Handpicked selection of the best places to visit in fall in Europe and the best Europe city breaks in the autumn
Visiting Europe in fall can be a real treat. As the temperatures get milder and the large summer crowds return to school and work, Europe welcomes one of the most beautiful time of the year.
In the South, many destinations in Europe still welcome the visitor to sunny days, making a trip to Europe the perfect choice for those seeking a last touch of summer
In the center and North, foliage covers vast areas of Europe with a blanket of fall colors and colder days envelope Europe’s old town into a magical atmosphere.
But Europe is vast, where should you actually go for your fall travels? What of those cheap flights to Europe are actually worth booking?
This is our selection of the best cites to visit in Europe in fall and the many reasons autumn is the perfect time to visit Europe
The best places to visit in fall in Europe and best European cities for autumn travel
The overwhelming beauty of Rome knows no seasons, but the autumn, early October in particular, is a special time to visit the Eternal City.
Rome in October usually sees dry and pleasant weather and the city slowly starts wearing its autumnal colors, treating its visitors to a beautiful palette of yellow and red leaves against the backdrop of a terse, blue sky.
Romans are particularly fond of the city at this time and even have a name for these very special weather: Ottobrate Romane (Ottobre=October).
The city is a hive of activity, with the locals in the thick of the working year and museum, galleries and restaurants are open and buzzing with events, with many attractions offering longer visiting hours.
October is a popular times for visitors too so don’t expect a city devoid of tourism: it is all but!
If vising Rome in the fall, make sure you book your accommodation and tickets for main attractions in advance (find out here how to avoid the lines in Rome) to avoid bad surprises.
If you are looking for small town charm, complete with fairy tale castle and autumnal colors, look no farther than the Spanish city of Segovia.
Located in the center of Spain and easy to reach from Madrid in less than 1h on the train, Segovia is picture perfect and autumn is a great time to explore it.
Here you have a stunning Roman aqueduct, small meandering streets full of charm and delicious restaurants and a castle so scenic it is said to have inspired the one Disney created for Cinderella!
Segovia is the fall is exceptionally pleasant: under the tall bastions of the city, the large forest of caduceus trees acquires wonderful colors this time of the year and makes the perfect backdrop for a truly magical stay. This is fall travel to Europe at its best.
Recommended by Richard from Life in Our Van
As the Autumn leaves fall, do you fancy swimming in the crystal clear warm waters, gazing up at the imposing citadel made famous by Game of Thrones?
If you do, you’ll love any chance you get to visit Dubrovnik in the shoulder season. In the fall, Dubrovnik welcomes you with cheaper prices and warm seas and, more importantly, space to fully enjoy the amazing UNESCO old city without the throngs of crowds of high season.
Dubrovnik is an old city full of small cobbled streets that wind lazily upwards towards the imposing city walls.
With a break from the summer heat, there’s plenty to offer visitors of all ages, including magnificent city wall tours, escape rooms and even a new Star Wars walk.
Outside the old city offers even more choices, to families but not just.
Sea kayaking to nearby islands or even jumping aboard the affordable ‘yellow submarine’ to see the marine wildlife between Dubrovnik and Lokrum Island, made famous by it’s tame rabbits and peacocks.
The perfect place to spend a lazy day or grab a family adventure should you choose to brave the island’s Dead Sea. A salt-filled lake that allows you to float in peace or explore at your leisure.’
Dublin is a wonderful destination in September and October and not just because of lower crowds and cheaper hotel prices.
What many do not know about Dublin is that in the autumn it gets amazing foliage and you can enjoy it easily in the many city parks, as well as on the Wicklow mountains, just outside of the city.
The best way to enjoy autumn in Dublin is to plan a weekend here and hit the city’s museums (Dublin’s national gallery has a stunning Caravaggio), take walks in nature and of course warm up in Dublin’s world class pubs, a delight especially on a chilly evening, when they fill up with locals winding down and bringing to life the famous Irish craic
Dublin in the fall is also a special place is you love Halloween.
Halloween was born in Ireland and October sees the city embracing this festivity fully, with decorations and autumn festivals to mark this most beloved event.
Recommended by Jason from An Epic Education
With its perennial blue skies and warm Mediterranean air, Valencia is worth exploring year-round.
Autumn, however, might be an ideal time for a first visit. Unlike most of Europe and North America, Valencia enjoys dry, sunny weather year-round, yet tourism slows down by early September.
The result: warm breezes and more elbow room around the city’s wealth of kid-friendly museums, festivals, parks, and historical sites.
Now you can visit Europe’s biggest aquarium, best zoo and most beautiful market — all in one city, and all without fighting the crowds. Still want the beach? You can swim here in November.
The city of Valencia is extremely flat, walkable, and stroller-friendly, but taxis and public transportation are also safe, convenient and easy to navigate. As for food, the city’s exceptional restaurant scene and al fresco dining options are made even better with a glass of local wine or cava.
Recommended by Virginie from Travel with my kids
Visiting Naples (Italy) and its surroundings in autumn is lovely.
The worst of the summer heat are faded, and you can expect a very pleasant 22°C during the day. More of all, there is something special about the Italian light in fall: lower, softer, bringing a kind of magical golden glow!
You can stroll around Naples’ lively historic centre with the kids, enjoying its picturesque charm: the clean laundry drying up by windows, the beautiful crumbling palace’s inner courtyards, the garlands of dried tomatoes hanging up…
Because Christmas is coming soon, don’t miss the famous Neapolitan’s handicrafts of crèche and Nativity figures, all along Via San Gregorio Armeno. The place to bring back home some specials Christmas decorations!
