5 European Cities to Visit during the Fall

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve lived with endless sweltering Texas summers, robbing me of months of sweater weather. Actually, my fondness for fall is much more than my love of cashmere cardigans. I love the trees turning from green to gold, followed by the crunch of the brown leaves under my boots. Strawberries give way to squash in the market, and pumpkin-flavored everything infiltrates menus from Starbucks to Michelin-starred restaurants. Come September, kids are back in school and many of the tourists have disappeared, making fall travel ideal, especially in Europe.

Normally I keep my travel plans pretty close to the vest. As I’ve said before, I never know what will come up or fall through. I will say that through the end of 2014, I have the bulk of my travel organized, and Europe is playing a staring role. I’m revisiting some of my favorite cities and adding a few new destinations. I have some time gaps that need to be filled, but sometimes flying by the seat of my pants is also exciting. In any event, here are five of the European cities I’m coveting for fall travel.

Munich, Germany

 

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Nothing screams fall like Oktoberfest in Munich. The massive German celebration is #68 on my To-Do List. How could I not want to experience the festival tents, steins of beer, parades, music, lederhosen, dirndls, and Bavarian food? As you may recall, in February I spent 24 hours in Munich before setting off on my winter Best of the Alps ski trip. The short time wasn’t enough to sample everything the city offers, but it was long enough for me to determine that I would return. It seems there is no better time to revisit than late September for Oktoberfest.

Florence, Italy

 

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It’s been just about three years since I visited Florence. The city is like an open-air museum and is one of my favorite places to tackle by foot. Although I spent three nights in Florence, there’s still plenty I’ve yet to see. For instance, can you believe I didn’t visit the Uffizi Gallery or walk inside of the Duomo? All the culture and history aside, I must admit that I have an ulterior motive for visiting Florence in the fall. You see, October is the height of truffle season, and I’m obsessed with these high-dollar fungi. I can’t imagine a better place to get my truffle fix than in Italy.

Bruges, Belgium

 

Bruges

I’ve yet to visit Belgium, but the country is pretty famous for three of my favorite things—waffles, chocolate, and diamonds. That alone has me intrigued. Bruges, with its medieval architecture, looks like a page ripped from a Brothers Grimm fairytale. Known as the ‘Venice of the north,’ the canals running through the city are begging to be photographed, while the cobblestone lanes surely deserve more than a day to explore. Yes, methinks I need some Bruges in my fall travel schedule.

Edinburgh, Scotland

 

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The first European city I ever visited was Edinburgh. I, along with my mother, embarked on a two-week summer trip to the UK, where we somehow navigated the thick Scottish accent, the obscenely crowded British Museum and haggis. It’s said that you always remember your first, and I can certainly agree when it comes to Edinburgh. Old Town, New Town, the castle, the literary past, along with the fun pub culture, I really loved the city. It’s about time I returned.

Bordeaux, France

 

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In January, I took a weekend trip to Bordeaux and it was magnificent. The town itself is quite interesting, but honestly, it’s what’s outside the city limits that beckons me back. The world’s most famous wine growing region was barren in the winter, and most of the châteaux were closed. I was fortunate to have Dominique Garcia, the owner of Les Sommelier et Les Vingerons and former head sommelier at Mouton Rothschild, organize a few exceptional tours and tastings. However, my Bordeaux thirst was not quenched, pardon the pun. Fall in Bordeaux means harvest season, and I’m dying to taste the fruits of the year’s labor.

What do you think of this list? Any other places I should be considering?

Photo Credits: Edinburgh, Bruges, Featured Photo

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46 Comments
  • Adrienne @ AdrienneAway
    August 19, 2014

    I want to go to all of them!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Me too! It’s tough to decide. 🙂

  • Ryan O'Rourke
    August 19, 2014

    Awesome suggestions, Leah! Still have yet to visit a few of these and have actually only visited one—Edinburgh—in the fall. Would love to get over to Europe more often outside of summer and spring!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Most of my European travel has come in the winter, but I love cold weather. Spring is another great time, but summer I can take or leave, mostly because of the crowds. I do hope you get to give Europe a shot during the fall or winter.

