Autumn is a great time to get away for a final blast of sunshine not too far from home. Not only have the crowds thinned and real life returned, allowing you to find space on the beaches and enjoy the sights without the queues, but midday temperatures have receded – making this the perfect time to don your finest walking shoes and get exploring. Best of all, many hotels slash their rates as soon as the summer crowds head home.
With this in mind, we’ve rounded up the best European destinations to set your flights and sights on for some guaranteed sunshine this season.
Like many others, Italy’s islands offer azure seas, a craggy coastline and scenic views. But they also have a degree of sophistication and style you don’t find anywhere else. This makes luxury Italian island holidays particularly special; no more so than on Sardinia. Steeped in history, with monasteries and castles transcending the ages, Sardinia also offers modern spas, chic shopping and plentiful water sports too.
If all that isn’t enough to tempt you, this season also heralds the world-famous ‘Autunno in Barbagia’. Running from September to December, it will see a series of festivals take place across 27 villages in Barbagia, a mountainous area of inland Sardinia. Streets are transformed into markets, local craftsmen hold workshops, locals throw open their doors – and dining rooms – to visitors, and walks are held through the hills.
The birthplace of Aphrodite, Cyprus is home to dazzling seas, beautiful beaches and endless sunshine — alongside a series of important archaeological sites that dot the island. Many people take holidays in Cyprus for its beaches, but its rugged interior and sleepy villages make it a great destination for walking, cycling and cultural discovery too.
Temperatures continue to be warm and pleasant throughout the autumn months here, and there is little chance of rain. September is also when the baby loggerhead and green turtles hatch from their eggs and take their first tentative steps into the sea. Head to Lara Bay to watch this magical experience for yourself.
The best times to visit Portugal are spring or early autumn, when the crowds are thinner, accommodation prices lower, the winter rainy season is avoided. During these times, temperatures will be warm but not scorching — ideal for exploring the numerous hills of Lisbon.
Away from the scorching heat of the summer months, October’s milder temperatures and sunny days make it the ideal time to get to know Lisbon on foot. Ditch the maps and wander through the medieval streets of Alfama, before visiting Lisbon’s castle. Take the time to explore Lisbon’s neighbourhoods – Alfama, Baixa, Chiado, Bairro Alto and Belém – each has its own feel.
Few places on earth can be considered as evocative of a golden age as Saint-Tropez. A jewel among the coastal towns of the French Riviera, and long popular with the international jet set, Karl Lagerfeld once called it “paradise”, and it remains home to silver screen icon Brigitte Bardot. In a world determined to adapt and redefine itself, Saint-Tropez sits happily frozen in a more elegant time — a beacon of all that is refined along the Côte d’Azur.
While temperatures can still reach the mid-20s in the autumn months, most of the crowds are long gone, leaving behind a more laid-back town. Beaches which are usually packed – such as Plage de Pampelonne and Plage des Salins – are blissfully quiet, as are its posh boutiques and restaurants.
Those who travel to Croatia in October can experience a country settling into the normal rhythms of a life undeformed by tourism. Kids are back in school and parents are back at work. Instead of catering to visitors, many islanders are occupying themselves harvesting grapes and other local products. The best time to visit Dubrovnik is September and October, when temperatures aren’t stifling hot, and most of the cruise ships have abandoned the port.
During this season, Dubrovnik takes on a tranquil, laid back atmosphere — the weather is less humid, the sea is still warm enough for swimming, and accommodation prices drop considerably. Come autumn, Dubrovnik really is the Adriatic at its best.
Autumn is arguably the best season for visiting Seville and its provinces, without having to cope with Spain’s famously extreme summer temperatures. Frequent sunny days and rare rainfalls make it possible to enjoy the city and its landmarks in a comfortable temperature. In autumn, trees feature red and yellow shades: enjoy them while strolling in the Park Maria Luisa, near the magical Plaza de España.
For the gastronomically-minded, autumn and winter are also the best seasons to explore Seville’s local cuisine. The city’s world-famous tapas bars have been emptied of tourists — making reservations (and menu prices) far more appealing!
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