While our passport books and Instagram feeds will always have room for a quick trip to London or Paris, we're also working on checking off the travel destinations we've been missing out on. Whether they're the up-and-coming countries tucked away in hidden nooks of the globe or closer-to-home cities that deserve a weekend getaway, traveling to these locations post-summer means you'll be rewarded with cheaper flights and, more importantly, less camera-wearing tourists to navigate.
Here are the 9 must-visit fall travel destinations we're already booking tickets for.
The Algarve, Portugal
You're going to need somewhere to lay low after a night out in Barcelona, and our solution is crossing the border into Spain's more low-key neighbor. Once you've taken in Lisbon's terra-cotta tiles and flaky egg tarts, head to Portugal's southernmost region to relax on the Algarve's pristine, breathtaking coastline. While some stretches have become more developed, old villages such as Tavira, with its cobbled alleyways, provide a snapshot into the country's rich history.
The Windy City used to be a second-tier compromise for when we couldn't get to New York, but over the years, Chicago's evolution into a premier cultural and dining destination (Bon Appétit just named it Restaurant City of the Year) has proven that, once and for all, Midwest is best (and more affordable than the Big Apple). While the weather come November can start to get more than a little chilly, just view it as an excuse to cuddle up with a second slice of Lou Malnati's deep-dish pizza.
The Faroe Islands
Iceland might have been the It destination stealing the cover of every travel magazine recently, but it's this cluster of 18 remote islands that should really be in the spotlight. The sparsely populated archipelago (the largest town, Tórshavn, hovers at just around 13,000 locals) sits halfway between Norway and Iceland, and while less expensive fall itineraries can be matched with challenging weather, it's this dramatic climate that makes every view look like a Nat Geo cover photo. Think of the Faroe Islands as your real-life version of The Lord of the Rings—that is, until you board a helicopter taxi to hop to the next island.
It's the sprawling, undisturbed wilderness of Japan's largest prefecture that makes Hokkaido worth the trip, especially if you're coming from the dense tangle of Tokyo crowds. No fewer than six of the country's national parks lie in this northernmost region, where the cooler weather serves as a break from the capital's humidity. And while the off-season can bring with it an abundance of snowfall, winter travelers get to see a side of Japan many never experience: a world-class ski destination. But even if you don't particularly enjoy sliding down powdery slopes, you can spend your time warming up in the city of Sapporo, home to Japan's most famous beer.
More tourists are crossing their way into Croatia, but Slovenia still remains a relatively untouched eastern European haven, having recently been on people's minds thanks to chef Ana Roš's appearance on Chef's Table (and, er, another famous figure). But there's more to explore outside Michelin-worthy, canal-side restaurants. More than 10,000 cultural events take place on the cobblestoned streets each year, while a large population of university students ensures you'll encounter plenty of locals (and plenty of nighttime activities).
Progressive, eclectic and a South American spot that's not Brazil or Argentina, Uruguay has become one of the fastest-growing travel destinations of the year, with tourist arrivals up over 30 percent. Montevideo, the country's capital, includes an endless expanse of sunny coastline perfect for those still mourning the loss of summer. A burgeoning art scene, asada—or South American barbecue—on every corner and a universal love of soccer will make you forget Rio de Janeiro ever existed.
Panama City, Panama
After you get your visit to the canal out of the way, immerse yourself in this sprawling, cosmopolitan labyrinth. Once you make it through the traffic jams, you can find quieter pockets of the city's past, including Casco Viejo, or the Old Quarter, while lush rain forests are less than a day trip away. Being a major trading hub also means many local capitalinos speak English; more importantly, it also means the U.S. dollar is widely accepted as a form of currency.
Providence, Rhode Island
True, the only thing you might know about Rhode Island is that it's our country's smallest state (thank you, fourth-grade geography), but it's the luxurious shoreline, vibrant colonial towns and architecture that shine, even when summer tourists have gone back to New York. Picturesque, stone-paved streets; historical charm; and a renaissance of New England cuisine are causing cities like Providence to quickly become the new Charleston.
It's easy to forget that you don't have to be in Europe to experience the Mediterranean, which is why visitors the world over have been rediscovering this North African country and its storied capital. While Tunis has become more urbanized over time, beyond the tourist-friendly cafés and wide boulevards lies the ancient city's medina, a maze of winding lanes dotted with ornate mosques, stunning palaces and stalls selling everything under the Tunisian sun.
Check out the rest of our Fall Preview to get dialed in to the best new hotels, bars, cookbooks and more.
Please check your inbox to verify your email address.