Blog post Beautiful Autumn Destinations in Europe was first published on Culture Tourist on September 20th 2019 and updated on October 22nd 2021.
There is something special about travelling during the autumn. The weather is still quite lovely, but many places are not as crowded as they usually are during the summertime. You can often get better deals on flights and accommodation, as well. To make your search for the best places to visit in autumn easier, I looked for some of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe. And have asked some of my fellow travel bloggers to help me compile the list of places in Europe to visit in autumn.
Beautiful Autumn Destinations in Europe
When thinking about the places to include in this list, I tried to add destinations from all corners of the Old Continent. We also searched for some special events happening during that time to make your visit even more enjoyable.
⤷ Read more: Best exhibitions in European museums in autumn and winter 2021
1 – Dubrovnik, Croatia
Dubrovnik is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe. Being called the ‘Pearl of Adriatic’, Dubrovnik earned that name by every right. Located at the coast of the Adriatic sea, with its amazing city walls and so much interesting history that could be found there, it’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to. Overcrowded during the summer months, the best time to visit it is definitely in autumn.
Numerous cultural events are taking place during the autumn in Dubrovnik. From theatre performances, classical concerts to traditional dancing, you’ll definitely enjoy your time there.
⤷ Read more: How to spend a perfect weekend in Dubrovnik
2 – Bristol, UK
Bristol in the southwest of the UK is the prettiest in autumn. The city is home to many beautiful outdoor locations and green areas, which become even more beautiful during the autumn season. The southwestern part of the UK isn’t as cold and wet as the rest of the country, so autumn is the most enjoyable there.
Brandon Hill, the oldest park in Bristol, is a lovely place to spend some time during September and October. With its many trees and yellowish and red leaves on them, it’s becoming an autumn fairytale during that time. A steep climb from Brandon Hill leads to Cabot Tower, a 32 metres tall tower that is the icon of Bristol and from which a fantastic view of a city could be seen.
Another beautiful place not to be missed during the autumn in Bristol is the outdoor area of College Green, located opposite the City Hall. On lovely days many people meditate there or just enjoy a pleasant time with their friends. The campus is very green with many trees, and it’s a beautiful place to put you in that autumn mood.
With so many things to do and a lovely moderate climate, Bristol is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe.
Nabiha from Verses by a Voyager
3 – Athens, Greece
Athens is a fantastic city to visit at any time of year. Still, the first-time visitors will find it a lot more pleasant in October! The main reason is that the crazy high temperatures of the summer have faded away, making sightseeing around places such as the Acropolis a lot more enjoyable.
Also, the number of cruise boats stopping by is reduced, meaning far fewer tourists are around. This has a knock-on effect for lower hotel prices and a generally more relaxed atmosphere at major landmarks and attractions in Athens.
There’s always something going on in Athens, from exhibitions at art galleries to special music events. Keep October 28th in your diary, though, as this is a public holiday known as Oxi Day in Greece. It gets its name from the rejection of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on October 28th 1940, which led to the official entry of Greece into World War Two when the Italians invaded.
Celebrated by Greeks around the world, Athens has its own special Oxi Day parade by Syntagma Square. Get there before 10 am to get a good position and to see the changing of the guards first!
⤷ Read more: Where to stay in Athens.
Dave from Dave’s Travel Pages
4 – Brussels, Belgium
When autumn enters the city, the colours of Brussels change entirely. As a capital city, Brussels boasts a very high number of parks and green spaces. No matter in which district you are, you can take a stroll and admire the warm autumn colours, which create some great photo opportunities.
If you genuinely wish to experience nature, you won’t have to travel far either. The Sonian forest on the southeast edge of Brussels is just a tram ride away and a great place to unwind from city life. Measuring a grand total of almost 5.000 ha, the Sonian forest is Belgium’s most significant area of woodland with paths and tracks for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.
Apart from its effect on nature, autumn is also a great period to visit Brussels because the crowds are gone, and you’ll have a more relaxed experience while exploring the main touristic attractions. Make sure to check out Grand Place, Manneke Pis, Mont des Arts, Royal Palace, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, the Atomium etc.
The advantage of visiting in autumn is that you’d be able to take a photo of these places without other tourists photobombing your perfect shot. More good news is that exploring the forest and the historical city centre are some of the best free things to do in Brussels, so you can spend all your budget on waffles and chocolates! Brussels is definitely one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe, so don’t miss it out!
Sophie Lenoir from Bitten By The Bug
⤷ Read more: Where to see Pieter Bruegel’s paintings in Belgium
5 – Stockholm, Sweden
A combination of some amazing historical architecture and the fact it’s a city located on fourteen islands, makes Stockholm such a beautiful autumn destination in Europe.
Scandinavia is famous for its fantastic nature, and you can often find it in its cities, too. Visiting Stockholm in autumn, while the weather is still pleasant, will allow you to spend some of your time at the city parks. Located in the very north of Europe, days are still quite long at the beginning of autumn, so you can go sightseeing until later in the evening.
Many events are taking place during that time, too. Like in the rest of Sweden, food and drink festivals are organised almost every weekend between September and November. However, the Autumn Fair, with its traditional Swedish music and local food, is the one you shouldn’t miss.
⤷ Read more: My travel diary – Four days in Stockholm
6 – Bucharest, Romania
Bucharest is a perfect place for a city break, and autumn is a great time to visit it. The weather is beautiful, the sun is mild, and the colours of the city beautifully change. Bucharest is known for the Parliament Palace, the second biggest building in the world. This is also the most visited attraction in town. However, you can also wander around its many parks or visit the old town. You will find a mixture of old and new, and in such a small area you can discover hundreds of years of its history!
Admire there the oldest church in Bucharest (St. Anthony Church), the ruins of the old court (built on top of the citadel of Vlad the Impaler, the one that inspired Dracula’s character), the National Bank of Romania hosted in a beautiful palace built two centuries ago and the Art Nouveau Macca-Villacrosse Passage.
Among all those pieces of history, you will discover charming boutiques with hand-made clothes, so be ready for some shopping, as well. And after you get tired, choose one of the numerous cafes or pubs for a little break. If you like books, Carturesti Carusel is a perfect choice for you: a library in an old building with a cafe on the top floor.
Corina from Another Milestone
7 – Lake District, UK
Autumn is a fantastic time to visit the Lake District in the North of England as the forests and trees put on a spectacular display. The autumnal leaves in shades of yellow, orange, red and brown look beautiful, and beneath the fallen leaves, you’ll come across toadstools and mushrooms.
Autumn is also a great time to pick blackberries, rosehips, crab apples and sloes from the hedgerows. Whinlatter Forest and White Forest near Grasmere are popular places to go wild fruit picking. However, many of the hedges along the roadside will have blackberries and sloes.
You’ll also find the orchards at historic houses such as Sizergh Castle, Rydal Hall and the Lakeside hotel full of apples and pears.
As children have returned to school, it’s much cheaper to visit the Lake District during autumn, and there are far fewer tourists. While you can never guarantee sunshine in this part of England, there is still a possibility that it might shine.
In the mornings, you get spectacular displays of low-level mist above the fells and lakes, which makes for fantastic photographs. There’s also still enough daylight to go for long hikes over the moorland, so don’t forget to bring a suitable pair of hiking boots.
Throughout autumn, there are numerous popular events, such as the Westmoreland Show, Cockermouth Food Festival or the Broughton Festival of Beer, which has over 90 ales to try throughout the town.
Fiona from Passport and Piano
8 – Munich, Germany
Munich is a lovely city to visit year-round. Its laidback attitude and delicious food can be enjoyed in any season. If you visit in early autumn, temperatures still average around nineteen degrees Celsius, so you can sample Bavarian brews in a beer garden. The city has lots of beautiful parks and green spaces, and taking a stroll to see the autumn leaves is a lovely thing to do there.
You can also take in Oktoberfest wearing a traditional dirndl or lederhosen. Oktoberfest, aka the Wiesn, is a huge beer festival that takes place in late September and early October. Each year millions of people attend this festival, which features huge beer tents, funfair rides and a parade.
Later in autumn, when highs drop to the single digits, you can cosy up in a beer hall and feast on classic Bavarian comfort food like dumplings, crispy pork knuckles and homemade spaetzle pasta doused in cheese.
Munich also has several stunning indoor attractions, perfect for colder weather. The Residenz Palace is absolutely incredible, and many of the city’s museums only charge 1 Euro for entry on Sundays. All of those makes Munich such a beautiful autumn destination to visit in Europe.
Maire from Temples and Treehouses
9 – Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a beautiful city with a rich history and a trendy summer destination. Visitors from all over the world embark on thousand miles of journeys to admire its beauty. As a result, all the hotels are completely full in the summer, and the city gets really crowded.
However, with the first days of autumn, streets get quieter, and the beautiful city of Budapest regains its majesty again. Accommodations are cheaper and more peaceful. The beautiful autumn foliage is beginning to cover the city with its glorious colours. The temperature is dropping, and the Turkish-styled thermal baths in the town are a heavenly remedy to the cold.
In addition to that, October is the month of the Palinka and sausage festival. Palinka is a traditional Hungarian liquor that usually contains more than 40% alcohol. Pair that with some of the best Hungarian sausages, and you will have yourself unforgettable autumn in Europe. With its fantastic architecture, numerous galleries and museums and some fascinating history, Budapest is absolutely one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe.
Sean from Living Out Lau
10 – Lisbon, Portugal
When autumn descends on Europe, one of the best destinations to visit at that time of year is Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. That vibrant city becomes quieter with the summer crowds gone but retains some warmth, thanks to Portugal being a Mediterranean country. When northern Europe becomes cold, Lisbon often has temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius, making it pleasant to walk around in just t-shirts.
You can enjoy many of the city’s sights, including, among others, the Castle of Sao Jorge, the Carmo Convent, an open-roofed convent hidden in the heart of the town, Jeronimos Monastery and the Tower of Belem. Autumn events in the city include ModaLisboa (Lisbon’s fashion week), Doc Lisboa (a film festival) and Dia de Sao Martinho (Saint Martin’s Day), a festival that sees roasted horse chestnuts on offer everywhere. These are something I’ve fallen in love with since moving to Portugal.
