The Best European Destinations to Visit This Fall

Summer is the most popular time to travel to Europe, but if you want in on a little secret, read on: Fall is just as good, if not better. During this time of year, prices are cheaper, crowds are fewer, and the fact that there's no air-conditioning at your hotel won't put a damper on your trip. In fact, the crisp temperatures mean you can take advantage of alfresco dining, go that extra mile on the hike, and generally feel refreshed. That's why we've rounded up some of the best fall getaways in Europe. We skipped over the obvious year-round favorites -- London, Paris, Amsterdam, and the like -- and picked out a few gems that are particularly perfect for fall. Whether you're looking for unforgettable landscapes, a little bit of romance, or just a little more bang for your buck, we've got you covered.

Bavaria, Germany

Jiuguang Wang/Flickr

Germany makes regular appearances on lists of must-visit fall destinations. However, we couldn't help but notice that the focus is largely on Berlin. While the capital city's art, history, and culture make it a great pick year-round, we have a particular affinity for Bavaria during the golden months of fall. Munich's massive Oktoberfest celebration finds visitors knocking back oversized mugs of beer while dressed in lederhosen, and its streets hold sinister secrets that can be uncovered on one of the ghost tours. If you're after views, the lakeside town of Fussen piles on the gorgeous fall landscapes, especially at the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle and its surrounding countryside. Guests can walk or bike through a forest of fall foliage, wander around the town center, and catch seasonal events. Over in Bamberg, you'll find quaint canals, decent museums, and several historic breweries with hearty Bavarian comfort foods. For the ultimate fall experience, dedicate a day or two to walk the 20-mile Brewery Trail, and stop at all 13 breweries for a beer. There's also a shorter, 10-brewery path available.

Our Hotel Pick:

Scottish Highlands, Scotland

Dave Conner/Flickr

While several tourists flock to Scotland for its annual Hogmanay New Year's Eve celebration, the Scottish Highlands were built for fall. Warm-toned landscapes stretch far and wide, Scottish wildlife sightings are common, and the harvest season brings fresh, hearty food to the tables. Glencoe lies in a natural valley between two mountains carved out by glaciers. Translation: It's known for its stunning scenery. Fall hikes are popular here, particularly to spot red deer, fall foliage, and the Kinlochleven waterfall -- one of Scotland's best. In the later fall months, it's even possible to spot the Northern Lights. Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, offers beautiful walks, wildlife sightings, and plenty of events such as food festivals, bonfires, and fireworks. Meanwhile, trips to Loch Ness yield stunning lakeside views. Also, history buffs can grab glimpses of the historic Culloden Battlefield covered in soft purple heather. 

Our Hotel Pick:

Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Michael Meraner/Flickr

If you're seeking romance this fall, a getaway to the Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France should be on your list. Besides lower rates and flight costs, fall brings in cooler weather to the area. By September, mild temperates mean visitors can explore the area's wineries, history, and small towns sans the sweltering heat of summer. Wild horseback riding in La Narbonnaise Nature Park, visiting the medieval stone castle and walled city of Carcassonne, and exploring miles of rugged Mediterranean coastline are just a few romantic ways to rekindle the flame. More to love: The region is known for having some of France's best oysters (the season starts in September). Plus, there are several Michelin-starred restaurants and lots of beautiful wineries, including biodynamic winemaker Gerard Bertrand's Château l'Hospitalet, which also has a Michelin-rated restaurant, public tasting room, and 38-room hotel with beautiful country views. 

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Budapest, Hungary

Albert Lugosi/Flickr

Most travelers associate Budapest with winter, thanks to its famous Christmas markets and steamy thermal baths, but this culturally rich city is also a fantastic place to experience in the fall. Temperatures stay as high as 70 degrees until the end of October -- perfect for walking and exploring both sides of the city before relaxing in the thermal waters. Day trips to wineries pair colorful fall foliage with tasty vinos, while small festive markets and food stalls pop up throughout town. Fall food festivals cover everything from foie gras to chimney cakes, and cruises down the Danube River are particularly gorgeous this time of year. 

Our Hotel Pick:

Greek Islands

Pool at Pezoules, Santorini/Oyster

Santorini and Mykonos are a steal during the fall, when both prices and crowds drop. Temperatures stay in the mid-to-upper 70s through September. Though it's not a typical fall vacation (you'll be swapping reds and oranges for blues and whites), autumn is an excellent time to visit the Greek Isles. The sea may not be quite warm enough to swim in, but you'll still be able to take cruises around the islands, walk along the cliffs, and lounge on the beach. Plus, it's quieter and less touristy, so you'll get a better look at the local way of life. Discounts on rooms with beautiful views, and not having to wait for a table or tour, are also nice perks that come with visiting during the fall. Restaurants and shops will usually stay open until late October, but places will be less crowded and feel more intimate. 

Our Hotel Pick:

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