When it comes to traveling in Europe, fall has traditionally been a slower season. But with pent-up demand to get out and see the world, you may not find as much slowing down this year.
That doesn’t mean you have to go with the crowds for your entire vacation. While you want to spend some time at the must-see attractions, you can also visit destinations that are off the beaten path.
In Italy, you can tour the picturesque fishing villages that line the Gulf of La Spezia, on the western coast. La Spezia is known as the Gulf of Poets thanks to the writers who have drawn inspiration from its beauty. Noteworthy stops include Lerici, with its pastel-colored houses by the sea and the 13th-century Oratory of San Rocco. About a mile away is Tellaro, considered by many to be one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. It’s an especially stunning place at sunset.
Wine and culture are a great combination, and you’ll find both in the province of La Rioja in northern Spain. The region boasts more than 500 wineries, with many options for tours and tastings, as well as the Wine Culture Museum. La Rioja is also home to numerous cultural attractions, including the ancient cathedral in Santo Domingo de la Calzada and the monasteries of Suso and Yuso, where the written Spanish language was born.
The northern town of Guimaraes is considered the birthplace of Portugal, since it’s the spot where the country’s first king was born. The well-preserved heritage is evident in graceful iron verandas, granite balconies and a maze of cobbled streets and charming plazas. Sites include the 10th-century hilltop castle that affords a sweeping view of the surrounding area, and the restored Palace of the Dukes of Braganza, built in the early 15th century.
Samothrace, in the northern Aegean Sea, is a rugged Greek island where the mountains, forests and waters provide ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, rafting, diving and paragliding. You’ll find therapeutic thermal streams and the ruins of an ancient temple called the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. On Karpathos, in the southeastern Aegean, you can soak up local culture in seaside villages and relax on beautiful beaches.
If you really want to get away from the crowds, Lastovo, in the Adriatic Sea, is Croatia’s most remote inhabited island. You’ll find peace and quiet amid the beauty of nature, with places where you can swim, snorkel and take long walks. Low light pollution makes it one of the best spots in Europe for stargazing. If you don’t want to be that isolated, Croatia’s other hidden gems include Groznjan, a charming spot on the Istrian Peninsula known as the “village of artists.” It’s home to more than a dozen galleries and studios.