By this time of year, the glow from your summer vacation is likely starting to wear off and you’re dreaming about your next trip. Doesn’t getting away from it all sound nice? Whether you book a last-minute getaway or you’re starting early on planning a trip a year away, fall is a very pleasant and increasingly popular time for travel. If you’re wondering about the perks of planning your next trip to Europe in the fall, we can help with that.
Less Crowded Means Less Rushed
We hate to break it to you, but you’re not the only person who has their sights set on visiting that iconic destination of your dreams. While popular tourist sites will likely never be deserted unless something is very wrong, heavy crowds can mean you won’t get to savor your time at your favorite attractions. Service at restaurants may be a little less luxurious. You might feel shoved through famous museums, galleries, and historic sites without really being able to take in the sites. Parks don’t exactly feel like serene, unspoiled nature. And the pressure to keep walking on crowded city streets is real.
If you’re looking for a slower approach with time to take plenty of pictures and rests, you might prefer traveling in “shoulder season." Plus, you might find tour guides take more time to answer your questions with fewer people in the group—and help you learn more of the local languages. It’s a more personalized experience all around!
Sweat Less, Walk More
This one really depends on where you’re going, but in many parts of the world, fall is simply a more pleasant time to be outside. You’ll feel much more comfortable walking around in crisp weather than sweltering summer heat. That means you save money on transportation and get a better view of the city on foot.
Unfortunately, intense heat waves have cropped up much more frequently these past several years, and that’s true even in places you wouldn’t normally expect to have very hot summers. This past summer, heatwaves brought the hottest recorded temperatures in European history… coinciding with a huge influx of American tourists. Yikes!
If you’re traveling within the USA, you can enjoy air-conditioned hotels and indoor destinations in the summer, but you can’t always expect the same amenities in Europe. Air conditioning is much less popular in many parts of Europe than it is here. Only 3% of German homes and under 5% of French and English homes have air conditioning. What many tourists don’t realize is that this is true for many hotels and tourist attractions, too. You might find on a pleasant balmy day that it’s actually much hotter and stuffier inside your hotel room or that big museum you were planning to visit all day. If you prefer cooler temperatures, traveling in the fall might be for you.
In many European cities and towns, fall is a big time for harvest celebrations and festivals. Being part of a local tradition really adds some extra spice to your travel itinerary. Probably the most famous fall festival in Europe is Oktoberfest—but with one caveat. If you show up in Munich in mid-October expecting Bier and Bratwurst, you’ll likely be disappointed.
Despite the name, Oktoberfest celebrations kick off in late September and end on the first Sunday of October. Over 6 million people show up for the festivities each year! Oktoberfest started as a celebration of a royal wedding: King Ludwig I’s marriage to Princess Therese in 1810. That’s why the meadow where it takes place is called Theresienwiese (Therese’s meadow) today and why locals call Oktoberfest “Wiesn.” The first fest was such a success that they decided to do it again, and here we are 113 years later!
Every September, Barcelona is home to a huge parade and festival called Les Festes de la Mercè in honor of the city’s patron saint! In addition to all the trappings you might expect, like spectacular parade floats, food vendors, and art exhibitions, there are iconic human towers called Castellers and a fire run!
Remember, remember the 5th of November. On that day—often the weekend before or after—England celebrates Guy Fawkes Day or Bonfire Night. What began with burning effigies of attempted royal assassin Guy Fawkes has turned into a festive occasion full of elaborate fireworks displays, food, drink, music, and sometimes even carnival attractions. Several parks and sporting complexes in and around London host big fireworks shows for tourists!
And don’t forget the iconic Christmas markets and lights that pop up in towns across the world starting in November!
Save on Travel, Splurge on Experience
Traveling in the fall is often cheaper than peak summer season. Not only will you often find more affordable flights and hotels, they also won’t book up as fast, giving you more options. That said, demand for travel to Europe is still high this fall, so you might not see the extreme savings you may have seen in the past. Even so, saving a few dollars here and there can make for a more pleasant travel experience. Traveling slightly off-peak might allow you to fly at a more convenient time or take a more direct flight with less of a frustrating layover. You might get a more conveniently located hotel or a room with better views. (Money-saving tip: speaking a little of the local language will also help you get better deals and recommendations from locals. We’ve heard rumors of restaurants’ English language menus sporting mysteriously higher prices!)
With that money you save on travel, you’ll have more cash in hand to lavish on your experiences. Go to that nice restaurant. Buy that souvenir you had your eye on. Take the in-depth guided tour instead of the audio tour. Get the Instagrammable dessert. You’ve saved for it!
The Bounty of the Season
Fall is harvest season and that’ll be reflected in the food and drink when you visit Europe! If you’re interested in wine tours, fall might be the most magical time of year to visit Europe. You’ll be able to witness the most famous wineries in the world during the fall harvest. Italy’s wine country is especially popular in the autumn, and the view of the fall colors from the vineyards is truly something special to behold. (And yes, depending on where you’re visiting, you might even get to take part in some traditional grape stomping.)
Harvest season also means hunting season in France, so if you’d like to try local game meats like venison or wild boar, this is one of the best times to do it. But many people across Europe are hunting for something a little less lively this time of year: mushrooms! If you don’t get the hype, maybe you haven’t tried locally foraged mushrooms. One very popular fall pastime in Spain is foraging for wild mushrooms! Over 2,000 kinds of edible mushrooms grow in Spain, and tourists can even go on mushroom hunting tours with professional guides.
If you are booking a big international trip for next fall, that gives you almost a year to brush up on your language skills. Whether you’re a total beginner or have just gotten a little rusty, we have the perfect plan for you. Get started on your language learning journey with Cricket eLearning!