10 of the Best Places Outside the U.S. for Fall Color

Bright orange maple trees on both sides of a canal with stone walls covered in green moss and the ground underneath covered in fallen orange and red leaves in Kyoto
The leaves in Kyoto begin changing in October, but mid-November is when the colors are most vibrant.

DoctorEgg / Getty Images

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year. In North America, fall color destinations include New England and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And as long as you're aware of when the leaves will be changing in your area, a Sunday cruise along the local scenic byway is an easy way to get your fill. But there are plenty of places around the world that equal or surpass U.S. locales when it comes to colorful autumn scenery.

Here are 10 of the most picturesque destinations outside of the U.S. to see fall color.

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The Cotswolds, England

A clear, blue sky above large autumn trees in shades of orange and red reflected in the calm waters of the River Glyme, as it runs through the Blenheim Park Estate in Woodstock, Oxfordshire

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People who come to England searching for classic countryside scenes usually head to the Cotswolds. The rolling hills, narrow roads, and historic villages in this region of Southern England have a frozen-in-time appeal. The quaintness and charm of the area also make it a great place to catch England's fall colors.

The orange, red, and gold foliage adds to the already-stunning scenery, and not surprisingly, the Cotswolds is famous for its long-distance hiking trails. Popular villages like Cheltenham are great starting points for a walk through the colorful landscapes. You can combine some leaf-peeping with a visit to the historic university town of Oxford, which is a sort of gateway to the Cotswolds.

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Bavaria, Germany

Aerial view of Neuschwanstein Castle surrounded by trees in shades of red, orange, green, and gold during autumn with mountain peaks and blue skies in the distance

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Fall in Bavaria is often synonymous with Oktoberfest. A lot of Bavaria is quite rural, though. Smaller towns might have their own version of Oktoberfest, but you can also see some of Europe's most beautiful fall colors in Bavaria's non-urban regions.

There are several trails that run through the region's forests. A couple of these paths pass near Neuschwanstein Castle, a fairy-tale-like structure that is the perfect backdrop for the sea of orange and red leaves.

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Pitlochry, Scotland

View of Loch Faskally lined with autumn trees in shades of red, gold, and green with a blue sky and white clouds above reflected in the lake

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The Scottish Highlands can be the perfect place to see fall foliage. Parts of the region are legendary for their stark, treeless landscapes, but the land around Pitlochry is characterized by dense forests and meadows. The heather here turns purple in the autumn while the forests have typically bright colors.

Apart from gazing at the magnificent leaves, there are plenty of other activities in Pitlochry. You can see lots of fauna, hear local stags rutting, and see the young males locking horns. The salmon make their run upriver in the fall as well.

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Transylvania, Romania

two-story, brightly colored orange, yellow, and pink buildings in Piata Sfatului square with a hill covered with trees in fall color in the background in Brasov, Romania

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Though often synonymous with a certain fictional vampire, tourists who visit this scenic region of Romania in the fall won’t encounter any caped villains. But they will see plenty of colorful trees.

Like other cities in Eastern Europe, parts of Transylvania's capital, Cluj-Napoca, are very urban. The city can serve as a base for exploring the region, but you can also see some picturesque foliage without traveling to the countryside. The Alexandru Borza Botanical Garden in Cluj also offers a colorful respite in autumn.

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Snowdonia, Wales

an old stone bridge surrounded by bright orange trees and two cottages with green and gold trees in the background in Snowdonia, Wales

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Snowdonia is one of the most scenic regions in Great Britain. A place of rugged mountains, coastal areas, and forests, Snowdonia National Park is a popular destination for nature-lovers. Unlike most of the U.K.'s parks, Snowdonia is a mixture of public and private land. There are villages within the park where sightseers can stay while they're getting their fall color fix.

Snowdonia is probably best known for its mountains. You can enjoy panoramas with forests and purplish heather fields while you're on the summits of these peaks. West of Snowdonia, the woodlands of Glynllifon Park are ideal for an even more immersive fall color experience.

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Hämeenlinna, Finland

Aerial view of sun rays shining through a forest of autumn trees next to a lake at sunrise with blue skies and white clouds above in Aulanko, Hämeenlinna, Finland.

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The town of Hämeenlinna in southern Finland is home to Aulanko Nature Reserve. This stretch of forest and waterways has enticed sightseers and nature-lovers for more than a century. Part of the grounds was designed to resemble an English-style parkland.

There's a lookout tower that's perfect for viewing the leaves. Finland sits at such a high northern latitude that the leaves change early in the season, even in the southern portions of the country. Aulanko is a major tourist destination with hotels and restaurants that sit right on the edge of the parkland.

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Kyoto, Japan

Delicate orange leaves of a tree leaning over a body of water with red flowers and green shrubs below reflected in the water

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Japan is best known for its springtime foliage, but the fall colors are arguably just as stunning. The trees turn deep reds and blazing oranges during November.

It's easy to predict the peak days for leaf-watching in Kyoto. The leaves reach their brightest hues on Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido, in September. The tide of color then moves south, reaching the Kansai region—where Kyoto is located—in November. Places like the grounds of Kiyomizu-dera and the Ginkakuji temples are perfect for enjoying the autumn scenes.

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Oslo, Norway

a wide, green lawn with trees in shades of orange, green, and pale green with a waterway in the distance in Oslo

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Oslo is a beautiful city at any time of year. The area's many parks put nature at every resident's fingertips. Autumn comes early in Scandinavia, but the weather often remains sunny and pleasant into October.

Just outside of the city, the Oslomarka Forest is a favorite leaf-viewing destination for locals and tourists alike. The Palace Park and Vigeland sculpture park are also worth visiting to enjoy the vibrant leaves. Most of the city's residential areas have trees, so even if you're just wandering around town, you'll stumble upon some colorful scenes.

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Thingvellir, Iceland

Thingvallakirkja Church along banks of Oxara River in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland, with trees and plants in shades of red, green and orange on both sides of the river, mountains and bright blue sky in the distance

Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Iceland is not the first place that people think of when seeking fall color. This near-Arctic island is most popular in the summertime, when its otherworldly landscapes are not covered in snow.

Thingvellir is home to a variety of birch and willow trees. In fact, over 172 species of plants have been discovered at the park, or about 40 percent of all the tree and plant species in Iceland. The stark landscapes that Iceland is famous for are visible beyond the park, creating a unique autumn visual experience.

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St. Petersburg, Russia

Arch Bridge Over a lake with architectural statues on both sides of the bridge and rows of tall trees in shades of red and orange on both sides of the waterway in St. Petersburg, Russia

Alexei Polyansky / EyeEm / Getty Images

While people generally flock to rural regions to see fall colors, there are some great places to experience autumn in the areas surrounding St. Petersburg. Catherine Palace, just outside of the city, is worth a day trip, thanks to its tree-covered grounds. But leaf-seekers don't have to leave the city limits to see some of the brightest colors in Russia.

You can see the golden hues in places like Mikhailovsky Gardens and the grounds of the Peterhof Palace. A number of the city's leafy parks are also memorable, especially on warm autumn afternoons.