Temperature: 17°C high; 10°C low
Flight time from UK: 13 hours 20 minutes
Time difference: GMT +5.30
This month marks the end of monsoon season, and an excellent time to visit India’s most famous hill station as the rain and fog peel back to reveal extravagant Himalayan views. Top of the list should be a sunrise visit to Tiger Hill, to see the frosted peaks of the world’s third-highest mountain, Mount Kanchenjunga, bathed in a peachy glow. The effect is said to be best in mid-October; keep your eyes peeled and you’ll even spot Everest on the left. Other than that, it’s a relaxing time tasting the ‘Champagne of teas’ at local plantations, riding the Unesco-listed steam railway (affectionately known as ‘the toy train’) and taking afternoon tea in Victorian-style heritage hotels.
Sustainable travel tip: Water scarcity is a huge problem in Darjeeling, so look for hotels with responsible practices around conservation (such as
rainwater harvesting), and be mindful of how much you use.
Temperature: 15°C high; 5°C low
Flight time from UK: 2hrs 25 minutes
Time difference: GMT+1
Though Austria’s capital is better known for grand imperial palaces and an even grander musical legacy (Mozart and Beethoven), one of the city’s finest assets is its urban vineyards. Forget a designated driver, just take the tram to the pretty outer suburbs, where rows of vines spread across grassy slopes, as skyline views and the Danube stretch out below. October marks the harvest, when the vineyards are at their greenest and winemakers open up their operations to enquiring minds (and mouths). There are several designated wine trails to follow, where vintners hand out samples from both cellar and kitchen, and autumn’s mild, sunny days are ideally suited to frolics in the fields.
Sustainable travel tip: If you don’t mind catching an early morning Eurostar to Brussels, you can arrive in Vienna within a day – without setting foot on a plane. From Brussels, take the high-speed ICE 3 train to Frankfurt (three hours), and from Frankfurt take the high-speed ICE-T train to Vienna (four hours).
Temperature: 1°C high; -5°C low
Flight time from UK: 21 hours 30 minutes
Time difference: GMT -6
Better to be a visitor than a resident in Arctic Churchill, which in autumn earns the dubious honour of becoming ‘polar bear capital of the world’. As the surrounding Hudson Bay freezes, these massive mammals – male polar bears can weigh as much as 10 men – invite themselves over, in search of seals. Great news for wildlife watchers, who can board specially reinforced tundra buggies to get up close to earth’s largest land carnivore; not so great for the people of Churchill, who are apt to find polar bears hanging around like delinquent youths at the local bus stop. The largest groups gather in October.
Sustainable travel tip: Consider a tundra buggy safari with Frontiers North Adventures, respected locally for thoughtful initiatives including creating the town’s first recycling programme; employing staff and sourcing supplies from within the community; and investing in causes such as Churchill’s Canadian Junior Rangers and non-profit conservation outfit Polar Bears International.
Temperature: 20°C high; 9°C low
Flight time from UK: 13 hours 45 minutes
Time difference: GMT +9
The masses might go mad for cherry blossom season, but arguably Japan’s most arresting sight is its Alps in autumn. Vibrant reds, oranges and yellows sprawl across the ranges, reflected in jade-green lakes and rivers. Hiking trails get very busy, but the outstanding vistas more than make up for it, and the ever-organised Japanese excel at high-altitude mountain huts, where you can get a private room and bento box-style dinner. Afterwards, the spa towns around Takayama are adept at soothing aching limbs. Upmarket ryokans, such as Fukuji Onsen’s Yumoto Choza, offer both outdoor and indoor hot-spring baths, fine-dining kaiseki dinners and gorgeous traditional rooms with tatami mats and sliding paper screens.
Sustainable travel tip: One of the best places to base yourself in the Alps is Kamikochi, which is closed to private cars. Arrive via the sustainable, scenic route instead: a bullet train from Tokyo to Nagoya (1 hour 40 minutes); followed by the Wide View Hida train from Nagoya to Takayama (2 hours, with panoramic gorge views to boot); then an hour-long bus ride to spa town Hirayu Onsen; and finally, a 25-minute bus ride to Kamikochi. It’s worth it.
