September is a wonderful time to go on a vacation. After Labor Day weekend and before fall sets in, temperatures become more pleasant in destinations such as the Mediterranean, and with kids back in school, there are fewer crowds and better deals.
Here are the seven of the best places to travel in September.
Alaska is beautiful in September. Fall comes early, and you could see the first dusting of snow on the mountains as the forests and tundra take on hues of scarlet, orange, and yellow.
Bears are fattening up on berries for the winter, while whales and dolphins are still present in the Inside Passage. You could even see the first aurora of the season dancing across the sky in September.
Alaska is a paradise for lovers of the outdoors. Hike, mountain bike, and kayak around Ketchikan in the vast Tongass National Forest. Take the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway from Skagway to learn about the harsh conditions faced by prospectors in the Gold Rush.
Get up close to the mighty Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, or join a food tour to sample local specialties, from fresh salmon to king crab. Fly down one of the world’s fastest ziplines in Icy Strait Point, or hike alongside the Spasski River in search of bears.
Head to the tropics as the heat of summer fades for a blissful beach break in the Bahamas. Nassau, the capital of the island chain, is packed with shops and galleries, as well as grand colonial-era architecture. Browse the Straw Market for crafts and try fresh conch fritters, the local specialty.
Bimini is less sleepy than its dreamy beaches might suggest when it comes to high-adrenaline activities. You can snorkel with black-tipped reef sharks and hand-feed stingrays at Honeymoon Harbor.
Go sport fishing, or snorkel over the Sapona wreck, now colonized by colorful marine life. You could head out on a fishing boat to learn about conch diving, or simply snooze in a hammock under the shade of a coconut palm.
There are more thrills at the award-winning CocoCay, where you’ll find Daredevil’s Tower, the tallest waterslide in North America, as well as the biggest wave pool in the Caribbean. Be as active or as lazy as you like here; perhaps the serene overwater cabanas beckon for a day of indulgence.
September is when trees begin to take on their dazzling fall colors, transforming the green forests into shades of gold, scarlet, and yellow. Visit Rockland, the self-styled “lobster capital of the world”, for succulent lobster rolls and claws dripping in melted butter.
From here, you can take a day trip to pretty Camden, a coastal village packed with independent shops and galleries, yachts bobbing in the harbor. Or join a culinary tour to sample local cheeses, pastries, and craft beer, as well as the ubiquitous lobster.
Portland, too, is an enchanting coastal town dating back to 1632. It’s famed for its lighthouses, historic brick buildings, and rugged coastline that stretches away under vast skies.
Visit the iconic Portland Head Light, which has warned sailors off the rocks since 1791, and the Portland Museum of Art, housing a captivating collection of art from Europe and the U.S.
Explore the cobblestone streets of the Old Port district downtown for seafood restaurants and craft breweries as well as shopping. Or take a trip to nearby Kennebunkport, a chic Victorian village famed for art, antiques, dining, and its association with the Bush family.
Italy is still deliciously warm in September—and the sea has had the whole summer to warm up. Take a tour of the gelato-colored Cinque Terre, a string of tiny villages connected only by train and hiking trails. Stop for a refreshing dip after a stroll and a paper cone of fritto misto, or fried seafood, the local specialty.
Explore beautiful Florence, packed with Renaissance art, or cycle around the ramparts of medieval Lucca. Look out for porcini mushrooms on restaurant menus—they’re in season in September. From the lovely old city of Trieste, take a trip to dreamy Venice to explore the canals, many lined with elegant old palaces.
From Naples, join a tour to Pompeii to see how people lived in 79AD. The ancient town has been perfectly preserved under the ash from the cataclysmic eruption of Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago and is still being excavated today.
Rome, of course, is beautiful at any time of year; make time to visit the Vatican and the Colosseum, and throw a coin into the baroque Trevi Fountain to ensure your return to the Eternal City one day.
Greece is one of the best places to visit in September, which enjoys an extended summer thanks to its southerly location in Europe. The sea is at its best for swimming and the crowds of the summer are beginning to thin out.
Explore Santorini’s craggy volcanic beauty as you admire the blue-domed churches in pretty Oia or find the perfect restaurant for lunch with jaw-dropping views across the sapphire caldera.
Enjoy some beach time in Mykonos and wander the streets of picture-perfect Mykonos Town, the whitewashed buildings festooned with vibrant bougainvillea. Lose yourself in the tangle of streets inside the chunky walls of Rhodes Town, and marvel at the Grand Master’s Palace, built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century.
