The Best Places to Visit in September for Couples: Weather & Travel Guide
The leaves changing may signal summer has come to a close, but that doesn't mean vacation is over. As travel trends show, shoulder season is becoming more popular for getaways sans crowds (and for hotels with lower price tags). Spots that were jam-packed in summer are actually some of the best places to visit in September (as someone who lived in the French Riviera for years, I can attest that this is truly the best month to travel to the Mediterranean).
As major cities start clearing out, now is the time to book a September vacation to London or Athens, Greece—and why not throw in a couple days in the islands, too? Adventurous couples will be greeted with perfect honeymoon weather for hiking or cycling in Slovenia's mountains or Costa Rica's rainforest, while bachelorette parties can still soak up sea and sun in spots like Sardinia or Ibiza without dealing with inflated summer rates. From dreamy desert getaways in Morocco to snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, here are the best countries to visit in September.
Puglia, the sun-drenched region in Italy's boot, has become a popular honeymoon destination over the years, and it's easy to see why, with whitewashed towns, gorgeous baroque buildings, and a coastline that touches two seas (the Adriatic and Ionian). One of the main towns, Lecce, is nicknamed the "Florence of the South," if that gives you a hint about the natural beauty that awaits. One of the most scenic road trips in Italy—let alone Europe—Puglia's farmhouses-turned-hotels, perched villages, vineyard-lined countryside, and rugged coastline offer plenty of options for couples on a romantic getaway.
Things to Do: Visit the elf-like trulli homes dating back to the 14th century in the UNESCO site of Alberobello; tour the medieval church of Trani, "the pearl of Puglia"; explore the "White City" of Ostuni; or book a winery tour at Tenuta Bocca di Lupo.
Places to Stay: Hide away in one of the three-story villas surrounded by gardens and olive trees at Borgo Egnazia (where Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel tied the knot), located at the foot of the Itria Valley's hills. You'll be a quick beach cruiser ride away from the resort's private beach club, Cala Masciola—which is just as chic as what you'd find in Capri—or foodies can indulge in a fine-dining experience at seasonally driven, Michelin-starred Due Camini.
A two-hour flight from London or Paris, Slovenia is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe—yet one of the best honeymoon spots for adventurous couples. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, the small country combines the best of its neighbors, featuring a countryside full of castles, a gondola-strewn lake, and mountains with thousands of miles of marked hiking and cycling trails. Oh, and there are thermal spas, too. The compact capital of Ljubljana is crowned by a castle, which is a romantic spot to sip wine at sunset, and its cobbled streets and architecture couldn't get more charming—the pillars and colonnettes are modeled after ancient Athens, after all.
Things to Do: Sightsee in Ljubljana on a river cruise before strolling the Baroque Old Town, Art Nouveau New Town and Dragon Bridge. Day trip to one of Slovenia's top sights, Lake Bled, boating to the center to see the namesake island and church with frescoes dating back to the 15th century. Book a table at the restaurant that put Slovenia's fine-dining scene on the map, three Michelin-starred Hiša Franko. Tour operators like Wanderlux Journeys can also arrange wine tastings and cycling trips around the country.
Places to Stay: InterContinental Ljubljana is one of the more plush options in the capital, but it's worth venturing into other parts of Slovenia for more traditional stays at spots like chalet-style Vila Planinka in the forest-covered valley of Jezersko.
White Lotus fans may flock to Sicily, but there's another Italian island that should be on your radar: Sardinia. Neighboring Corsica, this rugged Mediterranean island is carved with hiking trails and roads that are practically made for Italian sports cars (now's the chance to live out that Sophia Loren moment). The jet setters hardly leave Costa Smeralda (the Emerald Coast) on the northeastern tip, but there's plenty more to see in Sardinia, like port city Cagliari in the south (the island's capital), with its 14th-century towers and medieval palazzi—plus the island's Bronze Age archaeological sites and charming little villages hovering over the Mediterranean.
Things to Do: Sail the coast of the archipelago pausing for a traditional Sardinian pasta lunch while visiting pink-sand beach Spiaggia Rosa. Set off from Cagliari and sample local wines at some of the island's best vineyards, or sign up for a couple's cooking class learning the basics of Sardinian staples like gnocchi-style malloreddus.
