Seven Reasons to Visit Europe in the Fall
In recent years I’ve chosen to travel during the late summer into autumn and have visited Spain, Italy and France. This year I’m returning to France in November. By traveling in the offseason months of September, October, November and even December, you’ll…
1) Avoid the crowds
The kids are back in school and there are a whole lot less people traveling. Airports are quieter and handling less luggage. With fewer tourists and less crowds, you’ll have shorter lines in airports, museums and tourist attractions. What’s not to love.
2) Save money
With fewer tourists and less demand, prices come down. Depending on your destination, you’ll find everything from airfares, hotel rates and tour packages at lower rates.
3) Evade the heat
Let’s face it, Europe, like the US, isn’t getting any cooler. This past summer, Europe experienced devastating heatwaves, the most severe in France, where several records were broken. Even in northwest France, temperatures reached 108. I was there. And let me tell you, air conditioning in Europe is a rare thing.
Northern European cities like Stockholm and Edinburgh are lovely in the summer, but I wouldn’t want to visit Italy, Spain or Southern France in summer. Even five years ago when I was in Toulouse in early September, it was in the 90s every day. By late September, early October, the weather in southern France, Spain and Italy is generally pleasant with highs from the upper 60s to low 80s.
Global warming is also creating more wildfires in Europe. Fire season starts earlier and lasts longer. Keep this in mind when booking your trip, especially for destinations around the Mediterranean and Portugal.
4) Experience friendlier people and better service
I’ve witnessed this mainly in very touristy areas and it’s understandable. When summer is over, hotel and wait staff finally have a break from the throngs of vacationers. With less stress and pressure, they tend to be more easygoing and more welcoming.
5) Still be able to swim in the Mediterranean Ocean
Maybe not in late fall, but in September and October the Mediterranean Ocean is still warm. One of my best European memories is swimming in the Mediterranean in early October off the coast of Castelldefels, Spain near Barcelona. The water was crystal clear without a ripple — like swimming in one ginormous infinity pool.
6) Experience the change of seasons
One of the best things about visiting Europe in the fall is enjoying the autumnal views of changing leaves. Whether you’re in the country or strolling through a city park, you’ll be surrounded by spectacular colors. This is the time of year to celebrate the fall harvest, whether it’s olives in Italy or wine in Portugal, you’ll find festivals in large cities to rural villages. And don’t forget about Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. And be sure to shop farmer’s markets to purchase apple, figs, grapes and squash.
Halloween is growing more popular throughout Europe. During all of October and the first week in November, Disneyland Paris’ entire park transforms into a spooktacular adventure with frighteningly-fun attractions. Dare to take the London Bridge Experience and descend into catacombs where you might encounter Jack the Ripper.
7) Get cozy
With the end of summer and cooler weather, comes the desire to get cozy and warm indoors or what the Danish call “hygge” (pronounced hyoo-guh). Want to experience that snuggly, comfortable feeling in Europe? Step into a seventeenth century English pub with dark wooden beams for a pint. Sip a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) in a Parisian café while you watch the rain and the people. Share a pot of fondue by a roaring fire in Switzerland after a day of skiing.
Choose the best months to go
If you’re slow traveling Europe for three months, I would suggest September, October and November. In November the weather starts to dip and you’ll experience more rain in most parts of Europe. However, it’s still a lovely time, and most of Europe (unless you are in the far north or in the mountains, have temperate climates with November temps in the 40s and 50s. I spent a magical month of November in a small village in Brittany.
You could also go in October, November and December. In December many European cities feature outdoor Christmas markets and spectacular light displays.
Whether you explore Europe in the fall for three months or three weeks, enjoy the journey — and fewer crowds.