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Extensive descriptions of Polynesia provided by explorers such as Captain James Cook, piqued the imagination of Europeans long ago. While American lovebirds flock to resort-y islands such as Bora Bora for honeymoons, these romanticised lands pulsate with crashing waves, beating drums and the tap-tap- tapping of traditional dotwork tattooing.
Make like Macbeth with long walks across heather fields as the leaves turn crimson and amber, visiting dramatic castles such as the 13th-century Eilean Donan. Visits to the region’s many whisky distilleries, such as Talisker, are the perfect antidote to the cold and provide an excuse to stock up on the golden liquor for the cold winter months ahead.
Snigger you might, but Lanzarote isn’t all package holidays and boozy Brits. Head to the island’s wild northern landscapes for beautiful architecture, adrenaline-fuelled adventures and top-notch wine. For open-minded travellers chasing the sun, you could do a lot worse than this slice of Spain.
Seoul is not for the fainthearted, packed with high-rise buildings, 10-lane roads and frenetic 24-hour markets. Overload your senses in this sprawling (and very stylish) metropolis, before heading to the tranquility of Naejangsan Mountain at the centre of Naejangsan National Park, to marvel at the burnt oranges and reds of as its famed autumn foliage enters autumn.
During Oktoberfest, the entire city of Munich becomes a sea of rosy-cheeked merry-makers swaying and splashing their stein all over the place. The key to enjoying the festival is to plan ahead. Book your hotel well in advance as they fill up quickly, and ideally stay near the city centre as you never want to be too far away from a beer hall (or your bed). Dates change each year.
Few things come close to sampling a glass of Bordeaux right there in the very place at which it was made. Take your pick from over 100,000 vineyards scattered across southern France, where winding roads, beautiful bucolic scenery and mild weather offer a pretty unbeatable weekend away.
As if inebriated by its star export of port, days pass by at a leisurely pace in Lisbon’s rawer sibling, while the young, ambitious population is raring to go. Described by those in the know as a gastronomic playground, it’s the perfect place to dip between dimly lit taverns sampling traditional delights such as bolinhos de bacalhau (codfish pastries) before heading to a local bar.
October is best month to visit this timeless city, when the crowds have largely dissipated but the weather remains balmy – bare legs and alfresco Aperol are still very much order of the day. You don’t need us to tell you all the sights you need to tick off if it’s your first time in town, but you may need help finding the best local places to eat and drink.
Bhutan preserves an air of magic and mystery, despite being sandwiched between the rapidly developing powerhouses of India and China. It was the last nation to turn on the TV in 1999; it is the only country with a national park devoted to preserving the natural habitat of the yeti, and its government shuns international franchises such as Starbucks and McDonalds. Start in the capital of Thimphu, then head out to explore the Buddhist temples which dot the Himalayas.
Sometimes, all you want is a good beach. While the Maldives may be the name on many of your friends’ (honeymoon) lists, we like Mauritius not only for it’s icing-sugar beaches but also for its colourful cuisine and character, while the capital of Port Louis boasts some local markets to explore if you get itchy feet on your sun lounger.
The Taiwanese capital may not have the soaring skyscrapers of Hong Kong nor the neon skyline of Shanghai. But when it comes to art, architecture and style, the city boasts some serious aesthetic credentials, with a cool factor that’s hard to find elsewhere – and that’s before we’ve mentioned the street food. Visit in October when the temperatures are cooler yet still ambient, then hop over to the Penghu Islands to relax.
If you can’t quite accept that summer is over in Europe, book a last-minute break to this volcanic archipelago off Africa’s west coast. With a range of islands to choose from depending on your likes – kitesurfing, partying, solitude – there really is something to suit all. Boavista is a firm favourite, with soft sands, sweeping vistas and colourful houses set off by a mint-hued sea.
Tucked in the rolling hills of southwest England just a 90-minute train ride from London is the picturesque city of Bath, ever immortalised in the pages of Jane Austen novels. Offering a quintessential micro-break pick-me-up between summer and Christmas, book a stay on the city’s most iconic street and spend a happy weekend wandering the cobbled streets of this Unesco World Heritage Site.
While island-hopping through Southeast Asia remains a common gap-year plan, Phu Quoc has remained relatively free from overexcited teens. Arrange a hike through the tropical greenery of the national park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, to look for rare species from silver langurs to brightly coloured hornbills. Explore Buddhist temples and sunbathe on secluded beaches hidden across the island’s north coast.
Miles of vineyards framed by arresting desert mountains form the alluring landscape of Valle de Guadalupe. Slowly creeping onto the radar of oenophiles across the globe, the area’s relatively new status as the latest wine hotspot is accompanied by an unpretentious, low-key atmosphere. Soak up the sunshine and wander through vineyards at your own pace, or drive to the mountains to trek up rugged terrain and admire views of lush fields across the valley. The annual Valle Food & Wine Festival takes place at the beginning of October. Live music, Baja artisan stalls, food trucks and, of course, wine make for a varied trip that will show you a different side to Mexico.
Just off Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, Korčula offers Adriatic charm in the form of quaint villages, endless vineyards and dazzling ocean vistas. The sixth-largest Croatian island, Korčula combines modern restaurants, glitzy hotels and picture-perfect beaches with ancient architecture, Byzantine relics and age-old traditions. Spend days wandering around the Old Town, ogling at gothic architecture and brushing up on ancient history before heading to any of the island’s beaches to sip Croatian wine overlooking the sea.
Although it’s remote location at the very tip of Long Island has earned it the ominous moniker “The End”, Montauk is far from sinister. With six sprawling state parks, more than 5,000 acres of pristine beaches and some of the best seafood in the US, Montauk a must for lovers of the great outdoors. Rise with the sun and head straight for one of Montauk’s beaches to spend the morning surfing (read: falling off the board) and drying off on the warm white sand. Spend afternoons exploring the nearby hamlet, stopping by farmers markets and hiking through Montauk Point State Park. Come in the autumn (or should we say fall) when crowds have returned to the Big Apple but the weather is still warm and sunny.
Known as the “hidden heart of Europe”, Brno is garnering well-deserved recognition as a charming city-break destination. Mornings should be spent eating pastries and sipping coffee in Náměstí Svobody, the city’s main square, where locals gather beneath traditional Czech townhouses for morning chitchat. Stroll around Brno’s centre, where cosy cafés are sandwiched between towering cathedrals and crumbling churches. Come evening, slip down side streets to find intimate wine bars hidden inside modernist Czech architecture. Come in autumn as the city’s parks fill with colour – October is when the Moravian Autumn festival and the Exposition of New Music runs, with orchestras and concerts from across Europe playing.
What’s happening in the world in October?
21 September – 6 October: Oktoberfest, Germany
25 September – 3 October: Paris Fashion Week, France
5-15 October 2018: ACL Music Festival, Austin, Texas
6-14 October 2018: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico, USA
31 October: Halloween, Europe and US
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