This month is an opportune time to travel: fewer crowds & moderate temperatures make for perfect conditions in many regions around the globe
So, what are the best places to visit in October ?
Most of us associate October with fall, and you certainly wouldn’t be wrong. It is easy to forget though, that there is another hemisphere to this world, and when our days are getting shorter, theirs are getting longer. And just as our temperatures are decreasing, theirs are heating up. So picking the best places to visit in October depends enormously on what kind of activity you are looking for. Whether it is beach-related, or you simply want to enjoy a new city, I tried to list the very best that I know of in the article below.
1. Oktoberfest Munich, Germany
Having spent most of my formative years in Munich, Germany, I happen to know a thing or two about the Oktoberfest. First off, the name is misleading as the Oktoberfest usually starts off on the 3rd Saturday in September and secondly, the Oktoberfest is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in October in Europe.
Pro tip #1: This year will see an extended Oktoberfest that includes the 3rd of October, which is the unification of Germany and a national holiday as well. So this year only, the Oktoberfest ends on a Wednesday (October 4th) More beer for everyone!
Now, another thing you should know is that the locals call it ‘Wiesn’, which is pronounced as ‘weezn’, with that last ‘n’ almost inaudible. It’s a reference to the fairgrounds the festival is held on, and by the end of the festival, the grounds will be soaked in stale beer and other bodily fluids.
I have to admit that security has increased over the years, as the authorities wisely decided to consider the potential threat of terrorism. This is nothing new by the way, as back in the nineties, left-wing anarchists made it a habit to threaten the festival almost every year. What this translates too is tight security in and around the beer tents, and again at the different subway platforms that can get really (and I mean REALLY) crowded.
Your game plan should be to get a costume, since it is considered the cool thing to do. Free up enough time to make two visits at least and make sure to eat a lot while drinking. The standard beer mugs are massive and it takes a strong constitution to drink more than two and not be a blabbering idiot. But then again, you are bound to encounter lots of those and it is all good, since people do tend to get drunk around the ‘weezn’.
Pro tip #2: Hotels are all booked out during this time period, so take that into account.
2. Bangkok is mourning in October, Thailand
Seeing that we are based in Thailand, we love writing about Thailand and its various islands. However, October is a bit special this year as the country is coming to grips with the funeral of its beloved Rama 9 King Bhumibol Adulyadej. At this point we know the funeral will be held from the 25th until the 29th of October, with rehearsals on the 7th, the 15th and the 21st.
The public has been asked not to organize any festivities during this period, which will probably translate to no nightlife whatsoever in the capital. The islands will follow suit, so keep this in mind if you are planning your holiday for that period. Beach holidays will be fine and families will be able to tell little to no difference.
The party crowd however will notice a ban on alcohol and a request from authorities for a more restrained behaviour during those all-important dates. So if you are coming down for the standard full-moon package, maybe it is best to postpone your Thailand plans for a later point in time? For travellers determined to attend the funeral ceremony; I heard that there will be a special area reserved for foreigners.
Pro tip #3: A large part of the ceremony is to be held in the vicinity of Khao San road. Traffic in the area will see a massive increase from the 25th until the 27th and it would be wise not to stay in that area during that period. The entire continent is incredible in October, but due to the very specific circumstances I simply can’t say that Thailand is one of the best places to travel in October in Asia.
Pro tip #4: Should you decide to come anyway, and you heard about the Vegetarian Festival in Phuket – it is NOT about food. This is a spiritual festival involving young men piercing their cheeks with all kinds of gruesome instruments in a holy procession. Phuket will be exceptionally crowded and for someone who is unaccustomed with this tradition it is not a pleasant thing to look at. The Vegetarian Festival takes place from 20th until the 28th of October.
3. The Bayfield Apple festival, Wisconsin USA
What can be considered almost a real vegetarian festival is the Bayfield Apple fest. Back in 2015 the annual Apple Festival was hailed as one of the ‘10 Best Fall Harvest Festivals in the Nation‘ by USA TODAY. So if you like ‘them apples’, make sure you get out to Bayfield in Wisconsin this October.
The Festival runs from October 6th until October 8th, in a charming small town on the shores of Lake Superior. Expect a very local celebration of the autumn harvest, incredibly beautiful autumn colours in the trees and apples. Lots of apples…
For two days, you are going to see endless stands with fresh apples, apple pie, apple tart, even apple dumplings and apple cider. The list goes on and on as the residents of Bayfield will try to make pretty much any dish with apples. Being a fan of simple and honest pies, I think apple pies have that no-nonsense quality and it is truly one of the best pastries I can think of. Well-made American apple pie is almost worth a transatlantic flight with your loved one.
But the Apple Festival is also interesting for families, as the celebration also features a grand parade, a carnival with pony rides and plenty of things to do, see try and purchase. All with that charming rural charm that you can’t find in American cities. If you want to see one of the best places to visit in October in the US, this is the festival to go to. The colours of autumn alone are well worth the trip.
4. Nuit Blanche Toronto, Canada
Nuit Blanche is French for ‘white night’, but its real meaning stands for skipping sleep for one night. This year, on September 30th, you will want to take out that special someone.
First of all, you get to show him or her that you are an intelligent person who likes art shows and exhibits, and secondly, you get to see the entire city of Toronto being temporarily transformed. Programs can be looked up online, but if the 2016 edition is anything to go by, it is going to be wild.
No less than 350 International, National and local artists have joined forces to work on over 85 different projects all over town. So whether you like complicated light installations, performance art, all-night exhibitions or politically charged pieces, this is your night.
