When it comes to travel breaks, Europe is hugely diverse – in every corner lurks a culture to discover, a picturesque landscape to explore or a beautiful historical building to unearth. If you’re someone who likes to escape the crowds then September is the ideal time to visit, and if you’re some one who really likes to escape the crowds then it’s also best to avoid all the usual tourist haunts. Here are our whole team’s choices for the best European under-the-radar destinations to visit in September…
Becky – Cascais, Portugal
While most head to the Algarve, coastal towns further up the North coast of Portugal are often overlooked. This is one of my favourite places in the beautiful Mediterranean country and September is arguably one of the best times to visit. The summer crowds (mainly consisting of locals, not Brits abroad types thankfully!) would have dispersed and you’ll be left to explore the sleepy little fishing village turned chic coastal resort mostly to yourself. Glorious beaches and sophisticated nightlife aside, the area has been eternally popular with artisans, writers, and artists who come to admire its inspiring and exquisite scenery. Meander down winding lanes lined with designer boutiques leading to small museums, immaculate gardens and glorious old town architecture and then take a stroll to the shiny new marina brimming with yachts which shimmer and glisten in the beautiful bright sunshine.
Beth – Cortona, Tuscany, Italy
My choice for a September break away from the crowds is the beautiufl commune of Cortona located in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany. One of my favourite places in Italy, it’s the main cultural and artistic hub of the wonderfully unspoilt province so has a very distinctive – and very cool – arty vibe (which I absolutely adore)! It’s also one of the oldest hill towns in Tuscany and even features in the Francis Mayes book Under the Tuscan Sun. A place where most tourists overlook in favour of Florence or Pisa, I love to visit, soak up the peace and tranquillity and watch the world go by. As well as gorgeous surrounding scenery, the medieval streets make a very pleasant place to wander and you’ll also be rewarded with fabulous views of the countryside along the historic town walls.
Lee – Povlja, Island of Brač, Croatia
Although Croatia is an increasingly popular destination with tourists but there are still many places in this beautiful timeless country where you can easily escape the crowds. Povlja – a small harbour town nestled on the northern coastline of the island of Brac – in one such place. Located in a deep cove and steeped in history, the town is known for its ancient Roman ship remains and a Basillica dating from the 5th century. With its traditional houses, a fine beach and a gorgeous harbour, it’s also very easy on the eye and was once declared the most beautiful destination to visit in Croatia.
This is one of my favourite towns of the French Riviera and would make a wonderful place to visit in September. Here an ancient citadel is brought to new life as a stunning seaside resort with stretches of golden sand and glistening blue warm water. A cobbled town square acts as a central thoroughfare for the many side streets with shops selling everything from locally designed craft, boutiques opened by aspiring designers and artisan bakeries at every turn. The famous ‘Cap d’Antibes’ is much lorded throughout literature and there is a something truly overwhelming about schlepping along the same cobbled streets as Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Hemingway and of course, Churchill who was partial to getting away from it all in Antibes. A string of restaurants throw up their canopies after dark along the city walls and if you’re lucky enough, you might be invited to one of the famous yacht parties that revel under the twinkling fairy lights of the harbour, just under the watchful eye of the majestic Le Nomade statue.
Scott – Killarney National Park, Ireland
I was and raised in the UK but I lived in Ireland many years and have since returned to start a new life again here. It’s on my second term of residence that I have truly become to appreciate what a wonderfully beautiful place Ireland is and would even go as far as saying its home to some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world. One of my favourite places, where the tourist masses don’t roam and would make a unique September escape, is the wonderful Killarney National Park. Sprawling gracefully over 10,236 hectares and known for its ancient oak woods, rolling mountains, panoramic views and the country’s only wild herd of native red deer, the sublime area boasts such idyllic fairy tale attractions such as Ross Castle, Muckross House and my personal favourite the magnificent Torc Waterfall.
Gary – Nas, Ikaria, Greece
With temperatures still reaching highs of 27 degrees, Greece is always eternally popular for a September break but for a truly under-the-radar break makes sure you eschew the package holiday favourites like Kos and Crete and head to Ikaria instead. Located in the eastern Aegean, it has a reputation for left-field quirkiness and Nas, on its north-west coast, has quite an alternative feel to it – perfect for us arty types! Almost completely sheltered by unique rock formations, the wonderful bay conceals a small pebble and sand beach at the end of a river canyon. History fans will love the crumbling remains of the Temple of Artemis and with only 50 villages in total, the pace of life exudes a timeless and almost otherworldly aura – wonderful! You may also like other unspoilt places in Greece.
Holly – Smogen, Sweden
I’m a huge fan of all things Scandinavian and my choice for a beautiful under-the-radar break in September would be West Sweden, and in particular the gorgeous island of Smogen. Scandinavians have always loved holidaying here but just recently it’s also piquing the interest of visitors further afield too. The West Swedish coast is made up of 150 miles of fjords and little inlets, dotted with 8,000 islands and is a vastly underrated travel destination. Smogen is an easy-on-the-eye holiday town home to a superb collection of boutique restaurant and shops, a wonderful crop of surrounding Pink Granite rocks and a collection of impossibly picturesque clap-board fishing huts all washed down with a plentiful supply of fresh salty sea air.
Al – Fornalutx, Majorca
Although Majorca is often associated with major tourist resorts it’s still possible to escape the crowds if you know where to go. A place I would recommend for a sunny September break is Fornalutx located in the much more peaceful north of the island. Nestled between two mountains high above the town of Soller, Fornalutx is known to be one of the prettiest and most unspoilt villages in Spain. Offering a taste of traditional Mallorcan life, this peaceful place is about as far away as you can get from the beer swilling crowds. Expect saffron-coloured cottages and gorgeous stone cobbled streets surrounded by lush orange groves and beautiful mountain views making it a perfect and still very warm place to take a European break in September. Enjoy!