Sell an autumn escape with Laura French’s pick of the best.
A crunching leaf under a crisp blue sky, a sun-dappled forest cloaked in copper, a blackberry tree brushed with dew; there’s something quite alluring about autumn, and there’s no time like the present to start selling the season – and capitalise on pent-up demand.
Whether it’s a UK break to the Lake District or a late-sun escape to Turkey, a city break to Bruges or a walking trip in Scotland, there’s plenty to sell to clients looking for a long weekend in the coming months. We’ve rounded up some of the best options from across the board to help inspire.
It’s not only in winter that Iceland gets its show-face on, with mosses turning red, skies glowing blue and berries covering the forests come autumn – all without the crowds. Odds are in clients’ favour for aurora displays, thanks to dark, cloudless skies, and viewers won’t have the numb fingers to go with it, thanks to average temperatures of around 4C in October and November. It’s also festival season; don’t miss Réttir, an all-out fiesta where locals gather in the countryside to watch farmers round up their free-roaming sheep.
“Odds are in clients’ favour for aurora displays, thanks to dark, cloudless skies, and viewers won’t have the numb fingers to go with it.”
Book it: Intrepid Retreats has a four-night break combining Reykjavik, the Golden Circle and beyond from a base at a farm in the Hvolsvollur Valley. Prices start at £915, including transport, activities and some meals.
Walk in the Scottish Highlands
Majestic peaks, legend-filled lochs, vast, starry skies and rugged, windswept seascapes; if clients haven’t already experienced the charms of the Scottish Highlands, now’s the time to sell them – and not just for summer. Landscapes cloaked in russet red and gold, fresh seasonal produce straight from the harvest and fewer tourists on its wild, remote trails make October onwards an excellent time to visit, while the annual rut, when stags battle it out to impress the female deer, makes for an impressive display, with roars echoing for miles around.
“The annual rut, when stags battle it out to impress the female deer, makes for an impressive display, with roars echoing for miles around.”
Book it: HF Holidays has a three-night guided walking holiday taking in the North Face Path, the Ardgour Peninsula, Fort William and beyond, from £289, including full-board accommodation and based on a November 6 departure.
Visit Venice without the crowds
From elaborate piazzas framed with marble palaces to age-old gondolas traversing the Grand Canal, Venice’s lures need little preface, and there’s no time like the coming months to explore them at their most pristine. Autumn brings all the glory of the high seasons without the searing heat and busy streets, and if the weather doesn’t deliver, the likes of Doge’s Palace, the Guggenheim Museum and the Museo Correr – all historic Venetian paintings housed in chandelier-strewn Neoclassical rooms – have plenty to lure.
“From elaborate piazzas framed with marble palaces to age-old gondolas traversing the Grand Canal, Venice’s lures need little preface.”
Book it: For clients looking to stay in the heart of the action, Kirker Holidays recommends the American Dinesen, set in an 18th-century canal building right by the Guggenheim Museum. Three nights’ B&B costs from £968 in September or October, including flights, water taxis and entry to Doge’s Palace.
Cosy up in Bruges
Colourful houses framing idyllic canals, elaborate shops selling handcrafted chocolates and warm, cosy bars where log fires roar – Bruges is the stuff of fairy-tales, and while it might be winter that gets the limelight with its lit-up Christmas stalls and wafts of glühwein, autumn is just as charming. Medieval spires licked in gold, crispy leaves covering the cobbles and fewer visitors ambling its lanes all bring appeal in the shoulder season, while cooler temperatures provide the perfect excuse to warm up with a cream-covered waffle or a hearty hot chocolate, Belgian-style.
“Medieval spires licked in gold, crispy leaves covering the cobbles and fewer visitors ambling its lanes all bring appeal in the shoulder season.”
Book it: Osprey Holidays offers two nights at the four-star Hotel Prinsenhof with breakfast from £285, including Eurostar and departing October 27.
Soak up the sun in Turkey
If it’s a dose of vitamin sea clients are after, look no further than Turkey, where you can be sunbathing in 20C temperatures within four hours, even in November. Fethiye, Bodrum and Antalya are all wise winter sun options; suggest the last for fine-sand beaches flanked by the curacao waters of the Turquoise Coast, as well as a host of cultural draws – from the city’s historic old quarter (Kaleiçi), where Ottoman houses line quaint cobbled streets, to its Roman-era harbour, nestled among the cliffs.
“Suggest Antalya for fine-sand beaches flanked by the curacao waters of the Turquoise Coast, as well as a host of cultural draws.”
Book it: For a family-friendly option in Antalya, suggest Tui’s 5T Hotel Baia Lara – a beachside all-inclusive boasting seven pools, nine waterslides and three restaurants. Four nights costs from £455 per person, based on two adults sharing with flights from Gatwick on November 17.
See the Lake District
From Beatrix Potter to Wordsworth via Constable and Lowry, the Lake District has inspired many an artist, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s in autumn the real magic happens, though, with frosts clinging to dramatic peaks and mists hovering above mirror lakes. Late September sees the arrival of the Taste Cumbria Food Festival, while October heralds the Winter Droving in Penrith, featuring live performances, lantern processions and other festivities in celebration of the animal herding tradition.
“It’s in autumn the real magic happens, though, with frosts clinging to dramatic peaks and mists hovering above mirror lakes.”
Book it: For a good-value option in an excellent location just outside Penrith, suggest Hoseasons’ Ullswater Heights, where lodges come with hot tubs overlooking the hills. Seven nights in October half-term costs from £1,615 per family, based on four sharing a Spa Retreat View lodge.
Best of the rest
Lapland: It’s not only in December that Lapland turns on the charm; its forests explode into colour come October, while the autumn equinoxes bring impressive Northern Lights displays boosted by clear skies – all with a fraction of the visitor numbers you’re likely to get in winter.
“Parks blazing with colours, Bierkellers serving hearty brews and a busy schedule of events make Berlin an excellent option for culture-filled breaks.”
Krakow: Clients looking to go a little off the beaten track? Suggest, Krakow, where seasonal festivals such as Krakow Jazz Autumn and Audio Art meet streets speckled with gold, markets overflowing with just-harvested apples and al fresco terraces where locals sit sipping beside the Vistula River.
Berlin: Parks blazing with fall colours, Bierkellers serving hearty brews and a busy schedule of events make Berlin an excellent option for culture-filled breaks in the colder months; look out for the annual Festival of Lights, when iconic landmarks dazzle with video projections and impressive light shows.