10 best fall destinations in Europe perfect for families


When the summer crowds disperse and the trees start donning their autumnal hues, Europe becomes an enchanting destination for families.

With crisp air, cultural events and harvest festivities, fall is a fantastic time to explore the Old Continent. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures framed by changing leaves, cities where history comes alive without the distraction of summertime hordes, or cultural events that captivate both young and old, autumn in Europe offers something for everyone.

From the sun-drenched coasts of Italy to the mysterious lochs of Scotland, and from cozy German forests to bustling Danish cities, here are 10 family-friendly destinations that will ensure your European autumn escape is unforgettable.

Tuscany, Italy

MAMMUTH/GETTY IMAGES

Tuscany in the fall is an ideal destination for families. As the seasons change, its rolling hills are draped in shades of orange and gold, offering a breathtaking view. Kids will love the hands-on experience of grape harvesting, while the entire family can savor traditional Italian dishes that taste even better in their native setting.

Exploring historic villages like San Gimignano becomes a special treat without the usual tourist rush. The mild weather complements the trip, ensuring comfort for every outing.

Related: Insider tips for eating and drinking your way through Italy

Black Forest, Germany

Triberg Waterfalls in the Black Forest in Germany. MARCO BOTTIGELLI/GETTY IMAGES

The Black Forest in Germany is truly a spectacle in the fall. As the leaves change, the forest exudes an almost magical aura, reminiscent of classic fairy tales. Families venturing here can embark on memorable hikes through the woods, with trails suitable for all ages. After working up an appetite, what could be better than diving into a slice of the region’s renowned Black Forest cake? It’s a treat not to be missed.

Moreover, dotted within this enchanting forest are quaint towns waiting to be explored, and Triberg stands out among them. Famous for its iconic cuckoo clocks, a visit here feels like stepping back in time. For families seeking a blend of nature, history and gastronomy, the Black Forest during autumn is an unbeatable choice.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Bled Castle and St. Martin’s Church in Bled, Slovenia. DEB SNELSON/GETTY IMAGES

Lake Bled in Slovenia is nothing short of captivating, especially during the fall season. Imagine the already-picturesque lake, complete with its charming island church and majestic medieval castle, taking on an even more magical glow amid the backdrop of vibrant autumn foliage. Families can jump aboard a traditional wooden “pletna” boat, rowing gently across the calm waters to reach the island. It’s like something from a storybook!

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If you prefer staying on land, cycling around the lake offers an equally stunning way to take in the autumnal colors. Whether you’re in the mood for adventure or simply want to soak in the natural beauty, Lake Bled in the fall is a must-visit destination for families.

The Scottish Highlands

Autumn colours in the Scottish Highlands. RECHITANSORIN/GETTY IMAGES

The Scottish Highlands are a treasure trove of activities ideal for families, particularly in autumn. Delving into the depths of its mysterious lochs offers an adventure where both kids and adults can let their curiosities soar. The landscape is dotted with ancient castles, inviting families to step back in time and immerse themselves in Scotland’s rich history.

A notable highlight for children is the chance to engage in traditional Scottish activities, with falconry being a standout — there’s something truly unforgettable about watching these majestic birds in action and learning about this ancient art. For a journey that combines scenic beauty with Old World charm, families can also hop on the Jacobite steam train.

Related: How to spend 1 day in Edinburgh

Zurich

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Zurich is a delightful destination for families, especially when you consider its child-friendly policies. The city is particularly accommodating for those traveling with younger children, as trains and many attractions are free for kids under the age of 6.

Children’s eyes will light up at the mere mention of the chocolate factory tour, where the world of sweets unfolds in all its delicious glory. Boat rides on the pristine Zurich Lake offer another engaging activity, allowing families to soak in the scenic beauty from a different perspective.

Related: The 10 best destinations to travel with your toddler

Additionally, the city boasts a range of interactive museums that are designed to pique the curiosity of young minds. And for a day out in nature with a touch of wildlife wonder, Zurich’s zoo showcases a diverse range of animals that will surely captivate both the young and the young-at-heart.

Transylvania, Romania

A street in Sighisoara with a medieval clock tower in Transylvania, Romania. ALEXANDER SPATARI/GETTY IMAGES

Transylvania, Romania, is more than just the land of Dracula legends; it’s a treasure trove of activities perfect for families. Its fortified churches and medieval towns set the stage for a journey back in time.

Bran Castle is a highlight, allowing families to explore its winding corridors and delve deep into its historical tales. For a taste of the countryside, traditional hayrides offer families an authentic Transylvanian experience, while children can get hands-on and learn about the region’s agricultural roots by partaking in apple harvests.

Budapest

The Szechenyi Thermal Bath in the city of Budapest. FRANK ROTHE/GETTY IMAGES

Imagine unwinding as a family in the city’s world-famous thermal baths – it’s like a spa day, but even the kids get in on the fun! And then there’s Buda Castle, which isn’t just an architectural marvel — it’s a journey back in time, where tales of knights and royalty come alive for the little ones.

Need a break? A stroll along the Danube offers both peace and panoramic views. Oh, and for the budding artists in the family, the Hungarian National Gallery is an absolute treat. With its child-friendly workshops and events, it’s both an art lesson and a playdate rolled into one.

Lake District, England

Grasmere in Cumbria, England. JOE DANIEL PRICE/GETTY IMAGES

The Lake District in England is a family-friendly gem that truly shines in the autumn. This expansive area, known for its breathtaking landscapes, offers myriad activities tailored to families. From well-marked hiking trails that wind through the rustling woods to the inviting lakes that are perfect for a peaceful rowboat ride, there’s something for every age.

If you’re looking to sit back and enjoy the crisp autumn air, numerous picturesque spots beckon for a memorable family picnic. And, for the little ones, a trip to the Lake District wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the World of Beatrix Potter attraction. Here, the enchanting tales of Peter Rabbit and his companions come alive, captivating children’s imaginations.

Puglia, Italy

Trulli houses in Puglia, Italy. SIMONSKAFAR/GETTY IMAGES

Puglia, nestled in Italy’s southeastern corner, stands out as an idyllic fall destination for families. While many parts of Europe begin to embrace the cool embrace of autumn, Puglia retains its gentle warmth, offering families a prolonged summer feel right up until November.

This rapidly emerging family-friendly destination boasts a range of luxurious accommodations, from upscale resorts to spacious private villas that provide an intimate setting. But there’s more to Puglia than just relaxation; it’s an adventure waiting to unfold. Families can revel in coastal escapades or set off on road trips, diving deep into the heart of this authentic and less-trodden Italian region. In essence, with its perfect climate, varied stays and endless activities, Puglia is the go-to fall getaway for families.

Southern Italy: 5 overlooked cities to add to your Italian itinerary

Copenhagen

ALEXANDER SPATARI/GETTY IMAGES

Denmark‘s captivating capital is an ideal family adventure spot. Its compact, pedestrian-friendly layout ensures easy navigation, even with a stroller in tow, and while cobbles grace its streets, they’re much simpler to traverse than those in ancient cities like Rome.

Beyond its welcoming infrastructure, the genuine warmth with which kids are received — everywhere from bustling cafes to insightful museums and local eateries — sets the stage for a truly relaxing holiday.

Related: How to get to Denmark with credit card points and airline miles

Just a hop away are sun-kissed beaches and the exhilarating Legoland, while within the city, attractions like Tivoli Gardens, the Blue Planet aquarium and The Children’s Museum (nestled inside the National Museum) cater specifically to the younger crowd.

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