Autumn can be one of the best times to travel in Europe. Destinations can be much quieter after the summer, meaning fewer queues and often cheaper prices. As well as cities and urban destinations, rural places such as national parks are fantastic to visit during this time of year when nature starts transforming into a mix of stunning colours. For those who love photography, this can be the prime time to take autumn photographs, as you’ll have incredible colours which can be combined with shorter days making it easier to catch the best light at sunrise or sunset. If you want to travel this autumn but need some ideas on where to go then keep reading. Here are some of the top places in Europe to visit this Autumn, including both cities, towns as well as nature spots.
Benefits of visiting Europe in the autumn
There are numerous benefits to visiting Europe in the autumn. One of the main advantages is the smaller crowds. As summer fades away, the tourist hotspots become less crowded, allowing you to explore the attractions at your own pace. As well as this, the weather is milder during this time, making it more comfortable for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
Another advantage of visiting Europe in the autumn is the vibrant autumn foliage. The changing colours of the leaves create a breathtaking backdrop for your adventures. Whether you’re strolling through the streets of Paris or hiking in the Scottish Highlands, you’ll be treated to a visual feast of reds, oranges, and yellows.
Lastly, visiting Europe in the autumn often means lower prices. As the peak tourist season comes to an end, hotels, flights, and attractions tend to offer discounted rates. This not only allows you to save money but also gives you the opportunity to experience luxury accommodations and activities that may have been out of reach during the summer months.
Top places in Europe to visit in the Autumn
1. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a beautiful park located in North Croatia near Zagreb. It’s the country’s oldest and first national park and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. What makes this place so special is the 16 lakes contained within the 300 km2 park, which are an incredible colour. When visiting in the Autumn you can enjoy various paths and routes that are available allowing you to maximise your visit and enjoy the park from different angles and perspectives.
2. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is a popular island off the coast of Greece. It’s famous for its beautiful sunsets and picturesque architecture. As you can expect this destination is extremely popular during the summer months, so head here in early autumn for a quieter and more peaceful scene. End of September to October you’d be looking at temperatures of around 21-24 degrees centigrade. Places do shut down towards the end of October so visit late September/early October for more to do.
3. Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a perfect autumn city. All around the city are fantastic parks, some of which provide perfect vantage points down towards the city – which is great for photography. Prague being such a great destination also gets extremely busy during the summer months and also at Christmas, so autumn makes for a slightly quieter time to visit.
4. Bohemian Switzerland National Park, Czechia
Not far from Prague is Bohemia Switzerland National Park. This park is stunning and a great place to go hiking and also explore the fabulous Edmund Gorge. A few reasons why this destination is so good for the autumn is because you’d get to hike in cooler and more comfortable temperatures, and you’d also get to see the wonderful colours that will be emerging.
From Prague and Dresden you’ll find various tours available to get there on day trips.
5. Vienna, Austria
Vienna is one of Europe’s most stunning cities and is often voted one of the best cities to live in. As well as this it’s also a great place to visit and when visiting you’ll find plenty of autumnal treasures. Such as Schönbrunn Park with its wonderful tree tunnels, Kahlenberg with vineyards overlooking the city, as well as many other wonderful outdoor spaces.
6. Paris, France
Paris, the city of love and lights, is a top destination to visit in the autumn. The city comes alive with a romantic atmosphere as the leaves change colour and the streets are adorned with autumn decorations.
While here explore some of the city’s famous highlights such as such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, take a stroll along the Seine River, and indulge in delicious French cuisine at charming sidewalk cafes.
Don’t forget to explore the beautiful parks and gardens of Paris, such as Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, which are particularly enchanting during the autumn season.
7. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle is like something from a fairy tale and has been used in movies such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Spaceballs and The Monuments Men. The location is nothing short of spectacular and all around the castle are scenic mountains and breathtaking landscapes. What makes this spot even better is that there’s even a bridge that provides the perfect photo perspective.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a hidden gem in Europe and a perfect autumn destination. The city is known for its stunning architecture, thermal baths, and vibrant nightlife.
Visit some of the famous thermal baths, such as the Széchenyi Baths, and admire the stunning views from Fisherman’s Bastion. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Buda Castle District and indulge in traditional Hungarian cuisine, including goulash and chimney cake. Budapest’s charming streets and autumn colours create a warm and inviting atmosphere for visitors.
Malta is a small island in the Mediterranean and comes with plenty to do, from exploring the historic city of Valletta to swimming in the glorious Blue Lagoon. When visiting in the Autumn and at the end of September and into October you’d be looking at temperatures around 21-24 degrees centigrade.
Iceland is a destination like no other, and autumn is an ideal time to visit this Nordic island.
The landscapes are a mix of rugged mountains, cascading waterfalls, and geothermal wonders. You may get to witness the Northern Lights dance across the night sky, or simply relax in the famous Blue Lagoon, and explore the Golden Circle route, which includes iconic sites such as the Thingvellir National Park and the Gullfoss waterfall.
