Summer may be long gone, but as the sun settles closer to the horizon and the trees display vibrant red, russet and golden hues, the landscapes of the Benelux region have never been more resplendent. With its colourful cities, crunchy pavements, romantic, fairytale forests and secluded coastlines, there really is no better place to enjoy the most photogenic season of the year.
TEXT: ANNA VILLELEGER | PHOTO © NBTC
1. The colours
From Luxembourg City to Brussels, the Benelux region is home to some of Europe’s leafiest cities — so you don’t even need to head to the countryside to witness the magic of autumn. Colours change from green to amber, russet and gold, with beauti-ful hues cloaking buildings and reflecting in the canals of cities such as Bruges and Amsterdam.
Luxembourg City’s Vallée de la Pétrusse looks stunning in autumn. Photo © Christophe Van Biesen/LFT
2. The hearty food
While salads are ‘de rigueur’ in the summer months, autumn is a time to embrace the comfort food the Benelux region has in abundance. Many dishes are made using healthy seasonal vegetables such as endives, which can be enjoyed raw, braised, sautéed or grilled. The Flemish way is our favourite though – wrapped in ham and ac-companied by a rich cheese sauce.
Endives wrapped in ham is a classic Flemish dish. Photo © Visit Flanders
3. The cultural agenda
Festival season may be coming to a close, but with many of the region’s word-class museums launching their winter exhibitions this month, autumn in the Benelux is ooz-ing with cultural highlights. For example in Belgium, The Brussels Museums Noc-turnes sees an array of the city’s top museums open late every Thursday until 5 De-cember.
The Brussels Museums Nocturnes is an unmissable event. Photo © Visit Brussels/HiddenRaven
4. The fruits of the harvest
As we enjoy the bounty of the harvest festivals, autumn in the Benelux is all about crunchy apples, wild mushrooms and nutty endives – all of which can be found at the region’s many colourful markets. October also marks the start of game season, with venison, wild boar and wood pigeon among the most popular meats.
Fresh produce at the Marché du Châtelain in Brussels. Photo © Visit Brussels/Eric Danhier
5. The photo opportunities
Get ready for an onslaught of Instagram photos featuring the caption #goldenhour. Taking place at both dawn and dusk, golden hour refers to the first and last light of each day, when the sunlight appears much warmer and softer. As winter approaches, the lower sun and resplendent landscape make it feel like golden hour lasts all day.
The city of Antwerp looks resplendent in autumn. Photo © Visit Flanders
6. The Halloween fun
Halloween has become increasingly popular over the years in the Benelux region. Get ready for masquerade balls, haunted houses and Halloween club nights across the region’s major cities. And while you will spot the traditional pumpkin Jack-o’-lantern, look out for other carved root vegetables such as butternut squash in people’s win-dows, too.
Pumpkin carving is a popular Halloween tradition. Photo © NBTC
7. The first wine of the season
The Grand Duchy is famous for its wine, and the ‘Fiederwäissen’ (the first wine of the season) becomes available in early autumn. There are many Luxembourgish tradi-tions at this time of year, such as the grape festivals, which give thanks for a good grape harvest. Towns elect a ‘grape queen’, who parades through the streets handing out wine to the crowds.
Raise a glass to the first wine of the season. Photo © NBTC
8. The secluded beaches
Whether you go to the wild dune beaches of the Netherlands or one of the famous Belgian seaside resorts such as De Panne, there is no denying the restorative prop-erties of a crisp autumn day at the coast. Once the tourist season slows down, the Benelux’s unspoiled beaches take on an ethereal air.
The Netherlands’ beaches are even more peaceful in the autumn. Photo © NBTC
9. The enchanting forests
From the fairytale-like Tillegem Forest in Bruges to the wonderful Bambësch Forest in Luxembourg, not to mention De Hoge Veluwe National Park in the Netherlands, the Benelux is home to a myriad of enchanting woodlands. The rich colours of the leaves contrast against the region’s huge skies, which often look like a scene from a Dutch Golden Age painting.
The Benelux region is home to a myriad of enchanting woodlands. Photo © NBTC
10. The cosy bars
‘Gezellig’ is a special Dutch word which evokes many of the warm feelings typically associated with autumnal activities, such as drinking beer with friends in a neigh-bourhood bar — make sure you visit a traditional ‘brown café’ (bruin café) for a truly authentic experience. Meanwhile, throughout Belgium, you will find charming bars which have retained all of their original charm. Think wood panelling, cosy corners and low lighting.
Enjoy cosy autumnal nights and a traditional beer. Photo © Visit Flanders.