It can often feel like the end of summer means the end of romance. The spontaneity and excitement that comes with good weather can be like falling in love. Saying goodbye to sun-bathing, icey drinks and short sleeves can be as painful as a breakup. But if summer is the time for flings, fall is arguably the season of love. Blinding heat gives way to crisp breezes and lush colors as hot chocolate, scarves and long walks in the park become the new standard.
So where are the best places to experience fall magic in full? Though nature escapes always provide the best scenery, these 10 urban landscapes combine the best of autumn: belly-warming food and drink, orange and red-hued trees, and the coziness of the year’s most romantic season.
New York City
No list of fall getaways is complete without mentioning New York City. Once the summer tourists are gone, a quiet magic takes over the streets. Central Park is a must. The island of nature brings an explosion of fall color to the heart of the concrete jungle. Pick up a hot chocolate to-go and sit people-watching the local fall fashions. For a romantic adventure, head upstate for apple-picking or to visit one of the arts centers easily accessible by train.
Famous for its spring cherry-blossoms, Kyoto in fall is an underrated but nonetheless breathtaking location. Instead of bright pink flowers, the central Japanese city is blanketed in an auspicious shade of red. Wander around the various temples, castles and shrines in the city, then warm up with a bowl of ramen. Or better yet, an authentic Japanese tea ceremony.
Welcome to the capital of “hygge”– the place where the art of coziness has been perfected into a science, an aesthetic, and moreover a way of life. Copenhagen is the perfect destination (in early fall) to experience how a bit of cold and winter darkness can bring a whole new kind of happiness. Bundle more than you would think necessary, visit the world’s oldest theme park Tivoli Gardens, enjoy a piping-hot cup of glogg, and wander the Scandinavian streets in search of Grød: a café serving sweet and savory porridges that will surely warm your heart.
The legendary Oktoberfest celebration is just one of many compelling reasons why Munich is a must-visit in fall. For those who don’t find Lederhosen and beer romantic, there’s plenty else to do. Explore the fantastic castles in and around the city, go urban surfing in the middle of the famous Eisbach river, and do a walking tour of the beautiful classic architecture in the southern German metropolis.
If enjoying spiced punch in the brisk air while gazing at foliage is your autumnal ideal, Seoul is the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination to enjoy the season. The classic drink sujeonggwa, made of persimmons and garnished with cinnamon and ginger, captures the spirit of fall through flavors. The city offers numerous options for viewing the changing colors – the top of Namsan tower offers a panoramic view of the city as do the various hiking trails in the mountains just outside the city.
It’s only a cliché because it’s true: Paris is the place to be in fall. The most romantic city in the world only becomes more charming and authentic once the summer rush is over. Enjoy the city’s extraordinary public parks, winding streets, innumerable museums, and cozy cafés during the off-season and feel like you have the city for yourself.
The medieval architecture of Bruges is the ideal backdrop for a fairytale weekend in autumn. Watch swans gently glide down canals, visit the port, explore the city center (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and wander the ancient streets to marvel at the fantastically preserved architecture of the Belgian city. Top it off with your choice of Europe’s best French Fries, waffles and hot chocolate.
One of the more underrated cities on the list, Montreal is nonetheless an excellent destination for fall. The French Canadian metropolis stands on its own as a global cultural capital (especially for music and design) but truly shines in the fall when the climate is temperate, street markets fill the streets, and the city’s many gardens and parks take on golden and red hues. It’s essential to explore Old Montreal and of course, try the poutine.
The regal Austrian capital seems perpetually shrouded in an autumnal charm. A city of nobility and high culture, Vienna is the ideal destination for an upscale and elegant fall experience. Visit imperial palaces, see a world-class orchestra, and most importantly, watch the fall leaves change while enjoying a slice of Sachertorte in a local café. For an aerial view of this spectacular city, be sure to catch a ride on the Prater Ferris Wheel.
Beijing experiences each of the four seasons in technicolor, but fall is really a season apart. Besides visiting the must-see tourist sites like the Great Wall of China and the city’s many spectacular temples and parks, be sure not to miss the Mid-Autumn Festival when the city lights up with lanterns, locals celebrate the moon, and everyone feasts on mooncakes and wine. Venture outside the city to pick seasonal delicacies like gourd-shaped dates, bergamot pears, and raspberries.