Fall is a wonderful time to tour Europe. The summer's heat has abated, the tourists have gone home, the restaurants that were closed in August so that the waiters could have some time at the beach have reopened, wine grapes are being harvested and celebrated, and the cuisine is becoming interesting as folks head out to the forest to collect wild mushrooms and truffles.
Below I've selected some representative seasonal tours that sound interesting to me; but you might use these as a springboard to guide your own fantasies--you can always just take off and do many of these things on your own. Fall is the perfect time for the independent traveler because hotels are still open, but getting a room isn't as difficult as it might be in July or August. For the most part, people in the off-season are more receptive to the culturally curious traveler. Take an interest in what people are doing, especially in a rural area, and you just might get invited to take part in traditional fall activities like harvesting grapes for wine (or better yet, emptying last years barrels so there's room for the new stuff).
For the Independent Traveler who just wants an interesting day trip
Why not hit the back-roads of Tuscany and Umbria to taste local produce such as cheeses, olive oil, wine and meats?
Truffles--the Sexy Fungus
Truffles give off the sexiest odor on the planet. Why not go root some out yourself? I'd go to Italy's Piemonte to sample the fabulous food and hunt myself out some of my own tubers at La Casa del Trifulau:
And if just buying and eating truffles interests you:
Go to a truffle market in France that welcomes visitors. This is best done when you have rented an apartment so you can enjoy the experience of slicing your truffle over your morning scrambled eggs. (See: Self Catering in Europe)
Or have your truffles with Foie Gras.
Go to a Wine Festival in Tuscany
Yes, people in Europe make a big deal over wine, especially after harvest is over. People tend to dress in medieval costumes and celebrate like they have since way before the advent of television and other frivolous, time-frittering, endeavors.
Live a life of Art
And, if you really want to get into the lifestyle, you could take a course in Ancient Painting Techniques or Etching, and live in Italy for a bit. Falling over Florence? Try L’Accademia D’Arte.
For the Contrarian--the Polar Circle and Iceland
Why not go against the grain and choose a tour that doesn't promise to warm the cockles of your vacationing heart? Say, a tour of Denmark and Greenland where you can choose between a wide variety of Winter pastimes as early as early November, Like a Dog Sledge Experience or a Reinder Safari, not to mention an overnight in an Igloo? Besides, when people ask where you went on vacation you can say "Kangerlussuaq" (or maybe you can't).
Or why not visit Iceland in the Autumn? You could take in Iceland by the light of the Aurora Borealis in October, or chuck it all and go underground:
And Finally: Ardor and Armor....
Autumn is turtle mating season on the Greek island of Kos. You may well ask, "so what?" but the truth is: a decent recounting of the spectacle is one of those things that'll make you a hit at parties for years to come, especially if you can imitate the sound the male makes (let's just say "a passionate hissing") as he clunks against the female's almost impenetrable armor.
About October in Europe
October is my favorite time to go to Europe. The tourist hordes have left, the heat has abated, and the cultural arts are starting to awaken. Besides all the things to do I've hinted at above, read more about October in Europe.
Weather does become something you want to watch when you plan your vacation in the Fall, so have a look at some climate information and charts: Europe Climate and Weather Maps or consult our Weather and Climate Directory.