Skip to content

Why visiting Europe in fall is perfect for families

Aug. 23, 2022
10 min read
child plays in leaves near Eiffel Tower
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Traveling this summer has proved to be busy, chaotic and expensive. Your vacation plans may have been affected, or even postponed, by flight cancelations, rising gas prices, airport lines or lost luggage.

Either way, if you want to plan a family vacation to Europe, autumn promises to bring travel demand and prices more in line with pre-pandemic levels.

Not only is autumn a much calmer time to travel, but fall is one of the best times to visit many European destinations, especially when you have the kids in tow. So, leave that summer travel chaos behind and head to Europe in September, October or November this year. Here are some of the best reasons to do so.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Many European destinations are less crowded

In 2019, one-third of the total tourism nights booked by Europeans occurred during July or August, according to Eurostat. Europeans typically take their vacations in July or August, when the lack of air conditioning and laid-back summer work culture usually sends locals straight to the beaches of Spain or the mountains of Italy — sometimes for weeks at a time.

A family explores Rossio Square in Lisbon in fall. (Photo by Marko Geber/Getty Images)

Come autumn, most locals are back to school and work. This leaves sunny beach destinations, charming villages and tourist-friendly areas of European capitals relatively crowd-free (save for a holiday weekend here or there).

Related: European cities best experienced in fall

Europe is more affordable (using points and cash)

European inflation rates peaked this summer but, still, traveling in autumn can save you money. Besides the fact that the dollar and euro are near equal, hotel prices are lower during the autumn season. For example, the Park Hyatt Milan in Italy costs approximately 800 euros ($807) per night in October but more than 1,000 euros ($1,009) per night in July.

The same often applies to points rates. The AC Nice, a Marriott hotel along the French Riviera, costs about 500 euros ($505) or 54,000 points per night in summer July and August; however, it costs about 300 euros ($303) or 50,000 points per night in October, and less than 200 euros ($202) or 44,000 points per night in November.

Nice, France, is quieter and more affordable during the fall. (Photo by RubyRascal/Getty Images)

According to TPG reporter Sean Cudahy, flights to destinations like London, Greece and Paris on Google Flights were hundreds (and in some cases, even thousands) of dollars cheaper in fall months than they were in the summer.

If you're planning to use points for family award tickets, many autumn dates fall on European carriers' off-peak dates — even Thanksgiving is off-peak, which we'll discuss further down.

For example, the entire month of November is off-peak on British Airways — including Thanksgiving dates. The second half of September, as well as many dates within October and November, are considered off-peak on Iberia; peak dates for the Spanish air carrier range from June 15 to Aug. 31 (if you can even find award availability then, anyway).

Iberia has many off-peak fall dates, including Thanksgiving. (Screenshot from Iberia)

The weather is still pleasant in many destinations

While every day might not be a beach day in southern Spain or the Greek Islands, it's still possible to enjoy sunshine and mild temperatures well into October and even November in many Mediterranean destinations.

Summer in Europe is often swelteringly hot, which can make family travel — especially with babies and small children — overwhelming; it may even be dangerous for elderly travelers like grandparents.

It's no longer just July and August that are scorchers. Heat waves in Europe this past June reached dangerously high levels. Norway recorded its highest-ever temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit — more than double the average June temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit, according to BBC. Countries such as Slovenia and Croatia also broke temperature records, while Spain and Italy saw temperatures as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit. Even Germany and France reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stintino Beach during a summer heat wave in Sardinia. (Photo by Dallas Stribley/Getty Images)

Lacking proper air conditioning and infrastructure, many countries were (and still are) unprepared to deal with such extreme heat. This can make Europe a seemingly uncomfortable (and even life-threatening) place for you and your family to have a summer vacation, especially if you're sensitive to heat. It can even ruin a trip — no one wants to tour the Colosseum under the burning hot sunnor climb the Eiffel Tower in the scorching heat. This is especially true if you have kids with you who might complain.

