Time is precious, especially summer days. As nights draw in quicker and tourists dwindle in numbers, it might feel like Europe’s fun-in-the-sun is coming to a close for another year. But that’s where you’re wrong. There’s still oceans of Vitamin D to soak up outside peak times on the continent – and all without the intense heat and crowds. Squeeze in the last of the rays and hold onto that holiday feeling by retreating to these late-summer destinations in September.
Lake Geneva, Switzerland
Average maximum temperature in autumn: 24°C
Seeking adventure just outside of high-season Switzerland? Visit in September. Not too hot, not too chilly – as Goldilocks would say, just right. You’ll find sun-kissed timewarp beauty in the Lake Geneva region: blissful funicular rail rides, placid lakeside lazing and fairytale trails such as the UNESCO-protected Swiss Wine Route, ripe to hike.
Carry on the wine theme by staying in the charming Hotel Masson in Montreux Veytaux. Once the home of a winegrower, the glorious bolthole is thought to be one of the oldest inns in the region and an important slice of Lake Geneva’s history.
Average maximum temperature in autumn: 26°C
Go to any Greek island later in the year and you’re bound to find plenty of sunshine left. Rhodes is particularly perfect in autumn: the crowds have been whittled down, so you can meander its alleyways and lounge in peaceful squares without all the tourist madness. Fly to Rhodes in September and you’ll find it’s also the ultimate time to visit Petaloudes (Valley of the Butterflies) – the tourist hotspot is wonderfully quiet after summer’s peaked.
Dose up on serenity by booking into Allegory Boutique Hotel, located in the heart of the city’s cobblestone streets. With six beautiful earthy-hued suites, stunning artwork and even your own personal tablet, this historic hotel is wonderfully forward-thinking.
Île de Ré, France
Average maximum temperature in autumn: 23°C
Follow the French: native holidaymakers love the tiny island of Île de Ré in the summer. But if you want to experience the west coast without the crowds, it’s best to visit on the run-up to September. Since it’s one of the country’s sunniest regions, you’ll get a brilliant blast of warm rays before winter draws in. With midday temperatures receded, you can also comfortably enjoy bike rides through the island’s plentiful cycle tracks, before diving into pristine seafood at ocean-based restaurant Le Richelieu SPA. From its big bay windows overlooking the Atlantic to the luxurious spa, this five-star hotel has quickly become the place to go to unwind, recharge and rejuvenate.
Average maximum temperature in autumn: 27°C
Long warm summers are standard in Crete. From Rethymno to Heraklion, the Greek islands are blessed with sunshine well into September. One of the best places to go to soak it up is lovely Chania – Crete’s second largest city and Greece’s largest island.
Check into Serenissima Boutique Hotel, an impressively cosmopolitan hideaway in the very pulse of Chania’s old city. The 16th-century manor house winks at its past – Venetian architecture here, Ottoman details there – and yet manages to retain a cocooning air of modern luxury. Dine alfresco on authentic Cretan cuisine in the secluded courtyard before heading out into the ancient city for a shopping spree and sparkling turquoise shores.