Ask any experienced traveller when is the best time to travel in Europe and they will tell you; it has to be autumn. School is back in and the summer rush is over, the weather is milder and the price of flights and accommodation is a little easier on the pocket. With the high season over, the residents aren’t overwhelmed with looking after visitors and local traditions and events start happening in a far more cosy atmosphere.
Many of those local traditions centre around food and drink too, lucky then that ‘beach body’ season is over and putting on a couple of winter layers isn’t a problem! Many cities around Europe start gearing up for Christmas in autumn too, meaning that there are thousands of shopping opportunities starting in November ranging from autumn/winter pret a porter designer ranges to traditional local knitwear and leather goods, toys, food and drink in the markets.
It’s not just the man-made that attracts. Nature is working her hardest to provide a dramatic backdrop to your autumn break. The trees are turning colours, there are flashes of snow and frost in the early morning and further north the Aurora Borealis is becoming visible with increasing frequency over Oslo. To the south, it is still warm but the searing heat of summer is over. Mediterranean destinations such as Nice, Athens and Cyprus are still balmy without being oppressively hot or, just as importantly, overcrowded.
We asked travel product review site travels2go.com for their top choices of places to visit in Europe this autumn/winter. Here’s what they said:
Paris is always going to be on any list of European destinations, no matter the time of year. With summer over, the Parisians start to come home from their summer vacations and with them come festivals of art, music, film and theatre. Besides views from Montmartre, and the Eiffel Tower, overlooking the changing season, there are walks by the Seine, and trips to the Louvre and Musee D’Orsay to enjoy.
Once the chaos of Oktoberfest is over, life in the city returns to normal and hotel prices return to normal for a city in southern Germany. As it’s approaching Christmas and Germany invented the Christmas market so a trip to the Christkindle market is a must, and if the kids have been naughty, don’t forget the Krampus Run!
As central European and former Soviet republic capitals are becoming better known, Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, is still a little-known gem. It has earned the title “European Green Capital 2016” thanks to its dedication to recycling and renewables. Traffic isn’t allowed into the city centre, making it perfect for strolling around, admiring the mediaeval architecture, parks and the Ljubljanica river. If you’re in the city in October, you’ll just catch the end of the Open Kitchen street food festival where chefs from all over Slovenia offer their specialities, especially meats, cheeses and beer.
Christmas markets start trading at the beginning of November. Around that time the city comes to life. If you have a penchant for roast chestnuts, gingerbread and gluhwein then Vienna in autumn is the city for you. Later, in December, Ball Season begins. Vienna is home to the waltz and hundreds of balls take place all over the city in venues that are architecturally and historically fascinating.
Another fairytale city that’s becoming better known is Prague. Along with the beautiful architecture and waterways that dominate the city, art, music and food festivals also feature in an autumn break. Prague is colloquially known as The Golden City thanks to heavily forested parks and cobbled avenues. The weather is perfect at this time of year as summers can be very hot and winters bitterly cold. Prague is known for its classical music, and theatre, but it’s less known for its food. Savoury dishes are hearty and filling while their deserts are to die for if you love pastry, cream cheese and fruit! And of course, the Czech Republic is home to Pilsner larger, so there’s that.