The Best Destinations to Visit From the UK This October
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With the kids finally back to school and winter fully on the horizon, you may be itching for an escape already. The good news is that plenty of Southern European destinations still enjoy mild weather through mid-October. And if it’s wine tasting or fall festivals you’re after, there’s no shortage this month: Halloween, wine harvests, Diwali and even human pyramids make October the perfect time to organize a longer holiday to Asia, Africa or the United States. Here’s where you should be heading this October.
Calling all wine-lovers: Celebrate fall with a trip to northern Portugal to sample port wine. Porto’s sister city, Vila Nova de Gaia, sits just across the River Douro, and is framed by winery after winery, where visitors can taste different varieties like Tawny, ruby and white. Walking across the famous Dom Luís I bridge towering over the river is an adventure in itself.
Harvest season usually runs through mid-October and, depending on weather conditions, you may be able to head out of the city into the vineyards for a little grape-stomping action. True wine aficionados can take things a step further by sleeping in giant wine barrels-turned-hotel-rooms at the Quinta da Pacheca. Each barrel room houses a double bed, private bathroom and sundeck overlooking the expansive vineyards.
In the city of Porto, be charmed by the colorful architecture and Portuguese cuisine (who knew codfish could be so delicious?). Plan to stay at the new Torel 1884, a design hotel featuring global influences from Africa, Central America and beyond with room names such as Coffee and Exotic Birds.
Getting to Porto has never been easier, as a full range of airlines flies from a number of British hubs, including smaller airports like Birmingham (BHX) to Porto (OPO) on Ryanair.
San Francisco, California
October is one of San Francisco’s sunnier months, although you still might see some fog in the mornings. Plus, if spending Halloween in the US is on the top of your travel bucket list, the city hosts tons of parties and events appropriate for both children and adults. (Think: costume parties, trick-or-treating, pet parades, haunted houses, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”-themed dance classes, pumpkin carvings, seances, zombie parties and more.)
But there are plenty of other interesting festivals in San Francisco in October, such as the LGBTQ-friendly Castro Street Fair (Oct. 6), featuring music and food vendors; and Fleet Week (Oct. 6 to 14), held on the famous Fisherman’s Wharf. Here, you can tour military ships, enjoy concerts and eat food. AvGeeks, make sure to buy tickets to see the Fleet Week Air Show!
And of course, wine tasting isn’t limited to Portugal. If you’re traveling to San Francisco, add a trip to the nearby Napa Valley for more grape-stomping opportunities — or, at the very least, some Cabernet Sauvignon tastings.
Fly to San Francisco (SFO) nonstop on Norwegian from London (LGW) — flights for the 11-hour journey can cost under £300 roundtrip in October. And make sure to take some time upon arrival to visit the brand-new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at SFO, where you can check out works by Bay Area-artists and museum exhibits dedicated to Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay person elected into California office.
Gili Islands, Indonesia
If you’re looking for a sunny, lesser-visited alternative to Bali, the trio of tiny Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok make for a relaxing getaway. October see some of the last dry days before the rainy season hits, but is much less busy than the popular travel months of July, August and September.
Each of the three islands has its own specific vibe. Party animals should head to Gili Trawangan, the largest of the three, while families should visit Gili Air, which still has many amenities but is a little less wild than Trawangan. Honeymooners, or travelers seeking lazy days on deserted beaches, should visit the smallest of the three islands, Gili Meno. If you can’t decide which to pick, visit all three. They’re a quick hop away from each other by boat, making it easy to visit more than one during your trip.
Getting to the islands is an adventure in itself, especially since Garuda Airlines has been frequently changing their London-to-Indonesia routes over the past year (the most recent change will be the Bali (DPS) to Medan Kuala Namu (KNO) to London Heathrow (LHR) route, which will begin operating Oct. 27 for the winter season). Once you’ve reached eitherBali or Jakarta, fly to Lombok International (LOP). Spend a few days surfing or hiking the island’s most famous volcano, Mount Rinjani. Then, a boat ride will get you to the Gilis within minutes. Lodging start around £10 per night for a no-frills jungle hut, but even more upscale beachside resorts are typically quite affordable.
