The day has finally arrived! It’s Autumn. My favourite season.
Time for changing leaves, cardigans and a cup of hot cocoa. The beautiful hues of burgundy and mustard. Just me? Well, when that gets a bit dull for you, there’s the excitement of Halloween and a well deserved adventure. Autumn is often the perfect shoulder season for travel. It can be cheaper, easier and less crowded in some of the world’s best loved destinations.
Part time travel community have come together once again to give a selection of recommendations for short breaks that cover many areas of the world. No matter where you live or how much time you have, there is an option for you. In their own words and pictures, here are the best autumn part-time travel destinations.
Beautiful scenery? Check.
Historical buildings & quaint old towns? Check.
Warm beaches & seaside promenades? Check.
Weird communist memorabilia? Che-wait, what?!
Although on the same latitude as Barcelona, and just across the sea from Corfu, it’s never been a country high on many tourists’ radars. It’s a lively, friendly country that packs a lot in a small space. The coast is lined with waterfront promenades from Shkodër in the North to Sarandë in the South, and even in October it’s warm enough to go paddling in the sea, whilst inland the mountains are raw, misty, and covered with hiking trails and wild animals. Linking the two are epic valleys, most notably Koman Lake which, while very much off the beaten trail, has one of the most stunning boat journeys in the whole of Europe. Towns such as Gjirokaster and Berat, with hilltop castles and cobbled streets, cater for those looking for history and culture. And if you fancy something a bit more … quirky, the capital Tirana is home to the world’s most pointless pyramid, whilst the most common sight across the country are the small concrete bunkers designed to beat an invasion that never came, and now mostly lie in ruins.
We often visit our relatives in Australia, and our favourite time is March or April, when we’ve got over the worst of our winter, and they just got over the worst of their summer. And, providing you aren’t staying too far north, the leaves are usually changing colour nicely. Favoured places for us are the Adelaide Hills and New South Wales’s Blue Mountains. But, if you can’t make it to these places, there’s a Botanical Gardens in most places of any size. Probably the best colours come from ‘imported’ trees; the early settlers wanted something to remind them of home. The big plus for visitors from the northern hemisphere is that they can get two lots of ‘leaf-peeping’ in a year. Another big advantage … autumn is when the vineyards are harvested, and the first of the year’s wine will follow shortly afterwards
A great destination to visit during Autumn is Greece, whether is a city break in Athens or a week-long holiday in one of the islands. The temperature is still great during this time of the year, much better than the heatwave of the summer and the sea is still warm enough for a swim especially in the south. Another advantage is that the popular islands and Athens will be less crowded and you will have a calmer and more authentic holiday. If you, on the other hand, prefer to see the Autumn colors there are plenty of places in Greece especially in the mountains where the temperature drops more and you will be able to admire nature at its best. Autumn is also the season when they pick the olives and grapes in Greece, a great experience to witness.
Japan is considered one of the dream destinations in the world. With its rich culture, history, and technology, no wonder why Japan is a top destination during the autumn season. Autumn season starts from September until November. Few of the top destinations to go during the autumn season and see autumn leaves are Niseko, Hokkaido; Shiga Kogen, Nagano; Subaru Line, Mt. Fuji; Kuni-gawa River, Tochigi; Lake Ashino-ko, Kanagawa; Kinkaku-ji Temple, Kyoto; and Arashiyama, Kyoto.
In October, sheaths of autumnal leaves shimmer beguilingly in Sweden, brought alive by bursts of sunshine between raindrops. We wandered through the Gothenburg city parks, stopping off for fika – piping hot coffee and wheels of kanelbullar, the cinnamon buns that are synonymous with Swedish childhood. When the sun breaks out it is a perfect place for exploring in Autumn – compact, intriguing, and walking though the leafy boulevards is a real treat. Hiking trails are a local obsession, there are hill tops to climb and view the city, and it’s super simple to catch a ferry out to the archipelego island of Brännö, and within an hour it’s possible to be exploring the island. Deer wander through the lanes, there is a nip in the air and if you’re quick you can pick apples from the tree boughs – before enjoying another cosy round of fika.
New Zealand in autumn is the perfect time to visit. With Goldilocks weather (not too hot, not too cold) you’ll find it a glorious time to explore both the North and South Islands with less crowds than the summer season (and reduced rates too).
If you love marine mammals, head to Wellington where you can spot Killer Whales (Orcas) at the time of year. Love the changing hues of colour in the tree village? You’ll want to visit Central Otago and the Hawke’s Bay. Or if culture is your thing, enjoy the incredible foods at the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival.
