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U Bein Bridge at sunset, Burma, Asia

Top trips to take this autumn

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11 November 2015 by Alex Stewart

Autumn is awash with stunning colours, from the red and gold of the USA, Canada and Japan to the vineyards of Italy and turquoise colours of the Mediterranean closer to home.

Whether you refer to this time of year as autumn, Fall or Indian summer, smart travellers know that this is the ideal season to get away and see the world as crowds calm down but temperatures remain warm. We've rounded up a selection of the places at the peak of their powers during the months September to November....

Our Top 5 Early Autumn Offers To Book Now...

  1. New England in Fall road trip
  2. Drive through Portugal staying at historic pousadas
  3. Ride on a luxury train through Norway's fjords
  4. Cape Town, vineyards, Garden Route and a Big Five safari
  5. South Africa with Red Carnation hotels

Late summer sun & beach holidays

Late summer sun holidays this autumn

Although the crowds have gone, the sunshine hasn't yet quit the beaches of the southern Mediterranean. Head to southerly islands such as Corsica, Crete or Sardinia to enjoy a late beach break.

Alternatively, island hop through the Adriatic or Greek archipelago, perhaps settling on Santorini for an idyllic escape since the crowds have calmed but the seductive sunsets are at their best. Turkey's turquoise Lycian Coast is also at its best and the opportunity to sail down this stretch of stunning shoreline in a traditional gullet shouldn't be overlooked.

Further afield, hurricane season ends in October, so late autumn is the perfect time to travel to the Mexican Riviera in search of empty beaches and Mayan ruins.

Wildlife holidays

Wildlife holidays in autumn

September and October are green months in southern Africa so head to Botswana or South Africa to go in search of animals. Watch wildlife in the Okavango or track the Big Five in either the Kruger National Park or one of the spectacular private reserves such as Addo.

While in South Africa, make sure to take in the Hermanus Whale Watching Festival close to Cape Town, where Southern Right Whales congregate to breed within sight of the beach and cliffs that line the coast; head to Walker Bay or stroll on the 12km cliff path for some of the best whale watching in the world.

Consider a self-drive through Namibia's stunning scenery and look for wildlife in Etosha National Park. You can also catch the tail of the Great Migration as the wildebeest move through the Serengeti in Tanzania.

While you won't need any invitation to visit Madagascar, go in autumn as the weather is at its most pleasant, bird watching is at its best and you'll stand a good chance of spotting baby lemurs getting a lift through the forest on their mothers' backs.

Outside of Africa, head to Canada in search of bears. By mid-October 1,200 bears congregate along the 100-mile stretch of coast between Nelson and Churchill in Manitoba, making the autumn a great time to see these maginificent animals.

Natural wonders

Natural wonder holidays this autumn

In the USA the Fall is a fantastic time to tour New England or Vermont as the foliage explodes into a myriad of reds, oranges and yellows. Hire a car and hit the road for a self-drive road trip that lets you go where the seasonal colours are strongest. If the USA doesn't appeal then travel east instead to Japan, where an equivalent experience can be had, especially around Kyoto.

The weather in Australia is also warming up at this point and Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef are already enjoying tropical conditions; head here to tour the state and dive in to one of the world's great natural wonders.

Conversely, it's edging in to winter in Canada, meaning that, if you head up to the Yukon, you can start to catch the surreal spectacle that is the Northern Lights.


Festivals in autumn

September in North America is the traditional time for the Vancouver International Film Festival and Seattle Music Festival so head to Canada or the USA respectively to include these in your holiday.

South East Asia is at its driest during the European autumn months so travel to Burma for an escorted tour and river cruise or tour Vietnam for a flavour of this region. Travel towards the end of autumn and there are spectacular festivals in Thailand and Cambodia to take in too; the full moon celebration of Loi Krathong and The Water Festival Bon Om Tuk respectively take place in November.

Closer to home, head to Venice in Italy in early September for the Regata Storica, a vibrant set of historic races and pageants in the heart of this beautiful city. Contrast Venice's canals with the rich art and architecture of Florence for the perfect autumn Italian affair.

History & Culture

History & culture holidays this autumn

The peak travel season in Peru is beginning to wind down after the busiest months of July-August but conditions are still excellent for trekking or travelling to Machu Picchu, which you'll be able to enjoy with slightly fewer crowds.

In Asia, China is at its best in September; the autumn weather is stable and pleasant and the wind and dust associated with spring are temporarily tamed.

The monsoon is mostly out of the way in India making autumn a cooler (by Indian standards) time to visit. Travel to Rajasthan and take in the delights of this desert region, journeying into the dunes on a camel safari, sleeping under the stars and exploring the romantic city of Udaipur.

Food & wine holidays

Food & wine holidays this autumn

In the USA, California is a hotspot in autumn. Crowds head to Napa and Sonoma wine valleys but head down the coast a bit to discover gorgeous views and delicious syrahs without the crush.

In Italy, autumn is truffle season. This and the colourful harvest festivals make it a great time to travel to Piemonte or Tuscany in search spectacular landscapes and a tipple or two of the region's full bodied, quaffable Chianti. However, you're sure to find a celebration anywhere that food and wine are prized.

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New England Lighthouse

Discover New England

16-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,575 pp incl. flights

An ultra-scenic road trip that showcases the best of New England, from the natural splendour of its coastlines and mountains to the region's revolutionary past.

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Fjord Escape to Bergen & Balestrand

6-day tailor-made holiday from £1,095 pp incl. flights

Experience the sheer beauty of western Norway on this weeklong holiday, connecting historic, second-city Bergen and the fjord-side village charm of Balestrand with cruises and a trip on the Flåm Railway.

Aerial view of Knysna, Garden Route, South Africa

Highlights of South Africa

16-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,005 pp incl. flights

This is the perfect introduction to South Africa. A spectacular drive along the Garden Route will see you link Cape Town’s beachside charms with the country’s finest vineyards before ending with an all-inclusive Big-Five safari.

The Oyster Box, KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa with Red Carnation Hotels

12-day tailor-made self-drive from £3,045 pp incl. flights


Early booking offer – Save up to £1,385pp
Book by: 15 August 2024

Enjoy nights at three of South Africa's finest hotels as you stay right on Cape Town’s picturesque coast, enjoy a wilderness retreat in the Cederberg Mountains and relax at a beachfront hideaway in Durban.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA

Highlights of the American West

14-day tailor-made self-drive from £2,790 pp incl. flights

Driving between San Francisco and Las Vegas, this curated road trip takes in the beauty of Yosemite National Park, austere Death Valley and the ever-spectacular Grand Canyon.

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