’ll get sights almost to yourself and can often find excellent value. When there isn’t rain, you’ll tend to experience warm, sunny weather, particularly in the Cultural Triangle of the north, which tends to stay hot and dry until the end of the month.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress
Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Safaris

Across sub-Saharan Africa, October falls within the ‘dry season’, which is widely thought to provide the best conditions for wildlife viewing. With little rain falling since June, parks and reserves have limited water resources, so wildlife congregates around precious waterholes and rivers. It means their whereabouts is more predictable, increasing your chance of seeing all the headline animals, from the Big Five to antelope species, giraffe and cheetah. The exception is Botswana, where water levels in the Okavango Delta are at their highest, making it a good time for exploring by boat and mokoro (traditional canoe).

Male lion, Masai Mara
Male lion, Masai Mara

Namibia

As you reach the end of Namibia’s dry season in October, the landscape is at its most arid and barren, with little vegetation, making it easier to spot wildlife. Temperatures are heating up as summer approaches, and the chance of showers begins to increase, though they shouldn’t impact your experience. Nights are still cool with clear skies, making for excellent stargazing opportunities. The dryness of the landscape can mean there’s more dust on game drives, but animals big and small tend to gather around vital water sources, which means it’s easier to know where to find them.

Giraffe in Etosha National Park
Giraffe in Etosha National Park

Mauritius

Dry, sunny and warm, October is one of the best months to visit Mauritius. It’s just before the main summer season, though still popular with visitors, particularly families visiting during half term. It’s a good time to relax on the beach, enjoy water sports in the warm waters offshore and go walking in the Chamarel Mountains, which remain lush and green throughout the year. The island has a significant Hindu population, and with Diwali falling in October, your visit could give you a chance to experience the celebrations held during the Festival of Lights, with candles and lamps illuminating towns and villages.

Chamarel waterfall, Mauritius
Chamarel waterfall, Mauritius
Travel Ideas in January

Places to travel in January

As Christmas slopes into the distance, journeying to find some sun is an appealing prospect for January. We recommend beach time on a Caribbean island, a secluded Cambodian archipelago or Vietnam’s sandy shores. It’s also summer in Australia, a season celebrated with outdoor cinema screenings, festivals and sporting events.

In Africa, the January rains break the Kalahari heat and the quenched plains spring to life. Journey to Botswana to watch new-born zebra take their first steps, as migratory birds feast on the fresh grasses. If you’re after cooler climes, temperatures in India have cooled enough to make exploring its fortress cities comfortable. Or, embrace winter in Paris, where crisp, clear skies showcase the monument-filled skyline and fewer visitors make for an ideal Louvre museum experience.

Places to travel

Travel Ideas in February

Places to travel in February

Whether you’re wrapping up warm to experience wintry activities like a troika (sleigh) ride in Russia, or looking to escaping the colder temperatures at home with a cruise along the Nile under sunny skies, February can make an excellent time to travel. A safari in Tanzania gives you a chance to see new-born antelope take their first wobbly steps, while warm temperatures in Argentina make it an ideal time for trekking in Patagonia.

We’ve shared some of the most popular destinations to visit in February below, as well as a few countries that you may not have considered, where you can visit key sights without the crowds.

Places to travel

Travel Ideas in March

Places to travel in March

As winter turns to spring across the Northern Hemisphere, Japan’s blooms start to emerge, and milder temperatures coupled with the showings of early plum blossom make it a good-value time to travel here ahead of the peak season. Portugal also begins to warm, making it a good time for coastal hikes and city sightseeing without the summer crowds.

In South Africa, the wine harvests are in full swing and Kruger wildlife is at its healthiest among the fresh, green vegetation following the rains. Warmer temperatures and sunny skies show the beaches of Sri Lanka and Morocco at their best. Meanwhile, cooler climes in New Zealand makes March an excellent month to explore, with quieter walking trails, near-empty coastlines and a good chance of sunshine.

Places to travel

Harrismith Beach, Barbados

Places to travel in April

If you’re looking to go on safari, April is the best month to tiger-spot in India’s national parks, where you’ll also see a supporting cast of elephants, deer, and birdlife. For a coastal escape, you’ve got your pick, including Mexico’s Mayan Riviera and secluded Maldivian islands.

If you’re seeking adventure, this is the time of year to take an in-depth tour across Vietnam, or explore the highlights of Morocco at their best. April is also a month of festivities around the globe, from the Festa di San Marco in Italy and cherry blossom celebrations in South Korea to Caribbean regattas and music festivals.

Places to travel

Travel Ideas in May

Places to travel in May

Across the northern hemisphere, May brings spring blossoms, sunshine, and warmer weather, but the summer crowds haven’t arrived to most destinations. In the southern hemisphere, the rains are ending and the weather is starting to cool down a bit.

