Where To Go In October 2023
Fall is one of our favorite times of year, whether it’s for a city break, an off-season Mediterranean break, or a trip to the Alps. From Palermo to Athens, and Menorca to Portugal via a trio of mountain destinations, here are the destinations we’re bookmarking this October.
Palermo, Sicily, Italy
Sitting in faded grandeur on Sicily’s northwestern coast, Palermo feels suspended between Europe and Africa. A sensual, golden city, it is still gloriously sun-drenched in October, and you can get lost in its labyrinthine streets without fainting from the heat. While wandering, you will stumble across the marks of the city’s myriad invaders, from the Arabs and Moors to the Greeks and the Romans, including Baroque churches, souk-style markets, and crumbling palazzos. The smartest address to stay is Villa Igiea, the Forte family’s Sicilian outpost, with its Belle Epoque character and Olga Polizzi’s interior flourishes. You will want to spend a good amount of time lounging by its magnificent pool, which overlooks a Greek ruin and has the feeling of a bygone era. Then head back into town for lunch at locals’ favorite, Focacceria del Massimo, and natural wines at Del Baron. Make sure to check what is on at Teatro Massimo, Palermo’s breathtaking opera house.
By fall, the summer heat in Athens has died down to a more palatable temperature and October is a beautiful time to explore its fizzing creative, cultural and gastronomic scene. Its hotel offering is also gathering pace with new openings such as The Dolli and Apollo Palm joining the Mona and Shila — each offering a gateway to the new, modern Athens. Spend a long weekend trawling its sprawling flea market near Monastiraki, checking out the National Museum of Contemporary Art (EMST) and investigating its bars and restaurants. Our favorites include Wine Is Fine, the Japanese izakaya-style Birdman and Greek-Asian fusion joint, Nolan. The weather is also still more than fine on the islands during October, so hop over to a nearby island such as Hydra to extend your trip.
Menorca, Balearic Islands, Spain
After the summer rush, October is one of the loveliest times to visit the rising star of the Balearic Islands. Days are sunny, the sea is warm and the island’s beautiful countryside is bathed in a warm golden light. New luxurious country house hotel openings only make it more compelling for a fall getaway, including the family-owned Son Vell. Set near Ciutadella, this 18th-century Italianate manor is surrounded by 200 hectares of land and has two farm-to-fork restaurants and offerings such as alfresco cinema nights and stargazing. It joins Menorca Experimental and Son Blanc Farmhouse as the new places to bed down on the island. During your stay, among all the boating, hiking, and (possibly) biking, make sure to visit the Hauser & Wirth multi-arts center on an islet off Mahon.
South of Lisbon towards the Spanish border, and stretching out towards the Atlantic, the Alentejo region remains the unsung hero of Portugal. Wonderfully unspoiled and dotted with cork forests, vineyards, and whitewashed villages, it is a rough and ready rural idyll where time seems to stand still. Our favorite place to stay is São Lourenço do Barrocal, a quietly luxurious farmhouse surrounded by vines and olive trees, which sits under the ancient hilltop town of Monsaraz. The barns and workers’ rooms on this eighth-generation family estate have been transformed into rustic yet elegant rooms that are sympathetic to the local vernacular; while guests have the run of the foodie landscape come fall with foraging, cooking workshops and olive oil harvests and tastings.
Charlbury, Oxfordshire, UK
Quiet and unassuming, the pretty market town of Charlbury in the west of Oxfordshire is garnering attention as the home of two new pubs with rooms. First up is The Bell, the latest outpost of the Daylesford group which has taken over a 17th-century pub in the heart of the town on Church Street. Bedrooms feature whimsically grand four posters, perfect for rolling upstairs after a hearty fish pie downstairs. Across the road is The Bull, now run by the team behind Notting Hill’s The Pelican, which has an exceptional menu with meat cooked over the fire, whole market fish and top-notch veg, alongside a dynamic wine list featuring skin-contacts and Pet Nat. There are pared-back, beautiful bedrooms that are perfect for Fall stays, with elegant four posters, moss green curtains, and generous bathtubs. To work up an appetite, walk around the nearby Cornbury Estate, which you can reach on foot from Charlbury and both pubs.