  • Gran Canaria Local
    August 19, 2014

    Great suggestions, Leah. Three of our favourite cities listed. And we’re now keen to visit Bordeaux and Bruges. May we suggest Seville and even Madrid? Summer’s just too hot in these two cities, but come Autumn, they’re a more appealing prospect.

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Seville and San Sebastian have been on my mind as of late in regard to Spanish cities. Madrid is a close third as well.

  • the lazy travelers
    August 19, 2014

    bruges in autumn really is everything you picture it to be and more. enjoy!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Ohhh…I hope so!

  • Charles McCool
    August 19, 2014

    Fantastic. Solely based on where I want to go, I would include Berlin, Timisoara, Budapest, Dubrovnik, and Copenhagen.

    Happy travels, Leah!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Out of your list I’ve only been to Budapest,and trust me, it’s a great place.

  • SJ @ Chasing the Donkey
    August 19, 2014

    If it were my choice, I’d choose Bruges. Have fab time where ever you decide.

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Bruges is calling to me quite loudly.

  • Cynthia Scarborough
    August 19, 2014

    Fall is a great time to visit Europe! Being a Florida native it’s a real treat to go somewhere where there are seasonal changes. I must admit that I’ve never visited Bordeaux or Bruges but each of the cities look exquisite. Thanks for sharing!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Since you’re a Flordian, you know exactly what it’s like dealing with the hot, sticky weather. Growing up in the Panhandle of Texas I had four distinct seasons. I miss that so much. I can certainly say that Bordeaux is worth the trip, especially if you’re a wine lover. Bruges…well, hopefully I’ll let you know.

  • Beth Hayes
    August 19, 2014

    Nice list… but the British Museum and Gatwick are in London, not Edinburgh 🙂

    PS ~ The Scott Monument and the Nelson Monument in Edinburgh are climbable and provide great views of the city. The Nelson Monument also drops a visible ball in sync with the One O’Clock gun at the Castle. Great spots!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Thank you for the great tips on Edinburgh. I’ll make sure to climb both monuments when I return. Also, I wrote that my mother and I took a trip to the UK. There we successfully navigated the British Museum and Gatwick. I wasn’t implying they were in Edinburgh, but rather the UK.

  • Sandra @ Tripper
    August 20, 2014

    I’d add Lisbon. Tourists are gone, the weather isn’t too cold yet but already makes you wear cozy clothes and there’s the sweet smell of the chestnuts that vendors are roasting in the streets.

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Lisbon has been in the back of my mind for a few years. Actually, so has Portugal in general. Hmmm…something to consider.

  • Marianne
    August 20, 2014

    The only one of your choices I haven’t visited is Bordeaux – but I would recommend the city of Málaga in Andalucía as a great place to visit during the autumn.

    Málaga has improved enormously over the past ten years and now boasts famous museums (including the Picasso), markets, street art, monuments, an amazing new port area and quality restaurants to visit. The tapas scene is amazing, the people friendly and welcoming – and this week it is our annual Fería when more than one million people enjoy one great big party in the city.

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Thanks for the tip. Málaga is unknown to me, so I’ll have to investigate a bit more.

  • the list is great, all of these cities are wroth seeing 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      I think you’re right. There’s just so much greatness to see, it’s tough to decide.

  • Raymond @ Man On The Lam
    August 20, 2014

    Now you know you’ve got to get yourself to Lisbon!

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Beijos, Raymond. I’d love to visit you in Lisbon. Is that an open invitation?

  • Sand In My Suitcase
    August 20, 2014

    Take us to Bruges! We’ve heard so many good things about this Belgian town.

    • Leah Walker
      August 20, 2014

      Group trip? Sounds good to me!

