Visiting the northern half of divided Cyprus

Visiting the northern half of divided Cyprus is a bit like holidaying in the 1970s. It might lack a certain slickness, but there’s also a pleasing lack of development. Some of the Med’s most unspoilt sands are here, especially along the wild Karpaz Peninsula, where you’re more likely to see donkeys and turtles than other people. Indeed, turtles visit North Cyprus regularly, and from June to late September, the Society for the Protection of Turtles runs guided, eco-sensitive night tours to view them from its base at Alagadi Beach, just east of Kyrenia’s harbour.

September is a fine time to visit: the crowds have gone but weather and waters are warm. It’s ideal for hiking between ruined Crusader castles in the Kyrenia range or strolling the well-preserved ancient city of Salamis. Don’t miss Lefkoşa, the world’s only divided capital. Amble the minaret-speared streets before passing a checkpoint for a weird wander into the bullet-scarred no man’s land that separates Turkish north and Greek south

Enjoy a trulli tasty break in Puglia, Italy – without the crowds

In September, Puglia is the place to lose the crowds, still enjoy warm sunshine and indulge in both autumnal bounty and year-round local specialities, such as Burrata cheese, orecchiette pasta, seafood, endless breads (the Salento region alone has over 100 types). Hunker down in a converted masserie (fortified farmhouse) or, better, one of Puglia’s trulli– mysterious conical limestone dwellings that pepper the peaceful countryside. Explore from your atmospheric base.

Learn to dive in Whitsunday Islands’ bath-warm, translucent waters

Some places are easy sells for tourist boards. Exhibit A: the Whitsundays, a string of 74 emeralds ringed with white gold, afloat in warm turquoise seas sheltered by the Great Barrier Reef. See? September, with rain-free days and clear seas, is prime time to explore.

Many visitors simply loll on the deck of a yacht or find a patch of pristine sand – perhaps Whitehaven, which regularly tops world’s-best-beach polls – but this is also a great place to learn to dive or develop your sub-aqua skills with short courses and liveaboard dive vessels cruising among the islands and out to the Great Barrier Reef. As well as seeing countless dazzling reef fish, you could observe sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and manta rays, which feed around the fringing reefs from May to September.

The Île de Beauté is beautifully un-busy

There’s barely a straight road on the wildly rumpled Mediterranean isle of Corsica. Tarmac has to twist around mountains and through the herby maquis shrubland that blankets the interior. As such, you don’t want to tackle these roads in high summer, when the whole of Francedecamps to Corsica’s gorgeous shores. Instead, wait until September, when the air and sea are still warm, and the beaches – arguably Europe’s best – are empty again.

Also amble the precipitous, cliff-perched town of Bonifacio; feel the introspective vibe in hilltop Sartène; hit the Napoleon trail in lively Ajaccio, birthplace of Napoleon Bonaparte; or tour the tiny fishing ports of offbeat Cap Corse. The seemingly impenetrable interior is laced with hiking trails, including the tough but epic GR20. Tackle it all, or just a section, or book a villa in the hills, crack a Pietra beer, nibble brocciu cheese and simply contemplate the wilderness instead.

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