Want to see Autumn in Europe? Trying to find the best cities or destination ideas for September, October or November? You're in the right place- here are 21 of the best places to inspire your next trip!
Planning a trip to Europe can be daunting. Even if you live here, there are SO. MANY. OPTIONS. How on earth are you supposed to choose where to go to see the best autumn colours in Europe, or the best city to experience the culture or festivals?
We feel your pain (and confusion, and misery) so thought we'd compile a list of some of our favourite places to visit in Europe in Autumn, as well as some of the best Europe Autumn destinations recommended by our friends.
Grab a brew, look at the pretty pictures and start narrowing down where you want to go! But first, let's answer some common questions so we've all on the same page.
When is Autumn/ Fall in Europe?
Autumn in Europe is the months of September, October and November.
What is the weather like in Europe during Autumn?
Ha- do you have a crystal ball? (No, seriously- do you??)
The weather in Europe in Autumn is best described as ‘variable'. The further north you go, the colder and wetter it's more likely to be. BUT- if you're visiting Europe for the Northern Lights or to get in some early skiing, you'll want to go as far north as possible.
As a ‘rough' guide, I'd say most of Europe is still pleasant up until October (jeans and jumper pleasant, except the very South and East countries, which stay hotter for much longer.) Once November hits, most places in Europe are much colder and wetter, although the rare sunny day does occur. BUT- that's a perfect time to sight-see, as there are very few crowds and many attractions are half-empty.
In short, bring a coat, an umbrella and sensible shoes and you'll be ready for anything the weather throws at you.
Why do Europeans call ‘Fall' Autumn?
I have absolutely no idea. Why do Americans call a car boot a ‘trunk'? Language is weird… 🙂
On that helpful note (sorry!) let's move on to the things I CAN actually help you with- finding the best destination and things to do in Europe in Autumn.
Isle of Skye- a perfect European destination for Europe
Scotland is one of the best places to experience Autumn in Europe, and the Isle of Skye is one of the prettiest places in Scotland!
Why is Skye one of the Best autumn destinations in Europe?
The scenery is spectacular whenever you visit, but the added colours of the Autumn leaves, combined with the backdrop of the sea and views of the Scottish Highlands is just magical. If you can, add Skye into one of these scenic driving routes in Scotland and make a road trip out of it!
Autumn is by far the best time to visit the Isle of Skye– the summer crowds have gone, (and so have the midges!) but the days are still warm and there’s enough sunlight to make the most of them.
Most restaurants, cafes and bars remain open in Autumn, so after a day exploring you can relax and unwind. You’ll also be able to get closer to the main attractions- some of them you might even have all to yourself if you go early enough!
Ok, the autumn colours are pretty. But what is there to DO?
Autumn is fantastic in Skye for 3 main things:
- Photography: The crisp evenings are perfect conditions for sunset photography. Because sunset happens earlier, it’s possible to get some great shots and return in time for tea. This is also a fantastic place for photographing the night sky as light pollution is incredibly low. TOP TIP: Bring warm clothing- it gets very very cold as soon as the sun goes down.
- Wildlife: Autumn is amazing for wildlife sightings, both in and out of the sea. Stand quietly by the shoreline and you’ll probably see otters, seals and dolphins playing in the shallows. We once had a wild dolphin in the bay within 20ft of us! You’ll also see many birds which don’t migrate- try to catch them early in the morning or at sunset.
- Whiskey tastings: Nothing will warm you up faster than a “wee dram” of whiskey. The world-famous Talisker Whiskey distillery is on Skye and is a great indoor activity- useful if you have bad weather. You can also enjoy a glass (or two!) in front of a roaring log fire at the local pub.
If you are creating your own Scotland itinerary, make sure to include activities for dry and wet weather as the weather can be changeable and completely different to what was forecast. It's not uncommon to get snow in October- although sometimes it can arrive much later.
Rome- one of the best European cities to visit in Fall
Recommended by Dan | horotravelmemories
In truth, Rome is one of the best cities in Europe to visit in any season, but the summer months can be oppressively hot for city breaks and exploring the city’s amazing history. Head to Rome in Autumn and you’ll be rewarded with cooler temperatures, fewer tourists and cheaper, off-season prices.
What are the best things to see in Rome in Autumn?
As a city with so many famous things to see, Rome is surprisingly compact and easy to explore. That smaller sense of scale means you really do feel like you happen upon famous monuments and attractions around every corner.
Some of the highlights for first-time visitors include:
- Roman Forum
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Piazza Navona
As if the abundance of stunning sights in Rome alone wasn’t enough, the city also encloses the Vatican, which has its own wealth of tourist-delighting treasures to offer. St. Peter's Basilica is the greatest of all the churches of Christendom and, even for those without any religious leaning, is a hugely impressive and spiritual place. There’s the awe-inspiring beauty in the detail of the Sistine Chapel ceiling too.
