After the family outdoor barbecues and booze-fueled beach trips of the summer, autumn has dawned upon the world once again — most of it, at least. The magical season of transition is characterised by landscapes covered with frost-covered red, gold, yellow and brown autumn leaves under bright sunlight, resulting in the perfect storybook setting.
Yes, most destinations have their own allure in winter, summer, or even spring. But autumn gives a whole feel to a place; as if you’re looking at it through new, rose-tinted glasses. Whether you choose to go on a hike, camp in an RV in the mountains, or simply just indulge in some leaf-peeping, these destinations — from reflective lakes to granite peaks — are awash in golden and orange hues that will make you fall in love with autumn all over again.
Lake Königssee, Bavaria
The emerald green Königssee, with its crystal water weaving through Germany’s only alpine national park, is one of the destinations you shouldn’t miss for autumn. While the Alps is known for skiing in the winter, its temperatures are warmer and views more colourful in autumn.
Synonymous with Brothers Grimm, the area is home to copper-turreted castles rising out of red and green alpine forests, hidden gorges and lakes. Lake Königssee is also an ideal destination to delve into the Bavarian culture and history of Berchtesgaden, as it is home to museums and natural attractions such as The White Gold, Eagle’s Nest and the National Park Centre.
Where to stay
Nestled in the Bavarian Alps lies the chalet-style Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden, located 1000 metres above sea level, looking out to the mountain backdrop of the Watzmann, Untersberg and Kehlstein. Most of the 138 rooms and suites are beautifully furnished with contemporary flair, overlooking the beautiful alpine surroundings of the hotel.
The award-winning Kempinski The Spa located on the property offers a range of seasonal and regionally inspired massages, beauty therapies and body treatments that draw on the elemental wisdom of nature — with the treatments both invoking and restoring the body’s natural equilibrium. It features a 1,400 square metre wellness area with both indoor and 36-degree heated outdoor pool, a Finnish and herbal sauna, a steam bath with colour therapy and a meditation lounge with floating water beds.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Autumn truly brings out Northeast America’s best assets, especially its national parks. The 47,000 acre Acadia National Park, an Atlantic coast recreation area on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, is a great example. Located primarily on the state’s Mount Desert Island, its landscape is marked by woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest rocky headlands along the Atlantic coastline of the United States.
The National Park provides an opportunity to spot wildlife such as moose, bear, whales and seabirds. The bayside town of Bar Harbour, dotted with quaint restaurants and shops, while is known as a popular gateway to the national park, should also not be skipped.
Where to stay
More adventurous travellers can choose to stay in a RV or go camping at Blackwoods Campground, a convenient 10-minute drive to Bar Harbour. The campground is surrounded by gorgeous coastal vistas on the Acadia Loop Rd. This can be your base while you embark on gentle walks along the rugged coastline, mountain hikes, biking along tree-lined carriage roads or kayak and canoe in the lakes.
If you prefer staying at a hotel yet still be surrounded by nature, check out Hampton Inn Bar Harbor, which is located in a private, secluded location just a short walk from downtown Bar Harbour. The hotel offers beautiful rooms overlooking stunning views of the ocean and mountains in autumn — and boasts proximity to granite cliffs, hiking trails, and beaches of Acadia National Park, as well as the picturesque Bass Harbour Head Lighthouse.
Iceland may not be the first destination you think of when it comes to autumn destinations, especially since its allure lies in the northern lights, its snow-covered peaks in winter, or the endless array of wildflowers in the summer.
Yet, autumn is a beautiful time to travel in Iceland, transforming the overall colour of the Icelandic landscapes with red, yellow and orange hues. Additionally, take advantage of the off-peak season and do activities like horseback riding, soaking in the Blue Lagoon, visiting waterfalls and glaciers, explore caves and black sand beaches with fewer tourists around.
Explore Akureyri, one of Iceland’s most beautiful towns, especially in autumn when the orange-hued leaves frame the beauty of the houses, fjord and calm waters. Often branded as the ‘Capital of North Iceland’, Akureyri is an intimate town known as the gateway to the spectacular beauty of the north, such as the area surrounding Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss waterfall, Goðafoss waterfall and Ásbyrgi canyon.
Where to stay
The 66-room Hotel Kjarnalundur, located just 3.5km from downtown Akureyri, is a gem surrounded by Icelandic nature. This is especially since its bordering the edge of Kjarnaskógur, one of the most popular outdoor areas in Akureyri. The woodlands right behind the hotel feature hiking trails, a specially designed mountain biking track, and a volleyball court.
Lake District, United Kingdom
Some of the most beautiful landscapes that look like they’re created specifically for autumn are definitely lakes. Red-, golden- and orange-hued leaves frame lake house, creating mesmerising reflections in the water. Britain’s Lake District is famed for exactly that, boasting whole mountainsides and valleys of trees and turning every shade from gold to red.
The mountainous region in North West England, popular for its associations with poets William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin, is a national park etched into England’s history — especially since it has been newly inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017 in recognition of its unique hill-farming culture.
Where to stay
If you want to be within proximity to Windermere, the largest natural lake in both the Lake District and England, check into Gilpin Hotel and Lake House. The hotel is a nature retreat spread out over 21 acres and is home to 25 well-appointed bedrooms, two restaurants (which include the Michelin starred HRiSHi and the casual pan Asian Gilpin Spice), a Champagne Bar, lounge, terraces, and a croquet lawn — all the comforts you need for the perfect autumn vacation.