As if the Northern Lights weren't fantastic enough in a regular old year, NASA scientists have predicted that they'll be turned up to maximum wattage in 2012, with the brightest light show in 50 years. Finland provides an excellent base camp for viewing the Aurora Borealis throughout autumn and winter season, particularly in sparkling Finnish Lapland resorts like Luosto. Helsinki has also tap-danced its way up the cool list this year, having been designated World Design Capital for 2012. The city hosts special events and parties in its sleek boutique hotels so join the party.
If you're feeling nostalgic for the summer festival season already, you can look forward to one of autumn's premier events in quirky Reykjavik. A ticket to the Iceland Airways Festival grants you access to all the city's venues, where you can see big names this year like Sigur Ros and The Vaccines, along with dozens of other hot up-and-coming indie and electronic artists. Party until dawn in the city’s clubs and go for a hangover-easing soak in the famous Blue Lagoon.
With the opening last November of SALT, a massive contemporary arts space housed in an old Ottoman bank, the international art scene has started to pay more attention to Istanbul's thriving underground arts scene. Two of the factors that seem to be spurring this sudden art boom include cheap rent and young energy, with half the population under the age of 30. See works from over 50 different galleries representing local artists at the Istanbul Arts Fair in November, while the main drag of Istiklal Caddesi boasts galleries galore.
Looking for a budget city-break with a difference this autumn? Consider Odessa, recently revitalized and now offering greater tourist amenities minus the tourist traps. With 240 days of sun each year, it’ll still be pleasant in autumn. Take an architecturally-inclined stroll to admire the city's intriguing mishmash of Spanish, Russian, Czech, and German influences, and relax at a spa which uses Black Sea mud and salt to create healing remedies for visitors.
Pop-up picnics? Gourmet cinema? Sounds like your idea of a good time? Brussels is ready to give it to you. This Belgian city usually known for its mussels, frites, and urinating statues has been taken over this year by the Brusselicious Festival. Numerous restaurants, hotels and public spaces are taking part in the festival, a celebration of all things foodie. Highlights include a champagne tasting event called Bubbles in Brussels, as well as the Tram Experience which serves participants gourmet meals aboard a moving city tram. The Chez Cinematek series pairs film screenings with relevant food tastings, while November’s Chocolate Week closes the fest in style.
Montenegro is a hidden gem for those seeking a remote Balkan beach holiday. This southern stretch of the Dalmatian Coast is still warm enough for sunbathing in the autumn, without the crowds you'll find to the north in Croatia. There's a distinct bohemian vibe in towns like Bar, where residents gather to read poetry every autumn under an ancient olive tree to promote peace. The cuisine has a rustic Italian vibe without the high prices across the Adriatic, and you can unearth all the secrets of the ‘Black Mountain’ when you head inland to the ominously beautiful Durmitor National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Environmentally-friendly Denmark is seriously cool and serious about going green. They've already got 20% of their energy coming from renewable sources with eyes on the prize of 100% by 2025. If you love cycling, you'll want to take advantage of the 400 km of designated bike paths winding their way around Copenhagen, where 40% of the population commute by bike. For foodies, the New Nordic Food movement is improving traditional food products and make better use of seasonal, fresh ingredients. Try them out in one of many amazing restaurants in the Danish capital.
Always updated with travel chat, deals, ideas, polls and fun. Join the crowds! Be our friend on Facebook!
© Skyscanner Ltd 2002–2012