Rome is set in a prime location to extend your stay and plan an Italy road trip. You can easily take day trips to Pompeii, Florence, and even Cinque Terre thanks to the high-speed train networks. If you're campervanning in Italy, you can still find plenty of campsites in Italy open at this time of year. Or, if you’d rather, you can simply stay in Rome and soak in the beautiful Fall colours, which accentuate the city’s historic architecture perfectly.
Once the tourists depart and Fall is in full swing, festivals celebrating local food and wine begin. Theatres and groups begin to put on their shows and opera season starts. Tourists often miss the best bits of Rome’s culture simply by visiting before it explodes into life in Autumn. Rome is also one of the best places in Europe to visit in winter– so if you can't make it in Autumn, it makes a great winter city break.
Germany Castles and the Romantic Road
One of our favourite places to explore Europe in Autumn is Germany. The autumn colours are spectacular- especially around the Black Forest and the Romantic Road. If you're a biker, you'll LOVE riding in the Black Forest and there's so much to see.
Autumn is the time of beer festivals. Pretty much every major town and city in Germany has some sort of event going on, including the largest beer festival in the world- Oktoberfest. But it's also a great time to explore the history of the country further, without the crowds of summer.
Where should I visit during Autumn in Germany?
Some of our highlights of Germany in Autumn include:
- Neuschwanstein Castle. That view, with all the autumn colours behind it, is breathtaking.
- Todtnau Waterfall
- Hohenzollern Castle. Again- this view is spectacular with the fall foliage
- Triberg– home of the largest cuckoo clock in the world. It's pretty impressive!
- The Romantic Road and 17 castles/ palaces in Southern Germany to explore at your leisure (map included)
- The Hasenhorn Rodelbahn toboggan run– seriously, you've never had this much fun!
Autumn is a fabulous time to explore London, England. The crowds from summer have disappeared and the weather is usually still warm enough to explore and sit out in the parks, people watching.
There are usually some outdoor concerts or entertainment happening, as well as plenty of famous London landmarks to see. Some of our favourite things to do in London include visiting many of the markets (including Camden), wandering around Greenwich, and exploring the hidden gem of London Bridge– home of Borough Market and the Globe Theatre. Don't forget to book a trip to go up in the London Eye- well worth it.
Salzburg – a perfect city to experience Autumn in Europe
Recommended by Eric | Recipes from Europe
If you are looking for a European city to explore in Autumn that has a great mix of history, architecture, food, and nature, Salzburg in Austria definitely ticks all the boxes!
Why is Salzburg a perfect destination for Autumn in Europe?
Surrounded by towering hills, this Austrian city is a fantastic place to visit in the fall. For starters, Salzburg is a popular tourist destination which can be quite busy in the summertime. A visit in Autumn means that you can walk the Getridegasse (a street in the Old Town) and actually have room to walk and breathe!
What is there to DO in Salzburg in the Fall?
There are many great attractions to check out in Salzburg – all of which are still operational in Autumn. The city’s castle on the hill – Fortress Hohensalzburg – has many exhibits to learn all about the history of the city, the fortress, and the country, in general. A wander through the famous Mirabell Gardens is still worth it as many of the flowers are still in bloom and maintained to a high standard.
Of course, if you are more into exploring Salzburg through food and drink, there are many delicious Austrian dishes that you can try. Notably, Salzburger Nockerl can be found in cafes all over the city. And, you don’t need nice weather to enjoy warm Kaiserschmarrn – a torn-apart pancake dessert originating in the country!
How long should I visit Salzburg for?
We’d recommend about 3 days in Salzburg if you are looking to explore the city and a bit of nature in the surrounding area. The weather can have a slightly higher chance of rain but a good rain jacket will keep you dry. Plus, there are many indoor attractions like Schloss Hellbrunn, Mozart’s Birth House, and Salzburg Cathedral – in the historic DomQuartier – which are worth exploring!
Paris in Autumn
Recommended by Elisa | World in Paris
Paris is a great European destination to visit during Autumn. From October to mid-November the crowds are gone, and the temperatures are still warm enough so it is the perfect time for wandering around the city and tick off some of the most iconic things to do in Paris without the queues.
Where are the best Autumn colours in Paris?
One of the most popular things to do in Paris during the fall is to see the fall foliage in the parks. The Luxembourg Gardens and Tuileries Gardens in central Paris are two great places to see the Autumn leaves but there is also Park Buttes-Chaumont or Bois de Vincennes for those who prefer to leave the beaten path.
Why is Paris such a great destination in Autumn?
Autumn also means the start of the food and wine festivals in Paris, and there are very cool events to blend in with the locals like the Montmartre Wine Harvest Festival (October) – one of the most popular events in Paris – or the celebration of the arrival of the new Beaujolais in November.
