Autumn is the perfect time for a motorhome road trip. The kids are back in school, the crowds have gone and the weather has yet to turn wintry. The colours will be glorious, sites will be quiet and beaches deserted; with so many reasons to take an autumn motorhome road trip, what are you waiting for?
Top Autumn Motorhome Road Trips
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The New Forest, UK
The New Forest will be a riot of colour and the heather will be out in force. If you haven’t visited this tranquil haven for wildlife and nature, now is the perfect time for an autumn motorhome road trip. The forest is a 200 square mile mix of actual forest (some ancient), heathland and gorgeous coastline so offers loads to see and do. Hiking and cycling are very popular, with designated routes for both criss-crossing the whole area.
Sites will be quieter in autumn and some campsites stay open year round, for more info click here. Forest campsites offer unique access and you will be in amongst the amazing colours of autumn and if you’re lucky you will see deer and most certainly New Forest ponies. In some parts of the forest, there are also pigs (allowed out to forage for acorns in autumn, this is called pannage) and rare breed cattle to look out for.
There is so much to see and do in the New Forest, it’s a great road trip destination.
From 30th August to 3rd November the huge gardens at the stunning Blühendes Barock are taken over by pumpkins! This enormous festival is all about the pumpkin; with European and country weigh-offs, cookery demo’s, pumpkin carving, live music and loads of other festival type activities.
Ludwigsburg is in Baden-Württemberg, about seven miles north of Stuttgart city centre, near the river Neckar. Our advice would be to use one of the stellplatz or camp sites in the area and take the easily accessible public transport to the festival, as Ludwigsburg is a low emission zone and a regional environmental zone (don’t ask me what the difference is!) and both require a vignette. There is motorhome parking in the town if you have the vignettes, the details are here.
For more information on the pumpkin festival, click here.
The Pyrenees, France and Spain
An early autumn motorhome road trip is the best way to visit the magnificent Pyrenees, you’ll have the mountains to yourselves! It’s too early for snow (expect some above 2,000m from mid-October), the sky will still be blue and the trails will be deserted.
It is possible to wild camp easily at this time of year; we spent three weeks hiking and wild camping in September and October 2018 and had an incredible time. The views are breathtaking and the hiking is signed with good, well-maintained trails. Most shops, restaurants and bars remain open as they transition from summer to winter sports and make the most of the shoulder season trade.
These four (or five if you’re happy to cross the border into Spain) awesome Pyrenees hikes will take you from the Valle de Gaube, to Gavarnie, east over the magnificent Col de Tourmalet to Mont Né. From here it is an easy (if time consuming!) hop across to Spain on the D618A and a further stunning hike at Circo de Soaso in the Monte y Perdido National Park in Spain. For information on each hike and some fabulous wild camping in your motorhome, click to see our seven day Pyrenees hiking tour.
The colourful and vibrant capital city of Denmark has so much of interest but is rammed during the summer months. Of course people want to visit Copenhagen in the summer when there is a chance of sunshine and some heat. It is unlikely that you will be wearing shorts if you head here on an autumn motorhome road trip, and you will want to be winterised too!
But, what you will get is 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 with feelings of wellness and contentment, which for me means being warm and snuggly!
By far the best place to stay is Camping Charlottenlund Fort, but be quick, they close 22nd October. From here it will take around 20 minutes into the city centre by public transport.
Southwest Alentejo and Vicentine Coast Natural Park, Portugal
If you love deserted beaches, wide-open spaces and coastal hiking then you will be in heaven here. A perfect autumn motorhome road trip destination or via point, you will fall in love with this region of Portugal.
The natural park straddles the Alentejo and Algarve regions and is a haven for wildlife and nature. The mighty Atlantic rolls in here with drama and spectacle; hike all or parts of the Rota Vicentina and watch the waves with awe.
In autumn, you will still have the weather but not the crowds. The roads are mainly quiet and the villages welcoming. It is forbidden to wild camp in the natural park and people regularly get moved on by the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana), although it seems to be tolerated more out of high season. We took a chance and parked for a night here; it is one of our all-time favorite wild camping spots (for more of these click here!)
For hikes in this part of Portugal, with details of where you can stay in your motorhome, click here.
No autumn motorhome road trip list would be complete without Munich making an appearance. The capital of Bavaria and a quintessential German city, Munich is famous for its’ historic buildings, the glockenspiel and of course, the Oktoberfest!
This years Oktoberfest will be held from 21st September to 6th October and will celebrate everything beer and Bavaria. The Oktoberfest is a HUGE festival with a fairground and 38 beer tents; if you’re looking for a party here is the place to be!
The Oktoberfest Camping at the De-Gasperi-Bogen on the grounds of Munich Conference Center in Riem is specially arranged for the duration of Oktoberfest as a parking lot with sanitary facilities for 1,500 motorhomes, of which 800 have EHU. From here, you can take public transport and be at the Oktoberfest within 20 minutes. There are other campsite options, all of which can be viewed here, along with other information about the Oktoberfest.
50km east of Innsbruck, Zillertal is an unassuming town in the Tirol. In a truly stunning 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 in autumn, and the local towns all have festivals taking place with local artisan food, live music and handicrafts. For more information on cattle drives in Austria, click here.
You could easily combine an Almabtrieb festival with a stay in Innsbruck, where there is loads to see and do. One of our all-time favourite campsites (with the most amazing sanitaries) is just outside Innsbruck and is open all year round. Innsbruck is another great motorhome destination, with loads of activity and extreme sports opportunities.
Douro Valley, Portugal
An autumn motorhome road trip to the Douro valley is a must, the light is soft, the air warm and the colours of the vines spectacular. The Duoro valley comes alive in the autumn with the wine harvest; it is possible to join the traditional stomping of the grapes in some vineyards.
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 is situated on the south slopes of the Douro, about half way between Porto and the Spanish border. It’s a steep drive up with a number of switchbacks, but we managed it in an 8m motorhome. There is plenty of parking available but you cannot stay in their car-park overnight. You will need to book your visit in advance on their website.
It would be possible to drive from Porto and complete the whole Douro valley in a day, but you would miss so much. We recommend stopping at least twice along the valley; we stayed here and enjoyed a dip in the municipal thermal baths circa 1970! From this spot, 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.