Looking for a fall foliage getaway that’s a little less New Hampshire and a little more Japan?Here are the most unexpected places abroad to enjoy autumn colors just as vivid as the ones in the States.
Want your fall foliage with a side of waterfalls? Nikko’s mountainous climate and terrain make for not only a lengthy leaf-peeping season, but also scenic highways (like Irohazaka Winding Road, pictured) swathed in fall foliage, and towering waterfalls to view it all from. The most famous waterfall in the region, Kegon Waterfall, even has a nearby 330-foot-high observation deck accessible via elevator, for sweeping vistas of the surrounding area sans the hike. Colors typically peak between mid-October and early November.
If India doesn’t come to mind when you think about autumnal getaways, the Himalayan peaks of Uttarakhand might change your mind. Fall foliage ranging from golden yellow to deep red makes a mountain-top or lakeside stay in Uttarakhand the perfect break from India’s bustling megacities. Visit Nainital Lake to leaf peep by boat, or head to wildlife sanctuary Jim Corbett National Park for the chance to spot tigers and elephants among the fall foliage.
The land of Dracula and Gothic castles exists in real-life Romania, a destination that isn’t on the average traveler’s radar—but is on many a Halloween lover’s. Bran Castle in Brasov, Transylvania, is said to have inspired the setting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and thus referred to simply as Dracula’s Castle. The most-visited site in Transylvania, it’s nestled in a sea of red and orange fall foliage come leaf-peeping season.
For a later fall foliage season that spans mid-November through December, Nanjing is a bustling city that’s home to a surprising number of vibrantly colored scenic areas. Among them is the aptly named Purple Mountain (named for its plum-tree foliage), home to the Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty that’s guarded by life-sized stone sculptures of elephants, camels, and horses. Nearby Niushoushan Cultural Park is also a sprawling natural area hiding temples and pagodas you can access up and down the mountain via tram. A modern and college-centric Chinese city, Nanjing is also set to open a brand-new Ritz Carlton Nanjing in late 2019. And if craft beers are a fall staple for you, don’t miss Master Gao Brewery’s beloved green tea- and jasmine-infused options.
Fall is perhaps the best time to visit Budapest. Fall foliage makes hilly Buda a canvas of color easily viewed from the Pest side of the city—where thermal baths bustle with use once again after the heat of summer settles down. The city rests on thermal springs that feed the city’s many spa options, from the famous yellow-painted Szechenyi Baths to the Art Nouveau thermal pools at historic Hotel St. Gellert.
Patagonia, Chile and Argentina
Turn leaf-peeping season upside down by heading to South America between late March and mid-April for peak autumn colors. The region is colder and wetter in these months, which makes hiking a challenge but also means smaller crowds. The fall foliage, however, is considered by many to be worth the weather: deep red, orange, and yellow leaves take over the mountains, and you’re more likely to see animals thanks to the reduced number of visitors.
Traveling Down Under in late April to mid-May also yields dazzling Southern-Hemisphere colors in outdoorsy Melbourne, which sees a wide range from golden-yellow leaves to deep reds. Dandenong Ranges National Park is a favorite for waterfalls and bridges in a lush forest home to wildlife, like wombats and cockatoos. For the ultimate leaf-peeping experience, kick back on a train ride via Melbourne’s historic Puffing Billy steam engine, which meanders through the Dandenong Ranges peaks and fern gullies.