With so many things to see and do in Paris during the fall we recommend visiting the city for one week, budget permitting. Spend 3 – 4 days exploring the city and use the rest of the days for visiting beautiful places nearby like Versailles Palace or Château de Fontainebleau.
Those interested in enjoying Paris at night cannot miss the Nuit Blanche (sleepless night) in October. For this popular event, the City proposes interesting exhibitions and street performances which last the whole night, with bars and restaurants open until late and music everywhere.
Travelling in October? Here are 15 of the best places to visit in Europe in October
Recommended by Claudia | My Adventures Across The World
Autumn certainly is the best time of year to enjoy Garrotxa, the volcanic region of Catalonia which is an incredible hiking destination with lots of pretty villages.
Why is Garrotxa a great Europe Autumn destination?
Autumn is the best time to enjoy the spectacular colours of the foliage and autumn leaves- the best place to admire that is La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park.
At this time of year days are still long enough so that you can spend all day on the trail – but make sure be flexible with your schedule as heavy rains may make hiking impossible on certain days. Having said that, the area is one of the warmest places in Spain in winter, so it's never THAT bad.
What are the best places to visit in Garrotxa in Autumn?
One of the best hikes in the region is the Cami de Gantxos, a circular hike which starts in the village of Joanetes and goes to Santa Magdalena church. It is a strenuous hike on uneven terrain for which you need a group and possibly a guide, as there are bits you can't overcome by yourself, such as the “gantxos” – the hooks that lift you all the way to the church.
Among the best places to visit in Garrotxa is Besalu, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. It is famous for its Pont Vell, an old bridge that connects the two sides of the river; and for its Jewish quarter. Santa Pau is another lovely place, with a Medieval Castle and the walls along which you can walk – the views of the village from the terrace right at its entrance are splendid.
Olot, the largest town of Garrotxa, is a nice place to visit with plenty of interesting museums and lots of Art Nouveau buildings. This is also where you will find the best restaurants in the region.
How long should you spend in Garrotxa in Autumn?
If you want to fully enjoy la Garrotxa, make sure to spend at least a week there so that you can explore all the villages and enjoy a couple of hikes. You are better off renting a car to move around as public transportation doesn't go to some of the most isolated places.
Iceland- one of the best places to visit in Europe in Autumn
Recommended by Sam | www.samseesworld.com
Iceland, like most European countries, offers a beautiful and unique Autumn experience. However, Iceland has its own attractions that make it the perfect fall destination. Not only are the autumn colours an explosion of reds, yellows, and oranges as the foliage changes colour, but the temperature is still mild and fewer tourists are around. This is one of the best times to drive the Iceland ring road and experience all the beauty it has to offer.
What are the best things to see in Iceland in Autumn?
Beyond the beauty of fall, Iceland has many unique and interesting events that happen during this time of year. Most notably the infamous Northern lights. Starting in September the Aurora will begin to ignite the sky with green and blue hues and this event lasts all fall. Visiting in Autumn is the perfect time to see these while the temperatures are not yet freezing. (Here are some more incredible places to see the Northern Lights in Europe.)
Festivals in Iceland in Autumn
There are various festivals in Iceland in the fall to look out for. One of the most unique festivals is Réttir, which is a cultural tradition that involves everyone rounding up all the sheep from the mountains back to the farms. After the roundup is complete there is singing and dancing. This festival is something you will never forget.
If you are looking for something a little more modern there is also Iceland Airwaves Festival which is a week-long music event in November with concert venues set up all around Reykjavik. This is an internationally known festival that welcomes world-famous acts like Florence and the Machine, Mumford, and Suns, and more!
The combination of the idyllic autumn views, mild temperatures, and various events makes Iceland the ideal Autumn travel destination in Europe.
Edinburgh- one of the best cities in Europe in Autumn
Recommended by Gemma | Everything Edinburgh
If you prefer fewer crowds and cooler temperatures then Edinburgh in fall is a great time to visit.
September sees the manically busy streets of the August Fringe Festival clear as tourists leave to explore other parts of Scotland or head home to nurse their three-week arts and gin hangovers.
What is there to do in Edinburgh in Autumn?
However, just because one festival is over it doesn’t mean that Europe’s Festival City falls asleep.
Autumn is home to The Scottish International Storytelling Festival which has been running since 1989.
Local and international storytellers infiltrate the Netherbow Theatre at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the historic Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town. They not only pack their stories, but some bring their instruments too.
While many of the shows take part in the theatre, some use the city as a stage, spreading out to Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the National Library of Scotland and Museums & Galleries Edinburgh.
The audience is welcomed to play an active role during the festival through daily keynote stories, talks, discussions and workshops. Each year there is a different theme so a reason to return!
Since the air is sharp in autumn, enjoy urban hiking up Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park, one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh. Next, warm up with some whisky at one of the Grassmarket pubs and end the night with live music at Whistle Binkies.
