Autumn is the perfect time to travel to many popular destinations around the world. It’s a season of change, and as the temperatures dip in the Northern Hemisphere and summer approaches in the south, kids head back to school. Shoulder season begins in many countries when the tourism boom of July and August dies down and prices lower accordingly. However, to make the most of a fall vacation, it’s worth getting off the worn tourist track and discovering some of these beautiful, lesser traveler destinations.
10 Scottish Highlands, Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland, gets a lot of attention from international travelers, but during the fall months, it’s worth venturing outside this historic city to the Scottish Highlands. The rolling hills of Scotland’s countryside transform during autumn, specifically during October. The leaves change color, and stunning fall foliage is the highlight of an exploration of this scenic part of the country. Rent a van and drive through the highlands on an epic road trip or take a train trip for leisurely views.
9 Great Smoky Mountains National Park, TN, USA
There are many national parks within the US that are popular among travelers year round; however, in the fall months, the East Coast gets attention for its gorgeous foliage. Specifically, New England is a busy destination from September to November each year. If travelers are seeking stunning fall colors in the eastern USA without the crowds, they can consider exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. This park is on the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and even houses a portion of the famous Appalachian Trail.
8 Lombok, Indonesia
If autumn colors aren’t a requisite for travelers looking for an off-beat fall destination, look no further than Lombok, Indonesia, for the perfect getaway. Although Bali gets all the glory on Instagram, Lombok is just a ferry ride away and offers more peaceful beaches than crowded Bali. September is one of the best months of the year to visit because there is less rainfall and fewer tourists.
7 Fujikawaguchiko, Japan
Japan is a popular travel destination in fall; the scorching humidity of summer ends in September, and the leaves on the trees start to change color heading into October. While Kyoto is one of the most famous parts of the country for its crimson leaves and beautiful autumn landscapes, travelers can enjoy a less crowded experience by heading to the small town of Fujikawaguchiko in the Fuji Five Lakes area. This spot offers unmatched views of Mount Fuji and, framed by colorful leaves, is the perfect time to take a stunning photo of the mountain.
6 Kraków, Poland
While everyone is spending their fall vacation in Prague, the Czech Republic, or Budapest, Hungary, travelers who want a taste of Eastern Europe off the beaten path should head to Kraków, Poland. This historic city is near the border with the Czech Republic and is best known for its well-preserved old town. Fall in Poland begins in late September and is one of the most beautiful times to explore the country.
Samoa is an island country in the South Pacific and is a gorgeous blue water destination for travelers looking to escape chilly fall temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere. September and October are some of the best months of the year to visit Samoa because the weather is drier and the humidity is low. Although Samoa doesn’t get as much attention as Fiji or Tahiti, it is in a similar part of the world and offers the same stunning turquoise waters, lush greenery, and cascading waterfalls without crowds.
4 Bavaria, Germany
Heading to Western and Central Europe during the fall is a great option because the summer tourism boom is over, and prices are lower. The weather is also cooler and more bearable than the intense summer heat. Travelers heading to Germany should consider venturing outside major cities like Berlin and Munich to fully appreciate the incredible autumn scenery. Bavaria, in the country’s southeast, has epic mountains, hilly landscapes, castles, quaint fairytale towns, and peaceful lakes to explore.
3 Peterborough, ON, Canada
Canada is known for its gorgeous fall colors, specifically in the province of Ontario on the eastern side of the country. Travelers can fly into Toronto and then rent a car to drive north, away from the busy tourist areas, to Peterborough and the Kawarthas. This region of the province is breathtaking in fall, with red, orange, and yellow maple leaves as far as the eye can see. To see the fall foliage at its peak, travelers should time their visit to this area between late September and late October.
2 Akureyri, Iceland
While many travelers fly to Reykjavík and visit the popular sites near the city, like the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle, not everyone traveling to Iceland makes their way north to Akureyri. This city is known as the Capital of the North in Iceland and is a beautiful destination year-round, but especially in the fall when temperatures are crisp, and there is a chance of spotting the northern lights. Visitors can drive on Iceland’s famous ring road to reach the city and enjoy less busy natural wonders of the country, such as Akureyrakirkja (the church in the city center) and the Mývatn hot springs.
1 Belfast, Northern Ireland
Belfast is the capital of Northern Ireland, and although its southern sister, Dublin, gets more tourist attention, it’s worth visiting, especially in the fall. The beautiful city is located next to the River Lagan and boasts historic architecture, quaint walking streets, and a lively pub scene. Autumn in Northern Ireland is enjoyable thanks to the changing leaves, longer nights, and cozy sweater weather. Longer nights mean more time to bar hop and explore the city’s nightlife.