Enjoy a carefree holiday on Lima's sandy beaches

Now that we’ve waved a reluctant goodbye to the summer sun, it’s time to embrace an altogether milder climate and with it a calmer travelling experience. October provides the ideal chance to explore without having to contend with the summer holiday heat and crowds.

For the sun worshippers…

Short haul: Palermo, Sicily

October destinations PalermoSan Vito Lo Capo is popular amongst movie stars
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Sicily is one of the closest places to get some autumn sun without being cooped up in a plane for copious hours. The capital, Palermo, is close to a wealth of beautiful beaches, such as the popular Mondello Beach. Formerly a swampland, the area has been transformed into a lively public beach lined with gourmet seafood restaurants, expensive mansions and watersports stalls. By the time October has arrived, not only have tourists abandoned the fight for sun loungers but prices have dropped significantly too.

Sun-seekers should also take a trip to the nearby town of San Vito Lo Capo to walk in the footprints of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Here, the clear waters lapping over the pristine, white sands of the beach make it easy to see why the destination was chosen to film Ocean’s Twelve at. The mountainous eastern border of the town is marked with numerous caves, perfect for climbers looking to explore. However there are also more accessible ones including the bafflingly named ‘Cave of the dead goat’ for those who like to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

To experience old Palermo, venture down the tiny side streets and test out your bartering skills at the various food markets such as the bustling Ballaro and Capo markets. Also investigate the darker site of Palermo, beneath the beautiful Sicilian palaces and cathedrals, in the Capuchin Catacombs, where a macabre fascination will draw you to observe the eerie rows of mummified monks.

Long haul: Lima, Peru

October destinations LimaSpend Lima's last sunny month this year on the beach
Bernt Rostad
Being the last month of the dry season, October is the final chance to spend a break in Peru before heavy downpour swoops in to take hold of the country until May.

With its extensive coastline, Peru has a pick of beaches to choose from where you can soak up the rays. Lima, which is located along the middle of the coastline, boasts several well-known beaches that will be much less crowded after the end of the summer holiday. Visit Playa El Silencio for expanses of white sand and lively watersports or Playa La Pampilla for experienced surfers looking to catch the next big wave.

The slightly milder temperature and the fact that the mosquitoes often don’t survive the warm, dry climate of the month, means that October is also a great time to take advantage of the trekking opportunities available. A long, but highly fruitful, 22-hour bus ride from Lima will take you to Cusco where you can embark on the Inca Trail leading to the mystical pre-Columbian stone citadel of Machu Picchu.

For the festival followers…

Short haul: Paris, France

October destinations ParisWine connoisseurs take to the streets in this five day festival
Cyril LG
France is famed for its haute cuisine and no city more so than Paris. However, between 10 and 14 October, the city goes back to basics by celebrating the grape harvest of Montmartre’s vineyards with the Fête des Vendanges.

Parisians and tourists alike are given a chance to flex their tasting palates as wine producers from throughout the country gather to share their speciality products. Previous years have been based around themes such as cinema and dance but the title of this year’s event is ‘Montmartre fête les gourmandises’. Food will be sharing the spotlight with wine in 2012 and festival goers will be able to sample specially chosen pairings of food and wine from around France.

Visitors can also enjoy street music and dance as well as fireworks which will be set off on Saturday in front of the backdrop of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which sits on the highest point of Montmartre Hill. More unusual features of the festival include the ‘non-marriage proposals’ where couples congregate by the Place des Abbesses, beside the wall carved with ‘I love you’s, to be declared couples who wish to be eternally engaged by the mayor of the borough.

Long haul: Beijing, China

October destinations BejiingFragrant Hill's smoke trees dominate the landscape in autumn
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Trees shedding their amber-hued leaves has long been a customary part of the seasonal calendar. However, nowhere does falling leaves quite like Beijiing’s Fragrant Hill. Every year from mid-October to early December, the Fragrant Hill Red Leaf festival is held to celebrate the annual scattering of the park’s red smoke tree leaves over the rolling hills. The fiery leaves adorn the walkways and the landscaped areas, attracting tourists and locals alike to marvel at the colourful spectacle. Visit in October, at the start of the festival, and you can be one of the first to crunch through the autumn’s fresh leaf fall.

Built in 1186 during China's Jin dynasty, the park fills a huge 160 hectares (396 acres) of land and is inhabited by red maples, persimmon trees, majestic buildings and traditional pagodas as well as the famous smoke trees. Two main routes can be taken through the park, going through either the North or South and make an enjoyable walk in the cool and dry autumn climate.

If walking through the mountainous terrain doesn’t appeal, there are also cable cars through the park which give you a bird’s eye view of the blankets of leaves covering the park below like petals.

For the city sightseers…

Short haul: Granada, Spain

October Destinations GranadaGranada's Alhambra attracts around 3 million visitors each year
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Earning itself the title of Spain’s most visited monument, Granada’s famous palace complex, Alhambra, is a well-known tourist magnet. However if you visit after the summer holiday season and in the early morning, you can view the ruins of alcazaba (the citadel, which is the oldest remaining part of the complex) and the fragrant Generalife gardens in peace without having to dodge the flashes of other tourists. The complex’s crowning glory is the Nasrid Palace, which is actually made up of several different components, including the intricately carved Court of the Lions and the richly decorative Comares Palace.

Also take some time to visit Sacromonte, the gypsy district located on the slopes of Cerro de San Miguel Mountain. The high vantage points give breathtaking views over the area, and there are many cave dwellings to explore as well as lively flamenco performances. Set off on a stroll along the Carrera del Darro, a cobblestone road along the Darro River, to see street performers, 17th-century Arab houses and amazing views of Alhambra.

After a hard day of sightseeing, grab some tapas at one of the city’s many bars and tascas or retreat back to Hammam Al Ándalus for a soak in the dimly lit, palace-style Arab baths.

Long haul: Tokyo, Japan

October destinations TokyoTokyo Tower illuminated at night
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Immerse yourself in the tranquillity of the century-old Meiji Shrine, blocked out from the hub and noise of the metropolis by a forest of giant, evergreen trees. Walk only five minutes away and you will land in the bustling Harajuku district, a meeting point for hip, young fashionistas showing off the latest Gothic Lolita and cosplay styles.

Tokyo’s clash of tradition, pop culture and modern innovation creates a space to both delve into antiquity and be accommodated in luxury. To sample Tokyo’s modern marvels, visit the skyscraper district of Shinjuku, which is home to the busiest train station in the world, as well as the most luxurious hotels in Japan and a hedonistic collection of concert halls, shopping centres and top-quality restaurants.

For a touch of tradition, visit the shopping street of Nakamise in the old-style Asakusa district where you can sample local snacks such as red bean cakes and toasted rice crackers, as well as browsing the authentic souvenirs on offer. Once you’ve reached the end of the street, enter under the Thunder Gate to reach the colourful facade of Sensoji Temple, the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Tokyo.

October is one of the most favourable months to visit Tokyo as summer fades away and the city loses its humidity whilst still keeping warm.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.