The Best Autumn Destinations in Europe
Autumn is the perfect time for a holiday. The kids are back in school, the crowds have gone and the weather has yet to turn wintry. The colours will be glorious, attractions and cities will be quieter and beaches deserted; with so many reasons to see autumn in Europe, what are you waiting for?
Why Visit Europe in the Autumn Months?
The fall season in Europe is simply stunning, with vibrant colours across cities and landscapes. Europe in September, October and November is glorious, the low sun and early morning mists shrouding the countryside and architecture, making every vista perfect for Instagram!
Fewer people are travelling, they’re all hunkering down for the winter to come or recovering from their summer holidays. This means better hotel prices and cheaper flights and car hire, in all the best places to visit in Europe in fall. Read our guide to find the best destinations and things to do in Europe in October (September and November as well!).
Weather in Europe in Autumn
Autumn in Europe dates are 1st September to 30th November every year. Weather wise, early autumn is usually warm and if you’re lucky you might get a September Indian summer.
In the south of Spain and Portugal, expect temperatures in the low 20’s during the day, with mild evenings and nights throughout the season.
The further north or east, and deeper into autumn you go, the more unpredictable the weather becomes across the rest of the continent, but the autumn colours, scents and seasonal food will make up for any lack of sunshine!
Autumn Destinations Map
Prague, The Czech Republic
Prague in October is beautiful. The leaves are turning and the panorama from the castle across the rooftops, reveals the best views. The gorgeous architecture of the old town glows in the soft autumn light and the glamorous cafe’s serving gloopy hot chocolate with pastries are warm and welcoming.
The streets will be quieter and the hotels better value for money in autumn and you’ll be in Prague in festival season if you visit in October, with the classical Strings of Autumn International Music Festival topping the bill of cultural events. With so much to offer, Prague has to be one of Europe’s best city breaks in October in Europe.
The weather is likely to be mild to warm in September and getting chillier as the season progresses, until it gets properly cold in mid November.
♥ Alfresco dining under a blanket on typical hearty Czech food such as goulash or game and mushrooms, both at their seasonal best in autumn.
♥ The views along the river, with the statues on the famous Charles Bridge rising up through the early morning mist.
♥ Visit the Botanical Gardens to sample Burcak, a partially fermented wine which is only available from September to November.
Stay at The Emblem Hotel for it’s old town location, rooftop spa and gym and a great steakhouse restaurant.
The New Forest, United Kingdom
The New Forest will be a riot of autumn colour and the purple heather will be out in force. If you haven’t visited this tranquil haven for wildlife and nature, September is the perfect time for an autumn trip.
The forest is a 200 square mile mix of ancient woods, heathland and gorgeous coastline, so offers lots of things to see and do. Hiking and cycling are very popular, with designated routes for both criss-crossing the whole area. You’ll also find lots of other outdoor activities, great for when the weather is just a little cooler, making this one of the best places to visit in September in Europe.
Talking of weather, it will be mild during the day and warm if the sun is out, but cooler in the evenings, especially if you’re by the New Forest coast.
♥ The spectacular colours of the abundant trees and heather spread across the whole forest.
♥ Spotting deer on a date! The rutting season begins in September and peaks in late October, if you are quiet and listen carefully, the sounds of amorous male fallow deer can often be heard across the forest.
♥ Traditional afternoon tea in one of the many hotels and tea-shops. There’s nothing better than a warm scone and clotted cream after a bracing walk!
Stay at the Forest Park Hotel for its forest central location, wildlife in the garden and fantastic local menu.
The Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius & Pompeii, Italy
The Amalfi Coast is a fabulous place to visit at any time of the year, but in September and October, it will be cooler and quieter, allowing you time to linger and enjoy at your own pace.
Explore the picture perfect villages of the coast and drive the infamous Amalfi Coast road out of peak season, without hordes of other people to spoil the incredible views. Enjoy the liberal sprinkling of religious and food festivals at this time of year, from various saints to local chestnuts and delicious Italian wine.