No matter where you head, New Zealand in autumn will provide an incredible experience.
It’s easy to wax lyrical about autumn in England. Thousands of poems have been dedicated to this most mellow of seasons, with its reddening leaves, sharp blue sky and cobwebs hung with dewdrops – and for good reason. Sod summer with its below-par temperatures and humidity-curdled hair. An English autumn rarely lets you down. When the sun shines – and it does more often that you might think – kick up the leaves on your way to a cosy pub or head to one of the gloriously eccentric seasonal events such as the World Conker Championships or the Gurning World Championship. And when it doesn’t – because that also happens quite a lot – check out the country’s theatres, music halls and pubs for cultural listings that are as fat and generous as the gourds that crowd the tables of village harvest festivals.
Many people push Canada aside when it comes to part-time travel but the truth is that majority of the destinations in Canada can be done as a long weekend trip. From world class cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, to more down to earth and charming cities like Quebec City and Halifax. These cities are also stunning in autumn, as Canada experience four distinct seasons, fall being the most colourful.
But if fall foliage is what you’re craving most then you can’t get better than Canada’s most natural destinations: Banff, Algonquin and pretty much all of British Columbia. You’ll be hard pressed to find better colours anywhere in the world as these national parks and province are decorated in reds, oranges and yellows across the millions of trees.
Even better is that autumn is the off season of travel across the country which means you can spend less while seeing the country at its peak beauty with mild temperatures.
Scotland is our favorite country, and a great destination for fall or any time of year. With so much history and natural beauty, Scotland is a scenic place that can’t be beat. The rugged highlands, the misty weather, the classic architecture: Scotland is awesome, and easy to access from other points of Europe. We recommend not missing Edinburgh, the capital city, and taking the time to explore some of Scotland’s amazing castles, such as Eilean Donan in the highlands.
As the cheapest and smallest of the Scandinavian countries, Denmark is definitely a worthy autumn escape. It’s the season when the Danish come together to be hyggelig, a concept derived from the feelings of happiness, safety and comfort when the nights get longer. Enhance your coziness with a glass of gløgg, the Danish version of mulled wine.
Denmark reaches its peak aesthetic during this time. In just one week you can visit the hometown of fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen in Odense, the ARoS art museum with its rainbow panorama in Aarhus and the beaches of Skagen, where the North Sea and the Baltic Sea clash into one another. If you like to take things slow and fancy, spend the week in Copenhagen and treat yourself to glorious canal vistas and cityscapes. For the gastronomically (and financially) well-endowed, the capital city hosts two world class restaurants: Noma and Geranium. Though a bit chilly, you’ll surely find Denmark very loveable in autumn.
Although most people visit Portugal during the summer months, autumn is often a better time to visit. It’s not as warm, but that’s definitely a positive thing. In July and August, temperatures in the Algarve and Lisbon can reach 40 °C. It’s also incredibly busy during the summer, and accommodation is at its most expensive.
September and October, on the other hand, are still fairly warm (at least by Northern European standards). Temperatures in the Algarve and Lisbon will still be in the high 20s at the start of September, and will gradually drop to somewhere between 15 and 20 °C by the end of November.
So, regardless of what type of holiday you’re looking for, Autumn is a great time to visit the Algarve. The beginning of Autumn (September) is still great for beach holidays, while October and November are cool enough to get some serious sight-seeing done.
Istanbul, famously being where the east meets the west, is the perfect place for a an autumn travel destination. While the temperatures are starting to drop in Western Europe, average temperatures in Istanbul are 19 degrees (66 F). I find the city to be endlessly walkable, elements of modern and ancient living next to one another. Also, Turkish food is seriously underrated – it’s amazing. Take a walking food tour of Istanbul to learn all about the history of the amazing city while trying the best in local foods.
If stunning scenery and mouth-watering food sounds like something you’d enjoy, Mexico should be top of your autumn destinations list.
Mexico City is an absolute must-visit for travellers to Mexico as it’s a riot of colour and fascinating Aztec history. Head to the Yucatan peninsula to witness modern-day Mexican and Spanish cultures in colonial towns, as well as ancient Mayan ruins in Tulum and Chichen Itza. If you crave beaches and relaxation, the resorts of Cancun are ideal for a spot of ‘you time’ after all that sightseeing.
