The 6 best places to travel in October

Every month, Kiwi.com is going to bring you a few ideas for things to do, places to go and things to see in the coming month. So if you want to know the best places to visit in October, here are our suggestions…

Feed your chocoholic side – Perugia, Italy

As well as displays, chocolate making, tasting and buying delicious treats, there’ll be live music, art exhibitions, pop-up events and workshops at the festival — Shutterstock
As well as displays, chocolate making, tasting and buying delicious treats, there’ll be live music, art exhibitions, pop-up events and workshops at the festival — Shutterstock

I’d advise you to go to Perugia no matter what, to be honest. The capital of Umbria is an overlooked treasure, built upon a ridge of hills snaking its way through the gorgeous Italian countryside.

At its oldest there are structures that date back to the Etruscan era; at its most modern it has indulged itself in the glorious folly that is the Minimetro. Between these two you’ll find Roman, medieval, renaissance and everything in between. It really is wonderful.

But during October there’s an extra special reason to go, and that’s the Eurochocolate Festival, running this year from the 19th to the 28th. Celebrating its 25th year, there’ll be even more going on than usual.

As well as displays, chocolate making, tasting and buying delicious treats, there’ll be live music, art exhibitions, pop-up events and workshops, as well as a four-metre by four-metre giant box of chocolates on the Piazza IV Novembre. The original event was created to be the chocolate version of the Oktoberfest in Munich, and these days attracts chocoholics from around the world. Feel like joining them?

Stroll amongst the leaves – Graubünden, Switzerland

Graubünden lies in the south-east of Switzerland and offers one of Europe’s most stunning sights — Shutterstock The 6 best places to travel in October
Graubünden lies in the south-east of Switzerland and offers one of Europe’s most stunning sights – Shutterstock

It’s around this time of year that New England in the USA gets its annual infestation of what the locals call leaf-peepers, people who drive up – sometimes by the busload – to gawp at the beautiful hues as the forested landscape changes colour through autumn.

It’s an important time for the tourist trade in states like Massachusetts, sure, but as a local you can imagine how the leaf-peepers, dawdling about on the road or not really watching where they’re going as they wander down the street, would be annoying. Thankfully, if you’re in Europe, you can now do the same!

The canton of Graubünden lies in the south-east of Switzerland and is one of the finest places on the continent to see autumn in all its glory. A series of forested valleys dropping dizzyingly to crystal lakes below, all surrounded by the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps, is one of Europe’s most stunning sights. Hike through the woods and appear in charming mountain villages to stop and refresh, all the while under a sky of the clearest blue and breathing crisp mountain air. Should be enough to drag an adventurous peeper away from New England for a bit.

Vegetarianism with a twist – Phuket, Thailand

The festivals origins are thought to have begun with a group of wandering Chinese singers — Geet Theerawat / Shutterstock.com The 6 best places to travel in October
The festival’s origins are thought to have begun with a group of wandering Chinese singers – Geet Theerawat / Shutterstock

An event with a difference. The Nine Emperor Gods Festival, running from 8 to 17 October, is ostensibly a vegetarian festival. It’s also so much more than that.

The festivals origins are thought to have begun with a group of wandering Chinese singers that came to the island before falling ill with malaria. They decided the route to recovery would be to stick to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods to purify their minds and bodies.

Incredibly the diet and the rituals worked, and since then the islanders have developed it into a spectacular yearly event attended by thousands from across Asia.

This is where the festival deviates from your normal, slightly self-congratulatory, meeting of like-minded vegetarians trying local foods. The many other aspects of the cleansing process are taken very seriously, leading to, in some cases, acts of self-mutilation with knives or spears, as well as fire-walking or climbing ladders made of blades, all while apparently in a trance. You don’t have to participate in these, it’s fine. You can go purely for the food which is, it has to be said, excellent and varied. More than forty locations will sell you the best of Thai or Chinese vegetarian cuisine, from street food to speciality cuisine, without you having to maim yourself in any way whatsoever.

Raise a glass – London, England

Another week of indulgence here as, for the first week of October, London becomes the world cocktail capital. Over 300 bars across the city have signed up to be involved, as well as the creation of the Cocktail Village, an industrial space on Brick Lane that’s been repurposed to provide three spaces: one to celebrate the golden age of cocktails from the 1920s and 30s, another to promote up-and-coming drinks brands, and a third named Cocktail Experiments where some of the world’s best mixologists will be concocting curious combinations and teaching you how to pour the perfect drink.

Of course, you can go to London and drink cocktails any day of the year, but it’s London – they’ll be bloody expensive. Luckily, so you don’t spend your mortgage on drinks, the festival requires that you buy a Festival Pass. For £10, this entitles you to free, unlimited entry to the Cocktail Village, and a set price – £6 – for a bespoke cocktail at all of the venues taking part in the event. That’s not a bad deal, as each of the venues has been cherry-picked by the organisers for their “drink offerings, service and general excellence.”

On top of that, they offer tours so you can discover places you may never have heard of. After all, it’s a big city out there with lots to try!

Chill in the hills – Cyprus

The villages that dot the mountains date back to the Byzantine era — Shutterstock
The villages that dot the mountains date back to the Byzantine era – Shutterstock

Why didn’t you think of this before? All the ingredients for a late-season getaway are here: a Mediterranean island with an almost Middle-Eastern climate, a history stretching back millennia, an eclectic culture and some of the finest beaches you’ll find anywhere.

And yeah, you could spend your entire time lying on the beach, eating and drinking delicious local food and wine, but there’s a lot more to Cyprus than just that. In fact, the Cypriot tourist board wants people to explore the central areas of the island, the Troodos Mountains, that they’re actually pushing it with the phrase: “Ready to discover more than the sea?” And you should be.

The Green Heart of Cyprus, as it styles itself, lies just west of the centre of the island and stretches towards the west coast. Mount Olympus, also known as Chionistra, is just below 2,000 metres in height and boasts four ski slopes; not necessarily something you’d associate with Cyprus.

The villages that dot the mountains date back to the Byzantine era, and in that period the island became a centre of art, culture and religion, meaning that even now you can visit the beautiful churches and monasteries left behind by that civilization. The lush landscapes of vineyards and cherry trees and quiet, traditional village life means it’s a destination that can clear your head and let you focus on the simpler things in life. And who doesn’t need that once in a while?

Music and lifestyle – Darling, South Africa

An eco-friendly festival that styles itself as a “multi-sensory music and lifestyle experience” (although if I went to a music festival that didn’t affect at least two of my senses, I’d demand my money back).

Whatever you think of that description, however, you can’t deny that the intention is good. Everything from transport initiatives, solar and wind-powered electricity, bio-diesel generators and LED lighting to complimentary bio-degradable soaps and shampoos, the festival tries to practice what it preaches, attempting to show people that everything can be done in a greener way and encourage them to take it home and use what they’ve seen and learnt in their own lives.

The music itself is a mixture of dance, R’n’B, rap and electro artists, predominantly from the UK, US and South Africa, and the whole event isn’t silly-gigantic; festival capacity is around 10,000 people. Once the festival’s over, you can enjoy the other delights of the region, particularly its world-renowned vineyards (the Western Cape abounds with them), or head an hour or so down the coast to Cape Town, and big city life.