Top 7 European Destinations to visit this Fall

Just because summer is coming to an end, doesn’t mean the travel bug goes away. With the start of the fall semester, flights across the Atlantic traditionally drop in price. So why not take a jaunt to Portugal? Isn’t this the right time to try out Prague? Grab your camera and get ready to create memories for a lifetime, as travelcuts has found the top seven European destinations to visit this fall.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam offers so much more than its Red Light District and full-service cafés, especially in the fall. Bright row houses border an elaborate canal system, leading to world-renowned art, expansive parks and inspiring churches. Following the busy summer season, expect travel deals and shorter lineups for attractions. October can be sunny with minimal rain, but also brisk and wet (sometimes for days). Seek out coffee shops and bars en route to Museumplein (the Museum District) for works from Van Gogh to Rembrandt and Vermeer. On the perfect fall day, visit the sprawling Vondelpark, just southwest of the city center. With English-style gardens, ponds, lawns and people, it is a window into local life. For the best photos, climb centuries-old churches Zuiderkerk, Westerkerk and Oude Kerk, Amsterdam’s oldest building (c. 1306), for a panoramic view of the city and its canals.

Bruges, Belgium

Just an hour outside of Brussels by train, travellers will find one of the most picturesque, well-maintained Medieval-era towns in Western Europe. Bruges is often likened to a fairytale setting, and for chocolate and beer lovers, the description couldn’t be more fitting. Cobblestone streets are lined with canals, which are overlooked by flat row houses, and backed by mountainous churches. The Church of Our Lady Bruges and St. Salvator’s Cathedral are two gothic buildings which seem to touch the stratosphere and are almost incomprehensible. For the brave and energetic, the Belfort tower’s 366-step ascent provides unparalleled views over the town, with the Markt square and the neighbouring Burg square below. This fall destination is worth capturing, from the morning train until nightfall lights illuminate Bruges’ unreal structures.

Dublin, Ireland

Dublin has become a popular European destination largely because of its lively nightlife, culture and extremely hospitable locals. The fall is the perfect time to explore the Irish capital as there’s no shortage of events. For starters, Dublin Culture Night and Open House Dublin take place in September and October respectively, allowing free access to events at museums, galleries and concert halls. In terms of the arts, the Dublin Theatre Festival, Fringe Festival, and the popular Bram Stoker Festival all take place in the fall as well. In addition to the crowds and culture, visitors can take in the changing fall colours with visits to St. Stephen’s Green, the National Botanic Gardens and Phoenix Park to watch as the greens shift to orange in trademark Irish fashion.

Hvar Town, Croatia

This Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea offers some of the most picturesque, serene and unspoiled views. For sea lovers and hikers alike, the main harbour is a hub of activity for squid fishing, strolling by ancient walls, and notable nightlife, while inland fields and southern cliffs hold a charm and allure all their own. In October, interior grapevines become a darker hue of purple, as wild lavender fields begin to turn silver from violet, rivaling those of southern France. Some favourite historical sites within the Old Town include Hvar Cathedral, St. Stephen Square, and the Hvar Castle, which offers the best views of the harbour. For a bonus site outside of Hvar Town, the island’s oldest village, Starigrad, has ancient foundations, blue waters and pebbly beaches.

Lisbon, Portugal

One of the closest European nations to North America, Portugal’s coastline is studded with destinations brimming with beaches, beauty and cuisine. While Lisbon’s fall weather means less swimming and sunbathing, the fall season allows travelers to walk through wide city streets, public squares and historic centers more freely. Whether you’re imbibing near the water on the patio-lined Praça do Comércio (Commerce Square), traversing the hills in Lisbon’s tram circuit, or bravely climbing by foot to the secret lookout points over Río Tajo, Lisbon is beautiful inside and out. Visitors would be wise to go inland for the most authentic cuisine, like grilled chorizo, squid risotto and other seafood wonders. A final Lisbon must is attending a fado show to hear the songs of one heartbroken woman, accompanied by a guitar-playing trio and plenty of port (often in a locked tavern).

Prague, Czech Republic

Known as the City of a Hundred Spires, the Czech capital has two very appealing offerings for visitors: walking tours and strong beer. History and architecture enthusiasts will be awed by the density of gothic castles, churches and cathedrals. For early risers, Prague’s most picturesque site is Charles Bridge at dawn. Arrive before street vendors and tourists jockey for position overlooking the auburn Vltava River. For history-hungry travelers, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, dating from the 9th century. Covering the area of 13 football fields, it has housed Bohemian Kings, Roman Emperors and Czechoslovakian presidents, and now contains the National Gallery collection of baroque and mannerism art works. Finally, reward your efforts at the 550-yeard old U Medvidku Beer Hall. Whether with a Pilsner Urquell, a Budwiesier Budvar, or the infamous X-Beer 33, drink up Czech history slowly (it’s a lot to digest).

Rome, Italy

They say you won’t see all of Rome in a day, but it’s possible (if you use all 24 hours). The massive city is the ultimate sightseeing destination in Europe, as accessible by cab as it is by foot. Major attractions include the Colosseum and the ruins of the Roman Forum, illustrating the magnitude of the ancient Roman Empire. Beyond the ruins, and with grandeur intact, attractions like the Pantheon (House of Gods), St. Peter’s Basilica and the museums of Vatican City are also popular tourist destinations. Away from the usual sights, the winding, intricate backstreets of Roman neighbourhoods are peppered with statues, fountains and squares. Tourists beware: In Rome, it’s as easy to fall in love with a piece of art as it is with an Italian, and you often can’t take either home.

These European cities are only a few places to visit this fall. There is so much culture to digest across Europe, and for every major city, there are endless experiences waiting only a train stop or a short flight away. If you’re like most travelers, and want to create the ultimate travel souvenir to make your memories last, record your European visit and even see if it wins this year’s travelcuts film fest. Submissions are open until September 16!

James Chung

Vancouver Lifestyle, Cool Tech & Travel Adventure. Email: [email protected]

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