Places to Stay: For all-out luxury, look no further than Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, which sprawls out around the bay like its own village. In Oliena, what started as a family-run destination restaurant has evolved into Su Gologone Experience Hotel, a bohemian enclave with villas outfitted with al fresco jacuzzis and canopied day beds.
Seasons around the world have started shifting, so don't let defined "rainy season" months scare you off. There may be a shower here and there, but dreamy destinations like Costa Rica are quieter, calmer and less expensive in months like September. The country's "pura vida" motto has made it a bachelor (and bachelorette!) party favorite, since the adventure capital offers visitors everything from ATV rides through jungles and beaches to surf trips, scuba diving, snorkeling and plenty of hiking. Honeymooners also have tons of options for stays surrounded by nature, from all-inclusive resorts to luxe eco-lodges and seaside villas.
Things to Do: Outdoor activities are the highlight here, with adventures that range from whitewater rafting and horseback riding through the jungle to catamaran cruises along the coast and night hikes in the rainforest. In spots like La Fortuna, where the Arenal Volcano is located, couples can soak in hot springs or take a coffee farm tour.
Places to Stay: Luxury lodge ORIGINS is suspended in the treetops in Tenorio Volcano National Park, in the northern part of the country's mountainous rainforest. Taking its design from safari lodges in Africa, the eco retreat spans 111 acres and includes a butterfly preserve, a yoga shala (where you can also arrange a couple's cacao ceremony), nature walks to waterfalls, and horseback rides through the volcano's corridor. Spacious lodges overlook the volcano and Nicaragua Lake—and include a wood-heated plunge pool that's the perfect place to toast with a glass of wine at sunset. Couples who are interested in surfing and lounging by the beach should consider a stay at one of the upscale resorts along the Peninsula Papagayo. We recommend the Four Seasons.
A stopover en route to the islands, Athens is busy and hot in the summer. As the weather becomes more pleasant in September, you won't have to deal with crowds (or heat) while visiting landmarks like the Acropolis. Stroll the cobbled streets of hillside Plaka, which is like a living museum dotted with ancient temples and archaeological ruins. Even if Athens is your final destination, you can spend the day sailing to islands off the coast like Agistri and Moni.
Things to Do: Sip craft cocktails at one of the world's best bars, The Clumsies, before heading for dinner at listening bar-inspired restaurant Pharaoh, known for traditional, wood-fired cooking and natural wine. Japanese grill Birdman is another favorite for its yakitori cuisine and streetside terrace setting. If you're planning to start your art collection on your honeymoon, Athens has plenty of galleries and showrooms to choose from, a highlight being MON COIN Studio, which promotes contemporary Greek ceramics.
Places to Stay: Brown Hotels are rapidly expanding across Greece—in Athens, you'll find Lighthouse, which sits in Omonia Square across from another newish hotel: Moxy Athens City, where the rooftop suite overlooks the Acropolis. One of the most talked-about hotels in the capital lately is Mona, a 1950s former textile factory that has maintained its original, stripped-back look.
French Riviera, France
As the French Riviera's beaches start emptying out, now is the time to take advantage of end-of-season deals on swanky hotels in Cannes, Saint-Tropez and Nice. September is arguably the best month in the Mediterranean—less people, pleasant temperatures (you've skipped the heat waves) and water that's been warming for months. You won't have to worry about booking reservations and beach clubs so far in advance this time of year, but be sure to visit before some of the spots close for the season.
Things to Do: Spend the day at a beach club like Belles Rives Beach in Juan-les-Pins or Saint-Tropez's swanky Le Club 55 (book a table for lunch—it really is a scene); lunch at La Guérite off the coast of Cannes or take a private boat to Anjuna Beach in Eze-sur-Mer for party bands serenading tables by the sea through sunset.
Places to Stay: Grand dame Cannes Carlton on the star-studded Croisette is fresh off a major makeover—and its 1930s-era beach club hasn't lost its place as one of the top in town. If you're going to splurge on one memorable stay, book a room at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, a sumptuous spot to hole up in on a honeymoon.
Camel rides into the sunset are just the start. From surf lessons and oyster tastings in Oualidia along the coast to desert dinners in the Atlas Mountains outside of Marrakech, Morocco knows all the right ways to up the romance factor for honeymooners. Book a budget-savvy desert glamping experience at Inara Camp, a luxury tented camp crafted from found objects like wood and iron that makes the sleek resort appear to blend into the Agafay Desert sand. Ingredients for the "restaurant" are sourced from a permaculture farm near the village and dinner is served by a team hailing from the Sahara desert in a candlelit campfire circle under the stars—a moment that will certainly top your trip.
