Top Reasons to Travel to Europe in Autumn

When it comes to finding an adventure vacation, it can be all about the timing! In Europe, each season brings with it a whole new experience. The summer months can be extremely hot and busy while the winter months are great for skiing and other snow sports, Europe in Autumn however, is one of our favorite times to visit.

For the Americans reading, we’re talking about traveling to Europe in the Fall. The season where the leaves start changing, the days get a bit shorter and the air a bit crispier.

Autumn is a great option when looking for a adventure vacation in Europe. Here’s why:

Europe in autumn
Europe in autumn

Here are the top 10 reasons to travel to Europe in autumn

1.  The summer crowds are nowhere to be seen

Can you imagine just walking into the museum of your choice… with no lines!  How about getting into the famed restaurants you have read all about?  (August in Europe is known for closing places down so the employees can have some time off.) Traveling in the off-season means less crowds and more opportunities for experiencing the destination like a local.

2. The weather is great

The autumn temperatures, are much more conducive to active vacations.  With temperatures leaving the 90’s for the more comfortable 70’s and 80’s, fall is the perfect time to get outside! The cooler temperatures make an Italy bike tour the best time to go. Be prepared for a few rainy days though!

3.  Changing of the seasons

You always hear about it for the U.S. midwest and northeast and the same goes for many European destinations.  Imagine the hills of Tuscany golden, to match the light! As the leaves start changing their golden shades of auburn, orange, and brown, the streets and hillsides take on a whole new vibe. It’s beautiful and so picturesque!

4.  Your photos won’t look like everyone else’s

Fewer strangers in the backgrounds, the fall colors highlighting the city and landscapes, moodier lighting from earlier evenings, and more beautiful sunsets falling behind that amazing cathedral you just saw for the first time.

5.  Getting Time off

You can get time off work more easily because everyone else is fighting over the summer holidays. Or, you could always work remotely and take an extended stay.

6.  Wine lovers

Wine grape harvests fall in the autumn months: August for Italy, and September and October in France.  Amazing festivals often coincide with harvest time – meaning even more wine tasting!

7.  Restaurants change

Seasonal mushroom and truffle dishes are a real treat during fall. Who wants to eat schnitzel in the summer anyway? Traveling to Europe in autumn means that some days can be spent enjoying a fresh meal outside in the sun while other days are spent inside a cozy restaurant tucking into a hearty meal while the rain falls outside.

8. It’s more affordable

Off-season means you can typically find cheaper price tags on airfare and hotels.

9. Shorter days

Shorter days means there are more opportunities for moonlit strolls.  Imagine the romance!

10. Best season for visiting museums

As rainy season approaches, you won’t feel like you are missing a beautiful, sunny, day if you spend your time inside. Musee D’Orsay anyone?

Reasons to Add the Franschhoek Wine Region to Your Cape Town Itinerary

Planning a Cape Town itinerary means including a little bit of everything – beach, mountains, city life, and, of course, wine. This post is all about the wine…the Franschhoek wine region in particular.

If you want to experience the best of the beautiful Cape Winelands, make sure to include a visit to the Franschhoek wine district.

Why the Franschhoek wine region?

Boasting a huge 20+ wineries, Franschhoek is renowned for its ever popular wine tram tours, exquisite food and five star accommodation.

The relaxed nature of the town, stunning scenery and slow place make this the perfect relaxing break, city escape or fantastic day trip.

Franschhoek has a huge French influence, with the name meaning the ‘French corner’ in Afrikaans.

Where is Franschhoek?

This incredible destination is located 60 kilometres outside the hustle and bustle of the Cape Town city and 30km to the ever popular wine district of Stellenbosch (here’s a few things to do in Stellenbosch). The town lies between the Franschhoek Valley and the Wemmershoek Mountains.

Franschhoek wine region
Franschhoek wine region

Join a Franschhoek wine tram tour

This is the number one attraction in Franschhoek, with trams covering 8 tram lines and 8 to 10 stops on each line (you can stay aboard and skip some stops if you wish). Tram times run every hour allowing some wine tasting, food and a look around before heading off to your next destination. Be aware though, the last tram runs at 4pm, so if you settle in to a winery for a few hours be sure to keep one eye on your watch or it could be a long walk.

