October for culture trip ideas

There’s never a bad time to explore the world, but October offers a particular wealth of experiences for those wanting to get a little closer to another culture.

Journey across the continents to discover remarkable ruins in the Greek Peloponnese peninsula, breathtaking world wonders in Jordan, prime climes and the happiest of people in Bhutan, and the city that never sleeps settling into its most laid-back season.

 

Visit Bhutan for clear skies, sights and trails in the pristine Himalaya

For the happiest holiday, visit Bhutan. This Himalayan Shangri-La measures success in terms of Gross National Happiness rather than material wealth, and most Bhutanese people live guided by traditional values and spirituality. It’s as refreshing as the mountain air on a crisp October day. Yes, October – the most beautiful month.

Delightful temperatures and dry, blue skies are perfect for hiking and sightseeing; rare black-necked cranes arrive in the Phobjikha Valley too (they stay until February). Cultural journeys involve dramatic drives to dzongs (fortresses), many of which – including Thimphu and Gangtey – host colourful tsechus (festivals) this month. More active trips head into the mountains. There are hikes to suit all levels, from the essential half-day climb to cliff-perched Tiger’s Nest Monastery to the Jhomolhari, a seven-day trek into one of the most pristine parts of the Himalaya.

  • Trip plan: A seven- to 10-day trip could include Paro, Thimphu and Punakha, taking in dzongs, views, short walks and traditional activities (archery, hot-stone baths). Allow longer to include multi-day hikes.
  • Need to know: Visitors must pay a minimum fee of US$250 a day (US$200 Dec-Feb, Jun-Aug).
  • Other months: Dec-Feb – cold, clear; Mar-May – flowers, warm; Jun-Sep – wet; Sep-Nov – cooler, clear, dry.

 

Discover cool ruins and warm seas in the Peloponnese, Greece

You don’t have to visit the Peloponnese in the off season. Inexplicably, though this hand-shaped peninsula has some of Greece’s least-developed beaches, best-preserved sites, most appealing mountains and even the original Arcadia, it sees only a fraction of the tourists that besiege other corners of the country. October offers even smaller crowds as well as clement temperatures (around 22°C; 72°F) for walking amid both hills and ruins.

Must-sees include Olympia, where the Olympic Games was held for 1000 years; the citadel of Mycenae, swirled by Homeric legends; Epidaurus’s 14,000-seater amphitheatre; and the Byzantine port of Monemvasia, huddled on a battleship-like islet. The wild Mani peninsula offers fine hiking, particularly around Výros Gorge, while the west coast has some of Greece’s best sand – head to curvaceous, unspoilt Voidhokilia.

  • Trip plan: From Athens, cross onto the Peloponnese via ancient Corinth, and visit nearby Mycenae, Epidaurus and the pretty Venetian town of Nafplio – doable in a few days. With more time, head south to Monemvasia and the Mani, then back north via the west coast and Olympia.
  • Need to know: Athens to Corinth is 53 miles (85km; 55-minute drive); buses, trains and ferries run from near Athens to the Peloponnese.
  • Other months: Nov-Mar – cold; Apr-May – warming, flowers; Jun-Aug – hot, busy; Sep-Oct – warm, quieter.