Summer is peak season for travel, when hotel and airline prices are at their highest and tourists flock to popular locales across the map. Come October, though, the crowds thin out and costs drop, making shoulder season a wonderful time for a more leisurely vacation.
Here are five destinations to visit during the off-season.
Hugging cliffs that plunge down to the Mediterranean are clusters of pastel-colored houses in a vista so beautiful, it’s been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Beat the crowds, while still savoring sunshine and comfortable temperatures, by visiting this charming coastal enclave in September and October before the November rains begin.
Book at the seasonally open (April through October), 39-room Casa Angelina. The boutique hotel’s beach (La Gavitella) is one of the few facing west, allowing for a full afternoon of sunshine. Splash about in the sea — which has been heating up all summer and is at its warmest in the fall — before retiring to an orange lounger in the shade of a matching umbrella with a cup of sorbetto al limone, refreshing sorbet made from local lemons.
If you find it too cold to swim, ask the hotel to pack you a picnic and hit the Monte Tre Calli trail, a 1.9-mile ascent that takes you 3,600 feet above sea level for an absolutely stunning view of the entire Amalfi Coast.
It’s sweater weather and then some during late autumn in the Pine Tree State, but when the summer vacationers are long gone, you won’t have to fight for parking or dinner reservations.
Base yourself at Cliff House Maine, an expansive resort on rugged Bald Head Cliff overlooking the Atlantic, where each of the 226 rooms has a balcony with an ocean view. If it’s warm, take a dip in the sea-facing saltwater pools — the surf in front of the hotel is too rough for swimming. If it’s a bit cooler (fall temps usually hover between 58 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit), climb into a hot tub or grab a book and plop yourself in front of one of the many fireplaces.
From your hotel in the village of Bald Head, you’re just a scenic 15-minute bike ride from the town of Ogunquit, where you’ll find a lovely beach, Ogunquit Playhouse theater (snag tickets to this year’s production of Kinky Boots before it ends October 27) and plenty of seafood at Ogunquit Beach Lobster House.
Winter brings throngs of powder hounds to legendary mountain towns like Aspen and Vail, while summer draws a different type of adventure seeker to explore and camp in Colorado’s national parks. That leaves autumn and spring as some of the best times to visit the Centennial State, with fewer crowds and lower off-season rates at hotels.
To experience the region’s gorgeous fall foliage, stay at The Inn at Lost Creek, a Forbes Travel Guide Recommended hotel in Telluride, where mid-October sees mostly sunny days and highs just below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wander down charming Main Street to see the sights or get your heart pumping with a hike on one of the many fantastic trails, from the easy-moderate Bear Creek Falls to the more challenging Lewis Mine trek.
The Cape Peninsula can be blustery in the Southern Hemisphere’s early spring, but October is a fine time to visit for doing outdoor activities without working up too much of a sweat. If you’re keen on beach time, come in November when the days are sunny and warm.
Taj Cape Town is a luxurious spot in the Central Business District, just two blocks from urban green space Company’s Garden. The handsome 1932 building was originally the South African Reserve Bank and several pieces of this history remain, including chandeliers, some of the ironwork and several heavy exterior doors. (Fun fact: Taj Cape Town is a property for sale in the Cape Town edition of Monopoly.)
Take advantage of the moderate spring forecast with hikes to arresting vistas (try Lion’s Head and Chapman’s Peak), a trip to Simon’s Town to see the penguins at Boulders Beach, a late-afternoon ride up to Table Mountain to watch the sun set and a ferry trip to Robben Island — the prison-turned-museum where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years.
While certainly stunning, summers in Australia’s largest city can be quite hot. For a cooler trip, fly Down Under during spring (autumn in the Northern Hemisphere), when it’s mostly sunny and temperatures are mild.
Soak up sweeping Sydney Harbour views from your perch at Four-Star Park Hyatt Sydney — the hotel is along the water. Stretch your legs with a walk along the waterfront into the Royal Botanic Gardens before wandering around the quiet, leafy streets of the Potts Point neighborhood. Be sure to swing by charming Potts Point Bookshop for stationery from Australian designers.
Spring is the ideal time to embark on one of Sydney’s legendary coastal walks — some have little shade, but with cooler temperatures, proper sun protection and plenty of water (there are refill stations at every beach), you’ll be fine. The 3.7-mile Bondi-to-Coogee (or Coogee to Bondi) walk is a must. The scenic route takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete at a leisurely pace.