Where to Travel on Vacation in September 2023
Where to go on vacation in September
After the peak in summer temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere and with kids back at school, September is the perfect time to enjoy lovely weather without the peak season crowds and prices. Europe is great to visit with warm, dry days while pretty much the whole of Africa is primed for safari adventures. The monsoon rains are still affecting much of Southeast Asia but there's autumn festivals to tempt you for a visit. It's also a great time to visit the Middle East as temperatures dip to a more bearable number.
Whether you're a nature lover or sun worshipper, there's plenty of choice when it comes to destinations in September. To help you plan your September 2023 vacation we've put together our recommended destinations and experiences as well as our choice of beaches and wildlife hot spots that are perfect at this time of year.
Best Festivals in September
Every month of the year holds its own unique offering of special events and festivals. If you're trying to decide where to go in September, why not time your trip to coincide with one of these big annual events?
Where? Venice, Italy
One of the most highly anticipated events in Venice’s calendar, Regata Storica takes place every first Sunday of September. Celebrating one of the city’s best-known traditions, Venetian rowing, the event involves a historic boat parade and a series of exciting races. The boat crews are also decked out in 15th-century costumes, allowing you to experience a slice of Venice’s history for the day.
September is when the Chinese celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival with lanterns, shrine worship and plenty of delicious treats. The most popular treat is a mooncake, round pastries with sweet red bean paste inside that are gifted to family and friends. The festival is held on the full moon on the 15th day of the 8th month of China’s lunar calendar each year, which falls somewhere between late September and early October.
Where? Bogota, Colombia
Held in Bogota in mid-September, Jazz in the Park has been celebrating the city’s thriving jazz scene since 1996. Public parks such as Simon Bolivar and Independence Park are filled with the sounds of saxophones, trumpets and pianos as local musicians showcase their best work. The festival is also completely free, making this a great time to visit the Colombian capital.
Where? Hermanus, South Africa
Every year the coastal town of Hermanus in South Africa pays homage to the southern right whale with three days of ocean-themed activities and exhibitions. People gather to watch the migrating sea beasts and learn more about them. The event started life in 1991 and it's still the only eco-marine festival in the country. Visitors can also enjoy music, markets, good food and a Whales ‘n’ Wheels classic car show.
Best Beach Destinations in September
The Mediterranean is still good in September with temperatures starting to drop but still warm enough for sailing and beach breaks. It's still lovely along the eastern coast of Africa with plenty of destinations to choose from. The monsoon rains are drawing to a close across Southeast Asia but it's better to wait a few months more for the best weather in this region, while in Central America it's hurricane season so best avoided at this time.
The monsoons that affect the Maldives between July and August have now moved on, so the weather improves with clearer skies and less rainfall. As it's not the driest season of the year, prices will be reasonable and availability better. It's a good time for surfing and diving is also good on the Western sides of an atoll (coral island), with more plankton and greater chances of encountering dolphins and manta rays after the heavier rains.
Croatia's peak holiday season is now over as children across Europe return to school, yet the Mediterranean weather is still balmy, with pleasant temperatures, warm waters and minimal rainfall. Prices drop a little at this time of year so you can still enjoy a sailing trip without breaking the bank and there are still plenty of opportunities to relax on sandy beaches and explore historic cities along the coast. There's also the added bonus of much thinner crowds across the country.
Spanning a distance of 1,200 miles from the Mediterranean in the north to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, Morocco has plenty of coastline to plan the perfect beach break. From Tangier to Agadir, there are plenty of accommodation options and September is the perfect time to visit, with hot but bearable temperatures and little rainfall. The more popular resorts are also well-connected to international airports and there are many historic cities to explore.
Sri Lanka's pristine coast on the northeast side of the island is experiencing its last good month of weather in September before the monsoons hit the region. Now's the time to plan a visit to Arugam Bay and the coastline north of Trincomalee, with warm weather and little rainfall. It's still wet on the other side of the island but it's still possible to visit Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle and its many ancient marvels as well as the national parks.
Best Wildlife Destinations in September
The dry season continues across Africa, with minimal rainfall and hot temperatures. It's been a few months since the last rains so the foliage is sparse, making it the perfect time to visit for a wildlife safari. You can take your pick of any destination from Kenya to South Africa, all are great for wildlife at this time of year. Elsewhere, it's a great time for jungle treks and fishing in the Amazon, with low water levels, while Sri Lanka's famous elephant gathering is taking place in Minneriya National Park. Madagascar and the Galapagos are great at this time of year, for those looking to get off the beaten track.
The annual migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle is a year-long journey, with September one of the busiest months as thousands of animals cross from the northern Serengeti in Tanzania to the adjacent Masai Mara in Kenya. It's a journey fraught with danger, from the sheer drop at the river banks to the hungry crocodiles that stalk the waters of the Mara River. It's one of the best months to visit East Africa to witness the brutal spectacle.
Game viewing is at its best in Southern Africa as wildlife congregates around the few remaining watering holes after months of dry, warm weather conditions. It's a great time to visit South Africa with southern right and humpback whales breeding in the warm waters off the coast, while herds of elephants start to come together in Botswana. Namibia's national parks are also ideal at this time of year before the temperatures soar.
Between June and November the Galapagos Islands experience a cool and dry season. Rougher seas are perfect for diving, as plankton and nutrients are scattered far and wide, attracting larger fish and sea birds such as albatross and penguins. In September, sea lions are also at their most active as the females come into season and the males begin their battle to win over a partner.
Madagascar becomes a bird watcher's dream in September with the start of the breeding season and arrival of many migratory species. In preparation for finding a mate, birds will become much more vocal, filling the forests with song, and beginning to display their most impressive moves and breeding regalia. If bird watching is what you're after, book in advance as lodges in prime birding locations tend to be small and book up quickly.
If you need some help deciding where to travel in September, then why not browse some of our suggested tours for the month. We have a great range of trips departing in September, including wildlife safaris in Africa, European breaks in Croatia and ancient wonders in Egypt and China.