Around the world, fall offers some of the best bargain prices for travelers. You’ll generally escape the premium airfare prices of the summer as well as summer crowds. In fact, vacationing in the fall is such a breath of fresh air, you’ll be wondering why you hadn’t tried it before.
There are many cool festivals associated with the fall months around the globe, and since fall is the traditional harvest season it’s also a fab time for foodies! Here are a few picks for inspiration!
For our first fall pick, we’re going classically boozy! Oktoberfest has quite the party rep around the world, but if you’re going to experience the real deal – head straight to the source. Many cities in Germany partake in the fun. But Munich is the granddaddy of them all and locals take it very seriously. Oktoberfest is something of a misnomer, however as the fest starts in the 3rd week of September and finished up on the first Sunday of October. This year festivities kicked off on September 16 and will conclude on October 3. There are no entry fees for the biergartens in the city center, but the beer isn’t super cheap. You can probably expect to spend around $50 on the libations.
Airfare: Round trip flights from Chicago (ORD) or San Francisco (SFO) from $512 on Delta.*
If you’re into watching the leaves change (and who isn’t?), Japan offers some of the most stunning colors the world over. Of all the many vantage points within the country, Kyoto definitely offers some of the best views. Check out Jingoji Temple if you’re in Kyoto on the early side, and Tofukuji Temple if your timing has you there in mid- to late-November (for the most spectacular colors)! Other temples well worth a visit are Kiyomizudera (for the reds in particular) and Eikando, which locals agree has the most variation in hue. Some of the temples are illuminated in the evenings for a romantic, autumn glow.
Airfare: Round trip flights from San Francisco on American/JAL for $781 and from Dallas for $1,000.*
Olive Harvest Season
Kalamatas take longer to ripen (for that famously deep purple tone), and Greek farmers have responded to traveler interest in the harvest time by blending bed & breakfast style accommodation with the chance to help out with the harvest itself. Just how involved you want to get depends on you. Some guests just want to see harvested olives, while others want to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, helping out with the harvesting itself. Whatever your pleasure, make sure you explore the vibrant city of Kalamata – during harvest it’s a wonderful time to experience the open markets. You can pick up olives and olive oil of course, but also wild spinach, local greens, and “mountain tea,” a mix of local herbs and flowers that is said to have wide-ranging homeopathic benefit.
Airfare: Round trip flights from New York (JFK) to Athens for under $600 on Turkish Airlines and from Atlanta for under $700.
The Festival of Lights is celebrated in Varanasi, so make sure you visit during the six-day celebration to get the most bang for your buck. However, if you’re going to be in India for a few weeks, you might want to also experience Dev Deepavali (the Diwali of the Gods) in Varanasi. Dev Deepavali falls on the full moon of the Hindu month of Kartika and is celebrated 15 days after Diwali. The main event is the lighting of more than a million lamps on the ghats (steps) that line the Ganges River. Houses are also decorated with lamps and paintings, and oil lamps are set alight on the river. Firecrackers are set off across the city while processions of Hindu deities are a common occurrence. It’s a spectacular was to immerse yourself into Varanasi culture.
Airfare: Flights from Los Angeles on China Southern/Air India for under $1,000 and from Boston on Swiss Air/Air India from $1,050.
White Truffle Season
White truffles are the culinary equivalent of a Gucci bag. They go for upwards of $1,000 a pound and are among the most expensive foods in the world. The months of October and November offer travelers a plethora of truffle festivals to attend and even sample a local favorite, the tartufo bianco. Going to a truffle fair is a great way to sample the delicacy at prices far less than you will ever spend in a restaurant. The Alba Truffle fair in Piemonte is not to be missed. Food, drink, musical acts and even a donkey race! Read more about the Alba Truffle Fair on their website [link ].
Airfare: Flights from New York (JFK) to Turin for under $775 on British Airways. British Airways also has round trip flights from Miami to Turin for $700.
Dia De Los Muertos
Mexico City, Mexico
While there are many places around the country to take a deep dive into the Day of the Dead festivities (Oaxaca is another favorite), Mexico City has decided to up the ante in recent years, owing in part to the holiday’s increased popularity around the world. You can now attend a Dia De Los Muertos parade in the capital, and be sure to pick up some “pan de muerto,” a sugar-dusted orange bread sold at bakeries all over the city. The colorful ghost and skull iconography that typifies the celebration makes it a macabre counterpoint to the U.S. Halloween, though the traditional celebration is much more about honoring ancestors and celebrating life.
Airfare: Nonstop flights from Los Angeles from $200 on Volaris and from Dallas for under $500 on American
Wine Harvest Season
Burgundy has had a few rough years, with record spring frosts keeping the grape harvest low with the added consequence of pushing already expensive wine prices even higher. The 2017 harvest has seen grapes bouncing back, and growers are optimistic for coming years, though the burgundy market is extremely volatile due to the fragility of the grapes. If you plan a visit to Burgundy for the harvest season, plan to come in September. Some growers do wait until early October, but the bulk of the harvest will occur before. You can book a vineyard tour or even a harvest workshop at many vineyards around the burgundy region. Try Chateau de Pommard.
Airfare: Flights to Paris on WOW from Washington DC (BWI) for under $400 and nonstop on Norwegian Air from New York (JFK) for under $400. The Burgundy region is serviced by Paris airports, but keep in mind you’ll need to take an inexpensive local train or hire a car once you get to Paris to get you to your final destination.
Accommodation: [search Paris hotels] button
Summer Weather at Bargain Prices
Dubrovnik is known as the Pearl of the Adriatic for good reason. It has one of the most beautiful historic city centers in all of Europe. The problem in recent years is that it’s no longer a secret spot and visitors from all over the world overrun the postage-stamp-sized town each summer. After the massive crowds depart in September, the weather stays quite warm, usually through most of October. If you’re planning a Croatian beach vacation, you’ll still have the infrastructure (restaurants and accommodation are open), but the prices are much better than they are in the summer months. Plus, there’s room to breathe and walk around without literally having to rub elbows with your neighbor.
Airfare: Round trip flights from New York (JFK) on Turkish Airlines from $739 and from Chicago for $539.
Baby Lemur and Birding Season
And now for something completely different. The island nation of Madagascar off the east coast of Africa is home to 120 species of exotic birds that can be found nowhere else on the planet. In addition, the world’s fourth largest island has a wild variety of amazing plants, Jurassic reptiles and the adorable antics of lemurs. Professional birders recommend the fall for viewing the most varied bird species and baby lemurs are plentiful in October and November. The migrating humpback whales can also be viewed toward the end of summer, in late September. If you can make the long trek, Madagascar is a wonderland of wildlife for nature-loving families.
Airfare: Flights on Delta/Air France from JFK for around $1,000 round trip and from Seattle on United/Ethiopian for around $1,100 round trip.
Fall Foliage at the Great Wall
If you happen to find yourself in Beijing in mid-October to early November, visiting the Great Wall at the height of leaf peeping season is a wondrous sight. Other places for prime fall foliage viewing is Fragrant Hills Park, in the suburbs of the city. Pine, maple and persimmon trees native to the region, turn the landscape colorful shades of red, orange and purple.
Airfare: Flights from LAX to Beijing are under $500 on China Eastern and for around $430 from JFK.
*Fares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 9/28/17 on select dates between 10/01/17 and 11/30/17. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.