November might seem like an odd time to go abroad, but it’s the perfect month for small crowds and cut-price trips away. Even better, some parts of the world are still experiencing lovely weather, including South Africa and India, while closer to home you’ll find some unique traditions under way.
Best for islands
The lush, mountainous island of Madeira is hidden away in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. In spite of this, it’s an integral part of Portugal, and home to one of its most famous sons, football legend Cristiano Ronaldo. It enjoys fabulous weather and sunshine all year, and in November, although not the warmest of months, mild days are on the menu. On top of that, it’s relatively inexpensive. November is a good time to go walking and trekking in the countryside – particular at the nature reserve in Ponta de São Lourenço – but also for eating – and eating well – unwinding, and relaxing. The island’s capital, Funchal, is home to some stunning botanical gardens, a historic market, and typically southern European-style palaces, churches, and boulevards. For something slightly off the beaten track, head to Porto Moniz, a small town famous for its rock-carved natural swimming pools, and the idyllic scenery that surrounds it.
Some scholars think that Santorini, which earned its distinctive crescent shape after an ancient volcanic eruption, might be the distant inspiration for the lost island of Atlantis. True or not, Santorini is a paradise, and easily recognised for its whitewashed towns perched on the edge of the cliff, blue domes sparkling in the sun. There is something for everyone here: the archaeological site of Akrotiri is there for the history buffs; the picturesque monastery and narrow streets of Pyrgos attract cultural travellers; and the black pebble beach of Kamari, affording fabulous views of the sunset, is the ideal setting for romantics and beach lovers alike. November is the perfect time to visit to avoid the crowds, for milder weather, and for lower prices.
Best for exotic escapes
With its monsoon days well behind it, India emerges from the autumn as the perfect destinations for chilly Europeans looking for sum fine weather and exotic culture. Fortunately, it has left peak tourism season behind it too, so the crowds have shrunk, and the great deals have grown. Make your way to southern India, and you’ll find some fascinating places that don’t typically feature on tourist itineraries. Hyderabad has as much culture as anywhere, including the iconic Charminar and the Golkonda Fort that speak to its long and unique history. It also has a pretty impressive street food scene. Further south in Bangalore, meanwhile, there is culture to be found in the city’s temples and palaces, but it is primarily a destination for world-class shopping and South Indian design.
Cape Town, South Africa
When you’re strolling down the colourful streets of Bo Kaap, visiting the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or the Castle of Good Hope, wandering the eerie corridors of Robben Islands, where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned, or shopping on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, you’ll struggle to believe that Cape Town is an ‘unsafe’ city. It’s true that going out at night is a bad idea for a tourist, but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting South Africa’s Mother City. It’s a vibrant, eclectic, fascinating place that’s not worth missing out on. And if you’re really concerned, you could always make an excursion outside of the city, to iconic Table Mountain, or to the beautiful Western Cape region that surrounds Cape Town. November is summer in South Africa, making it the ideal month to explore this lovely part of the world. For more information, check out our guide to South Africa’s Western Cape.
Best for Guy Fawkes Night
Remember, remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason,
Why gunpowder treason,
Should ever be forgot.
The origin of Guy Fawkes Night, celebrated across Britain on 5th November, has become increasingly tangential to the general revelry of bonfires, fireworks, and drinking. In the town of Lewes in East Sussex, however, they haven’t forgotten, and every year they celebrate it in their own unique way. Unlike festivities elsewhere in the country, Lewes also commemorates 17 martyrs who were burnt to death during the reign of ‘Bloody’ Queen Mary I, giving the events a local flavour.
To begin with, 17 burning crosses, representing the martyrs, are carried through the town. Then the ‘barrel run’ takes place, with men and women pulling a flaming barrel of tar along the high street; one of these is then thrown into the river. Festivities culminate in five separate bonfire displays. Every year, topical effigies of contemporary political figures will join the traditional Guy Fawkes on the bonfire. Sepp Blatter, Alex Salmond, and David Cameron are among the recent offerings. Without fail, criticism will be aimed at the event; although they have definitely chose to court controversy, most locals will tell you it’s all just part of the fun and tradition.
Lewes typically closes off the roads on the afternoon of the 5th November, to limit the number of rowdy out-of-towners entering the town. It’s not such a bad thing: Lewes is notoriously difficult for traffic at the best of times. Head in early and make the most of this very pretty town.
Looking to travel on a different month?
Santana – image by Rich Jacques via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
lewes bonfire night 2012-204 – image by Heather Buckley via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Santorini – image by Alan & Flora Botting via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Cape Town – image by Kemal Kestelli via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.o)
Madeira-7 – image by John6536 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Street of Hyderabad – 10 – Version 2 – image by Rajesh_India via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
lewes bonfire night 2013 – image by Heather Buckley via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)