It's no secret that North America does autumn well, and we have previously written about our favourite spots across the continent to admire the 'fall' colours. This time around, we are going to look into the best autumn destinations in Europe that are perfect for a spot of leaf-peeping...
Douro Valley, Portugal
When: Late October Onwards
Take a trip down the Douro River in a beautifully restored boat from the 1950s to admire the views of the riverbanks that become a canvas of reds, browns and oranges at this time of year. The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site, so you know you're in for a treat with the scenery no matter the season. When you've had your fill of beauty on the deck, cosy up inside for a spot of cheese and wine tasting; as autumn days go, this is a hard one to beat. What makes Portugal one of the best autumn destinations in Europe is that the temperature is still lovely and warm at this time of year, and far more comfortable than the stifling heat of the summer months.
When: September Onwards
Unsurprisingly, winter is the most popular time to visit Finnish Lapland, after all the region boasts Father Christmas as a resident. But there is also a strong argument to be made for visiting Finnish Lapland in autumn. The forests, which are frosted white in the winter , are a sea of reds, greens, oranges and yellows from September onwards. If you're lucky, you may even get the chance to enjoy an early sighting of the Northern Lights and experience nature showing off every colour of the rainbow.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
When: Mid October Onwards
Lake Bled is a fairytale-like setting all year round with its picturesque castle sitting in the middle of the lake, but combine that with the rustic autumnal shades of the trees that fan out from the shores, and the result is even more special. Take in the scenery from dry land with a walk around the lake or go out on the water in a rowing boat to see the island up close. Combine this with some time in the pocket-sized capital city, Ljubljana, or perhaps some hiking in Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps, for even more spectacular scenery.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
When: Mid September to the end of October
In the summer, visitors flock to Croatia's coast to explore the historic cities and hop between the islands, but when the temperature drops later in the year, head inland to the Plitvice Lakes National Park to enjoy the spectacular autumn foliage in the forests and over the waterfalls. For the full experience, stay in a lovely wood panelled lodge within the national park, and explore the trails that run through the forests past lakes and waterfalls to your heart's content.
When: November Onwards
While the lavender fields take centre stage in Provence during the summer, come autumn the vineyards and surrounding fields are painted in oranges and golds making the region one of our firm favourites when it comes to the best autumn destinations in Europe. It also just so happens to be the top time of year for truffle hunting in the region, which is known for its black truffles that are harvested from November until the middle of March. Around 80% of France's truffles come from Vaucluse in Provence, so you should come across plenty of these tasty treats.
Beyond Europe… Kyoto, Japan
When: Late October until the end of November
The cherry blossom season steals the limelight in Japan, but leaf-peeping in the autumn also draws in the crowds here. There is even a name for it - Momiji-gari (or koyo) - which literally translates as 'hunting red leaves.' From late October, the pale pinks and whites that cover the country in the spring are replaced by swathes of reds, oranges and golds. Some of the best leaf-peeping spots are in Kyoto in the city's numerous temples and gardens, such as Kiyomizudera Temple, which sits on top of a small mountain on the east of Kyoto and has fantastic views over the city - the perfect spot for a panoramic autumnal view. Kyoto Botanical Gardens, with its beautiful array of flowers, is another top spot.