One of the best times to travel to Europe is in the fall. For starters, typically, it is the off-season for most places which means more affordable flights and stays, less crowded attractions, plus the opportunity to explore dream locations like a local. What's more, being able to celebrate the changing of the seasons and marvel at all the picturesque landscapes full of fall foliage European-style is truly a fantastic experience. Of course, some destinations are more suitable for fall travel than others. Thus, to help you plan a downright incredible getaway with all the perks and beauty of autumn, here are ten hidden fall gem destinations in Europe that you should visit this year.
10 Mechelen, Belgium
One hidden fall gem is none other than the charming small town of Mechelen. Located near Brussels and Antwerp, this little Belgian town is simply lovely during the fall season. Travelers should head to this location around September and October for the quintessential fall experience, complete with Belgium beers and waffles. Visitors can take in the stunning architecture, cathedrals, and this town's old-world look and feel. With ample festivals, fewer crowds, and breathtaking foliage, this is definitely an affordable and fun way to do fall.
9 Theth, Albania
Theth is by far one of the prettiest towns in Europe, especially during autumn. A practically untouched landscape not too far from the Albanian Alps, fall is the perfect colorful semi-mountainous region. That said, it is not necessarily the most accessible place to get to—but it is definitely worth the effort. With several attractions that make this city a shoo-in for a UNESCO World Heritage Site, like the Grunas Waterfall and endless scenic hiking trails, this hidden gem is a must for outdoor and fall foliage enthusiasts.
8 Transylvania, Romania
Is it really even fall without a bit of vampire lore and spooky scenery? Enter Transylvania; known for its association with dark foreboding tales, creepy attractions, mythology, and magical roots; this is the perfect destination for some fall fun. Here travelers can explore this dark fairytale destination and appreciate its unspoiled medieval landscapes—full of lush rolling hills, colorful wildflower meadows, seriously ancient oak forests, and imposing gothic castles. Transylvania also has a marvelous mountainous region, quaint cobblestone villages like Brasov or Sibiu, and much more—all of which are simply stunning in the fall.
7 Taormina, Sicily
Located on the island of Sicily, Taormina is a genuine autumn paradise. Here visitors can delight in the incredible foliage and panoramic views from this hilltop town and bask in the amenable Sicilian weather. Besides being downright charming and picturesque, this location's main attraction is the Ancient Greek Theater of Taormina, which is wonderfully preserved and offers explorers some of the most magical seaside views around. A few other fun things to do here in the fall include taking a leisurely stroll down Corso Umberto (the main boulevard), enjoying the medieval architecture, getting a bird's eye view of this city via cable car, and enjoying the art of doing nothing (Dolce far niente).
6 Gdańsk, Poland
Poland is another beautiful fall destination worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. Locals and many world travelers who have had the pleasure of stopping by in the fall boast that this is one of the most beautiful autumns. Of course, visitors only have a small window of time before winter approaches. But if the rumors are true, you definitely don't want to miss out on Poland's "Golden Autumn." One of the best locations to see the life-altering change of the seasons is in the city of Gdańsk. This impressive city (which has been meticulously restored after being practically destroyed in WWII) is full of history, culture, and entertainment. Plus, Gdańsk offers fall lovers a front-row seat for Golden Autumn.
5 Odense, Denmark
Often overlooked by travelers, Odense is a beautiful fall destination that should absolutely be on your travel bucket list. This fairytale town is located on the Island of Funen in Denmark and is home to some fantastic foliage, public gardens, cozy castles, local markets, and historic villages. Plus, the Hans Christian Andersen Museum (and his childhood home) are located in Odense. Hungry travelers can also enjoy fantastic Danish cuisine while taking in all the colorful and rustic sights, sans peak season crowds, of Denmark's third largest city.
4 Wachau Valley, Austria
Austria's cityscape is simply gorgeous during the fall, especially in Vienna and along the Danube River. Nevertheless, for travelers looking for that hidden gem, Wachau Valley, just west of Vienna, is where it is at. Brimming with terraced wine hills, Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its overall physical beauty, vineyards, fortresses, and cultural importance. What's more, in autumn, there are several wine season festivals in this region that are truly delightful. Lower Austria also celebrates Weinherbst or Wine Autumn, which runs till late November. If wine isn't your thing, there is still ample hiking through the golden terraced hills available and stellar cycling along the Danube Cycling Path for outdoor autumn enthusiasts.
3 Agüero, Spain
Located in Spain, Agüero is an incredible little village/town with stunning foliage and amenable weather in the fall. Here, The Pyrenees tower over the region and give this hidden gem an utterly breathtaking backdrop. In addition to all this autumn scenery, Agüero has a wealth of outdoor activities, easy access to the one and only Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Romanesque churches, great architecture, plus delicious cuisine, and an abundance of wineries. So whether you're looking to marvel at the breathtaking views or just enjoy this region without all the craziness of peak season, a trip to Agüero this September is definitely in order.
2 Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
For many travelers, a trip to the Czech Republic usually means a visit to the amazing city of Prague. Though Prague is rather lovely at summer's end, the beloved autumn gem in the Czech Republic is actually Český Krumlov. This fairytale town is a true sight to behold with its golden hues and old-world Bohemia vibes. You can easily explore this quintessential autumn treasure, marvel at all the medieval architecture that seems even more magical this time of year, and relax by the picture-postcard Vltava River—all without the peak season masses.
1 Madeira Islands, Portugal
Finally, located off the northern coast of Africa lies Madeira. An autonomous region of Portugal, where many Europeans go to escape the cooler weather. This little paradise is relatively warm throughout the fall season. But, it is still a wonderful European gem to visit, especially for those looking to catch a glimpse of the autumn sun. Here visitors can enjoy various black volcanic sand beaches, freshly harvested produce, plentiful seafood, nature treks in the world's largest laurel forest, and Madeira wine season, which runs through the end of August till October (or even November in some locations).