The 7 best European cities to visit for a mini-break in autumn

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Hannah-Rose Yee
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Want to escape the cold? You need to go here.

Every year when autumn begins to roll around our thoughts immediately turn to European mini-breaks.

Where can we go to escape the cold? Where will still be sun-drenched, sun-dappled and sun-dazed, somewhere warm for us to wander about for a few days?

We consulted Trip Advisor’s list of 2018’s most exciting European cities, cross-referencing each entry with their predicted weather forecast in October. Let this list of seven different destinations serve as your starting point for planning a short getaway this autumn.

1. Valletta

Make 2018 the year you visit Malta

Why should you visit Valletta, Malta’s biggest city and 2018’s European Capital of Culture? How long is a piece of string?

There’s the UNESCO heritage-listed architecture, the centuries and centuries of Italian and North African history, the Mediterranean fusion cuisine, the pristine, sparkling azure beaches… And there’s also the fact that even in the middle of autumn temperatures still hover around the 25-26 degree mark.

The warmth will last well into October, which means that you can jump on a flight to Malta and get some more wear out of your favourite summer sundress.

2. Cadiz

Is Cadiz on your travel bucket list? 

This Andalucian city in the far south of Spain is often called one of the region’s most underrated destinations. Cadiz is often overlooked as travellers make a beeline for its flashier neigbour Seville but this city  – the oldest continuously inhabited city in western Europe –  is well worth a visit.

Staying a balmy 23 degrees all through October this historic port town boasts sandy beaches, charming cobblestoned streets and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all of Spain.

And a special note to all the cat lovers, there’s also a colony of wild cats to be found along the Avenida Campo del Sur who spend most of their days sunbathing on the dock, unperturbed by all the tourists snapping pictures of them at every moment. They are truly a sight to behold.

3. Catania

Think of Catania as Sicily’s hidden secret

Sicily has been one of Italy’s most popular travel destinations for years. Our advice is to skip Taormina, Palermo and Syracuse in favour of Catania, the island’s rising star.

Nestled at the foot of the Mount Etna volcano, Catania is the second largest city in Sicily. Renowned for its bustling fish and produce market and beautiful Piazza del Duomo, Catania’s main attraction is its vibrant nightlife and contemporary art scene.

You’ll find painfully hip bars and restaurants studded all over the city. And with an average temperature of 25 degrees in the middle of autumn there’ll be more than enough beautiful days and nights to enjoy them.

4. Nerja 

Nerja is the perfect place for a mini-break in October

At one end of Spain’s Costa del Sol, the beachside town of Nerja is proving more and more popular with tourists.

That’s because, unlike neighbouring Málaga, Nerja is still the same beautiful village that it was when it was built up in the 16th century. There’s the old fort, the beaches bracketed by ancient caves and the Balcón de Europa, an open square shaded by palm trees looking directly onto the Mediterranean sea, all drawcards for those seeking a winter escape.

A word of warning, though, at an average daytime temperature of 22 degrees in October Nerja won’t be as warm as some of the other destinations on this list. While that means you may not be able to get in the water there’s one benefit to colder temperatures: less crowds.

5. Rovinj

Rovinj is the perfect autumn escape

Small, but perfectly formed. That’s how we like to think of this Croatian city with a population of just 15,000 people.

There’s quite literally something for everyone. There’s stunning beaches, a picturesque old town, quiet, secluded swimming spots, a stellar museum of art, a market full of intricate jewellery, artworks and souvenirs and a promenade studded with wine and cocktail bars.

Autumn does tend to get a bit cooler in Rovinj with average temperatures of around 19 degrees but don’t let that dissuade you. It’s the perfect climate for cycling and hiking up and down the city’s steep, meandering streets.

6. Zagreb

Live music is popular in Zagreb

If beachside isn’t your vibe why not visit Zagreb instead? The capital of Croatia is proving more and more popular as a tourist destination thanks to its sheer cool factor.

If your dream mini-break includes art galleries, live music and streets of modern restaurants, then Zagreb is for you.

One must-visit in the city is the Museum of Broken Relationships, an eccentric gallery displaying the everyday objects that spurred couples to part ways. The museum began life as a pop up gallery before landing its current (and permanent) location in Zagreb’s Upper Town.

7. Ljubljana

We can’t get enough of Ljubljana’s picturesque streets

With autumn temperatures rarely crossing the 16 degree mark a mini-break to Ljubljana isn’t exactly a warm one. But Slovenia’s capital city is still worth a visit, and not just so you can say you spent a weekend in Melania Trump’s home country.

Ljubljana is a phenomenally pretty city, full of pastel-coloured buildings and parks best explored on bikes. (You can pick up some temporary wheels cheaply and easily through the city’s subsidised bike rental scheme.)

While cycling around keep your ears open. Known as a city of music, Ljubljana often plays host to festivals, open-air opera and classical music recitals. In October three world music acts including Lola Marsh, an indie band from Tel Aviv, will perform in the city. Get your tickets now.

Images: Unsplash