As the crowds of tourists depart, autumn is the perfect time to discover the urban charms of some fantastic city break destinations. We’ve made your choice easier by picking just 5 of our favourite cities, each with its own unique attractions. Layer up for the upcoming season and spend some time with friends and family in one of Europe’s top locations for autumn vacationing.
Autumn is a lovely time to take in all that Vienna has to offer, with its mellow, golden days being perfect for exploring. Enjoy crisp walks in city parks and the Wienerwald woods and taste local wines at the city’s vast range of Heurige taverns. As the festive season approaches the city becomes a magical destination, with the Christmas Markets opening in mid-November. Visit the stalls for handicrafts, roasted chestnuts, warming punch and traditional gingerbread. December also plays host to ‘ball season’ if you can hold out until then, with hundreds of glamorous balls taking places across the city. Of course, Vienna has a fantastic array of architecture to marvel at in all seasons, such as the stunning Hofburg Palace, the Vienna State Opera House and Gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Ljubljana is Slovenia’s capital and largest city, known for its luscious green spaces. Visit in autumn to see the whole area turn shades of fiery golden orange and take a walk in the expansive Tivoli Park for gorgeous seasonal views. Ljubljana has plenty of outdoor cafes in which you can sit and take in the surroundings on mild days, or take to one of the area’s many museums if you need to escape from the cold. The city offers the perfect mix of old and new, with the Ljubjanica River dividing the old town from its commercial hub. If you’re a wine fanatic, autumn is the perfect time to pay a visit, with Ljubjana tending to go a little crazy for the tipple during this period. St Martin’s Day (a great celebration of wine) and the Slovenian Wine and Culinary Festival both take place in November, so wrap up warm, enjoy a glass of Slovenia’s delicious signature wine and take in the stunning autumnal scenery in this fairy-tale city.
The summer months may be the peak travel season in Iceland, but autumn is still a fantastic time to visit Reykjavik. In September and October you’ll benefit from less tourist footfall, yet the weather is still favourable and most roads remain accessible. With leaves changing colours, rainbows set against a dazzling blue sky, colourful berries in abundance and amazing sunsets to be awestruck by, there’s a whole host of amazing things to see and do during your time here. The Northern Lights start making their first appearance in early September, so it’s a great time to come and spot this wondrous sight as darker nights set in. Film buffs should visit while the annual Reykjavik International Film Festival is held, which takes place this year from September 27 – October 7. Of course, there’s no forgetting the city’s thermal pools and spas for a spot of warm outdoor swimming, whatever the weather.
Budapest glows with autumn’s golden lights as the city becomes awash in colour. Visit City Park to see beautiful scarlet leaves, watch the white turrets of Fishermen’s Bastion gleam under the late afternoon light and take in the waterfront Parliament building as the setting sun burnishes its surface. As temperatures begin to cool the city’s famous outdoor baths are even more of a delight, while quirky bars and wine cellars will draw you in on an evening. By the time autumn comes around, the summer crowds have dispersed and you are free to roam stunning parks and museums at leisure without fighting for space. Visit in October to catch the CAFe Budapest Festival, which takes place this year from 5-21 October. Forty venues across the city play host to theatre, live music, avant-garde performances, art exhibitions and more.
Autumn is the ideal time to embrace the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ in the country’s own capital. There’s no equivalent word in English, but the term roughly means ‘creating a cosy atmosphere, drinking and eating with the important people in your life’. As the climate cools, why not explore Copenhagen’s trendy bars and enjoy a craft beer, or escape the sea breeze in the quaint cafes of gorgeous waterfront district Nyhavn? Take a stroll through Tivoli Gardens for vibrant autumnal landscapes and plenty of seasonal fun, with Hallowe’en (October 12 – November 4) bringing spooky decorations and countless pumpkins and, two weeks later, the Christmas season beginning with fairy lights and wooden chalets selling handcrafted goods, decorations and seasonal foods. One of Copenhagen’s autumn highlights is Culture Night on October 12, when hundreds of museums, churches and other institutions open up behind-the-scenes areas and host special activities, talks and exhibitions for visitors to enjoy.