Hiking on Mount Vesuvius volcano (the famous one whose eruption destroyed Pompeii) will be effortless in fall.
And there’s no better choice than visiting the archaeological site of Pompeii itself or explore the island of Capri with fewer tourists!
Recommended by Maria, from One Tiny Leap
An Autumn city break in Lisbon can be magical.
This is arguably the best season to visit Portugal’s capital – you can enjoy the delicious aroma of chestnuts roasting all over the city. Tree-lined streets vibrant in hues of browns and orange, and best of all spend your days sightseeing with no need to wrap up.
Lisbon sees wonderfully warm temperatures in Autumn, perfect for exploring the city’s colourful hills, sipping a few drinks by the river, or even fitting in a beach or mountain day trip.
Recommended by Shobha from Just go places writes:
My favourite city to visit in the Autumn in Europe is Paris. Audrey Hepburn may have said that Paris is always a good idea but I think you will agree that some seasons in Paris are a better idea.
During autumn, you still get the sunny days but the tourist hordes from the summer have gone home. You might actually be able to get into a museum without waiting in line half the day!
The leaves are changing on the trees in the parks. It’s the perfect weather to sit at a sidewalk cafe and watch Parisian life in progress.
There’s a little nip in the air which allows you to layer with jackets and scarfs – always a chic look and easier to hide any over-indulgence in baguettes and cheese.
The autumn weather is also the perfect excuse to indulge in hot chocolates again. I find the winter days are much shorter and chillier. In addition, by December the crowds of tourists are back in Paris to shop for the holidays and to look at all the Christmas decorations.
RELATED: Heading to Paris with kids? Read also our family guide to Paris here
Jen from Jenography adds:
It’s no secret that Paris is beautiful, but autumn in the city is particularly gorgeous – you get crisp weather with cerulean skies, a lessening of tourists and great opportunities to sit wrapped up on café terraces having a chocolat chaud with your children, watching the world go by in that beautiful golden light.
Walk around the Marais, explore the parks as the leaves slip off the branches and sip wine at the Montmartre wine fest or during Beaujolais Nouveau.
It’s also an excellent time to get out of town to see Versailles or Fontaineblue. Check out my do’s and don’ts for visiting Paris with kids here.
Jen of Jenography also recommends Bologna, Italy
This university town at the top of Italy’s thigh is the country’s gastronomic capital…and that’s saying something.
When things get cold and drizzly outside, you’ll know inside waiting for you will be a bowl of tortellini in brodo – who knew little meat pasta parcels in broth could transport you to nirvana? My first taste was like experiencing my first kiss.
Kids will love the lasagna and that dish on every children’s menu: pasta bolognese, here called with its original name tagliatelle al ragu
When you step (or roll) back outside, you’ll have 40KM of porticos to walk under, making it easy to stay out of autumn showers.
When the kids need letting off the leash, visit the Piazza Maggiore where they can run around while you have an espresso, or climb the steps of the Tower of Asinelli through the tiny circular stairway.
Recommended by Polly from Our seaside baby
One of the best things about London is the variety of beautiful parks and Autumn is one of the best times to visit. There’s a chill in the air but people are out as always, enjoying the fresh crisp atmosphere.
From the larger Hyde Park and Regents Parks to the smaller St James Park or even Gordon Square Gardens, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the city and relaxing among nature is a welcome relief.
As the leaves turn to their golden Autumn colours and the sun sparkles through the trees, reflecting off from the various water features, London parks are filled with life & colour!
Tourists photographing the sites, couples taking a romantic stroll, joggers catching up on exercise, students playing football, parents pushing their little ones along, people wandering & admiring the view, squirrels scavenging for food, birds singing in the trees and eldering folk sitting on the benches watching the world go by, there is never a dull moment!
Laure from FrogMom adds some of her favorite ways to enjoy London in the fall:
Autumn is one of the best times of the year to visit London when the city enjoys a warm Indian summer and the art season is in full swing.
Hyde Park is a must-see any time of year in London but come October, the royal park is host to hundreds of migrating birds that enjoy a welcome respite on the way to warmer climates.
The Lido Café is a great spot for goose- and swimmer-watching.
For some lovely walks through ancient trees, you can also head north to Hampstead Heath, grab a meat pie at Euphorium Bakery and wind your way through the heath to picnic on the immaculate lawns in front of Kenwood House.
This is also the best time of the year to hit waterside pubs with terraces looking out on the Thames River for a pint and a roast.
Between Hammersmith’s popular The Old Ship or The Dove, Greenwich’s Cutty Sark Tavern, Limehouse’s Narrow and Wapping’s Prospect of Whitby, there are more than a few options to watch boats navigate the river’s waters while you enjoy heart pub grub.
Make autumn an artsy season without the crowds by visiting new exhibitions at London’s major museums, all of which are free and feature fabulous coffee shops.Take your pick between the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Modern Tate, the British Museum or the National Gallery.
Cologne and Frankfurt, Germany
Recommended by Jennifer of Our family travel adventures
There is nothing quite like Germany in Autumn. The colors are amazing! We loved spending time in the Rhine River Valley in Autumn, especially around Sankt Goar and Boppard.
The summer crowds have left, and the river barges are quiet. You can float peacefully up or down the river and stop at the charming river towns between Cologne and Frankfurt.
It’s still nice enough to dine at an outdoor cafe on the town square. If you enjoy wine, there are vineyards all over the valley and plenty of tasting rooms.
I hope you enjoyed this selection of the best places to visit in Europe in autumn and inspired you to start planning visiting Europe in the fall. Safe travels!
This post was originally published in 2016 and has now been fully updated