Just because the year is winding down doesn’t mean your travels need to peter out – particularly when October dazzles with an abundance of epic adventures. Whether you want to get active in Montenegro or wander a medina in Morocco, here are some ideas for where to go in October.
Where are the best places to travel to in October for relaxation?
Why now? Swim, cycle and stroll in “winter’s spring.”
After the heat of high summer abates, hardcore beach-loungers depart but the sun hasn’t quite finished with the easternmost Balearic. In the first weeks of autumn – sometimes dubbed primavera l’hivern, describing the bright, warm days of “winter’s spring” – tourist facilities are yet to close up shop and the Mediterranean lapping Menorca’s glorious beaches remain delightfully balmy, yet you’ll have many places to yourself. Despite the odd shower as October wears on, conditions are fine for discovering the Anglo-Spanish heritage of charismatic capital Maó (Mahón) and former chief settlement, Ciutadella, marveling at four-millennia-old megalithic monuments, and hiking or biking the undulating 185km (115=mile) Camí de Cavalls coastal circuit. Menorca as a whole is a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, centered on the bird-bustling wetlands of Parc Natural S’Albufera des Grau. Pack binoculars, load up with famed Menorcan pastries and explore in glorious peace.
Why now? Calm seas in paradise.
Seychelles is probably how Pixar would draw paradise: swaying palms, supernaturally blue seas, bling-white sand, artfully smoothed and scattered boulders, plus a few cute turtles wriggling ashore. Fantasy made real. Given these high levels of loveliness and the balmy 25–30°C (77–86°F) year-round temperatures, there’s no awful time to visit this Indian Ocean archipelago. However, October – the period between the brisker southeasterly trade winds switching to the lighter northwesterlies – brings especially calm conditions, so is an excellent month for swimming, snorkeling and diving. The water can be 29°C (84°F), visibility is around 30m (100ft) and migrating whale sharks have arrived. It’s also cheaper than the peak of June to August.
Where are the best places to travel to in October for wildlife and nature?
New Mexico, USA
Why now? For cool weather and hot air.
New Mexico, officially the “Land of Enchantment,” is especially enchanting in sunny, mild October – the 20°C (68°F) days are ideal for discovering the historical riches and extraordinary outdoors. Sites such as 1000-year-old Taos Pueblo nod to the region’s Native American roots, while the capital Santa Fe (founded by Spanish missionaries in 1610) combines old adobe houses, Romanesque architecture and a slew of modern-art galleries. Then there’s the plentiful wilderness, from the Sangre de Cristos mountains of the north to the blinding-white dunes of the south. Scenic drives cut through these badlands, while there are opportunities for activities and ranch stays aplenty.
New South Wales, Australia
Why now? Drive between quiet national parks.
Sun, sand, surf, scuba, schooners – standard-issue fun awaits along the Pacific Highway, the justifiably well-trodden trail between Sydney and Brisbane. But a world of natural and cultural wonders awaits just a little inland, some well known – the cliffs, cascades, caves and trails of the Blue Mountains – others much less visited. Spring shoulder season brings warm sunshine, wildflowers and a furry of animal activity, but without the crowds and costs of high summer – even the trails around Katoomba are quieter. Take the road less traveled to discover canyons and caves, historic mines and glow-worm tunnels, Aboriginal rock art and dizzying rainforest biodiversity.
Where are the best places to travel to in October for culture?
Why now? October is the area's weather sweet spot.
Stepping through blue-tiled Bab Bou Jeloud is as close as most of us will get to time travel: a journey back 1200 years to a city without motorized traffic, into the most mesmerizing and extensive medieval city in the Islamic world. Visit in October, between sweltering summer and chilly, damp winter, to explore (or, more likely, get hopelessly lost in) the tangled skein of 9400 alleys in Fes el-Bali. This oldest section of the walled Medina is romantic and relentless in equal measure. You can admire glorious Moorish zellij tilework and ornately carved wood and alabaster adorning medersas (Islamic colleges); feast on pastilla (pigeon pie), tagines and a traditional glass of mint tea; and bed down in an Arabian Nights–worthy palace, riad or dar (courtyard mansion). But you’ll also be deafened by the hubbub of the souks (bazaars) and hit by the stench of the colorful but pungent tanneries.
Editor's note: On September 8, 2023, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Morocco, centering around the Atlas Mountains and southwest of Marrakesh. Travel to other parts of the country, including Fez, is largely unaffected, but we encourage travelers to check bulletins and monitor reliable local news sources for the latest information.
Why now? Roam historic marvels and glorious countryside in serene autumn.
