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There’s no lovelier time to travel in the UK than autumn. From the leafy, orange hues of the Lake District to the crisp, apple-scented air of Kent, autumn in the UK is nothing short of magical.
It’s not just about the gorgeous autumn colours out in nature, though. Some of the UK’s cities seem like they were made for autumn, all thanks to their spooky and cosy dark academia vibes.
Plus, after the unbearable summer heat, autumn is the perfect time to go city sightseeing in the UK without melting!
So put on your cosiest woollen jumper, and let’s get started. Here are the very best places to visit in autumn in the UK!
Best Places to Visit in Autumn in the UK
London is an autumn lover’s paradise! We all know that London is notorious for being eye-wateringly expensive, but here’s a little secret: prices for tourists do decrease slightly in autumn – outside of the peak summer season. So, by visiting in autumn, you’ll get to experience London at a slightly lower cost!
First off, Halloween in London is like nowhere else in the UK! If true crime is your thing, you can’t miss joining a Jack The Ripper Tour, where you’ll step back into Victorian London and uncover the mystery of the world’s most infamous serial killer.
And London has plenty of other spooky things to do in autumn! For a Halloween delve into the city’s creepy history, why not explore one of the abandoned tube stations?
Luckily for some, autumn season in London isn’t just about the spooks. If you’re a fan of vibrant autumn colours (and who isn’t?), a walk around Hampstead Heath should be on your bucket list. And what could be better than warming up after your stroll with a hearty British roast dinner in a cosy London pub?
Want to see the autumn colours from above? Hop onto the London Eye for a bird’s-eye view of the city’s stunning transformation. And don’t forget the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace! You’ll get to witness this iconic ceremony amid the backdrop of the autumn colours of St James’ Park.
Prepare to fall in love with Liverpool this autumn because this city is a true must-visit all year round!
Let’s start with the Beatles, shall we? Liverpool is ground zero for all things Beatles-related, and the city really knows how to celebrate its Fab Four heritage.
Tours of their childhood homes, visits to the legendary Cavern Club, and the opportunity to follow in their footsteps in the Beatles Story are all on offer year-round, and autumn is a perfect time – not too hot and cold- to explore.
Whilst you’re in Liverpool, the world-famous ferry across the Mersey is a must. The autumn temperatures are still warm enough to enjoy the ride, and the views are absolutely breathtaking.
Since autumn is the spooky season, how about a ghost tour? Especially popular on Halloween, Liverpool has plenty of eerie excursions that take you to places like St James’ Gardens, the final resting place for 58,000 souls. It’s a creepy yet entertaining experience that perfectly complements the season.
Other reasons to visit Liverpool in autumn include the colourful transformation of Sefton Park and the chance to catch a match at the iconic Anfield stadium, which is a whole different experience under the crisp autumn air. The city also has plenty of hotels with balconies, perfect for taking in the views of the autumn skyline.
If you’re a fan of cosy libraries, age-old traditions and gorgeous ancient buildings, this gorgeous city should be on your must-visit list. Even better, Cambridge is a fairly compact city, making it easy to explore in just one day.
As you wander along the old streets of Cambridge, you’ll be surrounded by the ivy-covered walls of ancient buildings, basking in the soft, golden light of the setting sun while leaves in hues of red, orange, and yellow crunch underfoot. It’s the ultimate Dark Academia dream!
Stepping into Cambridge in autumn is like stepping into another era. The grandeur of Cambridge University feels even more magical than usual under a canopy of autumnal colours.
You could spend hours upon hours simply wandering around Cambridge, taking in the city’s cool vibes and historic charm. But why just wander when you can learn? Sign up for a walking tour, and let the knowledgeable guides teach you about the university’s hundreds of years of history.
And speaking of tales, if you’re up for a bit of a chill, you’ll love the ghost tours offered during Halloween. They have just the right amount of spookiness to get you into the spirit of the season!
Don’t let the cooler weather fool you; autumn in Cambridge is perfect for punting along the River Cam. It’s the quintessential Cambridge experience, and there’s no better time to do it than when the banks of the river are ablaze with autumn colours.
4. The Cotswolds
Now, let’s break away from the cities and explore the autumnal delights of the English countryside. Let’s start with the Cotswolds, where the storybook charm comes to life! With picture-perfect villages nestled amid rolling hills and meandering country roads framed by a riot of autumn colours, the Cotswolds are one of the best places to visit in the UK in autumn.
