I know it’s hard to imagine with the heat waves hitting Europe and the U.S. right now, but it’s time to start planning those Fall travel trips for 2022.
I know what you’re thinking “it’s still summer, and I just got my credit card bill from Greece. It can’t POSSIBLY be time to plan where to travel in Fall.” I get it; these thoughts swirl around my head as I plan my September trip to Europe; however, we’re both wrong. Now is the perfect time to plan that Fall 2022 trip. Luckily, I have some Fall travel destinations for you to consider!
But first, maybe you’re skeptical about shoulder season travel. After all, your image is rain-soaked cobblestones, gray skies, and frigid air – to be honest, I’m from the Pacific Northwest, so that sounds perfect to me, but I digress. While some of these concerns are valid (depending on the person), I have some thoughts.
One thing to know about me: I love Fall travel. Fall travel is the best. Yes, you have to deal with ~weather~ in a way you don’t typically have to during the summer, but is that really such a big deal? If you’re okay with taking a chance on a slight drizzle and some grey skies, there are some benefits to leaving summer to the influencers and embracing the slightly chillier months. So let’s start there.
Why travel in the Fall
Shoulder Season Travel
Shoulder season travel means traveling in the off-season, typically Spring and Fall. For the most part, you’ll avoid the hordes of American and European tourists in typically busy areas. It’ll also give you a unique (at least from my perspective) experience of the location that most others don’t see. It’s a great way to feel like you have a city (like, say, Venice) to yourself.
Is the hygge hype over? If you’re not familiar with the term, hygge is the Danish word for coziness and comfort. To me, it perfectly describes Fall travel. All I want when the air starts to turn crisp is to find a cozy pub or bar, hang out, and chat with those around me. When I travel in the Fall, I lean into places that give off this vibe instead of avoiding them. And unlike in Summer, there isn’t pressure to always be doing something, so it’s perfectly acceptable to hunker down once the sun dips below the horizon.
This one will definitely be considered a hot take, but I prefer shoulder season weather, particularly the Fall. Changing leaves, crisp air, a little rain here and there – perfection. I hate being hot, and I hate being sweaty. So, layer up, and you’ll be happy. And if the fear is a little rain, embrace it. Get some moody pics and enjoy the transformation of the city.
Fall travel is good for a budget. Things tend to be cheaper in the Fall (hotels, Airbnb, restaurants – you name it). It’s always been true that traveling outside of typically busy times will save your wallet. This is especially true if you fly with credit card points. Many airlines still have their mile redemption rates based on peak/off-peak timeframes. October and November are usually off-peak, so you can get some crazy good deals – Aer Lingus is a good example.
Hearty stews, buttery pasta, roasted gourds…is there anything better than food in the Fall? It’s pure decadence at its finest. The Fall truffle festival in Alba, Italy, is a great example. They actually just shave fresh truffles right over your pasta – incredible.
Many restaurants all over try to maintain a harvest calendar, meaning they pick local produce and build their menus around what’s available. What you eat in Summer will differ from what you eat in the Fall. This can also be true for drinks! Maybe you won’t crave that refreshingly cold Aperol Spritz (though I’m not going to lie, I definitely would), but instead will lean towards warming cocktails like a hot toddy. The vibe changes, and sometimes you just have to lean in.
Potential cons (or opportunities? Unclear)
I should mention some potential drawbacks. Honestly, the only one I can think of is that sometimes things you want to see are closed or have more limited hours. More planning might need to happen when traveling in the Fall, but if you know that and prepare, you’ll be fine.
And alright, I guess that moody weather could technically be a drawback if you happen to get super unlucky. But I’ve only had a day or so of light rain at most during my Fall travel.
Fall Travel Destinations Ideas
So, where should you go to get the full benefit of fall travel? Here are some suggestions (in no particular order):
Just south of Strausburg (about a 1 hour train ride), Colmar is a small fairytale-looking town in the Alsace region of France. Strausburg usually draws most of the Christmas market crowds, so Colmar flies a bit under the radar. But because it’s still in the Alsace (formerly Germain territory), you still have plenty of that classic Germanic Christmas charm. And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of glühwein to go around.
All of Ireland. Is there anything better than sitting in a pub next to a fire with a Guinness in hand? I don’t think so. When Skylar and I first started dating, we went to Ireland for Thanksgiving, which was perfect. It wasn’t too rainy in late November, but it was cozy. We went to Kinsale, Galway, and Dublin. Would highly recommend it for those cozy vibes.
For all the same reasons as Ireland, but swap Guinness for some Scotch.
Paris in the Fall is its own unique, amazing experience. For one, there are way fewer tourists running around so you can enjoy the city. For two, the Autumn colors are beautiful. It feels peaceful in a way it just doesn’t during any other part of the year. We also didn’t have to wait at restaurants and found ourselves in some nice intimate wine bars.
Another city that leans in nicely to the colder months. Find a corner pub and hang out. Unlike other times of the year, you’ll feel more locals around you as you venture around. Fall doesn’t change how big the city is (it’s so massive), but it does change how you experience it.
Piedmont is the perfect Fall getaway. It’s made up of small villages perched on hilltops or nestled into valleys, surrounded by vineyards turning orange and red with Fall colors. There’s also a truffle festival in Alba, which, while expensive, is worth it. Another benefit of Piedmont in the Fall is their wine. In Piedmont, Barolo is king, and for those who don’t know (I didn’t until I had my first glass), Barolo is a deep red wine, which is exactly what you want to counteract the cool weather. Another benefit is the snow-capped mountain views. One thing to note is that because it’s the shoulder season, not everything is open, especially on Sundays/Mondays, so just something to keep in mind.
It’s always been my dream to go to Venice, so when Scott’s Cheap Flights told us about a deal from Seattle to Venice, we jumped at the chance. And I must say, I can’t imagine seeing Venice at any other time. We basically had it to ourselves, with the weekend only bringing in marginally more people. Even major tourist spots like Piazza San Marco and Saint Mark’s Basilica were empty. I can’t imagine visiting in the height of summer with crowds packing you into the tight alleyways.
One final note, and this is my biggest travel secret, but if you’ve read this far, I might as well share it. Travel during Thanksgiving, especially if you live in the U.S. It’s far easier to travel from Washington to Europe than Washington to New York. You’ll deal with fewer delays and less frustration. And to make it all the more accessible, travel with just a backpack. Rain-soaked cobblestones and rollaboards do not mesh. Trust me.
Did I miss any fall destinations? Let me know in the comments!