New York City blooms in the autumn

From autumnal New York to tropical Australia, we round up some of the best places to escape on holiday this October, whether you're pining for a city break, beaches or some adventure.

For beach bums…

Mid haul: Gambia

GambiaboatsTraditional Gambian fishing boats
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Just a six-hour flight from the UK, Africa’s smallest nation, Gambia, offers miles of uncrowded, shell-strewn beaches and swaying palm trees. October marks the end of the rainy season when the country enjoys balmy temperatures of around 27°C (80°F). Head to Cape Point Beach for swathes of white sand but don’t be tempted to cool off in the water, the Atlantic currents are too strong for swimming. This area is quieter than the beaches at Kotu but here, you’ll find many restaurants and a colourful craft market where you can pick up batiks and wood carvings. Backed by red rock cliffs, the secluded beaches around Fajara are a fabulous way to end the day as the area is renowned for its amazing sunsets.

Long haul: Queensland, Australia

WhiteheavenWhitehaven Beach offers blinding white sands
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Epic, seductive and paradisiacal... Australia’s northeastern state, Queensland, boasts a coastline fringed with pristine beaches that most adjectives fail to do justice to. Provided you stick to the beaches north of Mackay, you can enjoy the last month of the dry season in this tropical wonderland. Lounge on the gorgeous golden sands of Fitzroy Island, off Cairns, where the only other distraction are topaz seas teeming with Great Barrier Reef marine life. Alternatively, head for Whitehaven Beach, on the Whitsunday Islands, where blinding white pure sands squeak deliciously between your toes. And for true adventurers, journey to Cape York through dirt roads and croc-infested territory where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Frangipani Beach lapped by the shimmering Torres Straits, literally marking the end of the continent.

For city slickers...

Short haul: Marrakech

SquaremorocMarrakech's bustling square comes alive at night
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Marrakech is a vibrant, intoxicating city of souks, spices, snake charmers and hidden palaces that now also attracts fashionistas and trendy couples with its chic bars, cool art galleries and hip hotels. Autumn is an ideal time to visit, when breezes blow down from the Atlas Mountains but temperatures still remain tan-tastically warm.

Marrakech’s much-celebrated square, Jemaa el Fna, is a must-see, especially in the evening. Thronging with crowds, it is filled with a dazzling, unforgettable spectacle: musicians, fortune-tellers, dancing cobras, acrobats and more than 100 makeshift food stalls enthral tourists long into the night.

Other attractions include palaces and elegant gardens but the essence of capturing Marrakech is to experience it, rather than simply see it. Make sure you visit a local hammam and stay in a riad for an unforgettable experience.

Long haul: New York City

timesqnycNew York buzzes night and day
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Autumn in New York is a sight to behold. From late September to November, a majestic orange wave sweeps through the state. In the city, crisp fall air and a rainbow of crimson and gold leaves provide a striking backdrop for lively festivities.

See the streets of Manhattan fill with floats and bands for the Columbus Day Parade on 14 October, and overrun by the ghoulish and ghastly at the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade. Halloween celebrations last an entire week here so make sure you buy a costume and join in the fun. For the coolest outfits, try the brilliant Halloween Adventure shop near Union Square.

Home to fantastic restaurants, chic nightspots, cutting-edge theatre and world-class attractions, New York City is packed with highlights. One tip? For unobstructed views of the city, skip the Empire State Building and head to the Rockefeller Center instead – the 70th-floor, open-air Top of the Rock Observation Deck offers breathtaking views of Central Park and the rest of Manhattan (and it's less crowded too).

For adventure lovers...

Short haul: Mallorca

MallorcaswimTake the plunge with a break in Mallorca
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Mallorca may be the quintessential destination of choice for package holiday lovers but the island’s slowly garnering a reputation for its outdoorsy appeal. Visit in October, when the crowds have gone, and serious adventurers will find an island full of adventurous bounty.

Water-lovers can take their pick of the crop; the island has everything from windsurfing and snorkelling to sailing and diving (a visit to El Toro marine reserve is a must), whilst cyclists who fancy their Tour de France chances can follow the northwest routes that meander through the Serra de Tramuntana mountains.

Hikers can follow signposted trails dotted around the island interior, stumbling across hidden coves, chocolate box villages and bleating goats with every step; walkers tackling the Serra Llevant national park in the northeast will spy sister island Menorca, glinting in the distance.

Long haul: Bali

BalisurfSurfing in Bali is one of many thrilling watersports
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Love watersports? Bali’s sandy shores and laid-back feel have made it a perennial favourite with active travellers looking to brush up on their diving, surfing and kayaking.

But adrenaline junkies looking for their next high might want to try the latest sport to take the island by storm: stand up paddle boarding (SUP). Odd though it may look, as you stand on the board and paddle with an oar, this is the world’s fastest growing sport and the Indonesian island is one of the most versatile places to SUP. You can enjoy everything from heart-stopping waves in the Indian Ocean to the still perfection of a quiet lagoon.

Kuta in the south is one of the most popular spots for SUP, where a number of local operators will rent equipment and offer lessons. Otherwise, beat the crowds and head eastwards to Sanur where you’ll have those swells all to yourself.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.