While the heat is off during the autumn months, travel becomes a whole lot easier and destinations that seemed too sizzling last month are now incredibly attractive. Other spots are celebrated for their autumnal treats. Here are some fabulous places which bring together culture, incredible views, amazing food and unforgettable experiences.
Seville, Spain: Autumn sees Seville bathed in glorious sunlight, turning the historic sandstone buildings a delightful honey colour. The southern Spanish city’s history is intertwined with Moorish and Christian culture, making a visit there unique and fascinating.
With its compact historic centre, most places of interest are just a few minutes’ stroll from each other. Start off with a tour of the Real Alcazares. This spectacular Moorish palace, draped with colourful bougainvillea, was built by Abd Al Ramán III in the early 10th century and is still used today. Next door is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral and the Giralda — its unusual bell tower, which is in fact an 11th-century minaret.
Seville’s old quarter, next to the cathedral, is a tangle of streets punctuated with squares filled with orange trees. It’s the perfect place to get lost. Savour exquisite Andalusian cuisine at Corral del Agua (www.corraldelagua.es). At night this is also the area to find flamenco shows. Gallos Flamenco is one of the most popular (www.flamencotickets.com). Just a short walk away you’ll find great photo opportunities abound at Plaza España with its impressive horseshoe-shaped building topped with towers and in the adjoining Maria Luisa Gardens.
Recently renovated, the historic Hotel Alfonso XIII (www.hotel-alfonsoxiii-seville.com) is truly spectacular. Décor throughout the rooms and suites reflects the city’s rich history. Enjoy traditional tapas en the Bodega Alfonso XIII or a Moorish-inspired meal in the delightful Taifas restaurant.
New England, USA: A trip to New England in north-eastern USA during the autumn is all about enjoying nature’s colourful display. Watch the trees’ leaves turn from green to gold to bronze, then deep red. The peak time for “leaf peeping” is mid October, but every year it’s slightly different and of course the longer you stay the more you’ll see as nature takes its colourful course.
Boston, a city full of early American history, fabulous food and culture, is a great place to make your base. Families love Harvard Square, which boasts lively street performers throughout the day, while Boston’s parks, particularly the extensive Boston Common, offer some exquisite autumn foliage to enjoy.
Choose to stay at The Liberty (www.libertyhotel.com). The historic 1851 building was once the city jail but today this unique hotel offers über-chic interiors and spectacular modern-American cuisine at Clink.
To appreciate fully the amazing spectacle that nature offers each autumn, you’ll need to get out into the countryside, either by car or with an organised trip. Try www.tours4fun.com/newengland. As you venture deeper into the New England countryside you’ll be treated to rolling hills awash with colour, quiet reflective ponds, ancient barns and colonial homes. Pause in Old Sturbridge Village (www.osv.org) to get a taste of the 19th century atmosphere and stock up on chocolate fudge — a local treat — before having lunch at Oliver Wight Tavern.
Cappadocia, Turkey: There is plenty to explore in Cappadocia (www.visitcappadocia.com), one of Turkey’s most interesting areas. Make your base in Urgup, a quiet town with all the facilities you need to make the most of your stay. Get a taste of what life was like for the traditional cave dwellers while staying at the Gamirasu Cave Hotel (www.gamirasu.com). There are 30 cave rooms, all exquisitely restored and furnished.
Cappadocian cuisine is hearty, and popular autumn dishes include kebabs with mint, goat cheese salad and lamb stew. One of the best choices for a meal is Sömine Restaurant (www.sominerestaurant.com), which is set right on Urgup’s main square. While in town, check out the many shops selling beautiful hand-woven kilims — Turkey’s traditional rugs — which look good in any home.
Cappadocia offers a myriad of experiences, from exploring the rippling rock formations and soaring stone chimneys to following well-marked trails into the hidden valleys. In these cooler micro-climates you’ll find small streams where wild strawberries grow on the banks and ancient apple orchards.
No one should miss the opportunity to take an early morning hot air balloon tour (www.royalballoon.com). As you soar high over the famous rock formations and the fairy chimneys, the view extends across the moonlike landscape to the villages of Goreme, Urgup and the Red Valley.
Brisbane, Australia: Australia’s most easygoing city (www.visitbrisbane.com) is packed full of southern hemisphere spring activities this year. Spread along the Brisbane River, which is the metropolis’s lifeblood, plan your stay to take advantage of the many waterside eateries, cruises on the River Cats and the parks.
For culture vultures, the art exhibition, Portrait of Spain, at the Queensland Art Gallery (www.qagoma.qld.gov.au) brings together more than one hundred masterpieces of Spanish art from the Prado Museum in Madrid.