Book the tour now

Two wine stops you must make

Dieu Donne

Set on the side of the hills with views of the stunning Franschhoek mountain range and neighboring Stellenbosch, Dieu Donne offers a sense of freedom and a world away from everything.

Top Tip: This is the best place in Franschhoek to see the sunset.

Eikehof Wines

Eikehof is a smaller, more family oriented winery and you really get a sense of what it might feel like to grow up immersed in this world. The family shared some great stories such as the history of the 1940’s Ford on display – which belonged to the owner’s grandfather who used it to plough the fields back in the day. Such intimate stories shared by the owners added to the warm experience we had here.

Franschhoek wine tram
Franschhoek wine tram

Food in Franschhoek

Franschhoek is known unofficially as the culinary capital of South Africa. It boasts first class fine dining, while still creating a relaxed aura and feel that is Franschhoek.

Our favourite restaurant in Franschhoek

For us it has to be the Monneaux restaurant, a restaurant set with a relaxed yet intimate environment. With three rooms and the flow of a house, this really set a scene of comfort. This certainly was an environment we could feel comfortable in while still appreciating all the formalities and professionalism of a top end fine dining restaurant.

The food prides itself on locally sourced suppliers and artisans, seasonal menus and simplicity with a view of not over complicating things.

We enjoyed a small plates tasting menu trying 4 dishes and dessert. This is the way we like to eat getting many different flavours and textures. Presentation is fantastic and every dish was well executed.

Where to stay in Franschhoek

We stayed at the Franschhoek Country House and Villas a short 10 minute walk from the center of Franschhoek. 5 star accommodation at it’s finest. With complimentary champagne on arrival and a great breakfast of freshly cooked dishes, fruits, pastries, meats and cheeses laid out each morning.

Get poolside and enjoy some sun with poolside dining and cocktails, the fresh views of the mountains and the old fashioned passing wine tram.

The hotel also has an onsite spa with many many options of packages to unwind and rejuvenate.

Franschhoek Country House and Villas
Franschhoek Country House and Villas

5 Other Things To Do In Franschhoek

Staying for a few days? Here is five other great things to do in Franschhoek.

1. Franschhoek Motor Museum

With over 100 years of history and over 200 cars the Franschhoek motor museum is a must for any car enthusiast.

2. Franschhoek Pass

The Franschhoek pass takes you into the mountains with stunning drives and views that you can only imagine exist.

3. First South African Perfume Museum

Franshhoek was once a budding perfume district with a whole host of perfumeries. At the museum you can find out all about the history behind this industry in this area.

A little fact the restaurant we ate in the, Monneaux was actually home to one of the first Perfumeries in Franschhoek.

4. Soul Barrell Brewing

If you’re all wined out and fancy a change, then look no further than Soul Barrel Brewing. A selection of independent craft beers with taproom and tours available.

5. Hike Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve

Mont Rochelle is a Unesco World Heritage Site situated just outside Franschhoek. With over 30 kms of hiking trails and is also home also to Richard Branson’s stunning hotel and vineyard.

And Finally

If this doesn’t get you excited for some down time I’m not sure what will. We suggest going to unwind, slow down the pace and take it all in your stride.

A good three or four days would be a suitable trip, enough time to relax but enough time to tick a few trips off.

Placing this on a Cape Town trip is just perfect with the busy nature of Cape Town and so much to do, Franschhoek is just a perfect way to end.

Here are a few other posts to help you plan your Cape Town itinerary

Reasons to Visit Yellowstone National Park in Winter

Home to a great collection of geothermal features, an abundance of wildlife, the most spectacular views and a thick blanket of snow – Yellowstone National Park in winter is an adventurer’s dream.

Plus, there’s less visitors – so you get to experience the true beauty of the park without the crowds!

So, if you’re brave enough to face the cold, windy and snowy days during the months of November through to April, you’re in a for a treat.

If you’re not quite convinced on experiencing a Yellowstone National Park winter, national park located in the western United States, here’s a few reasons why you should.

10 reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park in winter

Yellowstone in winter is a true wonderland.

Here’s why:

1.      The snowy landscapes and geysers

The wintery landscapes in Yellowstone National Park are absolutely breathtaking! From the steam rising up from the geysers and hot springs to the bison trekking through the snow and the frozen streams.

