The world is huge

Don't miss any of it

Travel news, itineraries, and inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Irohazaka Winding Road in Nikko, Japan, fall foliage.

7 Surprising Places to See Stunning Fall Foliage Overseas

Looking for a fall foliage getaway that’s a little less New Hampshire and a little more Japan? Shoulder season is a great time to snag a steal on international travel, and these bucket-list-worthy destinations are even more beautiful in leaf-peeping season.

Unexpected Destinations for Fall Foliage

Here are the most unexpected places abroad to enjoy autumn colors just as vivid as the ones in the States.

Nikko, Japan

fall foliage in nikko, japan.
Thanya Jones/shutterstock

Want your fall foliage with a side of waterfalls? Nikko’s mountainous climate and terrain make for not only a lengthy leaf-peeping season, but also scenic highways (like Irohazaka Winding Road, pictured) swathed in fall foliage, and towering waterfalls to view it all from. The most famous waterfall in the region, Kegon Waterfall, even has a nearby 330-foot-high observation deck accessible via elevator, for sweeping vistas of the surrounding area sans the hike. Colors typically peak between mid-October and early November.

Where to Stay: At Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko, a hotel that’s within walking distance to Nikko National Park.

Check Prices for Hoshino Resorts KAI Nikko in Nikko

Loading Rates…

Uttarakhand, India

fall foliage and elephants in uttarakhand, india's jim corbett national park.
Anuradha Marwah_shutterstock

If India doesn’t come to mind when you think about autumnal getaways, the Himalayan peaks of Uttarakhand might change your mind. Fall foliage ranging from golden yellow to deep red makes a mountain-top or lakeside stay in Uttarakhand the perfect break from India’s bustling megacities. Visit Nainital Lake to leaf peep by boat, or head to wildlife sanctuary Jim Corbett National Park for the chance to spot tigers and elephants among the fall foliage.

Where to Stay: The Riverview Retreat is a top ranked property near Jim Corbett National Park. The hotel’s inviting outdoor spaces will keep you connected to nature throughout your stay.

Check Prices for The Riverview Retreat by Leisure Hotels in Jim Corbett National Park

Loading Rates…

Transylvania, Romania

fall foliage at dracula's castle, romania.
Emily Marie Wilson_shutterstock

The land of Dracula and Gothic castles exists in real-life Romania, a destination that isn’t on the average traveler’s radar—but is on many a Halloween lover’s. Bran Castle in Brasov, Transylvania, is said to have inspired the setting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and thus referred to simply as Dracula’s Castle. The most-visited site in Transylvania, it’s nestled in a sea of red and orange fall foliage come leaf-peeping season.

Where to Stay: If a quaint hotel is your cup of tea, try the historic Bella Muzica located in Council Square.

Check Prices for Bella Muzica in Brasov

Loading Rates…

Nanjing, China

fall foliage in nanjing, china.

For a later fall foliage season that spans mid-November through December, Nanjing is a bustling city that’s home to a surprising number of vibrantly colored scenic areas. Among them is the aptly named Purple Mountain (named for its plum-tree foliage), home to the Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty that’s guarded by life-sized stone sculptures of elephants, camels, and horses. Nearby Niushoushan Cultural Park is also a sprawling natural area hiding temples and pagodas you can access up and down the mountain via tram. A modern and college-centric Chinese city, Nanjing is also home to the upscale Ritz Carlton Nanjing, opened in late 2019. And if craft beers are a fall staple for you, don’t miss Master Gao Brewery’s beloved green tea- and jasmine-infused options.

Where to Stay: Have a delightfully historic stay at The Grand Mansion Nanjing, which was designed by the late I.M. Pei, the Chinese architect behind The Louvre.

Check Prices for The Grand Mansion A Luxury Collection Hotel Nanjing in Nanjing

Loading Rates…

Budapest, Hungary

fall foliage in budapest, hungary.

Fall is perhaps the best time to visit Budapest. Fall foliage makes hilly Buda a canvas of color easily viewed from the Pest side of the city—where thermal baths bustle with use once again after the heat of summer settles down. The city rests on thermal springs that feed the city’s many spa options, from the famous yellow-painted Szechenyi Baths to the Art Nouveau thermal pools at historic Hotel St. Gellert.

Where to Stay: Aria Hotel Budapest is a property that has been racking up awards left and right. Who wouldn’t want to rest their head at a hotel that was named the #1 hotel in the world by TripAdvisor in 2017?

Check Prices for Aria Hotel Budapest by Library Hotel Collection in Budapest

Loading Rates…

Patagonia, Chile and Argentina

fall foliage in patagonia.
Roman Tiraspolsky/shutterstock

Turn leaf-peeping season upside down by heading to South America between late March and mid-April for peak autumn colors. The region is colder and wetter in these months, which makes hiking a challenge but also means smaller crowds. The fall foliage, however, is considered by many to be worth the weather: deep red, orange, and yellow leaves take over the mountains, and you’re more likely to see animals thanks to the reduced number of visitors.

Where to Stay: Inside the Cerro Alarken Nature Reserve at Arakur Ushuaia. This Argentinian hotel was a 2019 TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice winner.

Check Prices for Arakur Ushuaia in Ushuaia

Loading Rates…

Melbourne, Australia

fall foliage in melbourne dandenong ranges national park, australia.

Traveling Down Under in late April to mid-May also yields dazzling Southern-Hemisphere colors in outdoorsy Melbourne, which sees a wide range from golden-yellow leaves to deep reds. Dandenong Ranges National Park is a favorite for waterfalls and bridges in a lush forest home to wildlife, like wombats and cockatoos. For the ultimate leaf-peeping experience, kick back on a train ride via Melbourne’s historic Puffing Billy steam engine (temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions), which meanders through the Dandenong Ranges peaks and fern gullies. 

Where to Stay: Enjoy the bustling restaurant scene around Treasury on Collins, a historic refurbished hotel in a prime area. Dandenong Ranges is a quick 25-minute drive from the hotel.

Check Prices for Treasury On Collins in Melbourne

Loading Rates…

SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her adventures on Instagram @shanmcmahon.

You Might Also Like:

6 Hidden, Cheap Beach Destinations on the Gulf Coast
The 10 Best Group Travel Tour Companies for 2024
SmarterTravel Spotlight: Christmas Farm Inn, Jackson, New Hampshire
The 8 Worst Fashion Mistakes You Make When Traveling
11 Amazing Solo Vacations to Take in 2024

We hand-pick everything we recommend and select items through testing and reviews. Some products are sent to us free of charge with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not accept compensation to review products. All items are in stock and prices are accurate at the time of publication. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Top Fares From