In the Northern hemisphere the days are getting shorter and the nights cooler. It’s the trigger for the trees to change. Chlorophyll breaks down and the green colour disappears allowing the other colours to make their appearance.
When the sun shines and the skies are an eye-splitting blue the trees of autumn, or fall as my North American readers call it, present a spectacle worthy of any natural wonder of the world. So where do you head for to see the best of the autumn colours?
Traditionally it is the New England states that are associated with the best autumn colours. Heading up to New Hampshire or Vermont will ensure you see best of the colours as the glucose trapped in the maple leaves turns the leaves bright red or golden orange.
Timing is critical as the planets unpredictable weather can mean the leaves change earlier or later from one year to the next. If your time is budgeted and the leaves are still green head further north and on into Canada. The forests recognise no borders and the leaves will turn the same brilliant colours in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
If you are looking for a North American city to enjoy the autumn colours then try Quebec City which has autumn colours aplenty.
Compared with New England, “old England” and the rest of the United Kingdom have less of the vast swathes of colour but there are plenty of places to enjoy the autumn hues. The ancient woodlands scattered across “green and pleasant land” turn a hundred shades of gold, yellow and orange depending on the species of trees. My personal favourites are the New Forest in Hampshire and Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire.
Larch trees, though coniferous, lose there leaves in autumn turning golden yellow as they do so. These trees are the dominant species in the great boreal forests of Northern Europe and Russia. They are at their best when seen in mixed forests where the greens of other coniferous trees are added to the colour palette. Scotland is the best part of the UK to see the autumn colours with larch in the mix. My favourite areas in Scotland are the forests around Loch Earn and Loch Tay.
The great forests of Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States especially around the lakes that abound in these regions are particularly spectacular in Autumn. Often there is the added dimension of a mist rising from the surface of the water which brings an ethereal quality loved by photographers.
It is difficult to choose a favourite but I think Dalarna in Sweden takes the Baltic and Scandinavia top spot.
Famed for its springtime cherry tree blossom Japan is less well-known for its spectacular autumn colours. The Japanese Maple often known as referred to generally as Acer are not only common across Japan but are grown ornamentally for their autumn foliage among other things. This is particularly true in the gardens surrounding the many traditional temples.
Japanese Maples are widespread and produce a spectacular show right across Japan. Kyoto is probably the best place to visit as the many parks and traditional temples are surrounded by these trees.
Top six autumn hotspots
These then are my top six. Each one is followed by a link to a website selling Autumn breaks. On this website only those links followed by (£) are affiliate links.
1. Kyoto, Japan – Audley Travel
2. Prince Edward Island, Canada – Frontier Canada
3. Vermont, USA – Virgin Holidays
4. The New Forest, UK – New Forest Cottages
5. Dalarna, Sweden – Simply Sweden
6. Pärnu, Estonia – easyJet Holidays
Undoubtedly there will be those who disagree with my selection or put them in a different order. Perhaps you know somewhere that hasn’t been mentioned in this post or somewhere off the beaten track that has yet to be discovered. What’s your favourite Autumn colour hotspot
Feel free to tell us your favourite Autumn Hotspots in the comments below.