Temperature: 25°C high; 5°C low
Flight time from UK: 21hrs
Time difference: GMT -4
The world’s driest desert isn’t the hottest, but it is perhaps the most starkly beautiful – so Mars-like that actual Mars rovers are brought here for test drives. Red canyons and sand dunes, whooshing geyers and steaming volcanoes, salt flats and hot springs stretch out as far as the eye can see. It’s largely devoid of a drinking water supply or any natural shade, so there are few settlements, which means no pollution, explaining why it has also lately garnered buzz as a premier stargazing destination. The fabulously remote Explora Atacama, for example, has a private observatory as well as a spa and bespoke-bred horses. October, shoulder season, offers a holy trinity: empty vistas unspoiled by fellow visitors, lower room rates and temperate daytime conditions.
Sustainable travel tip: Don’t ignore the highland hamlets and historic sites in the Atacama region – spending your tourist dollars here helps to sustain local and indigenous communities and preserve their heritage.
Temperature: 22°C high; 12°C low
Flight time from UK: 2 hours 30 minutes
Time difference: GMT+1
Tutti Italia is on holiday all month long in August. You might think that would make Rome relatively quiet, with every Roman gone to the beach, but it’s not; it’s unbearably busy and unbearably hot. July, too, is unbearably busy and hot; so is much of June. May and September used to be quieter, but lots of people realised that and now they are busy too. Winter can be a bit miserable, though Christmas is quite busy. So October, by default, becomes our month of choice to visit Rome, when it is less busy, still lovely and warm, and you can selfie at the Trevi Fountain in that magic late-summer sunlight without quite so many tourists ruining the view.
Sustainable travel tip: Italy’s high-speed rail network is a joy that will deliver you to Rome in a jiffy. After riding the Eurostar to Paris, catch a TGV train to Turin (5 hours 40 minutes). Next morning, hop on a high-speed Frecciarossa train and, about four hours later, hop off in the Eternal City.
Temperature: 27°C high; 16°C low
Flight time from UK: 4 hours 30 minutes
Time difference: GMT+2
Perfect autumn beach destination: Europe, a Mediterranean island, but so far south-east it has the climate of the Middle East. Enter Cyprus. A rich history and eclectic culture, a blissful climate and fantastic beaches. Away from the dramatically beautiful coastline and the beachfront hotels (our tip for half-termers is the five-star child-friendly Almyra in Paphos) is the lesser-explored interior, the Troodos mountains – the Cotswolds of Cyprus – with their vineyards and hillside villages and friendly tavernas.
Sustainable travel tip: Venturing inland and away from the busy coastal hubs won’t only bring you up close to a more authentic Cyprus – you’ll be helping preserve it, too. Staying within the ancient wine-growing communities of the Troodos Mountains, eating in the villages’ local tavernas and exploring Troodos National Forest Park invests your tourist euros where they’re needed most.
Temperature: 10°C high; 2°C low
Travel time from UK: 3 hours by train from London
Time difference: GMT+0
Even when it rains – and it does rain here, a lot – the Lake District must be one of the most wistfully beautiful places in the world. Never more (many would say) than in fiery autumn, when mist and woodsmoke mix in the morning and good days are pin-sharp, bright with red-gold trees and bracken covering the fells. If only someone could capture such beauty in words.
Sustainable travel tip: Traffic congestion has been a long-running headache for the Lake District, and stuffing its idyllic country roads with cars somewhat defeats the point of visiting the region. Instead, arrive by train – major stations include Oxenholme, Windermere and Penrith – and get around via ebike (lots of companies in the area rent them).
Temperature: 17°C high; 7°C low
Flight time from UK: 7 hours 15 minutes
Time difference: GMT-5
As above, except with less rain, and leafpeepers (for that is what they call them here) tend to drive to look at the Fall foliage rather than put on walking boots. Combine the fiery Vermont countryside with a Boston city break.
