Off-peak prices mean that fall can be the best time to take a vacation. Check out our list of the best off-season fall destinations in Europe, the US and around the world
The end of summer 2022 is drawing nearer, and so we’ve compiled a list of the best destinations for your off-season fall vacation. From city breaks to coastal getaways and rural retreats, these 10 picks are great places to visit in September, October and November. Get inspired today, and check out Kiwi.com’s off-peak deals!
Montenegro still doesn’t get a lot of Western European tourists, compared to Balkan favorites like Croatia and Greece. In this small gem of a country, you can have it all: charming towns with their own long stories to tell, attractive beaches, and mountains that dominate the landscape pretty much wherever you are, to which the nation owes its name. The locals joke that if Montenegro were flattened, it’d be the biggest country in the world.
Fall is perhaps the best time to go to Montenegro, once accommodation prices start to drop, while it remains warm and sunny enough along the coast. Speaking of prices, it is cheap generally — an ideal destination if you’re traveling on a budget. And if you can afford to loosen the purse strings just a little more, you can bag a luxury vacation for a fraction of the price of that in say, Italy or Slovenia — the more popular of Montenegro’s Adriatic neighbors.
It’s old towns galore here, and hopefully, you’ll stay long enough to see many of them, but if we had to choose just one to recommend, it’d be Kotor. Narrow, stony streets and cute courtyards characterize this medieval settlement, which remains encircled by 15th-century Venetian fortifications, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Something else unique about Kotor is its significant stray-cat population, and the town has done a good job of owning this. There are cat-themed shops, a cat museum, and one of the landmarks, Trg od mačaka, translates as Cats’ Square.
Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa is the only country in the world with three capital cities, and Cape Town is the biggest one. Named in 2014 as the best place in the world to visit by both The New York Times and The Telegraph, this is a sprawling, dynamic city in and of itself, with a Mediterranean climate, no less. But in the springtime in particular, the surrounding Cape Floristic Region comes to life.
Cape Town is relatively unusual in that it’s an extensive urban area embellished on its western side with peaks, nature reserves, and otherwise telltale signs of countryside. The Cape Floristic Region extends far beyond the city limits, but Cape Town is a great base from which to catch the immense beauty of this biodiversity hotspot. Even if you just plan a short trip through Table Mountain National Park, you’ll come across thousands of plant species, and from September to November, many of them begin to bloom.
Although South Africa is out of the way for most of us, this is one of the very cheapest times to fly there, so if it’s on your bucket list, now is definitely your chance.
The sun, sea and sand in Spain tempt people from all over Europe, and beyond, all year round. But instead of Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga or the Balearics, this fall, why not check out a lesser-visited city? Consider Cádiz, an alluring port city in the southwestern corner of Andalusia that comparably few people make it to, for no obvious reason.
As one of the oldest settlements in Western Europe, there are archaeological sites in Cádiz that date back as far as the 12th century BCE. It sure is a city brimming with history, and even today, the way of life here still feels very traditional, modest and relaxed. Head for breakfast at a quaint café down a cobbled sidestreet, meander around the local market, find all the plazas (they love a plaza — there are at least 20), sunbathe next to the ocean, and dine on tapas in the evening, in a bar whose menu might well not have changed in the last 40 years.
Something else that Cádiz does well is lookout points, the two best of which are the top of the 18-century Tavira Tower, and the top of the cathedral. Something more for the tourists, perhaps, but in the fall, you might possibly find that you’re the only one.
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For an off-peak Caribbean getaway, how about Saint Lucia? This tropical island nation sees its fair share of tourists, but most of them come between December and June, meaning accommodation and flights (especially from the US) are cheaper outside this window. There is a reason for this, though: September and October see the most rainfall over any other month. But it does tend to come in showers rather than dampen the whole day, so if you’re someone who doesn’t mind the rain and would appreciate a break from the beach to check out a local museum or art gallery, Saint Lucia might be just the place for you this fall. It’s also worth mentioning that despite any wet weather, Saint Lucia is considered one of the low-risk Caribbean islands when it comes to actual hurricanes, and temperatures stay in the high 20s and low 30s (°C) all year round. Summer successfully extended.
You can take your pick in Saint Lucia from fetching beaches, epic scuba diving opportunities, sleepy fishing towns, dense rainforest, magnificent mountains, and geothermal waters. In fact, the country’s biggest attraction is Sulphur Springs, “the world’s only drive-in volcano”, where some of the pools are constantly boiling (yes, literally). Some of the mud pools, however, are just about cool enough to be bathed in — supposedly an activity that comes with many health benefits. Now, doing this in the rain would make for an amazing sensory experience.
What’s more, October is Creole Heritage Month on the island, so you might even run into various displays of artistic expression — local music, dancing, dress, theater, cuisine and such — all in celebration of Saint Lucia’s diverse cultural and ethnic heritage.
Tasmania is the part of Australia that no one really seems to talk about, but it absolutely should be on your list, especially if you’re planning to head Down Under anyway. For much of the year, it’s a comfortable place of refuge from the sweltering heat on the mainland, but in the budding spring especially, it’s so much more: over 60,000 square kilometers of nature.
Table Cape Tulip Farm is open to the public in September and October every year (the exact dates vary depending on the weather and the flowers), and its October “Bloomin’ Tulip Festival” is very popular. People come from far and wide to see the beautiful multicolored haze of fresh spring tulips in this tiny northwesterly nub of the island.
