Why you should go: The September shoulder season has fewer crowds, generally good autumnal weather and some of the clearest alpine scenery. Farmers drive their flower-decorated cows down from alpine pastures, and wine regions such as the Wachau Valley (donau.com) and Burgenland (burgenland.info) turn russet as harvest season arrives.
Don't miss: Hohe Tauern (hohetauern.at), Austria's largest national park and the biggest nature reserve in the European Alps, is a geography book of glaciers, brilliant blue lakes, waterfalls, areas of forest and tundra and soaring alpine peaks, culminating at 3798 metres at Grossglockner. Although some farming occurs on the national park's fringes, its core preserves untouched alpine scenery disturbed only by hiking trails. See austria.info?
See also:?Twenty reasons to visit Vienna
Iguazu Falls. Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: It's the beginning of spring and the best time of year to visit not just Buenos Aires but Argentina's national parks. The Patagonian Lake District erupts in wildflowers, whales migrate along the coast and elephant seals return to land to breed. Valdes Peninsula Nature Reserve is a great place to spot these awesome sea creatures.
Don't miss: Iguazu Falls are at full capacity and are higher, wider and more wonderful than Niagara. The Argentinian side has a better visitors' centre and more dramatic approach through the rainforest to the Devil's Throat, where water plunges and rainbows soar. However, head over the border to Brazil for the widest, most panoramic views. See turismo.gob.ar?
Sting ray surrounded by school of butterfly fish,?North Male Atoll. Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: Draped like a jewelled pendant off India, the islands of the Maldives are the ultimate in castaway island luxury. Monsoons hit in July and August, then fade in September, with only sporadic rain but much lower prices. If you're looking for a paradise of spa pampering, butler service and fresh seafood at a (relatively) bargain price, this is your moment.
Don't miss: At Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (conradhotels3.hilton.com), the spa has glass floors so you can watch colourful fish flitting below. There's also an all-glass underwater restaurant. Gili Lankanfushi (gili-lankanfushi.com) sits on its own coral island. Its Crusoe Residences can only be reached by boat, and appear to float in the sparkling lagoon. See visitmaldives.com?
A leopard crossing the road in?Yala National Park,?Sri Lanka. Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: Sri Lanka means ''splendid isle'', certainly apt for this country of highland waterfalls and tea plantations, surf beaches and ancient Singhalese ruins. National parks, a fine cuisine, colonial towns Galle and Colombo and gold-capped temples surrounded by misty jungle add to the appeal. September is a good time to visit the east coast, and a reasonable time overall.
Don't miss: Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage (nationalzoo.gov.lk) has some 80 resident animals. Visitors can watch baby elephants getting their morning feed of milk. In the afternoon, the highlight is a parade of formerly injured or abused elephants heading riverwards for baths accompanied by plenty of splashing. If you're impressed, you can do volunteer work at the orphanage. See srilanka.travel?
Sea of red lotus at sunrise in Udon Thani,Thailand.?Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: Though it's rainy season in Thailand, don't be put off, as sudden downpours are generally short and bring a welcome respite from humidity. East coast islands such as Koh Samui get far less rain than their west coast counterparts. Hotels offer discounts, top sights are far less crowded and the countryside shimmers a vivid green.
Don't miss: Khao Yai National Park (dnp.go.th) is Thailand's oldest national park and a World Heritage site. Few overseas tourists come here, but it's rightly popular among Thais, and well set up with hiking and biking trails and other soft adventure options. Float down the Nakhon Nayok River in a rubber raft, and cycle under towering bamboo. See tourismthailand.org?
Enjoying the nightlife under the cherry blossoms of Maruyama Park in Kyoto. Photo: Japan National Tourist Office
Why you should go: Kyoto is Japan's ancient capital and Tokyo's alter ego, with tranquil gardens and countless temples. The city farewells its summer heat and humidity in September, and enjoys a spate of festivals and cultural events honouring the harvest season. At night, wander Gion district, whose streets are lined with traditional restaurants, teahouses and antique shops.
Don't miss: Follow the Philosopher's Path along the Biwa Canal, which passes so many temples it could take a day to complete. The path begins near the famous Silver Temple (actually a wooden pavilion set in raked gardens), but Eikan-do is possibly the most charming temple, where monks snooze on verandahs and birds twitter in the trees. See kyototourism.org?
See also:?Twenty reasons to love Kyoto
A mural on East Pender Street, in?Chinatown, Vancouver, depicting?a Chinese laundry in 1884. Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: Vancouver is splendidly located between ocean and mountains. The city has innumerable parks, green spaces and waterfront promenades. With the summer crowds gone and the weather crisp but still fine, September is a good month for exploring. The 11-day Vancouver Fringe Festival (vancouverfringe.com) brings together 90 different acts.
Don't miss: The University of British Colombia's excellent Botanical Garden and Japanese-style Nitobe Memorial Garden (botanicalgarden.ubc.ca) have superb maple trees that start to take on autumn colours in September. The university's Museum of Anthropology has an outstanding collection of First Nation totem poles, painted canoes, ceremonial masks and jewellery. The grounds showcase two Haida longhouses and more totem poles. See tourismvancouver.com?
See also:?Three-minute guide to Vancouver
Why you should go: A decade ago, Detroit was a symbol of American manufacturing in decline, and still features empty factories and semi-abandoned neighbourhoods. It has started to make a comeback, however. Enjoy new public works, a burgeoning restaurant scene, street markets and some great baseball. September provides decent weather.
Don't miss: The city that gave the world Motown has a humming jazz and blues scene, so check out live venues. The early September Detroit Jazz Festival (detroitjazzfest.org) is the largest free jazz festival in the USA, and features everything from gospel choirs and funk groups to evening jam sessions. There are performances by remarkable up-and-comers too, proving that Detroit still retains its jazz mojo. See visitdetroit.com?
See also:?Detroit, USA: Motor City makeover
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO
Mexico City skyline. Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: Maybe it's the elevation (2250 metres) that makes you feel lightheaded in Mexico City, or the backstreet tequila bars, the arty and youthful vibe or the mariachi bands. This year, Mexico City has the added attraction of being World Design Capital. September is a great time to visit: balmy temperatures, tail end of the rainy season, and fewer visitor numbers.
Don't miss: The Museum of Anthropology (mna.inah.gob.mx) has indigenous artefacts that attest to 3000 years of Mexican history, and Templo Mayor (templomayor.inah.gob.mx) relates the story of the Aztec city that once stood here. Spanish architecture is also impressive, especially around the huge main plaza, overlooked by palaces and a madly decorated cathedral. See cdmxtravel.com
See also:?Mexico's mad, must-see event
HONG KONG, CHINA
Neon lights on Tsim Sha Tsui street, Hong Kong.?Photo: Shutterstock
Why you should go: There are plenty of reasons to visit Hong Kong, one of the world's most vibrant cities, including top dining and shopping. The second half of September is the sweet spot between the summer typhoon season and the soaring prices and crowds of winter. The Mid-Autumn Festivals falls on September 24 and features carnivals and lantern exhibitions.
Don't miss: Stanley is a beachside town reached by a road from the city that supplies sweeping coastal views. It has a noted market along its main street under bright-coloured awnings, which you can plunder for brand-name sportswear, silk blouses and shirts. It's also a good place to pick up fabric, from Chinese linen to Indian embroidered cotton. See discoverhongkong.com
See also: Best destinations to visit in August
See also: Best places to visit in July
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See also: Best places to go for a holiday in March