8 of the best destinations for October and November


We know from experience that travelers often begin planning their trip 4-6 months in advance, which means that at this point in the year, people are thinking about their fall adventures. October and November are really great months to travel. Families with school-age kids are home, and there aren’t any college students on spring break. You’ve had a moment to regroup after the flurry of summer activity, yet the craziness of the Christmas season hasn’t hit yet. These months also offer fabulous weather for being outside—it’s not as hot as summer, but still warm (with one exception on this list!).

Tanzania in October

Tanzania’s Great Migration is an incredible natural phenomena. Almost two million wildebeest, zebra, and gazelle travel over 1,000 miles in a circuit from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara each year in search of food and water. In October, the large herds have scattered around the northern Serengeti. Many are still making the crossing back and forth over the Mara River into Kenya’s Masai Mara. If you are lucky, you may witness a crossing and the drama that comes with it–truly a sight to behold.

Spain & Morocco in October

Combining southern Spain and Morocco into one trip is a great way to experience a region with an intertwined history but two distinct cultures. October is the shoulder season in both countries and offers moderate and comfortable temperatures, typically considered the best time to visit. There will be fewer tourist crowds, making wandering the most iconic sites — the Alhambra complex, the “Blue City” of Chefchaouen, and the medina of Fes — much more enjoyable.

The Himalayas in October or November

Autumn in Bhutan and Nepal typically brings the driest weather and the clearest skies, which means you’ll have the best chances of seeing Everest and the other Himalayan peaks on your hikes or through a plane window. In the lower elevations, where there is more of a tropical climate, temperatures can still be quite warm, but not oppressive. This is also the harvest time; you’ll be sure to see farmers in their fields gathering their crops and Bhutan’s ubiquitous red chilies drying on rooftops and patios.

Portugal in October

By October, the intense heat of the summer has passed, and there are fewer tourists, which is better for both urban and rural exploration. While the grape and olive harvests are highly dependent on weather and difficult to forecast, in all likelihood, you’ll see at least some harvesting happening. As you head inland into the mountains, the trees and ground cover will begin to change colors, making a lovely contrast to the bright blue skies.

The Pacific in October

In New Zealand, October is one of the best months for spotting dolphins, whales, and penguins (who doesn’t love penguins?). It’s spring in the Southern Hemisphere, so the landscape will be blooming, and you’ll see adorable baby lambs grazing alongside their mothers.

In Palau, the water temperature averages 82-85 degrees Fahrenheit year-round making it a lovely getaway before winter descends in the north. In addition, Palau is located outside the typhoon zone, so severe storms are generally not a concern.

Japan in October or November

While Japan is well-known for its springtime cherry blossoms, autumn also brings a stunning change to the landscape with vivid hues of foliage. It also tends to be the most pleasant in terms of mild temperatures and little rainfall, perfect for exploring the remote country along the historic Nakasendo Trail or the plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Kyoto. Since the summer brings the monsoon rains, the landscape will be rather lush.

Vietnam in November

Vietnam has two dry seasons, and November is the cooler of the two, arriving just after the rainy season, so you’ll have the benefit of being there for the newly greened trees and rice paddies. Perhaps one of the best reasons to visit at this time is because the air quality is much better than at almost any other time of year. The cooler temperatures and dampened landscape helps lessen pollution and dust particles in the air.

Iceland in November

Thanks to warming Gulf Stream winds, Iceland enjoys a much warmer climate than it should, or that people generally expect, given its northerly location (and its name). November is a great month to visit for two reasons. First, if you want to have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights, you need dark nights, which November has. However, Mother Nature never makes guarantees, so it’s best to head to Iceland with some other activities in mind. November also offers enough daylight hours for full days of exploration, so you’ll still have a rewarding holiday even if the lights don’t show.

Matt Holmes is the Founder & President of Boundless Journeys. Boundless Journeys is an award-winning tour operator that goes off the beaten path for immersive and authentic travel experiences.

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Comments (10)

  1. Rob says:

    Is November the best month to spot the Northern Lights in Iceland or are there other months which are equally as good, if not better?

    Seeing the Northern Lights is still up there close to the top of my bucket list so I really want to maximise my chances of finally ticking off that great experience.

    • Matt Holmes says:

      Generally, you can spot the lights October through March. But the skies must be cloud free, always hard to forecast. We like November because it strikes a good balance of not-too-cold temperatures, clear roads, long nights but plenty of daytime to be able to see the beautiful snowy landscape and do other activities such as horseback riding, snowmobiling, Reykjavik tour, and a glacier walk. On our 6-day, 5-night trip, our guests often see the lights 1 or 2 nights, but it’s never guaranteed, no matter what time of year you go.

  2. Janet Gordon says:

    I have always been a fan of a late autumn holiday. When the children were at home it always had to coincide with the October half-term, not great as the airports were manic on the first and last Saturday of the week.

    Since the children have flown the nest I’ve liked getting away in November. Britain is so dreary and depressing once the clocks have gone back. There are some great suggestions here that I need to sift through.

  3. Chris H says:

    I think people should be aware that in 2019 the Rugby World Cup will be hosted by Japan for all of October and the competition does not finish until November 2nd. Much as I would like to be there to watch some games I have found out that it’s going to be difficult to get accommodation this autumn. Japan is a great destination but maybe best to leave it until November.

    • Matt Holmes says:

      There are lovely, rural areas of Japan far from the main area around Tokyo but still on the main island. The Nakasendo Trail, for examples, is an historic route through the mountains, once connecting Kyoto and Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period. Spending time on the trail and in charming “post towns” feels a world away from the bustle of the World Cup events.

  4. Gary Childerly says:

    In your piece on Vietnam you talk of poor air quality. Do both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City suffer air pollution problems? Are there problems for other Vietnamese cities too? I suppose on the coast things are OK?

    • Matt Holmes says:

      Unfortunately, air pollution is a challenge in many of the large Asia cities but can vary from day to day based on weather.

  5. Sonia says:

    Hi

    I love travelling in October! I find it is the best month almost every where in the world. Less crowds, better temperatures and less tourists. Tanzania must be great in October migration period, although I thought it was around June- July.

    • Matt Holmes says:

      In a way, it’s kind of a year-round thing. The great herds stick together and while many may be more settled during the early fall, there are smaller herds (still made of thousands of individuals) who are still making crossings and moving together daily. June/July the herds begin moving north. As you move into later fall and winter, they begin moving south again.

  6. Dan Swan says:

    Spain and Morocco as a two centre trip is interesting, definitely worth thinking about. When I think of Morocco I tend to remember their past as a French colony. Perhaps the best legacy of that is the French influence on their food with some top class patisserie on offer. But there would certainly be some interesting links to the Moorish influence on architecture in the South of Spain too. And of course it is a very short crossing over the Med too.

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