Whether falling in autumn or spring, September can showcase countries at their most scenic, from the green, lamb-dotted valleys of New Zealand and the wildflower-coated countryside of Argentina to Russia’s rust-hued city parks.
In Canada, the salmon run sees bears gather for a feeding frenzy along British Columbia’s rivers. Bhutan’s clear skies are ideal for hiking among its mountains, while similar conditions in Bolivia make for excellent photography around its salt pans. Spain and Turkey are pleasantly warm without the crowds of summer. And, in South Africa, you can combine regions while they’re at their best. It’s also an excellent time for seeing Namibia’s wildlife and stargazing among its desert dunes.
1. New Zealand
As spring arrives in New Zealand, temperatures start to rise, and the country begins to thaw. Snowmelt feeds waterfalls and rivers, making for excellent white-water rafting. The valleys are greenest, with wildflowers starting to bloom and newborn lambs skipping in the fields.
As with any time of year in New Zealand, rain is possible, but you’ll find September is far quieter than the summer months, and you’ll have your pick of the best places to stay. Off the coast, you can take boat trips to spot orcas, while warmer temperatures on the North Island are ideal for following walking tracks through national parks while there are fewer visitors.
Don't miss: Highlights of New Zealand (non-driving)
Flight time: 26 hours via LA or 25 hours via Hong Kong
Time difference: UTC +12
September Temperature (Day): 10 to 17°C, depending on the region
September rainfall: 33 to 484mm, varies by region
2. South Africa - Visited
You can visit South Africa at any time of year. But, with most regions at their prime in September, you can plan a varied trip that gives you the best of all worlds.
In the northern regions, including the Kruger, cooler, drier conditions make for excellent game viewing. Animals are active and easier to see as they gather around vital water sources, with many also giving birth to their young. On the west coast, wildflowers cover the otherwise dry and dusty landscape. And, you’ll have the best chance of seeing southern right whales, which migrate from Antarctica to the warm waters off South Africa to have their young.
Don't miss: Discover South Africa
Flight time: 11 hours (Johannesburg)
Time difference: UTC +2
September Temperature (Day): 17 to 27°C, depending on the region
September rainfall: 16 to 95mm, varies by region
3. Canada - Visited
It’s still warm enough to enjoy a mix of outdoor activities among Canada’s mountains, lakes and coastal scenery in September, plus you have the bonus of fewer crowds than summer. The landscape is gradually turning from green to golden, making hiking and driving through the Rockies particularly rewarding.
What’s more, September falls at the peak of the salmon run, which attracts large groups of bears to British Columbia’s rivers and streams. Stay at a bear-watching lodge to make the most of this natural event, heading out each day with expert guides who’ll know the best spots for seeing the action.
Don't miss: Bears of British Columbia
Flight time: Between 5½ and 11 hours
Time difference: UTC -3:30 to UTC -8
September Temperature (Day): -5 to 23°C, depending on the region
September rainfall: 11 to 236mm, varies by region
4. Spain - Visited
Still retaining heat after its hot summer, Spain in September is pleasantly warm, mostly dry and sees fewer visitors. The air turns crisp at night, while days see clear, deep-blue skies without haze. It’s still warm enough to swim in the sea, and temperatures are more comfortable for hiking and city sightseeing, soaking up authentic Spanish life as the pace slows.
You’ll also have a chance to experience the wine harvest, perhaps timing your visit for the Fiestas de San Mateo — a week of parades and performances in La Rioja to celebrate the Feast of Saint Matthew and the grape harvest.
Don't miss: Madrid, San Sebastián & La Rioja tour
Flight time: 2 hours 30 upwards depending on the airline (London to Madrid)
Time difference: UTC +1
September Temperature (Day): 23 to 29°C, depending on the region
September rainfall: 5 to 97mm, varies by region
5. Turkey - Visited
As temperatures ease from hot to pleasantly warm, September showcases Turkey at its best. It’s still balmy enough for the beach and for swimming in the sea, the cities are quieter than in summer months, and conditions are more comfortable for sightseeing, whether in Istanbul or a further-flung region. You’ll also have a wider choice of hotels, some offering great value, particularly along the Turquoise Coast.
With attractions remaining open until mid-October, you won’t be missing out on anything compared to the busier summer months, whether you want to tour ancient sites, sample the country’s cuisine, or take in the landscapes and unique culture of Cappadocia.
Don't miss: Treasures of Turkey: history, culture & beach
Flight time: 3¾ hours (Istanbul)
Time difference: UTC +3
September Temperature (Day): 9 to 30°C, depending on the region
September rainfall: 2 to 85mm, varies by region
Wildflowers, rising temperatures and active wildlife herald the beginning of spring in Argentina. September sees fewer visitors than later months, and if you don’t mind slightly cooler temperatures, you’ll find plenty to see and do and a wide choice of places to stay.
In Buenos Aires, jacaranda trees start to bloom, and many sights will be crowd-free. You could also head to slower-paced Mendoza for some wine tasting — the region’s particularly known for its Malbec. Elsewhere, you can see southern right whales off the Peninsula Valdes, as well as a large number of Magellan penguins along the shoreline.
Don't miss: Argentina's wildlife: Peninsula Valdes, the wetlands & Iguazu
Flight time: 15¼ hours (Buenos Aires)
Time difference: UTC -3
September Temperature (Day): 8 to 31°C, depending on the region
September rainfall: 10 to 117mm, varies by region