If you want to get outside to enjoy the ample sun, you might hike in Scotland, look for wildlife in US National Parks, or take a water safari in a mokoro canoe in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It’s also a popular time for festivals, whether you’re in Venice to watch the mayor pledge himself in a symbolic wedding to the sea, watching jazz performances in Saint Lucia, or sampling single-source organic chocolate in Belize.

Places to travel

Herd of elephants in South Africa

Places to travel in June

The solstice at the end of June brings long days to destinations in the northern hemisphere, making it an excellent time to get outdoors. You can roam through Canada’s wilderness, hike in Germany’s Black Forest or soak up the sun in the French Riviera.

This is also a popular month for festivals. For example, Greece’s Athens and Epidaurus Festival lets you watch ancient plays performed in ancient venues, while in Peru, you can attend a festival celebrating the Inca sun god, Inti. The month also marks the end of the rainy season in places like Uganda and the Zanzibar Archipelago, where you’ll find well-watered landscapes bursting with life, but mostly sunny skies.

Places to travel

Travel Ideas in July

Places to travel in July

July gives you many destinations to consider if you’re looking to experience them in their prime. Explore the great outdoors while the sun shines in the US’s northern states, Austria or Switzerland. Balance beach relaxation with culture or wildlife in Costa Rica, French Polynesia or Vietnam. Or, in Kenya, be among the first of the season to see the Great Migration herds arrive as they make their frenzied crossing of the Mara River.

July is also one of the only months you can cruise the Arctic or hike in the mountains of Ladakh. And, in Japan, you can escape the summer humidity in the Japanese Alps.

Places to travel

Mirissa Beach, Sri Lanka

Places to travel in August

Many destinations are ripe for a summer break in August. For a trip focused around wildlife, consider a safari in Tanzania, which experiences its dry season, a trip to Borneo to see turtles hatch, or a visit to Brazil’s Pantanal for a shot at seeing a jaguar.

Elsewhere, beaches are at their best on Sri Lanka’s north and east coasts, Iceland’s interior has thawed out ready for you to explore on foot and by superjeep, while northern Australia is dry, sunny and comfortably warm for hikes. Alternatively, you might like to soak up the culture in Luxembourg or the Netherlands, stay on a hacienda in Ecuador’s countryside or enjoy a family escape to Mauritius.

Places to travel

Lion, Etosha National Park

Places to travel in September

Whether falling in autumn or spring, September can showcase countries at their most scenic, from the green, lamb-dotted valleys of New Zealand and the wildflower-coated countryside of Argentina to Russia’s rust-hued city parks.

In Canada, the salmon run sees bears gather for a feeding frenzy along British Columbia’s rivers. Bhutan’s clear skies are ideal for hiking among its mountains, while similar conditions in Bolivia make for excellent photography around its salt pans. Spain and Turkey are pleasantly warm without the crowds of summer. And, in South Africa, you can combine regions while they’re at their best. It’s also an excellent time for seeing Namibia’s wildlife and stargazing among its desert dunes.

Places to travel

Amalfi coast, Italy

Places to travel in October

Whether you’re looking for spring blooms, autumnal foliage or prime wildlife-viewing opportunities, you’ll find plenty of destinations to choose from if you’re planning to travel in October. Below are just some of the places we feel are at their best at this time of year, along with our suggestions on the best things to do there.

You could make the most of excellent hiking conditions in New Zealand, go whale watching in South Africa, or indulge in fresh produce during harvest time in Vietnam, Japan or Italy. And, in many of our chosen countries, you’ll be visiting outside the busiest times of year.

Places to travel

Travel Ideas in November

Places to travel in November

Sunny beaches in Thailand, wintry cities in France and blazing foliage in Japan — you can choose from a wide variety of destinations if you’re planning to travel in November. Below, we’ve selected some of the best places to visit, as well as some suggestions of what to see and do while you’re there.

Popular cities in Europe empty out, giving you free run of museums in France, Spain and Italy. Crowds also thin in Peru, so you’ll have more elbow room to enjoy Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Thailand and Vietnam both have sunny weather suitable for a beach break, while Morocco’s hot temperatures decline, making it a great time to explore the main cities.

Places to travel

Twelve Apostles on the Great Ocean Road, Australia

Places to travel in December

In December, you can relax in a natural hot spring in Japan before visiting snow monkeys that do the same, enjoy a private tour of the Louvre without the usual crowds or nibble king cake in Portugal. The month offers a wealth of options across the globe, so we’ve listed some of the most popular destinations. We’ve also suggested a few you might not have thought of, where you can take advantage of quieter cities to enjoy sights that are often very busy.

Hike through caves in Vietnam, ply the Amazon’s tributaries by boat in Peru or just relax under sunny skies in Australia or the Algarve.

Places to travel