Spend time in Athens, which sprawls over seven hills, the gleaming Parthenon at its center. Visit the outstanding New Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum, then stop for mezze on a vine-shaded terrace in pretty Plaka, the quaint neighborhood in the shadow of Acropolis Hill.
Spain is still hot and sunny in September, making this a great month to travel. Explore the imaginative architecture in Barcelona, a city famous for the works of architect Antoni Gaudi, one of its most famous sons.
Book ahead for the extraordinary Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished basilica, and make sure to get a pass to ascend one of the tall, slender towers for breathtaking views across the city and the Mediterranean beyond.
Spend time in the Picasso Museum, housed in a grand, 16th-century palace, and head to fashionable Barceloneta, the former fishing quarter, for lunch on the beach.
There’s more for Picasso fans in Málaga, where the artist was born, and where his work is showcased in the Museo Picasso Málaga. You’ll find an outpost of France’s Centre Pompidou here, too, with an impressive collection of contemporary art.
There’s plenty more to do; head into the mountains to explore the whitewashed pueblos blancos, historic hill towns barely touched by modern life. Or take a day trip to Granada to gaze in wonder at the Alhambra, one of the world’s finest examples of Moorish architecture.
Seville flaunts its supermodel looks in September, with tapas bars spilling out onto shaded squares and al fresco bars all along the Guadalquivir River. Visit the beautiful Real Alcazar palace and wander along the sun-dappled trails of Maria Luisa Park.
The Balearic Islands are one of the best places to visit in September, too. Ibiza’s famous beach clubs, with DJs spinning tunes all day, are still in full swing.
In neighboring Mallorca, head to the golden-hued mountain town of Soller by vintage train to taste island wines and olive oil, or explore the Olivar Market in Palma, where pop-up restaurants and tapas bars offer the freshest local produce to try on the spot.
With temperatures hovering between the high 70s and mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit, Cozumel, located just off the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, is one of the best places to visit in September.
This Mexican island is one of the best diving destinations in the world. Whether you’re a beginner or a certified diver, throw on some scuba gear and head underwater to witness a kaleidoscope of coral and an abundance of marine life, including moray eels, sea turtles, and stingrays in the various reefs.
If you prefer snorkeling at your leisure, don a mask and take the plunge from El Cielo Beach in the south of the island. Otherwise, sign up for a diving tour with a certified guide to reach some of the island’s deeper reefs.
Cozumel has no shortage of pristine white-sand beaches. The stretch of sand at Punta Sur Eco Beach Park and El Cielo Beach are standout options with crystal-clear waters and palm tree-flanked shores.
Discover the oldest of Cozumel’s Mayan ruins in El Cedral, located not far from El Cielo Beach. Here you’ll find the remains of a temple dating back to 800 A.D. in the center of the village. While in Downtown Cozumel, head to a local restaurant and chow down on a fresh bowl of zingy ceviche.
Tokyo (Yokohama), Japan
While most travelers plan to visit Japan during the country’s famed cherry blossom season, September is an equally good time to visit Tokyo. In September, summer’s humidity has fizzled away, while the temperature remains mild and colorful bursts of auburn and yellow foliage begin to appear around the city.
Journey to Lake Ashi for eye-popping views of Japan’s tallest mountain, the snow-capped Mount Fuji. Jump on the Komagatake Ropeway gondola in Hakone for some of the best views of the sacred volcano, the gorgeous lake, surrounding forest-covered mountains, hot springs, and lakeside shrines.
Tokyo is a glorious juxtaposition of fast-paced and peaceful with neon-lit skyscrapers, high-tech electronics, and funky pop culture melding with Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, and tranquil Zen gardens. Explore some of the city’s top attractions, including the vermillion-red Sensō-ji Buddhist temple, Meiji Shinto shrine, the Imperial Palace, and its vast public gardens.
Cross the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, Tokyo’s answer to Times Square, and explore Harajuku, the central district serving up a heady dose of colorful Japanese pop culture with an abundance of fashion boutiques and cafes.
For a fun and immersive experience, head to the city’s Toyosu fish market, which replaced the historic Tsukiji market in 2018, and observe the live tuna auction that takes place from the viewing deck.
It’s the largest wholesale fish market in the world with plenty of restaurants and food outlets serving fresh-off-the-boat fish in sushi, sashimi, and delicate tempura. You’ll also find steaming bowls of thick udon noodles, tofu-topped miso soup, and umami-laden yakitori.
