When planning a vacation, it's easy to subconsciously follow typical travel wisdom and book a destination when it's supposed to be the best time of year. While that certainly means you'll get great weather and have more activities and events to choose from, there's also a downside: Popular restaurants book out, hotel rates soar, and the queues to go to any major attraction can be a serious deterrent.
Instead, travel insiders do the opposite: When tourists flock to winter destinations like Aspen and Switzerland, they use it as an opportunity to explore off-season spots. In some cases, you'll find that fewer shops and restaurants are open, but you'll also be able to experience a completely different side of the city. Summer hot spots like Montauk offer a soothing respite from New York City life, while the thermal baths of Budapest come alive with locals when snow falls. Change your plans: These destinations are better (and much cheaper) in the off-season.
The tail end of the year is generally a great time to explore Spain: The scorching summer is over, and there's also a host of cultural activities to plan your trip around. November also marks jazz festival season, with events in Barcelona, Madrid, and Grenada.
If you've been contemplating a trip to Seville, now's the time to go. The Telegraph dubbed it "Europe's greatest city to visit in winter," explaining that the aroma of oranges still fills the air, and many rooftops and alfresco bars are still open in the gorgeous city.
You'd be forgiven for thinking Montauk was a completely different town in fall and winter. The fishing community pulses with weekend visitors from Manhattan during the summer months, but after Labor Day, it transforms into a tranquil escape. Hotel rates are much more affordable, but make sure to do your research before booking, as the majority of them shut their doors over winter.
Our pick is Gurney's Montauk, a luxe and refined beachfront resort that's open year-round. It has an indoor seawater pool that draw's water from Montauk's coast and is warmed to the perfect temperature. There's also a Finnish rock sauna and a Russian steam room—enough to keep you occupied for a weekend of rest and relaxation.
June and July might be the most popular season to visit the Cotswolds, a rural area of south-central England, but it's equally beautiful in the cooler months. Fall is the perfect time to see the countryside change color, while winter is ideal for a cozy British vacation: Think pub dinners in front of an open fireplace and brisk walks. Unsure where to start? The Cotswolds span six counties, but small market town Chipping Camden and picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water both come alive in winter.
Prince Edward County
There are a number of events in Prince Edward County, Ontario, that showcase the gorgeous area in fall. It's harvest season, so take your pick from grape and apple harvesting, county fairs, and pumpkin festivals during September, October, and November. It's also an ideal time to get outdoors and enjoy the crisp fall air; the region has great trails for cycling, hiking, and running.
Budapest is perhaps best known for its huge indoor and outdoor thermal spas, but summer isn't the only time take a dip. Locals head to the pools at Gellert Spa to lounge in the soothing warm water and can be found in heated outdoor Széchenyi Baths when snow is falling.
Where's your favorite off-season destination? Share your travel tips with us below.