10 Best Places to Travel in September

Budapest, Perth, and Italy’s Campanian Archipelago all shine this month.

Labor Day might mark the end of summer and a return to work for many—and a reminder to wash and fold every pair of white pants you own until next year—but why not eke out a little extra off-duty time by planning a vacation for this month?

The weather is more appealing in September than it is in midsummer for popular destinations like Italy, where the temperatures will be balmy but the crowds have thinned. It’s the first chance to check out autumn foliage in an unexpected locale, or head to Europe for an urban music festival with more swagger than Coachella and Lollapalooza combined.

Here are our 10 favorite spots to visit this September. Once you arrive, use our insider scoops from local experts to make the most of your trip.

Red-roofed castle beside a river

Enjoy Hungarian wine by the Danube this September.

Courtesy of Ignat Kushanrev

1. Budapest, Hungary

September is great for: sampling some unexpected vintages.

Hungary is an overlooked wine producer, but there are world-class wine regions here, including Tokaj in the country’s northeast, and the tiny, 741-acre Nagy Somló just west of Budapest, where the terroir of dormant lava confers a deep smokiness to every white made there. Sample those and more this month during Budapest’s Wine Festival, held at historic Buda Castle September 12–15. Don’t miss the chance to take a few tipples at the famous ruin bars known as romkocsma in Pest, which squat in many abandoned buildings of District VII.

Where to stay: W Budapest

The 151-room hotel sits in the Drechsler Palace, a neo-Renaissance wedding cake of a building constructed in the 1890s opposite the State Opera House. The decor is suitably maximalist—plenty of mirrors—and the location’s unbeatable, convenient for both sides of the river.

Insider tip

W Budapest chief concierge Peter Zimmerman recommends all the spas for which Budapest is renowned, but with a twist—come ready for a game of chess: “Hungarians love chess, and we were always in the top tier of chess competitions. Locals love to play in spas whether it is a floating chess board or a built-in one.”

Person in blue sequin suit jacket near a crowd of people outdoors at dusk

The Reeperbahn Festival is an edgier answer to Coachella.

Photo by Lina Zavgorodnia/Shutterstock

2. Hamburg, Germany

September is great for: the coolest music festival in Europe.

Locals call the Reeperbahn Die sündigste Meile, or the Most Sinful Mile, as the barely half-mile-long strip is a den of sleazy bars and XXX-rated experiences year-round. In September, though, its appeal broadens, as the strip hosts the Reeperbahn Festival, this year running September 18–21. The event commandeers the bars and clubs along the road for a wide-ranging and eclectic program, spanning neo-classical to hip-hop. Last year’s program featured almost 500 concerts from 400 bands from more than 40 different countries. This year’s roster is equally impressive, from London-based classical multi-instrumentalist Maria Chiara Argirò to French punk-inspired duo Bracco.

Where to stay: The Reverb by Hard Rock Hotel Hamburg

Where else but the brand-new music-inspired hotel, set to open in June, the second outpost of Hard Rock’s attempt to refresh its rather tired associations? Reverb is rockier and younger and will offer daily live entertainment on site.

Insider tip

One to watch during the festival? Alli Neumann, who’s playing at the Elbphilharmonie on September 20. “She doesn’t mince her words when it comes to addressing social issues, be it sexism, finding one’s identity, or personal integrity,” says the Reverb’s GM, Till Westheuser, calling her “one of the most sought-after live artists in Germany.” Pick up her debut album, Madonna Whore Komplex, to prepare for the powerhouse set.

Pink flowers rising from a yellow field with a plateau in the background

Don’t miss Western Australia when its flowers are in bloom.

Photo by travellight/Shutterstock

3. Perth, Australia

September is great for: going wild about flowers.

It’s springtime down under in September, and that’s when Western Australia bursts into bloom, with more than 12,000 species of wildflowers springing to life this month—60 percent of them are unique to the area and found nowhere else on the planet. Come to its largest city to see the riot of color that carpets urban greenspaces like Kings Park (at almost 1,000 acres, it outstrips Central Park). Now in its 60th year, the Everlasting Kings Park Festival runs September 13–29 this year, and includes guided walks, photograph displays, and workshops for families. It typically draws around a half-million attendees.

Where to stay: Como the Treasury

Singaporean luxe hotelier Como is usually associated with sprawling resorts in far-flung locales, so this urban, 48-room property in an historic 19th-century building downtown is an outlier. Still, it doesn’t skimp on all the signature indulgences, including the Shambhala spa.

Insider tip

The winter markets run through the end of October at Scarborough Esplanade, every Saturday till late afternoon, packed with craft stalls and food trucks. Pick up some locally made wildflower honey, too, says Como the Treasury’s front of houser Katrina Borgogno-Salis. “It’s a warm and intimate experience, all while the sun sets over the ocean.”