Halloween in Edinburgh
Celebrated in many cities, Hallowe'en in Scotland's capital is a spooky affair.
Dig deep into the underground world of the Old Town at Edinburgh Vaults. Once home to taverns and workshops for tradesmen then years later occupied by the city's poor residents, there is many a tale to tell. Join a tour to experience the damp chambers of South Bridge Vaults.
Prefer to stay overground? Hop aboard the Edinburgh Ghost Tour Bus and learn about the notorious grave diggers Burke and Hare and Auld Reekie's Black Death during this dark tourism theatrical tour.
Brussels is a wonderful European city break in Autumn. The weather is still mild and there's plenty to do both inside and out.
Some of the highlights of a weekend in Brussels includes:
- People watching at the Grand Place (central square)
- Spend too much money (or window shop!) at the Royal Saint Hubert Galleries (which is a shopping centre with bars and restaurants)
- Be bewildered by the Mannekin-Pils (why, Brussels, why??)
- Explore Mini- Europe (which is a little like Madurodam in Holland– but for the whole of Europe)
- Marvel at the breathtaking Royal Palace
Amsterdam- Museum night in November
Recommended by Lara | Both Feet On The Road
Amsterdam is one of the prettiest cities in the world. Normally, people visit in Spring, to travel from Amsterdam to Keukenhof for the tulips.
However, if you happen to be in Europe in November, there’s another reason to visit Amsterdam; Museum night.
What is Museum night in Amsterdam?
Museum night is an annual event that takes place every first Saturday of November. From 19:00-02:00, over 50 museums in Amsterdam open their doors. Most museums have special exhibitions and surprises, you may find bars, DJs, performances, or other musical or cultural shows.
Just imagine checking out Rembrandt’s Night Watch at The Rijksmuseum while enjoying a glass of Champagne (or something else). That’s right, many famous museums participate in Museum Night. The Anne Frank Huis, Artis, NEMO, Scheepvaartmuseum, and Van Gogh Museum, just to name a few big ones.
How much does Museum Night cost?
All sounds expensive- right? But here is the great thing about Museum Night: A ticket only costs 22.50€
And that ticket allows you to visit as many museums as you would like that one night. And don’t leave Amsterdam immediately the next day, because, with your Museum Night ticket, you can revisit one of the Museums that participated.
Originally, Museum Night was organized to stimulate Dutch youth to visit local museums. However, because the Dutch youth are still the target audience, you can only buy a ticket with IDEAL (the main Dutch payment method). It's not easy for tourists to get, although there are websites which can help.
Tickets do sell out fast, so make sure to buy a ticket at least a month in advance! While you’re at it, make sure you also arrange accommodation, as it can get expensive in Amsterdam, especially if you wait until the last moment. Don't forget to book a restaurant- there are some delicious options, catering for all tastes, including going vegan in Amsterdam.
Finland in Autumn
Recommended by Alexander | Engineer on Tour
Why should you spend an early fall in Finland? Finland is called the land of thousands of lakes and has a substantial part inside the arctic circle. So, Finnish Lake land. Can you think of a better way of enjoying the autumn colours, than seeing the calm Finnish waters show the reflections?
Where are the best places to see the Fall foliage in Finland?
The closest place to the capital would be the Nuuksio park. It is only 50 mins from central Helsinki. The largest concentration of lakes is in the middle of the country though.
The far north is drastically different. It lays inside the Arctic circle, where trees are tiny. Because of this, you can see every feature of the landscape in autumn colors. Moss, trees, grass. Everything has a unique tone.
If you want to travel to Finland to see fall colors – you should go at the start of October. In case you want to see it in Lapland – book your trip in the middle of September. And don't forget your camera.
Recommended by Laura | Live Adventure Travel
Budapest is a beautiful city to visit regardless of the time of year. The city invites tourists to check out the enchanting architecture, famous landmarks and fun-filled attractions. However, there is something extraordinary about Budapest in the fall. Throughout the months of September to November, Budapest is dressed in warm autumn colours, which ultimately adds to the city’s charm.
Where are the best places to see fall foliage colors in Budapest?
Some of Budapest’s most famous spots such as Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastions make visitors feel as if they stepped into a chapter of a fairytale book and the fall colours make those attractions that extra bit magical!
Without a doubt, the best place to visit in Budapest in the fall is the city park. The colours of orange, red and yellow reflect throughout the park, making it the perfect place for photo opportunities. Particularly around the Vajdahunyad Castle area.
The streets on the Buda Side of the city is also a great place to explore for those looking to get a snap of the leaves all over the ground. The little neighbourhood parks are all dressed in Autumn colours! They are just beautiful. Gallért Hill should be on everyone’s Budapest itinerary, here, you will be presented with an amazing 360 view of the city.
The final reason to visit Budapest in Autumn is the low crowd levels. Fewer people tend to visit through September to November as the weather is colder than the summer months making a visit to the famous parliament and baths that little bit more enjoyable.
