Summer is gone, but this doesn’t mean that you should stay at home. If anything, autumn means cheaper tickets and lesser crowds, so it could be the best time for you to plan some European city breaks. And if you are looking for some inspiration on where to go, look no more! Below is a list of cities to visit, big and small, discovered and secret gems.
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Table of Contents
- 1 1. Porto, Portugal
- 2 2. Hamburg, Germany
- 3 3. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
- 4 4. Venice, Italy
- 5 5. Avignon, France
- 6 6. Tbilisi, Georgia
- 7 7. St. Petersburg, Russia
- 8 8. London, United Kingdom
- 9 9. Warsaw, Poland
- 10 10. Paris, France
- 11 11. Prague, the Czech Republic
- 12 12. Barcelona, Spain
- 13 13. Budapest, Hungary
- 14 14. Turin, Italy
- 15 15. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- 16 16. Stockholm, Sweden
- 17 17. Bologna, Italy
- 18 18. Funchal, Madeira
1. Porto, Portugal
by Ann from The Road is Life
With great weather for sightseeing during the fall months, Portugal’s coastal city of Porto makes an excellent choice when it comes to weekend breaks. After spending 2 days in Porto last October, this beautiful city quickly became one of my top picks for European cities to visit during autumn. Escape the summer crowds and heat and plan to visit Porto in the months of September or October.
What type of weather can you expect in Porto during this time of year? While it won’t be as hot as a typical summer in Portugal, you will find mostly sunny days with temperatures in the low to mid-20s. The mornings and evenings will be cool, reaching lows of 12°C. While the weather was sunny for the duration of my visit, I found Porto to be quite windy so bringing long sleeves is a must. You should also still be prepared for the occasional unexpected shower or rainy day.
A highlight that you cannot miss out on when visiting Porto is taking a tour of one of the city’s wine lodges to learn about and taste the famous Port wine which is produced locally. A great way to see the city from a different perspective and learn some of its history is to hop on the popular 6 bridges boat cruise. This scenic boat cruise will take you along the Douro River, passing underneath all 6 of Porto’s bridges and give you a great view of the colourful Ribeira district.
The best way to get there is to fly into Porto’s international airport, the Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport. From there, it’s easy to catch the metro that runs from the airport directly into Porto’s city centre every 20-30 minutes.
Stay in Porto: When affordable also means great quality – Moov Hotel Porto Norte.
2. Hamburg, Germany
Why is it that everyone thinks of flying to warm destinations when summer ends? Avoid the tourist crowds of the Mediterranean countries and go north. Today I am here to recommend you to visit Hamburg in autumn.
Last year, thanks to the Come to Hamburg marketing campaign, we had the opportunity to enjoy three wonderful days of autumn in this city in northern Germany. With very acceptable temperatures (always above 0ºC) and not as many rainy days as could be expected (barely a third of the total), I leave you with three reasons why Hamburg should sneak into your list of destinations very soon:
In autumn, specifically in the month of October, the wonderful Queer International Film Festival is celebrated in the city, which fills theatres, cinemas and other spots across the city with premieres and film masterpieces.
Also during this time, in addition to enjoying one of its many parks in the autumn colours, the light is spectacular. Perfect for photography lovers, who will encounter long sunsets and sunrises for their delight.
In addition, most tourists will have left by then. What will make the locals more receptive to start conversations with you if you dare to meet them? Also, you will face fewer queues to enter some emblematic places like Elbphilharmonie at the same time than accommodation and transport rates – along with the demand – should go down.
Stay in Hamburg: Stylish and super colourful prizeotel Hamburg-City
3. Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
by Diana from The Elusive Family
Lauterbrunnen Switzerland is located in one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe, the Jungfrau region. The region has 72 individual waterfalls that make up the astonishing scenery, and Lauterbrunnen is home to many of them.
There are a variety of great things to do in Lauterbrunnen. The small village has several cable cars that can take you straight up into the Alps. Lauterbrunnen is a great central location for many hikes as well as visiting some of the major waterfalls such as Trummelbach and Staubbach Falls. Located about 2 hours south of Zurich’s International Airport, Lauterbrunnen is easily reached by train or car.