If you’re looking for something a little different than a weekend jaunt to Barcelona, head to Tarragona, an underrated coastal city with Roman ruins, sandy beaches and human pyramids. Yes, you read those last words right: Tarragona’s most famous festival is the Concurs De Castells (Oct. 5 and 6), during which people form human towers. This special event combines acrobatics with folklore and history, and you can expect to see pyramids up to 10 levels high involving hundreds of men, women and even children.
The city itself actually has several different human tower groups, and if you can’t make it to the official competition, you may be lucky enough to catch a rehearsal or training session. Join the base at your own risk, though!
After the festival, be sure to visit the city’s impressive Roman ruins — especially the amphitheater that overlooks the Mediterranean and the Roman circus, which once held popular chariot races. For incredible views, head up to the rooftop of Tarragona’s 12th-century cathedral, built on the site of Roman ruins.
Tarragona has its own small airport, Reus (REU), just a 10-minute drive from the city center. Fly nonstop on airlines such as Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Jet2 from various London airports. (Jet2 also flies from Manchester.)
Cape Town, South Africa
For beautiful spring-like weather, October is the perfect month to explore Cape Town. Beyond visiting all of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, including the colorful buildings of Bo-Kapp, the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain, October offers some memorable events such as the Cape Town Kite Festival (Oct. 26 to 27), during which people from all over the world congregate to fly elaborate kites. Or, enjoy some cultural events during Cape Town’s version of Diwali celebrations (Oct. 27).
Even though it’s technically spring in October, many wineries and breweries have special events like the Stellenbosch Craft Beer Festival (Oct. 12); Caroline’s White Wine Review (Oct. 23) and Wine on the River (Oct. 11 to 13), where you can wine taste as well as enjoy boat rides, safaris and even spend the night glamping.
Fill your Instagram feed with snaps of chic boutique properties such as the Silo Hotel, housed in a former grain silo, or the brand-new Labotessa Hotel, a stylish haven hidden behind a 17th-century facade.
Although there are rumors of both Virgin and Norwegian creating a nonstop route between Cape Town and London, right now, the only nonstop route offered in October is on British Airways 747 aircraft. If you’d prefer to fly the A380, you’ll have to route through Johannesburg. Using Avios, get one-way flights from 16,250 off-peak (or 25,000 peak) in economy; 62,500 off-peak (or 75,000 peak) in business class; and 85,000 off-peak (or 100,000 peak) in first class.
Charleston, South Carolina
It’s your last chance to catch a ride on British Airways’ nonstop route between London (LHR) and Charleston (CHS), as the twice-weekly seasonal route on the the 787-8 ends Oct. 24, 2019. Plus, October temperatures are still warm, but with far less humidity than the peak summer months. During especially balmy afternoons, you may even still be able to visit the beach.
With its restored antebellum homes, magnolia-covered plantations and waterfront promenades, Charleston is full of quintessential southern charm. But the Holy City even has a bit of European flair when it hosts its very own version of Oktoberfest (Oct. 12 and 13), serving up bratwursts, Wiener schnitzel and sauerkraut alongside German bier.
And in typical all-American fashion, a Charleston-style Halloween is filled with parties and events including corn mazes, haunted houses, fright nights, costumes contests, monster mashes and more.
Charleston is still hot off a hotel boom, and one of the most recent additions is the Hotel Bennett, a 179-room property housed in a former library that debuted in early 2019. For something dependable and affordable you can book with points (rates start at 12,000 per night), the new Hyatt Place Mount Pleasant Towne Centre recently opened its doors. It’s one of three Hyatt Places in the city.
Featured photo by Nisangha / Getty Images.
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