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“Back to School” Low Season Travels

As “regular hours” resume and it’s back to school for students and families, low season starts where there will be less crowds, still great temperatures, and cheaper travel packages.

Here are the best spots to visit in September:

Take in the sights of Asia’s third-largest country on the Deccan Odyssey luxury train. This train travels the Maharashtra route through the southern part of the country, stopping at both popular and off-the-beaten path locations such as World Heritage Sites and palaces. Take this luxury train on one of six possible itineraries to different destinations. All meals, snacks, non-alcoholic beverages, and excursions including entrance fees and camera permits are included. Each cabin also provides a private butler, an in-suite bathroom and closet and even HDTV. If you prefer to venture on your own without a set itinerary, stay at the Hilton Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa in India to indulge in an ultra-luxurious experience. This retreat is perfect for romance, adventure, or just relaxation with a little bit of shopping and culture. Enjoy an enormous wine cellar, one of the best rejuvenating spas in Asia, fine dining by master chefs, and rooms with valley and forest views. Workshops are available to learn about conserving the natural and cultural heritage of the area, and yoga classes will help you on your journey to enlightenment.

Famous for some of the greatest wines in the world, Sonoma Valley is also known for gourmet farm-to-table food, the stunning Pacific coast, luxurious resorts and spas, and multiple outdoor activities. With over 425 wineries in the region, if your goal is to sample a large variety of flavors in a short time, a wine and food festival is your best bet. You can also enjoy the vibrant arts scene, with hundreds of galleries and museums hosting art events and art walks. It’s no surprise there are more artists per capita here than anywhere else in California! If you’re an adventurer, embark on the Safari West: 400 acres of wildlife preserve home to more than 700 exotic animals. Or go hiking, biking, or even ziplining at the Jack London State Historic Park, with 1400 acres and 20 miles of trails. If you’re an extreme thrill seeker, there’s something for you too—you can learn some new driving tricks and go racing in the latest Audi or a Formula 3 car at the Simraceway Performance Driving Center.

Greece is full of beautiful islands. Which one is the right one for you? Mykonos in the north, with its beachside bars and good-times lifestyle, is also known as “the Ibiza of Greece”. Although this reputation makes it popular for tourists, come fall the crowds thin out. Take a break from partying and explore archaeological sites or simply relax on a boat. Zakynthos is known for its beaches and incredibly clear water perfect for divers. When you’re ready to dry off, you can explore this island’s unique history inland. Santorini offers incredible clifftop views for the perfect sunrise or sunset, with charm enhanced by the heat, a flourishing wine industry, and classic Greek cuisine. Crete is the biggest Greek island and the closest to North Africa, with an amazing landscape, outdoor activities like hiking and horseback riding, beautiful beaches, and history to top it off—plenty to do for interests of all kinds. You can also take day trips to other islands, tour ancient ruins and architectural sites, and partake in delicious local meals.

With something for everyone, including activities for summer and winter, Morocco is the most diverse location in North Africa for a traveller. Take advantage of the perfect temperatures and explore the Imperial City, go desert sandboarding, or go hiking or skiing in the mountains. Take a camel safari or 4×4 tour through the famous Sahara Desert and get a completely unpolluted view of the night sky. Or for something completely different, go surfing on the coast and catch some world-class waves. Watch artisans create unique, handcrafted items using methods that have existed since medieval times and collect souvenirs from each city. Food lovers can learn how to cook world-famous spicy Moroccan food. You can also enjoy a Hammam (public bath), which you can experience traditionally in a group setting, or luxuriate in as a spa treatment.

Although temperatures in Switzerland have dropped by this time of year, this means the tourists have cleared out and prices are lower all around. Explore the city while enjoying the beautiful scenery and indulging in delicious culinary dishes. Known for their majestic, jaw-dropping landscapes, Switzerland is a dream come true for avid photographers. Matterhorn is one of the highest mountains in Switzerland and attracts mountain climbers from all around the world, but don’t worry—it’s very pedestrian friendly and great for hikers as well. The Bernina Express is a train that will take you through the Swiss Alps, with historical sites and amazing views the entire way. Or you can take a boat ride on Lake Geneva, one of Europe’s largest lakes, that offers fantastic views of the city. For a little more fun, Interlaken is known as the adventure capital of Switzerland and offers activities like hang gliding, kayaking, rafting, hiking, and much more in the fresh mountain air. Wind down after a long day in one of Switzerland’s famous luxury spas. 

Fall is the perfect time to visit Spain as La Merce, Barcelona’s largest street party, honors the Patron Saint of Barcelona. This spectacular festival is a great display of Catalan traditions and the music brings a great energy to the streets. La Diada, the national day of Catalonia, also falls in September: expect to see elaborate floral tributes and a big march at 17:14, commemorating the year when Spain took control of Catalonia as a nation. Don’t forget to visit the breathtaking La Sagrada Familia, still in construction since its inception in 1882, and take a day trip to Montserrat, Catalonia’s multi-peaked mountain range. Another popular city to visit in Spain is Madrid, where in September, the weather still feels like summer. School’s back in, so there are less crowds. You can enjoy the 18-hour DCODE music festival, the Veranos de la Villa festival with concerts, dance, performances and circus shows, and the Cibeles de Cine filme festival. For a little more history, nature, and authentic Spain, head to the northwest to Galicia. Not only are the beaches magical, you’ll get one of the best sunsets in the world at Cape Finisterre; the ability to embark on a yearly pilgrimage to explore the different breathtaking lookouts on land and sea; and to view an ancient monastery in Eume canyon, one of the best-kept secrets of Galicia.

The best time to visit Israel is September, when temperatures are pleasantly mild throughout the country, the weather is rain-free, there are fewer crowds, and prices are lower. With a wide range of historical and religious landmarks, archaeological tourism, and the highest number of museums per capita in the world, Israel is a perfect cultural destination, rich in history for a real learning experience. In no particular order, some of the best things to do in Israel include: floating in the Dead Sea and enriching your face and body with a Dead Sea mud mask; touring the Old City of Jerusalem’s bazaars, historical sites, and places of prayer; and haggling your way through the colorful Carmel Market. Visit the famous UNESCO World Heritage site at Masada, an ancient fortress dating from 30 BCE, and learn about the Jewish people’s stand against the Roman invasion. Some other unique places to visit in Israel include the Beit Guvrin Caves, used as hideouts or burial sites; the Rosh HaNikra Grottoes, natural caves with pure blue waters; the Pool of Arches, where you can take a boat tour through an ancient underground tunnel; and the Western Wall Tunnel, made over 2,000 years ago.

Known for their great year-round diving conditions and reefs made of an astonishing number of coral species, Papua New Guinea attracts divers from around the world. Papua New Guinea is an exciting place to visit on land as well, with good weather and many festivals at this time of year. Experience the Milamala Festival celebrating the harvest, the Hiri Moale Festival celebrating Independence Day, and the Goroka Show showcasing traditional music and dance. The Varirata National Park is home to the most diverse fauna in the world: enjoy some of the best nature walks the world over here, and see exotic animals in their natural habitat! Visit remote villages by chartered canoe to meet independent tribes and learn about their cultures and incredible artwork. You can also take a hiking tour through the Owen Stanley mountain range, where Japan and Australia clashed during World War II at the Kokoda track.


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