Fall is one of my favorite times to visit Europe. The heat of the summer months has passed and there are fewer crowds at the biggest attractions. Some of my favorite fall destinations in Europe are those that have summer crowds but become quiet once the weather changes.
During this season you’ll benefit from lower travel and lodging rates, and you’ll be able to access tours, museums, and shows that are normally booked during the summer.
You will also enjoy lower temperatures while you walk through historic cobblestone streets in some of the most beautiful European cities. And in the nearby countryside, fall kicks off harvest season!
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Some of the Best Fall Destinations in Europe
Take in all of the natural beauty of fall foliage, ripe orchards, and vineyards. The autumn months just happen to be festival season in many countries across Europe.
Further south you can still enjoy warm weather and unique cultural events. And in the north, why not attend a local food and wine festival or go on a chilly day hike in the mountains?
I’ve traveled all over Europe, and while I look forward to going back any time of the year, I think fall is an especially exciting time to go! Below you’ll find my picks for the 10 best European cities for your next fall vacation.
1. Stuttgart, Germany
While Oktoberfest means high season in Germany, you can beat the crowds by steering clear of Munich and the surrounding area until after the first week of October. Instead, head to Stuttgart, which I think is an underrated European destination!
Enjoy the city’s amazing parks that explode with color in the fall, or visit one of Stuttgart’s many museums. I loved visiting the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and learning about the long history of the company and the city’s connection.
Other museums I would highly recommend are the Staatsgalerie, which has an excellent collection of art through the centuries, and the Landesmuseum Württemberg which has a significant collection of artifacts detailing the history of this part of Germany.
Stuttgart is made for nature lovers. Its location makes for an easy day trip to Black Forest Germany, the Bad Urach waterfall, or the Schönbuch Nature Park. Go for a hike or rent a mountain bike.
You can also a day trip to the nearby city of Esslingen which dates back to at least the 13th century! There you can walk down cobblestone streets and see the city’s stunning medieval architecture or hike up to the top of Esslinger Burg for views of the city and its vineyards.
In fact, greater Stuttgart is part of one of Germany’s largest wine regions and has rich viniculture. To learn about the area’s city, I would highly recommend a visit to the Stuttgart Museum of Viniculture in the village of Stuttgart-Uhlbach. It’s perfect for wine tasting and learning about the area’s wine culture.
Time your trip so you can enjoy the annual week-long Stuttgart Wine Fest. It happens during the first week of September, and there are more than 30 wine producers and restaurants offering dinner and samples. There are even events like grape stomping, workshops, and celebrity interviews open to the public!
2. Florence, Italy
Fall is the perfect time to visit the capital city of the Tuscany region. While Florence’s summers can be stifling, cooler fall weather makes it quite enjoyable for walks around the city center.
Florence is a must for art lovers with the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Pitti, and the Accademia where you can see the David statue in all its glory! Other must-visits include the Leonardo da Vinci Museum and the Gucci Garden. Plus, if you’re planning a trip in late October, you’ll beat the heavy crowds that the city experiences during the holiday season.
The architecture of Florence has to be seen in person, but my favorite example is the Duomo. It’s free to visit the basilica. However, if you want to visit the top of the cupola (also known as Brunelleschi’s Dome), you’ll need to book a timed ticket in advance.
If you decide to climb the 400+ steps in the bell tower, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views of the red clay rooftops and the city skyline! Highly recommend it, but be ready for steep stairs and narrow corridors. Not my favorite climb, but the views are insane!
Be sure to make time for the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s oldest bridge. During the high season, it can be super crowded so in the fall you’re coming at the perfect time.
And the autumn season is all about the olive and wine harvest, as well as nuts, truffles, and mushrooms! Experience the daily life of local Italians while you visit a nearby vineyard or head to a restaurant for local season dishes.
3. Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Croatian coastal city of Dubrovnik is a magical place any time of year, but especially in the fall. In October, there’s The Good Food Festival where you can enjoy Croatia’s freshest seafood and fall harvest.
Of course, no trip to Dubrovnik is complete without a visit to the Old Town, which is full of rich history that dates back to medieval times. The historic center features marble-paved streets, historic sites, restaurants, shops, and Renaissance-era buildings.
I recommend stopping by the Franciscan Monastery that’s been operating since 1317 and buying some of their face cream. One of my all time favorite travel souvenirs!
There will still be cruise ship crowds during the day, so be sure to stay overnight to get a true sense of Dubrovnik’s magic. At night the buildings are lit, and when it reflects off the marble streets, it’s a completely different experience than during the day.
Until mid-October, you can still soak up the last bit of warm summer-like weather on Dubrovnik’s swimmable beaches. Plus, they’re much less crowded than during the summer months.
After mid-October, things cool down a lot and it’s the perfect time to walk the city wall. Enjoy the 2-hour stroll with views of the bright red tile rooftops of the city on one side and the sapphire blue ocean on the other. Keep an eye out for the hidden doors that open to bar/restaurant terraces overlooking the sea.
