Fall Colors

From Central Park to Tokyo, autumn is leaf-peeping time. Here’s when the foliage is at its peak:

New York, NY: Mid-October-early November

Aspen, CO: September

Japan: October-November

Amalfi Coast, Italy: October-November

Paris, France: October

Loire Valley, France: September-October

Bordeaux, France: September-October

Wienerwald, Austria: October

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia: Late September-November

Great Trips Now

For ideal weather (and often, smaller crowds), head to these global destinations between September and November:


China: Autumn is known throughout China as the most pleasant time of the year, with mild temperatures and little rain. Exploring Guilin’s misty mountains and viewing the year’s recently born panda cubs are just a few highlights of the season.

Bhutan: Festivals are a highlight of travel in Bhutan; the largest and most colorful happen between Sep-Nov. (The popular Black-Necked Crane Festival takes place on November 11. Bookings should be made 3-6 months in advance.) This is also the best weather window, offering pleasant temperatures and clear blue skies.

Japan: Autumn is a particularly good time to travel throughout most of Japan; the weather from Sep-Nov is warm, clear and dry, with vivid fall colors appearing in Hokkaido in October and peaking across most of Honshu in November.

Cambodia: The three-day Water Festival, celebrating the reversal of the waters on Tonle Sap, is Cambodia’s largest annual festival. In 2012, it takes place Nov 27-29; book your trip three months in advance.

Myanmar: This fascinating country has only recently opened itself to tourism. Some of its most prominent happen in fall, such as the Thadingyut, or Festival of Lights (Oct 29-31), when pagodas and monuments all over Myanmar are illuminated, and the Phaung Daw U Pagoda Festival at Inle Lake (Oct 16-Nov 2), featuring huge, decorated royal barges powered by dozens of rowers.


Italy: The summer crowds have dispersed, the locals have returned and the weather has cooled—now’s the time to visit tourist meccas like Florence, Rome, Venice and Taormina.

Greece: Warm seas, pleasant temperatures and fewer tourists make Sep-Oct the ideal time to take a cruise of the Cyclades islands. Athens is also at its best.

Wine Regions, France: Autumn in Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Loire Valley means harvest festivals and fall colors (though many of the chateaux are closed to visitors during harvest, some offer special behind-the-scenes harvest tours).

Turkey: In September, avoid the heat and crowds with an idyllic gulet cruise along the Lycian coast. October is one of the best months for touring Istanbul and Ephesus, when the weather is pleasant and crowds are smaller.

Vienna: The wine harvest is in full swing, with mild weather for walking in the woods and vineyards, and visiting traditional wine taverns. The renowned Viennale film festival and Wien Modern music festival take place in the fall; Vienna’s magical Christmas markets open mid-late Nov.

Geneva: Some of the region’s most interesting and colorful festivals take place in the fall, when harvest season arrives, the summer crowds depart, and the weather is mild and crisp.

Croatia: In September, the waters along the Dalmatian coast are still warm enough for swimming, but crowds have dispersed. Autumn colors in late Sep-Nov make the jewel-toned lakes and waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park even more spectacular, while on the Istrian peninsula, white truffle season is celebrated with “Truffle Days,” a series of tasty festivals.


Egypt & Morocco: Sep-Nov is an ideal time for a Nile cruise—temperatures are warm and dry, and there are fewer crowds. In Oct-Nov, Morocco’s weather is pleasant both inland and on the coast.

Botswana & Tanzania: In Botswana, wildlife viewing is most predictable in the dry season (Jul-Oct), after the Okavango Delta has flooded. In Tanzania, this is the time of the massive Serengeti migration—an experience not to be missed. It’s also peak tourist season, so be sure to book ahead.


Flinders Ranges: The spring months (Sep-Nov) offer warm clear days, cool nights, and abundant wildflowers.

Kakadu: September here means warm to hot days with low humidity and a small chance of rain—it’s the best time to see wildlife.

Red Center (Uluru-Kata Tjuta): The Red Center is ideal from Sep-Oct, when daytime temperatures are pleasantly warm and nights are cool but not cold.

Sydney: Spring in Sydney (Sep-Nov) is warm, sunny and mild; October is especially ideal.


Buenos Aires: The city is at its best from Oct-Nov, when the jacaranda trees are in bloom, temperatures are pleasantly cool, and humidity is low.

Iguazu Falls: Visit in Aug-Oct, when the weather is still relatively cool and dry, and the winter crowds have subsided.

Mendoza: Spring in Mendoza means snow-capped peaks, lush green hills, and clear, sunny days—a perfect setting for sampling the area’s signature wines.

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