Summer is by far the most popular time to visit Europe, especially for American travelers.
But while summer in Europe can be a lot of fun, it can also bring a lot of challenges. High crowds, high prices, and extreme temperatures are some of the biggest drawbacks of visiting Europe in summer.
This summer in particular has been one of the worst on record.
Here’s why this fall is actually the best time to plan your European vacation:
1. Milder Weather
Summer 2023 has seen an unprecedented heat wave across much of Southern Europe. Destinations like Greece, Italy, and Spain have been particularly hard-hit, with temperatures in Southern Italy hitting a record-breaking 117° F (47° C) in July.
Popular tourist destinations such as the Acropolis in Athens, Greece have even been temporarily closed due to extreme heat.
Traveling in the fall can be much more pleasant. Beach lovers can still enjoy warm temperatures in September and even early October in many popular destinations like Greece, Italy, Croatia, and Spain.
The water in the Mediterranean and Adriatic remains warm and swimmable in September after being heated by the hot sun all summer. This makes early fall a great time to visit sunny destinations in Europe for milder weather.
2. Fewer Crowds At Popular Destinations
Fall is considered to be part of the “shoulder season” in Europe. This is the time of year preceding and following the peak summer season.
September and October are great months for visiting Europe because all of the summer crowds have left, leaving popular tourist destinations comfortably uncrowded.
Overcrowding in popular tourist destinations such as Greece and Italy dissolve come September, making the fall a much more pleasant time to visit. You can actually enjoy the destinations you’re visiting, rather than having to battle the crowds constantly.
3. Better Deals On Airfare
One of the biggest areas where American travelers can save by taking a fall trip to Europe is on airfare. The cost of a flight from the U.S. to Europe dramatically plummets in the fall compared to the peak summer season.
According to Investopedia, mid- to late-October is the best time during the fall to get cheap flights to Europe. Even in September, airfare is considerably lower than it is from June through August.
Summer 2023 is the most expensive season on record to fly to Europe. According to statistics from Hopper, traveling this fall can save you 37% to 43% on airfare.
4. Better Deals On Hotels
Hotels, like flights, are also considerably cheaper in the fall. In popular tourist destinations such as Santorini, Greece or the Amalfi Coast, Italy, the cost of a night at a hotel can be inflated by as much as 300% during the summer season.
It’s not uncommon to see a hotel room that might go for $800 a night in July in Positano, Italy going for only $300 a night in October.
Even in major cities where there may be less variation in summer season/shoulder season hotel rates, you will still typically find cheaper prices in the fall.
5. Enjoy Beautiful Fall Colors
Although many parts of Southern Europe will still have summer-like temperatures in September and even into October, you can also experience typical fall foliage and cooler weather in other parts of Europe.
Some of the best places to enjoy fall foliage in Europe include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Slovenia. Beautiful destinations like Hallstatt, Austria or Lake Bled, Slovenia become even more picturesque in the fall as the leaves change colors.
In popular cities like Paris and London, fall is also a great time to visit. You can enjoy changing fall colors and crisp, cool weather.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com