FALL in Love with a Semester Abroad in These 10 Best Fall Travel Destinations

by Erin Oppenheim

Is it better to study abroad in fall or spring? Is it even really a question? Fall is the perfect time of year, and the best semester to study abroad. The air is a little cooler, maybe even a little crisper. You can finally rock your cute sweaters and scarves, and if you’re feeling really crazy, maybe even a beanie. Your boots and jacket are right on trend, and the thought of a brisk stroll with a chocolat chaud warms you up from the inside out. You know this phenomenon happens all over the world at least once a year, but somehow spending the fall semester abroad just sounds too good to be true. Luckily, it isn’t!

B-b-but, what about my pumpkin spice lattes? Uhhhh, what about them? Lucky for you, Starbucks is pretty pervasive these days (not that we’re recommending you make Starbucks your go-to haunt - what kind of meaningful experience is that?). What we ARE saying is FOMO and fake pumpkin flavorings are lame excuses to prevent you from having an amazing meaningful travel experience and watching the leaves change in these 10 beautiful places we’ve dubbed as the best places to study abroad during fall semester.

Tryfan Mountain
Tryfan Mountain

1. Wales

If you love watching the colors of the coastline fade from green into fiery hues of red and gold as you cradle a warm cup of cocoa, you’ll have a whale of a time studying abroad in our first pick for best places to study abroad in fall 2017. The unfortunate truth is, time flies when you’re having fun and you’ll have so much fun during your fall semester abroad, you’ll be going back through customs before you can say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllantysiliogogogoch. 

Study in Wales with these great programs: 

Center for Study Abroad (CSA) | University at Albany, SUNY | Bangor University

Leaves changing colors along the Great Wall of China
More like the Great fall of China.

2. China 

Munch on mooncakes and celebrate the harvest moon and all things fall during the Mid-Autumn Festival while studying abroad in China. The leaves burst into bright shades of gold, rust, and red. Celebratory lanterns cast a warm glow as incense is lit to bless the crowds of people who come to watch the dragon dance. Your autumn-laden latte doesn’t seem quite as festive in comparison now, does it? 

Study in China with these great programs:

CISabroad | CEA Study Abroad | IES Abroad

green and gold foliage in BANFF
Strike gold in Canada, gold leaves, that is!

3. Canada

The mountains are calling and you really gotta go. If you’re wondering to yourself, where should I study abroad in 2017?, seek solace in Maple Leaf country. Savor a warm cup of coffee from Tim Hortons and remember to say please and thank you, eh?! Fall semester in Canada might be nippier than you’re used to, depending on where you find yourself, but that just means more snuggling up in scarves, hats, and fuzzy blankets by a fireplace when you’re not busy studying or watching hockey.

Study in Canada with these great programs:

CSA | AmeriSpan | Le Cordon Bleu

Colorful leaves
Passing up the opportunity to sip hot cider by a fire? Norway, Jose!

4. Norway

You just can’t “let it go.” You’re frozen with excitement. Your love of Norway is “an open door.” You’re in awe as you watch as the fjords change color as they are painted in bright, fiery oranges and reds that are almost warm enough to counterbalance the chill coming off the water. Did we mention that fall semester programs at Norwegian universities are practically priceless (in more ways than one)? 

Study abroad in Norway with these great programs: 

USAC Norway | HECUA | University at Albany, SUNY

boats lined up in a tree-lined canal
We just love fall. Okay? Okay.

5. The Netherlands

Watch the leaves leisurely fall and float through the canals of Amsterdam as you putter by on a boat or ride along on your bike. With warm Dutch apple pie and fresh stroopwafel at the market, fall has never tasted (or smelled) sweeter. No wonder everyone is boldly claiming the Netherlands is the best place to study abroad in fall 2017!

Study in the Netherlands with these great programs: 

IES Abroad | CES Maastricht | CIEE

Peep some flame-colored leaves on an afternoon stroll in Japan. 
Peep some flame-colored leaves on an afternoon stroll in Japan. 

6. Japan

Ever wondered where you can get chestnuts roasted over an open fire? Well, autumn in Japan means leaf-peeping koyo and nomming on chestnuts. The whole country is set ablaze in warm tones of russet and scarlet. For students in Tokyo, a walk through the expansive Shinjuku park is the perfect place for catching some crisp autumn air and feeling the satisfying crunch of leaves beneath your boots. 

Study in Japan with these great programs:

Temple University | ISA Study Abroad | KCP International Language School

Sunny valley near a waterfalls in Iceland
Enjoy the warm, golden countryside bathed in midnight sun during fall study abroad in Iceland.

7. Iceland

Changing leaves and vast golden valleys aren’t the only part of the Icelandic landscape painted in shades of fall. Enjoy the soft hues of the midnight sun or venture out to experience the sky on fire during the aurora borealis. Fall in love with adventure during your fall semester in Iceland. Bundled up in lots of layers with your favorite pair of hiking boots, you’ll get to explore a country that looks more like a dreamscape, and interact with the dreamers who call it home. 

Study in Iceland with these great programs:

API | SIT Study Abroad | CELL

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Tubingen, Germany
With gluhwein in hand, and a blanket around your shoulders, nothing beats fall in Germany.

8. Germany

The air gets crisper a little faster and the leaves are a bright burst of orange against a clear, barely-a-cloud-in-sight sky. You’ll pull your coat collar up a little higher and bundle into your scarf while walking about town, but the thought of a warm cup of gluhwein or hot cocoa waiting for you at home immediately puts a smile on your face. Between beer steins at Oktoberfest and hand-crafted goodies and gluhwein at the Christkindlmarkt, it’s no wonder Germany made it on our list of the best fall travel destinations.

Study in Germany with these great programs: 

AIFS Study Abroad | European Study Center Heidelberg | Boston University Study Abroad

Tuileries in fall
Enjoy your crisp walk home with a warm baguette under your arm. 

9. France

Fall semester in France will solidify France’s stake as le plus beau pays au monde. Paris is dusted in a warm covering of autumn leaves, the air down south gets crisp as you switch from chilled rose to vin chaud, and now the brie is served warm, baked in pastry dough. Even when the rain puts a damper on a perfect fall day, you can hide out in a cafe sipping espresso with your conversation partner and discussing Le Monde. This wouldn’t be a true list of best places to study abroad in fall 2017 without a tip of the ol’ beret to this mainstay.

Study in France with these great programs: 

CEA Study Abroad | University of Minnesota | ESMOD Paris

Forest in Poland dusted with bright orange leaves
There’s a reason it’s called a “Polish Golden Autumn.”

10. Poland

Poland is notorious for being gloomy and rainy, but don’t let that misconception prevent you from seeing the true beauty in this country. It’s not called a “Polish Golden Autumn” for nothing. During the fall semester, trees lining the cities and hills will change colors and put even the best Bob Ross paintings to shame. A crisp, fun-filled fall day in Poland is followed by a relaxing, rainy evening where you can curl up with a warm beverage and a good book, perhaps a classic favorite in Polish, and unwind.

Study in Poland with these great programs: 

Syracuse University | CIEE | API

Now that you know the best places to study abroad in fall 2017, it’s time to find friends to bring along! Fall is the perfect transitional season; the changing leaves inspire us to make big changes. Take the time to transform yourself next fall semester by participating in a study abroad program, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when spring rolls around and you’re a whole new you! 

Have you fallen in love with these locations and can’t decide where to go in 2017? Try comparing and saving programs with myGoAbroad!