The bright colors and breezy air of the autumn season often inspires travelers to get far away from home and to embrace the outdoors. Cooler weather, fancy foliage, and all around beautiful scenery makes for an ideal opportunity to take a road trip or a hike across rolling hills blanketed with red and yellow leaves, or to picturesque historic towns around the world where harvest season is in full swing.
Mix in some wine-country touring along with stops at a local farmers’ market, some leaf peeping, and a roster of family-friendly festivals all while enjoying sweet treats such as cider donuts or pumpkin pie. Traveling in the fall also means fewer crowds, shorter lines, idyllic weather, and way better deals—it basically is one of the very best times to take a trip, so if you’re thinking about heading out come September, here are some of the best hot spots to explore. May we present the eight best fall getaways.
Plan A Fall Vacation In These World Destinations!
1. Bruges, Belgium
The medieval city of Bruges becomes one of the most gorgeous European cities come autumn time, as golden and crimson vines intertwine to clothe the array of historic buildings with warm rich hues. The vibrant colors that reflect into the canals truly create an especially romantic experience for couples—as well as a picture-perfect spot for the best family photo ops. Make sure to peruse the numerous open-air markets in town through the month of November and to savor some famous Belgium chocolate in beverage form at one of the quaint corner cafes or diners.
After sipping on a cup of some of the tastiest hot cocoa in all of Bruges at De Proeverie, step into true fairytale bliss amidst cobbled streets, historic churches, fabulous floodlighting, and even horse-drawn carriage rides or hot air balloon. This Flanders town is as cosmopolitan as it is bourgeois, and is one of the best preserved pre-motorized cities in all of Europe. Say hello to fall with a postcard-worthy charm and ambiance that’s rarely found anywhere else.
All year round, England’s Lake District is already filled with incredible scenic beauty—the lights and sounds of the autumn season only make it all the more superb. The region is a divine choice for those looking to take on inspiring evening walks amongst lots of crystal clear lakes that are surrounded by gold and ruby covered hills.
This northwest England town is the ideal place to visit for fall colors, especially at beautiful woodland areas like Grizedale Forest Park, which offers everything from mighty green pines to copper beech trees that frame the nearby mountain views.
Sneak into one of the local pubs such as the Kirkstone Pass Inn for a glass of local ale or cider before checking out the rest of the U.K.’s most popular national park. Outdoors enthusiasts can do ample boating or hiking, while literary types can venture out to the homes of William Wordsworth and other favorite writers to get some inspiration of their own. Let’s just say that the postcard-picture panorama of hilltops, mountains, and sparkling waters often stirs the imaginations of visitors to the core. The beauty of fall only makes it so much better.
Sure, the temperatures and the leaves fall drastically come autumn time, but Vancouver's hotel rates also take a nose dive, making it the perfect time to visit one of Canada’s densest, most ethnically diverse cities. Because it’s a popular filming location, locals often flock to the International Film Festival and Writer's Fest come the end of summertime, while culture enthusiasts can get their doses of fun through a bustling calendar filled with theatre, opera, and symphony openings, the kickoff of NHL hockey, and activities such as the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown.
Be sure to stroll through Stanley Park to take in changing leaves and to explore the rest of British Columbia’s largest city for even more spectacular natural settings that include over a couple hundred parks to enjoy hiking, biking, skiing, kayaking, and rafting at. There’s also an urban playground in town to dabble in that offers chic high-fashion boutiques, as well as five-star restaurants that harbor a unique fondness for health-conscious eating. Granville Island or the Capilano Suspension Bridge are also spots to see—it’s easy to see why Vancouver is a go-to getaway for even the most multi-faceted of travelers.
4. Oslo, Norway
The seasonal change to fall in this Northern Europe town is particularly striking, as woodland areas take on new life and as falling leaves begin to transform colors. The coast of Norway is the ideal place for evening walks or foraging expeditions, and since the area is home to numerous picturesque parks, you can bet that you’ll be fully intoxicated by the myriad of natural beauty that surrounds you.
