For many people, autumn means little more than the end of summer. But if you can get away with it, NOW’s when you should really be getting away! This time around, we show you where autumn is at its very loveliest in the golden months from October to December.
With high season over for another year, it’s exactly the right time to take a holiday! That’s because late season is when a great combination – moderate temperatures, lower prices and (most importantly of all) fewer people – is tempting people to take a break around the world. Hotel rooms are affordable again, and beaches, restaurants and roads aren’t packed with tourists any longer. More than enough reason, in other words, to put off those travel plans until late season. We’ve put together three destinations for you where autumn likes to show its very loveliest side…
City Trip to New York
The Big Apple’s worth visiting at any time of year, obviously. But ‘New York, New York’ is probably at its finest – which is saying something – in autumn. The city is pulsating, full of hustle and bustle, and super-lively. Temperatures from October to November are still pleasantly mild, which makes it just right for a boat trip on the Hudson, out to the Statue of Liberty. Alternatively, if you like things more romantic, you might consider booking a Twilight Tour, and admire the breathtaking, twinkling Manhattan skyline from the water at the moment the sun goes down.
On walks through Central Park, the green lungs of New York City, you’ll see the trees gleaming in their countless shades of red, green and gold at this time of year. It also gets seriously comfortable in the city’s numerous stylish rooftop bars, with views to die for, well-mixed drinks and the cosy feel you need, provided by heating lamps and free blankets. In the Roof Garden Bar up on the roof of the Met – the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art – you have wow! experiences coming at you from all directions, with breathtaking views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline complemented by constantly changing art installations.
If it starts raining, however, then autumn’s also a great time to visit one of the city’s great museums. One of the best at the moment is the Whitney Museum of American Art in the trendy Meatpacking District; the Whitney relocated to an amazing new building and reopened its doors in 2015. As you might expect, of course, national holidays and festivities such as Halloween, but most importantly Thanksgiving, are also pretty special in New York. Be absolutely sure not to miss the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, with us for nearly a century now, when huge crowds go to see the vast balloons, along with the music and parades.
Nowhere is autumn quite so intoxicating in its blaze of colour than in south-eastern Canada and the states of New England, where it’s also known as the Indian Summer. The region is home to over 800 different types of tree (just to give you an idea, Europe has a paltry 51). Unsurprisingly, therefore, when the needles and leaves of all those different species turn purple, vermillion, green, yellow and gold, ready to fall to the ground (‘fall of the leaf’ is where the American word for autumn, ‘fall’, comes from), it’s something you’ll never, ever forget. When you combine this with the fact that temperatures are still comfortably above 20 degrees Celsius and the sky is sunny and clear, the Indian Summer is comparable to our own warm autumn, known as an Altweibersommer.
A great way to do this one is to combine the natural spectacle with a city trip – by flying non-stop from Vienna to Toronto, for example, then setting off on a road trip to Montréal or Quebec. Something else well worth signing up for is a round trip through French-speaking Canada, with its spectacular nature and thrilling, beautiful cities. Whatever else you do, do not miss the world-famous Niagara Falls, just an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Toronto.
If you want to really experience the Indian Summer, however, then probably the best place to do so is in one of the region’s many national parks, such as Algonquin Provincial Park. Here, you can walk for hours (days!) on end, through dense forests, alongside crystal-clear lakes, roaring creeks and beneath towering waterfalls. If you’re lucky, you may see a fox, bear or moose bidding one another goodnight.
City-Trip to Amsterdam
Amsterdam is another one worth a visit year-round, of course – but the Dutch metropolis is also even lovelier in autumn than it is in summer, when it’s packed out by something like three tourists for every local. Autumn’s a particularly nice time to take a canal trip around the city centre district, because it’s when the trees lining the legendary waterways are showing off their very loveliest autumn colours. If you like things slightly more unusual, then a burger and beer boat tour or possibly a romantic candlelight canal tour accompanied by cheese and wine might be more your thing.
Even if the weather isn’t quite so inviting, there will be more than enough distractions to take your mind off it. Amsterdam has more than its fair share of top-level museums, like the Rijksmuseum, where Old Masters including Rembrandt and Vermeer are exhibited, the wonderful Van Gogh Museum, and the more sobering Anne Frank Museum. Even if high season is long gone, it’s always best to book museum tickets online to avoid the endless queuing. This can be done quickly and easily at the official Amsterdam info site, and you can get yourself a wide range of great discounts. The Heineken Experience beer museum comes highly recommended (even if you’re not a fan of the amber nectar), and is home to multi-sensory experiences, including a beer tasting.
The district surrounding 9 Straatjes, the nine side-streets around the Herengracht and Keizersgracht, in the western part of the city’s ring of canals, is seriously hip. The 9 Straatjes area is home to a vast array of small, highly individual and very special shops, galleries and bistros – just perfect for a comfortable stroll, and for getting hold of all kinds of cool furnishings, works of art and autumn fashions.
Especially happening amongst Amsterdam’s younger crowd is NDSM Werf, a decommissioned shipyard now home to a growing artists’ community, cool bars, a vast amount of street art, studios and galleries. Free ferries take visitors out to the happening new space every ten minutes from behind Amsterdam’s Centraal railway station. Particularly recommended: check out the locals at the Cafe Norderlicht.
One highlight (in every sense of the word) shows Amsterdam from its brightest, loveliest side. At the Amsterdam Light Festival, which starts on 1 December every year, amazing light installations and gleaming works of art are used to show the canals in very much their best light.
Fancy enriching your autumn this year with an autumn trip? If so, just click here to book your flights to New York, Amsterdam, Montreal, Toronto or Quebec City right now!