It’s also a wonderful time to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Srd and have breathtaking views of Old Town and the Adriatic Sea beyond.
4. Porto, Portugal
Portugal’s northwestern city of Porto is positioned on the Atlantic Coast. In the fall, a cool breeze comes in off the water, but so does a lot of rainy weather! However, don’t let that keep you from visiting this beautiful city during the fall.
Famous for its Port wine, the city of Porto has a prominent wine industry and viniculture. During the autumn months, you can visit all of the vineyards on the outskirts of the city or take a day trip to the Douro Valley. Watch the harvest come in and enjoy the natural beauty of the grapes ripening on the vine. (Find more about visiting the Douro Valley here).
Take advantage of the cool fall weather and go sightseeing. You can walk the cobbled streets of central Porto, or take a Porto tram around different parts of the city. Porto is mind-boggling with the range of architecture from medieval-era structures to modern bridges. Plus, in the fall, the city has extra texture with a bloom of fall foliage!
One of the best things about this season is the chestnuts. Portugal celebrates Saint Martin Day on November 11, when people gather together to roast chestnuts over a fire and drink wine in celebration of the fall harvest. In fact, in the fall, you’ll find vendors roasting Portuguese chestnuts on the street and they’re amazing.
5. Chania, Crete
Chania is one of the best fall getaways in Europe and one of my favorite destinations in all of Greece! Located on the northern coast of Crete, you can still enjoy warm weather without all the crowds.
It’s one of the most beautiful cities in the Mediterranean with a history dating back to the 1300s. The city showcases its Venetian history with beautiful buildings, charming narrow streets, and great shopping.
In the early fall, the Greek islands still enjoy warm weather. Even in late September and early October, you can enjoy some beach days, or try out different water sports.
When I was here, I was amazed by the ancient ruins everywhere. So many cultures made their mark on Chania, from the Minoans to the Ottomans. I suggest enjoying the balmy fall weather and taking a private tour of Old Town Chania where you’ll learn all about the city’s history.
Honestly though, one of my favorite things to do in Chania is to enjoy all the amazing food! Specifically, in Chania from late October into early November, you can attend a rakokazana! These small local festivals happen when newly harvested grapes are distilled into an alcoholic brandy called raki or tsikoudia. Everyone gathers to drink raki and enjoy some amazing local food.
6. Paris, France
For the most part, fall in Europe means fewer tourists, stunning autumn foliage, and sleepy city streets. If you want to explore quiet streets in Paris, this is the perfect time to go!
This time of year, Paris is less touristy and you will find a more authentic experience living among the locals. You’ll find fascinating events, like the Fête des Vendanges, a week-long grape festival held in Montmartre in October. And there’s also Beaujolais Nouveau Day in November when a local sweet red wine is brought to all the bars in the city!
But one of the coolest events is The Nuit Blanche (White Night). It’s an all-night arts festival held annually on the first Saturday in October. From 7 PM to 7 AM, shops, museums, event spaces, and more open up with contemporary art exhibits and shows.
Paris museums stay open all night with interesting things going on, including exclusive art installations, and theatrical performances. Oh, and everything is free all night, including public transit!
And of course, if you’re in Paris in the fall, take the opportunity to visit places like the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, the Rodin Museum, and more when the lines are shorter. Just be aware that the Louvre has pretty consistent crowds all year round, so we recommend booking a skip-the-line ticket in advance.
7. London, England
London is a great city worth visiting in the fall. Starting in October, you can enjoy cooler weather before the winter chill and rain sets in. It’s one of the most beautiful places in Europe, full of reds, oranges, and yellows of fall. I just suggest planning your visit for after mid-September and before December if you want to avoid the busy seasons.
One of the best things to do during the shoulder season in London is lean into being a tourist! Go on a Big Bus Tour around the city.
Watch the Changing of the Guards or visit the Tower of London. Or visit all of the iconic London museums. I suggest the British Library where you can see Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks and the original Alice in Wonderland or the National Gallery with original works of art by the likes of Monet and Van Gogh.
If you’re in London on November 5, enjoy the fireworks all over the city in celebration of Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night). That evening you’ll also be able to find Bonfire Night events in many parks around the city with all kinds of food vendors, rides, games, and activities for all ages.
8. Edinburgh, Scotland
Next on the list of European autumn destinations is the lovely Edinburgh. This city has something for everyone, from history and architecture to outdoor activities and a variety of art events. Especially in the fall, there’s a sweet spot of a shoulder season with thinner crowds, decent weather, and lots of festivals.
While there can be a lot of rain in Scotland this time of year, there’s also a nice mix of sunny days. So, I suggest planning a variety of both indoor and outdoor things that allow for some flexibility.
