October has arrived — and what a month we have in store! From lively beer festivals to moonlit parties and spooky celebrations, spring in the Southern Hemisphere and fall in the Northern Hemisphere are officially in full swing. With many of us looking for insight into off-peak travel, we’ve taken a look at the best places to visit in October. So, if you’re itching to get away this month or looking for some inspiration for future spring or fall time endeavors, you’ve come to the right place. Balmy breezes, vibrant festivities, blooming flowers, and golden nature trails are calling. Let’s go!
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Located on the outskirts of Triglav National Park in northwest Slovenia, the beloved fairytale-like town of Lake Bled is quiet following the end of the region’s peak tourist season. Despite possible smatterings of rain and fog, the lake is as picturesque during October as it is at any time of year ― particularly so on a clear-skied day when the autumnal leaves dazzle in all their golden glory. Take the leisurely hour-long walk around Lake Bled’s perimeter, soaking in the sights with a camera in hand.
Hop aboard the Pletna boat to Bled Island to see the remarkable 16th-century church up close, and make a wish at the “wishing bell.” You can also head up to Bled Castle for magical views of the lake below, which remains pristine and undisturbed thanks to regulations against motorized boats. The hills surrounding Lake Bled are ideal for hiking, with a notable walk being through the nearby Blekski Vintgar Gorge. For a quicker trek, hike up to Ojstrica Hill for memorable views. Finally, after a day’s worth of photo-taking, sightseeing, and hiking, make like a local and enjoy a Bled cream cake – it can’t be missed!
Hawaii, United States
If the cooler temperatures are getting you down, heading to Hawaii for a slice of paradise might be just what you need. August and September are Hawaii’s warmest months but come October, temperatures are still temperate. Because of lower travel costs following the peak season and fewer people, a trip to Hawaii in October is a no-brainer. Though rainfall levels are slightly higher in October than the summer months, daytime temperatures average in the high 80s F, meaning you will still be able to enjoy swimming, surfing, and lounging. In order to avoid the rain, opt to stay on the leeward side of the Hawaiian islands such as the Big Island. Bear in mind that showers generally occur at night.
Hotel rates in Hawaii drop significantly during October before rising again during the Christmas and New Year period, and cheaper airfares can also usually be found during this month. As well as beach-going, snorkeling, and hiking, be sure to check out a few of the island’s festivities this month. The annual Hawaii Food and Wine Festival covers multiple islands over three weekends. Head to the Maui Fair for local cuisine, entertainment, art exhibitions, and competitions. Catch the kooky Coconut Festival on Kauai, which honors the humble coconut with eating contests, food competitions and demonstrations, crafts, and activities.
If you want to experience one of the most popular lakeside towns in Austria but aren’t too keen on the crowds, a visit to Hallstatt during October will tick all of the boxes. Experience the town’s charm and grandiose outdoors at a fraction of the usual price, along with striking golden foliage and snow-capped mountain peaks. While temperatures can still be warm, you might encounter a few chilly days. However, a trip to Hallstatt at this time of year offers the perfect opportunity to get out and savor the countryside before the bone-chilling winter sets in. Take advantage of the autumn breezes and go paragliding off the mountain tops, a surreal experience as you glide serenely over the hilltops dotted in hues of yellow, red, and green. Visit the oldest salt mines in the world (and remember to bring a jacket — it gets cold down there!) or set out on a variety of different hikes and trails in Obertraun suited to any level of hiking enthusiast. Allocate at least half a day to explore the town before visiting magical ice caves, centuries-old mining tunnels, or taking a day-trip to the Grünberg on Lake Traun.
Koh Phangan, Thailand
Many people may be put-off when they hear the phrase “rainy season,” however, this month makes for a truly great time to visit Thailand. During October, temperatures drop slightly though days are still warm with lower levels of humidity. While there is the odd chance of a monsoon rolling through, November is typically a much wetter month than October with more constant rainfall. Those undeterred by October’s slightly fickle weather and who are looking to experience a bit of debauchery under the full moon are in for some great bargains in Koh Phangan.
With lower costs thanks to fewer tourists, northern Thailand’s Koh Phangan and surrounding islands offer a healthy mix of relaxation and lively night-long parties. Along the crescent-shaped beach of Haad Rin is where you’ll want to head come October 14th for the infamous Full Moon Party. Join between 10,000 and 30,000 other avid partiers from all over the world, and slather yourself in UV paint before dancing the night away beneath a firework-filled sky for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Throughout the rest of your trip (and post-recovery from an epic night out) you might want to gorge yourself on delicious Thai food at the Thong Sala Night Market or go diving at Sail Rock to see manta rays and whale sharks. You can also choose to hike up Khao Ra or catch a marvelous sunset — just to name a few other activities!