You can also venture further afield and explore central Portugal, including visiting Sintra and its beautiful palaces, such as Pena Palace. Lisbon is a great city to visit during autumn and, with lower prices, is also a city that is easy on the purse strings.
Cath from Passports and Adventures
11 – Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart is a city in the southern part of Germany. Being home to the second biggest beer festival in the world, it’s a perfect place to visit in the autumn. Most everyone knows about Munich and its annual Oktoberfest. However, Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Volksfest easily rivals Munich. With over four million visitors every year, the fest has dozens of large fest tents put up to welcome families during the day and couples and adults at night. The festival has numerous carnival and amusement park rides, hundreds of food stands, shops lined up along the sides selling gingerbread, German food and many unique items. It is an excellent alternative to Munich and a great reason to visit the city.
The weather in Stuttgart is great in October, usually with a lot of sunshine and perfect autumn weather. There are so many day trips from Stuttgart that can be done, including Hohenzollern Castle and the quaint town of Rothenberg der Tauber.
One great day trip during October is the Ludwigsburg Pumpkin Festival, the largest pumpkin festival in the world. Here you can see carvings of pumpkins, view pumpkin canoe races and visit the huge children’s fairytale garden, where boat rides, mazes, and a Rapunzel in her tower awaits kids and visitors alike. On colder days, visiting the Mercedes Benz museum, or if you have children, Sensapolis, Germany’s largest indoor playground, is a must-do.
Diana from The Elusive Family- Worldwide Family Travel and Adventure
12 – Isle of Sky, Scotland
Scotland is a fantastic place to visit in autumn, and one of its prettiest parts is the Isle of Skye.
The scenery of Skye is incredible all year round. Still, in autumn, the colours of the trees and heather and views across the ocean are just breathtaking. If you’re planning your Isle of Skye itinerary, my suggestion would be to visit for two to three days so you can get a chance to see all it has to offer.
Autumn is the best time to visit Skye because the tourists have gone for the season, yet you still have long, crisp days and enough hours of daylight to enjoy them! It’s likely to be cool, around 10 to 15 degrees Celsius. But, with the proper clothing, you can still see all the main attractions on Skye.
If you’re looking for things to do on the Isle of Skye, there are some fantastic choices. Skye has some of the best waterfalls in Scotland, including the famous Fairy Pools. It’s also famous for hiking in the Black Cullin hills and some of its beautiful castles to explore.
However, one of my favourite activities is the whiskey tasting at Talisker Distillery. It’s so interesting to see the process and taste samples of the different whiskies. This is also a perfect activity for a rainy day should there be one when you visit.
Kat from Wandering Bird
13 – Rotterdam, the Netherlands
With its fantastic modern architecture, street art and great food scene, Rotterdam is a vibrant young city and one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe. The town was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. However, it was rebuilt after it, and today is a place where you can see some of the most impressive modern architecture in the Netherlands.
It’s a lovely place to visit during the autumn, because the weather is still quite pleasant and you can enjoy exploring Rotterdam in an authentic Dutch way, on a bicycle. Besides many music festivals, many great events are happening during the autumn in Rotterdam, as well. The Wildlife Film Festival, Harbour Run and The Architecture Film Festival are just some of them.
⤷ Read more: Rotterdam Travel Guide
14 – Verona, Italy
Being called the most romantic town in Italy, Verona is famous for one of the most famous romantic stories set up there – Romeo and Juliet. Some of the locations from the remarkable Shakespeare’s story could still be found in that city. Popular among visitors from all over the world, things are getting a bit quieter during the autumn. So, you’ll get a chance to enjoy some of those beautiful places at a slower pace.
However, being located in the south of Europe, the weather will still be pleasant, and you can expect sunny days, too. You can enjoy many performances in Verona’s Arena during the autumn, as well. With its lovely climate and so many fantastic things to do, Verona is one of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe.
⤷ Read more: Quick Guide to Verona
15 – Hamburg, Germany
Although being the second-largest city in Germany, Hamburg is often overlooked by people visiting that European country. Having a reputation for being a large port and industrial city, many people see it as a grey place not worth visiting. But, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Hamburg is home to some fantastic architecture, both to beautiful historical buildings, but also to some very modern ones. Its Elbphilharmonie is probably one of the most beautiful buildings in the whole of Europe. There are also some fantastic museums there, and you can spend at least the whole weekend by exploring them.
The season is starting again in autumn in Hamburg’s theatres, and you can choose between many performances each day. There are also some music festivals happening during that time.
⤷ Read more about things to do in Hamburg on a link here
Autumn is a lovely time to travel around Europe and visit some of its beautiful places. Being a quieter time of the year, you can enjoy some of the sites without many people around them. And that’s often followed by lower prices of accommodation, too. Hopefully, this list made picking up the perfect place to visit among some of the most beautiful autumn destinations in Europe.