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Colmar France, colorful half timber house city skyline at Ill River with autumn foliage season

Discover Europe in autumn: See 6 cities with our

5-day Pass

Explore the canals and waterfronts of 6 European destinations with a 5-day Global Pass


What's your perfect autumn afternoon? For us, it’s hard to beat the feeling of sipping coffee on a bench overlooking a canal, surrounded by the reflections of golden leaves. 


This itinerary takes you to 6 irresistible, waterside cities in 6 countries, where you'll experience the beauty of Europe in autumn, whether it's by a canal, river or harbor.


Unlock Hamburg, Utrecht, Ghent, Luxembourg City, Colmar and Basel with a 5-day Global Pass, no reservations needed. 

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1. Hamburg, Germany

Why it's worth visiting

Hamburg is home to one of the busiest ports in Europe, but there are lots of ways to slow down on a visit to Germany’s second-biggest city.


What to do: 

  • Farmers have tended fruit orchards in the fertile Altes Land region outside Hamburg for hundreds of years. Take part in this age-old autumn tradition by visiting a farm for an afternoon of apple picking. 
  • Pick up a secondhand souvenir during a visit to the Flohschanze flea market, held every Saturday. Who knows, you might find the perfect vintage jacket or that rare vinyl record you’ve been searching for… enjoy the treasure hunt!
  • Seek out the quiet side of big city Hamburg by renting a canoe or kayak and exploring the city’s beloved Alster Lakes
Autumn in Hamburg

Train from Hamburg to Utrecht. Travel time: 5 hours and 8 minutes, with 2 transfers


2. Utrecht, Netherlands

Autumn leaves reflect on an Utrecht canal

Why it's worth visiting


Just 40 kilometers from Amsterdam, Utrecht offers travelers an alternative look into Dutch city living. 


What to do: 

  • Plenty of Dutch cities are home to charming canals, but some of the Netherlands’ most unique waterside views can be found in Utrecht. Spend an afternoon soaking in the sight of autumn leaves glinting in the waters of the Oudegracht canal, lined on each side by a two-level street.  
  • Utrecht is home to plenty of independent cafes where you can watch the world go by while sipping an expertly-crafted cappuccino. Boost your barista skills by signing up for a workshop at Dagger Coffee
  • Sample the Netherlands’ famous stroopwafels and kibbeling on a visit to Vredenburg Market, open on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Just steps from Utrecht Central Station, the market is an ideal place to pick up some snacks before catching your next train. 

Train from Utrecht to Ghent. Travel time: 3 hours and 15 minutes, with 2 transfers


3. Ghent, Belgium

Why it's worth visiting

You’ll find charm — and a fraction of the crowds that flock to other European destinations — around every cobblestoned corner in Ghent’s center. 


What to do: 

  • As autumn takes hold, take advantage of the longer nights with an evening stroll along Ghent’s illuminated streets. The Ghent Light Plan, a path through the city which takes about two hours to complete, shows off the squares, waterways, and architectural wonders to near-magical effect. 
  • Dive into Ghent's past on a visit to the towering Gravensteen castle, located in the heart of the city. But don’t expect your average history lesson – the castle’s audio guide is voiced by Flemish comedian Wouter Deprez. Come prepared to laugh as you discover the “Castle of the Counts.” 
  • Start dreaming of your next train trip on a visit to one of Ghent’s many independent bookshops. Atlas and Zanzibar, a travel bookshop with a collection of over 40,000 volumes and maps, offers adventurers plenty of inspiration.
View of Ghent, illuminated during twilight

Train from Ghent to Luxembourg City. Travel time: 3 hours and 54 minutes, with 1 transfer


4. Luxembourg City, Luxembourg 

An aerial shot of Luxembourg City at twilight

Why it's worth visiting


In addition to exploring the city’s Bock Casemates – a fascinating system of tunnels and fortifications – and picturesque Old Town, there are plenty of ways to dive deeper into this European capital. 


What to do: 

  • Catch sight of autumn leaves in the Pétrusse Valley – and then kick back at the skate park, located under the shadow of La Passerelle, a dramatic stone viaduct that crosses the valley. 
  • Neimënster Abbey, a short walk across the Alzette River from the skate park, is the cultural heart of the city’s waterside Grund district. Formerly a Benedictine abbey, Neimënster today hosts art exhibitions, concerts, dance performances and more. 
  • Cozy up with a slice of quetschentaart, a classic Luxembourg dessert. Keep an eye out for this mouthwatering fruit tart at bakeries in Luxembourg City. 

Train from Luxembourg City to Colmar. Travel time: 3 hours and 12 minutes, with 2 transfers


5. Colmar, France 

Why it's worth visiting


This small riverside city near the French-German border is a delight for all the senses.  


What to do: 

  • Autumn is grape-harvesting season in the vineyards outside Colmar. Rent a bike and explore the Alsace vineyard route for an up-close look at the region’s villages, castles and beyond.   
  • Learn the art of Alsatian cuisine by booking a cooking class with a local chef. Chez Mémé offers a four-hour culinary workshop that uses local, organic ingredients. 
  • Linger in front of world-class artistic treasures, such as the Isenheim Altarpiece at the Unterlinden Museum, partially located in a former convent built in the thirteenth century.
Vineyards outside Colmar, France

Train from Colmar to Basel. Travel time: 45 minutes, no transfers 


6. Basel, Switzerland

The Herbstmesse carnival rides illuminate the streets of Basel

Why it's worth visiting


Art and culture abound everywhere you look in Basel, situated near the border of Switzerland, Germany, and France. 


What to do: 

  • Did you know that Basel’s beloved Herbstmesse – a two-week-long autumn fair – dates all the way back to the 1400s? Visitors have the chance to ride the Ferris wheel alongside lifelong fairgoers and sample specialities such as the chäsbängel (a cheese-filled baguette) and magenbrot (sweet glazed biscuits). 

  • Immerse yourself in Basel’s rich creative culture with a walk or bike ride on the Rehberger-Weg, a five-kilometer art path linking Germany and Switzerland. 

  • Take time to savour a bar (or three) of Swiss chocolate. Sign up for a chocolate tour to learn more about its production and history, or simply stop at a few local chocolatiers to do your own tasting and discover your favorite type of Swiss chocolate. 

Feeling inspired? With Eurail, you can:

Tour Europe by train with 1 Pass
Experience the highlights and hidden gems 
Travel flexibly on trains that don't need reservations
Stay conscious and travel sustainably 

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