Although “European summer” is a travel trend that has been dominating social media for the last few months, showcasing sun-soaked Mediterranean destinations like Italy, Greece, and the South of France, fall is actually the better time to visit Europe.
This summer has been an extremely busy one in Europe, with travel up 55% compared to last year. In addition to record-breaking crowds, extreme heat caused wildfires in destinations like Rhodes, Greece and Sicily, Italy, while popular tourist destinations like the Acropolis in Athens were forced to close due to heat several times.
Overall, summer travel in Europe has not been the most pleasant experience this summer. Meanwhile, fall means fewer crowds, lower prices, and milder weather.
Here are seven popular European destinations that are best experienced in the fall:
Fall is the start of “shoulder season” in Italy. The majority of tourists are gone by the end of August, making fall a great time to visit for lower crowds and lower prices.
In Italy, beach destinations like the Amalfi Coast and Sardinia remain warm enough to swim in the sea and enjoy mild summer weather through the end of September.
Scorching-hot Rome and other destinations in southern Italy cool down significantly, while you can enjoy chillier fall weather in destinations like Venice and Lake Como in the north of Italy.
Similar to Italy, September marks the beginning of shoulder season in Greece. Popular Greek islands like Santorini and Mykonos are calmer and quieter, but everything is still open.
Later in the fall, many hotels, restaurants, and shops on the Greek islands will close for the season, making September the ideal time to go to enjoy the tail-end of summer.
Athens is also much more pleasant to visit during the fall, and you can truly enjoy exploring the city’s ancient ruins without enduring temperatures in excess of 105° F.
France is another destination best visited during the fall.
While many travelers who go to Paris during the summer end up having an unpleasant experience and find the city to be overrated due to high prices and high crowds, it’s a different story in the fall.
Popular tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre are less crowded during the fall, and the weather becomes very mild and pleasant.
Travelers have been flocking to Spanish cities like Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville this summer, but many have been disappointed by extreme crowds and sweltering weather. Temperatures regularly topped more than 110° F around southern Spain this summer.
However, fall is a better time to visit the country to enjoy lower crowds and milder weather. You can still enjoy visiting Spain’s beaches and swimming in the sea throughout the month of September.
It’s not hard to see why Portugal has been breaking tourism records this year. This European country is beautiful, affordable, and has tons of things to do, from cool cities like Porto and Lisbon to the stunning beaches of the Algarve.
However, Portugal’s increasing popularity means that this summer has seen sky-high crowds and prices that are steadily rising.
Fall is a much better time to visit, and you can enjoy warm and sunny weather from September through November in many parts of the country.
After Croatia officially entered the Schengen Zone at the beginning of this year and adopted the Euro as its currency, prices immediately shot up.
For example, walking the city walls of Dubrovnik, a popular activity that cost 150 kuna (approximately $24 USD) a few years ago, is now €35 (approximately $38 USD.) While some of these price increases are unavoidable, you can still save money by traveling during the fall when shoulder season begins.
7. United Kingdom
Finally, the UK is another destination that is perfect to visit in the fall. London is less crowded, and you can enjoy cool fall weather as you explore this popular city or take day trips to nearby destinations like Oxford and Bath.
The months of September and October are also the perfect time to experience fall foliage in the UK. Destinations like the Cotswolds are absolutely stunning during the fall months.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com