Top a day of sightseeing off with a visit to the almost 11,000-foot-tall Tokyo Tower, an orange and white-striped communications and observation tower in the center of the city, where you can appreciate this dizzying megalopolis.
Situated between Aruba and Bonaire, Curaçao forms part of the chain of ABC Islands, located off the coast of Venezuela. Although September is considered off-season in Curaçao, the month still enjoys a warm and sunny climate, and typically escapes the fury of hurricane season, making it one of the best times to visit.
Curaçao’s capital, Willemstad, is divided into two halves—Otrobanda and Punda—that are easily explored on foot. The city has a distinctly Dutch feel, which you’ll notice in street names and the gabled, waterfront architecture in Handelskade.
Admire the pretty row of colorful lime-green, burnt-orange, candyfloss-pink, and mustard-yellow buildings, and cross the 1888-built Queen Emma pontoon bridge, known as the Swinging Old Lady. You’ll find souvenir vendors, jewelry stores, restaurants, and cafes clustered around both sides of the waterfront.
One of the best things to do in Curaçao is to take a deep dive into the history of Willemstad at the 17th-century Fort Amsterdam, home to the Governor’s Palace, Fort Church, and a museum. At the nearby floating market, feast your eyes on wooden boats piled high with tropical fruits, such as fresh and juicy watermelon, papaya, pineapple, and coconuts; an array of colorful vegetables, and fresh fish.
Pack your swimsuit as Curaçao is home to glorious beaches aplenty. With palm trees draped over pure-white sand and luscious turquoise Caribbean water, Mambo Beach is as idyllic as it is lively. Just south of the center, you’ll find beach bars, watersports, and the Curaçao Sea Aquarium at one end of the strip. Snap up a sun lounger and sip on the island’s signature bitter orange-flavored liqueur, Blue Curaçao.
Bliss out on Blue Bay Beach, a pretty cove just north of Willemstad with excellent facilities, including guided diving, snorkeling, and boat tours. If your beach style is quiet and peaceful, head to the north of Curaçao and kick back on Knip Beach. This gorgeous spot is backed by lush jungle and a lagoon, and features a kiosk for refreshments and shallow water that is perfect for swimming.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
While there is never a wrong time to visit this magical Ecuadorian archipelago, the Galapagos Islands are among the best places to travel to in September when the region boasts a cool and dry climate and feverish wildlife activity.
Lying roughly 620 miles off South America in the Pacific Ocean, some of the main islands (there are 127 in total) include Baltra, Santa Cruz, Rabida, Santiago, Isabela, Bartolome, Genovesa, and Fernandina.
In Black Turtle Cove, Santa Cruz, look out for crab-covered volcanic rocks, sharks, and sea turtles. Visit Las Bachas, the island’s pristine chalk-white sandy beach that’s a nesting ground for Pacific green sea turtles. Kick back on the soft sand and swim in the delicious turquoise water.
Spot sea lions and a nesting colony of pelicans on the red-hued shore of Rabida Island. Pack your snorkel gear for Santiago Island and swim down to witness schools of tropical fish and sea turtles. Soak up Santiago’s awe-inspiring wildlife on land and in the air, too, including marine iguanas, Galapagos hawks, and the show-stopping Galapagos fur seals.
In Tagus Cove, soak up the spectacular scenery of Isabela—the largest island in the Galapagos—including the shimmering turquoise-tinged Darwin Lake. Isabela is not without its share of magnificent Galapagos wildlife, too. There, you’ll encounter penguins, sea lions, sea turtles, and nesting native flightless cormorants.
Fernandina is home to an abundance of dramatic black lava rocks and the Galapagos’ largest colony of marine iguanas. Have your camera ready for your arrival on Bartolome Island, where there’s an arresting luna-esque landscape, spectacular sea arches, and golden stretches of shoreline filled with grazing Galapagos penguins. On Genovesa Island, take off on an exhilarating hike from Darwin Bay through tropical mangroves to find nesting red-footed boobies among the unique birdlife.
The Galapagos is one of the best places to travel in September for its unrivaled wildlife. Look out for the yellow-beaked waved albatross, which can be spotted on Espanola and Genovesa islands during this period.
If you’re considering a post-Labor Day vacation, draw from our list of the seven best places to visit in September and check out Celebrity Cruises’ itineraries, which sail to these coveted destinations all over the world.
Browse our September cruise itineraries and book your next vacation today.