Hiking in the Alps is one of the best activities to do in Europe. Lauterbrunnen is the starting point for cable cars that lead to Murren and Schilthorn. Murren is a small village in the Alps, where there are no cars. The views from the village are spectacular, and the village is also home to a cable car that goes to Allmendhubel, a fantastic playground for kids.
Schilthorn is a destination for fans of 007, as it was a filming location for one of the movies. The summit is one of the highest peaks in the Alps and can be reached from Murren. There is a revolving restaurant at the top whereas the bottom has a small museum dedicated to 007.
At the valley level, visiting Staubbach or Trummelbach Falls are great things to do in Lauterbrunnen in the autumn. Finally, the annual cow coming home occurs in the autumn in Lauterbrunnen, around mid-September and is a must-see when visiting.
Stay in Lauterbrunnen: To feel the authentic atmosphere (and to enjoy delicious breakfast), chose Hotel Steinbock.
4. Venice, Italy
by Chris from More Life in Your Days
Venice is a stunning city that is known throughout the world for its unique beauty. For good reason, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
But most people visit in the summer, which makes Venice a great choice for an autumn travel destination, giving you the chance to explore this incredible city without quite so many crowds.
And without the smell. The canals of Venice give off their own distinctive odour in the heat of summer but the cooler winter months do not suffer from this.
The low light of autumn makes Venice even more atmospheric than it is in the summertime and you’ll get to enjoy Venice in the dark when it arguably looks its best. By coming in the autumn you still give yourself a decent chance of experiencing some warm sunny weather.
Venice is really easy to get to. You can fly to Venice Marco Polo airport and then travel on to the old city in style by crossing the lagoon in a water taxi (you can go by bus or waterbus if you prefer). The airport at Treviso is another option that is only about half an hour away and you can get some great value flights from here using budget airlines.
Alternatively, you can arrive by train and step out of the station to one of the most amazing views you will find anywhere.
However you arrive, we are sure that you will enjoy your stay in Venice.
Stay in Venice: Sip an aperol with the view over the canal at H10 Palazzo Canova.
5. Avignon, France
by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The Provençal city of Avignon is a lovely place to visit at any time of the year, but come Autumn it really shines as a destination. It’s the time when the city gets back into the swing of things after a long summer. Visitor numbers start to dwindle, but it’s far from dormant. The historical town centre is the heart and soul of the city, and where you’ll find most tourists to the town congregate. It’s jam-packed with attractions and activities suited to all ages and tastes. From art galleries to bustling brocantes.
Just outside the fortified city walls, you’ll find the River Rhône flowing freely. Above it sits one of the most famous sites in France, the Pont Saint-Bénézet (or, as it’s more commonly known, the Pont d’Avignon). Only part of the ancient bridge remains, but walking upon it is still regarded as one of the best things to do in Avignon. In Autumn, the town is shaded by the yellowing leaves of the iconic plane trees. And the raised Rocher des Doms gardens are a tapestry of rich Autumnal shades. It’s also when the annual Parcours De L’Art takes place which is a must-do for all budding artists, and art lovers.
Avignon is regarded as the transport hub of Provence and is fairly easy to reach. You can get the high-speed TGV from Paris in the morning, and arrive in time for lunch. Or fly into the Avignon airport from destinations in the UK.
Stay in Avignon: You can’t go more central than Hôtel Central, with its cozy rooms and tasty breakfast.
6. Tbilisi, Georgia
by Maggie from The World Was Here First
If you’re looking for the perfect place to visit in Europe in autumn, then you really cannot go wrong with the capital of Georgia — Tbilisi. Though it is still considered an under-the-radar destination, Tbilisi is gaining popularity amongst western tourists and the city is only getting busier and busier. If you want to avoid the crowds of the summer while also avoiding the cold of the winter, visiting this vibrant city in the autumn is your best bet.
