As sunshine and heat are replaced with cooler temperatures and crisp air, many travelers choose to embrace the beginning of fall. What better way to get in the spirit than discovering the world’s most vibrant fall foliage? If you’ve already covered the best fall foliage in the U.S, here are five places across the globe that shine brighter in autumn.
In autumn, Kyoto’s dense population of ginkgo, maple, and cherry blossom trees transform into a spectacle of fall foliage in every corner of the former Japanese capital. The city’s tree-shrouded temples — such as Jo-jakko-ji, Kiyomizu-Dera, and Tofukuji — are all popular tourist attractions year-round, but they are especially beautiful places to peep at the colorful leaves. The trees sweeping above Togetsu Bridge also put on quite a show, as do the groves huddled closely around Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Plenty of visitors flock to Kyoto for the fall show, so if you’re craving some serenity away from the crowds, Bishamondo Temple makes the trek to the outskirts of town worthwhile.
Located in southeast Germany, the state of Bavaria is known for its medieval castles and Baroque churches scattered throughout its picturesque countryside. This fairy-tale landscape becomes even more enticing in autumn. Munich, the capital of Bavaria and the original home of Oktoberfest, is a great place for leaf peepers to start. Check out sites like Englische Garten, Nymphenburg Palace Park, and the banks of the River Isar to take in the fall colors. Scenic drives outside of Munich are also plentiful — the Castle Road in Franconia should not be missed for its bright fall foliage and whimsical castles. The German Alpine Road — with its epic mountain views, picnic stops, and picturesque lakes lined with vibrant leaves — is another must-visit.
Canada boasts one of the world’s densest forest covers, and the area around the Canadian Rockies in western Canada is a treasure trove of leaf-peeping opportunities. That’s especially true of Jasper National Park in Alberta. To start, take to the trails that crisscross Pyramid Bench for views over the tree-covered Athabasca Valley. If the weather’s warm enough, enjoy a picnic with a view on Lake Edith, a glassy basin that shines gold in fall from surrounding foliage. Then, take to the water and kayak or canoe the Athabasca River, which boasts brilliant displays of vibrant leaves around every winding turn.
Downtown Jasper also becomes more enchanting in fall, as pops of colors accent the quaint, tree-lined town. And those who prefer scenic drives are spoiled for choice — don’t miss the long winding route of Miette Road (be sure to stop for a dip in the hot springs) or the Icefields Parkway, the thoroughfare linking Jasper to Banff National Park, established in 1885 as Canada’s first national park.
Summer may be the peak season for tourists to wander the charming and history-filled streets of Edinburgh, but there’s a benefit to holding off on your trip to Scotland until autumn. The tree-lined streets of the Scottish capital transform from green to vibrant golds, browns, and yellows, and the city takes on a magical new appearance. Hit two birds with one stone and stroll around the main attractions — like the Royal Botanic Garden, Lauriston Castle, Edinburgh Castle, and Canton Hill — for a dose of Scottish history coupled with a spectacular display of fall colors. Outside the city, there are several autumn walks that allow you to fully immerse in nature, including the Pentland Hills or Red Moss Nature Reserve.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
The beauty of Amsterdam in autumn is underscored by bushy trees blossoming with color, idyllically reflected in the famous canals that crisscross the capital of the Netherlands. Boasting more trees than residents, Amsterdam has long had a commitment to planting trees and creating green spaces that has made it one of the greenest cities in Europe. The result is an abundance of beauty when the leaves of hundreds of thousands of trees start to change in fall.
There are many opportunities to take in the colors within the sprawling grounds of the numerous city parks, such as Vondelpark, Amsterdamse Bos, Park Frankendael, and Amstel Park. As a bonus, fall is a shoulder season for European travel, which means fewer tourists and lower prices. It also kicks off a packed season of festivals and events in the Netherlands.