Where is hot in September? – Times Travel – The Times

September is when the savvy go abroad. Having steered safely clear of July and August’s congested beaches, fractious families and peak-season prices, they swoop in when the coast is clear — enjoying emptier coves, relative quietude and a few extra quid in their pocket. Southern Europe, from Lisbon city breaks to some slumber on Tenerife, remains amply warm enough; the likes of Morocco and Beirut hit a similar sweet spot having been too toasty a month earlier. There’s no better time to visit New York, nor to inspect China’s Terracotta Warriors, Great Wall and giant pandas, or sunset-watch on Santorini. For added adventure points, go on safari in Zimbabwe — after gaping at the Victoria Falls — or journey along Costa Rica’s crowd-free Caribbean coastline.

Main photo: the village of Pyrgos in Santorini (Alamy)

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Tenerife is a holiday destination that is hot in September
Visitors at Teide National Park in Tenerife (Alamy)

1. Tenerife

Average temperature 23C
There’s much to like about a late-summer holiday to the largest of the Canary Islands. An average seven daily hours of sunshine continues in September in Tenerife, and there’s little chance of rain; days are long, and evenings warm enough for bare arms. Mornings, meanwhile, are cool enough for treks up Teide volcano without needing to wake up in the small hours. Reaching their warmest temperature of the year — typically about 24C — seas have sufficient swells for surfing to start, but are meek enough for swimming, too. For those keen on R&R, southern, mountain-sheltered resorts such as Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas tend to enjoy higher temperatures and more sunshine than northern resorts — but there isn’t a great deal in it.

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China is a holiday destination that is hot in September
Mid-Autumn Festival in Xi’an (Alamy)

2. China

Average temperature 22C
September is the best time of year to tour China. As summer’s extreme heat diminishes, days in most places are agreeably mild — even if humidity levels in the south are prone to staying high until late in the month. Trips might include encounters with Chengdu’s giant pandas, guided visits to Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors, un-sweaty Great Wall walks — with clouds unlikely to shroud views — or Yangtze River cruises through the giant Three Gorges. Look out for Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations (usually mid or late-September); its mooncake pastries and luck-bringing lanterns mark the end of the harvest. And don’t neglect the two great cities, either: Beijing, with its walled Forbidden City palace, and the mixture of glitzy towers and laneway temples in creative Shanghai.

Best things to do in China

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast is a holiday destination that is hot in September
Crimson-fronted parakeets in Costa Rica (Getty Images)

3. Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast

Average temperature 26C
As the remainder of the Central American nation suffers the soggy peak of a seven-month rainy season, the eastern shores of Costa Rica enjoy warm and sunny days. Limon Province’s so-called “Miskito” coast borders the Caribbean, but don’t expect palm-shaded beaches or hammocks above aquamarine bays (although there are a few of these). Instead, rustic Limon specialises in egg-laying sea turtles, white-water rafting, BriBri tribe encounter, cocoa plantations and the chance to see three-toed sloths or crimson parakeets during canoe-based tours of Tortuguero National Park’s creeks. Just as fascinating is the south’s spicy, coconut-accented cuisine, its Jamaican influences explained by a large African-Caribbean community. As you’d expect of a place explored by few visitors, this “other Costa Rica” further pleases by being cheaper than elsewhere in the country.

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Beirut, Lebanon, is a holiday destination that is hot in September
Café life in Beirut (Alamy)

4. Beirut, Lebanon

Average temperature 27C
Recovering from 2020’s devastating explosion, Lebanon’s capital appeals to westerners by being far more liberal than other Middle Eastern centres. This is a city where you can spend days scantily clad and bronzing in Mediterranean beach clubs before making shapes amid roof-retracting nightspots. There’s also some excellent shopping to be enjoyed, and dining options from feted fine-dining temples to family-run restaurants serving traditional Lebanese mezze — pitta, baby beetroot, baba ganoush and the like. History-wise, the National Museum has gilded Bronze Age statuettes and Byblos, 20 miles up-coast, is alleged to be the oldest city on earth. September’s high temperatures make it a good time to clamber about its 12th-century citadel. Equally mandatory is a morning stroll along Beirut’s scenic corniche, perhaps followed by some intense coffee. 

Lisbon is a holiday destination that is hot in September
A fado singer performs in Lisbon (Alamy)

5. Lisbon, Portugal

Average temperature 23C
There are few better times to sample the Portuguese capital. Though it can still reach highs of 27C in September, summer’s hot weather diminishes enough for pleasurable strolls up the seven hills of Lisbon to camera-grabbing miradouros — terraced viewpoints which look across red rooftops and pastel houses to the exaggeratedly wide Tagus River. You can still sizzle on the nearby beaches at Costa da Caparica or Cascais, too, with sea temperatures averaging 20C, before evenings spent scoffing petiscos (a slighter take on Spanish tapas) or fresh seafood in taverns. To further tap into Lisboa culture, visit the ancient, maze-like quarter of Alfama as the month ends. Taking place then is an annual, two-night festival devoted to melancholic fado music, with veteran singers performing at churches, museums and outdoor stages.

