Colorado can be especially beautiful in early autumn

Summer is not quite over but if you didn’t get away, don’t despair. We’ve rounded up the best places to catch the sun’s rays, indulge in some culture and release your inner adventurer this September.  

For the adrenaline seeker…

Short haul: Andorra

Sept 2012 AndorraAndorra's mountainous terrain is perfect for hiking or biking
Creative Commons / Joan Simon

Andorra may be just over 467sq km (180sq m) wide, but this principality in the eastern Pyrenees packs a lot of fun and adventure inside its tiny borders. In fact, Andorra, which is wedged between European giants France and Spain, is a brilliant outdoor destination for not only skiers but also hikers, climbers, mountain bikers and horse-back riders.

Seasoned hikers can make a thrilling journey up to the summit of Andorra’s highest peak, the Pic de Médécourbe, whilst bikers should head to Vallnord and its impressive but challenging trails. Zip-lining from the mountainside across a gleaming lake is another high-octane thrill, whilst those keen to thrash down a river at speed can enjoy white-water rafting on the Noguera Pallresa River.

Long haul: Colorado, USA

Sept 2012 Colorado bikingColorado has incredible mountain bike trails
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Colorado has long been renowned for its stunning, world class ski resorts (like the implausibly glamorous Aspen), but the ‘Centennial State’ is just as fine a place to visit for seasoned adventurers and adrenaline junkies in early autumn. With plenteous mountain ranges and substantial national parks, fast flowing rivers and lakes and around 300 days of sunshine per year, there are almost limitless opportunities to hike, bike, raft and kayak in Colorado.

Keen rafters can choose between long stretches of the Colorado and Arkansas Rivers or the Cache la Poudre, each of which flow for miles through scenic canyons and gorges. Picturesque spots for kayakers include Grand Lake, Lake Dillon or the Blue Mesa Reservoir.

Meanwhile, advanced mountain bikers can hit the wonderful but challenging Monarch Crest Trail in Salida, which offers over 48km (30 miles) of terrain amidst some of the most stunning vistas that Colorado has to offer. Intermediate riders should head to Trail 401 in Crested Butte for spectacular views of snow capped mountains.

For the culture vulture…

Short haul: Moscow, Russia

Sept 2012 MoscowRed Square is rich in history and culture
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Early fall is a great time to visit the charming Russian capital; it precedes the dreary rains of October and follows the stifling heat of the summer. Indeed, early September is when Moscow often experiences its ‘Indian Summer’, and the city is less crowded with tourists.

Start your explorations in the heart of the city, namely Red Square. Marvel at the simply breathtaking 16th-century St. Bazil’s Cathedral and 17th century Kazan Cathedral, and then wander over to salute the father of the Russian Revolution, Lenin, in his striking mausoleum. Next, take in the sheer opulence of the Kremlin walls and its many towers, before visiting the Pushkin Fine Arts Museum and State Historical Museum.

Once you’ve had your fill of these places, why not head out to one of the city’s 100 parks. Izmailovsky Park is a favourite for many Muscovites, thanks to its glorious birch woods, attractive boating lake and stately Pokhorovoskiy Cathedral. Kolomenskoye Park is also popular, thanks to its historic churches and buildings.

Long haul: Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Sept 2012 Santiago de CubaSantiago de Cuba
World Travel Guide / William David Wilson

Havana may hog most of the headlines when it comes to Cuba’s cities, but the Caribbean island’s second largest municipality, Santiago de Cuba, is arguably just as beguiling and interesting as the much written about capital, and culturally it has been just as central to Cuban history. See firsthand the places where Fidel and Raul’s early- and ultimately botched- attempts at igniting socialist revolution took place. The Moncada Barracks – where the walls are still riddled with bullet holes (a constant reminder of that day on 26 July 1953) - are particularly fascinating.

Culturally, Santiago de Cuba is also the place where many of the island’s unique music and dance traditions (namely the salsa) first took shape, so be sure to drop by the celebrated Casa de la Trova to soak up the pulsating sounds of local musicians, or find a seductive little club to dance the night away, Cuban style.

In addition, you can feast your eyes on the country’s first Bacardi rum factory, marvel at the imposing monument in tribute to local boy/Cuban war of independence hero José Antonio Maceo, walk around the stunning 17th century Spanish-American fortification of the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca that overlooks the bay, and finally, take a trip to the grandiose Cementerio de Santa Ifigenia to the west of the city. There you can pay tribute at the gravestones of the countless Cuban war heroes, noted alcoholic drink magnate Emilio Bacardi, and the simply legendary Cuban musician- and former Buena Vista Social Club member- Compay Segundo.

For the beach bum…

Short haul: Andalucía, Spain

Sept 2012 AndaluciaThe Costa del Sol
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Escape the crowds by heading to beautiful Andalucía in September when the weather is still delightfully warm, with temperatures often still above or approaching 30ºC (80ºF). And, just as importantly, the beaches are far more serene at this time of year.

The Costa Almería, with its array of rugged, rocky coves and isolated beaches, is far less developed than the humongously popular Costa del Sol. The scarily named Playa de los Muertos (translation: the beach of the dead) is a particularly fine stretch of sand in this area, but it is worth noting that sunbathers here can - quite literally - let it all hang out.  

The Costa Tropical off Granada offers a picturesque, mountainous backdrop punctuated by bounteous golden sands and warm, blue waters.

Long haul: Bermuda

Sept 2012 BermudaBermuda's pink sands are stunning
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Bermuda boasts some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, so when you add to that considerable appeal friendly locals, glorious cocktails, charming pastel coloured settlements and ample sunshine, it makes for one heady concoction.

Beach lovers should head to gorgeous Horseshoe Bay for its legendary pink-blushed sands and tropical waters. Be sure to pack or hire a snorkelling kit, as Bermuda has some stunning coral reefs teeming with brightly coloured fish.

Elbow Beach with its lavish resort hotel of the same name, is also a good snorkelling spot, as is the rather aptly named Snorkel Park.

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.