Summer has been drawing to a close, which means it’s getting to that time when we all want to stick our heads under the pillow and wait for next year. However even in autumn, when the leaves of the trees slowly begin to change colour, there are plenty of European cities where you can enjoy the cooler weather in style. This is for a number of reasons – the main one being that when going on a short city break in autumn many cities won’t be anywhere near as full as they are in summer.
If you stay away from these popular destinations during the summer holidays you’ll be able to have many of the sights to yourself during the evening in autumn. Of course, the famous Louvre in Paris will always be full, but at least in autumn, you’ll have a greater chance of getting tickets to see the legendary Mona Lisa at short notice.
Perfect Destinations for an Autumn City Break
Once summer is over, I often find great flights to these cities that are a real bargain, and from time to time you’ll also be able to find a room in a really luxurious hotel for a fraction of the price since hotels won’t be completely booked up. So, I’ve put together 5 different destinations that make for a perfect city break in autumn!
Marrakech | Stockholm | Barcelona | Paris | Budapest
Marrakech – a feast for all the senses
Lots of people have definitely never considered going to Marrakesh, but this stunning city really is a dream destination – you’ll be guaranteed to have an amazing time if you travel here in October and November! The temperatures are more than pleasant and the city will beguile all of your senses. If you wander along the narrow side streets of Medina, the old town of Marrakesh, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled into the world of 1001 Nights!
In the spice quarter, you’ll be overwhelmed by all the scents and you won’t find the unique façades of the old mud houses and shops anywhere else in the world. Many of the spices are even said to have healing qualities. Everyone who strolls down these streets should ask about which unbelievable spices have been laid out in the displays. Everywhere in the enormous square of Djemaa el-Fna, you’ll encounter snake charmers, artists and traders who have an incredible variety of art, Moroccan specialities and entertainment. Artisans produce jewellery, rugs and also lamps, and I promise you that you’ll fall in love with all the colourful diversity!
I really recommend the riads, gorgeous hotels in historic buildings right in the heart of the Marrakesh. On the outside, these buildings are often in their original condition – but from the inside, they’re brimming with stylish design. If you’re looking for an extraordinary place to spend a city break, Marrakesh is the place for you!
Golden autumn in Stockholm
Autumn makes the Nordic city of Stockholm simply beautiful and a perfect destination for a autumn city break! You can have a wonderful time here as the trees along the avenues change colour and the sun starts to set a little sooner. The autumn sun paints the old town of Gamla Stan in a golden colour and you can relax and unwind as you walk along the water front. Stockholm’s location is quite special, as it’s scattered across numerous islets, and if you have the time you should definitely go on a boat trip along the islands and locks. Pay a visit to the Astrid Lindgren Museum, Junibacken or Drottningholm Slott, the place where the Swedish royal family live.
The city is the perfect place to spend the afternoons going on a leisurely stroll through the streets, admiring the cute shop displays, stopping off for a bite to eat at one of the restaurants and grabbing a coffee. And I can promise you that old cliché of Swedes being the most beautiful people in the world is definitely true!
Towards the evening you simply have to make your way up Fjällgatan. From here you’ll get a wonderful view of Gamla Stan and the museum island of Skeppsholmen. If the weather looks to be pretty miserable go on a little tour of the underground system. Some of the stations are works of art in their own right – Kungsträdgården, in particular, is just amazing!
Soak up the sun in Barcelona
From the far North, we’re now heading to the south of Europe because the Spanish city of Barcelona is a great place to escape the awful weather we get over in Ireland. After the hot summers, you can still enjoy temperatures over 20°C in October and November and the sun will often shine the whole day. The town will no longer be overfilled with tourists who prefer to travel during the heat of summer and populate the unique structures such as the Sagrada Familia or the Poble Espanyol open-air museum. If you’re only got a weekend here I advise just getting hold of a 48-hour ticket for the Hop-on hop off buses and exploring the city this way.
You can get on and off whenever you like and make your own little sightseeing tour. If you’re lucky, you can then spend a few hours in the afternoon on the city beach, before looking for a cosy tapas bar in the old town, and bring the evening to a relaxing end. You should definitely look for a hotel in the old town of Barcelona, ideally one with a roof terrace – the gorgeous Hotel 1898 is the first one that comes to mind for me! Here you can relax in the pool and enjoy the view across the rooftops. If you don’t want to exceed your budget you can just spend the evening here and enjoy a delicious cocktail. Barcelona is definitely an amazing destination that’s worth visiting in autumn!
Charming Paris in autumn
In terms of temperature, there’s not that much difference between Paris and our own climate. But Paris is Paris, and it’s that reason alone which makes it worth travelling there at any time of the year. Okay, so you may need a light coat and a scarf in October, but once you’re prepared you can admire all the fantastic buildings in the French capital at your own pace. Unlike most big cities the bike rental scheme here works incredibly well. You’ll find stations all over the city where you can hire a bike and go off on an adventure before parking it up again – the first 30 minutes are free as well!
You can cycle along the Seine and discover the sights such as the Louvre, Notre Dame and the Musée d’Orsay. The Eiffel Tower is just a few minutes away by bike.
If it starts raining you could spend hours in the luxury department store Galeries Lafayette admiring the designer bags and chic clothes and trying some of the delicious macaroons. Paris is the fashion capital, and you’ll notice this when you sit in one of the romantic cafés and watch the stylish Parisians as they hurry on by outside.
Arrondissements 1-11 are the most central place to stay and if you can find a hotel room here, you’ll be right in the middle of all the action. Enjoy Paris during the golden months of autumn and give yourself a few days to do it. This will take you to Gare du Nord which is central to the city, whereas it’s a 45-minute journey by train to the city centre from the airport.
Spa Baths of Budapest
The Hungarian capital is a real gem, and it’s here where you can spend some beautiful and relaxed days during autumn. The city centre has some incredible buildings such as the Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion on offer. The impressive fortress up on the hill is worth a visit, as well as the enormous market hall in the Fövám Tér district. You’ll find plenty of small bistros here where you can try the local Hungarian delicacies.
Once you’ve had enough of sightseeing you can indulge yourself for the day in one of the city’s unique thermal baths. Some particularly well-known ones are the Gellért Thermal Bath and Széchenyi Baths, and in these gorgeous art nouveau buildings you can kick back, relax and just forget about the British weather!
Hotels in Budapest are relatively cheap. The Hotel Baltazár Budapest is one that I really recommend. The interior of the entire hotel and the restaurant is very chic and stylish. Enjoy the last rays of the sun from the unique skyline of Budapest and treat yourself to a few days full of fun and relaxation!
Find your perfect city break!
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Some more city break inspiration…