Visiting Tbilisi in the autumn allows you to enjoy the city in milder temperatures than the popular summer months (where temperatures can reach up to 40°C), making it far more pleasant to navigate the city’s chaotic streets. There are numerous fun and interesting things to do in Tbilisi in autumn that aren’t available in the summer, as well. For instance, you can enjoy the city’s thriving arts scene by attending a ballet or opera performance.
Autumn is the time for wine harvest as well. As wine is pivotal to Georgian culture, you can expect numerous wine festivals and events dedicated to Georgia’s favourite beverage throughout Tbilisi. If the temperatures get a bit too cool for comfort, you can always warm up in one of the city’s many sulphur baths and enjoy the healing benefits of the geothermally heated waters.
Though not as highly visited as many other European destinations, Tbilisi is an ideal place to visit in the autumn months.
Though it may seem like a far-flung destination, Tbilisi is very easy to reach from mainland Europe. Budget airline WizzAir operates flights from countless European cities to Kutaisi Airport, which is located a few hours west of Tbilisi. There are, however, buses timed with flight arrivals that will easily shuttle travellers to the capital. If you would rather fly directly into the city, many major airlines fly into Tbilisi International Airport, as well.
Stay in Tbilisi: There is actually the place to stay in Tbilisi, and it is Fabrika Tbilisi. If you are not staying in the Fabrika, at least pay it a visit, as this is one of the coolest spots in town.
7. St. Petersburg, Russia
by Liza from Tripsget
St. Petersburg in Russia is a really nice autumn travel destination if you are not afraid of unpredictable weather and cold. Autumn in Russia officially starts on the 1st of September and end of the 30th of November and of course, the weather in September would be very different to November, when it is already pretty cold.
The best time to visit St. Petersburg in autumn is actually mid-September when it is still warm and mid-October, when the leaves turn yellow and red and the parks look absolutely stunning. October in St. Petersburg is often referred to as “Golden autumn” and that’s because of the leaf colour. It is very easy to get to St. Petersburg – it’s the second biggest city in Russia and with the introduction of free e-visas to St. Petersburg since the 01/10/2019 for the entire EU, visiting St. Petersburg is now easier than ever.
Some of the main highlights of the city include the Hermitage museum – one of the biggest and most famous museums of the world, the opulent Hermitage Palace and fountain park, the Catherine Palace and the Savior on the Spilled Blood church that you might have seen on all the advertorials of St. Petersburg. There are so many things to do in the city and so many amazing museums, that you probably need a week to discover St. Petersburg properly.
Stay in St. Petersbourg: Right in the heart of the city – Offenbacher Hotel.
8. London, United Kingdom
by Nabiha from Verses by a Voyager
London, the capital city of the UK is a must-visit destination during the autumn season. Being one of the greenest capitals of the world, London is a metropolitan city yet very green with perfect outdoor locations.
These beautiful outdoor spots in the heart of the city make it perfect to visit during autumn as the splendid sight of fallen leaves present a wonderful vibe. London has some incredible parks in the heart of the city. Some of these are Holland Park, Hyde Park, Reagent Park and the Reed Parks. These parks have lush, green trees all around and the yellowish, red fallen leaves during the autumn season is a treat for the eyes.
Moreover, London isn’t very cold and wet during this time of the year which makes it easier to enjoy the autumn season. It is blessed with a lot of outdoor beauty and when the weather is dry and less cool, this beauty can be enjoyed in a better way. Primrose Hill is an incredible location in London which turns pink during the autumn season and gives a sight straight out of a fairytale. London has three international airports with direct flights from most of the major cities of the world making it very easily accessible.
Stay in London: London is all about location location location. The best location for London in fall is Hyde Park, and one of the greatest options to stay there is O Hyde Park.
