Our Favourite Autumn Destinations
As summer departs, we can't help but still cling to the thoughts of warmer climes and brighter days. But it's also a good time to appreciate and explore the beauty of nature - with vibrant coloured leaves falling off the trees, and stunning sunsets framing the landscapes. Whether you're longing for sunshine, or happy to cosy up and embrace the cooler weather, booking an autumn break is a great way to look forward to the rest of the year.
Some destinations are simply perfect to visit all year round, like staying in the UK and discovering unfamiliar places, or short-haul trips to Italy. However, if you're looking for something more far-flung, we'd recommend exploring the beauty of Japan in autumn, or even the USA. Perhaps, you're looking to tick off a bucket list experience - in which case, it's an ideal opportunity to witness the Northern Lights in somewhere like Norway.
If you're still lacking inspiration, we have rounded up our favourite autumn destinations - and even recommended some of our trips to get you started.
As the summer crowds depart and the days begin to feel crisper, Switzerland is a lovely destination to visit in the autumn - you'll see autumn foliage everywhere, from cities to mountain tops and vineyards. Expect to see hues of red, orange, and yellow fill its stunning landscapes, making it a wonderful time to explore the country's natural beauty - whether you're hiking or taking in a fantastic rail journey.
Autumn is also a great time to immerse yourself in local culture, with many harvest and wine festivals going on. It's also the time of the Alpine Descent - you'll see herds of cattle descend Switzerland's vast mountains and valleys as they make their way to their warmer quarters for the winter. There's plenty to celebrate at this time of year.
Italy is one of those popular year-round destinations - particularly if you're into gastronomy, culture and history, or city-hopping. Much like Switzerland, the season brings plenty of festivals - particularly food and wine harvesting - and autumn is an exciting time to forage for truffles. If you'd consider yourself a foodie, there's nowhere better to travel to than Italy - particularly as different regional specialities can be found dotted around.
You can still expect decent temperatures and long hours of sunshine, particularly along the coast or around Italy's beautiful lakes. Puglia, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast and Lakes Como, Garda or Lugano are all great spots to take in the country's beauty while basking in warmth. Of course, the tourist hotspots will be quieter than at the peak of summer, giving you more time to explore iconic landmarks and architecture.
- Tuck into the flavours of Bologna and Modena on this foodie tour
- Immerse yourself in the rich culture and archaeology on the island of Sicily
- Sail around the Venice lagoon and islands on a boutique cruise
- Travel back in time to Pompeii with Sophie Hay and Tristan Hughes
- Join Carol Kirkwood as you discover the beauty and gastronomy of the Amalfi Coast
With its majestic mountains, fjords and tiny islets, Norway is a beautiful destination to travel to - not least in autumn when its landscapes are ablaze with colour. Think reds, golds, and oranges atop of tall trees and heathers - and whether you're hiking through bumpy terrain, or cruising around calm shores, you can really feel at one with nature. Talking of which, autumn is also a fantastic time for wildlife spotting - from whale safaris and epic birdlife to musk ox and moose, Norway has a wide range of native animals to watch out for.
Norway is also known for the Northern Lights - the phenomenon is high on many travellers' wish lists. While it's possible to see the vivid shades of green, blue, and purple light up and dance around the sky from September to April, September and October are the peak months for the Aurora Borealis to dazzle and astound.
- We hope you'll see the Northern Lights on this Bergen round-trip expedition cruise
You don't need to travel far to enjoy the beauty that autumn brings - there are plenty of places on our shores that we can appreciate. From the rugged wilds of the Scottish Highlands to the peaceful tranquillity of the Lake District, and the picturesque villages of the Cotswolds, where it would be rude not to stop for an afternoon tea or pub lunch (to warm up, of course).
You haven't got to be an outdoors type to enjoy autumn in the UK. Make it the season you visit somewhere new for a festival, a museum or an exhibition you've been meaning to visit or soak up the culture in one of the cities, where you won't be short of things to do. Of course, autumn is a great time to get outdoors - to see the autumn leaves as you explore National Parks, forage for berries and other goodies, and take time to relax and unwind.
Visit charming Croatia in the autumn for fewer crowds, slightly cooler temperatures, and the changing colours it brings to its ever-stunning landscapes. It's still warm enough to enjoy its many beaches, try your hand at traditional handicrafts or go foraging for grapes, truffles, and other gastronomical delights, and make the most of all the autumn festivals. Whether you're interested in gardens and nature, good food and wine, culture and history, or music and the arts, you're sure to fall in love with Croatia.
Known as the 'Pearl of the Adriatic', the fortified walled city of Dubrovnik is much quieter in the autumn, with hordes of travellers visiting during the height of summer. The city of Split is equally as beautiful and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site - but to get a real feel for Croatia, explore its islands and islets. Or, if time is on your side, cross the border to Montenegro.
If you're still holding on to those balmy summer evenings, Greece will be your ideal autumn destination. With the crowds long gone, the waters still warm enough to enjoy a paddle, and hikes or exploration manageable as temperatures aren't soaring, there's plenty to do and see.
You could be keen to seek adventure and archaeology in the ancient city of Athens, or island hop to discover ancient ruins and traditional tavernas. The further south you travel, the warmer it gets. Like many of the other destinations on our list, make the most of the colourful festivals, offering a glimpse into Greece's rich history and diverse heritage - such as the Dionysia Festival, or one of the many food festivals (perfect for sampling the country's delights).
Discover the magic and mythology of the Cyclades with novelist Victoria Hislop
If you read 'Our Favourite Spring Destinations' post, you'll see we recommended Japan. Equally as pretty in the autumn as it is earlier in the year, expect to see the gorgeous soft pinks of cherry blossom replaced with vibrant reds and oranges from Japanese maple trees to match the iconic pagodas. A country of contrasts, not least during the change in seasons, we love Japan as an autumn destination - with its warm sun and bright blue skies. As well as the colourful leaves, expect colourful festivities, particularly in the city of Kyoto.
There's nothing better than immersing yourself in local culture, and Japan's fascinating traditions are bound to enthral you. From riding a bullet train and indulging in street food to exploring its temples and tea houses, and learning about its history from lesser-known towns and cities - often off the tourist path. An escorted tour is the best way to tick off many destinations in one trip and is a real eye-opening experience to this beautiful country.
- Traverse the Japanese Alps between Tokyo and Osaka on our 13-day land tour
If you're seeking an autumn adventure, the USA may be vast, but there's plenty to explore - particularly when it comes to bright orange foliage. From sleepy towns to buzzing cities, vibrant landscapes burst with colour and there's even the chance you'll spot some famous wildlife (deer, elks, moose, and birdlife - perhaps even a grizzly bear).
You may be wondering, where are the best places to visit? That completely depends on your interests or what you're looking for from your travel experience. You may wish to head north to the Rocky Mountains (on the border with Canada), enjoy the harvest at the Napa Valley, or make the most of Utah's National Parks. By contrast, you may wish to tick off numerous iconic destinations such as New Orleans, Memphis, and Nashville. Or for sunseekers, 'sunshine state' Florida should be considered - especially for its food and wine festivals where the crab doesn't get much fresher.
- Journey through the Deep South with our music-themed tour
- Go on an adventure with this Rocky Mountaineer and cruise package
View all our tours online or call our friendly reservations team for more travel advice or inspiration.