The 12 most beautiful places to visit in Spain this autumn
Autumn is a great season to do some exploring in Spain.
Spain is justly famous for its long hot summers and amazing beach holidays, but that doesn't mean the country shuts down for the rest of the year.
Indeed, much of the best travelling in the country happens after the crowds head home.
Autumn is more intimate, a chance to explore quieter corners and see what Spain gets up to when people aren't looking.
From incredible hiking in the Pyrenees to subtropical forest in the Canary Islands, The Local has put together a list of the country's best autumn getaways.
Hiking in Val d'Aran
Photo: Paco CT/Flickr
The unique Aran Valley is the only part of Catalonia on the northern side of the Pyrenees. In winter it is a popular ski area but in autumn its dramatic mountain peaks and exquisite villages make for perfect hiking country. The valley is also a paradise for linguists with locals here speaking Spanish, Catalan and their very own Aranese, a dialect of Occitan.
Segway rides in Penedés
The Penedès wine region where cava — Spain's answer to champagne — is produced is less than one hour's drive from Barcelona but hiking around vineyards once there can be thirsty work. The solution? Whizz through the wineries on a Segway for a tipsy two-wheeled tasting tour.
If fog, mists and open fires aren't your thing, head to Spain's Canary Islands for some autumn sunshine. And while all the islands offer something special, tiny La Gomera is a chance to really get away from it all. This volcanic island is only 22km (14 miles) in diameter, but don't let size fool you. Here you'll you find spectacular beaches and cliffs, and an incredible array of microhabitats, including subtropical rainforest. What are you waiting for?
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park
The most spectacular section of the Spanish Pyrenees? The deep autumnal colours of Ordesa's ancient forests, plus its incredible rock formations, certainly make this UNESCO World Heritage Site a strong contender.
Castañar de el Tiemblo
Photo: Javier R. Linera/Flickr
A visit to this charming chestnut forest near Avila makes for a perfect day trip from Madrid, and can get pretty busy on the weekends. But don't let that you put you off. If your aim is to see the autumn colours in all their glory at all costs, this is a fabulous spot to drink in the oranges, reds and golds of the season.
Frank Gehrey's Hotel Marqués de Riscal, La Rioja
This architectural masterpiece by the man who created the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is in the middle of Spain's world-famous wine region. Visit one of La Rioja's 1,200 wineries after the early-autumn grape harvest then sip a glass of something good at sunset while admiring the hotel's undulating lines.
Cala Morell Necroplois, Menorca
The ancient Cala Morell necropolis is particularly busy on All Souls Day, but its beautiful throughout the autumn. Just another reason to visit Menorca – as if anyone needed it
Sierra de Aracena
Photo: Jorge López/Flickr
This is Andalusia as you never pictured it, a Lord of The Rings-style landscape of oak forest and ancient walkways. Best of all, Aracena is just over an hour from downtown Seville making it the perfect autumn getaway for people in the know. Rent a house, read a book by an open fire, or wander through the chestnut forests: whatever you choose you can't go wrong here. Oh, and the local jamón ibérico is among the best in Spain.
History (and Jazz) in Cartagena
Spain's Murcia region is sadly overlooked by many tourists but people are starting to discover the pleasures of lovely Cartagena. With average highs of 21 degrees in November, over 2,000 years of history and a Roman theatre to prove it, this is a sleeper hit for autumn travellers. A jazz festival through most of November only adds to the appeal.
Sierra de Francia
Photo: Turel Jones
Despite the name, this region has nothing to do with France, and is actually near the Portuguese border in Castilla y León. This beautiful corner of Spain is full of forests, streams and hidden historic villages like the one pictured here: La Alberca. Rarely visited by tourists, this is a unique part of the country, and is particularly atmospheric in autumn.
Gorbea Natural Park
If it's autumn colours that you are after, head north to the Otzarreta forest, located in the natural park surrounding Mount Gorbea in the Basque Country. It is one of the best places in Spain to see the change of colours when the landscape transforms into a palette of vibrant oranges, burnt umbers and deep browns.
Photo: Jonathan Pincas/Flickr
This amazing landscape on the border between Galicia and Castilla y Leon is really worth the effort. Once the Roman Empire's most important gold mine, archeologists have since uncovered several Roman settlements nearby too. With its red earth and wooded hills, it's a great place to enjoy autumnal walks.