9. Warsaw, Poland
by Sean from LivingOutlau
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Poland, especially the capital city of Warsaw. Crowds have died down, tour guides with their flags and their wall of tourists have faded, and the city has returned to its original charm. Accommodations that used to be expensive because of the high demand are now cheap and abundant. You can now enjoy the historical wonders of Warsaw such as the Royal Castle and Old Town Market Square in peace. Warsaw is a city with complicated past and it is nice to be able to learn about all the details without all the stress that comes from summer vacation.
Autumn in Warsaw is also one of the best places to see the foliage change colour. The Polish people call this time of the year “Golden Autumn”. It is the time of the year where everywhere you go, the beautiful foliage will leave a lasting impression in your mind. The most popular place to see the Autumn foliage is definitely Lazienki Park. Not only is the part one of the best places to see the autumn foliage, but it is also a great place to learn about the main figures of Poland through the museums, monuments, and residences.
Stay in Warsaw: The hotel to drool about in Warsaw is PURO Warszawa Centrum.
10. Paris, France
by Elisa from World in Paris
Paris, France, is a great destination to visit in the fall. Until mid-November, the weather is still warm and the city looks gorgeous with the fall colours.
There are many cool things to do in Paris in the fall. Wander the streets of Paris, visit the parks to see the fall foliage or take the bike to explore lesser-known neighbourhoods. If the weather is chilly, you can always take a break in a Parisian café for a hot chocolate and people watching or visit one of its endless museums.
Paris is home to world-famous museums like the Louvre Museum or Orsay Museum but there are other small museums which are well worth a detour.
Fall is also the season of food festivals and wine harvest festivals, being the Montmartre Harvest Festival one of the most popular events in Paris all year-round. Other interesting events happening in Paris during the fall are the Sleepless Night – a night non-stop with many activities and street performances, and the Heritage Days when many museums and other sights are open to the public for free.
Paris is very easy to reach by train from other countries in Europe. For longer distances, it is possible to fly to Paris to Charles de Gaulle Airport or to Orly Airport. Once in Paris, the capital is well connected with the rest of France by trains and buses.
Stay in Paris: Just 20 minutes away from the Eiffel Tower – Hôtel Vic Eiffel.
11. Prague, the Czech Republic
by Veronika from Travel Geekery
Prague becomes a lot more enjoyable in the autumn months since the biggest summer crowds are gone. Fall foliage can be observed in Prague’s many parks, try out e.g. Riegrovy Sady or Letná. If you’re into hiking, you can discover many beautiful areas on the edges of Prague, such as Divoká Šárka.
Many of Prague’s festivals take place in autumn, after the culture-wise rather quiet summer. For example, Prague street festivals usually happen in September, a festival of lights (featuring amazing video mapping techniques) is organized every year in October. A number of food festivals and music festivals can be visited in autumn. You can find entertainment for every single day.
If you get lucky, you can still experience some pleasantly warm days and even visit a beer garden or two. But autumn can be quite rainy too. While it’s possible, to some extent, to sightsee in the rain, if you have the time you better explore some of Prague’s many indoor activities.
Prague is easy to reach, be it by a plane (Václav Havel Airport), train or bus. It’s only 4 hours away by bus or train from Berlin, Germany and similarly 4 hours away from Vienna, Austria (by bus). To get into the city from the airport, I recommend getting an Uber or hopping on a bus that’ll take you to a metro station.
Stay in Prague: Feel like a local in cute and cozy, yet very comfortable Elite Hotel.
12. Barcelona, Spain
by Vicki from Vicki Viaja
Barcelona is simply a stunning city – whatever the season you are visiting in. Anyway, if I could choose a season to visit the Catalan capital I’d probably choose to visit in autumn. Unlike many other European cities, Barcelona still has wonderful warm temperatures during the autumn months and the sun is shining as if it was still summer.
If you get lucky with the weather, it might even be possible to spend a day at the beach during your autumn visit to Barcelona. But even if the water is already too cold to swim, you can always sit outside to enjoy the sun, have a refreshing beer or sangria while being mesmerized by the fantastic view.
Moreover, in the fall, one of Barcelona’s most important festivals will take place: the Mercè Festival. During this festival, which usually takes place at the end of September, everyone seems to be out there celebrating, drinking and dancing all over the city.
