November is a wonderful time to visit Cancún

From sun-kissed Mediterranean island escapes to breathtaking adventure breaks in South America, we pick our top November destinations around the world.

Best November holidays for… beaches

Short haul: Sicily

November 2011 destinations - SicilyAlluring beaches and cultural sites abound in Sicily
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Soft autumn sunshine clings to the charming island of Sicily well after most European beach destinations have shut up shop for the winter. On a good year, November brings mild sea breezes and peaceful days. The warmth is distinctly autumnal, but far-reaching sands sandwiched between rustic foliage and clear waters make for delightful rambles and dips in the sea. Rainfall is known to sporadically accompany the balmy temperatures, but, if anything, it makes the rocky hills and burgeoning greenery even more atmospheric.

The former fishing village Giardini Naxos is certainly subdued this time of year, but nonetheless offers swimming, boating and beautiful churches. On the east coast, Taormina, with sweeping bays and an enchanting historical centre, remains fully open during the first half of November. To the southeast, just outside the baroque town of Noto, the yawning beaches of the Vendicari Nature Reserve are some of the island’s most alluring.

Long haul: Cancún

November 2011 destinations - CancunBask in the sunshine on Cancún's beaches
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November is a wonderful time to visit Cancún. The clear skies of dry season have emerged, and, while peak-time prices are creeping in, there are still bargains to be had. This popular Mexican destination is characterised by white sands and a vibrant nocturnal scene. Cancún’s beaches offer everything from lazy days filled with cocktails and people-watching to world-class scuba-diving.

Fast-paced watersports whip up the waters off Playa las Perlas and Playa Linda, while quieter beaches include Playa Ballenas, Playa Delfines and San Miguelito. Take a day trip to Isla Mujeres for top snorkelling and a turtle farm, and for a hiatus from sandy toes step inland to delve into Mayan history with pyramids and temples. November is also a time for celebration in Mexico, with All Saints Day (1 November) and Day of the Dead (2 November) bringing festivities to many parts.

Best November holidays for… cities

Short haul: Cologne

November 2011 destinations - CologneCologne's festive celebrations kick off in November
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Baked apples and steaming mulled wine warm the crisp autumn air as Cologne’s world-famous Christmas market takes to the German city’s cobbled streets. During the second half of the month, festive celebrations erupt in earnest with the arrival of hundreds of stalls laden with handmade gifts and Christmas fare.

Sip glühwein (mulled wine) and browse puppets, nativity sets, traditional wooden dolls and nutcrackers. Market areas include the ancient Neumarkt, a medieval market, and the Alter Markt, which includes a merry-go-round and puppet theatre. There is also a floating Christmas market aboard the MS Wappen von Mainz. Winter cheer continues with a large ice rink at Heumarkt Square. Escape the nip in the air with a delicious visit to the Imhoff-Stollwerck Chocolate Museum, and round off a day’s shopping with a unique meal at Unsicht-Bar, where diners are served by blind waiters and eat in total darkness.

Long haul: Las Vegas

November 2011 destinations - Las VegasHead to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker final
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Head to Las Vegas for the grand final of the world’s biggest poker tournament on 6-8 November. The main event of the World Series of Poker sees just nine players, whittled down from the 7,000+ eager competitors who started the tournament back in July, battling it out for a prize fund of around US$9 million.

Being Vegas, there is an unending supply of other hedonistic diversions: bars, clubs, casinos, luxury shopping to name but a few. For those looking to splurge, hotels don’t get more impressive than the fountain-fronted Bellagio. Accommodation in this iconic building includes extensive villas complete with private terrace, garden, pool and even hair salon. For a less extravagant stay, a selection of more modest rooms at the towering Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino still benefit from four pools and some eye-popping views.

Best November holidays for… outdoors

Short haul: Norway

November 2011 destinations - NorwayIt's the best year in half a century to marvel at the Northern Lights
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As the winter nights deepen, marvel at Europe’s most famed natural phenomena, the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), as they illuminate the skies above Tromsø in northern Norway. At 2,000 km (1,243 miles) from the North Pole, Tromsø is prime Northern Light territory, and one of the best places to glimpse this otherworldly spectacle. The lights here are mainly green, but other colours are known to appear in particularly strong occurrences.

Attractive wooden houses dominate the city, with the pyramid peaks of the Arctic Cathedral soaring upwards. Backed by the undulating white terrain and lit by glowing yellow street lights, Tromsø at night is a magical sight in itself.

In November, northern Norway is also great for whale watching. At this time, orcas gather in the waters off Tysfjord to feed on a burgeoning population of herring. It is said to be the highest concentration of orcas anywhere on the planet.

Long haul: Patagonia, Argentina

November 2011 destinations - PatagoniaFew places offer better conditions for outdoor activities than Patagonia
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Flat emptiness defines much of Patagonia – a sprawling southern land in Argentina where a collection of world-renown landmarks punctuate breathtakingly sparse terrain. Few places offer better conditions for outdoor activities such as trekking, horse riding and bird spotting – and even the most untrained eye can’t fail to take home some truly spectacular photos.

The once largely unvisited El Calafate now hosts many visitors on their journey to the glowing blue form of the Perito Moreno Glacier, 80km (50 miles) away in Los Glaciares National Park. El Chaltén is a small but developing village located in a charming river valley that puts hikers in easy reach from the jagged peaks of the Fitz Roy range – challenging but spectacular hiking terrain. Trekking and kayaking are just a couple of the popular activities at Patagonia’s southernmost point: the lake- and mountain-studded wild archipelago of Tierra del Fuego.

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