Autumn offers a unique opportunity to experience the contrast between the fiery colours of the foliage and the icy landscapes of Iceland.
11. Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled in Slovenia is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. This charming spot is located a short distance from Ljubljana and makes for a great day trip or longer visit. During the autumn months be sure to hike up the surrounding mountains for epic views, as well as relax along the waterside to soak up the scenery. For photographers and on a quiet day you may be lucky to get perfectly still water, which will give you wonderful reflections of the island church and mountains in the distance.
12. Hallstatt, Austria
Hallstatt is one of the most famous and popular places to visit in Austria. It’s a destination that could be visited at any time of year, such as for gloom and snow in the winter, fantastic greens in the spring and summer, or a multitude of colours during the autumn (such as seen below). When visiting Hallstatt you could come for a day trip, such as from Salzburg, or even consider staying the night.
13. Marrakesh, Morocco
Located below Spain and at the top of Africa, Morroco is a fantastic place to visit in the autumn. With temperatures upwards of 20 degrees and plenty of sun it’s a country to enjoy some great weather before the winter months.
Consider visiting Morocco’s tourist capital Marrakesh where you’ll find both riads, some with rooftop pools, as well as great hotels and resorts within and just out of the city center. One in particular we’d recommend is the Be Live Collection Adults only resort (or their other resort) which offers an all-inclusive experience, fantastic facilities, a free shuttle and lots of on-site entertainment.
Regarding things to do in Marrakesh, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Explore the Medina of Marrakesh and wander the souks and famous Jemaa el-Fna market, relax in the peaceful Jardin Majorelle-Yves Saint Laurent garden, see the magnificent Bahia Palace, or visit a museum such as the Heritage Museum Marrakech.
From Marrakech, you should also head out of the city on a day trip, where you could visit the likes of the Ouzoud Waterfalls (one of the highest in Africa), venture out to the desert, or visit other nearby cities such as Essaouira (seaside destination), or Ait Benhaddou.
14. Rome, Italy
Rome, the Eternal City, is another must-visit destination in Europe during the autumn months. The weather is mild and pleasant, allowing you to explore the city’s ancient ruins and historical sites comfortably. Wander through the Colosseum, marvel at the intricate details of the Vatican City, and admire the Trevi Fountain.
Autumn is also the perfect time to indulge in Italian cuisine, from authentic pizza and pasta to gelato. Don’t forget to visit the beautiful Villa Borghese Gardens, where you can enjoy a leisurely picnic surrounded by the vibrant colours of autumn.
15. Scottish Highlands, Scotland
For nature lovers, the Scottish Highlands offer a breathtaking autumn experience. The rolling hills and vast landscapes transform into a sea of red, gold, and orange, creating a picturesque setting for outdoor adventures.
Explore the famous Loch Ness, hike through Glen Coe, and visit the Isle of Skye for stunning views and charming villages. Autumn is also the season for wildlife spotting, as the red deer rutting season begins. Keep an eye out for these majestic creatures as you immerse yourself in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
Tips for travelling in Europe during the autumn months
- Pack layers: The weather in Europe during autumn can be unpredictable, so it’s important to pack layers that you can easily add or remove based on the temperature
- Plan ahead: While the crowds are smaller in the autumn, it’s still a good idea to plan ahead, especially if you have specific attractions or activities in mind. Check for any seasonal closures or limited opening hours. Also, consider still booking any tours and activities in advance. This can mean you have more time to enjoy your destination once you arrive.
- Be prepared for rain: Autumn in Europe often comes with occasional rain showers, so it’s a good idea to pack a waterproof jacket or umbrella.
- Embrace the local culture: Autumn is a great time to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions. Attend harvest festivals, visit local markets, and try seasonal dishes and drinks.
- Enjoy the smaller crowds: One of the advantages of visiting Europe in the autumn is the smaller crowds. Take advantage of this by exploring popular attractions without the long queues and enjoy a more relaxed travel experience.
- Pack your camera: This is especially important if you’re travelling to a more nature-based spot as the colours in the autumn can be incredible.
Booking and planning your autumn trip to Europe
When booking and planning your autumn trip to Europe, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, decide on the destinations you would like to visit and research the best time to go. Consider the weather, local events, and any specific attractions or activities you’re interested in.
Next, book your flights and accommodations in advance to secure the best prices and availability. Look for deals and packages that may include discounted rates or added benefits.
Finally, create an itinerary that allows for flexibility and downtime. While it’s tempting to pack your schedule with activities, leave room for spontaneous discoveries and relaxation.
Autumn is definitely one of the best times to travel in Europe, and this is especially true if the place you’re visiting has beautiful parks and other nature hotspots to enjoy. From the vibrant colours of the changing leaves to the smaller crowds and lower prices, there are numerous advantages to exploring Europe during this season.
Whether you choose to visit iconic cities like Paris and Rome, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands and Iceland, or discover gems like Budapest, Europe offers something for every traveller.
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