Welcoming autumn is similar to the feeling of falling in love with a familiar person. Autumn has always been the most comforting season for many people. Think about the long hours spent at those corner coffee shops, either alone or with company, sipping on a hot beverage while people-watching through the misty glass windows that reflect the trees that boast their autumn leaves.
Ah yes, autumn leaves. The one part of the year with picturesque nature that has seen people swarming to certain places just to get the best picture. Although gorgeous autumn leaves can be enjoyed anywhere that has a favourable climate, there are, however, some places around the world that offer the best views.
Here are ten of the best locations in the world where you should grab your camera to work the ultimate autumn shot!
1. Kyoto, Japan
Think scenery in Japan and the first things that will likely come to your mind are views of cherry blossoms and Mount Fuji. A lesser-known fact is that Japan’s fall foliage is also stunning. Maybe the sight of the autumn leaves in Kyoto is even more beautiful than its cherry blossoms. Also, catching the cherry blossoms depends heavily on luck, because they only peak for a few days a year, while the views of the autumn leaves can last for up to 2 months.
In Kyoto, the leaves normally start changing colour in mid-October. The peak usually occurs in mid-November and the colours can last up until December. Kyoto is also home to several temples and shrines that have maple trees and other colourful trees surrounding them. Places such as Tofuku-ji Temple, Nanzen-ji Temple, and Ginkaku-ji Temple offer spectacular views, but they can also be filled with crowds because the Japanese love the fall foliage just as much as they love cherry blossoms. It is recommended to go in the early weekday mornings when the crowd is least expected. If you’re looking to avoid the crowds entirely, spots such as Daitoku-ji, Kurama-dera Temple, and Shinyodo Temple will let you enjoy the gorgeous views without having to deal with lots of people.
Also, as fall is an outstanding season for both locals and tourists, accommodation might be an issue, especially during the peak times between November and December. Be sure to book well in advance to avoid disappointment, especially during the weekends. Traffic might also be heavy, so accommodation near subway stations, such as Kyoto Station, is advised.
2. Moscow, Russia
Unlike Japan, autumn in Moscow begins early, usually in mid-September. Moscow’s many parks offer incredible vistas of the colourful leaves that are just waiting for photos to be taken of them. Be sure to visit the parks of Sparrow Hills and Neskuchny Sad, the Botanical Gardens, Sokolniki, and Izmailovsky Park for the best views. If you’re more of an adventure seeker, take a hike at Bittsa Forest and Losiny Ostrov National Park.
Moscow’s parks aren’t the only ones providing awesome views. Its museums, palaces, churches, and historical houses are mostly set in beautiful park settings that will also offer their takes on the fall foliage. Spots such as Kuzminki, Tsaritsyno, Kuskovo, Arkhangelskoye, and Kolomenskoye are recommended. Also, the latter has an added advantage especially when the apples are harvested. Some of these spots also house exhibitions and are located near architectural landmarks and cafes, where visitors can have their share of everything that Moscow has to offer during this comforting season.
For a gastronomic feast, head down to Dorogomilovsky Market for seasonal delights such as mushrooms, fruits, vegetables, berries, and more. Also, at the beginning of the season, Moscow celebrates City Day, which falls on September the 7th. You can expect a party filled with concerts and fireworks all around town.
3. Douro Valley, Portugal
The Douro Valley in Portugal is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It boasts endless beauty and excellent river cruises. This place is also known for producing Port wine, a famous beverage amongst the Portuguese. The Duoro Valley is blessed with an amazing climate and soil that is perfect for harvesting grapes. There are also several curves on its hillsides that create a gorgeous and dramatic landscape that is just beautiful, especially during the fall season.
The Douro Valley’s many terraced grape vines transform into gold, copper, and bronze tones when autumn comes, and this has seen locals and tourists swarming this place to welcome in the season. Autumn is also the best season, beside spring, to visit the Douro Valley as, not only are the views the best, but this period is also when recreational activities such as cycling and hiking can be enjoyed, with cooling temperatures giving an advantage. You can also try your hand at harvesting at the various vineyards in the area.
4. Jiuzhaigou Valley, Sichuan Province, China
Located in the southern Sichuan Province of China, Jiuzhaigou National Park is known for both its endless beauty and its weather. The rainy season is usually during July and August, with the weather mostly cool in the other months. During autumn, the Jiuzhaigou Valley offers its best appearance when compared to the other seasons. With its colourful leaves that are reflected on the valley’s lakes, its clear blue skies, and the fallen leaves, this valley provides visitors with many picture-taking opportunities. You might even be so amazed by the beauty that this place has to offer that you would rather just sit and enjoy the views, instead of taking out your phones / cameras to take a picture! It is recommended to bring along a sweater with you, as the temperature difference is huge between the day and night, even early in the season during the month of October.
5. Transylvania, Romania
Transylvania is known to be one of the top places to visit during autumn, with endless reviews and top rankings on online review sites and blogs. Transylvania, Romania, has really distinct seasons, with really hot summers, cool-in-the-night and warm-in-the-day springs, really cold winters, and dry and cool autumns. There is practically no rain in Transylvania from August.
As the earth slowly transitions from summer to autumn, the meadows and the trees will start producing beautifully-coloured leaves that almost make it seem like the entire area of Transylvania has been transformed into a painting. In fact, Transylvania sees most of its tourists during the autumn season, with everyone trying to take their best shots of the coloured leaves that are on the trees, on the pavements, or on the lake. Most parts of the city offer yellowish-brownish forests, but when the night comes and the temperatures start to get noticeably cooler, the woodlands offer amazing views with some of the canopies of the trees looking almost red.