Autumn is a great time to visit thanks to the iconic festival Dia de los Muertos in October/November, where the streets come alive with beautiful costumes, food and decorations in honour of deceased loved ones – a far cry from the horror of Halloween! The months of October and November also signal the end of Mexico’s hurricane season, when unbearable heat gives way to milder temperatures and beautiful sunshine.
The Amalfi coast in Italy is our top tip for an autumn getaway. The coastline is dotted with picturesque towns, recognisable by the colourful buildings precariously clinging to the cliffs. And the beautiful island of Capri is a short boat ride away.
We first looked at going there in August, but were seriously put off by comments online that it was too hot, too busy and full of traffic.
In October, the weather was lovely (mostly). And although it certainly wasn’t quiet, it was fairly easy to find accommodation, get on public transport and eat where we wanted.
Regular boat services, connecting the towns along the coast and across to Capri, stop at the end of October, so it’s best to go before then. If you do go to Capri, stay overnight, so you can explore when the daytrippers have gone. And eat at Da Tonino (you won’t regret it!)
For us, autumn is synonymous with family trips to the Ardennes area of Northern France. Just 2.5 hours from Calais, it’s an often-overlooked area of natural beauty and tranquillity, blessed with lakes and wild forests. In autumn it’s a real treat for the senses with the changing colours of the leaves and the smell of real-wood fires from each, very individual, home.
When we are feeling adventurous, we boat on the glistening lake or hire bikes to explore the forest trails and get muddy! We also enjoy driving alongside the meandering River Meuse, stopping off to stroll around picturesque spots like Monthermé. We often follow the river north into Belgium to take in Dinant. It’s extraordinarily pretty with a dramatic citadel overlooking the river, and home of the famous Leffe beer. We buy a couple of bottles and return to our lakeside retreat, to enjoy them as the sun sets on another wonderful autumn day.
Chile is a very diverse country, from desert and laid-back coastal towns to famous mountains of Patagonia. Every outdoor lover out there is familiar with Patagonia and its most popular Torres del Paine National Park. Whether you like trekking, hiking, mountain biking, rafting or wildlife watching (especially penguins) you can find it in Chile. Chilean autumn is March to May and September to November is spring in the southern hemisphere. Both seasons are great times to visit as they are considered shoulder seasons.
Our favourite memories from Chilean Patagonia include hiking on a glacier, hitchhiking along one of the most scenic roads in the world Carretera Austral, trekking for 5 days in Torres del Paine National Park and taking a 33-hour long ferry to the southernmost city in the world, Puerto Williams on Navarino Island.
Come visit the land of glaciers, turquoise lakes and snow peaked mountains, and leave with memories for a lifetime.
Budapest in autumn is a cool but crisp traveller’s paradise. The dramatic sweep of the Danube river cuts through the two ancient sides of Buda and Pest, now united as Budapest. Buda is the hilly side, home to Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Pest is the flat side, which is the centre of commerce and home to the very photogenic Parliament Buildings. To the east of the city is City Park, home to The Museum of Fine Art, Heroes’ Square, and the famous Széchenyi Thermal Baths. The baths provide a variety of indoor and outdoor pools at varying temperatures and are known for their healing properties. From a hike up Castle Hill, to digging in to a large bowl of Hungarian goulash (a stew made with beef and flavoured with Hungary’s national spice, paprika), Budapest provides many ways in which to heat up during the cooler autumn months.
St. Petersburg, Russia is a lovely Autumn destination especially for the end of September and the entire month of October. Why? The cultural capital of Russia (don’t confuse with the actual capital, Moscow) has plenty of parks in the city centre and right in the middle of October, the leaves slowly start getting yellow. In the middle of October, however, almost all the trees are either yellow or red and that looks very impressive. St. Petersburg is a former imperial city, so it has many palaces in the suburbs and some of these palaces surrounded by yellow and red trees just look fabulous. Moreover, the weather is still mild in October, so don’t worry about warm clothes – you won’t have to wear a parka for an Arctic winter.
To summarise, St. Petersburg is a great autumn destination for part-time travellers because it not only has an incredible amount of places to visit, but because it also looks gorgeous in Autumn!
Amazing destinations in the words of our community’s travellers. My recommendations around the world would be Peru, Tanzania and Montenegro. Depending on where you live, these places can be affordable and easy to travel to in the shoulder season. Europe is on my doorstep so I have a huge selection of great places a short flight or train journey away. I have fallen in love with the colours, soft sunsets and cosy feeling of autumn. Everything shines a little bit golden and only for a fleeting window of time. Get out there and enjoy this wonderful season.
What do you think of our recommendations? Where are you heading to this autumn?