5 Reasons That Fall Is The Best Time To Visit The Mediterranean

Thinking about booking a last-minute getaway this fall? Don’t overlook the Mediterranean, where planning a trip during the shoulder season offers plenty of advantages.

If there's a perfect time to be spontaneous, it's right now. Indulge your bon-vivant daydreams and just go — to the Mediterranean this fall. Visiting the Med in the shoulder season (September, October and early November) has plenty of advantages, from fewer crowds and cheaper hotel prices to comfortable temperatures for touring and great end-of-summer ingredients in local restaurants. Here's why autumn is the perfect time to plan a trip to Italy, Spain, southern France or islands such as Sicily, Capri, Elba, Malta and Mallorca.

Spanish island of Mallorca
If high summer airfares dashed your dreams of finally seeing the ancient splendors of Rome or enjoying the excesses of Antoni Gaudi's Barcelona, now is the time to book and save. For example, some nonstop flights from New York to Rome in October are under $600 roundtrip when we checked, and those to Barcelona can be had for as little as $485, and Lisbon from $470. Hotel rates, too, take a plunge in late September — especially in island destinations where many properties close in mid-November for the winter. Always wanted to see jetsetter playground Capri? In October a five-star luxury hotel can be yours for as little as $275 per night and a three-star for about $125. Sicily also offers bargain rates on charming hotels and inns in Taormina, starting at around $75 per night, and on the Spanish island of Mallorca, rates at three- and four-star resorts are as low as $90 per night. Prices drop at city hotels, too. In Barcelona, nightly rates at four-star properties dip under $190 by mid-October. And in notoriously pricy Rome, even some five-star rates are under $200 a night. Bargain hunters could nab rates as low as $60 a night for mid-level hotels on some dates. | Shutterstock
mediterranean cruise ship
Cruise ships are now so large and omnipresent in the Med that seeing one — or two or three — in an otherwise idyllic harbor is enough to to make you want to turn around and run in the other direction. When 2,000 to 4,000 people per ship disembark in a small port such as Sorrento or Taormina they simply overwhelm it. The good news is that most cruise lines start relocating their ships from the Med to the Caribbean in September, so by mid-October many vessels are on their way across the Atlantic. You still might encounter a ship here or there (Norwegian, Costa and MSC cruise the Med throughout the winter), but ports won't feel overrun. And hey, if cruising's your thing, you can still find some terrific deals on October sailings (as low as $599 person for seven nights). | Shutterstock

Related: 8 Best Islands for Fall Foliage

beautiful sights in mediterranean
If you're vacationed in southern Europe in summer, you know how hot it can be. And trying to look cool and composed in your selfies with Michelangelo's David in Florence, Santiago Calatrava's futuristic buildings in Valencia or the Acropolis in Athens is nearly impossible. The weather in the Mediterranean from late September to early November cools significantly, but not enough to make you break out your fall woolens. You can expect daytime highs in the upper 60s and low 70s — still warm enough on some days to enjoy the region's beaches — and overnight lows in the high 40s or low 50s. There is a slightly increased chance of rain in the region in October, so do pack an umbrella just in case. | Shutterstock
mediterranean restaurant
You'll always eat well in the Mediterranean, but the region's longer growing season and fall's flavorful local ingredients add heartiness to salads, main courses and side dishes. Think apples, peaches, apricots, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, parsnips, truffles, chestnuts, artichokes and leeks. Sautéed in olive oil, combined with beans and grains and served with the region's plentiful seafood and pork, these delicious fruits and vegetables are irresistible. Fall is a wonderful time to visit Mediterranean vineyards., too, some of them located on islands Whether you're on Mallorca, Sicily, Elba, Santorini or Sardinia, trying local varietals during the post-harvest period is as enjoyable as it gets. | Shutterstock
mediterranean tourism
As the tourism pace slows, you'll find that the locals you encounter in restaurants, bars and shops will have more time to chat with you. You might talk with an artist about his work in his gallery or a boutique owner about where she sources her silk scarves or semi-precious gemstone jewelry. Local markets are particularly ripe for interaction as vendors go about selling the last of the summer season's fruits and vegetables and cheese, sausage and ham producers might take time to explain their farm-to-table techniques. It's all quiet educational and delicious — and now is the perfect time to experience it. | Shutterstock