10 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Travel to Europe

With perfect weather and discounted pricing, autumn could be the best time to travel to Europe.

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October 02, 2019

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Tourissimo

Photo By: Steve Larese

Photo By: Steve Larese

Fall in Love With Fall in Europe

Autumn travel from the US to Europe may seem counterintuitive as thoughts turn to upcoming holidays at home. But this makes it the perfect time for Americans to pack a sweater and travel to Europe. With the summer tourism rush over, life is much more relaxed throughout the continent. The weather is perfect, discounts abound and countries' own fall festivals make this a culturally rich time to visit. Here are a few tips and deals for savoring this time of year abroad.

Better Service

Fewer tourists allow businesses to breathe a bit, and service improves as shops and restaurants are coming off of a profitable summer but still grateful for business. Europe is known for leisurely table service, but during peak season visitors can still feel rushed as servers want to turn tables as quickly as possible. In the fall visitors may feel far less pressured to finish, and may even have to track down the bill.

More Elbow Room

Quiet scenes, readily available reservations, uncrowded museums and plenty of restaurant seating are just some of the benefits to visiting Europe in fall. Check for seasonal closures or adjusted hours for services and tours before heading out to dinner. Some businesses close for a few weeks after the summer rush to enjoy their own well-deserved vacations; your hotel should be able to make recommendations for open shops and restaurants.

Fall Festivals

All throughout Europe festivals small and large take place during the fall to mark past events, celebrate the harvest and revel in local history and culture. Perhaps the most famous is Munich’s Oktoberfest that takes place at the Theresienwiese from late September through the first week of October to commemorate the marriage of Crown Prince Lugwig I to Princess Therese in 1810. Barcelona’s La Mercè street party in September honors the city’s patron saint, Mare de Deu de la Mercè, and is famous for its human towers that seem to defy physics. England’s Harvest Home Festival sees blindfolded participants try to take down the last corn stalk with sharp scythes and corn dolls seated at tables to ensure a good harvest next year on the Sunday nearest the full moon closest to the fall equinox. Dublin, Edinburgh and other towns with Celtic heritages celebrate Samhain and, more commercially, Halloween on or near October 31. Venice, known for its carnival masks, also embraces its own version of Halloween. November 5 in London is Bonfire Night — also known as Guy Fawkes Night — that remembers the 1605 Gunpowder Plot with a huge fireworks display.

In Italy, November signals the beginning of a new opera season with events throughout the nation, and on November 18 Saint Nicholas arrives in Amsterdam via boat and leads a parade through the city. From November to December 24 Christmas Markets light up German and Austrian towns and cities.

See More Photos: 22 Best Fall Destinations in America and Around the World

Prime Wine Time

Europe celebrates the grape harvest with wine celebrations such as Budapest’s International Wine Festival in September and the Ukraine’s Festival of Cheese and Wine in Lviv in October. Italy and France have many wine festivals as expected, including the Festa dell’Uva the first weekend of October in Cinigano, Italy, and France’s Hospices de Beaune Wine Festival in November. Wineries throughout Europe celebrate the harvest and keep busy pressing grapes, making fall a particularly exciting time for visiting oenophiles. Learn about Europe's many wine festivals here.

Hotel Deals

As tourism drops off from the summer season, hotels offer discounts and specials to put heads in beds. Check for discounted nightly rates or additional values such as meals, spa discounts, room amenities and other perks for fall guests. Austria's Stanglwirt Resort offers fall deals before the ski season, and Berlin's regal Hotel Kempinski Adlon (pictured) offers special in-room perks and specials. In Italy's South Tyrol region, the Adler Hotel and Spa offers several fall-themed specials including their Taste of South Tyrol package. In Croatia, Hotel Bellevue Dubrovnik's Dubrovnik Art Discovery package includes a luxury airport transfer from the airport and a pass for exploring this beautiful city's many museums, and Hotel Excelsior releases its Dubrovnik Deluxe package that includes a two-hour private tour of Dubrovnik's historic Old Town.

BOOK NOW: Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin | Booking.com, Starting at $296/night

Thinner Crowds

With many travelers back in school or at work after the summer holidays, must-see destinations enjoy much lighter crowds (such as Northern Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway, pictured). Keep in mind you may trade fewer people for limited hours, less daylight, fewer open facilities and transportation options in the fall, so check beforehand.

Airline Prices Drop in Fall

Airlines discount international flights as domestic travel crescendos with Thanksgiving in the US. United, Delta, American, British Airways, Lufthansa, Swiss International Airlines and other major carriers tend to offer specials that can save travelers hundreds off their round-trip European flights, especially to and from major hubs such as New York/Newark, Chicago, London and Munich.

Perfect Weather

Paris reaching 109-degrees in June 2019 is just one example of how warm Europe can get in the summer. Rome averages in the low 90s in the summer but drops into the low 80s beginning in September, with highs in the mid 50s in December. Beautiful fall temperatures make walking city streets far more pleasant, and it’s the perfect time for outdoor activities such as biking and hiking. In Norway and other northern European countries, the aurora borealis starts at the beginning of September through April, making fall the perfect time to see this incredible site before the snow.

Tour Deals

Tours in the fall are much easier to schedule, more relaxed and often deals can be found. Check tour companies such as Tourissimo and Intrepid Travel for exclusive fall tours and specials throughout Europe, and REI offers its popular The Ireland Hiking–Wild Atlantic Way trip for any remaining 2020 departures at $800 off if booked between Nov. 30-Dec. 8, 2019. Want to create your own tour? Eurail offers special fall fares on their popular Global Pass as well to suit your own itinerary.

Dream Cuisine

Fall is a foodie’s delight in Europe with prized seasonal fare such as white truffles in season, inspiring chefs everywhere. Food festivals such as the Kookeet Bruges that celebrates beautiful Bruges, Belgium's 12 Michelin-starred restaurants, Helsinki, Finland’s Baltic Herring Festival called Silakkamarkkinat, Portugal's Festival Nacional de Gastronomia, Italy's San Miniato White Truffle Fair, France’s La Fête de la Crevette (shrimp festival) and Hungary’s Csabai Sausage Festival are just a few of the events that’ll have your travels guided by your stomach. Check here for more European fall food events and dates.

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