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autumn foliage in Europe

Best places for autumn foliage in Europe

There’s a wonderful expression in North America for when we take time out to watch the leaves change colour in autumn, known as leaf peeping. Foliage adventures are much more of a thing in the US, just as cherry blossom chasing is in Japan. It’s not as if we don’t have spectacular leaf shows going on in the UK and Europe, we just haven’t coined a phrase for it. We have put together a list of our best places for autumn foliage in Europe, however. So, if swathes of colour are what you’re seeking, walk this way. We have some peepy blinders for you. 

West Highland Way, Scotland

You can still book walking holidays up until the end of October along the West Highland Way in Scotland and, as well as being wonderfully quiet, you get to benefit from an autumnal light show. As you walk through Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, for example, the native broadleaf forests of oak, birch, alder, ash, hazel and rowan start to take on the appearance of a handsome Scottish tweed blanket, especially when interspersed with pink and purple heather which thrives at this time of year. The wild landscapes of Rannoch Moor, also on the West Highland Way is peppered with pinks in autumn. Trust us, you’ll fall for the West Highland Way in October. 

Glencoe along the West Highland Way in Scotland is even more majestic in autumn than usual.

Dolomites, Italy

Peak peeping time in the Dolomites is between mid-October and early November and it’s the larches that leap out at you at this time of year. They turn golden yellow and orange in autumn, creating a striking contrast against the exposed, jagged peaks of this mountain range. On our walking holiday in Val Badia, for example, you cross a larch forest as you climb to Lech Parom, with woodland and farmland slowly revealing the Dolomiti peaks. Similarly, on this holiday that takes in parts of the South Tyrol, Dolomites and Lake Garda, the larches are luminescent around Brenta and Lake Andalo, with a cable car ride up to the heights for even better views.

Lake Bled and the Julian Alps, Slovenia

When autumn arrives at Lake Bled, the foliage undergoes a stunning transformation. The trees that surround the lake include birches, maples, beeches and chestnuts, showcasing an array of hues that range from deep reds and oranges to vibrant yellows. The combination of golden foliage, emerald-green lake and the backdrop of the Julian Alps is a winning one. Feel the crisp in the air and crunch underfoot on our Lakes and valleys of the Slovenian Alps holiday, and fall in love with the larches’ golden hues in the Karawanken, Kamnik and Julian Alps, in particular from Pokljuka high plateau (1,280m). 

If you thought Lake Bled in Slovenia was just for summer, think again.

The Cotswolds, England

These idyllic uplands are blessed with beech trees, which turn yellow then rose gold in autumn. Take in the colour-rich crown of the Cotswolds, with views from many of their gentle hills in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Our Cotswolds Way walking holiday is bookable up until mid-October, taking you on a journey through pastoral perfection, covering an undulating and undeniably charming 163km. In addition, you stay at idyllic country inns, many with open fires and superb, local seasonal food. 

Salzkammergut Lake District, Austria 

Salzkammergut is Austria’s lake district and one of the most accessible lake districts in Europe, just under 50km from Salzburg. It’s a landscape of colourful, traditional houses, enveloped by mountains and forest. Already pretty as a picture in summer, the region’s beech, birch, maple, oak and conifers provide a panoply of green, gold, yellow, orange and fiery red. The lakes of Wolfgangsee, Hallstättersee and Mondsee mirror their arborial guardians while the local vineyards add even more flavour to the autumnal display. It’s also a great time of year to drink Glühmos, or warm apple cider, and to tuck into the region’s hearty seasonal cuisine. 

The Salzkammergut is sehr gut in autumn.

Carpathian Mountains, Romania

Romania and Transylvania in October and November are caped in what looks more like a Pride cloak than a vampire’s one, as the Carpathian Mountain forests turn into a rainbow of greens, yellow, oranges and reds. The beech, fir and spruce trees of the Făgăraș Mountains, in the southern Carpathians transform the landscapes on this Transylvanian Alps holiday. And the beech and maple trees add to the golds and russets in Piatra Craiului National Park, which protects all of the Piatra Craiului Mountain range, also in the southern Carpathians. The ridge walks here are stupendous, with panoramic views of the forests and valleys below. Vampires, no. Bewitching, definitely.