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The Seven Best Day Trips For Autumn

From Seoul to Surrey – where to catch nature’s most dazzling fall colours close to home

  • Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany. Photograph by Mr Alex Saberi/Getty Images

It’s easy to fetishise the third season as the summer months fall away and people start getting gooey over crumply piles of leaves and dubiously adulterated lattes. But do you know what, autumn is a pretty great time of year. So, get off your cosy sofa, put out the open fire it’s almost definitely not cold enough for yet, and resist your worst pumpkin spice tendencies. Autumn rewards those who get outside in their fancy new coat and sturdy shoes – for a weekend or, indeed, just a day – to suck in that crisp air among the falling leaves. And the good news is that you don’t need to venture to deepest Connecticut to enjoy the russets and golds of the autumn spectrum. From a mountain above Seoul to a vineyard near Florence, a gallery an hour’s train ride away from New York to a loch that’s a skimming stone’s throw from Glasgow, here are some of the world’s great sights close to cities that are at their best right about now.

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey

  • Autumn foliage at Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey. Photograph by Mr John Miller/National Trust

One of England’s finest woods is also easily walkable in a day, and just over an hour away from central London. A labour of love planted by Dr Wilfrid Fox, an eminent 20th-century dermatologist and passionate arborist with plenty of land, its 1,000-plus species of tree and shrub are now maintained for all by the National Trust. A riot of English country life and colour in spring thanks to its magnolias, bluebells and azaleas, Winkworth erupts again in autumn with a display of yellow hickory, crimson sweet-gum and deep-red maples. Holly, rowan and Chinese dogwood berries add to the show. There’s a lake with a boathouse and wetlands that teem with fauna, too, and sweeping views across the Surrey Hills.

What to wear

  • Oliver Spencer Bermondsey Cotton-Corduroy Bomber Jacket

  • George Cleverley Toby Leather Brogue Boots


Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin

  • Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin. Photograph by Mr Wolfgang Scholvien/visitBerlin

Built as a summer retreat for Ms Sophia Charlotte of Hanover in the late 17th century, the pile got supersized subsequently to include lavish festival halls and the largest collection of 18th-century French masters outside of France. The private rooms of King Frederick II burst with especially flamboyant flourishes, including the mirrored and gilt Golden Gallery. Beyond the main palace, the vast Orangerie is now a concert venue with regular classical performances by the Berlin Residence Orchestra, while a three-storey belvedere and neoclassical mausoleum rise among the trees in the handsome grounds on the banks of the Spree. Promenade through the formal, Versailles-inspired gardens before circling through the woods like a minor prinz.

What to wear

  • Berluti Nubuck-Trimmed Cashmere Bomber Jacket

  • Brunello Cucinelli Slim-Fit Distressed Selvedge Denim Jeans


Chianti Classico Vineyards, Florence

  • Chianti Classico Vineyards, Florence. Photograph by Gallery Stock

Three hundred years ago, an otherwise hapless duke carved out a gift to boozers everywhere by mapping – and protecting – the Chianti wine region in the hills between Florence and Siena. Cosimo III de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany’s vineyards have maintained their layout, give or take an acre here and there, and sit to this day in some of Italy’s most stunning countryside. And it’s not all vines, which only occupy about 10 per cent of the region. The rest is given over to glorious swathes of hornbeam, arbutus, oak and ilex. Come autumn, the trees offer a blazing backdrop to a late-season wine tasting tour along Tuscany’s renowned strade bianche. Several vineyards welcome visitors, including Riecine, where British winemaker Mr Sean O’Callaghan has been honouring Grand Duke Cosimo’s foresight for years.

What to wear

  • Valstar Valstarino Unlined Suede Bomber Jacket

  • Loro Piana Aspen Walk Shearling-Lined Full-Grain Leather Boots


Bukhansan, Seoul

  • Bukhansan National Park, Seoul. Photograph by Mr Jordan Petsche

There aren’t many global megacities with mountains on their subway maps. In Seoul, Bukhan Mountain, or Bukhansan, is a 45-minute from downtown and out-scrapes its tallest buildings. Domed granite peaks offer some of the world’s best city skyline views, but it’s the mountain’s forest cloak that draws slack-jawed hikers come autumn. A web of trails in the Bukhansan National Park hums with urban escapees when the weather is fine, even taking in the summit for those with sturdier shoes. By this time of year, the temperatures get more comfortable as the maples, gingkos and oaks turn a fiery red and the low sun illuminates the temples and streams that dot the forest.

What to wear

  • And Wander Wool-Blend Fleece Half-Zip Sweater

  • Arc'teryx Bora GTX Waterproof Nubuck Hiking Boots


Dia:Beacon, New York

  • Dia:Beacon, New York. Photograph by Mr Richard Barnes, courtesy of Dia Art Foundation

You don’t have to travel far north from the break-neck freneticism of Manhattan to find calmer locales, not least when the fall colours and cooler air wash up the Hudson Valley towards Albany, the state capital. As little as an hour upriver, at Dia:Beacon culture bursts out of the riverbank between Peekskill and Poughkeepsie, just west of the Hudson Highlands, a forest that glows bright vermillion in fall. Built in an old box-printing plant, the rival to Moma houses contemporary art from the 1960s to the present from enormous Richard Serras to luminous Dan Flavins and magic eye-style portraits by Mr Chuck Close. It even has its own riverfront gardens with trails. Combine it with a foray into the highlands, where visitors at this time of the year should keep their binoculars raised for barn owls, hummingbirds and downy woodpeckers.

What to wear

  • J.Crew Slim-Fit Buffalo-Checked Cotton-Flannel Shirt

  • Chimala Distressed Selvedge Denim Jeans


Loch Lomond, Scotland

  • The view over Loch Lomond from Conic Hill part of the West Highland Way, Scotland. Photograph by Mr Kenny Lam/VisitScotland

Dust off your tweeds and Hunters for a hike around Loch Lomond, which is arguably at its bonniest at this time of year. By loch standards, Lomond is also accessible, lying as it does well under an hour up the Clyde from Glasgow, easily Scotland’s coolest city. Bigger than the more famous Loch Ness, but with equal number of monsters, Lomond groans in the summer with tourists around Balloch, the town on the lake’s southern tip. But things quieten down – and warm up, at least in colour terms – come autumn when feet are your best conveyance. The Trossachs National Park, which encloses the lake, has a range of walking and bike trails. Go as high as you can for the best views – the park has seven peaks above 1,000 metres.

What to wear

  • Kent & Curwen Shearling-Trimmed Felted Wool-Blend Peacoat

  • William Lockie Cashmere Hat and Scarf Set


Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria

  • Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany. Photograph by Mr Alex Saberi/Getty Images

Perhaps the world’s most photographed castle is at its finest when it thrusts above the autumn fire of the woods that surround it. Barely more authentic than the Sleeping Beauty piles it inspired, Neuschwanstein is a late 19th-century romanesque revival built by “Mad” King Ludwig of Bavaria in honour of his friend and musical obsession, the composer Mr Richard Wagner. Nonetheless, the outrageous confection on a rock has become Bavaria’s biggest tourist draw, its lavish interiors the work of set rather than interior designers. They climax in the Minstrels’ Hall, where vast frescos reveal scenes from Mr Wagner’s Tannhäuser opera, and in the King’s bedroom with its Gothic bed with carved spires big enough to support a cathedral. All the windows look out across the plains and lakes to the north and the forest peaks of the Bavarian Alps to the south.

What to wear

  • Sacai Velvet-Trimmed Puppytooth Wool-Blend Coat

  • Feit Hiker Shearling-Lined Leather Boots