Traveling to Europe in the fall often means fewer crowds, shorter lines, idyllic weather and better deals – along with spectacular displays of autumn foliage. Many feel that it’s really the very best time of year to go. If you’re thinking about heading to Europe, these cities are some of the best to explore in autumn.
The medieval city of Bruges becomes one of Europe’s most beautiful cities in the fall with crimson and golden vines covering historic buildings with rich autumn hues. The colors reflected in the canals create an especially romantic scene as well as picture-perfect photo ops. Be sure to experience some of the city’s open-air markets that are typically open through November. It’s also a perfect time to sip some of its famous chocolate in beverage form. Try a cup at De Proeverie, known for the best hot cocoa in all of Bruges.
Perthshire, often referred to as Big Trees Country, is one of the most glorious places in all of Europe for autumn colors in a country well-known for its breathtaking natural beauty. Here, lochs and rivers reflect the array of gold and copper of tree covered hillsides, making it ideal for exploring and impressive photo taking. You’ll find some of the most stunning spots near Loch Tummel, the Pass of Killiecrankie and Knock Hill. Take the steep but moderate walk to Knock Hill through mixed woodlands and scenic, heathery viewpoints, including jaw-dropping views from the summit of the Highlands to the north.
The seasonal change in Northern Europe is particularly striking. As the leaves begin to transform, woodland areas take on new life, making Oslo an ideal place for evening walks or foraging expeditions while there is still quite a bit of daylight. The city is home to many picturesque parks that become even more stunning this time of year. Akershus Fortress and the Vigeland Sculpture Park make for a particularly colorful backdrop on a sunny fall day, or wander just outside the city to Oslomarka Forest where you’ll see some of the nation’s most vibrant autumn foliage.
The beautiful city of Lugano is situated in the southern region of Switzerland, bordering Italy and on the shores of Lake Lugano, underneath the shadow of beautiful mountains just south of the Alps. This is one of the most picturesque destinations any time of the year, but visiting in autumn means that summer’s scorching temperatures have given way to a miler climate in a choreographed setting of magnificent colors. A visit during the first weekend of October gives travelers a chance to attend the Autumn Festival, featuring folkloric music as well as celebrations of grapes and fine wines.
Autumn in Aragon, located in northeastern Spain in the heart of the Pyrenees bordering France, often means idyllic temperatures, ranging from highs in the upper 70s to mid-60s, depending on which part of the season you arrive. The Aragonese Pyrenees seem to define all the superlatives associated with the soaring Pyrenean Mountain Range with some of the highest and wildest peaks, and perhaps the most beautiful of the Spanish Pyrenees. This is also the home of Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park, Spain’s first national park, where you’ll not only find a impressive array of fall colors, but a dazzling variety of wildlife and cascading waterfalls.
6.Prague, Czech Republic
Prague in the fall is especially amazing, with significantly fewer visitors but typically many beautiful days. The season’s golden glow provides a romantic feel to the historic city scape, while Czech foods and brews seem to suit perfectly. Take a stroll just before dusk on Castle Hill where you’ll find a panoramic view of Prague’s red rooftops and thousand spires. In autumn, it’s much easier to appreciate the city’s iconic attractions without having to battle crowds, including tour groups that charge across the grounds of magnificent Prague Castle, resembling an invaded army. Flashes of copper, crimson, and luminous orange enliven the city as the trees begin to transform in early October. Head to public parks for the very best of Mother Nature’s display.
The hamlet of Ukanc sits on the western end of Lake Bohinj in the Upper Carniola region of Slovenia. Here, visitors can travel via cable car up to the summit of Mount Vogel to take in some of the most dramatic views in all of Europe. In autumn, this extraordinarily beautiful place becomes even more stunning, with rich reds and golden hues reflected in the clear lake. Ukanc is also the starting point for a scenic one-hour walk to Savica Waterfalls. For those up for a serious hike, from here you can also take a day trip to the Valley of Seven Lakes.
8.Bridge of Orchy, Scotland
Deep in the Scottish Highlands, the Bridge of Orchy is a village set among especially incredible scenery. Stay at the Inveroran Hotel and you’ll be in the heart of some of the best Scotland has to offer from towering mountains to whisky distilleries and castles that seem to magically appear out of the mist – and vanish just as quickly. At Loch Tulla, a small isle filled with larches are transformed into a brilliant array of colors, reflected in the tranquil waters. The West Highland Way, popular for walkers, linking Milngavie, just outside Glasgow, to Fort William in the Highlands, passing through the Bridge of Orchy making it ideal for a stroll on a beautiful autumn day.
9.Loire Valley, France
In the Loire Valley of France, you’ll find some 185,000 acres of grapevines that stretch far and wide across hillsides and valleys. When the pageant of colors peaks in late October, it’s truly a sight to behold. Vineyards are ablaze in gold, vivid orange and fiery red, with autumn’s kiss also illuminating the surrounding forests and fairytale chateaus. Some have compared this region to New England in the fall, noting it as one of Europe’s best destinations for colorful autumn displays along with plenty of fine wines.
In Southern Germany you’ll find more of Europe’s most spectacular scenery with endless Alpine forests popping with color against mountains dusted with snow. This is the season for plenty of wine festivals as well as Oktoberfest as well as outdoor activities like hiking in the Alps, taking a romantic ride on horse-drawn carriage and sampling the local wines at a Bavarian winery. There are also some 25 historic castles and palaces to discover here, including such greats as Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace, Nuremberg Castle and the Burghausen Castle.
Transylvania has long been a place steeped in legend and magnificent imagery of medieval castles and misty moonlight. Take the 56-mile drive through the Fagaras Mountains, the highest mountains of the Southern Carpathians with over 20 peaks rising more than 8,000 feet, famous for its hairpin curves and breathtaking vistas of stunning autumn foliage.