'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness' begins the famous ode, 'To Autumn' by John Keats, in which he extolls the virtues of finding beauty in unexpected places. And that's precisely what we love about holidays at this time of year. In the Northern Hemisphere, September to November are the months when the leaves start to turn, there's a nostalgic nip in the air and the days grow noticeably shorter. Here are our recommendations for your next Autumn getaway.
A popular choice for the start of the shoulder months, Italy holds the last of the summer heat within its Roman ruins and Tuscan vineyards. If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the big cities, however, perhaps turn your eye to the island of Sicily. With an ancient history (the island was the setting for Homer's 'The Odyssey'), excellent food and idyllic beaches, you'll never be short of places to explore and new things to see. And the ever-watchful Mount Etna adds a thrill to proceedings too, with excursions to the volcano's lava flows a real must.
If you're after a touch of the exotic just a few hours from the UK, why not consider North Africa? Morocco boasts the holy trifactor of warm weather, plenty of sun and hardly any rain in September. Wandering the night markets at Jemaa el-Fna as gentle desert winds blow from the south, wafting the scent of local teas and spices, or eating traditional dishes amid the dunes of the Sahara, you'll feel a million miles from home.
You'll feel anything but silly if you travel to the Isles of Scilly in September. An archipelago off the Cornish Coast, these small, yet perfectly formed, islands offer visitors a cornucopia of delights, whether it's Tresco's tropical gardens or St Mary's remote coastline. With mellower temperatures year-round than most of the country, the Scilly Isles are a little pocket of paradise in your own backyard.
Although Munich's Oktoberfest is cancelled for 2020, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a refreshing stein if travel is back on the agenda this autumn. Home to cosy taverns serving hearty comfort food, Bavaria is second-to-none when it comes to an October getaway. Enjoy colourful woodland walks beneath fiery canopies, explore the fairytale castles of the Bavarian Alps, and enjoy a slice of Black Forest gateau before stopping off at the local bierkeller. Here, while away your evening sampling locally-brewed weissbier (wheat beer) as your foot keeps time with the lively oompah band.
If you're after some truly spectacular Fall colours, your best bet for autumn is the East Coast of America. A blaze of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, the sugar maples of New England and southern Canada not only deliver an annual showstopping display, but they can serve up a tasty sweet treat too.
In India, October marks the end of monsoon season, leaving behind fresh scented air and temperatures that don't top the mid-30s, even in the south. This gives you a window of opportunity to visit some of the country's most impressive forts and palaces, which can sometimes be a bit much under the heat of the summer sun. From the Golden Triangle of Jaipur, Delhi and Agra to the palm-fringed backwaters of Kerala, whenever you visit, India is a destination of discovery.
South America is known for its epic mountain ranges, dynamic cities and Aztec, Mayan and Incan history making it a popular destination for culture vultures. Most holidaymakers have left by November, leaving wonderous sights like Machu Picchu a little less busy. You might encounter a few rain showers, but the beautiful benefit of this is the wild orchids found blooming throughout the Andes region.
Usually associated with summer holidays, Spain comes into its own in the autumn. An October visit to the country's rugged coast, the Costa Brava, serves up wild and untamed scenery that's largely avoided commercialisation and once inspired famous artists such as Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, as well as scrumptious seafood in quaint fishing towns. Enjoy an authentic dish of alongside the crashing waves of the Balearic Sea washed down with a glass of cool, crisp Catalan wine.
The smell of ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon wafting through the air, the sound of church bells and local choirs and the sight of hand-crafted goodies; Europe's Christmas markets are the ideal way to kick off the Christmas season. And there's no city with more festive cheer and spirit than Cologne. With no less than seven themed markets spread out across the city, stock up on decorations and gifts before treating yourself to a glass of glühwein and a sugar-dusted waffle.