And speaking of colorful things, one thing you must do if you’re in Tasmania is try to see the Southern Lights — the Aurora Australis. It’s possible to catch it all year round, but you’re most likely to do so between March and September. You should also head as far south as possible to boost your chances (or at least, find an unobstructed lookout point to the south). There’s a remote spot called Cockle Creek — the southernmost point in the country that’s accessible by car — where conditions are often ideal, and it’s also a gorgeous setting for off-grid camping.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts, US
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This curl of land that juts out into the Atlantic is a popular East Coast summer destination, but as fall arrives, the crowds disperse, accommodation prices go down, yet the pace of life in the towns remains slow and the sea air refreshing. Cape Cod is the perfect place for some time out — a wonderfully relaxing off-season break.
This destination has a lot to offer by way of the outdoors, and you can certainly make the most of it while the temperatures are still pleasant enough. Although it might be a bit brisk for swimming, Cape Cod is renowned for whale watching, so if you take a long walk along the beach, you might just catch a glimpse of one of the planet’s most marvelous creatures. Or, move inland and go kayaking or paddleboarding on one of the many creeks and ponds that dot the area. Biking is also a great activity, and a satisfying means to get around the Cape’s towns.
The towns are proudly artsy, home to art studios, galleries, craft, book and antique shops, and the odd music festival — there’s a lot of culture to soak up no matter what time of year it is. And we can’t not highlight the sheer abundance of quality seafood on the restaurant menus: shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, crab, lobster, the works. And because it’s low season, you might find that you can afford to gorge on more of it.
Samarkand is special. It was founded in the 8th century BCE, making it one of the very oldest cities in the world. It was a major settlement on the old Silk Road. And its unique, elaborately adorned minarets and mausoleums will make you want to deck out your own house in vibrant blue mosaic. There’s just something about the place.
Tourists coming to Samarkand have been steadily increasing in number over the last few years, and no wonder, with its ancient (restored) architecture characteristic of nowhere else but Uzbekistan, curious bazaars, lush green spaces and laid-back vibe. If you’re hankering after an affordable city break with a bit of spark, an experience in a place that you’ll remember forever, regardless of how short a time you might be there, we probably couldn’t give you a better suggestion than this.
What makes fall the best time to visit this spectacular second city is, primarily, the weather. It can get incredibly hot and sticky during the summer — too much so for sightseeing, but from September to November, temperatures are much more bearable. And while it mightn’t be the easiest place to get to for many of us, flight prices are noticeably cheaper in October.
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From one second city to another, Batumi is sometimes dubbed the Las Vegas of Georgia, being a resort with a reputation for late-night entertainment, only by the sea, rather than in the middle of the desert. In this sense, it might be more accurate to call it the Blackpool of Georgia, but that’d be doing it a more general disservice.
The architecture in Batumi is certainly one of the most captivating things about it. The Old Town is an eclectic mix of classical, gothic, art nouveau and art deco buildings, often with a newer, novelty twist. Take a walk along Batumi Boulevard and you’ll spot some more wacky works. And then there are the quirky-looking skyscrapers, such as the Technological University Tower. Completed in 2012, it’s the tallest building in the country, and it has a golden Ferris wheel lodged in it. Because, why not?
This destination on the Black Sea coast stays warm and sunny in September and October. And overall, it’s somewhere where you can let your hair down, release the hedonist in you, and revel in the superficial — at a fraction of the cost of doing the same in Las Vegas.
Chicago, Illinois, US
For an energetic city break in the US, Chicago might just be the best choice. Weather-wise, fall is certainly the optimum time to visit this major metropolis. The summer brings sweltering heat and high humidity with it, it’s snowy and slushy in the winter, and the springtime drizzle tends to go on for a bit too long.
There’s plenty to do in Chicago, and there are always things happening. Take advantage of the shoulder season’s smaller tourist crowds and take yourself around the city’s major sights and countless museums: The Art Institute, Cloud Gate and Millennium Park, Buckingham Fountain, the History Museum, the Cultural Center, and many more. October is also the month of the Chicago International Film Festival, the longest-running competitive film festival in North America; and the Chicago Gourmet food festival is set for September, promising an array of tasty bites.
If you want to intersperse your dynamic days with some slower-paced pursuits, take a river cruise and try to spot the various architectural styles in one of the world’s largest clusters of skyscrapers. Or, head into the suburbs where you can stroll through idyllic orchards and pumpkin patches, where the fruit will be ripe for the picking. Is there a more wholesome fall activity than this?
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Last but by no means least, Northumberland in Northeast England makes a great off-season fall destination. Northumberland is the least densely populated county in England, giving way to some wonderful nature and picturesque landscapes. You’ll need a car to get to the really rural parts, but the towns of Morpeth, Alnwick and Berwick all lie on the main train line between Edinburgh and London, and local public transport runs between other towns and villages.
Northumberland National Park stretches along the Scottish border — a lovely area of forests, hills and streams, where you can very easily let go of the stresses and strains of everyday life. Quaint market towns such as Hexham and Rothbury are definitely worth exploring, particularly for their twee independent shops and cafés. Follow one of the scenic cycling trails at Wallington’s National Trust estate, before eventually making your way to the coast for beach walks, a Norman castle, and crispy fish and chips.
Of course, this is Northern England in the fall, so don’t anticipate tropical conditions, on the beaches or elsewhere (it’s “baltic”, as people here would say); but it is at least usually drier on Britain’s eastern side. And somehow, little pleasures like breathing in the fresh countryside air, witnessing the foliage slowly turn a glowing auburn, and chatting to the friendly locals more than make up for the cool temperatures.
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