Truly savvy travelers know that the summer months aren’t always the best time for a vacation. Enter: shoulder season—the period between highly touristed periods when the crowds are smaller, the temperatures are (often) lower, and the pace of life is a little slower. With this in mind, the fall season is prime for jet setting, especially since flight and hotel prices are traditionally lower, as well.
From the Cyclades in the Aegean Sea to the dramatic slopes of Argentinian Patagonia, we rounded up some of the best international destinations to visit in October.
Looking for domestic destinations? Visit our guide to the best places to visit in October across the U.S.
The Andalucia region in southern Spain is best appreciated in the month of October, when temperatures are still warm and there’s plenty of sunshine. Experience the vibrant culture and enchanting landscape of eight provinces, including the Alhambra Palace in Granada, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Seville, and 500 miles of coastline in the south. Catch a Flamenco show in the evening (Andalucia is the birthplace for this spirited art form), admire intricate Moorish architecture from the past, and visit some of the best beaches in the world in places like Costa del Sol on the Mediterranean Sea.
The Eternal City shines in the fall, with fewer tourists than the summer months and (much) cooler temperatures. There’s still ample sunshine, too, allowing visitors to spend more time taking in the city by foot. Explore major sites like the Colosseum, Vatican Museums, and the Trevi Fountain—but make sure to set aside time for the lesser-known gems such as San Luigi dei Francesi, which is home to three Caravaggio masterpieces. There’s also a plethora of events to choose from throughout the month, including the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Romaeuropa, Festa del Cinema, and Rome Art Week.
October is the start of spring in the southern hemisphere, bringing mild temperatures that are perfect for hiking, climbing, and outdoor adventure. When it comes to pristine nature, Argentina’s Patagonia region has it all: The Andes (aka the longest mountain range in the world), vast glaciers and lakes, coastal beach towns, volcanos, an abundance of wildlife, dramatic vistas, and more. Spend a weekend taking in the glacial lakes and icebergs in Parque Nacional los Glaciares or opt for some horseback riding in El Chaltén. Take in a waterside breeze on a boat cruise around the Canal Beagle where you can spot hundreds of sea lions and wrap it all up with a dip at Route of the Seven Lakes, toasting to an unforgettable trip with a cannonball.
For a cultural and historical experience, head to the city of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia. Known for its picturesque, old world architecture set along the Adriatic Sea with views of the Dinaric Alps, Dubrovnik is perhaps best appreciated in October. The temperatures stay in the 70s with minimal rain, so you can still enjoy the beaches and comfortably explore historic landmarks by foot. You’ll feel like you stepped onto a Game of Thrones set with a visit to Old Town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Walls of Dubrovnik, and Fort Lovrijenac. It’s also relatively affordable compared to the rest of Europe, so you’ll have more cash to experience the numerous restaurants, cafes, and shops along the historic main street of Stradun.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
One of the best surfing spots on the planet, Puerto Escondido is a laid-back beach town situated on the Pacific Ocean in southern Mexico. It’s bright and sunny nearly all year round, with temperatures hovering around 90 degrees throughout October, making for ideal beach conditions minus the summer crowds. With its numerous beaches for snorkeling, water adventures, and sunbathing—coupled with its vivid nightlife, good eats, and open air mercados—Puerto Escondido is truly a tropical paradise more than worthy of your PTO time. Puerto Escondido International Airport (PXM) also makes for easy domestic travel, especially with connecting flights from Oaxaca City or Mexico City.
It’s always a good time to visit Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, but October offers slightly cooler temperatures, cheaper prices, and smaller crowds. Sample the city’s world-famous food (bacalao is a must) and indulge in sweet rounds of porto (a Portuguese red wine) as you stroll through the charming, picturesque streets. Check out the 16th-century monastery Mosteiro dos Jeronimos; meander around one of the biggest squares in Europe, Praça do Comércio; and soak in panoramic views at the scenic lookout of Miradouro da Senhora do Monte. For more cultural highlights, try a private food tour around the city or take a day trip to explore landmarks in the nearby towns of Sintra and Cascais. Lisbon is also one of the sunniest cities in Europe (with nearly 300 sunny days per year) so you’re bound to have good weather while you’re there. Plus, it’s an easy destination to get to, thanks to two major train stations and an international airport.
The Cyclades, Greece
Whether it’s sightseeing in Crete, sunbathing in Mykonos, catching sunsets in Santorini, or exploring the mountain villages of Naxos, October is one of the best months to visit the Greek Islands. There are less cruise ships and tourists at this time of year and the temperatures hover around 70 degrees. For prime swimming in the Aegean Sea, however, it’s best to go at the beginning of the month. If island hopping is on the agenda, check out the ancient ruins in Naxos, Palace of Knossos in Crete, and the Open Air Cinema Kamari in Santorini.
Visiting Ireland’s capital city is generally less expensive in October compared to the summer months, and has fewer crowds and cooler temperatures (around 50 degrees). Just be sure to pack accordingly for the rainier, foggier season. Take a tour of the Guinness Storehouse, stop for a pint at Dublin’s annual Oktoberfest, and explore the city’s numerous castles and historical sites. Just north of Dublin in counties Meath and Louth, check out the Púca Festival, an annual celebration of the ancient Celtic New Year known as Samhain, at the end of the month. There’s also the Cork Jazz Festival in the south every year during this time, if you’re looking to travel farther afield.