An empty Stintino Beach in Sardinia, Italy, in autumn. (Photo by kekko73/Getty Images)

This is why traveling in months like September, October and November can be ideal alternatives. While you might experience rain in certain destinations, autumn travel can still be the best time to walk around cities or see tourist attractions without breaking a sweat; you might even get to see some fall foliage, too.

Enjoy coveted autumn harvests, festivals and foliage

It's been a long few years without the fun of festivals and large gatherings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, most countries are once again putting on their beloved autumn festivals. This includes well-known celebrations like Munich's Oktoberfest and lesser-known events like Paris's teen-friendly, all-night art and culture celebration Nuit Blanche.

Harvest and food festivals are some of the best autumn events to enjoy in Europe. Wine festivals, like Logroño's week-long San Mateo Festival, feature grape-stomping, food fights, wine tasting and parades; taste Svalbard in Norway is the world's northernmost food and drink festival. Alba, Italy, pays homage to its prized truffles during the annual White Truffle Fair .

European festivals and events are more child-friendly than you might think. Oktoberfest has rides and games for kids. Children will even receive special bracelets with their parents' phone numbers in case they get lost.

Most food and wine festivals in countries like Italy, Spain, Greece and France welcome children, even into the wee hours of the night.

Oktoberfest has plenty of rides and games for kids. (Photo by Doug Armand/Getty Images)

Finally, viewing Europe's capital cities, rolling hills and magical forests as the leaves change color showcases much of the continent's lesser-known beauty.

Related: 10 best European cities to admire fall foliage

Fall in Europe is a beautiful time. (Photo by skynesher/Getty Images)

Skip Thanksgiving at home and head abroad instead

Skip the overwhelming family gathering and instead take advantage of those extra vacation days and head to Europe. We recommend taking a few extra days off work or school and adding in both the weekend before and after the holiday. This way, you have more than a week to spend in Europe, and you won't be flying on the busy travel days, such as the Tuesday or Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

As mentioned above, many European carriers offer affordable flights around Thanksgiving because it's not a popular time for European residents to travel. If you're using points, most European carriers mark Thanksgiving as off-peak. For example, a business-class flight on Iberia from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) would cost 50,000 Avios one way during the summer dates (peak dates range from June 15 to Aug. 31). The same flight around Thanksgiving would cost only 34,000 Avios one-way.

If you can't fathom a Thanksgiving without turkey, don't worry. Many larger European cities and capitals have restaurants that offer turkey in honor of the American holiday.

Local cultural offerings can be educational

One of the main reasons families often travel in the summer is simply convenience: The kids are out of school.

Pulling your children out of school for a vacation is a personal choice. However, in many cases, a European destination may be educational and might complement what your child or teen is learning at school. Why learn about the Mona Lisa when you can take your little ones to see it in Paris? Why read about Greek history when you can tour the Acropolis in Athens?

A family at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Nadezhda1906/Getty Images)

While we don't condone pulling kids out of school for long periods, a couple of days (that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars on travel) might not make a big difference in the grand scheme of their education.

This is another excellent reason to consider traveling around Thanksgiving. If you select just the right dates, your children may only have to miss a day or two of school.

In most cases, it's easier to take younger children out of school, but regardless of age or grade, there are some things to think about before doing so.

These are the things to check if you're considering pulling your child(ren) out of school for a vacation:

  • State laws: If you take your kids out of school for long periods of time (usually, this doesn't apply to just a few days), you could face a fine for truancy.
  • School policies: Each school has a different attendance policy.
  • Timing: What will your child(ren) be missing? Tests? Presentations? Weigh the options.
  • The teacher: Is your teacher supportive of your child missing school and will they help them catch up when they get back?
  • Your child(ren): Will they make up the missed work? Are they doing well enough in school that a few days won't put them behind? Are they capable of doing homework on the plane?

Bottom line

Kids in Europe on a rainy fall day. (Photo by marcduf/Getty Images)

Save money, skip the crowds and avoid intense heat with a family vacation to Europe this autumn. This might mean the kids will miss a day or two of school, and you won't have that coveted yearly summer vacation. However, saving thousands of dollars (or points) and touring European cities in comfortable weather might just make autumn European getaways a new family travel trend.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases