Yes, we all know that fall means shorter days, cooler temperatures and falling leaves. But its also an amazing time to visit some great places, during the off season and bask in the golden glow of fall. Here are 12 handpicked destinations for you to discover fall in their full glory.
1. Seville, Spain
With its insular 40°C weather, summer in Seville is best spent at the nearby beaches like Matalascañas – but plan your trip a month or two later and you’ll hit the sweet spot. The streets smell of orange blossom, the shaded plazas are filled with locals drinking chilled beer and snacking on tapas, and the nights are long and balmy.
The city’s compact historical centre and flat landscape are perfect for spending your days walking around soaking in the theatrical culture and Arabic heritage.
If you need to cool down after all the sightseeing, head to the nearest rooftop pool at Hotel Doña Maria or refresh your inner child at the Isla Màgica amusement park.
2. Belfast, Northern Ireland
The nip of winter shyly shows the tip of its nose behind the maple autumn colored scenery. Towering over Belfast, hike up Black Mountain for a view that stretches across the city towards the Strangford Lough inlet. A sea safari on the water or a stroll along the orange-hued shore make for a perfect excuse to pop in to the Crown Liquor Saloon and warm up with a spiced gin cocktail.
If you are travelling by car, a worthwhile nearby trip would be a visit to the enchanting archaeological site of Beaghmore Stone Circles. Or on your way to visit Old Bushmills Distillery , a Whiskey-making legend in Northern Ireland, walk beneath the Dark Hedges, intertwined beech trees hugging the road.
3. Tel Aviv, Israel
If you’re not quite ready to give up your tan when the sunny season starts to dwindle, make a beeline for Tel Aviv – where the summer is far from over. The Riviera-style seashore promenade is alive with carefree joggers, boutique shops and exceptional restaurants serving up fresh Mediterranean fare.
A smooth breeze picks up on the 16 beaches stretching along the coastline, making the temperature just perfect – and gone are the crowds of tourists.
Gordon-Frishman is the most central, and blissfully empty in the autumn months. Hilton, the gay-friendliest of beaches, is also the surfer favorite. Head to Banana beach for unrivaled sunsets with cocktail-in-hand at its namesake beach cafe, or stop by Dolphinarium on Fridays for a show of drummers and performance artists partying on the sand.
4. Tuscany, Italy
Italy takes fall harvest seriously. The exact dates vary each year depending on the weather but, all over the country, Sagre (harvest festivals) are being held in honor of everything from chestnuts to mushrooms, pumpkins and even polenta.
Mid-September into early October is the ideal time to do a road trip in Tuscany – a region at the heart of the Italian gastronomic tradition – when temperatures are milder during the day, pleasantly cool at night, and the landscape is bursting with the colors, sounds and smells of country life.
Participate in the time-old tradition of the Vendemmia (grape harvest) and learn about the local wines and how they are made. Go truffle-hunting in the Tuscan forests or pop into a taverna to taste an authentic pasta with porcini mushrooms. Yum.
5. Ontario, Canada
Embrace the dramatic transformation that fall brings along throughout Canada’s Ontario province from late September through October.
Not too far from Toronto, the Algonquin Provincial Park is 7,725 square kilometers of dense forest, winding rivers and placid lakes. Paddle along in a canoe for the best views of maple trees and red oaks showing off their fiery tones reflected in the water.
For what Winston Churchill famously dubbed “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world”, take on the Impressionist-like landscape of the Niagara Parkway or, if you’d rather explore on foot, hike among 1000-year old trees to the edge of cliff-side at the Bruce Peninsula National Park.
6. Mount Fuji, Japan
Autumn is a combination of striking red leaves and overwhelmingly peaceful blue waters around Mount Fuji in Japan. This natural beauty is celebrated during an annual festival, Fujikawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival, celebrating the bronzy red hue of the cherry and maple trees covering the area. Late night food stall bites under the brightly lit trees makes for a romantic evening at the foot of the Mount.
Escape the haze that floats over Lake Kawaguchiko, passing through yellow karamatsu pines on your way up the slopes of Mount Fuji. Pinch yourself – the postcard-perfect contrast of dark volcanic rock, yellow pines, and snow-capped summit is absolutely real.
7. Patagonia, Argentina
If you’d like to bypass winter altogether, bear in mind that September through November is Spring time in the Southern Hemisphere.
It is also the time when nature blooms, the shyest animals come out of hiding and whale watching is at its prime in the wild, wind-swept plains and jagged peaks of Argentinian Patagonia.
Horseback riding, kayaking and mountain biking are just a sample of the myriad activities on offer to the adventurous traveler and die-hard nature lover. And the views are spectacular, with purple Lupine in bloom guarding the Mount Tronador.
The easiest access may be to fly to Punta Arenas, Chile and cross the border or find a connecting flight from Buenos Aires.
To welcome nature’s descent into hibernation and fast-forward to snowy days, you’ll find Iceland is all space, fresh air and freedom in the months leading up to winter. With lower prices and fewer crowds, renting a car is a great way to explore the island.
Pick wild blueberries, spot seals lazing on the black sand beaches of Vik, warm up in natural hot pools or help out with the annual réttir, when farmers and their families hike up the remote valleys to round up their sheep and horses before winter.
Grey skies paint white light across the orange-tinged volcanic plains as you explore the countryside’s waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers. To seek out the first Northern Lights of the season, hold out until November when the nights are longer and darker.
If you stay in the capital, keep an eye out for Reykjavik’s Iceland Airwaves, a November festival known for its intimate and playful environment that showcases new music by both local talent and international bands.
9. Markt Hartmannsdorf, Austria
The fields are cropped and the sun hangs low over Markt Hartmannsdorf, in the Austrian state of Styria. Winter is coming, but a few months of pleasant autumn climate still remain before the village gets swallowed by snow.
All roads lead to the 36-meter tower of the central church, especially visible as the trees start to lose their leaves. With a population of about 3,000 people, escape the busy cities and enjoy the quiet you can only find in rural villages surrounded in nature. Wake up to a coay room at a local fruit farm – the early days of autumn are the perfect time for participating in apple and pear harvest, and enjoying the peaceful outdoors.
10. Lisbon, Portugal
One of the advantages of traveling off-season is the lower prices. If you’re looking for a budget option, Portugal’s capital on the Tagus river front, Lisbon, is at its cheapest after the summer tourists have packed up and gone home.
The sun is still high in the sky, the temperature pleasant with highs around 25°C, and hotels and restaurants are offering discount rates.
Stay in the center and explore the city’s millenary history and architecture – without the masses of tourists cramping your style – or hop on a train at Cais do Sodré station and you can be lying on a beach in less than 30 minutes.
So what do you say? Lets Go Discover??
The list adapted from www.momondo.ca.
Here you can find blog posts and articles that would inspire you to pack your bags and start your own journey of Discovery.
Alex Zachariah Chaligné, is the founder and owner at Travel To Discover.