With the European summer drawing to a close, and cooler, crisper days around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about that autumn get-away. Foliage will be changing the scenery from green to a red and golden splendour. With clear blue skies, cooler temperatures and less crowds, autumn is a great time to take that trip.
Louise Heatley, Head of Product and Contracting at Great Rail Journeys said “Autumn is the perfect time to travel. It’s not too hot and the landscapes are beautiful with rich and vibrant colours. My favourite part of travel in this season is the lack of crowds. Whether you want to see some of the rich colours that the UK has on offer, or travel further afield to warmer climes without the crowds, autumn is a great time to travel.”
Great Rail Journeys (www.greatrail.com) have an extensive collection of autumn tours, that showcase the beauty of this season. Here are the top ten:
1. New England
The autumn (or, as the locals would have it, ‘fall’) colours of New England are famous, so if you’re on a hunt for foliage, look no further. The weather may be wet and windy, but bright red and yellow leaves stand out even more against a grumpy grey sky. For the best chance of autumn hues, visit between mid-September and mid-October; it’s a short yet sweet window of opportunity for one of the USA’s more fleeting attractions.
Tour: New England in the Fall , Link: http://bit.ly/2vZuMkI, Days: 10, From: £2,595pp
Highlights: Falmouth and Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Amtrak’s Downeaster Railway Journey, Mount Washington Cog Railway, North Conway Scenic Railroad, Mount Washington Valley, White Mountains, Boston including a sightseeing tour, Whale watching cruise by catamaran.
2. New Delhi
For another far-flung leap across the ocean, why not travel to India? Autumn bestows milder weather here, evident especially in bustling New Delhi, a thriving hub of modern Indian culture. October is the best time to enjoy the autumn climate; with the monsoon season over, temperatures vary more dramatically during the course of a day than at other times of year, but with highs of just under 30 °C, the ambience is usually pleasant.
Tour: India’s Golden Triangle, Link: http://bit.ly/2xlpj4I, Days: 13, From: £1,995pp
Highlights: New and Old Delhi, Toy Train rail journey to Shimla, Shimla and the Shivalik Himalaya, The Taj Mahal, Arga Fort, The ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur, Palace of the Winds.
You won’t find warm weather here, but you are likely to stumble across dewy fields, gorgeous mountains, and copious scenic beauty. Take a hike through the hills (or ‘bens’), before retiring with a whisky – preferably before a roaring fire.
Tour: Highland Adventure, Link: http://bit.ly/2g3TQAH, Days: 5, From: £595pp
Highlights: Inverness, journey on the Jacobite Steam Train, journey on the Kyle Line, Eilean Donan Castle, journey on the Strathspey Steam Railway, journey on the Cairngorm Mountain Railway.
For quieter crowds and calmer weather on the Amalfi Coast, autumn is a great time to visit. Soak up serene views across the Bay of Naples, or perhaps make the day trip to Pompeii for an insight into Italy’s ancient past.
Tour: Rome, Sorrento & the Amalfi Coast, Link: http://bit.ly/2veRcdV, Days: 12, From: £2,635pp
Highlights: Rome, including a guided tour, Sorrento & Pompeii, Positano & The glorious Amalfi Coast, Lunch on the Amalfi Coast, Herculaneum, Capri.
5. The Cotswolds
If good old-fashioned British beauty captures your imagination, the Cotswolds could be the place for you. Rural England is notably charming, and whilst autumn in the UK can suffer showers, the browning leaves and brisk air make for a delightful backdrop for a walk.
Tour: Stratford at Christmas, Link: http://bit.ly/2wxUKMG, Days: 6, From: £1,195pp
Highlights: Stratford-Upon-Avon, Severn Valley Railway, Warwick Castle, Guided walking tour of Shakespeare’s Stratford, Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, Festive Christmas meals.
Autumn is considered one of the best times to visit Nepal, with the monsoon season behind you and dry, pleasant weather to be enjoyed. What better time of year to experience the Himalayas?
Tour: Grand Tour of India & Nepal, Link: http://bit.ly/2v5KIlT, Days: 18, From: £2,965pp
Highlights: The Golden Temple of Amritsar, Taj Mahal & Agra Fort, Old and New Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi & the Holy Ganges, Kathmandu, Patan’s Durban Square, Jeep and river safari in Chitwan National Park, Pokhara and the Himalayas.
The setting for fictional King’s Landing from the popular television series Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik’s ancient walls are still sun-baked in the autumn, with warm yet pleasant temperatures common and many tourists still willing to take a dip in the sea at this time of year. Check out the city’s collection of Baroque architecture and charming palaces to add a historical edge to your holiday.
Tour: Islands and Cities of the Sparkling Dalmatian Coast, Link: http://bit.ly/2vY8AGP, Days: 10, From: £2,145pp
Highlights: MV Fantazija, Zagreb, Split, Korcula, Mijet National Park, Dubrovnik, Oyster tasting in Ston, Hvar, Bol.
Come for the charms of a city steeped in history, or for the foliage in the city’s public parks: Prague is a delight in autumn. Traditional Czech food suits the milder weather, with stews and beer a common, hearty staple, that perfectly accompanies the general atmosphere of autumn. Make sure to put Prague on your ‘must see’ list.
Tour: Classic Elbe Cruise, Link: http://bit.ly/2w2YCSY, Days: 11, From: £2,465pp
Highlights: Berlin, Magdeburg, Wittenberg, Meissen & Dresden, Bad Schandau, Litomerice & Prague.
Our second Mediterranean destination, Portugal’s breathtaking capital is not only competitively priced at this time of year, it’s charming to explore. Discover the city’s historic sights and cobbled streets whilst munching on some roasted chestnuts (a local specialty), and if you’re unfortunate enough to get caught in a spot of autumn rain, pop into a local café or one of the many fascinating museums here.
Tour: Portugal & the Douro, Link: http://bit.ly/2wxNSPn, Days: 15, From: £2,995pp
Highlights: Salamanca & San Sebastian, Full-day Douro River Cruise, Dinner on a Port wine estate, Porto city tour, Guimaraes and Bom Jesus do Monte, Dinner at Taylors Port Cellars, historic tram tour of Lisbon, Pinhao & Sintra, Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
If you’ve ever seen Tiergarten in the autumn, you’ll know why Berlin makes our Top 10. The German capital’s most popular inner-city park comes alive with vibrant colour at this time of year, and with its roots (pun intended) dating back to the 18th century (in its current, cultivated form, at least), the park also bears a sense of history. October also sees the city play host to the Festival of Lights, with projections cast on Berlin’s buildings in a spectacular showcase of the sort of accessible modern art the city has become synonymous with. Add in hearty local cuisine, and, of course, beer, and you have the recipe for a great autumn escape.
Tour: Grand Imperial Cities, Link: http://bit.ly/2vfaJLk, Days: 13, From: £1,995pp
Highlights: Vienna, including a city tour, Schonbrunn Palace, Budapest including a city tour, The Children’s Railway, Apfelstrudel and coffee in Vienna, Dinner cruise on the Danube, Prague including a guided tour, Berlin including a city tour, Free time in Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Berlin.