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Edinburgh has become one of the most desirable city break destinations in the UK and Europe, with October a glorious time to visit. As well as magnificent Gothic architecture, its cobblestoned Royal Mile and its historic 12th century castle, it has a buzzing hotel and food scene. Book into Gleneagles Townhouse, a members’ club that doubles up as a sumptuous boutique hotel that sits handsomely on St Andrew Square. The sister to Gleneagles in rural Perthshire, its Art Deco-style bedrooms signal a new chapter for the Scottish capital. Foodies will be kept busy too, with spots such as The Palmerston and Sprye Wines demanding a visit, alongside Lannan Bakery and its much-loved pastries.
Corvara, Alta Badia, Italy
Come October, Alta Badia is a riot of Gall colors when the larches transform into rich reds. Days are often sunny before temperatures drop and call for cozy evenings inside. Conditions are perfect for exploring the area’s magnificent hiking and biking trails, as well as sampling its gourmet fruits — with four Michelin stars across the small valley. Bed down at Berghotel Ladinia, the quintessential mountain inn, and Corvara’s first, that has been open since 1930. Delightfully intimate, it has just 13 bedrooms, beautiful views of Mount Sassongher, and traditional Ladin interiors that hold centuries of stories in their walls. After days outside, mingle with your fellow guests in the hotel bar, where the charismatic Alessio pours glasses of local red, ahead of hearty dinners in the tube. For a change of scenery, hop across the road to its sister hotel, the iconic La Perla, for an elegant dinner in its La Stua de Michil restaurant.
Bavarian Alps, Germany
With Oktoberfest drawing to a close on the 3rd this year, there is no better cure than an October jaunt to the Bavarian Alps. Only an hour from Munich, the scenery is just the tonic you will need. For a proper detox, check into the Naturhotel Tannerhof, which is nestled between a mountain and a lake. Laid out like a small village, the hotel enjoys sweeping views of the Leitzach Valley and the Wendelstein mountain. Founded in 1905, it has a holistic approach to hospitality that places nature at the forefront and involves all sorts of supervised fastings and therapeutic treatments. Beyond exploring the Tannerhof, with its epic spa and gourmet cuisine, you can walk into the market town of Bayrischzell, swim in the nearby Schliersee, as well as walk, hike, and bike the valley.
Valais Alps, Switzerland
Fall is not a busy time in the Valais canton, which makes it an even better time to visit in our eyes. The landscape is turning a warm golden, and the first snows start to dust the highest peaks like icing sugar. With the low angles of the sun, the light is particularly beautiful in the Swiss Alps at this time of year. Stay at the postcard-perfect Hotel Bella Tola & St. Luc, which dates back to 1859 and is tucked away in the Val d’Anniviers. Its 28 elegant rooms overlook the surrounding peaks — some of which stand at 4,000 m — and are easily recognizable with its pretty blue shutters. The surrounding area of St Luc and Chandolin is ripe for hiking and biking, while the hotel’s high-altitude spa, L’Eau de Cimes, puts Alpine herbs and flowers to use in its massages and treatments. Come evening, choose between local Swiss dishes in Le Tzambron, or fancier French classics in Chez Ida.
Los Angeles, US
With the weather hovering around the mid-20s, October is the perfect time to visit La La Land. Stay at the iconic Sunset Tower in West Hollywood, the crown jewel of Sunset Strip, and settle into evenings at its famed bar, which has an energetic vibe and live music most nights. For us, it is all about a mix of old classics and discovering new favorites: breakfast at Gjusta and lunch at Botanica is a must, while Coucou and Lolo are the new wine bar spots to check out. A city of many sprawling and distinct mini-cities, book into newly reopened The Georgian in Santa Monica for a beachfront stay with Wes Anderson-style vibes.