  • Pola (Jetting Around)
    August 21, 2014

    Hmm, I’d go back to Bruges in the fall. I have a feeling it would be gorgeous and well, super romantic. Perfect for long walks, one of my favorite thing to do in cities. As for other places, do I really need to remind you of Krakow? 😉

    • Leah Walker
      August 31, 2014

      Funny you mention Krakow, it was number six on my list. Just missed out. 😉

  • Craig Zabransky
    August 24, 2014

    although it the midst of a 71-day European adventure that will lead my deep into autumn…… I will unfortunately visit none of these cities…. 🙁 I guess I’ll need to make another trip back across the pond someday to visit the three I have yet to experience… seems like a good call..

    stay visiting the old world, Craig

    • Leah Walker
      August 31, 2014

      Well, your Euro trip does sound pretty amazing. I might have to hop on that tour for a few days. #StayInvitingYourself

  • Jenna
    August 25, 2014

    I would be happy to visit any of these places this fall, although I have to admit that California is pretty nice at this time of year, too. 🙂 I hope to make it to Edinburgh and/or Munich next summer. I went to Bruges a few years ago and loved it!

    • Leah Walker
      August 31, 2014

      Well, you are a bit spoiled living where you do. I’m certainly convinced that I have to get to Bruges. I’ve not heard anything negative about the city.

  • Gina
    August 25, 2014

    I love fall, too, and love traveling in the fall somewhere where it actually gets a bit blustery. Don’t have much fall weather here in San Diego. 🙂 I’d love to go to Oktoberfest in Munich someday!

    • Leah Walker
      August 31, 2014

      We always want what we don’t have, right? There’s nothing better than a crisp, cool day.

  • Explorista
    September 3, 2014

    Oh, gosh! Where do I start? Personally I want to return to Italy (I’m missing it), and venture in to eastern Europe as I haven’t seen much of it. Somehow the gloominess of fall makes me even more eager. I’ve got too many suggestions.. Switzerland in general, Berlin, Ghent, Paris, Avignon, Barcelona, Algarve region in Portugal, Malta (for a nice winter break!)… and I could go on. Only thing I wouldn’t do in fall is Scandinavia, as I personally enjoyed Copenhagen much better in springtime than fall 🙂

  • Shikha (whywasteannualleave)
    September 15, 2014

    Love this list Leah – Bruges in the fall would be a sight I’d love to see – a few on here I haven’t covered yet – beautiful photos!

    • Leah Walker
      October 13, 2014

      Sadly, I didn’t get to any of these yet. It was tough to pull myself away from Paris.

  • Karl
    October 1, 2014

    As a frequent visitor to Brugge, I have to say it tops my list. It really is like stepping into a fairy tale of sorts. Although not a big city and most can be seen in a couple of days I could wander the streets and alleys forever.

    • Leah Walker
      October 13, 2014

      That sounds like my kind of place! I must get to Belgium.

  • Wesley R. Mullen
    October 10, 2014

    PARIS!!! Always Paris, no matter what the season.

    • Leah Walker
      October 13, 2014

      I agree 100%.

  • MySuitcaseDiary
    November 20, 2014

    Florence in great in autumn, still very pleasant weather 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      December 2, 2014

      It was perfection when I was there in October.

  • malgorzata
    April 7, 2015

    Do no forget Warsaw, Poland, especially its Old Town , still artsy and hip , sort of Montparnasse of Eastern Europe. My hometown and a city that was built from ashes. Its Old Town section is a meticulous replica recreated from documents and photos before Hitler’s Nazi leveled it to the ground. Having lived 40 years in States still find it very seductive spot on the map.

  • Christina
    August 24, 2016

    Hello, When exactly is the best time to visit Scotland in the Fall?

    Thank you

  • Agness of Fit Travelling
    February 20, 2017

    Great list, Leah! I would only add Lisbon, although there are numerous beautiful cities that are worth visiting.

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