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Beat the autumn blues with these cosy escapes

We’ve said goodbye to warm weather, but don’t let that stop you getting out of the house. EXB’s travel expert gives you some ideas.

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Emily McDonnell, our travel expert, thinks autumn is the best time of year for a holiday. Here are her tips. Photo: Miriam Schneider

I swore at myself for the hundredth time. Why, after four years in Germany and the rest of my lifetime in the UK, did I not have a rain jacket? You’d have thought I’d have realised how essential it was at this point… Raindrops dripped from my bike helmet into my eyes, and I felt my jeans mould to my legs as they got heavy with water. A van drove pas, splashing an entire puddle over me, soaking the remaining dry spots. 

September 1st technically means its autumn, when Europe’s northern inhabitants cross their fingers and start wishing for an Indian summer. It’s almost like we forget about the existence of the seasons, and hope our cries about the temperature drop will appease the weather gods and bring back the summer warmth.

And, yes, perhaps while dashing across Berlin in a soaking-wet denim jacket on my bike, I was wishing for a break in the clouds, but I am actually pretty pumped for the arrival of autumn because I think autumn is the best time for a holiday. 

Fantastic food

Hands up who else had a harvest festival at school? One year I got to be the lead in the play, Teresa the Turnip. Sadly I don’t have photos, or really remember much of the play’s narrative structure, but I do remember it was a celebration of the season that brings us the most food. 

The countryside surrounding Berlin is full of Hofläden, AKA farm shops, full of fresh produce. Even better than cosy farm cafes, like at Brodowin, are the restaurants-with-rooms, such as Forsthaus Strelitz, which serve produce grown in their garden. Brodowin’s chef trained in a Michelin-starred restaurant, and really works magic with the food. Autumn is the best season to visit, thanks to the rich diversity of vegetables on offer, from tomatoes and pumpkin to Pfifferlinge and courgettes.

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Soak up vineyard life in in one of Longen-Schloeder cosy slate houses. Photo: Emma Gibbs

Red, red wine

Dark, cold evenings mean that it’s red wine time! I’m a big fan of heavy, warming wine, and there’s nothing more satisfying than curling up in front of a wood-burning fire with a glass red and a good book.

The wine harvest in autumn is the perfect occasion for a vineyard visit. Why? Because the vineyards are full of life as the grapes are picked, and everyone is keen to kick back and unwind in the evenings. The Mosel Valley is, of course, Germany’s most well-known wine-growing region. A favourite spot of mine to soak up vineyard life in one of Longen-Schloeder cosy slate houses, built in the style of traditional winegrowers’ cabins. 

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Avoid the crowds by visiting the beach post-summer. Photo: Harriet Barrett

Empty beaches

Summer holidays are over, making it incredibly easy to seek solitude on one of northern Germany’s unspoilt beaches. Barefoot, windy walks along the sand, as salty spray floats in the air, are the things that dreams are made of. Just thinking of the meditative state I’m transported to is enough to slow my heart rate.

Post-summer is perfect: it’s not too cold, very quiet, and the best-places-to-stay have availability again! I love the Fischland-Darß peninsula, which stretches out into the Baltic sea, and boasts some really beautiful cabins such as Siegfried am Strand.

Start of sauna season

If you’d have told me four years ago that sweating ohne Kleidung would become a hobby of mine, I’d have laughed. My Britishness had screamed that I must retain some semblance of decorum at all times (and public nudity definitely did not fit with this). 

I’m now a convert, and – after waiting all summer – I am excited for autumnal sauna sessions* (come on, who is going to a sauna at the height of summer!?). Re:hof Rutenberg’s sauna has a huge glass window, allowing you to stargaze (another hobby of mine made better by the arrival of autumn) simultaneously to sweating.

*It’s worth noting that only saunas over 85 degrees have been allowed to reopen, and all have to follow strict hygiene regulations.

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Stargaze through the huge glass windows at Re:hof Rutenberg’s sauna. Photo: Re:hof Rutenberg

Emily McDonnell is our German travel expert. For more inspiration and travel tips, check out her travel club The Staycation Collection.