As temperatures start to drop and the nights get longer, autumn can feel like something of an in-between season – after the highs of summer and before the festivities begin.

Motoring on Female First

Motoring on Female First

But the season has so much to offer when it comes to travel and exploration – why not make the most of it?

If you don’t mind exploring in a scarf instead of sandals, there are spectacular sights to take in at home and across Europe, and it can be a relatively quiet – and affordable -time to discover somewhere new.

With over fifty three thousand car hire locations worldwide and over six thousand across Europe alone, the experts at have shared their top five destinations for adventurous holidaymakers to witness the beautiful autumn colours, enjoy the open road and head off-the-beaten track.

1. Black Forest - Germany

Take the renowned Black Forest High Road which reaches heights of between 600 and 1000 metres and offers panoramic, fairytale-like views. The journey begins in the spa town of Baden-Baden, where grand buildings and turreted villas spill across colourful hillsides. View-seekers can venture up to Bühlerhöhe Castle for a breathtaking outlook across the forest and there are plenty of Instagram-friendly lay-bys where you can pull over and breathe in the mountain air. What’s great is that Germany itself is one of the world’s top locations for car hire and 2017 consumer research revealed that visitors scored the region amongst the top 20 worldwide locations for car hire experiences, based on a range of factors including helpfulness of the staff, cleanliness of the cars, speed of the pick-up process, ease of finding the rental desk and value for money. *

2. North Coast 500 - Scotland

Escape to Scotland to travel the never-ending back roads of the North Coast 500. As the leaves turn and mist hangs off the lochs, travelling by car is the perfect way to capture the romance and mysticism of the Highlands. This 5000-mile circular trip takes you past ruined castles, 5,000-year-old burial chambers, smugglers’ caves and a fair few distilleries – all set against a kaleidoscopic autumn backdrop. Though waterproofs are essential in Scotland’s autumnal climate, it’s the perfect time to explore the heart of the country’s ancient heritage. If you need help planning the perfect route think about downloading maps you can use offline. Here We Go on your mobile device allows you to follow a route without the need for data or WI-FI. Just make sure you pre-programme your phone before the journey while you are parked up with the engine off, just so you’re not distracted along the way.

3. From Bordeaux to Saint-Émilion and beyond, South of France

With temperatures comfortably in the twenties, a road trip in the South of France should be timed around the harvest season, which peaks in September and early October. From Bordeaux, drive eastward to the town of Saint-Émilion and enjoy vineyard tours at several local chateaux. Further east is the Parc Naturel Régional des Causses du Quercy, which boasts all the vibrant colours that autumn has to offer. From here, stop for lunch in Toulouse before heading further south to the medieval city of Carcassonne. Hailed as the perfect autumn city break, its castle walls are surrounded by glorious golden landscapes stretching as far as the eye can see. The beauty of this region means there’s a chance you might discover a new-found love for one of the cities. If there’s a chance this may happen, consider checking with your car hire company whether you can drop the car off at a new location and if there’s a one-way hire fee attached, what it will be.

4. New Forest - Hampshire

The New Forest comes to life in autumn as woodlands of mighty redwoods, alder, beech and chestnuts transform into a jaw-dropping display of reds, oranges and yellows. It’s also the best time of year for the forest’s famous ponies and pigs, which can be seen feasting on acorns that have fallen from the trees. There’s no defined ‘route’ as such – be spontaneous, follow the tiny country lanes and see where they take you. After you’re done exploring and unveiling new discoveries, before you’re ready to return the vehicle, check the outside for any excessive dirt and give the car a good clean before handing it back over. That way, you won’t be surprised by any extra fees for the hire company having to clean the car.

5. Ring of Kerry - Ireland

Ireland’s famed Iveragh Peninsula is ideal for an autumn getaway, and best explored by car. The area is overwhelmingly popular in the summer months, which makes just outside of peak season a more peaceful time to visit. Killarney National Park is the perfect place to get your foliage fix, or why not take the ferry out to Valentia Island? The island’s breathtaking views are a magnet for keen photographers in the autumn months and are best enjoyed on a crisp morning. If you’re thinking of flying into Cork before embarking on your road trip, consider travelling a little further away from the airport to pick up your car hire, as airport pick-ups often comes with a premium attached.

An autumn three-day car hire for a standard five door car starts from approx.: £61 in Stuttgart, Germany; £39 in Aberdeen, Scotland; £99 in Bordeaux, France; £48 in Hampshire, Southampton and £30 in Cork, Ireland.

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