It’s just an hour to visit historic Pompeii and the live volcano of Mount Vesuvius, a trip you can do in a day. Two of the top tourist attractions in Italy, an October or November visit will find both much quieter and all the more enjoyable for it.
The weather will be kind in this protected southern Italian spot, with September temperatures still being in the mid to high 20’s and Novembers average being a beautiful balmy 18 degrees.
♥ The incredible views and sunsets across the whole of the coast line, uninterrupted and with as much time as you like to take photos.
♥ Still being able to wear flip-flops in the autumn, all the better for digging your toes into the warm sand!
♥ Autumn is a perfect time to hike here, not too hot but still warm enough for t-shirt and shorts. You’ll be amongst the changing colours too, and get the best views from high above the coast road.
The gorgeous medieval city of Bruges packs a punch in autumn, with spectacular canalside colours, the atmospheric old town and just the sort of food that’s right in October and November! Just two of the must try Belgian foods are decadent waffles smothered in cream and fruity autumn berries or frites with mayonnaise, the traditional Belgian accompaniment.
Easily accessible from London or Paris, via the Eurostar, Bruges is perfect for an autumn weekend break, ideal for strolling and relaxing. The Minneswater (Lake of Love) will be surrounded by autumn colours as the trees turn and is a great place to meander. Follow the windmill path for fabulous views of the oldest windmills in the city, highlighted on the landscape against the low autumn sun.
It will be cool here, with temperatures in the late teens in September and dropping 3 or 4 degrees for each month towards winter. November will be a chilly 10 degrees, so wrap up warm.
♥ Enjoy the delicious local craft beers and gins in front of a roaring log fire.
♥ Visit the atmospheric Beguinage, a convent of Benedictine sisters. Surrounded by white washed cottages and fields of autumn grasses, take a deep breath and enjoy the tranquility.
♥ Head to Chez Vincent on Sint Salvatorskerkhof for superb Belgian frites, served with dollops of creamy mayonnaise or curry sauce. You can’t visit Bruge without enjoying this quintessential Belgian experience!
Stay at B&B Canal Deluxe for upmarket luxury, absolute romance and a fabulous breakfast!
Ljubljana & Lake Bled, Slovenia & Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Slovenia has the most spectacular colours in autumn with clear crisps days which are good for the soul. Ljubljana, with its medieval old town, is as atmospheric as they come with early morning mist, glistening cobbles and vivid colours. The city makes a great base to explore and hike the surrounding countryside and fairy tale landscapes, where the autumn colours will be even more pronounced.
Take a trip from Ljubljana to Lake Bled, around a 40 minute drive from the city. Go early in the morning and enjoy the mirror surface of the lake and iconic images of the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, sited on the small island in the centre of the lake. From here, hiking in Triglav National Park is awesome at this time of year, not too hot and fairly quiet, all the time surrounded by those amazing autumn colours.
Just three hours south from Ljubljana, in Croatia, is the Plitvice Lakes National Park. This gorgeous place is stunning at any time of year, but in autumn, with the copper and russet leaves contrasting against the turquoise waters, the lakes really come alive. From 1st November, only the lower lakes are open, making September and October the best times to visit, when you’ll also enjoy a reduced entrance fee.
The weather will be cool, around the late teens in September and becoming potentially wetter in October with very cool evenings. Make sure you take a waterproof and some warm clothes.
♥ The autumn foliage in Slovenia really is pretty special and offers some of the best fall colours in Europe.
♥ The incredible waterfalls in the Soca Valley, as they swell is autumn with more rainfall and less evaporation.
♥ Visit a Slovenian gostilna (traditional restaurant) for local and seasonal produce cooked in the Slovenian style; food and wine is abundant at this time of year.
