Sun-kissed: 10 ways to make it summer all year long
Got those end-of-summer blues? The best way to banish them is with the perfect autumn break. Here are 10 trips guaranteed to keep you in the holiday mood
Sunny autumn days in Kerala on the Malabar Coast. Photograph: Getty Images
Seasonal colour in Vermont. Photograph: Getty Images
The old quarter in Marseille. Photograph: Getty Images
Leaf peeping in New England
If there’s a bright side to autumn, it’s the flaming foliage. The sun may be sinking but the reds, golds and oranges are only just getting fired up in a part of the world where leaf gazing is a major tourist attraction. Hire a car and keep an eye on dedicated websites such as Yankee Foliage to find the most spectacular displays. Alternatively, sit back and enjoy the ride on one of New Hampshire’s Foliage Trains. Or make the most of the crisp, cool autumn air hiking and biking along traffic-free parts of the East Coast Greenway. Stick with a rural theme and stay in charming New England farms along the way, easily booked through Farm Stay US at an average of $125 (€93) a night for a double. At the time of writing Aer Lingus had return flights to Boston for under €700 in September.
yankeefoliage.com, foliagetrains.com, farmstayus.com, aerlingus.com
Rock on in Iceland
Think rock festivals are a summer phenomena? Think again. Iceland Airwaves, one of the world’s best known showcases for new music, takes place each October. Dubbed ‘the hippest long weekend in the annual music festival calendar’ by Rolling Stone, it takes over the centre of Reykjavik, with music fans flown in on special flights and ticket packages from around Europe. Artists who have previously played here include everyone from Florence to Fatboy Slim and the Flaming Lips, as well as local talent such as Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Ros and Bjork. And that’s just the music. An equally important part of the appeal is the chance to see geysers, waterfalls, lava fields and the world famous Blue Lagoon, where festival goers go to recover, en masse, in the milky blue waters of a thermal spring. Flights from the UK, and music venue passes will cost from £356 (€414) per person, excluding hotels, which will cost an around £800 (€930) for the four nights.
Forage for foliage in Italy
For spectacular autumnal scenes closer to home, make for Majella National Park in the Abruzzo region of Italy. This massive, mountainous nature reserve is one of the best preserved wildlife centres in Europe, with deer, wolves and bears a-roaming. In autumn, it’s the flora rather than the fauna that delights, as the mountains are swathed in a fiery blanket of oak, maple and beech trees all readying themselves for winter. By day, hike some of the park’s 500km trails, explore its Botanical Gardens and see the prehistoric cave art. By night take a guided wolf or bear tour. Wildlife & Wilderness has four-day breaks in the region, which is four hours by train from Rome, including half board accommodation, guided walks and rail tickets, from £495 (€574) per person.
Can’t lose cruise
For terrific all-in value, you just can’t beat a cruise. Not alone do you get all the regular hotel-like advantages of all-you-can-eat full board accommodation, but you get a different city in which to enjoy it every day. Right now, prices are great, too. E-travel.ie is currently offering a 10-night Mediterranean cruise on board Carnival’s Legend of the Seas from €879 for an inside cabin, rising to €959 for an outside one. For €250 more bag yourself a balcony and sit back and enjoy a ride that includes Venice, Kotor in Montenegro, Messina in Sicily, Naples, Rome, Florence, Marseille and Barcelona, departing 20th October. In between, enjoy on-board fun ranging from an 18-hole mini golf course to a giant rock climbing wall, plus all that food.
Off-season Turkey delights
September is a glorious time to visit Kas, on Turkey’s Lycian Coast. An archetypal fishing village it’s one of the few that has remained entirely unspoiled, even though temperatures will still be nudging 30 degrees and the turquoise sea will be at its warmest. The crowds, such as they are around here, are all gone, leaving the ancient archaeological sites and the hilltop trekking paths deserted. Find yourself a rocky nook overlooking the water at the super swish Deniz Feneri Lighthouse, heating up in the in-house hammam and cooling down with a swim to the pontoon. A public minibus service stops right outside the gate, so you can head into town with the local mums and their children, delighted with yourself for playing hooky. A week’s stay costs from £950 (€1,105 in September, including UK flights to Dalaman airport and transfers.