The Dolomites, Italy
For lovers of hiking and cycling, a vacation to northern Italy’s Dolomites ranges should be on your radar for the month of October. Fall in the Alps means breathtaking scenery including mountain peaks against cloudless skies, shimmering crystal-clear water, green valleys, and golden trees. The air is a lot drier at this time of year compared to the earlier months of the year, allowing far-stretching views among the peaks. Immerse yourself in all that Mother Nature has to offer in this region with a variety of different hikes and cycling trails. Delve into landscape photography or learn of the region’s rich history of mountain traditions hundreds of years old. You may want to hire a car (bear in mind that you will need an EU driving permit), which is a much-loved way of experiencing the Dolomites since it gives you the freedom to explore the vistas at your own time and pace as you whiz by sprawling meadows and quaint towns. When packing for an autumn trip to the Dolomites, remember to bring warm, layered clothing in order to battle the brisk morning and evening temperatures and quickly changing weather patterns. Also, don’t forget to don proper walking boots for safety and comfort.
Although a large portion of the rifugi, or mountain chalets, will be closed at this time of year, don’t let this deter you, as there are a number of options that stay open year-round. Small, family-operated hotels dot the region, scattered among the towns and villages of the Dolomites. All of them will have lower rates this month. For the best options for hotels, shops, and restaurants, your best bet is to stay in the Val Gardena — any three of the towns in this area makes for a great base. Although often overlooked, October is a truly spectacular time to visit northern Italy as long as you know how to prepare. If you’re looking to reconnect with nature this month, the Dolomites are your gateway there.
Fall is a great time to visit Mexico, as temperatures drop slightly, crowds dissipate, and children head back to school. The rainy season is coming to an end this month, meaning visitors are offered luscious vegetation and delicious seasonal dishes without having to contend with too much rainfall. While there is the possibility of storms occurring during October (hurricane season is from June to November), chances of encountering one are slim ― though you’ll want to pack an umbrella and raincoat just in case. Due to the uncertain weather, rates for airfares and hotels drop significantly this month, meaning you can grab an off-season vacation for a real bargain.
Many people head to Mexico during October for the country’s vibrant festivities ― it’s a real chance to gain unique glimpses into the diverse Mexican culture. The much anticipated Day of the Dead (known as Día de Muertos in Spanish) is celebrated this month between October 31st and November 2nd. An annual celebration to honor deceased loved ones, this festival is a vibrant and colorful occasion where elaborately decorated altars are assembled to welcome the spirits, as well as sugar skulls and offerings laid out in the family home.
For those who wish to avoid the crowds and are looking for a more budget-friendly European escape this shoulder-season, Germany is a fantastic option. With the country seeing off the last of the lingering summer days amid the bright fall foliage, it’s a great opportunity to head out to Germany’s most picturesque spots without too many tourists. One of Germany’s most beautiful castles, Burg Eltz, is as enchanting as it is well-preserved. Hidden in the depths of the Eltz Forest, Burg Eltz allures visitors year-round. Admire its Medieval beauty and hike the woodland trails beyond its walls. Between April and November, you can also take guided tours inside the castle itself. The closest cities to Burg Eltz are Trier, Cologne, Mainz, and Frankfurt, which are all fewer than two hours away. This means you can easily take a day trip out to witness this magical fort.
Another highly acclaimed location is Neuschwanstein Castle. As one of Germany’s most-visited sites, attendance in October is your ticket to admiring its mystical beauty without the endless lines ― during this time of year, you might have the castle all to yourself. Don’t forget to check out the fairy bridge for an iconic photo of the castle, along with a hike up into the surrounding hills for shots of the turrets from afar. Stay in any of the surrounding towns or base yourself from Munich, which is only an hour and forty minutes away.
While the weather is mainly pleasant during October, some areas are a little chilly. However, the festivities around the country this month are bound to warm you up. Oktoberfest begins each year in September, continuing on for almost three weeks into the first week of October. While you can expect airfare and accommodation to rise again during this period, attending the largest folk festival in the world is a bucket-list opportunity and not one to be missed. Deck yourself out in traditional dress and join a whopping 6 million other people as you celebrate the unique Bavarian culture and delicious cuisine. A lesser-known festival ― though beloved all the same ― is the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, which is the largest of its kind in the world. Home to pumpkin boat racing (yes, you read that right), pumpkin carving, pumpkin smashing, pumpkin-inspired food and drinks, and live music, this quirky festival takes place on the spectacular grounds of the Ludwigsburg Palace.
While the weather is still arguably nippy in Tasmania during October, days are calm and sunny for the most part with the vibrant colors of spring sure to brighten up any day. If you want to avoid the heat of summer, springtime makes for great walking, hiking, and biking conditions this month. You can find world-renowned trails and bushwalking tours within Southwest National Park at the very heart of Tasmania’s wilderness. Experience the park through kayaking excursions, short walks, hikes, and car rides through cool and dewy ancient rainforests. This month you’ll also be able to see vibrant tulips in bloom in the seaside town of Wynyard, which holds the annual Tulip Festival during mid-October. Welcoming spring in all its glory, the bright bursts of pink and orange carpet the land, with the festival itself celebrating arts, crafts, music, and culinary delights.
Rafting season on the Franklin River also begins this month, as winter snow begins to melt and floods into Lake St. Clair. This creates higher water levels and fast rapids, ideal for an exhilarating experience in a unique wilderness setting. October also makes for one of the best times of the year to sample delicious local Tasmanian produce; check out the month-long Devonport Food and Wine Festival where you can indulge in foodie events such as cooking classes and enticing local wine tasting.
Have you got any favorite places to travel to during the shoulder-season? Let us know in the comments below!
Header image by Jonas Verstuyft.