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With the fall equinox behind us, many East Coasters are swapping out their summer wardrobes in favor of chunky sweaters and suede shoes. But not everyone is so apt to dive into autumn with a PSL in hand. So we’re taking cues from our travel advisors – who are forever in pursuit of the endless summer – for the best (sunny) destinations to explore this month.
Travel with us through Europe as we chat with our experts about their latest passport stamps from Spain to Croatia and everywhere in between.
How does the saying go? “Paris is always a good idea?” Oui, c’est vrai. But we also adore the idea of visiting the Provence region as the leaves start to turn. If you’re seeking a trip involving gorgeous hotels and wine in hand, land in Paris and work your way south like our NYC-based advisor, Liana Kraushaar Merriman. Her recent travels to the South of France officially had us swooning.
When asked about how the vibe was different during this time of year, Liana shared, “During the July-September peak season, the hotels and towns are packed with tourists. But in October, they all leave, so you feel like you have these towns all to yourself! The hotels are also quieter so there is a higher likelihood for an upgrade and even more personalized service. I loved visiting this region in early October because while the weather is still great, the towns are quiet, the hotels offer nice rates and it’s easy to get reservations at the best restaurants. Saint-Tropez also hosts the international regatta, Voiles de Saint-Trope, in late September/early October, which means the boats that are docked in the harbor of Saint-Tropez are incredible.
Cycling through Provence and stopping along the way at the medieval towns perched high up in the sky to visit the markets was a really special experience. There is rosé everywhere in this part of the region, so I really enjoyed all the hyper-local bottles during our stops for lunch and dinner. I really appreciated this eastern part of Provence as a great option to pair Provence with Antibes, Cap Ferrat or St. Tropez, without having to head all the way west to the areas around Aix, especially if you are flying into/out of Nice. There were generally fewer tourists, the rosé vineyards are more prevalent, there are lots of local farms, cheese producers, and generally the area just felt very local and authentic.”
Croatia Island Hopping
Sure, you’ve begun to think of the Croatia island circuit as a party hub for millennials still holding on to their Spring Break glory days. But Croatia doesn’t have to be a party scene. Planning your visit for October means you’ll be avoiding the younger college-aged crowds (or crowds in general) and set out to sea at the perfect time to relax. Make Dubrovnik your hub and enjoy day trips to nearby islands, like Chicago-based advisor, Kelly Smith. Her early October stay in Croatia had us coveting a trip of our own.
Kelly shares, “Fall is ideal for beating the crowds in Europe. I love this time of year because there’s a good chance you’ll get an ‘Indian Summer’ and the weather will still be nice enough to enjoy everything the country has to offer in the height of summer. While the water is cooling down, it’s still warm enough to swim and the islands are much quieter. With high season winding down, it’s an especially great time to visit local islands. You’ll feel like you have the place to yourself! Exploring the Elaphite islands just a short boat ride from Dubrovnik is a must.
I also highly recommend visiting an oyster farm in Ston. You’ll learn how to farm oysters and enjoy the most delectable lunch on a private island. In terms of accommodations, Villa Dubrovnik is an ultra-lux hotel located about 15 minutes from Old Town. It has a cool and classy vibe with a rocky beach club you cannot miss. If you’re looking for something closer to Old Town, Hotel Excelsior is located steps from the city walls. Its recent renovation mingles the past and present in a 1913 royal villa.”
We checked in with Newport Beach-based advisor Ruthie Wysor about her recent trip only to confirm our beliefs that yes, you can and absolutely should chase summer through Greece in October. “Athens very much exceeded expectations. I stayed at Grande Bretagne, which is the “grande dame” of the city, and my top recommendation for anyone visiting the city. The views of the Acropolis from the rooftop simply can’t be beat. In addition to the deeply steeped history of the Parthenon, temple of Zeus, and the Acropolis as a whole, Athens has an emerging night-life scene with tons of fun boutique bars, restaurants and lounges. We notably went to The Clumsies bar which had an impressive cocktail list to match its eclectic scene and hip vibe.
From Athens, it’s a short (less than 30 minute) flight to Mykonos. If you’re looking for the hot party scene, October isn’t the time to go, but if you want to experience the many other highlights of the island, it’s ideal. We were able to stroll through the town without navigating crowds, get into the best restaurants without reservations months in advance, peruse shops leisurely (and take advantage of late-season sales!) and charter a yacht to a nearby island with no one in sight. I’ve been to Mykonos during high seasons and experienced the beach club culture, and it’s admittedly super fun, but it was just as nice to experience it more as a “local” after the tourists have left for the season. My hotel recommendations on Mykonos are Bill & Coo Suites, Bill & Coo Coast, and Katikies. They are all a short walk or taxi into town and have a classic Greek style that is contemporary without being too modern. From Mykonos, take a 2-hour high-speed catamaran ferry over to Santorini!
