8 Must Visit Fall Destinations in Europe
If you want to take spiked cider, sweater weather and fall foliage to the next level, pack your bags and head to Europe for an Autumn like no other. As the air gets crisp and the last of the summer travelers trickle out, the prices in Europe ease up. Whether it’s some R&R in a cozy mountain cabin, fall fashion watching in a posh city or indulging in all the amazing produce from the fall harvest (aka WINE!!). Europeans themselves tend to travel in the summer, so the fall is also a great time to get a more authentic travel experience and do as the locals do. There are many lively fall festivals at this time of year to celebrate the harvest. From dancing in your lederhosen at Oktoberfest, to tasting the celebrating the wine harvest in Burgundy. No matter what type of traveler you are, fall in Europe is magical!
If elaborate castles surrounded by vibrant fall colors sound right up your alley, consider heading to Bavaria this fall. This southern region of Germany comes alive with a ton of fun festivals in the fall! The most well-known of these festivals being Oktoberfest, which typically takes place between the second week of September and the first week of October. Let this lively festival be your starting or ending point of the trip, with a bit of exploring in the fairytale-esque Bavarian Alps as well! The Alps are located just 2 hours outside Munich and hold some of the most gorgeous castles in the world, like the Neuschwanstein castle, which was the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. For a luxury stay with castle views right outside your window, stay at the gorgeous Ameron Alpsee Resort and Spa, nestled right into the mountainside.
The Douro Valley, Portugal
Just outside the city of Porto is the Douro Wine Valley, where the light is soft, the air warm and the colors of the vines takes your breath away. Portugal comes alive in the autumn with the wine harvest, and a road trip to this region is an absolute MUST! Stop along your way at some of the best wineries in Portugal to have tastings! Wind your way through the rolling hills until you reach the Six Senses Douro Valley – where Kenny and I stayed! The infinity pool surrounded by vineyards all around is an absolute DREAM! If you have time on your side, take a wine themed sunset river cruise for the best views of the surrounding countryside, too!
In summer, Dubrovnik’s shoreline is lined with tourists all fighting for a spot along the Adriatic sea – if only they knew that the water typically stays warm through October! Island hopping off the Croatian coast is fantastic in September and even into mid-October at significantly lower prices than the summer months. Game of Thrones fans will also be delighted to hear that during the Autumn months you can wander the ancient city that is “King’s Landing” without the crowds of tourists. If you’re a nature lover, head to the Lakes District to admire the fall foliage around Plitvice Lakes National Park. If you’re like me and are always on the search for good wine while traveling, Croatian wines have recently begun to gather worldwide attention! So head to one of the many of the stellar vineyards of the Konval and Pelješac regions, that are less than a two-hour drive from Dubrovnik.
Just outside of Salzburg Austria (home to The Sound of Music), lies one of the most picturesque places in Austria, Hallstatt. Home to fewer than 1000 residents, this 16th century alpine village is a storybook land of pastel-colored houses and cobblestone streets. Located on the edge of the glistening Lake Hallstatt, the village is perfect for a romantic getaway with a few nights in a cozy traditional cabin like this one. This trip is even better when combined with a few days in both Salzburg and Vienna for the highlights of Austria.
For those that aren’t ready for the colder weather yet and want to prolong summer at all costs, head for the coastal city of Barcelona. See Segrada Familia and Park Guell without the herds of tourists and maybe even get in a beach day or two depending on how late in the season you go! Wander the streets tasting tapas, sangria and Rioja on every corner. For a honeymoon or romantic luxury stay, opt for the Mandarin Oriental, or the Palauet Luxury Estates, and if you’re looking for a high end stay that won’t completely break the bank go with El Palace Barcelona.
South Tyrol, Italy
We all love a good “leaf peeping” hike in the autumn, but at the foot of the notorious Dolomites (an UNESCO World Heritage Site), these hikes will blow everything else out of the water. From picturesque mountain lakes such as Lago di Braies to the snow-capped peaks of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, beautiful mountain towns such as Cortina d’Ampezzo, to endless alpine meadows, and delicious food (and beer, and wine!). Now, this destination isn’t all outdoor adventures, if you guys know me, you know I love to have a good spa and great food, and thankfully this area is a hub! Head straight for the town of Merano where you’ll find one of the chicest new boutique wellness hotel Miramonti. Soak in their hot pools or sweat it out in the sauna overlooking the sweeping valleys below before you dine al fresco at their panoramic restaurant.
Romania probably isn’t on your radar when it comes to bucket-list European destinations. But for those travelers who love history and gorgeous scenery it’s a true hidden gem!! Romania is steeped in rich history as seen in its medieval towns and architecture. Fused with its modern lifestyle, Romania is a perfect fusion of old and new. The fall season in the medieval town of Transylvania brings some real charisma, with its magnificent castles (like Dracula’s castle), yellow and orange colored forests, and misty mountain terrains. One of the best ways to see the most of this area is via the rail system! For a full on world-class luxury train tour check out the Golden Eagle itineraries where you’ll travel in style.
The forests aren’t the only fall colors when it comes to the Burgundy wine region. It is the best time of year to get lost in the flame-colored vineyards-grab your picnic basket, some local cheeses, fall truffles and a bottle (or two) of the world’s finest French Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Burgundy region is a 2-hour train ride from Paris and also makes for a beautiful road trip. Base yourself in the town of Beaune, right next to the Route de Gran Cru. Wander the cobblestone streets visiting the cellars of some of the most historic winemakers in the region, taste a variety of vintages and learn about their unique and natural winemaking processes. Maybe even visit the 13th century wine press the monks used to use at the Château du Clos Du Vougeot. Bike from town to some of the most famous “houses” like that of Vougot, Nuit Saint Georges and Pommard. When you’re not out tasting wine make sure you indulge in some of the region’s specialty dishes, head to Loiseau des Vignes, notable for Burgundian specialties and a list of seventy mostly local wines all available by the glass! Stay in the heart of Beaune in this cozy historic apartment or if you fancy a slower paced escape head to this gorgeous countryside Chateau.