While we may be having an Indian summer here in New York City, I’m reading reports of lovely fall weather arriving in Europe. I’m a big fan of autumn, and I think there’s no better place to be in the world in September than in Europe. I love the blankets they put on the back of chairs at sidewalk cafes for chilly evenings, the way the temperature changes throughout the day, and activities that scream fall. From the grape harvest to picking apples to hiking over piles of crunchy leaves, there’s no better season to explore the great outdoors than autumn.
And yet despite all these pleasures, many travelers opt to plan their trips to Europe in the summer. While I do understand that many people have more vacation time in the summer, and that September is time to start getting serious again about work or school, I also think that September is too good to be passed up. To celebrate the season, I thought I’d share some anecdotes of my glory days of September across Europe.
Antwerp: I know many well-traveled people who still haven’t set foot in Antwerp. This Belgian city is all charm, from its original cobbled squares to delicate chocolates to stunning architecture. There is something distinctively old world about Antwerp, and the fall is the perfect time to explore it. With the summer crowds at home, tables at outdoor cafes will be free. You won’t have to feel guilty about a sneaky cup of hot chocolate. And when for the first time, you walk into this incredible central square, it will be Flemish you hear spoken around you, not familiar American accents.
Berlin: The festival of Oktoberfest might be taking place in Munich, but Berlin is still my German city of choice. Pack along a scarf to keep warm in one of the many beer gardens after nightfall and you will be tempted to stay all night. Berlin is a city that is best explored on foot, especially on crisp Autumn days. Instead of visiting the main attractions, spend some time following the brick path that designates where the Berlin Wall once stood or get lost in neighborhoods such as Kreuzberg or Prenzlauer Berg where you are sure to stumble on a local beer garden.
Cambridge: September is the ideal time to visit Cambridge as most students haven’t returned yet. Term doesn’t begin until October, so in September the summer tourist crowds are gone and the town is yours to explore. While evenings might be cool, days are still perfect for a punt (canoe ride) along the river. My punting experience was made even more special by packing along a bottle of champagne and a picnic.
Dublin: The first time I stepped foot in Dublin, it was in September. I couldn’t believe all the reports I’d heard about a grey, rainy city because the Dublin I experienced was a blue-sky one. In my experience, weather in Dublin in the autumn is more settled than at other times of year. This is perfect not only for seeing the leaves change in city center parks, but also for hiking, road trips, and exploring Dublin on foot. Plus, a Guinness just tastes better when it isn’t 90 degrees outside.
There are 8 more days left in September – it isn’t too late for a last minute trip across the pond!