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French Polynesia is a holiday destination that is hot in September
At the market in Papeete, capital of French Polynesia (Getty Images)

6. French Polynesia

Average temperature 28C
Dodge French Polynesia’s high season — July and August — by smugly visiting one month later to enjoy extra space, slightly lower rates and still-stellar South Pacific climes. With neither heavy rains nor high humidity due until November, the weather in September is instead consistently hot and dry. Some visitors head for Bora Bora, spending their days undergoing sun rituals amid overwater spas after snorkelling past stingrays in the island’s green-blue lagoon. Others, however, eschew “Boring Boring” in favour of more culture: learning about grafting at sleepy Taha’a pearl farms, feeding verdant Huahine’s sacred and gigantic river eels, e-biking past pineapple fields on Mo’orea or trying Tahitian foods at Papeete’s open-air market. For a more directly impactful form of sustainable tourism, you could also consider helping to collect behavioural data on bottlenose dolphins.

Morocco's Atlantic coast is a holiday destination that is hot in September
On the ocean at Oualidia on Morocco’s Atlantic coast (Getty Images)

7. Atlantic coast, Morocco

Average temperature 23C
As the over-oppressive summer recedes in Morocco, some perfectly warm weather takes hold along its extensive Atlantic coast. Road trips could start in energetic Casablanca, whose weeklong, mid-month L’Boulevard festival — anticipated to resume post-pandemic — sees electro, rap and rock concerts take place in the lively Beauséjour neighbourhood. Continue south to the oyster-producing village of Oualidia, where multicoloured wooden boats, lethargic luxury hotels and a lagoon filled with flamingos all await. This is also one of Morocco’s wave-riding hotspots and, just as on the nearby Canary Islands, September sees surfers returning. Bigger but equally easy-going, picturesque Essaouira promises 18th-century ramparts and a Unesco-protected old medina district where organic argan oil is sold. Finish beside Agadir’s curving golden-sand beach, frequenting your hotel spa for a hydrating facial to soothe your salty skin.  

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New York City, USA, is a holiday destination that is hot in September
Models at New York Fashion Week (Alamy)

8. New York City, USA

Average temperature 20C
You could say that September is the Big Apple’s harvest time, so ripe for a city break does it become. Residents return from Long Island and the Hamptons to make a brand new start of it and days remain more than balmy enough for trips to the sandy shores of old New York at Coney Island or Brighton Beach — and indeed for cocktails in rooftop bars, plus romantic Central Park walks. With kids back in school you’ll have fewer annoyances at the museums, Empire State Building or Statue of Liberty. September is a time for solemn reflection around the anniversary of 2001’s atrocious terrorist attacks, but it also hosts happier events: New York Fashion Week, Queens’ US Open tennis tournament and the New York Film Festival’s drive-in screenings. Don’t you want to be a part of it?

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Zimbabwe is a holiday destination that is hot in September
African bush elephants in Hwange National Park (Alamy)

9. Zimbabwe

Average temperature 24C
Back on the safari agenda after its darkest decades under Robert Mugabe’s rule, Zimbabwe has yet to regain the large numbers of visitors it once welcomed. That’s good news for those who do go, however, as prices are lower than elsewhere in Africa and premier wildlife sightings are often enjoyed by no-one but you. Spotting game is easiest in September — the continued dry season means foliage is thin and animals must conveniently crowd around the remaining waterholes. That includes the vast herds of elephants in gigantic Hwange National Park, which are counted in September in a census that volunteers may join. Not far north, Victoria Falls’ water levels will be lower after a prolonged drought, but you won’t endure the misty, photo-foiling spray common at other times.

Santorini, Greece, is a holiday destination that is hot in September
The village of Oia in Santorini (Alamy)

10. Santorini, Greece

Average temperature 24C
No Greek holiday destination is better in September than this supermodel. Summer’s crowds have subsided, making caldera hikes or visits to vineyards, volcanic beaches or Minoan ruins more enjoyable. Afternoons are marvellously mild rather than overwhelmingly oppressive. The Aegean Sea is at its warmest; crossing it, private boat charters continue to serve hidden coves and inaccessible shores. Tavernas remain buzzy. And the famous Santorini sunsets reach a photogenic peak. The whitewashed, cliff-tumbling villages of Oia and Imerovigli are the traditional, trendy places to watch — ideally with a grilled gyro and bottle of local dry white — but hilltop Pyrgos with its ruined castle is far quieter and offers similarly uninterrupted vistas. Stay in a hotel right beside the sea to have yoga classes and gourmet food on tap.

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Brisbane - Queensland, Australia, is a holiday destination that is hot in September
The Riverfire display at the Brisbane Festival (Getty Images)

11. Queensland, Australia

Average temperature 22C
The spring shoulder season is a canny time to visit Australia’s north-eastern state. More temperate than the far north, Queensland is already emerging from winter to deliver dry, sun-soaked days ahead of pleasingly mild dusks. The box jellyfish season is not due until October, so you can bathe safely in sapphire waters off trendy Sunshine Coast towns. With its blend of natty — designer boutiques, cool coffee carts — and nature, evident in koala-dotted coastal trails and a jungly backdrop, Noosa is most alluring. Even so, and despite the presence of the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent, paradisiacal Whitsunday Islands, QLD’s hottest destination might just be its capital. Hosting an almost-month-long arts festival in September, Brisbane has ever-hipper design hotels, great galleries and a brag-worthy restaurant scene. Step aside, Sydney.

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