🚗 But let me share a quick tip: To truly explore the Cotswolds, you’ll need a car. Public transport is almost non-existent around here, but don’t let that deter you. The freedom of driving through these idyllic landscapes, stopping to explore or simply take in the breathtaking views, is well worth the extra hassle.
🚗 Rentalcars.com is the best place to find all the biggest brands in car hire and the best deals for your trip 🙂
Now, where to go? A visit to popular Cotswolds towns like Bibury, known for its adorable weavers’ cottages, and Bourton-on-the-Water, with its dreamy bridges and rippling River Windrush, should be high on your list. For a historical spin, be sure to visit Sudeley Castle in Winchcombe, where the autumn hues make it one of the most Instagrammable spots in the Cotswolds!
The best part about visiting the Cotswolds in autumn? You’ll beat the summer rush! You’ll get to enjoy these quaint villages without the throngs of tourists that descend in summer. And you can visit the Cotswolds on a day trip from London. Nice!
5. The Lake District
For hikers, there”s no better autumn holiday destination in the UK than the Lake District. Think shimmering lakes, plenty of mountains to hike up, and cosy country pubs set amidst a tapestry of golds, reds, and oranges. It’s glorious!
So, where to start your Lake District adventure? Ambleside, with its charming streets and breathtaking views of Lake Windermere, is an absolute must-visit. Then there’s Keswick, nestled between the stunning Skiddaw Mountains and Derwentwater Lake. It’s an autumn wonderland you just can’t miss.
Autumn in the Lake District also means one thing: hiking bliss! With the summer crowds a distant memory, you’ll have the trails almost to yourself.
Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll around Rydal Water or conquering the heights of Helvellyn, the crisp air and colourful scenery will make your autumn hike an unforgettable experience.
Now, we’re off to Scotland! Autumn in Edinburgh is a dream you’ll never want to wake up from.
Edinburgh in autumn is the stuff of legends. From the Harry Potter connections to the labyrinth of spooky catacombs under the city, there are so many spooky things to do here! If you’re a Potterhead, visiting the Elephant House café, where many of the early Harry Potter books were written, is a must-do.
With autumn draping the city in a patchwork of colours, strolling through the Princes Street Gardens or climbing up Arthur’s Seat for a breathtaking panoramic view of the city are activities you won’t want to miss. Be sure to snap some photos!
Of course, from Edinburgh, it’s also super easy to book day trips to other wonderful Scottish attractions, like Loch Ness, so that you can make the very best of Scotland in autumn.
After all that wandering, why not warm up in one of Edinburgh’s cosy bookshops or cafes? Nothing beats the joy of sipping on a hot cup of coffee and diving into a good book whilst outside; Edinburgh city shimmers in the golden light of autumn.
York is a UK autumn destination that ticks all the boxes. Wrapped in ancient walls, shrouded in mystery, and with a centuries-old history dating back to the Vikings, York in autumn is a sight to behold.
Now, York might not be the birthplace of Harry Potter, but it sure does have its share of Potter connections. The Shambles, with its overhanging timber-framed buildings, is said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley. Wandering down it, you’ll soon understand why.
York’s appeal doesn’t stop there. It’s known as the most haunted city in Europe, so a ghost tour is practically mandatory. Halloween or not, York’s local ghosts are always ready to haunt you!
Then there are York’s ancient pubs. Can you think of anything more autumnal than sipping a pint of local ale in a cosy, centuries-old pub? Ye Olde Starre Inn is thought to be the oldest, but the Golden Fleece is another local favourite.
Whether you’re walking the city walls, exploring the mighty York Minster, or simply wandering the autumn-lit streets, York in autumn is an experience like no other.
8. Scottish Highlands
Look no further than the Scottish Highlands for the ultimate autumn escape into nature in the UK! With rugged mountains cloaked in autumn colours, deep lochs mirroring the fiery foliage, and cosy little villages where the fire’s always lit, you really can’t go wrong with an autumn trip here.