Old Faithful, the nearly 500-year-old geyser in the park, continues to erupt. In winter, the near-boiling water hits the chilly air and falls down in tiny icy crystals and flakes. Watching the geysers erupt against the backdrop of the snow and stunningly blue skies is a sight to behold.

Yellowstone in winter - the geysers
Witness the Yellowstone geysers in winter.

2.      The winter activities

According to the locals, the best way to experience Yellowstone in winter is on a pair of cross-country skis! From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing – there’s plenty of adrenaline pumping winter-based activities to explore in the area.

You’ll find several places nearby who rent gear and several companies specialising in guided trips if you’d rather not go out alone (this is recommend unless you’re extremely experienced in navigating the snowy hills).

3.      Snowmobiling

In mid-December, many of the roads in the park are only open to oversnow travel, meaning that visitors may only enter the park via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski.

West Yellowstone offers 400 miles of snowmobiling terrain outside Yellowstone National Park on national forest service land. It’s a snowmobilers paradise, with loads of tour companies taking you into the park on the snowmobiles. The terrain caters to all levels, from beginners to experts.

4.      The wildlife

The Yellowstone National Park in winter is still home to a variety of wildlife. The less-crowded park means that you’ll get to observe the wildlife facing the elements of winter without hoards of other tourists surrounding you.

Against the snowy background, the animals are also much easier to spot and you can easily track them in the snow. Expect to see bison, elk, river otters, wolves and other Yellowstone National Park animals.

Plus, you’ll get to see the bison in their winter coats! Huge balls of snow dangle on their beards, making them look even more impressive.

5.      The cozy lodges in Yellowstone National Park

There’s nothing better than curling up on a sofa with a hot drink (or whiskey), a good book, a crackling fireplace nearby and view of a snowy landscape outside. That’s ultimate relaxation, right?

This is exactly what you’ll get when you visit Yellowstone in winter. Note that not all lodges stay open during the winter months (and due to COVID restrictions, a few more might be closed this year). Best is to check out the full list of Yellowstone accommodation to see what is available.

6.      The quiet, peaceful solitude

Not many people visit Yellowstone in winter, which means that you get to truly experience the natural beauty completely on your own. In the winter, the park is nothing but miles of peaceful solitude in the wilderness.

It’s the perfect winter escape if you want to disconnect from humans, unplug your laptop and switch off your phone.

And since the park is primarily accessed via guided oversnow transport, you get experience Yellowstone’s canyons, woods, wildlife and hydrothermal forces in a much more intimate way.

7.      The Yellowstone holiday traditions

If you love the traditions that come with the holidays, then you’ll still get to experience the magic of the season in Yellowstone. Some of the popular traditions include candlelight Christmas Eve services in the Mammoth Chapel, tree lighting on Officer’s Row and festive Christmas dinners held at the local lodges.

If you’re in the area for New Years, then you’ll get to ring in the new year at Old Faithful, where everyone heads out to the geyser viewing area shortly after midnight to watch the first eruption of the year.

8.      Practice your snow photography

With so much natural scenery around you, Yellowstone in winter is an ideal spot to practice your snow photography skills.

The landscapes are filled with contrasts – from clear blue skies to snowy fields, steamy geysers and woolly animals. You can shoot these images on your own or join one of the guide-led photo safaris on offer.

9.      Witness the star-filled night sky

Yellowstone comes alive at night – from the parks most well-known creatures coming out to play to the star-filled sky lighting up the land.

To witness this spectacular scene, you need to join one of the nighttime snowcoach tours. The tours take you past the hissing geysers and passing wildlife and eventually stops for you to get out and witness the beauty above you. The countless stars on display will leave you in awe.

10.  Take a dip in a hot spring

This one is for the true adrenaline junkies, or the people who just want to say ‘I took in a dip in a hot spring in below zero degrees’.

The naturally heated waters of the hot springs won’t freeze, even during the coldest of winters. Which leaves for a fun opportunity to take a dip any time of year! The water is so warm, that no matter how cold it is outside, you’ll be so comfortable that you won’t want to get out.

Look out for the spot where the Boiling River meets the Gardner River, about two miles north of Mammoth. This is a popular swimming spot during the summer months but is sparsely visited in the winter months – making it one of the more unique experiences of a Yellowstone National Park winter.

Ready to start planning your adventure in Yellowstone National Park in winter?