Five top autumn city breaks

Portugal, city break

September is a time of seasonal change – the kids go back to school, the leaves turn to orange and
the weather starts its switch from summer sun and showers to the colder days of winter.

But there’s still time to squeeze in a late-season holiday and although the beach season may be over
in many European hotspots, a city break on the continent can be a great alternative and a first choice
for many.

Here’s our pick of five top city breaks for autumn, focusing on some of the destinations that are often
overlooked rather than the old favourites like Paris and Barcelona.

Pastel de nata, a Portuguese national treasure.


Lisbon’s position on Portugal’s south-western coastline puts it closer to the Equator than the UK and much of Europe, exposing it to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the warmth the Atlantic has stored from the sun over the summer months. In addition, it is one of the most sun-drenched  capitals in Europe.

As a city break destination, its rich in culture, heritage and architecture, while in the second half of October each year, the city hosts the Doclisboa arts festival for those with a keen interest in documentaries. Be sure to try a Pastel de nata or two when you’re there.


Seville is the capital of Andalusia in the south of Spain and consequently has rich Moorish history and architecture. The city also enjoys  some late-season warmth, with temperatures pushing 20C even as the last page of the calendar approaches.  It’s also in a great position for short hop from Portugal and Gibraltar too, if you want to tick off an extra border crossing during your trip.

Turin, Italy


Found in Italy’s north-western Piedmont region – the foothills of the Alps – Turin is still fairly warm in
September at an average of about 18C, before temperatures drop to the levels that saw it serve as
host city for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Take your break in early autumn for the last of the warmer weather, but with plenty of indoor
attractions like the vast Egyptian Museum, the Juventus stadium and in late October, the Movement
Torino music festival, it’s easy to keep out of the cold in the last quarter of the year too.

Lake Placid

New York City, NY is in the far southern reaches of the state, but for an autumnal break, head to the
north and visit Lake Placid, our only non-European entry on this list.

It often ranks at the top of shortlists of the best ‘Fall foliage’ destinations in the USA, with red and
orange leaves reaching their peak in late September, while nearby Lake Champlain’s lower elevation
means the trees there typically turn a week or two later in the season.


And finally, don’t neglect the good old UK, as every region offers its own unique heritage from villages and market towns to cathedral cities and sprawling metropolis of London.

We’ve chosen Chester as our pick of English autumn city breaks, easily reached from cities like
Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, and you can take a guided walking tour of the city’s oldest buildings, either to learn more about their origins, or to be thoroughly spooked by some good old-
fashioned ghost stories.