Autumn is arguably the best season to travel in Europe. The summer crowds have dissipated as well as the heat. Most children are back in school. And, it feels like you can take a deep breath after the intensity of summer.
Autumn starts in late September and ends in early/mid November. In mountainous areas, Autumn can be far shorter, ending as early as mid-late October, depending on snowfall and weather conditions.
Fall brings shorter days, cooler temperatures, and significantly lower hotel rates.
October and November are great months to travel to Southern Europe. Destinations like Mallorca and Algarve are pleasantly warm and far more approachable (less busy, more economical, etc…) in the Fall.
Autumn is also the most colorful time of year to travel to the Alps. Visit the Italian Dolomites in October and you will never recover…not in this lifetime. There is nothing more visually intoxicating than seeing the Northern and Southern Limestone Alps cloaked in amber and orange.
This Autumn in Europe travel guide will introduce you to our favorite fall destinations in Europe.
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Autumn in Europe: 9 Places to Visit in Europe in October and November
- When is Autumn in Europe: mid/late September – late October/early November
- Mountain Huts: The hut-to-hut hiking season is over, since much mountain huts close end of September.
- Rental Car: If you’re plan on visiting alpine destinations, a car is a necessity in most places. We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental platform to search for and book car rentals in Europe.
- Top Fall Destinations without a Car: (1) Ortisei, Dolomites, (2) Kotor, Montenegro, (3) Wachau Valley, Austria
- Fall Colors: Fall colors usually peak between mid and late October. The timing is impacted by weather conditions, so it can shift slightly each year.
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Best Autumn Destinations in Europe Map
1. Vicentine Coast, Portugal
The Vicentine Coast is a stretch of Portugal’s Atlantic coastline that runs between Sines, Alentejo, and Sagres, Algarve.
This protected and biodiverse area boasts one of the best coastal trails in Europe: the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail.
The Fisherman’s Trail is the ideal Autumn excursion for anyone who loves coastal walking and multi-day hiking. Hikers overnight in guesthouses and hostels along the way.
This well-marked and safe path traverses clifftops, sand dunes, and beaches. Aside from a few coastal villages, there are no developments along the Vicentine Coast. It’s just miles and miles of pristine nature, unfurling before you.
We hiked the original 4-stage trail in early November from Porto Covo to Odeceixe. The trail has since been expanded to 13 stages, starting in São Torpes and ending in Lagos.
If you’re curious about how to integrate this hike in a Portugal travel itinerary, read our 2 Week Portugal Itinerary, which starts in Porto and ends in Faro (no car needed).
Get the Guidebook | Cicerone’s Rota Vicentina Hiking Guide
2. Algarve, Portugal
This sun-kissed, and perhaps goddess-blessed, beach paradise is celebrated for its clean, blue flag beaches, bountiful seafood, and whitewashed villages.
Bordered by ochre-colored limestone cliffs and caressed by turquoise waters, golden sweeps of sand are punctured by rock pillars and graceful arches. The color collision is nothing short of breathtaking.
If you want to experience Portugal’s beloved holiday region without the oppressive heat and the maddening crowds, visit Algarve in Fall (late September – early November).
Algarve Accommodations | Read Where to Stay in the Algarve.
3. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria, Germany
Only 1 hour from Munich by train, or by car, Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a top destination for getting outdoors in summer, autumn, and winter.
If you’re planning on visiting the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich (late September – early October), head to Garmisch-Partenkirchen after.
We love Garmisch, because it offers the best possible base for not only hiking and cycling, but also touring castles and historic towns. It’s the perfect destination for travelers who want to balance active pursuits with historic attractions.
Located at the foot of the Wetterstein Massif, visitors are well-positioned to tackle gorge hikes like Höllentalklamm and Partnachklamm, via ferrata climbs like Alpspitze, and easy lakeside strolls like Lake Eibsee.
When you want to break from outdoor adventuring, you can visit the Passion Play town of Oberammergau, located 19.6 km north of Garmisch (25 minute drive). This Bavarian town is made up of colorful gingerbread-like houses adorned with baroque Lüftmalerei (air paintings).
