Oh, the transient beauty that autumn brings. Coined as the second spring by Albert Camus, a season “when every leaf is a flower”, it is a time of vibrant colored foliage, cool temperatures and scenic outdoor fun. Being the much-welcomed cusp between carefree summers and busy winters, to travelers it is a time of smaller crowds, cheaper rates and picturesque fresh-air activities. If you’ve got Europe in your mind as your perfect fall getaway, these cities—some known and others not-so—are ideal places to travel to.
Packed with culture hubs and architectural wonders such as the La Sagrada Família, it’s easy to see why Barcelona is a hot destination in Europe. And as summer bids farewell together with large groups of travelers, fall in this city means back to school and work for locals, too. Visiting Barcelona in the fall entails smaller crowds, cheaper rates, and warm but bearable temperature—a dream for any kind of traveler. Whether you’re inclined to art, history, sports, nature, food or music, just about anyone will be allured with all the city has to offer.
If you need a break from the intense heat but still want to experience outdoor activities, Dubrovnik in Croata is the ideal place to visit. As the summer’s end is greeted by the luster of fall, you can immerse yourself in the city’s serene and laid-back atmosphere. With less tourists, cheaper prices and agreeable weather, you enjoy a dip in the warm waters of the sea or go hiking in the National Park on the island of Mljet.
Walk among this city’s cobblestone streets, canals and medieval architecture and it’s as if you’re transported back in time. With a UNESCO World Heritage Site right in the heart of the city, it’s no question why Bruges is one of Belgium’s most popular tourist spots. Visiting during the fall entails smaller crowds and a more relaxed, languid atmosphere. Take in the local flavor by eating their world-famous chocolate, shopping the market at Burq Square and experiencing their canal boat tours.
On the world map, the island of Rhodes is an intersection between the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Its unique location paves way to a rich cultural background, making it home to numerous historical landmarks such as the Colossus of Rhodes, the Grand Master’s Palace and the Acropolis of Rhodes. Brimming with history and romance, delight yourself in the fall with its unique architecture, pleasant temperature and awe-inspiring history.
As tourists from the peak season have gone, Prague’s energy is renewed with the radiant aura of fall. Known as “The Golden City of One Hundred Spires”, the city is home to stunning spires and amazing cathedrals that are a feast for the eyes. Besides popular historical spots such as the Prague Castle and the Old Town Square, make sure to enjoy operas and concerts in their famous theaters or have a glass of wine at their vino festivals.
If sipping world-class wine amidst the charming countryside sound appealing to you, then Loire Valley in France is your quintessential fall getaway. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s home to stunning castles, cultivated lands and beautiful landscapes. Among its many picturesque castles, Chenonceau Castle is a must visit and is known for its history with King Henry II’s infamous love affair. Besides sightseeing, rent a bicycle to tour the vineyards in their harvest season or ride a canoe on the beautiful Loire River.
Famously known as Mozart’s birthplace and The Sound of Music’s scenic shooting location, Salzburg teems with history, culture and stunning architecture. Fall is a great time to visit this Austrian city with the summer crowds gone and accommodation rates lowered. Bask in its glorious post-winter weather and make sure to visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress, the biggest, fully preserved castle-fortress in Europe. You can also tour original shooting locations of The Sound of Music, which includes the brilliant Mirabell Gardens and the Pegasus Fountain.
Piedmont, a charming Italian region that rings true to its name, sits at the foot of the alps and borders Switzerland and France. Known for the hilly area of Langhe among many others, visiting here during the fall means witnessing its beautiful landscapes in ever-changing colors. A romantic area known for its wine culture, enjoy a sophisticated glass of wine in while trying out food festivals held during the season. Besides food spots and nature attractions, it’s also home to medieval castles such as Ivea, Grinzane Cavour and Castello dela Manta.
Travel through postcard-like sceneries in magnificent Transylvania. Situated in central Romania, it is a place of picturesque forests, villages and hamlets that are a treat to visit during the fall. Get some fresh mountain air by walking on Apuseni’s trails, or drive through the spectacular Fagaras Mountains to see breathtaking fall foliage.
Experience a scenic fall getaway with inspiring lakes, forests and mountains. Visit Lake District in Cumbria, a mountainous region and UNESCO World Heritage Site that lies in the Northwest area of England. A sight to see in any season, autumn sets Lake District’s forests ablaze with auburn colors and bathes its landscapes with golden light. Other national treasures to visit in Cumbria include Muncaster Castle and Sizergh Castle.
Flocked by tourists during the summer, visiting Istanbul in autumn is ideal with lesser crowds and cheaper rates. Although tulips are no longer in bloom during the season, the city remains to be magnificent with its cool temperature and vivid foliage. When you’re not touring famous historical spots like Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque, have a cup of coffee in their elegant cafés or party up in the city’s bustling nightlife.
If you don’t mind a little spontaneity in weather conditions and if you prefer your travel activities to be varied, Zurich is the place for your after-summer getaway. Fall being the high-time of Zurich’s cuisine, it is a time when food establishments offer wild game dishes, roasted chestnuts and seasonal vegetables like pumpkins and mushrooms. After satisfying your tastebuds, get cultured by attending their much-awaited annual Zurich Film Festival, or be one with nature by hiking the Swiss mountains.
Danna Peña is a Freelance Writer living in Manila and a former Content Producer at Rappler. When she’s not writing about lifestyle, travel and technical topics such as food safety, she dabbles in prose and poetry. Besides writing, she is deeply passionate about photography. View her travels at www.dannapena.com and Instagram. For more of her writing works, view her online portfolio.