Sure, every traveler wants the guarantee of spectacular summer weather when traveling. Unfortunately, this also means sharing your dream destination with thousands of other visitors looking for the exact same thing. The solution? Autumn travel! During fall, the summer crowds have dissipated (as has the summer heat!), prices have gone down, and you can truly get to know the city or cities you’re visiting. Here are 11 great autumn destinations:
Let’s begin in southern Germany, where one of the world’s biggest parties takes place every autumn. It’s Oktoberfest, and it lasts from mid-September through the first week of October. Munich may be the heart of the action, but many cities host their own wonderful beer gardens and brat feeds. Wine festivals are another tourist draw, as fall is bottling season. Enjoy the blazing colors of the Black Forest or take advantage of the waning crowds with a visit to Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Castles.
Belgium may be most famous for its urban center of Brussels, but Bruges is the place to be this autumn. In this medieval city, step-gabled townhouses fringe a network of quiet canals. As the tourists leave town, you’ll have an unfettered experience wandering the cobbled streets or visiting numerous museums scattered across the city. Adnd what better way to ward off that impending fall chill than by indulging in a steaming cup of Belgian hot cocoa?
Wicklow is famously known as the Garden of Ireland, and it’s a nature lover’s paradise all year long. Though spring an summer undoubtedly have their perks, in autumn the hues of the Wicklow Mountains and the Bray will steal your breath away. History lovers will enjoy a trip to the 6th-century monastic city of Glendalough, as well as the Powerscourt Gardens and Kilkenny City—located in Wicklow County.
Visiting Lima in fall gives you the good kind of travel quandary: Should you spend your morning hiking to Machu Picchu on a virtually empty trail, or head into the mountains to experience an Andean spring? The weather this time of year is perfect, and the tourists have yet to arrive for the southern hemisphere’s summer. Take advantage of the season with a visit to the Spanish colonial Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco, or the active archaeological site of Huaca Pucllana.
Italy in general, and Piedmont in particular, is an impressive sight come fall. Autumn is harvest season, and food and wine are bountiful. In fact, the area hosts an abundance of fall festivals celebrating such delicacies as truffles, chocolate, and chestnuts. An autumn sunset over the vineyards as you nibble on chocolate and sip your wine? Could life get any better?
The changing colors in the Swiss Alps make Lugano, Switzerland an absolute dream in autumn. Take in the views high above Lake Lugano, or spend a peaceful afternoon lounging on its banks. Try to visit in October for Lugano’s Autumn Festival—a celebration of good weather, good company, good wine, and excellent folkloric music.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is an immensely popular destination in the summer. Come fall, however, the crowds and traffic die down, and you can get to know the city in a new way. You’ll have plenty of space for touring attractions like Prague Castle or the Old Town Hall. Be sure to climb Castle Hill for an autumn-hued bird’s eye view of the city. You can also enjoy the changing colors in an array of public parks throughout Prague.
Dubrovnik is a gorgeous city any time of year, but in the fall this Adriatic star really shines. It’s still perfect beach weather, but mainland tourists are heading back to their everyday lives. Autumn in Dubrovnik will give you fantastic sunsets from the medieval city walls, as well as jaw-dropping views from the hilltops surrounding the city.
We’d be remiss in omitting the landscapes from The Hobbit and Harry Potter from our autumn travel list. After all, these films showcase the fall foliage of New Zealand in all of its glory. Now you can experience it for yourself when you travel to the mountains and shores of this South Pacific nation. On the South Island, head on over to Queenstown—the official home of the Hobbits—to see snow-capped peaks overlooking picturesque Lake Wakatipu.
The locals don’t call Perthshire “Big Trees Country” for nothing! If you’re partial to fall colors, this Scotland county is the place to be. Perthshire is one of Europe’s best-kept autumn secrets, and it’s filled to the brim with exciting opportunities to be one with nature. From the summits of the Highlands to the lochs and rivers covering the landscape, this destination is a dream-come-true. For the best views in the county, check out Knock Hill, Loch Tummel, and the Pass of Killiecrankie.
Whether you want to spend your time strolling through Grizedale Forest Park or hitting the pubs for some local cider, Cumbria, England is a sight to behold come fall. Lakes nestle between tree-covered hills, and the UNESCO-listed Lake District National Park will, simply put, knock your socks clean off your feet!
Taking the time to breathe in the crisp air and immerse yourself in autumn colors are experiences unlike any other. For travelers looking for a laid-back vacation without sacrificing scenery or culture, fall travel is the way to go!
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