Distant view of people in a plaza with palm trees on left side, surrounded by historical and modern buildings

Santiago is Chile’s capital and largest city.

Photo by Shutterstock

4. Santiago, Chile

September is great for: experiencing an alternative Independence Day.

September 18 is a major day in the Chilean calendar—Fiestas Patrias, or Independence Day. It marks the time when the Creole leaders in Santiago formed a junta to try to overthrow the Spanish colonial powers in 1810; official independence came eight years later. Expect the usual street parties and events across the country, with the largest celebrations in the capital. Try native food and drinks, like corn-based chica or pisco, and see superb instances of cueca, a courtship-inspired handkerchief-waving performance that is officially the national dance of Chile.

Where to stay: The Singular Santiago

This 10-year-old boutique hotel sits in the heart of the coolest current nabe in town, the tree-lined Barrio Lastarria. Make sure to have a drink or two on the rooftop terrace, with its 26-foot marble bar and killer views across the city.

Insider tip

The Chilean painter Carmen Aldunate is under the spotlight via a new exhibition at the Ralli Museum. It’s a career-capping retrospective that’s unmissable, per Martin Torres, concierge at the Singular. “She’s associated with the pre-Renaissance illustratism and the Latin American neo-figurative movement,” he explains, “After a 60-year career, she has decided to retire due to a sight problem that left her without vision.”

Sun shining over a hill overlooking a vineyard

Skip the overcrowded vineyards this harvest season.

Photo by HTurner/Shutterstock

5. Central Valley, California

September is great for: harvest-time sightseeing in America’s winelands.

September means harvest season, so skip the traffic-clogged roads of Napa and Sonoma for a few tastings further south in the Central Valley. Its hot, dry conditions, and shelter from ocean spray, make it a powerhouse producer, with almost half the state’s grapes grown here; its profile, though, is much lower than those rivals up north.

Follow the Madera Wine Trail here for a chance to explore eight smaller, family-owned wineries like Papagani and Birdstone, or head to Vista Ranch in Merced, another boutique property that’s handily close to Yosemite if you need an outdoorsy detour.

Where to stay: El Capitan Hotel

This historic hotel, operating for more than 150 years in Merced, was fully renovated three years ago to give it a funky, pioneer-meets-midcentury vibe—think record players in rooms, bentwood chairs, and monochrome tiled bathrooms.

Insider tip

Sneak in a snifter on the patio at Hi-Fi Wine in downtown Merced, says Robin Donovan, managing director at El Capital Hotel. “It hosts a ton of events, including charcuterie classes, wine education tastings, and even field trips to vineyards to meet with producers.”

A mound at Ocmulgee Mounds Historical Park

Different American Indian cultures occupied Ocmulgee Mounds for thousands of years—some of which created the series of mounds that gave the park its name.


6. Macon, Georgia

September is great for: previewing Georgia’s would-be national park, its first.

Lawmakers have just introduced proposed legislation to create Ocmulgee Mounds Park and Preserve, a national park out of a 54-mile stretch of land and ceremonial mounds along the Ocmulgee river in Macon. This proposed park is a chance to honor the Indigenous communities, including the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, who consider the land sacred and lived here for thousands of years before their forced displacement to what’s now Oklahoma. Come to celebrate that history this month over the weekend of September 14–15, during the Ocmulgee Indigenous Celebration, one of the largest Native American gatherings in the Southeast. Hundreds of craftspeople, dancers, and storytellers convene here to perform and exhibit art, drawing from nations including Cherokee and Chickasaw.

Where to stay: Hotel Forty Five

This 94-room hotel in Macon’s central business district sits at a 45-degree angle amid the city grid—hence the name—and still retains elements of the former occupants, mostly banks and insurance companies, with intact vintage signage and historic details like terrazzo floors and copper fixtures.

Insider tip

Don’t leave town without grabbing breakfast at Macon Bagels, says Ashley Glassman, GM of local restaurant Quill. “Go early, because they tend to sell out. The Out of Towner is my current obsession, with cream cheese, lox, capers, and house-made pickled onions. Pick the bagel of your choice; try and grab a cheddar bagel though they’re usually the first to sell out, and for good reason.”

7. Campanian Archipelago, Italy

September is great for: eking out an extra few weeks of summertime.

Stretch out summer with a trip to Italy’s southwest coast, where the weather reliably sits in the 80s for most of the month. Skip overtouristed Capri, and opt instead for lesser known but just as gorgeous islands in the Bay of Naples like Procida and Ischia. Named the Italian Capital of Culture in 2022, Procida is the smallest, a postcard-pretty island where everything from Il Postino to the Jude Law–starring Talented Mr. Ripley were filmed; the village of Chiaiolella has a long, lounge-worthy strip of black sand. Otherwise, try Ischia, whose volcanic nature means there are ample natural thermal springs along the coast—and wellness-focused resorts as a result.

