The Best of Shoulder Season: Top Five Last Minute Holidays

If summer passed you by, but you want a quick holiday before, well, the holidays, then shoulder season is the perfect time. You may be asking, “What is shoulder season?”Typically, shoulder season's defined as the time between a region’s high season and low season. While exact dates vary depending on location, shoulder season is generally in the spring and autumn. Shoulder season brings with it ideal weather, lower prices and thinning crowds. A surprising bonus is that often the welcome travelers receive is warmer and friendlier as well. This combination makes shoulder season a brilliant choice for last minute getaways. 

Widespread low prices can make it difficult, though, to choose among many available cheap holidays. However, the following five destinations stand out as ideally suited for shoulder season: 

Amsterdam 

While October and November are Amsterdam’s rainiest months, the destination is still worth an autumn visit. There are almost too many popular attractions in Amsterdam, but if it’s your first time in the area, visit the following: 


· The Rijksmuseum. If you only have time for one museum, be sure to make it this one. While there are eleven Rijksmuseum through the Netherlands, the one in Amsterdam is renowned for being the best. 

· The Anne Frank House. One of the most popular attractions in the city, this is the actual house where Anne Frank and her family hid for two years, before being betrayed to the Nazis. 

· The Heineken Experience. Whether or not you like beer, this interactive experience is an entertaining good time not to be missed. 

Berlin 

For art lovers, there’s no better time to visit. Autumn in Berlin is known as the Autumn of Art. Beginning in September, major art fairs including ABC Art Berlin Contemporary, Berliner Liste and Preview Berlin attract art aficionados from around the world. In addition to these three art fairs are events and festivals that are sure to enchant: 


· The Festival of Lights. In October each year, over 70 of the city’s most famous landmarks and spaces come alive with colorful projections and illuminations. 

· Berlin Jazz Fest. The first four days of November mark the city as a world capital of jazz. Styles ranging from traditional to progressive are performed by big bands and large ensembles from all over the world. 

· Weihnachtsmarkt. Beginning the last week in November, one of Germany’s largest Christmas markets is a must-see event. Make it a priority to sip glühwein (German mulled wine) and nibble on bratwurst as you stroll down the aisles. 

Lisbon 

November is Lisbon’s wettest month, but considering the month averages slightly less than four inches, that’s not too bad. Temperatures are still warmer than many other places in Europe, making it a pleasant holiday alternative. 


Roasted chestnuts are an autumn staple and are the star of St. Martin’s Day, a festival celebrated across the country. For a scenic overview of the city, take the Tram 28 to St. George Castle. 

Paris 

The days may be shorter and darker in Paris, but there are still plenty of reasons to visit the City of Lights in autumn. Autumn foliage makes strolling the city’s gardens and parks one of the best ways to spend the shorter daylight hours. Try the “Swiss Valley” in the Champs-Élysées’gardens or the Jardin du Luxembourg


Another great way to spend the day is exploring Paris’ museums and cathedrals. Many top museums are free, including the Museum and Paris History and the Paris Fine Arts Museum, making sightseeing on a budget even easier. 

Rome 

Autumn temperatures are still quite warm in September but steadily fall through November to around 15 degrees Celsius. Lows, however, can be chilly, dropping to around a brisk 4 degrees. While daylight hours are shorter, historic monuments are lit up at night, making for a beautiful evening walk. 

Autumn is also a great time for festivals in Rome, with events celebrating truffles, horses and the performing arts. For something a bit different, the Festival della Salute revels in the city’s deliverance in 1621 from the plague. 


When considering your options as far as last minute holidays go, these five cities are sure to please. Each one has a unique flavorless well as equally unique experiences to offer – experiences one can only have if traveling in autumn’s shoulder season. 

About the Author: Will Stuart is a contributing blogger who loves to travel, especially on a budget. He has been to every location he listed in the autumn and counts them among his most memorable trips. Will especially recommends Lisbon.