As the height of the summer passes and the kids go back to school across the continent at the start of September, it can mean one thing for lucky adult-only travellers; shoulder season Europe. Shoulder season in Europe is the two seasons outside the peak travel time, without being the off-season. For most of the continent, shoulder season at this time of year runs between mid-September to November.
Travelling anywhere during Europe’s shoulder season is delightful, and every destination will have a unique, autumn charm. Our guide is going to help you pick a shoulder season Europe destination that will help you make the most out of your holiday and provide a truly magical experience, whatever your preferred holiday type.
Late Summer Sun: Cyprus
This little isle is almost as far east as Europe stretches, and certainly as far south as you can go. Cyprus is a small island, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, and can be found just south of Turkey. During the summer months, the Cypriot sun reaches a roasting 40+ degrees Celsius. However, during the shoulder season of September, October and even into November, the weather is much more palatable, with typical temperatures ranging from 25-32 degrees, perfect for catching some late-summer colour or for a late sun-filled holiday.
Cyprus is full of Greek charm, but with its own twist. The atmosphere is extremely relaxed, with locals embracing the chilled vibes of the island, you’ll often find them enjoying a keo (a local beer) in the tavernas. The coast of the island is certainly the best place to stay, with fantastic coastal roads, coves and quiet, calm beaches and harbours. You can visit the infamous Aphrodite’s rock, where the goddess is cited to have risen from the sea, explore mythology, culture, markets or simply soak up the sun. Don’t forget to enjoy some authentic, local cuisine with a meze at a traditional Greek-style taverna.
During the height of the summer, popular destinations like Paphos, which is located on the south east of the island and is a very popular destination wedding location, is often packed with school holiday children enjoying the sun, pools and fun. If you prefer to holiday in peace, consider Cyprus as your next shoulder season Europe destination.
If you have already ticked Cyprus off your bucket list and are looking for somewhere similar, but a little different, consider visiting Malta or enjoy bespoke holidays to Portugal. The climates and pace of life are similar.
City Break: Italy
The cuisine, the climes and the outstanding culture draw travellers from all over the world to Italy. During the summer months, Italian cities, notably Venice can become crowded and even a little stuffy. The best time of year to visit is either one of the shoulder seasons; both seasons will offer something a little different, but as the weather chills where you are, an autumn break to Italy is well-spent and certainly warming!
The cities will appear to empty, leaving you the perfect opportunity to enjoy your own bespoke Italian holiday at your own pace. Florence, the Tuscan capital, is the best Italian shoulder season Europe-stop that combines cultural city break with relaxing time away. Full of art, ornate architecture and plenty of day trips to vineyards, Florence is a perfect getaway. If you prefer a faster pace, there is always something to explore in Rome. Eat at side-street pizzerias, gawk at sites that have stood the test of time or are simply looking to stroll and drink espresso and then party in a world-capital, Rome has the answer!
Rome is further south than the likes of Venice and Florence, so temperatures stay strong at 20-27 degrees throughout the autumn, but the northern cities won’t vary too much.
Active Adventure: Iceland
Iceland has rapidly grown in tourist popularity over recent years, and still, the peak travel season is during the height of the summer. Although the temperature does start to drop, Iceland is undoubtedly best visited during September and throughout the Autumn. The crowds are thinner, and the best attractions are even more available.
For example, the best time of year to see whales in Iceland runs from April to November. In Reykjavik, tours operate all year, but the best chances are during this period. See these massive, magical creatures as they should be seen, in their natural habitat, off the coast of Iceland. Travellers are in with a chance of seeing blue whales, orcas, humpbacks and other variations on boat trips at this time and get a picture without worrying about throngs of tourists.
The other special sight that attracts travellers to Iceland is the Northern lights. Also known as the aurora borealis, this amazing natural phenomenon lights up the sky in rainbow hues. Travellers are in with the best chance of a light sighting during the autumn months, as the northern country never gets properly dark during the summer months. The conditions are still clear enough to see the solar activity, but annual forecasts note that September/early October 2019 is the best chance for a sighting. It is most common to stay in the capital of Reykjavik and opt for bespoke tours or journeys north for any additional activities you may want to do. You can make an Iceland holiday as action-packed or chilled as you want, with so much to see and do.
When travelling to Iceland, you know you’re not going to be laying out and catching summer rays. Pack your parkas, and perhaps opt for accommodation that provides relaxing amenities like spas for a premium getaway. This destination truly comes alive during autumn and is one of our favourite shoulder season Europe destinations.
Whether you are a sun worshiper or an adventure-lover, our list of autumn shoulder season Europe destinations has something for everyone. If you’re a little bit of both, even better, these destinations have something to suit everyone, and with Window to Travel, we can work with you to create your own bespoke holiday to ensure you get everything you are going for – even if that’s just a tan! Just get in touch to start your itinerary!