Though this summer was bustling with U.S. travelers visiting Europe, there are several European locations that are actually better to visit in the fall.
“Fall is one of the best times to visit Europe because of the vast variety of interests [the season] can cater to,” says Mina Agnos, president of luxury travel company Travelive.
1. Val Gardena, Dolomites, Italy
In the fall season, a unique phenomenon occurs in the Dolomite mountains of Northern Italy. The combination of the changing leaves and the alpenglow of the setting sun causes the mountains to glow pink when it hits them at the right angle. Enjoy the brisk autumn air and fall foliage while hiking mountain trails within the UNESCO World Heritage landscapes of Puez-Odle National Park. Autumn is also the perfect time to partake in the three-week food festival, Culinarium Urtijei, in the village of Ortisei.
What better place to spend Halloween than at “Dracula’s Castle”? The area also offers volunteer trips that may allow visitors to help conservation efforts with rescued bears in Brasov or dancing alongside local shepherds during a Transylvanian dairy festival. The fall season in Romania also offers a lot of food-related activities, including the October chestnut celebration in Baia Mare and a cabbage festival in the Saxon village of Mosna.
“Fresh produce is in abundance and many villages preserve the tradition of celebrating the harvest with local festivals to recognize the local and what they have produced – mostly apples, pears, pumpkins, and grapes,” says Christopher Hill of Hands Up Holidays.
3. Mallorca, Spain
In October, temperatures in Mallorca are still in the 70s F and the area is much less crowded, making it the ideal time to enjoy cycling and hiking routes along quiet coves, lighthouses, and historic castles. As it is also peak harvest season, stay at the 17th-century Mansion, Can Aulí in the northern Mallorcan village of Pollenç, and enjoy the food that solely comes from a local farmer who delivers organic produce every morning from a nearby farm.
4. Madeira, Portugal
This volcanic island, located 400 miles west of Morocco, is best known for its fortified wines. Fall is not only harvest season in many vineyards, but hotels are less expensive and the ocean is still warm enough to swim through October. Nature lovers will enjoy hikes along the many historic irrigation canals or visiting a wine country wellness retreat at Terrabona for mountain views.
The Mediterranean archipelago, which consists of three inhabited islands (Malta, Gozo, and Comina), is much more pleasant to visit in the fall when the scorching summer temperatures have dropped. The area is particularly popular for scuba divers who can explore the many World War II shipwrecks lying offshore. Divers can also traverse the Blue Hole, a 50-foot-deep tube-like rock formation filled by the sea, with an archway and cave at its bottom. According to PADI spokesperson Samantha Pearson, the underwater visibility is clearer in the fall than during the summer.
Malta’s capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valletta, is particularly fun to visit during early October when they host their Notte Bianca festival. The nighttime celebration offers exhibitions and theater performances held in the city’s museums and palaces.