Check into the Treasury Hotel (www.treasurybrisbane.com.au) to enjoy the luxurious interiors and views. The riverside city is famous for its modern Australian cuisine and one of the best places to sample it is at the Gunshop Café in South Brisbane (www.thegunshopcafe.com). Don’t miss the famous Hervey Bay seared scallops and King Prawns.
From September 8-29 the city bursts with colour, theatre, dance and music as locals and visitors celebrate the Brisbane Festival (www.brisbanefestival.com.au). A must-see is Soap, a physical cabaret performance full of music, humour and acrobatics. Every night the sky over Brisbane will be set ablaze with a full-scale laser light show designed by Santos GLNG.
Spring is the perfect time to get out on the beach at the Gold Coast — about a 45-minute drive from Brisbane’s CBD. Enjoy some of the world’s best surfing or just laze on the golden sand. Conveniently located on the highway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast are the theme parks Movie World (www.movieworld.com.au) and Dreamworld (www.dreamworld.com.au), which are packed full of fun for families.
Shanghai, China: China’s Autumn Festival (www.chinahighlights.com) sees the whole country go into party mode, but nowhere is the revelry greater than in Shanghai. The denizens of this modern city pull out all the stops and celebrate to the full. This year sees the main party on September 30, but the lead-up starts 10 days before. Feed off the buzz and make the most of this cosmopolitan metropolis.
Moon Cakes are one of the Autumn Festival’s most loved symbols and you can find them all over the city. These flat, round cakes, which symbolise the full moon, are prepared uses four egg yolks to represent the phases of the moon. Inside you’ll find a sweet bean or lotus seed paste centre. For a real treat organise a Moon Cake Afternoon Tea in the 81st-floor lounge of the Grand Hyatt (www.shanghai.grand.hyatt.com). The design-driven hotel also offers some of the city’s best views from the luxurious rooms.
On the night of September 30 expect to see parades featuring traditional Chinese dragons, fireworks illuminating the city and hordes of people in the streets, particularly the shopping strip Nanjing Road. If you want a little more tranquillity, head to one of the traditional temples where locals go to burn incense. The Quibao Temple is one of the most beautiful and is surrounded by a spectacular lake.
Venice, Italy: With the large crowds gone and lower temperatures, autumn is the best time to visit one of Europe’s most romantic cities (www.turismovenezia.it).
Plan to stay in the very centre of the city at the Westin Europa & Regina Hotel (www.westineuropareginavenice.com). Set in a spectacular 18th-century palazzo with unbeatable views of the Grand Canal, the experience becomes truly magical.
Venice is perfect for walking and as you stroll the narrow streets and cross the canals, you’ll be surrounded by ancient buildings, the reflections on the water and the colourful Venetian way of life. Grab a seat in the picturesque Campo Santa Maria Formosa square and watch the world go by as you sip an espresso. Then work your way to the area near the Rialto Bridge to experience another side of Venetian life. Campo San Polo houses one of the city’s most interesting open-air markets. Photo opportunities abound with fresh seasonal fruits, zucchini flowers and fish straight from the lagoon all brought together in the lively commercial atmosphere.
Culture and Venice go hand in hand, and the city’s opera season kicks off this year in September. There’s a packed programme at La Fenice opera house (www.teatrolafenice.it) with performances of two of Verdi’s greatest operas — Rigoletto and La Traviata.
After the performance, dine in the nearby Michelin-starred restaurant Da Fiori (www.dafiori.net). Fish takes pride of place on the menu and the sea bass misted with balsamic vinegar is an excellent choice.
Los Angeles, USA: With the children back at school and cooler temperatures, Los Angeles (www.discoverlosangeles.com) becomes quieter and more people-friendly.
LA’s movie studios are still as much fun as ever, but the bonus is that you won’t have to wait as long in the queues. Universal Studios (www.universalstudioshollywood.com) still packs a punch, and 2012 sees it celebrate its 100th anniversary with loads of special activities. Choose the VIP Experience Tour to get a privileged view of the sets, sound stages and live entertainment.
Los Angeles’s cultural scene explodes into life throughout the autumn. Book some tickets to hear the Los Angeles Philharmonic (www.laphil.com) playing at the Disney Concert Hall. Live theatre performances include the musicals Priscilla Queen of the Desert, West Side Story and Sister Act.
Stay in modern, funky style at the W hotel (www.whollywoodhotel.com) in Hollywood. Los Angeles boasts some great places to refuel, but Café La Bohème (www.cafelaboheme.us) ticks all the boxes.
While the weather is still warm, grab a towel and some sunscreen and go to the beach. There are over 50 kilometres of coastline to explore near the city. Still as much fun as ever, Venice Beach (www.venicebeach.com) is one of the most convenient. Apart from the sea and sand, there is a long boardwalk where you can go skating, play volleyball, jog, or just sit on a bench with an ice cream and do some people watching.