Depending on where you find yourself in the world, winter and summer are on the out. It’s the time of year where seasonal changes are at their most obvious. Bursts of colour are springing out of the ground in the Southern Hemisphere, while leaves are crisping and turning red in the Northern Hemisphere. So, will it be autumn or will it be spring?
These are our picks for a seasonal getaway.
Bruges is a thing of beauty all year round, but, in autumn, the leaves seem designed to match the medieval architecture. Discover the rich history of the city as you float down the winding canals alongside bevies of swans. Take in Bruges from above in the famous Belfry, in the Market Square (Markt). At 83 metres high, it is the city’s most prominent building, and offers unparalleled views over Bruges’ gables. The entire medieval inner city is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it’s easy to see why. The rich merchants who lived here in the 15th century built houses to last, leaving behind for us, historical beauty, dappled with red ivy leaves. From museums, to bridge hopping, and a stop in a local brewery, Bruges has something for everyone.
Restrictions in Bruges: All accommodation, dining venues, attractions and tours are open. Masks must be worn in public spaces. Some spaces have smaller capacities for guests, so it is advised to check, and book, in advance.
Medieval buildings, dark forests, misty mountains? No, this isn’t the set of Beauty and the Beast, it’s the landlocked state of Bavaria, in Germany. As it is the largest state in Germany, a trip will require some planning. The main cities, Munich, Nuremburg, and Augsburg offer a wealth of history. Augsburg is in fact Germany’s third oldest city, as it was founded in 15 BCE by the Romans. Here, head to the decadent Schaezler Palace, built in the 18th century, and home to the works of Rubens and Tiepolo.
In Munich, once you’ve exhausted the inner city sights, take a stroll under crimson trees in the English Garden. The park is larger than Central Park in New York, so you’ll probably want to make a stop at the beer garden halfway through. Escape to another realm just under 2 hours from Munich, and visit Neuschwanstein Castle. Surrounded by forest, it’s easy to see how the castle served as inspiration for Walt Disney. Forests cover much of Bavaria, so save some time for nature walking to really get that autumnal feel.
Restrictions in Bavaria: FFP2 masks are a mandatory requirement in all public spaces that are not open air. Children under 16 can wear any nose and mouth covering, and children under 6 are exempt. Germany has implemented the ‘3G’ rule for access to venues such as indoor restaurants, hotels, and attractions. This means, persons wishing to use these facilities must provide proof of one of the following: geimpft, genesen, getestet (vaccinated, recovered, tested). It’s advised to make reservations in advance as many venues have capacity limits.
Vermont, United States of America
Probably up there with the most famous autumnal destinations, Vermont’s seasonal change is nothing short of spectacular. The state comes alive during these months, and visitors can enjoy harvesting festivals, pumpkin patches and more. If you want to learn about Vermont’s history and culture, there are many museums and galleries to choose from, such as the Vermont History Museum, or the M. Bryan Memorial Gallery in Jeffersonville. Outdoors lovers will be spoiled for choice, as Vermont has fishing, camping, rock climbing and more. Take a road trip thought Vermont’s winding byways, and discover small historic towns, surrounded by golden-hued forests. Leave some room in your itinerary to sample the local gastronomy. Vermont is known for its craftsmanship, and locally produces everything from beer to ice cream, maple syrup, and artisanal cheeses.
Restrictions in Vermont: All business, gathering, and travel related restrictions have been lifted in Vermont. While it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask, some businesses maintain stricter policies and can decline service if one is not worn.
Western Cape, South Africa
Think spring, and you’ll think bulbs blooming and colour re-emerging. In the province of the Western Cape, in South Africa, you’ll find flowers blooming, and ideal weather. Unlike other regions of the country, the Western Cape experiences heavy rains during its winter months. So, when spring arrives in September, areas of the province are blanketed with wildflowers. Although a flash-in-the-pan event, (the blooms tend to fade by the end of September) the riot of colour draws annual visitors. One of the best places to see them, while enjoy blue skies and beautiful landscapes, is in the West Coast National Park. Situated just over an hour from Cape Town, visitors can book overnight cottages in the park itself, or travel further up the coast to the picturesque town of Paternoster – known for its blue and white colour scheme.
If you’d prefer to stay within Cape Town’s reach, then pay a visit to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, where you can enjoy more manicured, yet equally beautiful, spring blooms. As the winter wanes, Cape Town’s cold evenings grow warmer, and lighter – ideal for sundowners at a rooftop bar. Or, take a hike on one of the city’s many peaks, such as Lion’s Head, or Table Mountain, to watch the sky glow, and the sun dip into the sea.
Restrictions in the Western Cape: It is a legal requirement to wear a face mask in public places in South Africa – even when outdoors. Bars, Restaurants, and attractions are open, but operate at a limited capacity, so booking in advance is required. Establishments close at 21h00, as there is a 22h00 curfew in place.
The Serengeti, Tanzania
From flora, to fauna – Tanzania’s spring season sees herds of animals migrate throughs its plains. The Serengeti National Park spans the northern part of the country, and is nearly 15,000 square kilometres in size. Winter into spring are the park’s dry months, and the ideal time for safari trips and game spotting, especially as the vegetation stays low and thin, allowing you more visibility. Although not the only perk of the park, but definitely the most famous, is the Great Migration of the Wildebeest, which takes place annually across Tanzania and Kenya. From July to October, animals frequently gather around rivers and watering holes, and, the wildebeest tend to make regular river crossings across the Mara River to the north of the park.
If you’re feeling energetic (and fit!), then this time of year is also ideal to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilamanjaro. The spring months mean hikers can enjoy blue skies and beautiful views with fewer fellow visitors – provided they don’t mind a few light showers.
Restrictions in the Serengeti: Practicing social distancing and wearing masks is mandatory in Tanzania.