When seeking sunshine in Europe in Autumn, Lisbon is an easy option. A visit here during the months of September, October sees highs of 26 degreesC and little rain. November is cooler, with temperatures dropping to late teens and more rainfall on average, but it's still warmer than most of Europe.
Some of the best things to do in Lisbon include:
- Visiting St George's Castle at sunset – one of the best viewpoints in Lisbon.
- A city-tour on the #28 tram
- Explore the historic centre
- Visit Belem
TOP TIP for an Autumn City Break: Treat yourself to a ‘pastels de nata' from Pasteis de Belem- one of the best and most authentic in town.
Recommended by Emily | Wander-Lush
Ljubljana is one of Europe’s hidden gems and there’s no better time to visit Slovenia’s capital than in Autumn.
Highlights of a trip to Ljubljana in Autumn
One of the highlights of a trip to Slovenia is getting acquainted with the country’s incredible fresh produce and wine scene. Ljubljana has long been a foodie destination and was recently awarded the title of Best Food Destination at the International Travel & Tourism Awards. With only 2 days in Ljubljana, you can sample a healthy selection of culinary specialities, roam the produce market, and soak up the city’s incredible architecture.
Fall is harvest season, so you’ll find a great range of culinary-themed festivals and events on offer. The annual Slovenian Wine Festival is the most prestigious. It’s typically held in the second week of November in Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana’s cultural centre.
Autumn events in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Pivo & Burger Fest runs in September and celebrates the country’s craft beer and burger scene. In fall, you can also catch the tail end of Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), a rolling event that takes place once a week from late March to late October. Every Friday, Ljubljana’s main square transforms into a food fairground, with stalls and live cooking displays from local restaurants, a showcase of organic produce, and local wine and beer tastings aplenty.
On St. Martin’s Day (November 11), there’s a special edition of Ljubljana Wine Route, which sees the country’s finest viniculturalists gather to spruik their latest vintage. In various towns and villages around the city, including in Vitovlje and Lig, there are festivals dedicated to chestnuts. All of these events are free to attend.
Apart from food and wine, autumn in Slovenia is a great time to see fall colours. The foliage around Lake Bled and Traiglav National Park is particularly spectacular.
Mosel Valley, Germany
Recommended by James | The Travel Scribes
With the mighty Mosel river snaking through it and fairy-tale towns full of half-timbered houses and quaint cobbled streets, Germany’s Mosel (or Moselle) valley is a treat in all seasons. Hiking in spring, castle-hopping in winter and lounging in the beer gardens in summer, the Mosel – an area that stretches between Koblenz and Trier – is arguably best visited in autumn (fall). Easily accessible from major cities like Bonn, Cologne and Frankfurt, there are many reasons for visiting this remarkable region:
Why is the Mosel Valley a perfect European destination for Autumn?
First up has to be the food and drink. While the valley is famous for its white wine (particularly Riesling) all year round, fall brings a unique beverage to the region: Federweisser (feather white).
Known as ‘young wine’, this cloudy and slightly fizzy drink is essentially a very young wine where the winemaker adds yeast to the grape juice, making it ferment very quickly and creating this bubbly, alcoholic drink.
This German delight is only available in September and October each year, best paired with zwiebelkuchen, translated as ‘onion cake’ but more akin to a tart than a sweet cake treat!
Wine Festivals in Mosel in Autumn
Next up? The wine festivals. Some of the best wine fests take place in Autumn as places like Cochem, Bernkastel-Kues and Traben-Trarbach come to life with happy glass-guzzling visitors flocking to the tiny towns of the Mosel to try some of the latest tipples, skipping through the many market stalls and wine producers of the region.
The most famous is probably the Middle Mosel Wine Festival, taking place in Bernkastel-Kues in September each year.
Outdoor activities in Mosel
Last, but definitely not least, has to be the hiking. Walking in the forests is great in every season but some of the area’s tramping trails are best explored in autumn as you’re greeted with a spectacular array of colours but also unique sights like steam rising off the surface of the river.
The Mosel Valley is great for short trips – a weekend is fine – but can also be explored as part a longer Europe road trip, as you hop between the towns dotted on the river’s edge.
Contributed by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan
Colmar is located in the far northeastern corner of France in the Alsace region, very close to the border with Germany. This area switched hands back and forth between France and Germany many times throughout history, and you will still hear a lot of German spoken in the streets today.
It's a very quaint and beautiful town, with traditional architecture and a population of about 68,000. Colmar's picture-perfect half-timbered buildings, with their flower pots decorating the windowsills and old-fashioned, wrought-iron signs advertising the shops, look like something straight out of a fairytale.
Highlights of a trip to Colmar in Autumn
If you only visit one museum in Colmar, make it the Musée d'Unterlinden, housed in a former Dominican monastery. It holds paintings by Renoir, Picasso and other great artists. In the autumn the red foliage draped over the Gothic arches in the courtyard is a work of art in itself.
