Although September is the start of fall in the United Kingdom, in reality, the conditions are often warmer and drier than August, making the first half of September a continuation of summer. The nights are getting longer and the days shorter, but conditions are still fine for getting out and about. Average fall temperatures throughout the UK range between 48°F and 64°F (9°C and 18°C), although there's a lot of variation between Scotland's north and England's south, and September can be much hotter than these averages.
London, for example, has a low of 55°F (13°C) and a high of 68°F (20°C), while Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff have lows and highs of 48°F/61°F (9°C/16°C), 50°F/63°F (10°C/17°C), and 54°F/66°F (12°C/19°C), respectively.
Crowds & Costs
The shoulder season, September, is a quieter month for travel in the UK as vacations end and locals and tourists alike return home. Although much of the UK isn't as busy as other parts of Europe in the summer, you should expect to see crowds thin even further in September, more so toward the second half of the month.
Coastal towns in Cornwall and Devon and along the south and east coasts of England, as well as popular places like the Cotswolds and the Lake District, are quieter come September. Scotland's picturesque lochs (lakes), islands, and hiking trails, and Edinburgh's famous sights have more space, while popular sites and attractions in Northern Ireland and Wales experience shoulder-season crowds as well, save for Belfast during the Belfast International Tattoo. Booking accommodation in advance is still a good idea in locations favored by tourists, but it's not as essential as in July and August.
Where to Go
The UK is your oyster in September because fine weather and fewer vacationing locals make it an appealing month to visit many places. If you want to experience the charm of popular English sites like the Cotswolds or the beach towns of Cornwall without hordes of other people and while the weather is still pleasant, September's the time to do it. Similarly, a drive along Scotland's 512-mile (824-km) North Coast 500 explores Scotland's lesser-visited northern coastline with access to the Orkney and Shetland Islands. And in Wales, the beaches of Gower, the Llŷn Peninsula, or the Isle of Anglesey make for a nice outing.
The national parks throughout the UK are also great places to visit in September for hiking and bird/wildlife spotting. Highlights include the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands; the Brecon Beacons National Park, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and Snowdonia National Park in Wales; the Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland; and the Peak District National Park and Lake District National Park in England. Though not a national park, a hike to Scotland's Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye offers views of puffins.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
As the fall harvest season approaches, many food and drink festivals are held throughout the UK in September. Foodies should seriously consider visiting during this month above others, as there's something to taste almost anywhere you visit, from the cities to the small villages. In Scotland, you can follow an official trail map to sample the best Scottish culinary treasures, including seafood, cheese, and chocolate, and sample the country's national drink at any of the 100 whiskey distilleries. See more about particular events below.
Now is a good time to participate in any late summer water-based activities like fishing, boating tours, and sea kayaking, like Northern Ireland's North Coast Sea Kayak Trail or Wales' Pembrokeshire coast, before the autumn chill kicks in. Of course, taking in the sights on foot grants rewarding vistas. Hiking a segment of the Ulster Way in Northern Ireland, the trails around Snowdonia in Wales and Ben Nevis in Scotland, and the Northumberland Coast Path and Norfolk Coast Path in England are excellent options.
Events in September
The Proms, London, England. This prestigious series of classical music concerts is held at London's Royal Albert Hall throughout late summer (mid-July to mid-September).
Belfast International Tattoo, Northern Ireland. An extravaganza of military and community-themed dance, parades, and music in early September in Belfast.
The Braemar Gathering (or Pitlochry Highland Games), Pitlochry, Scotland. This event in early September is considered by many to be the best in the world. Fun fact: It is the only one that guarantees the presence of a member of the royal family.
Best of the West, Argyll, Scotland. This Scottish west coast festival is an end-of-season event spotlighting Argyll as a travel destination with local food, drink, and music to enjoy.
Meatopia, London, England. This ultimate festival for meat lovers is held in London in early September and celebrates preparing and eating every part of the animal.
Ludlow Food Festival, Shropshire, England. This small town in eastern England is known as one of the top gourmet destinations in the UK, thanks to its fantastic food festival. Takes place in early September.
Dorset Seafood Festival, Weymouth, England. In early September, the UK's biggest celebration of seafood takes place in Weymouth, on England's south coast.
Heritage Open Days, England. Come mid-September, travelers on a budget should coordinate their sightseeing with England's Heritage Open Days when many historical landmarks that usually cost to enter are free.
London Pride Festival, London, England. A celebration in mid-September of LGBTQIA people and lifestyles in the English capital.
Abergavenny Food Festival, Abergavenny, Wales. A two-day food festival in the Welsh town of Abergavenny that's been rated as one of the best of its kind in the UK. It takes place in mid-September.
Yorkshire Wolds Walking and Outdoors Festival, Yorkshire, England. This 10-day event in Yorkshire in mid-September introduces and celebrates a range of outdoor pursuits, including hiking in the Yorkshire Wolds hills.
Traveling to the UK in September? Check out these great itineraries
Luxury Scottish Highlands: Aviemore, Inverness & Oban - 7 Days. Explore the Scottish Highlands in style on this immersive week-long getaway. With a private driver at your disposal, you can sit back and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Discover Wales - 7 Days. This seven-day trip will have you experiencing Wales' ruggedly beautiful coastline, ancient castles, and national parks.
English Heritage Tour - 9 Days. Discover the patchwork countryside of quintessential England's rolling hills. See historic houses and enchanting gardens, and experience the rich traditions of Cambridge, Norfolk, the Peak District, Cotswolds, Buckinghamshire, and Windsor.
Exploring Dublin and the Northern Coastline - 10 Days. On this unique exploration of the northern coastline, you'll learn the history of conflict in Northern Ireland, visit castles and historical sites, and more.