Summer has drawn to a close. The nights are prematurely dropping their eyelids like jetlagged toddlers and the trees are yellowing like weathered parchment. It’s this time of year when feet grow itchy and travellers look overseas to make a last gasp escape from the approach of winter.
October can still be a great time to travel, as the northern hemisphere begins to slide into its autumnal slumber and the south awakens into heady spring. You can enjoy stirring landscapes, late summer sun, vibrant festivals, and a whole lot more.
Japan is a picture postcard country for spectacular autumn colours, as cool weather begins to sweep south from the end of September. Nara is an ideal spot for enjoying the seasonal change, the ancient capital just a short train ride away from Kyoto.
Once there you’ll find a huge park filled with trees that erupt into vivid gold, red, and yellow during October, lining the lazy paths between shrines. The most impressive of these is Tamukeyama shrine, which offers gorgeous views across the entire park.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
It might be a huge cliché, but few gappers will feel content with their travels until they’ve attended a Full Moon Party in Thailand. This October it falls on the 27th, which means you should prepare for rain, but it doesn’t do much to dampen the party spirit that sweeps over Koh Phangan.
Don your most luminescent apparel (waterproof make-up recommended) and head down to the beach to drink as many buckets as you can handle while dancing the night away until the sand looks like the most inviting of pillows. No one said autumn had to be boring.
Mexico City, Mexico
We’re cheating a little here, as Dia de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is celebrated chiefly on November 1st, but you’ll need to travel in October to make it in time, and numerous related events are held the day before on Halloween.
This public holiday is dedicated to remembering the dead, and so combines intimate traditions such as cleaning and decorating gravestones, to large scale festivals and parties where people dress up in elaborately terrifying costume and parade giant skulls through the streets.
Huangshan Mountain, China
China’s ‘Yellow Mountain’ earns its name in the autumn, as the trees that cover its towering peaks and rocky outcrops turn a rich yellow that soon darkens into burnished red. Climb high enough, particularly at sunrise, and you’ll see the landscape wreathed in fragile cloud.
We recommend you avoid travelling in China in the first week of October, as it’s a national holiday week that sees millions of locals abandon their cities to visit places like Huangshan. Getting a train can be difficult as tickets sell out, and such huge crowds threaten to tarnish the atmosphere.
The evenings drawing in can be disheartening, so Iceland offers a reprieve, October daylight surviving a fair way into the evening. Reykjavik is a city that hardly sleeps at any time of year, but this at least gives you a chance to enjoy it before the long, dark winter swallows it whole.
October also marks the beginning of ‘Northern Lights season,’ the Aurora Borealis making its flamboyant return to the night skies to send tourists scurrying across the barren countryside in an effort to cram it into their cameras. Northern Lights hunts depart the city every night.
If you all want is to grab a late summer tan, you could do a lot worse than heading to Greece’s largest island. Crete smugly enjoys the longest summers Greece can offer, and even midway through October you can kick back on the beach and swim comfortably in the sea.
October is also the perfect time to take a hike through Samaria Gorge. The slightly cooler temperatures take the edge off the long trek, leaving you to enjoy the spectacular mountain views, plucky pine forests, and abandoned villages without checking your armpits every five minutes.