Fall is coming. And that means many destinations will be experiencing their shoulder season–the period between peak season and off season. Traveling during this time comes with the benefits of fewer crowds, milder weather, and lower prices for flights and hotels. It’s a win all around the board. If you’re passport-ready but not sure where to head this fall, consider checking out one of these great destinations.
Turkey has a bit of everything. Its largest city, Istanbul, straddles both Europe and Asia, and is where you’ll find some of the best food in the country. Shop (and get lost) at the sprawling, maze-like Grand Bazaar. Visit the remarkable, historic mosques. Then head to Cappadocia where you can admire fairy chimneys, sleep in a cave hotel, and wake up for a magical dawn hot air balloon ride. Turkey is also home to some of the most scenic beaches in coastal cities like Antalya and Alanya.
South Africa offers gorgeous landscapes and a diverse variety of wildlife. Scope out the big five on a safari at Kreuger National Park or Tswalu Kalahari Private Reserve. Visit a colony of penguins at Cape Town’s Boulder Beach. Connect with the locals and meet members of the Zulu, Xhosa, and Besotho tribes to learn about their cultures and customs. If nightlife is what you seek, the country offers some of the best on the continent. You can’t go wrong with a visit to Johannesburg or Durban.
Home of ramen and sushi, anime and manga, and cutting-edge technology, the Land of the Rising Sun awaits you. Start your trip by checking out hotspots like the Harajuku district and Shibuya Crossing. Take a ride on the Bullet Train and visit some of the nation’s many sacred temples. Climb up Mt. Fuji, the country’s tallest peak and a relatively easy climb for beginners. Or explore enchanting Kyoto. One of the few cities spared the devastation of WWII, it boasts ancient art and architecture and is an important cultural hub of Japan.
The westernmost country in continental Europe, Portugal is known for its moody Fado music, delicious pasteis de nata, and blue ceramic azulejos tiles. Head to its capital city, Lisbon, or to Porto, the birthplace of port wine. The Azores islands offer beautiful nature, and you can take a boat ride to watch whales or dolphins in their habitat. The picturesque town of Sintra is full of history and where you can visit stunning fairytale castles of various architectural styles.
Upon mention of the Land Down Under, most people immediately think of the famous Sydney Opera House. But incredible nature is where the country truly shines. In addition to waterfalls, beaches, rock formations, wildlife, and not one but ten pink lakes, Australia is also home to the Great Barrier Reef so rich in marine life and diversity it is considered one of the best snorkeling spots in the world. Northern Queensland’s Daintree National Park is among the Earth’s oldest ecosystems and definitely worth a visit, as well.