September’s a great time to take a vacation. School’s back so the crowds have thinned, yet the weather’s still perfect in many of the world’s great tourist destinations. Here are five suggestions for where to travel in September.
The heat of a Moroccan summer can be stifling, but by early autumn things have started to cool down just a little. Explore the red city of Marrakesh, a southern gem that’s the perfect introduction to this delightful North African country. By day lose yourself in the souks, wandering down medieval passageways little changed for centuries to bargain for leather slippers and fretwork lanterns. After sunset, make your way to the captivating Djemaa el Fna, where food stalls serve delicious local specialties surrounded by water sellers, snake charmers and sub-Saharan acrobat troupes. When you’ve had your fill of Marrakesh, head south into the Atlas Mountains to experience rural life. Cap it off with a detour to the coast to experience the country’s premier surfing destination, laid-back Essaouira.
As summer slips into autumn, the harvest is in and for Germany’s wine-producing villages along the River Mosel, which means it is festival time. Vintners open their cellars for wine tastings, live music and fireworks displays. Pageants and parades involve the whole community and the election of the new “Wine Queen” is a highlight. Pünderich’s historic half-timbered houses form a characterful backdrop to music and dance performances and the ceremonial swearing in of the night watchman. Fell incorporates a cattle market into its celebrations and features the “Village in a tent” with local landmarks reproduced in miniature. Over on the River Rhine, events marking the “Rhein in Flammen” are in full swing, with Oberwesel and St Goar taking their turn in September to be center of attention. Illuminated fleets of ships, “burning” fortresses, fireworks and firecrackers make for a memorable spectacle.
The long dry season continues in Zanzibar in September. With temperatures still in the low thirties, Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches and warm waters are tempting to say the least. But drag yourself away from your beach paradise long enough to explore the island’s charming capital, Stone Town. Labyrinthine alleyways lead to mansions and palaces, many of them constructed from coral. Push open the intricately carved wooden doors to discover businesses selling locally grown spices, decorative chests and colorful tingatinga paintings. At dusk, make your way to the waterfront where a night market crammed with local food vendors is the perfect place to watch the sun slip into the ocean.
For an epic September vacation, it doesn’t get any better than the granddaddy of all train trips, the Trans-Siberian Railway. Summers in Russia’s vast steppe can be sweltering, and older trains aren’t air-conditioned, but once August is old news, the temperatures moderate and become more comfortable. Begin in the capital Moscow, where you’ll need to allow time to visit St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square and the imposing Kremlin before boarding your train east. Hop off at Ekaterinburg to fully acquaint yourself with the century-old story of the Romanovs before carrying on your journey into Siberia. Alight at Irkutsk, the stopping off point for beautiful Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest freshwater lake. From there, you have a choice: aim for Vladivostok to complete the Trans-Siberian, cross the border into Mongolia or wind up in the Chinese capital Beijing. Whichever you choose, the memories you create will last you a lifetime.
Though there are no guarantees when it comes to the UK’s notoriously fickle weather, September is usually fine and dry. It makes this month a good time to walk the trails of the idyllic Yorkshire Dales National Park without the peak season crowds. Hike to the top of Malham Cove and pick your way across the clints and grykes of the limestone pavement. Savor panoramic valley views over verdant fields dotted with sheep and enclosed with dry stone walls. Hike to Ingleborough and descend into its vast cave system littered with stalactites and stalagmites. Climb up to Ilkley Moor’s Cow and Calf Rocks, stopping off at Betty’s for Yorkshire Parkin (a seasonal favorite) and a restorative cup of tea on the way back down. When you need your townie fix, it doesn’t get any better than historic York with its Viking history, or the coastal resort of Scarborough which hosts a popular jazz festival in September.