friend who’s weather-obsessed will no doubt tell you that
autumn is over. But we’re here to point out
that, according to the astronomical calendar, the season officially ends on 21 December – meaning
there’s still more than enough time to soak up the stunning scenery
it brings. Autumn can mean different things to different people.
Whether your idea of fall is tucking into a slice of pumpkin pie on
a road trip across New England or hiking across heather-covered
mountains in Scotland’s most remote pockets, you’ll find your ideal
getaway in our line-up of the world’s finest autumn breaks.
Leaf-peeping and the last rays of sunshine: where to travel in
While it’s cherry-blossom season that grabs headlines when it
comes to Japan, the vision of the country’s Alps and Zen gardens
framed by maple leaves is arguably more arresting. When you’re done
strolling Tokyo’s tree-liked Ginkgo Avenue – stopping for momiji
tempura (sweet tempura maple leaves) – head for one of Chūbu’s
scenic hiking trails, before recuperating in ryokans that beckon
with hot-spring onsens and kaiseki dinners.
Tired of Amsterdam’s tulips and tourists? Explore the Venice of
the North as summer fades (along with the number of visitors) and
falling leaves expose the historic gables of canalside townhouses.
If the weather gets too chilly, dive into a cosy “bruin café”
(traditional Dutch pub) or make for one of the city’s many museums
– the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum are among our favourites.
Make like Nan Shepherd with wild walks through russet-red
grasses, golden pines and the fading late-summer flush of heather.
Highland days are best spent admiring fairy-tale castles and
Scotland’s rich and varied wildlife: at this time of year stags rut
and grey seals land with their fur-coated pups. A wee bit nippy?
The region’s many whisky distilleries (try Glenturret, home of The
Famous Grouse) serve as the perfect antidote to the cold.
Southern Germany is home to some of Europe’s most ethereal
castles – Neuschwanstein, Nuremberg, Burghausen – as well as alpine
forests ideal for autumnal hikes. While the legendary Oktoberfest
takes place in late September, there is no wrong time to join
Munich’s stein-fuelled sea of rosy-cheeked beer lovers. Lederhosen,
Remember: the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere.
If you’ve had your fill of fall foliage, head down under, where
Melbourne is blooming with great events and attractions including
the Melbourne Cup and arts-focused festivals.
Rome’s summer crowds are but a distant memory come autumn, when
balmy weather means that al fresco aperitivo is still on the menu
and you’re less likely to be battling for a selfie at the Trevi
Fountain. Tack on a countryside trip (try Liguria, Piedmont or
Tuscany) to make the most of the season’s culinary bounty of
porcini, truffles, chestnuts and grapes.
If the Lake District’s brooding skies and undulating fells were
enough to make Wordsworth wax lyrical, they’re good enough for us,
too. Pack your waterproofs and head to this Unesco-protected
northwestern gem for misty morning walks across bracken-covered
mountains that segue into fireside pints in centuries-old pubs.
San Miguel de Allende
Marigolds colour the streets of this creative Mexican city
during autumn, when the daytime climate is somewhat spring-like –
ideal for hikes, horseback riding, temazcal rituals and hot
springs. Plan your trip in line with the week-long Day of the Dead
celebrations to enjoy parades, installations, dances and plays
between admiring pop-up public altars.
With a climate that benefits from the island’s proximity to the
Middle East, Cyprus coaxes travellers in search of vitamin D. If
you’re not hankering after a fly-and-flop beach holiday or partying
in Ayia Napa, head inland to the Troodos Mountains for hikes
through vineyards and pine forests. Visit in November to enjoy the
spectacle of flamingos migrating to the salt lakes of Larnaca.
Experience the tranquil side of this walled city in October and
November, when temps linger in the mid-20s, summer’s crowds have
dissipated and accommodation is more pocket-friendly. Stroll the
Unesco-listed Old City, take in panoramas from a cable car or
savour a wine-tasting extravaganza on the nearby Pelješac
peninsula, where the grape harvest is underway.
After the heady days of summer, the City of Light comes to life
at the beginning of September – so much so that the autumnal period
has been dubbed “rentrée”. Aside from the classic tourist sites,
there’s plenty to keep visitors entertained, including the Autumn
Festival (9 September – 31 December), a cacophony of theatre,
music, film and dance.
There are few destinations as synonymous with autumn as New
England, where charming towns punctuate rolling hills streaked with
fiery hues. Plan a road trip from Conway along New Hampshire’s
glorious Kancamagus Highway to combine leaf-peeping with stops at
harvest festivals for pumpkin pie, before concluding with a Boston
While springtime is great for seeing Transylvania’s
flower-carpeted meadows, we say visit in autumn. Moody weather (and
proximity to Halloween) sets the scene for eerie castle visits and
woodland walks backdropped by the Carpathian Mountains, while cool
temperatures make hot springs all the more inviting.
Ljubljana may have been named Europe’s “Green Capital” in 2016,
but we prefer it in an amber palette – coincidentally, the same
colour as Slovenia’s signature wine (oenophiles should visit around
11 November, when the city comes to life with St Martin’s Day
festivities). Admire autumnal views from Ljubljana Castle or visit
Lake Bled, just a 30-minute drive away.
This article was updated on 8 November 2022.