Autumn Abroad: Best Fall Destinations in Europe

By Amrita Evans

North American leaf-peepers know the destinations well: Ontario, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine suffer serious traffic as the hills come alive with fiery colours and crisp, cool air. It can be nearly impossible to see the forest for the tourists that time of year, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your quest for sizzling autumn colour.

Europe’s forests put on a great show as well, and cheap flights are easy to find as autumn is the low season between summer vacation and the holiday season. These are our favourite spots in Europe for enjoying a beautiful autumn getaway.

Best Fall Destinations

Scotland: The Highlands

Scotland in the Autumn

Image Credit: Katie Wallace

Ah, bonnie Scotland – it is everything you expect, but more so. Stunning lochs reflect the dramatic sky, whisky distilleries puff away in every dell and glen, castles appear in the mist and vanish just as suddenly, and salmon jump up waterfalls roaring through jagged, mossy gorges. Pitlochry is an ideal place for enjoying all of the above and more – this Highland town is not far from Edinburgh and Glasgow by train or car, and you can explore Loch Faskally, the River Tummel, Black Spout Falls, Edradour Distillery, the stunning Atholl Palace and more.

Mid-October sees peak colour, and the Pitlochry Autumn Festival begins on October 16th. Locals’ tip: wear warm, waterproof clothes and shoes, and enjoy a local pint at the old Moulin Inn.

Italy: Piedmont

October is high season for food in Italy, which (let’s not kid ourselves here) is one of the main reasons we love the place so much. Truffles and mushrooms, chestnuts, chocolate and nougat all enjoy their own festivals in October, and it’s also time for the vineyard harvest. Piedmont is home to stunning autumn scenery and a lush food and wine culture; this north-western region is hemmed in by the Alps, so there are hundreds of roads and trails to explore the rolling hills and peaks ablaze with colour. Tuscany and Umbria are also stunning at this time of year (to be honest, all of Italy is gorgeous, no matter what time of year you go).

Germany: Romantic Road

Neuschwanstein Castle

Image Credit: kellinahandbasket

This famous 220-mile highway winds through southern Germany and the Bavarian Alps, taking in some of the most stunning scenery and charming villages in Europe. The hills pop with colour and character, and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle (the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland) is well worth a stop. Historic cities and medieval walled towns line the route, festivals and harvest fairs are common throughout the autumn, and if the views are too tempting, there are plenty of walking trails to explore the mountains and countryside. And of course, we’d be remiss not to mention Oktoberfest – which actually begins in late September.

Amrita Evans is a Scotland-based travel writer who left her hometown in the US more than 10 years ago and never looked back. October is her favourite month.

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25 thoughts on “Autumn Abroad: Best Fall Destinations in Europe

  1. Leigh

    I’d like to do all three of those trips! We don’t get the great reds in Alberta but we do get great swaths of larch turning yellow and that is a sight to be seen.

  2. Christy

    Scotland would be amazing in the fall! We were trying to plan a trip to Canada this year to see the fall colors, but I’m not sure if it’s going to happen yet. I miss seeing the colorful leaves.

  3. Rosa Linda Kilgore

    I’d love to visit Scotland any time of year!! But autumn sounds like a great time to go. Thank you for the beautiful post!!

  4. Christopher

    Oh, I agree with all of these. I love these places (I live in one of them). And autumn is a great time to avoid the summer crowds. I would always add Alsace to any list of places to visit in Europe. Autumn is right after all the wine festivals, so the villages aren’t as overrun with tourists.

  5. Cathy Post author

    Thanks for all of the great comments! It seems that there is general agreement here that autumn is a fabulous time of year for traveling to colorful places. I’d love to be heading to any of these gorgeous European locations — in the autumn or anytime of year, for that matter.

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