Catch rays on Île de Ré
The sandy island of Île de Ré attracts more sunshine than any other part of France including, as locals delight in telling you, the Cote d’Azur. While the mercury will have fallen from its summer high, September sees both air and water temperatures of around 20 degrees. Given the French penchant for strict holiday regimes (outside of August? Sacre bleu!) you can rest assured the beaches will be empty and the queues at the crêpe stands long gone. Often billed as France’s version of the US’s Hamptons, it’s practically mandatory to hire a bike here, criss-crossing the flat terrain on tracks that weave through farms and vineyards. Stay at boutique hotels such as Le Clos Saint Martin, in super chic St Martin de Ré, the island’s ochre coloured capital. Three nights B&B, including bicycles and spa treatments, costs €680 per person during September. At time of writing, Ryanair had one way flights from Dublin to nearby La Rochelle for just €26.
Kick back in Kerala
Make the most of the gap between the southwest and the northeast monsoons with a September break in the emerald state of Kerala in southern India. Though it’s the shoulder season in tourism terms, temperatures are much the same as they always are around here, a sultry 30 degrees. Stay in the Brunton Boatyard, a colonial style hotel in historic Cochin, where fishing boats glide past so close you can hear the fish flapping. Try your hand at one of the town’s famous Chinese fishing nets, prehistoric looking contraptions of rope, wood and stone that line the riverbanks. Soak up the unique blend of English, Portuguese and Dutch influences in the Old Town, enjoy a cookery demo from the hotel chef, or a synchronised mirror massage – conducted by two masseurs - in the hotel’s Ayurvedic centre. Doubles from €720 a week, B&B, with September flights from Etihad available from around €900 return.
Take a grape break in Italy
In Tuscany the wine flows with particularly Bacchanalian abandon in autumn. At the Chianti Classico Wine Festival, on the second weekend of September in Greve, visitors buy a wine glass for a tenner when they arrive and spend the rest of their time filling it up for free at various tasting stalls. In Panzano the following week it’s time for the Vino al Vino Chianti Wine Festival, followed by, in Impruneta, the Chianti Grape Harvest Festival, which takes place on the last Sunday of September. In keeping with your theme, stay at the Vignamaggio, a beautiful wine estate in the Chianti countryside that also happens to be the former home of the Mona Lisa. Now we know what she had to smile about. Doubles from €150 a night. Ryanair flights from Dublin to Pisa are currently priced at around €113 return for the end of September.
vignamaggio.it, greve-in-chianti.com, ryanair.com
Less crowded Croatia
Dubrovnik’s Old Town is gorgeous but jammers in summer time, while hotel prices soar with the temperatures. For both reasons, autumn is by far the better time to go. Click and Go has four-day stays in Dubrovnik, staying at the Adriatic, a two-star hotel, from €299, including flights, transfers and breakfast. Departures take place on October 10th and 17th, when temperatures will have fallen to around 14 degrees, perfect for exploring the city on foot. Alternatively, take a posher option and stay at the five-star Grand Villa Argentina Hotel, with terrific views out over the sea, and weekends from €364 for a double in October. Aer Lingus, which mothballs the route for winter, is currently around €100 each way for October flights.
Leg it to Lisbon
If you thought Portugal was just for summer, think again. At just two-and-a-half hours flight time, it’s the perfect option for a short autumn break. There is also so much more to it than gorgeous beaches, which are, admittedly, even more gorgeous when the bucket and spade brigade has flown home. Whether you’re looking for just such a seascape, a city break in lively Lisbon or a chance to get back to nature in the Sintra Cascais National Park, the Lisbon Coast has something for everyone and all within easy reach. Concorde Travel has breaks for September and October. These include seven nights at the Hotel Quinta de Marinha – a good golfing hotel in Cascais – on a B&B basis, from €599 per person, guaranteed to keep your serotonin levels up until spring.