There are some significant benefits to delaying your European vacation to the fall. Vacationing in autumn is usually more cost effective than in the summer, opening up the possibility of some destinations that otherwise wouldn’t be affordable. Hotter countries in the Med tend to be at a more tolerable temperature, especially for young children, and, overall, the experience is less stressful, with fewer crowds, screaming toddlers and exasperated parents to navigate. So as the leaves turn to brown and the sky adopts a steely grey demeanor, to which destination should you skedaddle this fall?

Izmir, Turkey

izmir-5865537An ideal retreat in the late autumn heat, Izmir is Turkey’s third largest city and a good option for cheap holidays, reaching along the shoreline of the Aegean Sea in a scattering of nine districts. Though it has been settled for over 5,000 years, the city was ravaged by fire in 1922, leaving few traces of its antique foundations for today’s generations of visitors to detect. However, its palm-fringed boulevards give the city a distinctly Mediterranean vibe, as do the mighty Roman and Greek colonnades at the Agora, and the shady olive groves just beyond city limits. For those seeking history, Izmir has the answers.

Munich, Germany

munich-1001211Home of Oktoberfest, astounding architecture and a plethora of world-class museums and art galleries Bavaria’s capital is one of Germany’s most culturally happening destinations. The Oktoberfest kegs will be tapped on the 20th of September this year, to the merry accompaniment of enthused brass bands, a lavish traditional costume parade and the waving of several thousand empty steins. Just be warned that your accommodation needs to be booked well in advance, and prices can soar given this busy time of year. Prost!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

dubrovnik-8039873Increasingly infested with day trippers and cruise crowds, Croatia’s most popular tourist destination will get you all hot and bothered if you venture onto its intense Stradun in summer. In autumn, however, the pace slows, the temperature cools (but not too much), and crowds part to reveal this grand medieval city in all its splendor. Stroll the ancient city walls of the UNESCO-recognized old town, or get an unforgettable view of the city with a ride on its cable car, without queuing for several millennia. Autumn is also the perfect time to tour the local vineyards, or to take advantage of the cooler temperatures to plan a hiking excursion in the surrounding countryside.

Tuscany, Italy

tuscany-4713211A landscape renowned for its golden, ethereal hues, Tuscany makes for a gorgeous backdrop to an autumn vacation, smashing every cliché out of the park. The weather is cozy during daylight hours, the grape harvest is in full swing, olive presses are creaking into action, and air fares are lower. Foodies will find themselves in paradise, with wild truffles, chestnuts and mushrooms coming into season, and fragrant festivals purveying these delicious wares kindling in the piazzas like autumn bonfires. 

With low prices, cheap accommodation and fewer crowds, autumn is the perfect time of year to book a relaxing, alternative travel adventure in Europe. Be adventurous in your choice of destination, and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Keith Hanlon is a travel journalist and adventurer. He’s especially fond of Europe and loves cycling in European destinations as well as following all the big cycle races such as the Tour de France.

Images by LenDog64, Diego Cambiaso, Tambako The Jaguar and kayugee used under creative commons license.