What’s more is that Oslo also hosts tons of world-class museums and galleries rivalling anywhere else on the European art trail, with many of them sitting on the Bygdøy peninsula, including the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the Vikingskipshuset, and the Norsk Folkemuseum, which features artifacts from Sami and Viking cultures. In the autumn months, Akershus Fortress and the Vigeland Sculpture Park are especially colorful during a sunny day, while a trip towards Oslomarka Forest just outside the city will have you witnessing some of the most vibrant autumn foliage you’ll have ever come across.
In the fall, the rolling countryside and general pastoral bliss of one of Europe’s most striking regions is even more apparent than usual. From the hills of Sancerre to the city of Angers, a flowing river winds through a spectacular array of castles, palaces, and mansions that further beautify the entire valley. There are also simpler pleasures to be found, including outstanding food and drink and a noticeably gentler pace of life.
Celebrate grapes, fine wines, and outstanding pears and cheeses while reveling in a full fairy-tale experience. Go venture deep into storybook villages, time-burnished towns, or the infamous châteaux de la Loire. You’ll also find magic in the countrysides of Chenonceau and Chambord nearby—not to mention a unique sort of French splendor, style, and gastronomy that will far exceed even the highest of expectations. Plus, Loire Valley sits conveniently between northern and southern France just a short ride away from the city of Love. So after enjoying the sights of fertile river valleys within thousands of years of rich architectural, artistic, and agrarian creativity, you’ll also have a chance to go bold in the big city. It’s super easy to see why French royalty set up many of their pleasure palaces on this enormous Unesco World Heritage Site so many centuries ago. Make sure to check out the lively and sophisticated cities of Orléans, Tours, Saumur and Angers too.
Situated in the southern region of Switzerland, bordering Italy and on the shores of Lake Lugano, this gorgeous area sits quietly underneath the shadow of beautiful mountains and is one of the most picturesque destinations any time of the year, especially in the autumn because scorching summer temperatures give way to milder climates and magnificent colors. Fall travelers also have a chance to attend the Autumn Festival, featuring folkloric music as well as celebrations of grapes and fine wines, and to live amidst a nice mix of Swiss-Mediterranean culture that’s largely reflected in the local architecture and cuisine.
Head on out to the main square, Piazza della Riforma, which is filled with pastel-colored, neoclassical palazzi that scream sophistication. This southern Switzerland town is one of three world-class waterfront resorts in the area, but often tops rivals Ascona and Locarno in terms of luxury, class, and natural beauty. Plus, it’s a mere train ride over the Alps from the German and French regions of Switzerland, and offers zesty Mediterranean ambience, lots of sunshine, lush vegetation, and inviting lakes, as well as ample shopping options. Spend a lazy afternoon under the best palm trees in all of Switzerland. You’ll be charmed for sure.
Right along the Adriatic Coast, this spectacular Croatian city is a fabulous spot for an affordable vacation with lower prices when compared to other European coastal cities, especially in the fall. The weather is still warm during this time of year, but all the big crowds of summer have dispersed so you’ll be able to freely bask on magnificent beaches without bumping into noisy tourists. You’ll also be able to venture way outside the city for outstanding mountain hikes that’ll have you surrounded by stunning scenery and splashes of fall color.
The city itself truly is divine and bewitching, filled with marble streets, baroque buildings, and an endless shimmer courtesy of the mighty Adriatic. Be enchanted by taking a revamped cable car up to Mt Srđ, or by tracing the rise and fall of Dubrovnik history inside one of the museums full of art and artifacts. Stroll over to the limestone paved streets of Stradun (aka Placa)-- which though lined with shops and restaurants manages to maintain an old world ambience that seems relatively untouched by the twenty-first century. Dubrovnik is worth a visit any time of year, but come fall, life spills out onto the streets, the cafes remained packed into the night, and the best of the best in the entire city usually comes out for a spin.
One word says it all: Oktoberfest. Sixteen days full of Bavarian food, carnival rides, and beer—what more could you ask for?! So secure those fall flights and accommodations to this German hotspot months before because you’ll be reveling in the bliss of the country's 200-year-old bacchanalia, as well as gawking over the mighty Bavarian Alps or the River Isar nearby.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.