To explore the beauty of the Highlands, you’re going to need a car, but since so many of the area’s best bits are off the beaten path, you’ll be glad you brought one. Check out Rentalcars.com for the best deals for your trip 🙂
Ready to dive into the magic? First off, head to Inverness, the cultural capital of the Highlands, where the River Ness shines bright with the reflection of autumn leaves. Next up, you’ve got to visit the legendary Loch Ness. Could autumn be the best time to go hunting for the elusive Loch Ness monster?
Fancy a bit of hiking? You’re in luck! The Highlands are home to some of the best hiking trails in the UK and are particularly gorgeous in autumn. And if you’re feeling energetic, you can even climb Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the UK!
When the day’s done, cosy up in a local pub in Fort William and treat yourself to a warming whisky. Ahh…
9. Cornwall’s North Coast
It’s time to hit the beach, and there’s no better place for it in the UK autumn than the North Cornwall coast! Forget the summer crowds; this is a place where autumn turns the area into something totally different – a landscape of wild beauty and quiet charm.
First stop at Padstow, a picturesque harbour town where cosy pubs serve up hearty Cornish fare, and the views of the Camel Estuary are simply jaw-dropping. For a unique experience, head to Port Isaac, where narrow, winding streets lead you to some of the most charming cottages you’ll ever see!
In terms of beaches, Perranporth, with its three miles of golden sands, is an absolute delight in autumn, perfect for long walks and surfing. And who could resist the wild beauty of Bude, where crashing waves make for an unforgettable autumn spectacle?
North Cornwall isn’t just about beach life! History buffs will love the Botallack Mine, a UNESCO World Heritage site that stars in the popular TV series Poldark.
➡️ READ NEXT: 16 Fantastic Things to Do In Cornwall in the Rain
10. Canterbury, Kent
With cobblestone streets echoing with tales of Chaucer’s pilgrims and the awe-inspiring beauty of its world-famous cathedral, Canterbury in autumn is where it’s at.
Just as in Cambridge, you can go punting along the river in Canterbury. It’s the perfect way to see the best of the city’s autumn leaves. Speaking of leaves, the autumn leaves against the backdrop of Canterbury Cathedral are one of the most beautiful sights in the city!
The beauty of Canterbury in autumn doesn’t stop at its city limits. The surrounding Kent countryside, often referred to as the “Garden of England”, is a treasure trove of autumnal fun. One of the must-do activities here? Apple picking!
There’s nothing quite like spending an autumn day in an orchard, picking apples and enjoying the fresh country air.
FAQ: Autumn in the UK
When can I see autumn leaves in the UK?
In case you’re wondering, “What’s the best time to see autumn leaves in UK?”, the best displays are usually from late September through to mid-October, although this is very weather dependent!
What are the best places to see autumn colours in the Lake District?
Holehird Gardens is one of the most beautiful spots, with spectacular autumn leaves, while Skelghyll Wood, Jenkin Crag, Loughrigg Fell and Wray Castle are also well worth visiting. The Lake District is often regarded as the best place to see autumn leaves in England.
When is autumn in the UK?
Traditionally, the months from September to November are regarded as autumn in UK.
Final Thoughts on the Best Places to Visit in Autumn in the UK
The United Kingdom offers breathtaking destinations to explore during the autumn season. From the bustling streets of London adorned with vibrant fall foliage to the picturesque landscapes of the Cotswolds, every corner of this country is a testament to nature’s beauty.
Heading north, Edinburgh showcases its historic charm with a backdrop of golden leaves and crisp air, while the Scottish Highlands captivate visitors with their dramatic scenery and enchanting misty valleys.
Alternatively, why not head to the UK’s most south-westerly tip to experience the stunning beaches and villages dotted along the stunning North Cornwall coast? Or discover the cultural charms of ancient Canterbury in England’s southeast.
Whether you are seeking cultural experiences or serene moments in nature, these 10 best places to visit in autumn in the UK should be on your UK travel list for a fall break.
TRAVEL TIPS & RESOURCES
Here’s a quick look at all my favourite travel resources – the ones I use to plan every trip. Find more information on my travel resources page.
🏠 Need a place to stay? Browse Booking or VRBO
💃 How about fun experiences? Get Your Guide and Viator have it all
🚗 Considering renting a car? Use Rentalcars
🚂 If you need transfers, bus or train tickets, check Omio
🔒 Don’t forget about travel insurance from Travel Insurance Master