Best places to go on vacation in September in 2023

Even if your back-to-school days are a distant memory, you can still feel like a bit of a truant going on vacation in September. That’s the fun of it. Everyone else might be back at work in September – but you don’t have to be. Across Europe, the summer crowds roll up their towels when autumn starts, leaving you with your pick of the beaches.
Whether you’re enjoying Greek beaches or Jordan’s deserts, September can be the perfect time to go away.
In the Middle East, desert adventures are back on the table now that temperatures are cooler. September is also a great time for wildlife. It’s the last month of the dry season in Borneo, making it a fantastic month for jungle wildlife watching. In Africa, the Great Migration continues in Kenya and Tanzania, and in Namibia, you can watch wildlife gathering around waterholes in Etosha National Park.
Read our guide to find out more about the best places to go on vacation in September.

September vacation activities


September can be one of the nicest months to be under sail in Southern Europe, before more unpredictable weather picks up. Most crews tend to pack up for the season in October. Though summer is busy, by September there’s less boat traffic on the water and less foot traffic when you moor up alongside a coastal town. In Croatia, you can sail under the supervision of a skipper and spend plenty of time trying out watersports – and Croatian wine. At this time of year, the sea is perfect for swimmers.

Rail travel

As the trees in the Northern Hemisphere take to autumn with all branches blazing, there’s no better way to see the changing landscape than through the window of a train – and there’s something very appealing about being on the move as the world pivots into autumn. Be car free in Scotland and you can travel from Edinburgh into the Highlands on the West Highland Line. Visit the Isle of Skye and then travel back through time, thanks to the evocative Jacobite steam train.
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Acorns and seed pods crunch under your feet and there’s a new morning chill in the air – though the days soon warm up. In Europe, September is a brilliant time to go on a walking vacation. Try a Greek island or Italy’s Amalfi Coast: places that would be far too busy to consider in high summer. What’s more, by September the weather is cooler, but the restaurants and hotels haven’t yet shut up for the season. On Croatia’s coastline, the ferries are still running, so you can walk between the Dalmatian Coast’s islands.

Small ship cruising

September is a great month for small ship cruising. In the Maldives, the cruising season has just started and you can island-hop on a traditional wooden dhoni. In Europe it’s late in the season, and you’ll find you’ll be rewarded with quieter cruising than in summer time, less harassed locals, and lovely weather. On Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, it’s a great time to cruise between Split and Dubrovnik, when both cities are less busy.

Northern Lights

September marks the start of the season for seeing the Northern Lights, which tend to be visible in the low latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere from late August to April. The later in September you go, the less light there is, and the more chance you have to spot them. Iceland’s whale and Northern Lights watching seasons have one month of overlap – September, when, during the equinox on the 22 September, there’s said to be a higher chance of spotting the aurora borealis, and there’s still enough daylight for whale watching trips too.
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Serhat Beyazkaya] [Jordan: Spencer Davis] [Rail vacation: Pillip Capper] [Northern Lights: Nicolas J Leclercq]