There's also a cellar filled with huge wine barrels and an old wine press. Alsace is a well-known winemaking region, and the vineyards outside of Colmar are in their full splendour in the autumn, so this is another great reason to visit at this time of year.
Also, visit the area known as La Petite Venise (“Little Venice”) is filled with little canals, and a boat ride through here is certainly worthwhile, even if the architecture is somewhat different than what you'd see in Venice.
The Routes des Vins is a popular network of trails through the vineyards that can be done either on foot or by bicycle as a day trip from Colmar.
Recommended by Darek | Darek and Gosia
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to travel in Europe. Less tourist, lower prices and colourful landscapes across many European countries – you can find that all while visiting stunning places between September and November. If you don’t know which Europe Autumn destination to choose – head out to Malta – one of the sunniest countries in Europe (even during Autumn months).
Why is Malta great in Autumn?
Malta – or more precisely, the Maltese islands with Malta, Gozo and Comino – are in the central Mediterranean, between Sicily and North Africa. This geographical distribution provides Malta with a subtropical Mediterranean climate – and this means a great weather all year round. They're also one of the warmest places in Europe in February, so perfect for some sun in colder months.
Highlights of a trip to Malta
Malta’s capital is Valetta, a global phenomenon in terms of density of monuments, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. If you are into history – you will love this beautiful city! Malta's civilization is over 7,000 years old and its history continues to intrigue with stunning architecture and art. The temples here are older than the pyramids in Egypt!
If you are looking for something unique, visit Popeye Village. Built in 1979, it was the film set for the Robin Williams film Popeye – a great place to visit with as a family day out.
You should also look into the coastal village of Marsaxlokk in the southeastern part of the island. It's local, lazy and delicious. You can enjoy delicious fish and seafood snacks there. The tables are put out in the port – it smells amazing!
Costa Vicentina in Southern Portugal
Recommended by Campbell & Alya | Stingy Nomads
Autumn is a great time for visiting the Costa Vicentina in Southern Portugal. The weather is still great, it's warm but not as hot as it gets in summer, making it perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, cycling, etc.
There are significantly less tourists compared to the peak season and accommodation prices decrease due to lower demand.
Why is this a perfect Europe Autumn destination?
The Vicentina coast is an incredibly beautiful and unspoiled area. It offers breathtaking scenery; rugged cliffs, dramatic drops, hidden beaches, and traditional fishermen villages with a handful of small houses. You can spend a couple of days or even weeks here, there are plenty of attractions and activities to keep you busy, especially if you're touring Portugal in a campervan or motorhome.
Hiking and surfing are the main outdoor activities in the Costa Vicentina. Fall is a perfect time for hiking in the region. There are a wide network of walking trails called the Rota Vicentina. These include several easy day-hikes and two more challenging multi-day treks. Most of the routes follow the coastline, offering fantastic scenery. Surfing is another popular activity that can be done in the Costa all year round.
The Atlantic water is quite chilly- even in the hottest months you’ll need a wetsuit to surf here. There are many schools and surf hostels that offer classes, gear rental and accommodation. In summer months the best spots for surfing get overcrowded with both locals and tourists, not the best conditions for a novice surfer. If you want to learn surfing, Autumn is the perfect time to do it.
There are several fishermen’s towns along the coast. The main holiday towns here are Porto Covo, Zambujeira do Mar, Vilanova de Milfontes, and Almograve. Every town has plenty of accommodation options, restaurants and cafes.
Hamburg- the Reeperbahn Festival
Recommended by Joanna | The World in My pocket
Hamburg is a fantastic city to visit in Autumn: the temperatures are pleasant, the nature in the city changes its colour from green to yellow, orange and red, and the sky puts on a show with some stunning sunsets that you can watch from the open terrace of the Elbphilharmonie.
What is the Reeperbahn Festival?
There is another reason why you should visit Hamburg in autumn, and that is the Reeperbahn Festival which takes place each year at the end of September.
Featuring over 900 events, Reeperbahn Festival is the largest club event of its kind in Europe. There are over 600 different concerts taking place at around 90 venues in the city. No matter which type of music you like, there will be a concert that you will enjoy because there are bands from pretty much every music genre that you can imagine.
Besides the music, Reeperbahn Festival also supports social initiatives through over 240 conferences attended by almost 400 speakers from 25 different countries. Last year the general theme of the conferences was female empowerment and gender balance in the artistic industry.
The fun part of Reeperbahn Festival is that the concerts and exhibitions don’t take part exclusively in clubs. A lot of other unconventional venues open their doors and embrace art, from churches to boats, from the Elbphilharmonie to the planetarium, from museums to double decker buses.
Reeperbahn Festival also gives you a chance to discover Hamburg, a fantastic city with an intriguing architecture and a young soul. If you are visiting the festival, add at least another 2 days onto your trip to explore the city.
