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Autumn can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Whether your idea of fall is tucking into a slice of pumpkin pie on a road trip across New England, hiking across bracken-covered mountains or heading down under for a sunshine-fix, you’ll find your ideal getaway in our lowdown on the world’s best autumn breaks.
Leaf-peeping and the last rays of sunshine: this is where to travel in autumn 2019
1. New England, US
There are few destinations as synonymous with fall as New England, where charming towns punctuate rolling hills streaked with fiery hues. Plan a road trip from North Conway along New Hampshire’s scenic Kancamagus Highway to combine leaf-peeping with stops at harvest festivals for pumpkin pie, before concluding with a Boston city break.
2. Lake District, UK
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.
3. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Experience the tranquil side of this walled city in September and October when temps linger in the mid-20s, summer’s crowds have dissipated and accommodation is pocket-friendly. Stroll the Unesco-listed Old City, take in panoramas from a cable car or savour a wine tasting in the nearby Pelješac peninsula where the grape harvest is underway.
4. Ljubljana, Slovenia
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.
5. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Marigolds paint the streets of this creative colonial 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.
6. Goa, India
Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, falls towards the end of October, with festivities lasting for several days. Celebrate in Goa where spectacular effigies of demon Narakasura are burned or head to Varanasi for firework displays over the Ganges. You’ll catch the country at that sweet spot between the end of monsoon rains and the start of winter’s peak tourist season.
7. Melbourne, Australia
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 the arts-focused Melbourne Festival.
8. Amsterdam, Netherlands
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 historic gables of canalside townhouses. If the weather gets too chilly, dive into a cosy “bruin café” or make for one of the city’s many museums – the Van Gogh and Rijksmuseum are among our favourites.
9. The Highlands, Scotland
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 nippy? The region’s many whisky distilleries (try Glenturret, home of the Famous Grouse) serve as the perfect antidote to the cold.
10. Chūbu, Japan
While cherry blossom season 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’ve done strolling Tokyo’s tree-liked Ginkgo Avenue – stopping for momiji tempura (sweet tempura maple leaves) – head for one of the country’s alpine hiking trails, before recuperating in ryokans that beckon with hot-spring baths and kaiseki dinners.
11. Bavaria, Germany
Southern Germany is home to some of Europe’s most ethereal castles – Neuschwanstein, Nuremberg, Burghausen – as well as Alpine forests ideal for autumnal hikes. Plan your trip in line with Oktoberfest to join Munich’s stein-fuelled sea of rosy-cheeked beer lovers. Lederhosen, optional.
12. Rome, Italy
Rome’s summer crowds are but a distant memory come autumn, when balmy weather means that alfresco 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, Piedmonte or Tuscany) to make the most of the season’s culinary bounty of porcini, truffles, chestnuts and grapes.
13. Paris, France
After the heady days of summer, the City of Light comes to life at the beginning of September – so much so that the period has been dubbed “rentrée”. Aside from the classic tourist sites, there’s plenty to keep visitors entertained, including the Montmartre Wine Harvest and the Autumn Festival, a cacophony of theatre, music, film and dance.
14. Troodos Mountains, Cyprus
With a climate benefitting from its 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. Visit in November to enjoy the spectacle of flamingos migrating to the salt lakes of Larnaca.
15. Transylvania, Romania
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 forest walks backdropped by the Carpathian Mountains, while cool temps make hot springs all the more inviting.
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