There are also several festivals and events going on throughout the season, including harvest festivals. Nature-lovers can opt for hiking, bird-watching, wildlife-spotting, and more terrific outdoor activities surrounding by nature.
6. Northern New Mexico, USA
In northern New Mexico, autumn is normally welcomed with a hint of the summer warmth still lingering around until about the end of September. However, the nights will still be cool, just as expected. The fall colours in northern New Mexico offer amazing picturesque views that are a waste if not captured with family and friends. The place is also home to many rocky mountains that will serve as amazing viewing spots. Also, since the whole place is filled with beautiful fall colours, northern New Mexico during the autumn offers a perfect excuse for a US road trip!
The most recommended route is the road coming from Santa Fe, where you’ll be greeted with over 90 miles (144.8 kilometres) of amazing scenery, including the outskirts of Tierra Amarilla and Tres Piedras. There are also several great coffee shops, breakfast joints, and burrito sellers along the way. When you head to the Brazos Cliffs, you’ll get to enjoy gorgeous views of the countryside as well as the yellow aspen gloves and the red oak trees.
However, in northern New Mexico, it’s hard to predict when exactly is the peak of the season when you’ll get to enjoy autumn’s best colours. It is advised to book your dates in advance but not your accommodation, so when you’re in the area you can head right to where the colour is.
7. Holmes County, Ohio, USA
In laid-back Holmes County, Ohio, you can find some of the most breathtaking fall foliage in the whole of the United States. The land area mostly consists of farmlands that are surrounded by many tall maple, oak, and buckeye trees that turn into beautiful colours every autumn. This could be the reason why this county has welcomed over 4 million people annually from all over the world and from within the United States.
Holmes County is ranked third in National Geographic’s list of the best places in the world to witness the fall foliage. Aside from the gorgeous views, visitors can also enjoy the various festivals that happen throughout the season as well as apple orchards, cider pressings, and pumpkin patches. For wine-lovers, you can explore and tour the various wineries located in the county or nearby, namely those in Tuscarawas County and Amish Country.
Ohio reaches its autumn peak during the middle of October, so expect heavy traffic and limited accommodation around this time.
8. Bavaria, Germany
As the weather transitions from summer to winter, the city of Bavaria in Germany welcomes visitors from all over the world who are eager to feast their eyes on its autumn colours. Apart from the beautiful landscapes, the temperatures in Bavaria are mostly mild, offering everyone a sense of comfort and ease. The atmosphere is also less hectic as compared to the rest of the year.
The gorgeous landscapes in Bavaria offer visitors and locals a break away from the bustling, loud, and crowded cities and towns around the rest of Germany. There are good hiking opportunities too, which is great news for adventure-lovers! One of the more recommended hiking trails is the King Lugwig Trail, on which you’ll have the chance to explore and marvel at the beauty of castles and life stations of Swan King Luis along the way. Through hiking, you’ll also get to explore the many traditions, people, and food that Bavaria has to offer.
There will be several festivals going on during autumn in Bavaria, most of which are traditional, relating to the agricultural and religious past of the area.
9. Sonoma County, California, USA
Sonoma County in California is known for its ever-flowing hiking opportunities, and autumn just happens to be the favourite season for hikers. Autumn is Sonoma County is distinctive, and is usually welcomed without a hint of summer left, not even the summer fog! The temperatures are mostly warm, but it is never too warm to lack the autumn vibes. Nights are cool, and they are mostly ushered in by gorgeous sunsets, which result in the sky changing colour from orange to pink, and then to grey before black, when you’ll finally be greeted by the stars.
When hiking in Sonoma County, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the fall foliage. The hiking trails are surprisingly filled with fewer people as compared to the rest of the year, which makes the route leading up the steep mountains easier. You’ll also experience the frequent migrating flocks in the skies and, after your hike, you can reward yourself with a glass of wine at a harvest celebration.
10. Central Park, New York, USA
Central Park is certainly no stranger to visitors! The iconic park hosts several events and festivals, especially during the autumn and winter seasons, attracting couples, friends, and families. Heading to Central Park during the autumn means you’ll share the experience with many park-goers holding a cup of hot chocolate while observing the endless beauty of the colourful leaves that hang from the many different kinds of trees. Trees in the park include red maple, bald cypress, gingko, and American elm.
There are several tours held in the park, like walking tours and photography tours. Guided walking tours, such as the Arts and Architecture Tour and the Movie and TV Sites Tour, offer visitors a more in-depth experience, including fun facts about the park and its most scenic areas during the fall foliage. The photography tour brings you to the most picturesque places, offering you the chance to capture breathtaking views of various bridges, lakes, and the iconic New York City skyline. For those looking for a more laid-back tour, you can opt for the 3-hour bird-watching tour that is held every Friday and Saturday morning. On this tour you’ll get to spot some of the many 245 species of bird that live in the park, including the black-capped chickadee and the red-winged blackbird.
Fall in love
The time of year when the weather’s beginning to feel a little cooler and the nights are noticeably longer, Autumn is many people’s favourite season. Autumn is also the season for orange and yellow, with the colours of its leaves and the never-ending pumpkin-inspired everything, everywhere you look.
Interestingly, North America sees its federal holiday of Labour Day as the end of summer and the start of autumn. This year, 2016, Labour Day falls on September the 5th, so expect the start of festivals, pumpkin-spiced lattes, and a Halloween frenzy everywhere you go!
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