On a sunny afternoon, enjoy the cool autumn air and walk the hilly stone streets through the 500-year-old city. Enjoy the mix of new and ancient architecture. I highly recommend walking the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s main thoroughfare. Do some gift shopping, eat at a fun restaurant, and visit Edinburgh Castle at the end of the street.
On a nice day, you could also Hike Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano overlooking the city. It’s one of the best places to see the fall colors from above.
When the rain keeps you indoors, I suggest visiting a museum or seeing a show. Fall is the unofficial theater season in Edinburgh, and you’ll find a dozen performing art theaters in Old Town with a full lineup.
9. Copenhagen, Denmark
Even more so than Edinburgh, Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen experiences both wet and dry days come fall. Thankfully, there are a variety of both indoor and outdoor things to do here, and you’ll want to do them all!
Copenhagen is a popular destination for families and is very welcoming to visitors. The city is known for its many museums and historic sites, as well as its famous hygge culture and amazing food.
One of my favorite things to do in Copenhagen is head to the Torvehallerne marketplace. Peruse all of the delicious fresh seafood and try Danish foods like their cheese, chocolate, wine, and of course, Danishes!
When the weather is nice and crisp, rent bikes and ride around the city as the locals do. There are bike shops everywhere because everyone rides bikes in Copenhagen.
On a cold fall evening, head into a classic Danish pub. One of the oldest in Copenhagen is Hviids Vinstue, which has been serving the city from the same location for almost 300 years!
If it’s raining, head to one of the many museums in the city. We recommend the National Museum of Denmark, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, or Rosenborg Castle. Fall is when new exhibits launch at all the art museums.
For a great day trip, head north to Frederiksborg Castle, where you can learn about the royal history of Denmark, or Roskilde, where you can learn about the Vikings.
10. Prague, Czechia
Prague is the capital city of the Czech Republic (aka Czechia) and it’s like something out of a fairy tale, especially in the fall! Pack layers and embrace sunny, cold days by doing lots of sightseeing.
Walk the streets of Old Town where you can enjoy fall colors among the strong architecture and warm and pastel colors of the buildings. Across the Vltava River, take in the hilltop Prague Castle in the historic district of Hradčany.
For more stunning fall foliage, head to one of Prague’s amazing city parks. I recommend Stromovka Park for the best leaf peeping.
This romantic city is also a great place to take in the culture. Especially in the fall, you can take advantage of all kinds of music festivals.
The Prague Autumn International Music Festival is held from late September through early October. Come watch performances by some of the most famous international orchestras. Or check out Prague Sounds, a more casual music festival across October and November that covers a variety of genres at venues across the city.
Visit the Best European Autumn Destinations
Fall in Europe offers many things, from festivals and harvests to amazing outdoor weather and the opportunity to enjoy the fleeting fall foliage. Even if you normally travel in the summer, these fall destinations in Europe can be rewarding with shorter lines, cheaper rates, and discounts at restaurants and hotels.
Some of the best European destinations offer a unique experience this time of year, with less focus on tourist attractions and more focus on daily life. Join the locals for a fall holiday or try some produce fresh from the orchards. It’s time to start planning your dream fall getaway. Where will you go first?
Book Your Flights – You can find discounted fares using sites like Momondo or Skyscanner. If you want to keep an eye on discount fares, we suggest signing up for Scott’s Cheap Flights, a daily newsletter with flight sales around the world.
If you travel frequently, consider investing in a Priority Pass for airport lounge access. It’s nice to have a space where you can relax before your flight.
Book Your Accommodation
We regularly use Expedia.com and Hotels.com to find lodging when we travel. It’s a great way to compare vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts.
If your family knows they want to stay in a vacation rental, we recommend looking at VRBO and Plum Guide.
Book Your Transportation
For rental car agencies, try Rentalcars.com. We tend to use Hertz simply for the quality of service. If you need airport transfers, we recommend Welcome Pickups.
When traveling in Europe, we use AutoEurope to make our bookings. They find the best rates and allow you to compare different car rental agencies. Europcar is another option. If you plan to take the train, we recommend using Rail Europe.
Book Your Tours and Travel Photos
We regularly used companies like Viator and GetYourGuide to book tours when we travel. Both have great communication and a large variety of activities that work for all ages. Other companies to look at include Tours by Locals and Withlocals.
If you’re visiting a city with multiple attractions, be sure to check out a discount pass, such as CityPASS or Go City. Both are worthwhile investments.
Context Travel is another option and they offer more educational-based activities. The former teacher in me loves their tours. For unique, curated activities, check out Headout.
One of our favorite things to do annually is taking photos with Flytographer. They have photographers around the world and we’ve used them on four separate occasions. This is our favorite travel souvenir.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
With the state of travel these days, it’s important to have some type of travel insurance to cover any unforeseen accidents, illnesses, threats, or cancellations. We always travel with insurance and would recommend SquareMouth, Travelex, or Medjet as good options. And if you want to compare different insurance options, use Travel Insurance Master or World Nomads to find the best policy for your group.