It’s almost time for the leaves to start changing color in the Northern Hemisphere, and while not every location north of the equator sees a vast change in season, there are some places in the world who have a particularly magical turn of tide between September and November. Here are some of the most beautiful places for leaf peepers to visit in the fall.
Featured Image: Toji Pagoda in Kyoto Japan (Photo by Sean Pavone)
Because of Japan’s incredible architecture, bright blue lakes, and vast forests, autumn just outside of cities like Kyoto and Tokyo is visually striking. Leaves turn and stand against cityscapes in bright yellows, oranges and reds. If you visit Japan at the height of autumn, which we highly recommend, be sure to take a boat ride along the Hozugawa River in Arashiyama. In the fall the river is lined with foliage that reflects off the water and creates an incredibly tranquil experience.
New York City dwellers and people from all over the U.S. know that the northeast is where you can find some of the most overwhelming array of red and gold fall foliage. Though you may find some great spots for leaf peeping in various New England states, nothing quite matches the bucolic charm of the Hudson Valley and upstate New York. Small picturesque towns sit along the Hudson River like they’re practically waiting to be photographed on the perfect brisk October morning. Here you will not only find small cities and towns, but also farms selling fresh apple cider, donuts, and offering seasonal picking in orchards full of bright red ripe apples.
Canada has many regions perfect for leaf peeping, but one of the most beautiful is Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island which juts into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Here a scenic highway loop extends along the island’s coast offering views of the gorgeous yellow and orange foliage contrasted by sparkling water. The island is also famous for having incredible hiking trails with views of the Margaree River Valley. The rest of Nova Scotia is a treasure to be discovered, and there’s no lack of foliage here as trees cover around 80% of land in the region.
Iceland’s vast countryside is beautiful in shades of yellow for the autumn season. Though this brief period of time leans into the stormy winter season, the mild weather and changing colors are refreshing to the eye in a country that is primarily green in summer and gray in winter. Also between September and April, you can see the Northern Lights in Iceland, so a fall visit can bring you visual delights both on land and in the night sky.
Cities in the Netherlands like Urecht, Giethoorn, Amsterdam and more are famous for having canals or bodies of water coursing through their city’s center. If you’ve had the chance to visit Amsterdam and walked along these canals, you’ve surely noticed the beautiful trees lining the water, with branches that hang out over the canal. Now imagine, those trees are golden yellow, and in the sunlight, the leaves brightly reflect off the water and paint the whole street a warm sunny hue. This is essentially what happens during the fall in the Netherlands. September and October are not only lovely times to pay the country a visit, but also affordable times to travel to Europe!
Slovenia is one of the most underrated countries in Europe and also one of the most naturally beautiful. The famous destination of Lake Bled is a mystical lake with an island at the center where a beautiful church sits amongst a few other buildings. Vacationing around Lake Bled in October and early November as the leaves change is probably the equivalent of a vacation around Italy’s Lake Como in the summer months. Autumn brings misty mornings on the lake, from the surrounding Julian Alps, and crisp fall air is not too hot and not too cold. From this location you can go hiking in the mountains, boat on the lake, and discover the small towns nestled close to the water.