Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, updated with new information.
November is an interesting month to travel. The early part of the month is often considered part of shoulder season, while the end kicks off the busy holiday season. Also, the temperature can be all over the map depending on the destination. However, taking a pre-Thanksgiving trip is an excellent opportunity to score some deals while still enjoying temperate climates in many places.
Plus, more destinations recently lifted COVID-19-related restrictions and are eager to welcome travelers. That means there are new hotels to stay in, exhibits to visit and trails to explore. This comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspends country-specific COVID-19 travel advisories. Still, there are reports of cases rising, so it’s important to keep an eye on the latest recommendations from the CDC and consider getting the new vaccine booster for added protection.
Where should you go ahead of the holidays? Here are TPG’s eight best places to visit in November.
Paddling through a sea cave on Miyakojima Island in Okinawa, Japan. IPPEI NAOI/GETTY IMAGES
For the first time in 2 1/2 years, Japan is allowing visa-free entry for individual travelers; this brings the country’s border rules closer to pre-pandemic norms. Not surprisingly, there are several new openings throughout the country to experience this fall. Plus, the Japanese yen remains weak against the U.S. dollar — it hit its lowest levels in more than two decades — allowing visitors’ money to go even further on luxury travel experiences.
In November, Okinawa is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking. Plus, there’s an exclusive Nijo-jo Castle tour, serene Moon Tuning Treatments, and Studio Ghibli Park Nagakute City opens Nov. 1.
TPG tip: According to Hotels.com, Tokyo is seeing 35% lower than average hotel rates compared to November 2019. Additionally, several new properties will open this month. For example, Hoshino Resorts KAI Izumo opens Nov. 16, and KAI Unzen welcomes guests starting Nov. 25. Another good option is the popular Hotel The Mitsui Kyoto — one of the most prestigious five-star hotels in Kyoto— for around $600 per night. Its restaurants serve the finest seasonal ingredients, and there’s a spa with natural onsen hot spring bathing. No to mention, there are nearby temples and castles to explore. You can also stay at The Westin Tokyo for around 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or $230 per night.
A new study by Bounce analyzed the most popular cities in the Northern Hemisphere on weather, events, affordability and popularity across seasons to reveal the best city to visit this fall. Amsterdam took the top spot. With a reasonable hotel cost of $117.80 per night and 16 major events in the autumn months, it’s the perfect city break. Museumnacht — a night when the city’s cultural institutions come alive with special programming — takes place Nov. 5. There’s also the Amsterdam Storytelling Festival in the early part of the month, Sinterklaas starting midmonth, and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam at the end of the month.
TPG tip: Book a room at DoubleTree by Hilton Amsterdam Centraal Station from 60,000 Hilton Honors points or $257 a night. The Hyatt Regency Amsterdam is also a solid choice at just 15,000 World of Hyatt points or $286 per night.
A woman relaxing in a hammock on Waikiki Beach. TYLER D.RICKENBACH/AURORA PHOTOS/GETTY IMAGES
November is the time to check out one of the most popular destinations ahead of the festive season. During the summer months, Hawaii’s hot spots are filled with visitors. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s monthly tourism statistics, Oahu saw a dip in travelers starting in November. According to new Expedia data, average ticket prices to Honolulu are less than 10% up compared to November 2019. Also, Hotels.com revealed per-night room costs in Oahu were 15% lower this November. The decline in visitors is the perfect opportunity to explore an uncrowded Waikiki and try delectable farm-to-table cuisine like Merriman’s Honolulu, go paddle boarding or surfing in the turquoise blue water or attend a monthly night market showcasing Oahu artisans.
TPG tip: Stay at The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, which currently offers booking deals. Or, the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani is available for around 37,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or $217 per night.
The Porch of the Caryatids, at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. DAVE G KELLY/GETTY IMAGES
While Greece is one of the most popular summer destinations, it’s also worth a visit in the fall. Sure, you won’t be able to lounge on the beach, but you can still enjoy temperate weather with highs hitting the mid-60s. To make things even better, you can score some incredible deals on hotels and flights, and you won’t have to battle the crowds. Barozzi, a popular 12-seat restaurant in Naxos that opened in July, will remain open until the end of November. You can also explore the ruins in Athens or Delphi without clamoring for a photo. Or, hike portions of the Corfu trail without sweating profusely. A few festivals like Michaelmas and St. Andreas’ Day make November a lively time to visit.