Stay at the Hotel Cubo in Ljubljana, for it’s unrivalled central location, supremely stylish rooms and very warm welcome.
The Pyrenees, France and Spain
An early autumn road trip is the best way to visit the magnificent Pyrenees, you’ll have the mountains to yourselves! It’s too early for snow or ski resorts, the sky will still be blue and the trails will be deserted. You’ll also find great value accommodation, making the Pyrenees one of the best places to visit in Europe in September.
Our seven day Pyrenees hiking tour will take you to four (or five if you’re happy to cross the border into Spain) awesome and moderately easy Pyrenees hikes. From the Valle de Gaube, to Gavarnie and east over the magnificent Col de Tourmalet to Mont Né, you’ll see some of the most spectacular landscapes Europe has to offer. Hop across to Spain and a further stunning hike at Circo de Soaso in the Monte y Perdido National Park.
September and early October are too early for snow on the hikes we share, but you may see a smattering above 2,000m from mid to late October. The sky will be clear and the days warm enough to hike in a t-shirt. Once the sun drops behind the nearest mountain it will get cold and you’ll need proper warm weather clothing for hiking and the evenings.
♥ The magnificent drive up to the Col de Tourmalet and the incredible views from the top.
♥ The fascinating Cirque de Gavarnie, with its waterfalls and wild flowers.
♥ Spending a day in the thermal baths in the spa town of Bagneres de Luchon on the French Spanish border, well deserved after all that hiking!
Other Low Season Travel Ideas
The colourful and vibrant capital city of Denmark has so much of interest but is incredibly busy during the summer months. Of course people want to visit Copenhagen in the summer when there is a chance of sunshine and some heat! But we think Copenhagen is one of the best places to visit in Europe in October; the late summer crowds will have gone and it’s too early to be truly cold.
You’ll have the opportunity to see this historic and beautiful city in all its glory, without thousands of other people spoiling your photo opportunity. You can also fully embrace the Danish feeling of hygge, a mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality and contentment, which for me means being warm and snuggly! Check out our one day Copenhagen itinerary for ideas and tips.
September may still be pleasant with temperatures in the late teens during the day. Late October and November weather will be significantly cooler, with the nights getting chilly. Take thick socks and a scarf!
♥ Celebrating Halloween in the Tivoli Gardens is a high point of Copenhagen’s calendar, when the gardens are transformed into a spooky wonderland.
♥ Take in the colourful and lively 17th century waterfront of Nyhavn, without the huge crowds of summer.
♥ Visiting Torvehallerne market, for seasonal local produce, mulled wine and hot chocolate!
Stay at the 71 Nyhavn Hotel for it’s fabulous Nyhavn location, warehouse character and excellent restaurant.
The French Riviera
If ever there was a place to go in the autumn, after the madness of summer has abated, it’s the gorgeous French Riviera. Also known as the Cote d’Azur, this stretch of Mediterranean coastline runs from Menton on the Italian border to pretty Cassis, and includes the glamorous and glitzy towns of Cannes, Nice and St Tropez, as well as the tiny Principality of Monaco.
Uncomfortably crowded in the height of summer, this beautiful coastline will be much quieter in autumn, with late September and October the optimum months for visiting. Base yourself in one of the central towns and you’ll be able to day trip to everywhere else you want to see.
In September the average temperatures are in the mid twenties, take a few degrees off that in October and then a few more in November. The sea will still be warm, but you may need a warm top for the evenings. October can be unpredictable with heavy rains and flash floods in some years.
♥ Take in the Calanques from Cassis, huge gashes from the sea into the land with incredible beaches only accessible by boat or kakak, which you can hire in Cassis.
♥ Enjoy the golden tranquility and glowing landscapes, as the hinterland of Provence reaches the sea.
♥ Early evening cocktails at the beach club, with warm sand beneath your feet!
Stay at the Hotel Belles Rives on the Cap d’Antibes, for old-world glamour, beautiful belle époque decor and private beach with water sports.
Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina Coast Natural Park & The Algarve, Portugal
If you love deserted beaches, wide-open spaces and coastal hiking then you will be in heaven here, this is a perfect place for October holidays. A wonderful autumn destination, you will fall in love with the natural beauty of this region of Portugal.
The park straddles the Alentejo and Algarve regions and is a haven for wildlife, birdlife and nature. The mighty Atlantic rolls in here with drama and spectacle; hike all or parts of the 224km Rota Vicentina (also knows as the Fisherman’s Trail) and watch the waves with awe.
Head south to the busier beaches of the southern Algarve coast and be wowed by the rock formations, pretty coves and charming towns. If anything, it will be warmer here with sea swimming still possible. Make for Lagos, where you’ll find an old town packed with fish restaurants, interesting independent shops and some of those amazing beaches.
In autumn, you will still have the weather but not the crowds. The days will be balmy, warm enough to walk in a t-shirt and mild in the evening, making this one of the best European destinations in October.
♥ Hiking the fantastic Portugese coastal paths with dramatic scenery and huge waves.
♥ Sampling the delicious and freshly caught seafood at small village family run restaurants.
♥ Warm autumn sun on Portugal’s incredible beaches, without the crowds.
Stay at the Herdade do Amarelo Nature & Spa, a farmstay with a difference! Near Vila Nova de Milfontes, at the northern end of the natural park, this farmstay is five star with a gorgeous spa and stylish rooms.
In Lagos, stay at Casa Mae for its perfect location, beautifully simple interiors and seductive gardens.
No autumn trip list would be complete without Munich making an appearance. The capital of Bavaria and a quintessential German city, Munich is a fantastic year round destination and is famous for its historic buildings, the glockenspiel and of course, the Oktoberfest.
The Oktoberfest is normally held across the last week of September and the first week of October and celebrates everything beer and Bavaria. This is a huge festival with a fairground and 38 beer tents, it has to be one of the best places to party in Europe in October!
Munich also holds the daddy of all German Christmas markets. Starting in the last week of November, Marienplatz is turned into a traditional Bavarian wonderland, with wooden huts, gluhwein being served on every corner and chestnuts roasting on open braziers. With twinkling fairly lights and huge decorated festive trees, Munich is one of the best places to visit in November in Europe if you love Christmas markets.
The weather in Munich in October can be hard to predict. Some years it will be warm and beautiful and others it will be cold and raining. The average temperatures are in the late teens, but it has been know to be just 8 degrees some years. Just drink more beer or gluhwein to keep warm….
♥ The Oktoberfest funfair! Adrenalin junkies will love the rides, from a classic toboggan to a high-tech rollercoaster.
♥ Classic German food to give you energy and keep you warm. Try suckling pig or bratwurst, or my favourite, creamy mushrooms straight from the pan.
♥ The beer, of course!
Zillertal & Innsbruck, Austria
50km east of Innsbruck, Zillertal is an unassuming town in the Tirol. In a truly breathtaking valley, the town comes alive in autumn every year when the Almabtrieb (cattle drive) takes place. Almabtrieb is the homecoming of the cows, festooned with flowers and headdress, from the high pastures where the herds have spent the summer. It is a much loved tradition and an important part of the Alpine farming calendar.
There are a number of cattle drives across the Tirol (sometimes called Tyrol) in autumn, and the local towns all have festivals taking place with local artisan food, live music and handicrafts. You could easily combine an Almabtrieb festival with a stay in Innsbruck, where there is lots to see and do in autumn, before the winter ski season kicks in.
The weather will be gorgeous here in the day, with the warmth of summer still in the air. It will be chilly in the evenings and at night though, so make sure you take some cold weather gear, especially in late October and November.
♥ Watching the cows parade through small towns and villages, greeted with music and applause.
♥ The farmers markets, rich with local and seasonal produce to be eaten at the market stall with a beer or schnapps.
