It’s not to late for a last-minute holiday before winter sets in – here’s where to go.
Berlin – for parks and lights
Berlin is at its most charming during autumn, thanks mainly to the city’s abundant parks, public gardens and tree-lined streets, which transform into a blaze of reds, oranges and yellows. During October you can also enjoy the annual Festival of Lights (festival-of-lights.de; Oct 5-14) or catch an exhibition during the European Month of Photography (emop-berlin.eu; until Oct 31).
Cyprus – for short-haul warmth
Nowhere in the Med does the summer warmth cling on longer and more reliably than in Cyprus. While October is the wettest, often most unsettled month in Mallorca, Cyprus is still getting nine hours of sunshine a day, with temperatures peaking at 82F (28C), and the sea, after a long hot summer, is like a warm bath. It’s true to say that much of the coastal development is not subtly done, but the far west of the island, and especially the Akamas peninsula and the inland villages, are still largely unspoilt. Sunvil (www.sunvil.co.uk) has a fine selection of accommodation.
Mexico – for Day of the Dead
Oaxaca is one of the most attractive towns in Mexico and the 1,500-year-old ruins of Monte Albán nearby are some of the most interesting to visit. Arrange your stay at the end of the month and you will also catch the extraordinary Day of the Dead festivities (Oct 31-Nov 2), during which families decorate the graves of their ancestors. These are a spectacular mixture of the pre-Columbian rituals of the Zapotec and Halloween superstitions.
G Adventures offers a one-week tour to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead from £949pp (flights extra).
Copenhagen – for culture and ghouls
One of Copenhagen’s autumn highlights is Culture Night (kulturnatten.dk; Oct 12) when hundreds of museums, churches and other institutions open up behind-the-scenes areas, and lay on special activities, talks and exhibitions. It’s also time for some seasonal fun at Tivoli Gardens (tivoli.dk): Hallowe’en (Oct 12-Nov 4) sees the gardens all decked out with suitably spooky decorations and countless pumpkins.
Morocco – for a family adventure
October is the best month for a stay in Morocco. Temperatures nudge 80F and the sunshine averages around eight hours per day. The culture is a fascinating draw for children, which should go some way to making up for the lack of beaches. However, Marrakech’s popularity means that cheaper rooms at the best resorts are selling out quickly.
Kyoto – for an alternative to New England
Move over, New England. Japan’s ancient capital is about to undergo its annual autumn makeover – parks, temples and gardens burst into a palette of red, orange and yellow trees. It’s truly beautiful. Fly direct from London to Tokyo with BA (ba.com), Japan Airlines (www.uk.jal.co.jp/ukl/en/) or ANA (ana.co.jp) – before hopping on a two-and-a-half-hour bullet train to Kyoto. Stay at Kanamean Nishitomiya, a luxurious modern take on a traditional ryokan inn, complete with a small courtyard garden, surrounded by seven tatami mat guest rooms.
The Lake District – for autumn colour close to home
Cumbria, as well as being the most spectacularly beautiful county in England, is also the wettest. The solution is to go at a time of year when you don’t have high expectations of the weather. If it rains, take a blustery hike and dry off in front of the fire in the afternoon. If it’s sunny, you will see the fells at their most resplendent – the dying bracken turns burnt orange, the rowan berries are bright red and the leaves in the valley woodlands are turning.
Cordoba – for flowers and startling architecture
Skip Spain’s more celebrated cities in favour of this Andalusian gem. Sizzling temperatures are slipping down to the high 20Cs, ancient underground watercourses ensure the city is shady and verdant, and visitor numbers are dwindling. Autumn is the perfect time to visit Cordoba, and from October 19-28 you can catch Festival Flora: sculptural displays of flowers in historic settings.
The city’s highlight is the Mezquita. Begun in AD 784, once the biggest mosque in the world after Mecca, and for the past 750 years a Catholic cathedral, it is a forest of ancient pillars under a canopy of arches, with startling outcrops of Spanish baroque, Byzantine mosaics and Moorish stone.
Zanzibar – for a luxury escape
Contrary to opinion, the famed portion of Tanzania that sits in the Indian Ocean is not a single island but a cluster, with Pemba joining Unguja – the main outcrop, usually known as “Zanzibar” – as a chunk of low-slung land lapped by turquoise waters. Here is a place of discoveries, if you want them, not least the Omani heritage of the capital Stone Town. But if you want a beach, the islands’ hot sands, 30C temperature and chic resorts will always delight.
A seven-night “Cardamom Beach Holiday” in October combines two nights in Stone Town and five nights on Pongwe beach on the east coast. It costs from £2,258 per person, with flights, through Expert Africa (0203 405 6666; expertafrica.com).
Tuscany – for food festivals
Tuscany encapsulates everything that is most seductive about Italy – glorious landscapes, perfect climate, great art and architecture and a matchless cuisine. For the best of that cuisine, go in the autumn, when the light turns golden, the days are still warm, the rich harvest of figs, grapes, chestnuts, olives, apples, pears and pumpkins is at its peak, and fresh funghi are being gathered in the woods. A succession of local village festivals pays homage to the harvest – you’ll never enjoy a better feast.