Copenhagen- one the best city ideas for Autumn in Europe
Recommended by Derek and Mike | Everything Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark is one the best Autumn destinations in Europe. The summer crowds are gone and the temperatures start to cool off, but the cold and darkness of winter have not yet arrived.
Why should you visit Copenhagen in Autumn?
In Autumn, Copenhagen has a fun energy, as the locals know that every warm sunny day could be the last one for a while. Nevertheless, Copenhagen’s street cafes and parks stay busy all through the fall, even if they feature blankets and heat lamps.
The also city hosts many fall festivals, like CPH PIX, Denmark’s largest film festival. Another great event is Culture Night held the second weekend in October. Leading up to that weekend the city sells tickets for a city-wide event featuring over 100 museums, attractions, historical sites and performances. You can visit as many cultural sites as you can for only about 15 Euro.
Tivoli Gardens is also a perfect Copenhagen destination for the fall. It’s the second-oldest amusement park in the world and was the inspiration for Walt Disney to create his own amusement park. Tivoli Gardens in the fall is decorated exquisitely and the festive fall atmosphere is the perfect place to enjoy some family fun. There is plenty of entertainment for children and adults including all the thrilling rides and trick or treating around the pleasure gardens.
If you visit later in the year, Tivoli Gardens hosts one of the best Christmas markets in Europe– you definitely don't want to miss it.
Venice- the perfect Autumn city break destination
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Venice is known for being one of the most over-touristed areas in the world. The Italian government say it's visited by 20-30 million people each year! at 26 million.
Why is Venice better in Autumn?
In the Summer months, the city is too crowded. People visit for the day, swarm around St Marks and the canals, eager to tick off the main sites, and are always in a mad rush to fit everything in.
In September, crowds begin to dwindle and there are fewer cruise ships. By October average temperatures are still 14-16c, but Venice starts to feel like a local town again. You may not be drinking Spritz outside in shorts, but you’ll have Venice to yourself.
Essential things to see in Venice
Venice is best done slow – three days minimum and there's enough to do for a week. The main highlights for first-time visitors are:
- St Mark’s Piazza
- the Basilica
- the Doge’s Palace
- the Campanile
I would also highly recommend a day trip to the islands of Murano (the glass-blowing island), Burano (for the lace and colourful houses) and Torcello (the oldest island in the lagoon). A Vaporetto – or water taxi –up the Grand Canal is great, and you may even dare a Gondola ride too. It’s expensive, cliché, and cheesy but I believe it should be done once.
Other highlights include the Rialto markets, the Guggenheim museum, and time just to wander and get lost in the atmosphere.
TOP TIP– take a coat/warmer clothes, block out 4 days, and hit Venice in November. You’ll discover the true Venice and never want to go in Summer again.
Brighton, UK- an interesting city in Autumn
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Only an hour away from London, the seaside city Brighton is easy to fall in love with. The picturesque city is located right on the seafront and even in Autumn, you'll see people braving the water for a quick dip.
Why is Brighton a perfect Autumn city destination in Europe?
Well, the crowds have gone, so you'll actually be able to see the beach, which is a bonus. Also, the famous Brighton pier is much quieter. If you've never heard of it, the pier is a perfect option for one of those days when the weather is… typically English. The pier is full of games and slot machines – tokens required.
It’s also nice to simply wander around the city centre,where you can get lost in tiny alleys and eventually find yourself in one of the many pubs. Brighton's nightlife is legendary and it's one of the capitals of the LBGTQ scene in the UK, so you'll always find something fun to do on a night out.
Our advice is to spend a couple of days here, before moving on. Hiring a car is a great idea, so you can get out into the countryside and enjoy some of the incredible autumn colours in the hills around Brighton.
Other great places to explore in the UK in Autumn include:
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Terrasses de Lavaux, the wine region in Switzerland is stunning throughout the year but the golden hues in fall offer an unforgettable sight. Lavaux vineyards are one of the local’s best-kept secrets in the Swiss Riviera. Due to their wonderful geography and location along the banks of the biggest lake of the region, Lake Geneva, they have also secured a spot on the UNESCO heritage list.
What's the best way to enjoy the Autumn colours here?
While you can get the marvellous teaser of this landscape on the journey between Lausanne and Montreaux, the best way to witness the golden colours of the Fall foliage is via is a short hike, also known as Terrasses de Lavaux. This 11km traditional hike through the steeply terrasse vineyards is an easy-to-medium hike, making it a perfect family activity.
This dedicated, well-paved path will not only offer you the most beautiful views of Lake Geneva and Alps, but will also take you through the famous wine-growing area in Vaud, Switzerland. Many villages in the region proudly open their wine cellars, showing off the local produce. Don’t forget to book your wine tasting sessions
If you want to skip the hike but still enjoy the magnificent views from the area, I highly recommend taking a boat ride on Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Montreux. The boat ride will make many stops on the way giving you ample opportunities to gaze at the surrounding hills whilst enjoying a glass of the best wine from the region.