Where to stay: San Montano Resort & Spa

Make the most of Ischia’s thermal springs at this five-star hotel, which sits in its own 7.5-acre garden and has an on-site spa complex with panoramic tubs and pools.

Insider tip

Gary Portuesi of Authentic Explorations, a travel specialist with particular expertise in the area, says the best thing to do is rent a boat for the day. “Go to Sorrento Bay for the hot springs that bubble up from the sea floor, or San Montano Bay, where the sandy beaches can’t be beat.” And try some rabbit at the restaurant Il Focolare—that’s Ischia’s delicacy.

Red-roofed building on a mountainside.

This September, head to Bhutan for cultural festivities.

DC Welch

8. Bhutan

September is great for: folkloric festivals

Monsoon season comes to a close this month, easing the tropical downpours and sweltering temperatures making exploring this hilly, landlocked kingdom much more pleasant. It’s also a chance to experience one of the most exciting, and all-consuming, national festivals of this Buddhist nation, Thimphu Tshechu, held this year in the capital during September 12–14. It dates back more than 350 years and draws thousands from the countryside to attend. Expect plenty of displays of Cham dancing, the narrative folkloric tradition that tells stories through masked, elaborately costumed performances, all to the sounds of drums and horns.

Where to stay: Amankora Punakha Lodge

Book now: Amankora Punakha Lodge

Stay at this four-suite converted farmhouse in the subtropical valley where Bhutanese royals once overwintered—and hope for chilly nights this month because each of the suites has its own wood-burning stove.

Insider tip

Eve Shaw, Head of Operations at Timbuktu Travel, strongly urges anyone to go to the Happiness Field Village to experience local food and also try out the local natural textile dye process via a workshop there. “The place belongs to Aum Karma Yangchen, an award-winning designer and traditional Bhutanese textile dye expert who was asked to design the Royal gho for His Majesty the King of Bhutan’s Coronation in 2008,” she says, “She can give a demo about traditional dyeing in a hands-on workshop using organic plants and minerals.”

 London Eye Ferris wheel beside River Thames, with Big Ben tower in distance

This September, dig into London’s creative side.

Courtesy of visitlondon.com/Jon Reid

9. London, United Kingdom

September is great for inspiration from across the creative spectrum.

This month, creatives across the world descend on the British capital—not for one, but three events. It’s London Fashion Week September 13–17, when the likes of JW Anderson and Burberry will showcase collections simultaneously with the London Design Festival, which runs Sept 14–22, and includes exhibitions, installations, and special events at museums and stores around the capital. The Totally Thames event lasts the entire month, and cultural and environmental activities span its entire 42-mile stretch. All that plus the opening of A Face in the Crowd, which reworks the Hollywood classic into a stage musical with original songs by Elvis Costello.

Where to stay: The Londoner

The three-year-old hotel sits squarely on London’s answer to New York’s Times Square, Leicester Square, and is superbly convenient to walk to most of the major central sights, from Covent Garden to Buckingham Palace.

Insider tip

Keep yourself powered-up by pit stopping at the Bar Termini in Soho, five minutes’ walk from the hotel, founded by cocktail maestro Tony Conigliaro. “It’s a tiny hidden gem,” says Paul Gauger, a senior executive from VisitBritain. Order the Il Diciotto Spritz, he adds, made with amaro created in-house by the bar team.

Aerial shot of red-roofed houses surrounded by trees

Kick off fall foliage season in an unlikely place.

Photo by Michael Munster/Shutterstock

10. Branson, Missouri

September is great for: an all-American alternative to New England’s crowded leaf-peeping routes

Forget New England: What about looking at changing colors in the heart of the country? Branson is known for man-made entertainment, from concerts to amusement parks, along 76 Country Boulevard, but consider a trip here to explore the outdoors, specifically the Ozark Mountains. Head out to the Highway 165 scenic overlook, a 22-mile loop that offers superb views throughout, including across Table Rock Lake. Get out of the car and go hiking around the more than 1,500-acre Ruth and Paul Henning Conservation Area, or take an easy stroll for a couple of miles on the paved path around Table Rock.

Where to stay: The Ozarker

The 102-room boutique hotel opened last summer, offering a funkier alternative to the somewhat workaday accommodations that are common here. The six-person bunk bed rooms are a fun, affordable family option.

Insider tip

Go big when you go out to eat here, says Ozarker general manager Chris Patrick. Try the deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza at Mr. Gilberti’s Place, he says, or the retro-accented Billy Gail’s restaurant, a diner where the killer must-order is its oversize pancakes.

British-born, New York–based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. He is editor-at-large for luxury bible Robb Report and columnist for Bloomberg Luxury. Recent stories have led him to hang out with China’s trendsetters in Chengdu and learn fireside raps from cowboy poets in Wyoming.
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