For most families, the summer has always been the most popular time to travel due to the kids being off school and warmer temperatures. However, the fall can make for a much better travel experience if you are able to sneak away! With far fewer crowds and temperatures that usually still allow for outdoor dining (with the help of heaters), it’s the perfect time of year to get out and about with the kids. So, check the dates on those mid-term breaks (or just call it an educational field trip!?) and hit up one of these Unesco World Heritage sites in autumn.
While most families will plan their trip to Japan to coincide with the cherry blossoms blooming, the autumn can be just as (if not more!) stunning. The peak foliage season in Kyoto is usually around mid-november, however, you can catch glimpses of the leaves starting to change in October and lasting until almost mid-December. That’s nearly two months of leaf viewing, unlike the cherry blossoms that only stick around for a week. So, autumn is a great option for families who aren’t as flexible on when they can arrive.
Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO Heritage sites and all are unique or stunningly beautiful in their own right. Two temples, in particular, draw massive crowds during the fall foliage season, but for good reason! The Tofuku-ji Temple is a beautiful UNESCO site located on the south side of the city. Dating back to the 13th century, it is one of the Five Great Zen Temples and it’s main gate is the oldest sanmon in all of Japan. The Tofuku-ji Temple is one of the most famous maple viewing spots in the city, particularly from the Tsutenkyo Bridge when the area is lit up with spectacular flaming colors of red.
Kiyomizudera Temple which literally translates into “Pure Water Temple” was founded in the 10th century at the Otawa waterfall. As you near the entrance of the temple you will walk through the Higashiyama district with lots of shops and restaurants that cater to visitors. This can be a fun place to pick up a souvenir or two! Once inside be sure to head up to the famous wooden deck, which was built without nails and is situated 13 meters off the ground. It is a magnificent viewing area of the maple trees below and the city of Kyoto in the distance! Kiyomizu-dera also offers a special night viewing of the fall foliage starting in mid-November. The surrounding trees give off an entirely different vibe when they are lit up at night and is an event not to be missed!
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
Český Krumlov is a picturesque, medieval town sitting quietly in the southern, Bohemian region of the Czech Republic and about a 2.5-hour train ride from Prague. Its historic center with Gothic Baroque and Renaissance architecture is preserved spectacularly, almost as if frozen in time. The Český Krumlov Castle is the second largest castle complex in the Czech Republic and a popular destination for tourists. It sits on a hill overlooking the town and the Vltava river, where it was built in 1240 by the Vitkovci family. The historic center was given a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1992 and is a beautiful tourist destination year-round, but visiting in the autumn with the colorful fall foliage surrounding you is downright enchanting. Take the kids for a walk along the river and enjoy the crisp air, stop for lunch at one of the quaint restaurants while you enjoy the views, or head up to the castle tower to really get a feel for the medieval layout of the city. If you find yourself in the Czech Republic, be sure to visit this beautiful UNESCO site in autumn.
Banks of the Seine, Paris, France
The city of lights is beautiful any time of the year, but during the fall foliage season it really turns up the charm. With far fewer crowds, perfect weather for outdoor activities, and jaw-dropping fall foliage, it’s a wonder why more tourists don’t plan a fall break here. One of the most quintessential things to do in Paris, is to go for a long walk along the Banks of the Seine and enjoy the historical and cultural sites along it. The area was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991 and it’s easy to see why; it includes some of Paris’ most iconic spots including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and the Champs Elysee. In a city that lives and breathes culture, tourists will feel the energy that Paris embraces and the romanticism it exudes from the moment they arrive. Tourists visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites in autumn will get to experience the city when it really glows. As the leaves slowly start to turn into their true golden and red colors, take a tour up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and see the city in all its glory. Grab a warm crêpe and walk through one of Paris’ parks or take a seat at an outdoor cafe and enjoy the cooler weather and a glass of red wine while the little ones munch on a delicious french pastry!
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