From Oberammergau, you can drive 15 minutes to Linderhof Palace in the Ammergau Alps. Schloss Linderhof was built by the legendary King Ludwig II of Bavaria between 1868 and 1874.
Mittenwald, Neuschwanstein Castle, Ehrwald, and Grosser Ahornboden are also within reach.
4. Wachau Valley, Austria
This scenic valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Austria’s most celebrated wine regions.
The Danube slithers between rolling hills of terraced vineyards. Abbeys and castle ruins command strategic locations on rocky outcrops. And, hillside hiking trails and riverside cycling routes link the many wine villages together.
Kati and I visit the Wachau regularly, because it’s only a 1 hour train ride from Vienna. We love walking through the vineyards and drinking wine in the Heuriger (wine taverns). And while the Wachau is an all-year-round destination, October is simply the most staggeringly beautiful month to visit.
In Autumn, the vineyards turn gold and the forested hillsides turn shades of orange and yellow. The whole Wachau is a sea of warm yellow hues.
You can visit the Wachau as a day trip from Vienna, or stay several nights. It’s the perfect Fall getaway and one of the most spellbinding places to visit in Europe in Autumn.
Learn more about this scenic wine-growing region in our Wachau Valley Travel Guide.
Hikers should check out the Vogelbergsteig, Dürnstein to Krems, and Seekopf and Hirschwand hikes. Art and architecture enthusiasts ought to prioritize a visit to Melk Abbey, an impressive baroque complex.
Tip | Drink Sturm (early wine) if you visit the Wachau in early Fall.
Related: Autumn in Austria
Wachau Valley Tours from Vienna
Viator Tours | Melk Abbey and Danube Valley Day Trip from Vienna, Wachau Valley Private Tour With Melk Abbey Visit and Wine Tastings from Vienna, and Danube Valley Private Tour with Melk Abbey Skip-the-Line Access from Vienna
Places to Stay in the Wachau
Weissenkirchen Accommodations | Hotel-Restaurant Kirchenwirt (midrange)
5. Filzmoos, Austria
We recently re-visited Melk Abbey in the Wachau Valley. The abbey church is the epitome of high baroque art and architecture, which endeavored to create a befitting space on earth for God.
They bridged heaven and earth with ostentatious gold leaf, stucco, and marble. The church interior is a masterpiece, but I couldn’t help but think, “they got it wrong.”
God (the Universe, the Source, etc…) is certainly not contained to these hallowed halls. Why reside here, when you can soar across the limestone walls of the Dachstein, especially in Autumn.
In mid-late October, the magnificent Dachstein massif towers over a belt of larch forest. This godly contrast of gray limestone and orange larch is devastatingly beautiful in its impermanence.
Last October, we revisited Filzmoos in Salzburg to experience the final breath of Autumn. Filzmoos is a small alpine village set below the Gosaukamm mountain range of the Dachstein.
6. Mallorca, Spain
The largest Balearic Island is a dreamy isle famed for its pine-fringed sheltered coves, beach resorts, limestone mountains, and stone villages.
Autumn (September – early November) and Spring (April – May) are the best seasons to travel to Mallorca. During shoulder-seasons, visitors can expect moderate temperatures, cut-rate room rates, and thinning crowds.
This Mediterranean destination offers romantic villages (e.g. Valldemossa), picture-perfect beaches and coves (Caló des Moro & Cala S’Almunia), satisfying hiking trails, dazzling accommodations, and bucket-list driving routes.
Follow our Mallorca Road Trip Itinerary to discover the most beautiful corners of the island. In one week, you’ll hike in the Tramuntana Mountains, visit the mountain villages of Valldemossa, Deià and Sóller, savor the viewpoints of Formentor Peninsula, and bathe in the dazzling coves of Cala Llombards, Caló des Moro, and Cala Pi.
Mallorca Accommodations | Where to Stay in Mallorca
7. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Slovenia’s most enchanting destination, Lake Bled, is tucked away in the Julian Alps, only 1 hour from Ljubljana by bus, or by car.
