Pleasant temperatures, fewer tourists, and shoulder-season deals make October a great time to travel to a large swath of the globe. Since you can’t go everywhere (sad, I know), we’ve pinpointed a few of the optimal spots. From vineyard-hopping in France to whale-shark-spotting in the Seychelles, the following destinations and experiences belong on your October travel list.
(If you prefer to know which destinations are ideal for booking in any given month, see our Where to Book Now series, and don’t miss our comprehensive guide to the benefits of booking early.)
Autumn in Kyoto brings cooler air and bright red maples, magnificent to behold alongside Zen gardens and royal villas. —Scott Gilman, Trusted Travel Expert for Japan
Big Island, Hawaii
October is the choicest month for the Big Island, as the weather is driest—with daytime temperatures hovering around 85 degrees—and the crowds are thin, so prices are lower. (The only thing it’s not an ideal time for is surfing.) —Jay Johnson, Trusted Travel Expert for Hawaii
In September and October, the blistering summer heat abates and cultural events pick up, with festivals, theater shows, and concerts. —Virginia Irurita, Trusted Travel Expert for Spain
New York City
Right after Columbus Day weekend is prime time in New York City. The locals are back from their summer vacations and the city is buzzing along, business as usual. In October, park woodlands and tree-lined promenades are dressed in warm, rich colors, and the fall exhibitions have been open for a few weeks, so lines have shortened. —Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Tours
Utah’s National Parks
Spring and September (post-Labor Day) through October are best: The temperatures are generally moderate and the crowds thin.
—Marty Behr and Mark Campbell, Trusted Travel Expert for National Parks and California
Read Marty and Mark’s Insider’s Guide to Bryce, Zion, Arches: Utah’s National Parks and reach out to Marty and Mark to get the best possible trip.
The chaos of harvest is over and the grapes are in, which means there’s still lots of activity in the wineries, since the wines are fermenting and the vinification is in full throe, but the winemakers themselves have a little more time to spend with visitors. It’s also the prettiest time: The leaves on the vines turn yellow and gold, and you realize why they call it the Côte d’Or (the golden slopes). And beyond the wines, it’s the most interesting time for seasonal produce: Mushrooms and squashes complement wild game in the menus of the local restaurants. —Jack Dancy, Trusted Travel Expert for France
Rome is best in October, when the weather is still warm but you don’t need to wait in line for an outside table in the city’s iconic piazze. The first ten days of November are wonderful, too. Marked by the Feast Days of San Martino (named for the patron saint of winemakers) and celebrated by the nineteenth-century poet Giovanni Pascoli as a brief return to summer, these days are always sunny and mild, and yet they fall in the slow season, which means cheaper hotel rates and flights. —Paul Bennett, Trusted Travel Expert for Cultural City Tours
Amalfi Coast, Italy
October is when the throngs of cruise-ship passengers have thinned, hotel prices have dropped (a little), there’s still plenty of sun, and the sea is still warm enough for swimming. —Andrea Grisdale, Trusted Travel Expert for Italy
Austria’s Danube Valley
October is at the end of peak season, there’s gorgeous fall scenery, and it’s harvest time in the vineyards, which means that the Heuriger (wine taverns) are especially fun and lively and you’ll probably get to try new wines. More important, especially for wine buffs, many of the smaller (and better) Heurigers aren’t open year-round, but they’re all open in October. —Gwen Kozlowski, Trusted Travel Expert for Eastern Europe
Athens is sunny almost year-round, but the Greek Islands too are balmy and lovely in October: The outdoor tavernas are empty of crowds but not yet closed for winter, the sea is still warm enough for swimming, and the beaches are blissfully empty. —Christos Stergiou, Trusted Travel Expert for Greece
St. Petersburg, Russia
October through May are the ideal months in St. Petersburg. That’s when the cruise ships are gone, theater is in season, and local children are in school. Russia does cold better than hot—imagine shuffling through the Hermitage in 90-degree heat with tens of thousands of other tourists. If you just can’t bear chilly weather (St. Petersburg is about as cold as New York City in the winter), October is the month to go. —Greg Tepper, Trusted Travel Expert for Russia
October represents a nice balance of great weather (not too hot and little to no rain) and great value (since many of the resorts still have low-season rates). It’s also the best month for snorkeling and diving with whale sharks. —Lindsey Wallace, Trusted Travel Expert for Maldives, Seychelles, and the United Arab Emirates
September is the perfect month for camel trekking, but October is when you can attend the one-of-a-kind Golden Eagle Festival—a colorful celebration of Kazakh hunting tradition in the Altai Mountains. October is also a good time of year to witness the legendary nomadic migration from Darkhad to Lake Hovsgol. —Jalsa Urubshurow, Trusted Travel Expert for Mongolia
China is huge, of course, and has a wide array of weather patterns, depending on location and elevation. But for a classic China itinerary, October is hard to beat: Skies are blue in Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi’an, and temperatures are so agreeable you won’t need heat or air-conditioning. —Mei Zhang, Trusted Travel Expert for China
Read Mei’s Insider’s Guide to China’s Big Cities and Small Villages and reach out to Mei to get the best possible trip.
Since the monsoons hit northern, central, and southern Vietnam at different times, weather across Vietnam varies widely. If your goal is to travel throughout the country, the driest months to visit are October and March. Fall (October through December) is when you’ll find the best weather conditions in Ho Chi Minh City and the south. —Andrea Ross, Trusted Travel Expert for Southeast Asia