I could tell you all the reasons why autumn is the best time for a Eurotrip, but winter would come by the end of my enumeration. So I’m only going to focus on the really helpful things. First of all, there are fewer people, given that most of the holidays are ended by September. It could seem like this is a disadvantage at first, but the true upside of this is that there will be no more infernal queues, no more people standing in line wherever you go and, most importantly, everything’s cheaper. Because it’s considered to be off-season, from the hostels to the museums and flights, there’s more space for bargaining everywhere. What makes it worth it budgetwise is that, although from the US the flight discounts aren’t very consistent, within Europe there are more options for you to choose from.
Another upside is that while during the summer season most of the Europeans are traveling as well, it’s during the fall that you’ll get a more accurate perspective on how the cities really look like. From observing the everyday life to socializing with locals, you’ll feel more connected to everything. Besides, depending on the place you’re from, autumn is a cooler season as well – you won’t be freezing, but it’s certainly more bearable to visit Greece, Spain or Italy this time of the year.
Simply put, fall is the season when the big cities of Europe reveal their true aspect, and visiting a city isn’t about the classic itinerary but about its cultural heritage. It’s when you can easily catch a glimpse of their natural habits, find out what these destinations are really about, and not as some kind of social experiment, but more like an observer who, instead of just checking a destination off the bucket list, gets to actually know the place and blend into it.
Think of it as going to visit someone instead of something. It’s fun if you’re going to your aunt and there’s a huge party thrown, but the stay is more meaningful when you get to drink your coffee with her in the morning, read the newspaper together and laugh over silly things. Instead of going to just another party, what I’m suggesting today is that you should drink your coffee with Europe. Connect with it.
Making a complete list of alluring places in Europe’s during in the fall is another impossible thing to do. But there obviously are some bewitching places you should experience (instead of just visit). Unlike the rest of the year you’ll perceive the whole experience as more intimate, something that’s been hidden a long time and only a lucky few can have the honor of getting to see.
One of these places which look as if taken out from Wonderland is Vienna – fantastic in the fall. Partly because the pastel colors paint a whole other portrait of this graceful, opulent chimera. An array of colors speaking of romance, passion and elegance is what the city looks like. Of course, as far as beauteous European cities go, visiting Vienna is a must at all times, but fall makes it look even more friendly, charming and bohemian. A light jacket and a cotton scarf to make you feel cozy, and you’re ready to take all the long walks that autumn’s all about there.
Not to miss out on: Heuriger is the best traditional tavern in town, they serve heavenly wine like nowhere else. Sturm is a must – a lightly fermented grape juice with yeast still in it; locals love it and you’ll discover how good it tastes. Wien Modern is a festival of contemporary music taking place in October, where you’ll feel like a local partying, Wienese style.
Diversity’s what you’ll find in Slovenia at all times, from Alpine wonders to Mediterranean climate, crystal-clear lakes and autumn displays of golden landscapes. At the same time, the country’s one of the very few places where, when man intrudes, there are actually good things coming out from it. For instance, Lake Bled has a small baroque chapel near it, atop the island, along with a very dramatic cliffside castle, which makes the landscape all the more harmonious instead of just another scenic place ruined by Gaudi architecture. Although it’s very far from making the top European popular destinations, this country’s got a lot to show. Do you know how they say about the smaller companies that they try harder to please the consumer? It’s pretty much a similar story with this country as well, except it’s not trying to impress as much as it is impressive in itself.
Seriously, I doubt that there’s something to scream from the top of its lungs ‘autumn’ more than Oktoberfest in Munich. Parades, festival tents, steins of beer, good music or Bavarian food are the best ways to welcome the fall. While in Munich, you should get a little taste of the city too, and it would be a pity not to get a sample of what this city can offer. The City Museum is just a brief introduction to the local wonders: from buildings to cafés, theaters and shops, everything’s part of a cultural mosaic you wouldn’t want to miss. Also, while Oktoberfest might seem like the absolute center of universal madness if you’re completely sober, after a beer or two it all makes perfect sense. I doubt that there’s anybody who could actually resist the charm of the festival. People from all Europe come over and over again to share a great time with a sea of strangers.
If you didn’t hear of it from the movie In Bruges, then you probably know at least three things about the country that make it popular – beer, chocolate and waffles. While it’s been a long time since you last read a Brothers Grimm fairytale, imagine that this city is all about stunning medieval architecture. From the Basilica of the Holy Blood to the Market Square, everything looks like the setting of a fantasy movie – except for the goblins and fairies, of course, but the landscape is still something to remember. Bruges is all the more beautiful during fall, because of all the pastel colors the city is painted in. Calling this city the Venice of the North is a pretty sad injustice, and I think Bruges should be known more as being a fantastic place than just looking like one.
It’s true what they say – that you never forget the first time you meet someone. The very first minute and that immediate impression is what lasts forever. I’m not necessarily fond of this theory when it comes to people, but this city somehow speaks of magic. It’s a very harmonious combination of old buildings, modern architecture, pubs filled with fun people, not to mention the castle, which is really a creation of awe. Honestly, Edinburgh is the horn of plenty for anyone, especially during the fall, when autumn paints an even more beautiful portrait of the city than you’d discover any other time of the year.
The châteaux of rare beauté ask for exquisite company and never-dying stories, and what’s best to enhance a great conversation if not the worldwide famous wines? You thought well – visiting the wineries and the vineyards during the fall feels like watching the lines of a story come to life. Everybody’s busy, and there’s an entire mechanism to this land of diligent swarms that’s very much alive during this time of year. Unlike the winter, when it all looks paralyzed, like a forsaken land which only used to be alive centuries ago, autumn is Bordeaux’s spring. It’s when it comes to life to speak the story of excellent wine. People are welcoming, despite their workload. As for the landscapes, they’re so stunningly beautiful that words don’t do them justice.
Florence, Tuscany, Italy
All roads lead to Rome. But Florence looks like an open-air museum. From the Duomo to the Plaza de la Signora, this city gives me the impression that I’m reading fine poetry with every other step. Even leaving the cultural and historical monuments aside, the Ponte Vecchio is something you wouldn’t forgive yourself for missing. Built in 1345, it is still a place where craftsmen run different shops. From gold to silver jewelry, or souvenirs for home, there’s nothing you won’t find here.
Tuscany, in Italy is something you’ll find worth visiting if you want Bordeaux to have a good term of comparison. The impression of this place on you’s going to be different, since the entire experience of making wine is hidden from sight, but you’ll still get to enjoy the landscapes.