From Mykonos, take a 2 hour high-speed catamaran ferry over to Santorini! Unlike Mykonos, Santorini had as much “buzz” during October as it does the rest of the summer. All of the top hotels are fully booked and the restaurants and bars all in full swing. Santorini as a whole has a more quiet vibe overall, so it was nice that there was still so much energy even though it was late in the season. They truly go full speed until they close for the season at the end of the month. My top recommendation for an experience here is a private catamaran cruise around the caldera, either during the day (to swim, enjoy the hot springs, and partake in a fresh on-board BBQ lunch), or during sunset (to marvel at the famous Santorini sunsets sipping champagne from your private watercraft). My favorite hotel on the island is Canaves Oia Suites, located just at the end of the beautiful pedestrian walkway of Oia, with the most stunning unobstructed views of the caldera, an incredible pool, and unique immaculately decorated and maintained suites. ”
Iconic Amalfi & Capri
There’s a reason why the Amalfi Coast and Capri remain classics for both our clients and advisors. Often categorized as day trip destinations, we feel like a few hours in these hotspots is never enough, so we opt for a stay of at least a few days respectively. When visiting in October, you’ll be better positioned for that perfect chaise at the beach club.
“As the Amalfi Coast is a consistent favorite destination for clients, the end of the season was the perfect time to put together a scouting trip of my own to scope out the best of the best for next summer. The obvious benefits are fewer crowds – which in turn means easier to snag restaurant reservations, lower room rates, and more space at the beach – and the vibe is decidedly more mellow. Even cruise crowds are less hectic, and only found in the middle of the day (and easily escapable by posting up at a leisurely lunch).
What I really love about October in Europe is that you get the best of both seasons. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon lounging at La Fontelina in Capri, basking in the Indian summer sun (but not dying of heat on the hike back up the cliff!)… Flash forward to Tuesday in Ravello, where this California girl got the perfect taste of fall with a stroll through the gardens of Villa Cimbrone to see the leaves just starting to turn. And since you can’t talk about a trip to Italy without talking about the food, another seasonal perk is that chefs breathe a bit of life into their menus, tweaking them to include fresh ingredients for fall (think pumpkin pasta – YUM), so nothing feels tired or done.”
A visit to both mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands is often reserved for the height of July and August, but NYC-based travel advisor Daniela Ratner jetted over to visit in mid-October and returned with glowing feedback. She shared, “I started my trip to Spain in Madrid and fell in love with the vibe the city had at this time of year. While October is still considered somewhat high season in Madrid, it will never be as touristy as it is in the summer months. The best part is that even though it’s not cold, all of the cool international stores are selling winters’ best. I suggest taking a foodie walking tour to pass the afternoon; we enjoyed tapas and sangria around the city while also hitting up Plaza Mayor and The Royal Palace in between bites.
Totem Hotel is my favorite for its location, tucked away on a street in the trendy Salamanca neighborhood. It is a small property, so you will feel like you are truly at home but in a very chic setting. Urso is another boutique property that I loved; it’s great for families. The vibes here are a mix of classic with modern touches. It really captures the essence of a Madrid home with tasteful furniture and international art. Meander over to Principal Hotel which boasts one of the best views of the city at its rooftop bar.
I split the remainder of my Spain trip between the Balearic Islands of Mallorca and Menorca. The October breeze in the islands brings with it an air of relaxation and rejuvenation. To be honest, I couldn’t imagine enjoying these cities in 90-degree summer heat. The warm sun and the 70-degree breeze of October makes it a jean jacket-optional situation. It is not necessarily lay-out-on-the beach all day weather, but if the sun is warm enough, you can definitely take a dip in the water. The roads are less crowded and driving around the island is less of a hassle. There is an air of tranquility and so much natural beauty! The islands are really for the individual who is happy to spend an afternoon reading a book by the sea, exploring the island by car, discovering hidden beaches and charming fisherman towns.
In Mallorca, I stayed at Cap Rocat which is an old military fortress turned gorgeous five-star hotel. Due to the structure of the fortress and the materials that are used to build it, it actually feels like 85 degrees! In Mallorca, I recommend to divide your time between Palma and the northern region near Cala Deia. Menorca is a slightly smaller island so you can choose one home base and explore the different beaches such as Platges de Biniguas, Cala de Bindali, and Platja de Cavalleria. It is also very worth visiting Ciutadella and enjoying a meal at Cas Consol.”
Ready to get planning your escape from the winter? Get in touch with your travel advisor to begin planning.