In some parts of the world, autumn means going back to school and sipping on pumpkin-flavoured drinks but not in the Mediterranean. Summer crowds clear out from the beaches and tranquillity is restored to postcard-perfect towns.
Long drives along the Italian Coast, exploring ancient Croatia, or shopping along the French Riviera all happen at a different pace as the weather cools down, the tourists evacuate, and life returns to normal in one of the most sought-after corners of the world. These are the best autumn destinations in Europe along the Mediterranean sea.
Best Autumn Destinations in Europe along the Mediterranean Sea
Hike the Pyrenees
Between Spain and France lies a breathtaking mountain range that is often overlooked when compared to the Alps or the Dolomites. The Pyrenees becomes a winter wonderland when snow covers the mountains but in the Autumn, it is a hiker’s delight with perfect weather and stunning autumn colours.
There are multi-day hikes for adventurous souls or easy day hikes that take you up to spectacular vantage points.
Take the iconic drive up to Col de Tourmalet following a winding road with sharp hairpin bends that leads to the giant statue of a Tour de France rider.
Work your way down from the western edge of the mountains down to the Mediterranean coast in the East and visit towns like Bagneres de Luchon with its famous thermal baths and Lourdes, one of the world’s most sacred Catholic destinations.
End off your trip with a rustic stay in Saint-Génis-des-Fontaines at Domaine de Castell de Blés surrounded by ancient vineyards.
Take Part in the Tuscan Harvest
The Tuscan sun hits differently in Autumn. Blue skies are offset with vivid green and yellow hills rolling off into the distance. It is harvest season and passionate wine farmers take to the fields to pick only the best grapes for their wines.
Tuscany is among the best autumn destinations in Europe along the Mediterranean sea. See first-hand what goes into making the finest Tuscan wines and explore cellars where the air will be thick with the scent of grapes, barrels, and cork.
Olives and Chestnuts are also picked in the autumn and olive oil production is ramped up. Tuscany becomes a gourmet paradise (even more than normal) in the autumn as hunting season opens and fresh and exotic game dishes become available.
The extraordinary white truffles are also celebrated in San Miniato and San Giovanni d’Asso and you can go truffle hunting with an expert guide. After getting your hands dirty you can indulge and enjoy a truffle-based feast and wine tasting in Chianti.
Delve into History in Split
As one of the most popular destinations in Croatia, Split can be overrun with tourists in the summer, taking away from the peaceful and romantic nature of this ancient city. In the autumn, the city’s calm is restored and you can stroll its atmospheric cobbled lanes on your own time.
Diocletian’s Palace is steeped in history and mystery and tells some of the country’s most marvellous stories. You can deepen your connection with the fairytale city by staying inside the palace at Vila Nepos.
This is one of the most unique hotels in the city offering luxurious imperial suits fit for royalty. Discover Roman artefacts at the Archeological Museum or get cultured at the Split Gallery of Fine Arts where you will see some of the most marvellous pieces of contemporary Croatian art.
At no other time of the year can you wander onto Pjaca square and easily find a table at a café from where you can admire the shimmering marble constructions.
Without the blistering heat chasing you to the beach, Split’s historically significant locations become the most appealing and you will find yourself getting engrossed in centuries of mesmerizing history that surrounds you.
Unwind in the French Riviera
The Southern coast of France is the epitome of luxury and elegance but the summer months are overrun by tourists and become agonizingly overcrowded.
Those who wait for autumn to roll around will be gifted with pleasant days where they can make the most of a laid-back pace and more authentic French experiences. The weather also allows you to become more active and visitors enjoy cycling or hiking.
Some days bring with them short rain showers which is the perfect time to hop into your closes museum or enjoy an afternoon at your hotel overlooking the superb views of the Mediterranean.
Feast at one of the multiple Michelin star restaurants in Saint Tropez or walk in the footsteps of Nietzsche on a rocky path in Èze. You can even put the top down and take a ritzy drive into Monaco to spend the day admiring the fabulous architecture.
Whether you opt for elegant cities like Cannes or Nice or understated villages such as Mougins or Saint-Paul-de-Vence, the French Riviera in the fall will guarantee you plenty of opportunities to unwind and appreciate a truly French lifestyle.
Go Sailing Around Greece
Yachtsmen, both experienced and amateur, favour the autumn conditions in the Mediterranean for sailing as the weather is predictable and safe. Warm waters, few waves, and manageable winds create the perfect conditions to spend your days sailing between islands.
Short distances between the Greek islands also mean you have lots of time to explore the villages on land and make the most of your time at a spectacular boutique hotel.
Kensho Ornos is one such hotel and is only a short walk from the port in Ornos and delights with views over the enchanting bay Mykonos. Sail south towards Santorini where boats moor at one of five marinas, all a stone’s throw away from some of the most idyllic island locations.
Along the Mediterranean, there are also breathtaking hidden beaches that are only accessible by boat and become deserted in the autumn.
Navagio is one of the most recognizable with its sheer chalky cliffs and crystal blue waters. The warm currents still make swimming possible and you are likely to have the beach and smuggler’s shipwreck all to yourself.
So, if hot sticky summers on tourist-packed beaches don’t appeal to you, head to the Mediterranean in autumn to get much more from your trip. You will be delighted with the good weather and empty streets, allowing you to soak up so much more of the scenery.
In the Mediterranean regions, you also don’t need to rule out beach days as you can enjoy the sun and warm water into late October. With this selection of best autumn destinations in Europe along the Mediterranean sea, Down with archaic views of European holidays and welcome to a new wave of off-season travelling!