Here’s a little secret: The best time of year to travel to Europe is...right now! September (and even early October) still has beautiful weather, but crowds are fewer and prices generally lower. And now that the tourists have gone home from the major destinations, the locals come back out to enjoy festivals, harvests and cultural events. Here are six places to consider a trip this fall:

By Sarah Marcantonio
Exterior architecture
Photo by De L'Europe Amsterdam

Amsterdam

What could be more picturesque than a canal in Amsterdam? A canal in Amsterdam lined with autumn-touched trees, their gold and yellow leaves rustling in the breeze and reflected in the water. Once the party-hearty summer crowds have stumbled home, the whole city gets back to its cosmopolitan, culturally rich self—fewer crowds means more time for you to gaze into Vincent’s forlorn eyes at the Van Gogh Museum. Stay at the De L’Europe Amsterdam, a classic canalside hotel, built in the 1400s, whose historic elegance is shot through with a decidedly cool streak—much like Amsterdam itself.

Provence
Photo by Antoine Beauvillain via Unsplash

Provence

The fields may no longer be filled with lavender and sunflowers, but September in Provence is sun-dappled, scenic...and blissfully uncrowded. All those villa-renting families have gone back to Paris or London, leaving you to enjoy the region’s best features unencumbered: wine (September is grape harvest season), food (the nationwide Fête de la Gastronomie holds events in the area September 22–24), and natural beauty (you might have the Gorge of Verdon to yourselves). At the Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, it’s still warm enough to spend days on the two championship golf courses and evenings sipping a local Syrah on the terrace of your suite.  

Colosseum and hotel
Photo by Palazzo Manfredi

Rome

There’s no wrong time to visit Rome. But there is a right time: September. It’s officially the beginning of white truffle season (we highly recommend them over the risotto at Hostaria da Pietro, near the Piazza del Popolo) and still gelato season (Gelateria de Costanza is one of our favorites). At Palazzo Manfredi, you’ll wake up every morning just feet from the Colosseum—without crowds of tourists to dodge or scorching sunlight to avoid—and head up to the quiet, cool rooftop terrace to enjoy the breakfast buffet.

Costa del Sol
Photo by Unsplash

Marbella, Spain

The Costa del Sol in the fall brings lower humidity, abundant sunshine and plenty of things to do. Follow a morning on the beach with an afternoon of sightseeing around Málaga—there are branches of Paris’s Pompidou and St. Petersburg’s Hermitage museums here, as well as the 11th-century Alcazaba fortress. Base yourself at Finca Cortesín Hotel Golf & Spa, a warm, sophisticated retreat between the hills and the Mediterranean. With only 67 rooms, it’s intimate but offers plenty of amenities, from a championship golf course and three pools to the three restaurants and expansive spa.

Vienna
Photo by Shutterstock

Vienna

Vienna may wait for you, but not forever. Plan a trip now before the chill sets in. Set the mood by checking in to the Grand Hotel Wien, an ornate 1870 landmark with silk wallpaper and crystal chandeliers in every room. Pop by the concierge desk to collect your tickets for tomorrow’s performance of Il Trovatore at the Vienna State Opera, just a block away. Then take a stroll through the Viennese woods, burnished in autumn colors. Be sure to save at least one meal for Grand Le Ciel, the hotel’s newly Michelin-starred restaurant—try one of their avant garde desserts, like the iced raw milk with dried Alpine herbs and marinated raspberries.

View from hotel
Photo by Palazzo Avino

Amalfi Coast

The beach isn’t Amalfi’s main attraction, so you’re not missing much if you go in the less crowded but still delightful autumn months. At Palazzo Avino, Mariella Avino, one of the hotel’s owners, will greet you upon arrival and show you one of the 43 rooms, all warmly designed with handmade tiles, antique rugs and Moorish arches. While you're there, you’ll have the best view of the Spettacolo del’Incendio on September 17, a large fireworks festival that draws visitors from across the country.  And you’ll be able to stroll around Ravello and enjoy its galleries, cafes and terraced gardens without the summertime swarms.