♥ The clear mountains air and lush pastures and tranquil forests, which are good for the soul!
Stay at the sublime Das Posthotel in Zell am Ziller for it’s gorgeous contemporary Tyrolean design, the sheer luxury of the experience and magnificent views. It’s not a budget option, but two or three nights here will re-invigorate you like nothing else.
The Douro Valley & Porto, Portugal & Madrid, Spain
An autumn road trip to the Douro Valley is a must, the light is soft, the air warm and the colours of the vines spectacular. This UNESCO World Heritage Site comes alive in the autumn with the wine harvest and you can stop at some of the best Douro wineries for a tour and tasting – most offer port and table wines for you to enjoy.
There is no fixed date for the Douro harvest season to start but it usually happens in the second half of September. It depends on how the vines have reacted to the weather conditions throughout the year. One of the best wineries in the Douro region, Quinta do Popa offers harvest experiences to visitors. The quinta (country estate) is situated on the south slopes of the Douro, about half way between Porto and the Spanish border.
It would be possible to drive from the lively city of Porto and complete the whole of the Douro Valley in a day, but you would miss so much. We recommend stopping at least twice along the valley. Take a short detour south to Lamego and climb the famous baroque staircase of 686 steps to the shrine and rococo church of Nossa Senhora dos Remedios.
If you have a week to spend in October in Europe, why not consider flying to Porto and taking an organised Douro Valley tour or hiring a car, then taking the road all the way to Madrid? This makes a fantastic road trip, with two iconic cities to visit and a whole load of gorgeousness and autumn colour in between!
The weather is likely to be kind, with mild days and evenings, but the later in autumn you visit, the more unpredictable it will become, especially towards Madrid, which sits on a high plateau and can be very cold in late autumn and winter.
♥ The stunning colours of the vines, which line the valley like a tapestry, as they glow ochre and burnt orange in the autumn sun.
♥ Port tasting and bodega tours along the valley at some of the best know quintas in the world.
♥ The perfect opportunity for a beautiful two city and two country road trip, easily achievable in five to seven days.
Stay at the The Vintage House in Pinhao, right in the centre of port making country. This 18th century wine lodge has a fantastic bar, great river views and a fabulous restaurant serving local Portuguese food with a modern twist.
Seville & Cordoba, Spain
If you’re looking for an October city break, then a two city trip to Seville and Cordoba might just fit the bill. One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Seville will be quieter and cooler than the busy and fiercely hot months of summer, but is lively enough to provide atmosphere and Spanish charm by the bucket load.
Cordoba will captivate you with it’s ancient Moorish architecture and hidden squares, perfect for spending an afternoon with delicious tapas as you watch the Spanish world go by. If you have a week or so, you could make Seville and Cordoba stops on an Andalucian road trip.
October and November will be beautifully warm and tourists will still be wearing shorts and t-shirts, although the locals will be bundled up for winter! Seville and Cordoba are two of the best European cities to visit in November if you’re looking for late autumn sunshine and amongst the best to visit in winter for warm weather and fewer tourists.
♥ Enjoying tapas and a beer al fresco, as you watch the world go by.
♥ The Real Alcazar, with the stunning gardens still in bloom.
♥ The simply breathtaking Mezquita mosque-cathedral of Cordoba which it’s iconic architecture and centuries of history.
In Seville, stay at Casa del Poeta in the Barrio Santa Cruz. This beautifully renovated 17th century mansion is hidden down a narrow alley in the best and most interesting district of the city and just a stones throw from all the top attractions. With fantastic service, regular live music and a roof-top view to die for, the is the perfect boutique hotel for a Seville autumn city break.
In Cordoba, stay at the Balcón de Córdoba. This luxury boutique hotel at the centre of the historic old town and just a ten minute walk from the city centre, is charming and stylish with spectacular views or the Mezquita from the roof terrace.