10 beautiful cities in Europe to admire fall foliage
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Fall is finally on its way, and if you’d like to admire the changing colors of the leaves in an idyllic, magical setting, Europe is the place to be. The land of castles, scenic canals, ancient forests and truly beautiful city parks, these European capitals are great places to spend a week exploring and taking in the stunning sights of the season.
Here are the best destinations to admire the changing leaves in Europe this season.
Madrid’s Retiro Park is already one of the most gorgeous city parks in Europe, but even more so during fall. The overhang along the Crystal Palace — a towering, regal structure made almost entirely of glass — is particularly stunning, as you can admire the leaves through the glass ceiling as the sunlight streams in.
While the lowlands and the highlands have some seriously stunning foliage, it’s pretty incredible to see the Edinburgh castle surrounded by hues of orange, yellow and ochre. The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is especially charming during autumn, when many of its 3,500 trees are transformed into a blaze of color.
Wandering along the tree-lined Aare River is perfect for leaf-peeping. And if you want a real woodsy feel, visit the Botanical Gardens of Bern. The trails weave through five acres of land, covered with thousands of trees and rare Swiss flora of all kinds. A stroll over the Kornhaus bridge gives you sky-high views of all the orange and red hues of the season.
Loire Valley, France
If you prefer to combine château visits with autumn foliage while sipping light, fruity Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé wines, take a road trip through France’s Loire Valley. The rolling hills, picturesque manors and sprawling vineyards are truly a sight to see this season. Make a stop at the Domaine du Chaumont-Sur-Loire to enjoy the autumn festival (every day from Oct. 19 to Nov. 3) to enjoy seasonal activities, plus wicker-making workshops and elaborate autumnal plant scenes.
Autumn is the ideal time to indulge in some of Gdansk’s famous craft beer — a prize you can award yourself after walking the entire 25-acre Oliwa Park, filled with more autumn shades than you might have imagined existed. For panoramic views of the Motlawa River, the rooftops of Old Town and autumn leafage, take a ride on the AmberSky, the 50-meter-high ferris wheel.
Getting there: Wizz Air and Ryanair both fly nonstop from London to Gdansk (GDN) from a few London hubs.
Black Forest, Germany
The site of many a Grimm fairy tale, the Black Forest is as mystical as it seems: endless, rolling hills, rushing rivers and trees galore. While many of the trees will change color, these reddish, yellowed tones are juxtaposed with the deep evergreen of the fir and pine varieties, making for a truly breathtaking natural landscape. The Triberg Waterfalls shouldn’t be missed, as well as the picturesque towns of Calw and Freiburg.
Lake District, United Kingdom
You don’t have to stray too far from London to check out some of the most beautiful autumn colors in all of Europe. The Lake District was recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ll avoid the summer crowds by visiting in autumn, which is an added bonus. Besides the medley of yellow, orange, red and brown foliage, make sure to look down at the red toadstools and fall fruits like crab apples or dark purple berries.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Considering you can’t swim in the 16 lakes anyway, autumn is the most pleasant (and much less crowded and cheaper) time to visit Plitvice National Park. Seeing the rushing waterfalls surrounded by the autumnal tints of red, yellow and orange, as well as the changing foliage reflected in the lake water is truly a sight to behold. Make sure to spend time in both the upper and lower lakes, and go before November, when the higher lakes close for the winter season.
Besides viewing the extensive mixture of copper, orange and red leaves gleaming through the morning fog, you can really go right into the fire of autumn by picking mushrooms in the Piedmont region, as well as other seasonal activities like chestnut picking and wine harvest festivals. Don’t miss the 89th edition of the International White Truffle Festival in Alba (weekends between Oct. 5 and Nov. 24), which features tastings, markets, parades and plenty of fall fun.
Known as the Venice of Belgium, Brugge is picturesque in any season. But autumn is especially quaint, as the trees and plants in the Medieval city begin to change color, and you can warm up afterward near a fireplace with hot cocoa in hand. (Brugge is known for its delicious chocolate.) You can see the city and changing leaves during a scenic canal tour, which carries you over the water past secret gardens and beautiful bridges.
Featured photo by DieterMeyrl/Getty Images.
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