Sustainable travel tip: Far better than driving around New England’s blazing autumn foliage is getting out among it. In Maine, cycle around Acadia National Park; canoe the Connecticut River in Vermont; or hike Massachusetts’ Hoosac Range for views over multi-coloured ridges.
Temperature: 24°C high; 16°C low
Flight time from UK: 3 hours 40 minutes
Time difference: GMT+2
The more southerly of the small Greek Islands – the Dodecanese and the Cyclades – are still hot and sunny well into October – and there are some sensational beaches on which to enjoy it. Rhodes, with the lovely cobbled Lindos and parties in its ancient ruins. Tiny Kastellorizo is cool and arty. Milos, which has some of the best beaches in the Greek Islands. We love unspoilt Symi, Nisyros and Patmos; while Santorini and Mykonos are eternal big-hitters. Pick any one, they’re all lovely. Or go island-hopping around them all.
Sustainable travel tip: Cruise ships are an issue on the Greek islands, disgorging thousands into small port towns and diverting visitors to just a small number of shops and restaurants. If you’re island-hopping, opt to do it by sailboat instead: this is not only more environmentally friendly, but smaller vessels can take you to more off-the-beaten-track beaches, coves and towns.
Temperature: 35°C high; 16°C low
Flight time from UK: 14 hours
Time difference: GMT+1
You can make a convincing case for Botswana as the world’s greatest safari destination. The government’s ‘low impact, high experience’ mandate makes for more intimate camps; Serengeti-like jeep scrums just aren’t a thing. Then there’s the Okavango Delta, an immaculate wetland wilderness teeming with life. (Conservation is so successful that South Africa relocates endangered rhino here.) Tourism tails off in October because of rising heat, but the flooded Okavango is water-cooled, while a lack of vegetation – munched over the dry winter – puts game-viewing at its peak. Prices drop towards the end of the month, and the new, solar-powered Qorokwe Camp by Wilderness Safaris, sitting on its own lagoon, is a slick pick.
Sustainable travel tip: Botswana’s excellent wildlife conservation work is well-known, but take some time to see how its human traditions are being preserved, too. A bush walk with the San – the indigenous people of the Kalahari desert – conserves their culture in more ways than one, fostering both education for visitors and employment for the San. But do your research before booking: some tours can be less than respectful.
Temperature: 33°C high; 23°C low
Flight time from UK: 15 hours 20 minutes
Time difference: GMT-7
Beachy Eden ‘Cabo’ is all about switching off in style. This sun-drenched spot is always hot hot hot: where smart hotels like the One&Only have restaurants by elite chefs such as Jean-Georges Vongerichten and host birthday parties for starry guests including Jennifer Aniston. In winter, all and sundry come for the weather (it rains in summer). Praise be for October, then, when the mercury’s high but occupancy low. Los Cabos is actually two towns at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula – Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo. The latter retains more traditional charm, and has the chicest hotels: mid-century fans will love Thompson’s The Cape.
Sustainable travel tip: Don’t miss Puerto Raiz in San José del Cabo, an outdoor foodie hub with two restaurants and a distillery, set within 13 acres of orchards and gardens. All produce is sourced onsite – including for the distillery’s spirits and cocktails – while cheese, meat and seafood come from local purveyors in neighbouring Baja towns such as La Paz and Todos Santos.
Temperature: 26°C high; 14°C low
Flight time from UK: 2 hours 45 minutes
Time difference: GMT+1
A hot destination right now, the winds of change are finally blowing through old Seville – and October is the best time to visit for fresher air, when the winding streets are a little less sultry but no less romantic. Culturally there’s a lot happening, from pop-up galleries and cafés to a gastronomic revolution.
Sustainable travel tip: Seville is easily reached by train, if you don’t mind a night in Barcelona on both the way in and out. After taking the Eurostar to Paris, catch a TGV Duplex all the way to the Catalan capital (6 hours 25 minutes). Next day, take an AVE train to Seville (5 hours 30 minutes).
Temperature: 29°C high; 24°C low
Flight time from UK: 18 hours
Time difference: GMT-11
With the summer crowds gone, low rainfall and mellowing prices before the winter holidays, what better time to head for Hawaii? Of course, there’s more to the archipelago than Big Island: Kauai for secret swimming holes and charming local bars; Oahu for top food and surf; and even Maui, with its ever-popular 30 miles of beach, has some hush-hush stuff up its sleeve – seek out the rural artists’ community at Makawao, or go on an agri-visit to Surfing Goat Dairy, a farm on the slopes of a volcanic crater.
Sustainable travel tip: Given the amount of importing that goes on here – and that goes for hotels, restaurants and shopping chains as much as groceries – shopping local helps the Hawaiian people maintain an identity that is uniquely their own. Buying locally made fashion not only guarantees designs that are true to the culture, but supports master weavers and artisans: see the likes of Hana Hou (Big Island); Native Intelligence (Maui); Na Mea Hawaii (Oahu); and Ohana Shop (Kauai).
Temperature: 18°C high; 8°C low
Flight time from UK: 2 hours 35 minutes
Time difference: GMT+1
It’s not difficult to get excited about a place that holds an annual 10-day festival celebrating the world’s favourite sweet treat. Every October, Umbria’s capital in central Italy hosts cooking classes, exhibitions and (most importantly) tasters to celebrate the town’s most famous export – chocolate. It’s a diabetic’s purgatory, a sweet lover’s dream and a local staple. The Belgians have their pralines, Oaxaca has its drinking chocolate and the Swiss have Lindt – but Perugia is home to baci. The word translates as ‘kisses’, and the story goes that a young chocolatier created a special sweet for her paramour, wrapped in a love letter and – naturally – sealed with a kiss. Today, baci somewhat seductively resemble a nipple, and still come wrapped in romantic proverbs and poems. Perugia is also a town rich in history and art, set on a hilltop peppered with medieval aqueducts, curious cobbled staircases and views that appear out of nowhere. By Anna Prendergast
Sustainable travel tip: You can get to Perugia relatively easily by train, but you’ll need to factor in a few layovers along the way. First, take the Eurostar to Paris, followed by a high-speed TGV to Turin (5 hours 40 minutes). Next day, catch a Frecciarossa to Rome (4 hours 10 minutes). A number of trains leave Rome for Perugia every day, but journey times vary: you’ll want one of the direct services, offered by Trenitalia, which gets you there in about three hours (these generally leave early evening or early morning).
Temperature: 25°C high; 19°C low
Flight time from UK: 13 hours
Time difference: GMT-7
Out of this world all year round – there is no other wildlife like this on earth. However for maximum nature shows, it’s peak season for fish and birds from June until the end of October in the Galápagos Islands. It’s also when there’s least rain. Wait until October and most of the other tourists will have gone back to work; plus the sea should have warmed up a bit in case you were thinking of taking a dip (and you should) to get up close to the phenomenally varied marine life.
Sustainable travel tip: While most visitors explore the Galáapagos via small cruise ships, it is possible to book land-based tours, where you’ll stay on several islands and take small- boat excursions by day. This means eating at locally run restaurants, visiting land-based businesses (such as farms), and exploring the human history of the islands, too.
Temperature: 27°C high; 22°C low
Flight time from UK: 13 hours 30 minutes
Time difference: GMT+7
Yet to draw the trend-obsessed like Tokyo, or shoot to ‘Gangnam Style’ relevance like Seoul, the Taiwanese capital is a broadly undiscovered, just-as-thrilling blend of both. From Taoist temples to record-setting skyscrapers, flashy shopping malls to throbbing, neon-lit night markets, it’s a fascinating cultural smash: all cheap streetside beers and grilled cuttlefish on a stick one minute; a bonkers club with a waterfall on the dancefloor the next. There’s more bling at the W, where room categories have names like ‘Fabulous’ and ‘Extreme Wow’. Towards the end of October the rain stops, humidity dials down and skies clear, so you can take in the glitzy cityscape, best viewed from the 230ft Miramar Ferris Wheel, or the 89th floor of once-world’s-tallest tower, Taipei 101.
Sustainable travel tip: Forget taxis and use the fast, clean, comprehensive and on-time Taipei subway, which even gives out courtesy umbrellas in the rain.
Temperature: 31°C high; 25°C low
Flight time from UK: 12 hours
Time difference: GMT+6
October is the beginning of dry season in Vietnam’s north and south, where monumental natural spectacles and buzzing city scenes both abound. Up top, hill station Sapa is the gateway to misty treks; the capital Hanoi is all chaos, condensed-milk coffees on low plastic stools and some of the best food you’ll ever taste. Down at the bottom, the Mekong Delta is a whole world bobbing on canals and streams; and Ho Chi Minh City is where the bohos go – don’t miss The Café Apartment, a nine-storey block stuffed with fairy-lit mini-boutiques and craft coffee stores. High season creeps up in November, so it’s also the last chance for lower rates.
Sustainable travel tip: In Sapa, the most popular activities are trekking the terraced slopes and staying with hill tribes, and the best way to do both is with Sapa O’Chau. This social enterprise, founded by a single mother from the Black Hmong tribe, is a nonprofit homestay and trekking service, which puts funds back into the community: improving village schools, providing English classes to Hmong guides and street vendors, distributing winter clothes to local children, and more.
Temperature: 21°C high; 12°C low
Flight time from UK: 21 hours
Time difference: GMT+8:30
Sydney and Melbourne – so yesterday. It’s Adelaide’s time to shine, and how. The wine-producing Adelaide Hills had long overshadowed South Australia’s coastal capital, but a vital new food scene is changing all that. See the nation’s best restaurant, Orana, cooking underused native ingredients to show-stopping effect. And thank the Hills’ surrounding farms for fresh finds that Adelaide’s urban rivals can only covet. All that natural bounty is paired with October’s crisp air, as the beginnings of spring slough off winter’s edge.
Sustainable travel tip: If you fancy getting off-grid, CABN has a number of tiny houses tucked into the South Australian wilderness, less than an hour’s drive from Adelaide’s CBD. These solar-powered minimalist escapes also have composting loos and rainwater catchment, and sit close to conservation parks, heritage bushland and wine country.
Temperature: 14°C high; 12°C low
Flight time from UK: 11 hours
Time difference: GMT-8
October is when Northern California finally gets its act together, dropping the fog and chilly winds that never fail to surprise under-dressed tourists, opting instead for more Cali-appropriate shimmering sunshine and bright, blue skies. It’s also the ideal time to make the road trip to one of the state’s best-kept secrets, Mendocino County: a thrilling coastal drive 160 miles north of San Francisco, with enough dramatic sea cliffs, lanky redwoods and crashing ocean to put Big Sur to shame. Mendocino town looks like a slice of New England picked up and dropped off on a California headland, and recalls its 1950s bohemian heyday with a surplus of art galleries and no chains. That hippie spirit also lives on in the Mendocino wine region, known for the country’s biggest haul of organic vines.
Sustainable travel tip: Try a true taste of Mendocino at Harbor House Inn, where the 25-seat dining room hosts an ever-changing, hyper-local menu that has been awarded the county’s first-ever Michelin star. Everything you eat here has been sourced from within a 30-mile radius, from seaweed and rockfish captured within the inn’s private cove, to vegetables grown in the kitchen garden (and given a sea-salty tinge by the area’s famous coastal fog), to the Highland-Angus crossbred beef grazing in a pasture over the road.
Temperature: 35°C high; 24°C low
Flight time from UK: 7 hours
Time difference: GMT+3
Summer is when Dubai hibernates: as the desert city heats up to 40 degrees Celsius and beyond, even skyscrapers seem to perspire, the al-fresco fun packs up and everyone bolts for the AC-cooled inside. But in October Dubai springs to new life: beach clubs reopen, restaurant terraces are jammed and a dip in the Arabian Gulf no longer feels like swimming in a scorching-hot spring. Temperatures in the high 20s also make a desert excursion less like an episode of Bear Grylls’ Born Survivor. Enough of the world’s biggests and tallests? Poke into the boutiques, galleries and Foster + Partners-designed buildings of the freshly minted Dubai Design District.