Rimmed with a spectrum of yellow and orange leafy trees, Lake Bled is at its most beautiful in Autumn.
Without the summer swarms, you can comfortably tour the clifftop castle, ride a pletna boat to Bled Island, watch the sunrise from the Mala Osojnica Viewpoint, visit Vintgar Gorge, and eat Bled Cream Cake.
If you’re traveling by car, we recommend driving up to Pokljuka Plateau in order to hike to Debela peč. To reach the summit, hikers ascend a belt of larch forest, which turns gold and tangerine-orange between mid and late October.
Lake Bled Accommodations | Guesthouse Marko (budget), Vila Alpina (midrange), and Old Parish House (midrange), Hotel Starkl (midrange), Vila Bled (luxury), Grand Hotel Toplice (luxury), and Adora Luxury Hotel (luxury)
Lake Bled Tours
GetYourGuide Day Tours: From Bled: Self-Guided E-Bike Tour to Vintgar Gorge and Triglav National Park Tour from Bled.
Viator Day Tours: From Bled: Triglav National Park Tour, 7 Alpine Wonders- Day Tour Bled, Soca valley, Slovenia, Food Tour Bled – Explore Slovenia Through Its Tastes, and 2-Hour Interactive Wine Tasting Experience in Bled
Though the hut-to-hut hiking season in the high-alpine areas is over, you can still embark on a multi-day hiking, or hiking and biking tour in the Julian Alps at lower elevations.
Check out these self-guided adventures by the outstanding local tour operator Slotrips: Alpe Adria Trail Adventure (4 days), Best of Alpe-Adria and Juliana Trail (8 days), and Mountains to Sea (9 days), all bookable May – October.
Those that want to join a small group hiking tour in Slovenia ought to take a close look at Best Walks in Slovenia (day hikes only).
8. Kotor, Montenegro
The UNESCO-listed Old Town of Kotor in Montenegro is wedged between steep limestone mountains and a fjord-shaped bay. It’s one of the most striking destinations in the Balkans.
Encircled by thick fortifications, the entire Old Town is a pedestrian zone, packed with hotels, shops, restaurants, and bars. This ideal Autumn getaway offers no shortage of places to eat and things to do.
From the Old Town, you can walk to the Kotor Fortress for sweeping views of the Old Town, Vrmac, and the Bay of Kotor. The Ladder of Kotor hike starts just outside the city walls, near the River Gate. You can also follow the Dobrota Promenade to a number of waterfront cafés.
You can drive, or take a boat to the waterfront town of Perast, dominated by Venetian palaces and churches.
There are many places to stay around the Bay of Kotor. We’ve explained the advantages and disadvantages of each area in Where to Stay in Kotor.
9. Dolomites, Italy
Visit the Dolomites in Autumn and your heart may burst, for there is nothing as transcendent as seeing these mountains cloaked in the full embrace of fall.
Between mid and late October, larches ripen from gold to amber and finally to a tangerine-orange. Weather conditions (frost, temperature, snow, etc…) impact the timing of the color progression.
We’ve written a hefty guide about visiting the Dolomites in October, which covers where to stay and where to hike. September is also a great month to visit the Dolomites, but you will see minimal fall foliage.
Many tourist areas across the Dolomites shut down in late September. Val Gardena is one of the exceptions.
This South Tyrolean valley is the gateway to Alpe di Siusi, Seceda, Val de Chedul – Vallunga Valley, and Sassolungo. Cableways and buses operate all month, which makes this the best destination for those traveling without a car.
Cortina d’Ampezzo in the province of Belluno is another excellent base. But, a car is an absolute necessity. We recommend using the Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals in Italy.
Read how to get to the Dolomites to understand all the different ways to get to the Dolomites.
More Europe Travel Guides
Hiking in Europe:
- Best Treks in Europe: Multi-Day Hiking Adventures
- Best Day Hikes in Europe
- Tips for Hiking in the Alps
- Best Hikes in the Alps