Fall Foliage Around the World

The Northeast (and southeastern Canada) receive a lot of acclaim for their fall foliage, and rightfully so, because it’s spectacular. But it’s not the only game in town. Last year we took a glance at the top places around the country to peep leaves. This time around, we look at the best international spots for fall foliage.

Western Canada

The Canadian Rockies pack just as much as punch as those in the U.S. Banff and Jasper national parks are full of color against a backdrop of slate-grey mountains with snow-capped peaks. All those pictures you’ve seen of Lake Louise? Imagine it draped in gold and orange. Vancouver’s Stanley Park is an urban oasis, and in autumn, maple, cottonwood and red alder trees change colors right next to the harbor.

Japan

Typically leaves begin changing in the northern islands and mountains first, and the colors roll south as autumn progresses. If you time it right, you can follow the changes down through the country. The best times are usually late October through late November. Japan Rail offers passes coordinated with the forecasts. There aren’t many sights better than Mt. Fuji ringed by beautiful foliage in the first days of November.

The Alps

From the eastern reaches of France, through northern Italy, Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria and on to the Julian Alps of Slovenia, there are about 750 miles of mountains dividing Europe. Italy’s Dolomites shine yellow and gold in the autumn sun. Reds and yellows light up the valleys of Switzerland contrasted against bright blue lakes. The Tyrol region features distinctive churches in the high passes surrounded by trees in metamorphosis. It’s capped off by Lake Bled in Slovenia, with an island in a lake with mountains all around. Pure magic.

Russia

Moscow celebrates fall with the Golden Autumn harvest festival featuring carved pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. St. Petersburg is full of parks and gardens that become glorious in golden autumn. In Russia’s east, Lake Baikal and the taiga forest of Siberia range from yellow to orange to red, making for breathtaking landscapes. The towns of the Golden Ring northeast of Moscow are evening more charming with an autumnal tint.

New Zealand

So you’ll have to wait until our spring to take in the amazing colors of New Zealand’s fall. But it’s worth the wait. The show starts in early April on the South Island, creeping north as the season progresses. Central Otago and Queenstown turn, rolling up along the path of the Southern Alps then hitting Queenstown and moving on to the North Island before May sees the leaves turn to brown and begin falling off the trees.

Top Alpine Lakes

The onset of winter makes us want to curl up by a warm fire and stare out the window at a beautiful view. Of course, at these alpine lakes, there is plenty of outdoor activity all year-round as well. If you’re inclined to just relax with a hot beverage or get out and experience nature, these lakes make for perfect getaways.

Lake Lucerne

With a fjord landscape, mild year-round climate and the city of Lucerne on its shores, Lake Lucerne is a Swiss delight in all seasons. The almost 7,000-foot summit of Mt. Pilatus looms over the lake and plays a key role in the history and folklore of Switzerland. The 44-square-mile lake and its surroundings are a playground for the recreation-mad Swiss, with winter sports in the mountains and biking and cycling along the shore in other seasons.

Lake Tahoe

With clear water and a ring of mountains all around, Lake Tahoe is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. It has plenty to offer your other senses, too, serving as a playground for skiing and other winter sports during cold months and for parasailing and other water sports when the weather turns warm. Elevated hiking and biking trails offer spectacular views, and casinos on the Nevada side of the lake provided entertainment year-round.

Lake Louise

A spectacular emerald color thanks to glacial and rock runoff, Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, is a picture-perfect sight to behold. At almost 6,000 feet of elevation with mountains and trails all around, it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise year-round. In winter, there’s world-class skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, dog-sledding, and sleigh rides. In summer, there’s canoeing, hiking, and horseback riding, plus the ski gondolas remain in operation to whisk visitors over alpine meadows and babbling brooks.

Lake Titicaca

In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital.
Lake Wakatipu

In the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island near a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables, Lake Wakatipu stretches for 50 adrenaline-pumping miles. Parasailing, canyoneering, and bungee-jumping are a few of the favorite area pastimes, while the vineyards of Gibbston Valley offer respite after a hard day of adventure. Queenstown has the distinction of being both a lake town and a ski town, serving as a recreation capital.