Sustainable travel tip: Maintaining an orgy of opulent hotels, restaurants and golf courses in a desert landscape never was – and likely never will be – an eco-friendly project. Aim for some balance by making time to explore the UAE’s Bedouin heritage: trekking and camping in Fujairah’s Hajar Mountains, for example, is about as far from Dubai’s over-the-top revelry as it gets.
Temperature: 25°C high; 20°C low
Flight time from UK: 12 hours
Time difference: GMT+3
It’s springtime in Mauritius in October; the weather is warming up after a long, warm winter. But it’s not yet humid or rainy. Huge Indian Ocean-sized flowers are bursting in bloom and animal hoots and chattering come riffling out of the rainforest. If anyone offers you a trip to Mauritius at any other time of year, we urge you not to turn it down. But October is definitely a goodie.
Sustainable travel tip: There’s not a lot you can do about the carbon-belching flight to Mauritius, but, once you’re there, you can opt for a sustainable stay. Mauritius Conscious Travel offers solar-powered glamping with vegetarian meals sourced from an onsite garden, plus motor-free day trips by sea kayak, mountain bike and climbing rope.
Temperature: 19°C high; 8°C low
Flight time from UK: 10 hours
Time difference: GMT+5
The remote Himalayan kingdom known for its ‘Gross National Happiness Index’, pristine peaks and precariously perched Tiger’s Nest Monastery, makes a point of exclusivity – foreign visitors face a hefty daily tariff for the privilege of stepping within its borders. The payoff, of course, is the rare purity of a nation largely untouched by the outside world. Given that much of Bhutan’s pleasures are found in hikes to sacred mountains and remote temples, the cool mountain air and clear skies of October make it a prime time to visit. The new Six Senses Bhutan – comprising five different lodges – adds a touch of luxury to some of the country’s most scenic valleys and forests.
Sustainable travel tip: The daily tariff ensures that Bhutan only deals in sustainable tourism – limiting visitors in this way protects the kingdom’s culture, land and traditions. But you can make sure the money you spend goes directly to the Bhutanese you meet by shopping in local markets, eating in neighbourhood restaurants and sleeping in heritage properties or homestays.
Temperature: 26°C high; 13°C low
Flight time from UK: 5 hours
Time difference: GMT+2
Perhaps the most captivating country in the Middle East, Jordan has an embarrassment of spectacular things to see: ancient and awe-inspiring Petra, the Roman city of Jerash, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea, great desertscapes where you can stay overnight in a Bedouin camp. In October there are still bright sunny days that light the rock of Petra up rose-red; but it is cool enough to journey into the Valley of the Moon on camel or horseback by day, and warm enough to sleep out under the starry sky by night.
Sustainable travel tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to camp out in Wadi Rum. A co-operative of Bedouin tribes runs the majority of trekking and camping trips, and they rely on tourism to hold onto their traditional way of life.
Temperature: 26°C high; 13°C low
Flight time from UK: 4 hours
Time difference: GMT+2
Turkey’s beautiful Aegean and Bosphorus coasts are still hot in October, the beaches uncluttered by holidaymakers. There’s a distinctly Greek feel to these regions, and between the coves you’ll find dreamy boutique hotels that are good value for money out of season, and unexpectedly boho fishing villages. Alaçati is one of our favourites; and picturesque Selimiye, an hour from Dalaman, tipped (by us) as the new Kalkan. Likewise Istanbul – too prickly, too hot in summer – is more pleasant to explore out of season.
Sustainable travel tip: Alaçati is a good spot for small boutique hotels – a better bet for eco-friendliness than a sprawling coastal resort. The Stay Warehouse is a super-cool, adults-only converted brewery built from regionally sourced, recycled wood, bricks and glass, and the restaurant serves platters of local fruit, olives and cheese.