21 August 2018
In many parts of the world, autumn can be the best time to explore, with mild temperatures, a lack of crowds and, in some places, lovely seasonal foliage to admire. We’ve shared our favourite places for an autumn getaway.
September ushers in the start of Northern Lights season in Iceland, providing an early opportunity to catch a glimpse of this incredible phenomenon. Hotel and car-hire prices also fall post-summer, and getting your own wheels while all the roads are still safe only adds to the possibilities.
Head to Saftafell National Park for great hiking and wild-blueberry picking, or make a beeline for the north to explore the volcanically active area around Lake Myvatn. This area also has its own version of the Blue Lagoon, Myvatn Nature Baths, high up on a hillside affording excellent views as you soak.
“Iceland never ceases to amaze. The scenery is an adventure in itself, with volcanic craters, lava flows, hot springs and geysers, glaciers and stunning waterfalls offering a new view around every corner. It is these natural wonders that provide the perfect backdrop to a range of unforgettable experiences, whether that’s hiking, snowmobiling, bathing in hot springs or gazing at the Northern Lights.”
Fiona, Travel Counsellor
With its narrow, twisting river and steep, terraced hillsides, the Douro Valley truly comes alive when its leaves change colour. One of the region’s biggest draws is wine. The Douro Valley is most notable for producing the world’s only true port, a fortified wine, and plenty of tasting opportunities are available at the numerous wine estates and vineyards that line the river. Most trips through the region are river cruises.
Portugal’s second city and the gateway to the Douro Valley, Porto is well worth visiting for its UNESCO-listed old town. Take a boat ride through the centre or wander through São Roque Park with its beautiful gardens and popular hedge maze.
Autumn is arguably the best time to visit one of Italy’s best-loved regions, after the temperatures have cooled and the summer crowds have gone home. This is the harvest season for Tuscany’s famous olives, grape, mushrooms, truffles and chestnuts, and with this comes lots of food festivals and events in which to take part. For the loveliest autumn foliage, meanwhile, head to the Casentino National Park with its hiking trails, walking tours and local produce tastings.
The quintessential autumn destination, New England comes to life with an explosion of red, purple and gold each ‘fall'. Starting in the northern states of Maine and New Hampshire in late September, the dramatic changes in colour move south throughout the season to Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Head to Dixville Notch State Park in New Hampshire, where the crisp trees retain their leaves until the season’s end. Here you can go hiking on one of many trails to take in the scenery, breaking for a picnic by a waterfall. In Vermont you can see the foliage from a different perspective on a hot-air balloon ride at sunrise or sunset. Rhode Island is the perfect place to sample locally produced wine at the Greenvale Vineyards in the quaint town of Portsmouth.
The colourful autumn leaves of Japan, known as koyo, are as much of a draw as the springtime cherry blossom. The Japanese Alps regions of Takayama and Matsumoto are two of the best places to experience the stunning blend of red, yellow and orange.
Cycle around Takayama, stopping at some of the best foliage spots including Hida no Sato, an open-air museum of traditional Japanese houses, and the Hiashiyama Walkway with its Shinto shrines and beautiful maple trees. Matsumoto is just as breathtaking with its ancient castles, thatch-roofed buildings perfectly framed by crimson leaves and famous bathing monkeys.
If you would like to book an autumn getaway, contact your Travel Counsellor.