Things to Do: Put those honeymoon cash funds to good use shopping for rugs and housewares in Marrakech's maze-like souks; salute sunrise with a hot air balloon ride over the foothills of the Atlas Mountains; tour the vibrant, cactus-filled Jardin Majorelle; lunch on the shaded terrace of Grand Cafe de la Poste; and visit the Museum of African Contemporary Art Al Maaden.
Places to Stay: Splurge on more luxurious resorts and riads in Marrakech like La Maison Arabe—whose cooking school is one of the best in Morocco—or the Selman Marrakech, where you can take a private dressage lesson with one of the hotel's award-winning Arabian thoroughbreds, which put on quite the show during the infamous Sunday brunch.
This Balearic island is known for drawing the jet-set bohemian party crowd to its summer soirées helmed by big-name DJs. If behemoth clubs aren't quite your scene, don't write the island off just yet. The Mediterranean beauty is just as beloved for its spiritual side, often hosting yoga retreats and other wellness-centered experiences. Once summer travel slows down, Ibiza's natural beauty really shines, making it a wonderful spot for couples to hike or snorkel in the emerald-colored waters.
Things to Do: Jump in the back of a Defender and let the experts guide you through the best of Ibiza's caves, secluded beaches and viewpoints—trips can even be customized with a picnic and drinks to celebrate a bachelor or bachelorette party. Another fantastic way to explore the island: a snorkel trip to secret sea caves. Some of the best snorkeling is off the neighboring island of Formentera, which you can cruise to via catamaran for the day from Ibiza.
Places to Stay: The opening of Six Senses Ibiza was a game changer for the island, where private villas are the most common form of accommodation. Unfolding along the northern tip of the island, couples can curl up for sunset views from the rocks along the Xarraca coastline; dance in the intimate, lounglike Xarraca Room as top DJs and musicians play; unwind with a couples massage in the organic garden; or join one of the many retreats led by renowned yoga therapists and breathwork specialists. Ibiza also offers all-inclusive resort options like Grand Palladium Palace Ibiza Resort and Spa for wallet-free trips.
One of the best months to visit Australia for honeymoon weather, September is the start of spring Down Under, meaning warm (but not insanely hot) days and lively music festivals and events like Oktoberfest in Adelaide. Australia is far and flight times can be long, so it's not as easy to plan as, say, a long weekend in Mexico. But there's a reason why Australia is among the top bucket list trips for couples—especially if you're planning a milestone anniversary trip. You'll find nature in every corner of the country—and all along the coast—plus world-class wine, cosmopolitan cities with top-notch restaurant and bar scenes, and experiences like the Great Barrier Reef that can't be beat.
Things to Do: What to do in Australia depends on where you're staying. In Sydney, climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge or catch a show at the Sydney Opera House. In Melbourne, explore the city's colorful laneways and tucked-away restaurants or set off for a wine tasting in the nearby vineyards. Cairns is the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, which you can experience on one of the many full- or half-day boat tours leaving from the terminal in the center of town.
Places to Stay: In Australia, hotels are just as much of a destination as cities or regions themselves. Case in point: Kangaroo Island Seafront Hotel, whose 16 rooms and 14 garden villas feature balconies overlooking the sea or a deck surrounded by tropical foliage. Another favorite: Qualia Resort on Hamilton Island, with standing tubs showing off views of the surrounding Great Barrier Reef.
September is a great month to visit London—the busy summer vacation period has come to an end, and it's right before October school holidays. The weather is usually mild this time of year, so you can spend more time strolling the city's parks and neighborhoods. Plus, it's when autumn museum exhibitions, theater and art shows, and events like London Design Festival and Totally Thames—a celebration of boating events, pop-up performances and art installations—are held.
Things to Do: One of the few cities that offers as much—if not more—when the weather is less than favorable, London gives couples tons of options whether they want to soak up culture, history, art, fashion, theater, food or wine. A few must-dos while in London: linger over afternoon tea at Covent Garden Hotel or The Dorchester London; browse one of the larger museums like the Tate Modern; and sip cocktails at sunset at GONG in The Shard, Britain's tallest building.