Autumn and I ignited a love affair long ago, and it’s still going strong. The air is crisply inviting. The colors are deeply vibrant. The food is soul-warming. The fashion is cozy chic. It’s the season that keeps on giving. Beyond that, it’s my absolute favorite time of the year to travel. Troves of trudging tourists have left and a sense of normalcy has been restored. While new cities are always on the agenda, some cities are fall classics that warrant a visit year after year.
Embrace the sublime glory that is fall in any of these cities — they won’t let you down. They’ve never let me down in the fall.
Autumn in Paris is as much about reinvigorating the community’s artistic spirit as it is about falling leaves and the end of summer. Though not as clichéd as Paris in spring, Paris in fall exudes an enviable charm and elegance that adds to its je ne sais quoi. The arts scene steals the fall limelight and you can expect a new gallery opening, a long-awaited art exhibition, or cultural event almost every week throughout the season. Add that to the city’s notably haute food scene, and you will easily see why Paris is the ultimate European muse for fall.
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New York City
Though you are guaranteed spectacular fall foliage anywhere in the New England region, New York City is the quintessential urban fall destination. Walking through Central Park in the crisp morning air, sipping a warm pumpkin spice latte, and watching the vibrant leaves cascade down the trees…I cannot think of a more perfect fall moment. For the past decade, at least once every fall, I have traveled to New York City to experience the autumnal bliss in Central Park. One of my favorite things to do is to head down to the meadow by Belvedere Castle, which is blanketed by yellow, orange, and red leaves and to book a Central Park-facing room at one of the many luxury hotels in the area.
Montréal autumns are absolutely magical — it’s the last hurrah before the city’s deep freeze. The fall is the best time to explore the city’s gorgeous architecture, vibrant parks, fascinating cultural spots, and thriving restaurant scene. Wade through the city and region’s finest flavors at Jean-Talon Market or walk through Parc du Mont-Royal for picturesque views of the city’s foliage. I visited Montréal at the end of October last year for the first time and it quickly became one of my favorite fall destinations.
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Fall in Seattle is gorgeous — it’s the city’s foliage that makes the constant drizzle tolerable. A perfect fall day includes walking through the aisles of gleaming fruits and vegetables, tables overflowing with fresh floral bouquets, and local street food kiosks at Pike Place Market. The city’s many green spaces and gardens, particularly the Washington Arboretum are also fantastic places to catch the changing colors of the city. If you get a chance to leave the urban sprawl, check out the region’s natural beauty on the outer edges or head to Leavenworth for Oktoberfest.
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The German fall tradition that involves pigskin, piping hot pretzels, copious quantities of beer, and blitzed bonhomie — it’s one of those quintessential bucket list items that should be experienced at least once. It also happens to be the perfect excuse to wear a dirndl.
Nuit Blanche (Paris, France)
On the first Saturday of October every year, Paris turns into a carnival of arts and culture. The premise of Nuit Blanche, or “White Night,” is simple: for one night only, from dusk ’til dawn, art takes over the City of Light, and an ever-changing roster of artistic directors commission hundreds of works throughout the city to find new ways for citizens to interact with the urban space.
The Festival of Lights, a five-day celebration that includes good food, fireworks, colored sand, and special candles and lamps is one of the most significant festivals in India. The dates change from year to year but it always falls in October or November. Of the many times I’ve been to India, I have found fall to be the perfect time to visit — there’s a festive cheer in the air that’s almost palpable and the weather is a pleasant companion.
If you’re looking for the best way to get into the holiday spirit, head to Germany during the last few weeks of autumn, with hundreds of Christmas markets all over the country in full bloom. The markets have been a long-standing tradition and embrace many local customs. German Christmas carols are sung and small wooden huts are decorated with nutcrackers, glass baubles, candles, and festive textiles. As you walk down the street, the scent of cinnamon from freshly baked gingerbread biscuits fills the air, and it’s impossible to resist the delicious German sausages roasting over an open fire or a cup of piping hot German mulled wine, Glühwein. Christmas time in Germany is absolutely magical — it’s straight out of a fairytale. The cities that have the best Christmas markets are Cologne, Nuremberg, Frankfurt, and Berlin.
I’m Nyssa. I started The Cultureur in August 2012, almost a decade after contracting the travel bug while on a Model United Nations conference in Russia and Finland.
And from there, when I took the first step in solo international travel and decided to study abroad in college,
there was no looking back, and I ended up living, studying, working, and volunteering in 6 countries (the U.S., the UK, France, Iceland, India, and Germany) and traveling to 50+ others.