As this event has steadily grown in size over the years, corporate sponsors have hopped on board, eager to show that they too have ‘a heart for the arts’. As a result, everything is well organized and apart from the different showcases, several talks, round-table discussions and one-on-one interviews will be held all over town as well.
From graffiti artists like Brian Leitch (‘KWEST’) to Pakistani activists like Shahzia Sikander, there is something for everyone to see. And Toronto itself is already a beautiful city destination so consider this art festival a win-win.
5. Paris, France
Through the entire month of October, Paris is a great travel destination. Having lived in the 18th arrondissement myself, I had to walk home a lot when the subways stopped at midnight. Paris is incredibly French and romantic and one of the best places to visit in Europe in October.
These were some of the best walks I remember, as I would cross over the ‘butte Montmartre’, the highest point in the city and home to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur. It is a beautiful white house of prayer, and not many people know this, but there is a vineyard in Montmartre too. And in October, during the ‘Fête des Vendanges’, the approximately 1000 bottles that this urban vineyard yields are auctioned.
If there ever was a French Wine Festival to attend, this is the one you should start with. Taking place from the 11th of October until the 15th, there will be wine, local restaurants will have promotions around the festivities and the event ends with a firework show over the Sacre Coeur.
If you are a foodie, you may even want to stick around until the Salon du Chocolat arrives in town. From the 28th until the end of the month, Paris Expo will feature special events, tastings and a lot of suppliers. There will be demonstrations by top chefs, chocolate sculptures and even a chocolate fashion show (it is Paris after all). Although technically an industry event, visitors are very welcome too because everyone loves chocolate.
6. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Nobody complains more about tourism in Amsterdam than the locals themselves. But October is that month when the city gradually opens up. No longer do you hear the eternal sound of suitcases on cobblestones, and the city hotels lower their prices as the off-season simply doesn’t allow them to put those annoying premiums on all of their rooms.
And that’s good news for you, because Amsterdam is a city best enjoyed when the crowds are out of town. So what is there to do, apart from the obvious sights. Well for starters, the Amsterdam Dance Event is in town, and for professionals this is the most anticipated event on the nightlife calendar.
Part industry event, part electronic music festival, ADE, as this festival is known, draws in professional entertainers, industry professionals and the fans. So if you happen to be in town during that period, expect some crazy exclusive line-ups in all the clubs around town, along with some additional events and performances by internationally acclaimed producers and DJs.
Also big on the EDM calendar is Awakenings. Where Awakenings is normally held in June, there is a smaller edition on the 18th of October as well, giving visitors to Amsterdam the chance to attend a legendary name in EDM.
For visitors who are not into techno and house music, the PINT Bokbeerfestival should go down well. It is considered the largest beer festival in the country (Holland is tiny), and visitors will have the choice to drink from a hundred different Bokbeers. These Autumn beers stand out with a different flavour, which some describe as ‘stronger’, ‘malty’ and ‘robust’. Also note that the colour differs from regular beer, as its will resemble a dark amber, right up to a brown hue, which is very different from the usual ‘pale ale’.
7. Hawaii, USA
If that little man in North Korea manages to keep a lid on things, Hawaii is also a great destination to be in October. September and August tend to be the hottest months, so it is nice to see things cool down a little. Hawaii truly is one of the best places to visit in October in the US.
With an abundance of public beaches, beautifully savage nature, active volcanos and tropical weather, it is a wonderful travel destination in itself. If it only weren’t so remote from everywhere else in the world. You either fly from the American mainland, or you happen to be on the other side of the planet, making Narita airport (Japan) a great stepping stone as well.
I thoroughly recommend doing a lot of planning before traveling there, since housing prices vary wildly in pricing and it makes a lot of sense as well to pick the island you will be staying on. Once you have that figured out, get a rental car and you should be good to go.
A trip tp Hawaii is not complete without splurging on seafood dinners, as the fish is some of the very best I have ever eaten. Being on a tropical island where everyone speaks English does come in handy, as you can talk to pretty much anyone about what to do and where to go.
Apart from the regular tourist activities, hiking is highly recommended. Many of the animals and plants are unique to the island, and there is always a hill nearby the conquer, a forest to explore or a crater to look into.
For activities of the more lazy kind, find out where the nearest surf beach is, and spend an hour or two watching the local watermen surfing on some of the best breaks in the world. They make it look easy, and it should be inspiring enough to book a surf lesson.”
8. South Africa
Another destination that’s slightly off the beaten path is South Africa. Just as remote from the rest of the world as Hawaii, October is the last month of the whales season on the Cape, and the area starts heating up rapidly.
Travellers can either stick to the coast, or make their way land inwards to the National Parks. November and December see a lot more tropical storms, but October is usually still holding out, creating that window where it isn’t too hot and rainy.
As mentioned before, you will get to see some whales on the coast and the national parks will often have new-born game. I didn’t know this at first but these places have actual seasons for baby mammals, and October roughly translates to baby Eland, Tree squirrel, jackal, buffalo and warthog. And lots of monkeys too. It’s basically The Lion King and Madagascar all over again.
So you got some cities, some regions and even an entire US State to play around with. Places to avoid because of the weather are the United Kingdom, Berlin (their version of a continental winter is horrific – wet and cold), Prague and Scandinavia as a whole. Unless you don’t mind the rain and rapidly decreasing temperatures, I recommend focussing on the Southern Hemisphere for this month. Stay safe!
More Inspiration: Check out other amazing places you need to visit
Sacha Albarda is an copywriter/online media expert living in South-east Asia for the better part of a decade. Asked what he likes best about living there, he usually answers that it’s “the tightly organized anarchy”.