Most tourists prefer to visit Barcelona during the summer months. This is another great reason to visit Barcelona in autumn. Fewer tourists lead to cheaper rates and shorter waiting times as you see the incredible sights starting already with fewer people on your way from the Barcelona airport to the city centre.
Stay in Barcelona: Probably the funkiest hotel in Barcelona is Room Mate Emma. Check it out!
13. Budapest, Hungary
by Loredana from https://www.destguides.com/
Budapest is a great city to visit over a long weekend in autumn as the weather remains pleasant and the crowds lessen.
There are many cultural and religious events that take place at this time of year in Budapest. Some of these events include the Jewish Summer Festival, which takes place at the beginning of September, the Palinka (Hungarian brandy) and Sausage Festival in October and the Budapest Contemporary Art Festival, which happens in mid-October across 20 different venues.
Other activities include shopping for trinkets and souvenirs and munching on local delicacies at the Great Market Hall. This Market is a great place to go if it is raining as it is fully covered. If you are visiting later in Autumn, such as November, then head over to the Széchenyi Thermal Baths for a spa day and massage if you wish. These baths do get crowded, but if you’re an early riser or want to have more of the place to yourself, then aim to go for 6-7 am to beat the crowds.
The easiest way to get to Budapest’s city centre from the airport is to catch the 100E shuttle bus that comes every 30 mins. The 100E will take you directly to Ferenc Square in the centre in about 45 mins.
Stay in Budapest: Offering the best view over the Chain Bridge is Lanchid 19 Design Hotel.
14. Turin, Italy
by Tal from Bright Nomad
Turin is a beautiful city in the north-west of Italy that’s a great destination to visit during autumn. I visited Turin in October and enjoyed the pleasant weather and gorgeous colours of the autumn leaves.
Turin is an elegant city, with many palaces, museums and stylish arcades to explore. Unlike other Italian cities, it is not flooded with tourists, making it perfect for a pretty relaxed urban vacation. It’s easy to get around Turin on foot, as most of the attractions are close to each other.
There are many things to do in Turin, from museums and galleries to charming urban nature. Some of its main highlights are the entertaining National Cinema Museum, the reproduction of an original Medieval Village, the world-famous Egyptian Museum and the historical Museum of the Risorgimento. Turin is close to the Italian Alps and you can take mountain hiking trips from the city.
Getting to Turin: Turin is close to the French border and is reachable by train from major cities in Italy, as well as from Paris. It has two main train stations: Porta Susa and Porta Nuova. You can get to Turin by bus from many cities in Italy and some cities in France. The nearest airport is Turin-Caselle Airport. It has good flight connections to many places around Europe and is about 45 minutes away from the city.
Stay in Turin: For some modern vibe in the heart of the old city, check out TownHouse 70.
15. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
by Ellis from Backpack Adventures
Sarajevo is a perfect autumn travel destination in Europe. The capital of Bosnia Herzegovina is at its most beautiful during autumn and one of the best places to see the colours in the trees. The city is surrounded by the hills of the Dinaric Alps with dense forests that turn red, gold and yellow in the autumn. With a number of hiking trails near Sarajevo, you will have plenty of opportunities to see this yearly event.
However, you don’t need to venture far into the mountains to see the autumn colours. In the suburbs of Sarajevo, you have Vrelo Bosne. A recreational park at the spring of the Bosne river. You can take tram number 3 to Ilidza and then walk the 3-kilometre tree-lined avenue to reach the park.
Another great place in Sarajevo in autumn is Trebevice mountain. From the old town, you can take a cable car up the mountain where you can see an abandoned bobsleigh track from the Winter Olympics in 1984 and more autumn colours in the trees.
In Autumn the weather is usually good with pleasant temperatures that will allow you to enjoy your time outdoors. However, even if there is a rainy day there are a lot of indoor activities in the city. There are a number of fascinating museums, cosy restaurants and cultural events. In October there is the International Theater festival while in November it is the Jazz Fest that livens up Sarajevo.