If you want to head further into the mountains, you can enjoy a train ride from Lucerne to Grindelwald– the views are breathtaking.
How long should you spend here?
One weekend is enough to explore the area, but you can combine this trip with other beautiful sights and cities in the Swiss Riviera like Lausanne, Montreux, and Vevey. If you're feeling brave, be sure to head to the Gelmerbahn Funicular– the second steepest railway in Switzerland with the breathtaking lake Gelmersee at the top!
St Petersburg, Russia
Recommended by Rai | A Rai of Light
You might not think of Saint Petersburg, Russia as your first choice when deciding on where to go in the Autumn in Europe. This imperial city is a year-round destination, but in Autumn there is a wonderful atmosphere with a whole host of things to do.
What's so special about St Petersburg in Autumn?
The city is beautiful in the fall as the leaves change colour and the river begins to freeze over. It is easy to be seduced by beautiful views of the canals while discovering a city full of unique finds. Considered the cultural capital of the country, it has a long history, dating back to the early 1700s and has gained many artistic and architectural treasures.
What is the weather like in St Petersburg in Autumn?
The average temperature for St Petersburg is 8c in October- going down to 3c at night. This is most definitely NOT a Europe destination for winter sun.
If it’s too cold to be outside, there’s still a lot to keep you busy indoors. No visit to the city is complete without a stop at some of the main attractions.
Highlights include the Mariinsky theatre, the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace, housing a massive collection of historic items from around the world.
Waterford, Ireland- great European city to visit in Autumn
Recommended by Cath | Travel Around Ireland
Waterford, in the south-east corner of Ireland, was the first city established in Ireland by the Vikings in the early part of the 10th century, even before Dublin. It is a great city to visit with just as welcoming a feel to it as other Irish cities.
What are the highlights of Waterford in Autumn?
As well as discovering the city on the tourist train, visiting the Waterford Crystal headquarters,Waterford Castle and the Viking Triangle where you can step inside Reginald’s Tower and see Viking artefacts, there are many festivals held in the city and surrounding areas in fall.
In early September there is the harvest festival when the streets come alive with all thing’s food. Food stalls with sights and smells wafting across the street. Your only problem will be choosing between them all. There are food markets alongside the stalls, street parties, picnics, barbeques, cookery demonstrations and more. It’s a foodie’s heaven.
If you visit in October, you might catch the Imagine Arts Festival or the John Dwyer Trad Music weekend where you can enjoy traditional Irish music across the city.
In neighbouring Wexford, if you want to catch some fall colours, take a short 30-minute drive to the John F Kennedy Arboretum. There are around 4,500 species of trees and shrubs and you can also learn about JFK’s great-grandfather who was born in a nearby village. The Arboretum is open all year round with fall colours coming alive in October and into November.
If fall colours aren’t your thing, you can just enjoy discovering the city of Waterford and it’s Viking history while popping into a pub or two to warm up or escape the rain. This great city is a wonderful place to visit and can be combined with many other Ireland road trip itineraries.
Bratislava, Slovakia- the perfect city to see Autumn in Europe
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When the buzzing summer season has passed, Slovakia’s capital city becomes a cosy oasis for the few who still travel.
Why should you visit Bratislava in Autumn?
Fall is the most aesthetic time of the year in Bratislava. There are still plenty of warm and sunny days to enjoy the city and surroundings on foot without a jacket. The white castle (Bratislavský hrad) with its salmon-coloured roof looks incredible against the colours of autumn leaves.
From the castle, you can see the iconic UFO-bridge and the spectacular shade of blue of the Danube river. Enjoy your evening in the city by eating out at Foodstock and drinking a delicious craft beer at Stupavar.
If you want to see more of the autumn colours of the forest, make a day trip to Devínska Kobyla, where you’ll find an abandoned Soviet missile base that nature has reclaimed. From there, you can hike downhill to the spectacular castle ruins of Devín.
Once you’re back in Bratislava’s city centre, enjoy a hearty meal of Bryndzové pirohy (cheese dumplings) at one of the many Slovak eateries. At night, you can join the crowd at the White Night (Biela noc) contemporary art festival (end of September, start of October).
How long should you spend in Bratislava?
Bratislava is only a small European capital city, not far from giants such as Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. You can see all the highlights of Bratislava in five days’ time if you’re keen- it helps if you're travelling Europe in a motorhome or camper so you have everything you need with you.
But if you have the time to relax a bit and enjoy nature, culture, excellent quality of life, and affordable prices, stay for a few more days. Bratislava is a city that will leave its mark on you.
So there you are- 21 incredible cities and destinations where you can experience Autumn in Europe. I'd love to know which one you choose!
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