England’s shapely left leg is crowded with grand mansions and stately homes, castles and abbeys, megalithic henges and barrows. In summer they’re jammed with tourists; many then close, at least partly, from the end of October. This month’s ideal, then, for a road trip immersing yourself in centuries of history: playing lord or lady of the manor at Montacute or Cotehele, communing with ancestors among Avebury’s standing stones, or jousting with King Arthur at Tintagel. Now, too, the hiking routes – not least England’s longest, the South West Coast Path – are wonderfully quiet, and cozy country pubs more enticing than ever.
Where are the best places to travel to in October for food and drink?
Le Marche, Italy
Why now? Hunt truffles, wines and other tasty treats.
“It’s the next Tuscany!” declare the cognoscenti, vaunting their new favorite “hidden” corner of Italy with culinary and cultural cachet. Well, Le Marche, sandwiched between the Adriatic and the Apennines, has no pretensions to be the next anywhere. As yet largely uncrowded, its low-key historic gems, Verdicchio and Conero wines, fungi and other local flavors speak for themselves – and do so most persuasively in harvest season. Autumn brings pleasant temperatures for hopping between medieval hilltop towns and hiking in Monti Sibillini National Park, watching for chamois, wolves and bears. True, some aspects evoke a whiff of Tuscany: the walled historic centers of Urbino and Ascoli Piceno, packed with medieval and Renaissance architecture, and the vine-striped hillsides. But Le Marche has favors all its own, evident in beautiful villages such as Gradara and Offda, renowned for their wines, and Acqualagna and Apecchio, both hosting white-truffle fairs in autumn – toast your trip with fine Apecchio beers.
Why now? Make a gastronomic pilgrimage in a season of harvests and fall finery.
Most visitors to Japan head west from Tokyo towards Kyoto and Fuji, or bypass northern Honshū to reach Hokkaidō. Too bad for them: the six prefectures comprising Tōhoku encompass steaming onsens (try Nyuto), gleaming castles (Hirosaki), golden-halled temples (Chūson-ji in Hiraizumi), peaceful farming valleys and forest-clad mountains, now flaming red and gold. The clear days of harvest season are perfect for exploring the region’s culinary highlights: fabulous seafood and fish, of course – squid and mackerel are particular specialties – plus local takes on ramen, soba and udon noodles, apples and excellent sake. Fuel up for hikes among the cedars on Mt Haguro, through the virgin beech forests of mountainous Shirakami-Sanchi or along the 1000km-plus (621-mile) Michinoku Coastal Trail.
Where are the best places to travel to in October for adventure?
Why now? Hit the heights.
Don’t pack away the hiking boots just yet – thanks to their southerly latitude, the mountains of Montenegro remain open and awesome for ambling until November. And what mountains: the highest are within Unesco-listed Durmitor National Park, a cluster of dark, serrated summits (of which 48 soar to over 2000m/6065ft) scattered with pine forest, lush meadows and glittering glacial lakes, and home to all manner of wildlife, from birds to bears. There’s also good walking amid the peaks and primeval forests of Biogradska Gora National Park. Coastal high points such as Mts Orjen and Lovćen offer sweeping views of the Adriatic – mix hikes here with dips in the azure sea, which remains beautifully inviting throughout October, and is wonderfully crowd-free. A week’s walking could include an ascent of Rumija, on the south coast; hiking in the Kučka Krajina range near capital Podgorica; admiring the autumn colors around Mt Bjelasica in Biogradska Gora; and varied trekking in Durmitor, with the chance to stand atop Bobotov Kuk (2523m/8277ft), the country’s highest peak.
Cusco Region, Peru
Why now? Traverse alternative Inca trails.
“The” Inca Trail winds for around 42km (26 miles) over breath-snatching passes and past ancient remains to end with the big reveal framed by the Sun Gate: Machu Picchu. But it’s far from the only Inca trail. Those ingenious ancient Peruvians constructed a vast network of highways – the Qhapaq Ñan, spidering some 30,000km (18,641 miles) throughout the Andes – much of which remains more or less intact today, beckoning hikers keen to explore past glories and meet modern Quechua people. Visit in October, after peak season but before the rains set in, to roam these historic paths in peace. The Salkantay Trek traverses thrilling Andean wilderness: snow-clad peaks, glaciers and mesmerizing lakes. The Lares Trek, north of the Sacred Valley, boasts fewer Incan sites but ample interaction with local communities. And Choquequirao rewards with another ridge-top citadel – a mini-Machu Picchu, with tiny crowds to match.