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5 Top Autumn weekend getaways in Europe


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With summer coming to an end, many of us think that our travels for the year must end too. Yet, this is no reason to put travelling on standby, as autumn can be the perfect time to explore Europe.

With kids back at school and temperatures dropping, tourist hotspots are less crowded. This means airport commutes are less stressful, queues are shorter, attractions aren’t ram-packed, and fewer people are photobombing your holiday snaps – all pretty ideal! Yet, resorts won’t be completely shut down for the season, so you’ll still get some atmosphere and nightlife if you’re looking for it. For this reason, you’ll be able to find some great deals, because the top holiday locations still want you there.

So, why not extend your summer or give yourself a nice break between summer and the festive season? Here is a selection of top weekend getaways in Europe:

1. Madrid, Spain

With the summer heat often exceeding an unbearable 40°C, autumn is the perfect time to visit the Spanish capital for a weekend break, because the sun is still out in more pleasant temperatures. Although often overlooked by its coastal rivals, the city is full of attractions that appeal to everyone.

Art lovers are spoiled for choice with the famous Golden Triangle (Museo del Prado, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza and Museo Reina Sofía), just as history aficionados can enjoy a visit to the Royal Palace of Madrid or the ancient Egyptian Temple of Debod. Football fans can opt for a tour around the renowned Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Likewise, foodies can make the most of San Miguel market, tapas in La Latina or the famous churros from Chocolatería San Ginés, followed by a stroll in the Buen Retiro Park, to burn it all off. Then, not forgetting the shopaholics, who will love ambling down the iconic, shopping street of Gran Vía, or a mooch in the historic flea market, El Rastro, held every Sunday morning.

Chloe Connolly


2. Lisbon, Portugal

From one Iberian capital to another, Lisbon is famous for its contrasting traditional architecture and contemporary culture and cherishes 290 days of sunshine each year, with perfect mild temperatures through the autumn months. It also boasts distinguished hospitality, all down to the welcoming and helpful locals.

Must-dos for history geeks include visits to Belém Tower, Jerónimos Monastery and São Jorge Castle, which provide a significant insight of times gone by. The city’s oldest quarter, Alfama, is ideal for those happy to get lost in a labyrinth of intimate back-streets, full of unique shops and funky cafes. Alternatively, you can cross this artisan district in an iconic Remodelado tram, if you don’t fancy putting your walking shoes on. Put them back on if you want to climb up the Cristo Rei, a statue of Christ which overlooks the city, or make the most of many walking tours available.

For those craving a taste of the city’s nightlife, which doesn’t tend to come alive until gone midnight, the lively neighbourhood of Bairro Alto is the place to be.

3. Pula, Croatia

Pula is a popular summer destination in Istria, drawing in huge crowds during the hotter months. Yet, this small historically-rich city isn’t just a pleaser in the high-season; there’s plenty to take in when low-season comes around.

You can see the best-preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy: notably the Arena which is the only remaining Roman amphitheatre with a complete circle wall. The Temple of Augustus, the Arch of Sergius and the Roman floor mosaic are interesting visits, too. Coming here in autumn guarantees smaller crowds and a significantly more pleasant experience.

What’s more, given that Istria formed part of Italy until the mid 20th century, you can encounter some of the best Italian food here, all with a Croatian twist. This often involves white truffles: a regional speciality.

4. Bordeaux, France

This southwestern port city is ideal for any wine enthusiast; there are more than 100,000 vineyards in its vicinity. Although some wineries don’t permit visitors in autumn because it is harvesting time, many others run more personal wine tours due to fewer tourists.

Of course, there is plenty more to do if wine isn’t your thing. Culture-lovers can watch a performance at Grand-Théâtre or visit Bordeaux Cathedral, and shoppers can pay a visit to Rue St Catherine – the main shopping street. Sightseers can enjoy a Garonne River Cruise and the panoramic view from the fifty-metre-tall Tour Pey Berland. Then, everybody can relish the many bars and cafes of the Garonne River Front and the maze of narrow streets in the St Pierre District.

5. Hamburg, Germany

Autumnal Hamburg is something special, with the leaves on the trees in its abundance of parks transforming into magnificent reds and crisp yellows. You can see how photogenic the second-largest German city becomes under the Instagram hashtag #autumnahoi.

Aside from this, Hamburg offers a wealth of things to do and see, perfect for a jam-packed weekend away. This port city has a strong international feel, particularly in terms of cuisine; there are notably many great Middle Eastern eating establishments. It also boasts the recently-opened Elbphilharmonie, an impressive landmark concert venue overlooking the HafenCity quarter; Miniatur Wunderland, the world’s largest model railway exhibition; and the museum mile, which features five major art galleries.

In late September, it also welcomes the Reeperbahn Festival: a must-visit for music-lover worldwide.



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