Is Fall the Best Time to Travel to Europe?

I’ve had this suspicion for awhile, and after our October trip to Spain, France and Italy I’m almost convinced it’s true that Autumn is the best time to travel to Europe. Traveling during shoulder season is the easiest way to avoid many of the nuisances that plague visitors to Europe.

Still, if you travel during fall you may run into off-season related issues. Weather can be unpredictable and attractions closed. There IS a reason so many people visit Europe in the summer but is it really the best time to travel to Europe?

So here are my arguments, pro and con, on why fall may be the best time to travel to Europe! 

PRO: Crisp Pretty Weather

Autumn Colors May Be the Number One Reason Fall Is the Best Time to Travel to Europe

Autumn in Europe can be just beautiful, with warm golden light and clear crisp skies. The foliage is lit up in brilliant yellows and oranges. You can wear light jackets and cute scarves and it’s not freezing at night just yet. It’s the perfect weather for strolling around pedestrian friendly cities like Florence or Rome (where winter comes just a little bit later).

CON: Cold, Rainy Weather

Rainy Weather is a Con for Fall - The Best Time to Travel to Europe

On the flip side, fall weather can just as easily turn dark damp and cold. It rains more in the fall, and if you’re someone who gets rained on quite often (ahem), this can be a bummer. My impression of Prague is still dismal, in part due to the cold, damp November weather that surrounded it.

PRO: Less Crowds

The Best Time to Travel to Europe? The Fall Offers Less Crowds!

This is probably the biggest plus for me. Visiting popular parts of Europe during the summer sometimes feels like visiting Disneyland: sweaty, crowded and with lines that defy belief. If you’re planning to Eurail, seats book up fast. In the fall, the crowds start to thin out and cities start to look like, well cities, again instead of theme-park rides. After a year spent living in London I determined that Fall is absolutely the best time to sightsee without losing your mind.

CON: Closures and Construction

Closures and Construction May Be A Reason Why Fall is Not the Best Time to Travel to Europe

On the flip side, because there are fewer tourists, many local businesses use the off-season to do their own improvements. Many attractions have shorter hours or may not even run at all. In Genoa, in October we wasted a whole morning trying to take a scenic boat ride before realizing they’d stopped running September 30. Total bummer.

PRO: Possible Deals

Best Time to Travel to Europe? Fall offers the possibility of deals!

Because it’s not as popular, fall is rife for finding some great discounts on travel in Europe. Flights are cheaper (particularly if you travel over Thanksgiving- I have a lot of opinions about that). You can score great deals, even on a fancy hotel like the Kempinski Corvinus Budapest (Budapest is one of the prettiest cities to visit in the fall). It won’t make Europe cheap, but it’s certainly just a little more affordable.

What do you think, is fall the best time to travel to Europe?


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Is Fall the Best Time to Travel to Europe

This post was written by me, brought to you by Kempinski.

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15 thoughts on “Is Fall the Best Time to Travel to Europe?”

  1. Absolutely! Fall is my favorite time of year and Europe is my favorite destination. I’ve tried to convince people to go to Europe in the Fall for the reasons that you mentioned. I’ve eaten written a guide to the 5 best reasons to go in the Fall and where you should visit.

    I’ve taken numerous trips to Europe and almost every one of them has been in the Fall.

  2. We just missed a few fall foliages but I’d say this time of year is a pro for us. Sure it’s colder but there’s something about the cold and Europe that makes it extra special.

  3. Never been to Europe in the fall, but I suspect it’s just beautiful and less crowded, as you said. Makes for great photos too with the leaves changing color. Need to go back, it has been almost 4 years since I’ve been to mainland Europe.

  4. We do most of our traveling in the Spring and Fall for the lower costs and thinner crowds. Since we travel mainly through Europe, I prefer the autumn months for the crisp, cool weather and fall colors. And for the change in food menus. In the fall months many places start serving hearty regional soups and stews with thick slices of delicious bread…sometimes, it’s all about the food 😉

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