Summer is traditionally Europe’s busiest tourist season, when travellers from all over the world visit some of the continent’s most iconic tourist destinations. For savvy travellers, however, autumn offers a prime time to visit Europe.
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One of Europe's most charming cities, Bruges looks like it could have been plucked from the pages of one of Grimm's fairytales, boasting charming cobblestone streets, canals running through the city and plenty of Medieval architecture. In fact, October is one of the best times to visit this charming Belgian city as the leaves on the trees along the canals change into vivid colours of red, yellow, and orange, as do the vines creeping up the ancient brick walls. Fall brings moderate temperatures — and moderate prices — while the city's famed open-air markets remain open until November.
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Not only are there fewer tourists in London during the fall, there are a multitude of activities available to the autumn traveller, ranging from London Cocktail Week (which runs from October 2-8) to the London Film Festival (October 4-15) to the London Literature Festival (October 13-November 1), with 2017's event headlined by Tom Hanks, who'll be on hand to read selections from his first published short story collection. In addition, Harry Potter fans will have plenty to explore at the British Library's "Harry Potter: A History of Magic" exhibit, which runs from October 20 until early 2018.
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Lisbon is one of the more affordable European cities to visit anytime of the year, and becomes even more so during the fall, when you can say goodbye to summertime tourists and say hello to bargain hotel rates and airfare. Meanwhile, temperatures remain warm but mild (hovering around 21 degrees C), although you'll want to pack a sweater, as the evenings will begin to get chillier.
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The tourist traffic in Berlin thins out significantly in the fall, with lower rates for hotel rooms once you're out of peak season. As a bonus, Berlin becomes a colourful wonderland thanks to its annual display of autumnal foliage. But to really see the city at its finest, plan a trip during Berlin's annual Festival of Lights (which runs from October 6-15), in which the city's most iconic sites are illuminated in a dazzling display of light artistry.
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As travel to such iconic destinations as London and Paris continues to swell, Eastern European destinations are gaining popularity with tourists. One of the most popular is Dubrovnik, a Croatian city loaded with old-world charm, ancient castles, friendly locals and Medieval architecture. In fact, the best time to visit Dubrovnik is during September and October, when the hot summer temperatures have cooled down (but are still warm) and the cruise ships are no longer bringing in boatloads of tourists each day, which means prices dip during the autumn and winter months.
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By bypassing the summer and foregoing Barcelona's beach season, you'll save some serious coin by visiting in the fall, when tourist crowds thin out and prices for hotels drop significantly. While October tends to be rainy, the mild temperatures (about 15 to 21 degrees C) makes it an ideal time for sightseeing.
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While Amsterdam will begin getting chilly in the fall, the trade-off is that airfares and hotel rates plummet during the autumn months for those who are prepared to wear a jacket while exploring the city's stunning canals.
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While the summer heat can be scorchingly oppressive in Budapest, the cooler autumn temperatures make this time of year ideal for sightseeing. Meanwhile, the city is full of its numerous autumn festivals, encompassing everything from wine to art to music to food — including festivals devoted to sausage and foie gras.
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The fall foliage in the Scottish capital will give Vermont a run for its money, and the city's famed botanical gardens are at their most spectacular at this time of year. As a bonus, the summer tourists will be long gone, making prices drop and getting around easier.
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According to a Hotels.com survey, Oslo was found to be 2016's most trendy tourist destination, and travelling to the Norwegian city outside of normal tourist season brings big cost savings. One of Europe's fastest-growing cities, visitors can take advantage of state-of-the art museums, stunning architecture and vibrant culinary scene.
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Located about two hours from Milan, this gorgeous spot is typically jam-packed with tourists during the summer months, but fall brings smaller crowds and less humidity. The fall months also offer an array of festivals, including weekend food and wine celebrations, art exhibits to opera and ballet, and concerts at Lake Como’s 19th-century Teatro Sociale. And who knows, you might even bump into famed residents George and Amal Clooney.
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This ancient Czech city is romantic and gorgeous, and autumn brings spectacular displays of fall foliage in Prague's numerous public parks. Prices drop once you're out of the peak summertime tourist season, and there are plenty of bargains to be had during this time of year.