Though autumn is approaching, the weather in September is still ideal for heading to the beach and parks to enjoy as much time outdoors as possible—especially in the first half of the month when there are more than 13 hours of daylight. As for temperatures, the nation's capital of London sees daily highs averaging 68°F (20°C) and lows averaging 55°F (13°C) this month. Like Newcastle and Manchester, cities in the north tend to stay a few degrees cooler. The same goes for coastal regions due to their proximity to the Atlantic Ocean or the North Sea.
As for rainfall, September is historically drier than the upcoming fall and winter months, with an average of 2.7 inches (7 cm) of moisture this month. Of course, the island of Great Britain is known for its fickle weather, and you'll want to pack light clothing for milder days and warm, waterproof layers that are suited for sudden changes in the forecast. If it does rain this time of year, it will likely only last a few hours rather than all day.
Crowds & Costs
September marks the end of the high season in England when crowds and prices for flights, accommodations, car rentals, and activities begin to calm down—a welcome transition from the busy and expensive hubbub of summertime. Most of the families that traveled to the English hot spots in August have returned home to re-start their autumn school and work routines, leaving locals (and savvy travelers) a bit more space to enjoy the last few weeks of summer fun.
Still, this being shoulder season, you'll want to consider booking tickets and reservations as early as possible to secure the best prices and availability.
Where to Go
Now that summer tourists are starting to thin out, it's an excellent time to visit the sprawling capital of London, one of the most famous cities in the world (and for good reason). There are 32 boroughs to consider when planning a trip here and enough attractions to last a whole week or more, but you can squeeze in a lot of action into just a few days. First-timers will want to stay close to the city center. You'll have walking access to several historic and trendy neighborhoods, like Southwark, where you can ride the London Eye and cross the Millennium Bridge connecting the Tate Modern and St. Paul's Cathedral.
If you want to make London your base, you can take day trips by train to historic universities like Oxford and Cambridge, which will be welcoming back college students this month. Or rent a car and head out on a road trip through the countryside. September is a lovely time to explore the Cotswolds—a hilly region comprising six counties with quintessential English villages and farmer's markets brimming with late summer harvests. You can also drive to one of 10 national parks, like Lake District National Park, a romantic area near Scotland that has inspired artists and writers.
Beaches on the south coast will be quieting down, and this is a lovely month for enjoying the last bits of summer. If you want a trip combining some relaxation and endorphins, consider a multi-day hike along the UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast with overnight stops at harbor towns known for seafood. This 95-mile (153 km) stretch of the English Channel is aptly named since it includes rocks from the various prehistoric periods, rare flora, and abundant birdlife.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
In addition to the Jurassic Coast, there are more coastal trails to hike for either a day or multi-day trek. The longest in the country is the 630-mile (1,014 km) South Way Coast Path that traverses the entire Cornish Peninsula passing by rugged cliffs, hidden coves, dunes, and historical attractions like the Tintagel Castle, a medieval fort with access to a pedestrian bridge.
Surfing is also a popular pastime in Cornwall, and there are dozens of options, like Gwithian Beach, that offer rentals and instruction. No worries if you're a beginner: Summer waves are better for learning, while winter waves are better for experts. The south coast, in general, offers dozens of beaches known for watersports. Near Exmouth, for instance, is a regional center for water sports like kayaking, windsurfing, and kite surfing.
Then there are inland trails, like the Cotswold Way, a 102-mile long-distance route connecting to more trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. While here, you can also check out some of the region's famous English gardens, like the 10-acre Hidcote Gardens, which belongs to a historic manor home. You could practically spend a full day touring Blenheim Palace, the UNESCO-listed birthplace of Winston Churchill, with 2,000 acres of grounds.
Think of all the cultural opportunities that don't take place indoors. If you're traveling to the medieval city of York for their September food festival (info below), make sure to walk along the city's fortified walls, which can take a couple of hours if you take your time and read the plaques. Harry Potter fans, for their part, can take a tour along the Shambles, York's famous medieval street that is said to have inspired the series' Diagon Alley. You can find many private or group tour options all over the country. This is a great way to get the lay of the land, whether you want to take a pub tour in London or learn about Shakespeare's childhood in Stratford-Upon-Avon.
Events in September
Totally Thames, London. All month long is this festival on the south bank of the River Thames with a full program of arts and cultural activities, as well as active tours and environmental initiatives.
Blackpool Illuminations, Blackpool. This annual (and free) outdoor light festival takes place in the seaside resort town of Blackpool, drawing all ages. It kicks off in September and lasts through January.
Heritage Open Days, nationwide. Look for free-of-charge access to hundreds of historical and cultural sites around England, many of which are hidden, during this week-long event run by volunteers.
Horn Dance, Abbots Bromley. This pagan-inspired dance event is a popular English festival with medieval costumes and customs.
Jane Austen Festival, Bath. Literary types can head to the city of Bath for a 10-day festival celebrating all things Jane Austen.
Ludlow Food Festival, Ludlow. This annual festival at the Ludlow Castle attracts nearly 200 local purveyors and exhibitors, where you can sample a range of tasty treats and local ales.
York Food and Drink Festival, York. This popular food festival is a highlight of the Yorkshire calendar and features local produce, tastings, cooking demonstrations, as well as pop-up restaurants and bars.
SEAFEST Seafood Festival, Dorset. Each September, the Dorset coast hosts England's largest festival of seafood for two days. Foodies can gorge on all the local catch in the form of hand-dived scallops, crab, cockles, and prawns.
Traveling to England in September? Check out these great itineraries
Cotswolds Road Trip - 8 Days. Explore the heart of England, from Oxford's famous "dreaming spires" to the Roman baths in Bath, passing by some of the most quintessentially English villages of the Cotswolds.
Hike the Cornish Coast - 10 Days. This 10-day adventure combines city tours with hikes along England's southwest coast. It begins in London with a pub tour, after which you'll transfer to Cornwall to start the great trek.