Stay in Sarajevo: Check out Hotel Sana, with its comfy rooms and a great rooftop terrace for dining out.
16. Stockholm, Sweden
by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles
Stockholm is a wonderful autumn destination in northern Europe. There are lots of things to do in Stockholm any time of year because it is such a vibrant city, but in the autumn, the city looks extra beautiful, with leaf colour everywhere.
If you visit in the autumn, make sure you add some walking time in parks in your itinerary, to enjoy the best of the leaf-peeping opportunities in the city. The walking paths in the Djurgården neighbourhood, for example, look stunning. Or visit Kungsträdgården, right in the city centre, to see leaf colour as well as autumn plant displays. Further out, Skogskyrkogården, Stockholm’s woodland cemetery and a UNESCO site, is a wonderful place to walk in the autumn.
Autumn-specific events can be great additions to your Stockholm itinerary. Apple-picking and baking them into a crumble, or visiting the autumn market at the Skansen Open Air Museum, for example, are fun! For movie buffs, the Stockholm International Film Festival occurs in November each year. Stockholm’s Gamla Stan, the Old Town, is always a fun place to visit, and a tour of the archipelago, with the leaf colours, would be stunning in autumn.
Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport is well connected to countries all over the world, so it’s a snap to get to Stockholm.
Stay in Stockholm: Stylish, modern and funky hotel Scandic No 53 will brighten even the greyest autumn day.
17. Bologna, Italy
by Jeff from Our Passion for Travel
Bathed in muted red and orange, Bologna could easily be the city equivalent of autumn. It doesn’t receive the same amount of airtime as other Italian cities like Rome, Florence and Venice. But there is no shortage of great things to do in Bologna, widely acknowledged by Italians as the food capital of Italy.
You’ll find some of the best local produce in all of Europe in Bologna’s Quadrilatero. Here, you can sit outside on the cobbled streets, sampling some of the finest mortadella, parmigiano and balsamic vinegar. The weather is still temperate enough to enjoy sitting outside, well accompanied by an aperol spritz.
The cooler temperatures that follow Bologna’s oppressive summer mean the Asinelli Tower’s 498 stair hike is more manageable, and the views a little more enjoyable. For those who enjoy walking, continuing your exploration on foot through the 666 porticoes that lead to the Sanctuary of the Madonna of San Luca is a pleasant way to explore much of the city. After an extensive walk (which ascends up from the halfway mark) you’ll be greeted by expansive views back towards Bologna. The Church itself is a beautiful sight and well worth taking some time to explore.
Bologna is serviced by an international airport and also has a major train station. Florence, Verona and Venice are all accessible by regular direct services in under 1.5 hours.
Stay in Bologna: For a unique artsy experience, visit Hotel Al Cappello Rosso – each room has been decorated individually by local artists.
18. Funchal, Madeira
by Eniko from Travel Hacker Girl
Madeira is often referred to as the island of eternal springtime. It is true. Thanks to its subtropical climate you can experience pleasant temperatures even in the autumn months. In fact, it is a good time to visit Madeira, as accommodation and flight prices are lower and it is considered the low season, so you can enjoy the scenery without the crowds.
You can fly into Funchal, which is a really cool experience on its own. Funchal Airport is considered as one of the most dangerous airports in the world because it has a really short runway (1800 m). The airport was built on the side of a cliff, so you will get gorgeous views during take-off and landing. This should not make you worry about flying to the island, but if you prefer you can also take a cruise ship to Funchal.
Hiking in Madeira is one of the most popular activities. They are called levada walks. They were first built as the island’s irrigation system, but nowadays they are also great for recreational purposes. Madeira has a very special fauna and flora. You can see beautiful flowers all year while you are out and about. There is even a Botanical Garden, which is well worth a visit. Be prepared for stunning views on Madeira at every corner!
Stay in Funchal: Quinta Da Penha De Franca is right in the heart of Funchal.