TPG tip: Ducato di Oia will remain open throughout the year, inviting guests to experience a quieter, more serene Santorini than you would find under the August sun. The Mr & Mrs Smith Kapari Natural Resort is also available in Santorini from 40,000 IHG One Rewards points or $269 per night.
The Punakha Dzong in Bhutan was built in the 17th century and served as the capital and seat of government until the 1950s. MORTEN FALCH SORTLAND/GETTY IMAGES
Bhutan — which sits high in the Himalayas and is one of the world’s ultimate bucket list destinations — just reopened its doors to guests after closing in early 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic. The reopening of Bhutan will bring about a change in the way the kingdom receives its guests. Individual travel is now permitted, so travelers no longer need to come with a certified tour operator. Along with the country’s reopening, the 250-mile historic Trans-Bhutan Trail reopened on Sept. 28, for the first time in 60 years, after extensive restoration. The trail will now allow guests to venture through this incredible country by foot or bike, passing through deeply remote areas of the world, stunning landscapes, 21 temples, 12 mountain passes, five suspension bridges, ancient fortresses, monasteries and more than 400 historic sites.
TPG tip: Two properties are available through Marriott Bonvoy — Le Meridien Paro, Riverfront for 33,000 points ($451), and Le Meridien Thimphu for 27,000 points ($356). Six Senses manages several lodges throughout the stunning kingdom for $1,750 a night.
SHAHREEN AMRI/GETTY IMAGES
November is a great time to visit Turkey as many events take place throughout the country, and fall foliage is at its peak. Bilecik is a great destination to admire fall colors at their finest in November; it also boasts historical and archaeological heritage sites, including mosques, tombs, inns, baths and examples of civil architecture similar to buildings from the Ottoman period. To see fall foliage, travelers should head to the Pazaryeri district in northwestern Bilecik. The Istanbul Theatre Festival also takes place until Nov. 26, showcasing innovative renditions of select Turkish and international theater and dance companies. Performances include “Juliet & Romeo” on Nov. 4 and “Istanbul Mon Amour” on Nov. 26. There’s also the Istanbul Marathon on Nov. 6 and the UCI Gran Fondo Antalya from Nov. 17 to 20.
TPG tip: The long and short Gran Fondo races will end in front of the Nirvana Cosmopolitan Hotel, which has rooms starting at $110 a night. Or, stay at the new Hampton by Hilton Istanbul Old City for around 30,000 Hilton Honors points ($120) a night.
ATLANTIDE PHOTOTRAVEL/GETTY IMAGES
The Big Easy is always a good place to visit, but a November trip here is particularly special. This Veterans Day (Nov. 11), the National WWII Museum launches a groundbreaking 4D entertainment experience called “Expressions of America.” In addition, the Bayou Bacchanal — a celebration of Caribbean culture — takes place in November, as does the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, the New Orleans Film Festival and the Bayou Classic. All of this happens with fewer crowds than in the summer and perfect temperatures (highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s).
TPG tip: Virgin Hotels New Orleans just opened and has rooms for around $305 per night. Meanwhile, Four Seasons New Orleans is one of the hottest properties, with rates starting at $375 (about 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points) a night.
Horsemen in the Dia de los Muertos parade in Houston. DIA DE LOS MEUERTOS/FACEBOOK
With a brand-new food hall opening and plenty of exciting cultural and arts festivals, now is the time to travel to H-Town. Downtown’s newest food hall, Lyric Market, is opening this fall and will feature nine exciting destinations offering sushi, plant-based Mexican, authentic Texas barbecue and Indian street food. In addition, the Dia de los Muertos concert and parade (Nov. 5) return to Houston this year, showcasing vibrant music, food and art. The Tokyo Night Festival (Nov. 11 and 12) is a yearly celebration bringing the Japanese communities together to appreciate, celebrate and honor modern and traditional Japanese culture in Houston. Also, the Houston Botanic Garden brings back Lightscape on Nov. 18, featuring gardens lined with jubilant holiday lights.
TPG tip: Stay at the Hyatt Regency Houston for as little as 8,000 World of Hyatt points or $254 per night. The Holiday Inn Houston Downtown is available for 16,000 IHG One Rewards points or $107 a night.