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12 of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain this autumn

With the crowds gone, autumn is the perfect season to do some exploring around Spain. Whether it's hiking in nature, visiting quaint mountain villages or stopping at a local winery, here are 12 top getaways to enjoy this 'otoño' (autumn).

12 of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain this autumn
The turquoise waters of the Urederra river, which runs through Urbasa National Park in Navarre (northeastern Spain), another amazing autumn destination in Spain. Photo: Maria Ostolaza/Flickr

Spain is 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 more enjoyable travelling in the country happens after the usual tourists crowds head home and temperatures become milder.

Autumn is a more intimate season in Spain, a chance to explore quieter corners and the great outdoors as landscapes turn from vivid green to orange and ochre.

From incredible hiking in the Pyrenees to subtropical forests in the Canary Islands, The Local has put together a list of some of Spain’s best autumn getaways.

Val d’Aran, Catalonia

The unique Aran Valley is the only part of Catalonia on the northern side of the Pyrenees. In winter it’s 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 which only a few locals speak.


Photo: Paco CT/Flickr

Castañar de el Tiemblo, Ávila
 
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.
 

Photo: Javier R. Linera/Flickr

La Gomera, Canary Islands

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?

READ MORE: Seven wonders that make a visit to Spain’s La Gomera worth it

la gomera teide
Photo: Jörg Bergmann/Flickr

Penedés, Catalonia

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.

Photo: hlehto/Flickr

 
 
 
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park
 
Could this be the most spectacular part 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.
 

Photo: Porschista/Flickr
 
 
 
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.
 
Photo: AFP
 
 
 
Cala Morell Necroplois, Menorca
 
The ancient Cala Morell necropolis is particularly busy on All Saints’ Day (on November 1st in 2021), but it remains beautiful throughout the autumn. Just another reason to visit this Balearic gem– as if anyone needed it.
 

Photo: tuulijumala/Depositphotos
 
 
 
 
Sierra de Aracena, Huelva
 
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.
 
Photo: Jorge López/Flickr
 
 
 
History (and Jazz) in Cartagena, Murcia
 
Spain’s Murcia region is sadly overlooked by many tourists but in recent years more people are starting to discover the wonders 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. In 2021, it runs from November 1st until November 23rd.
 

Photo: mmedp/Depositphotos
 
 
 
Sierra de Francia, Castilla y León
 
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.
 
Photo: Turel Jones
 
 
 
Gorbea Natural Park, Basque Country
 
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: mimadeo/Depositphotos
 
 
 
 
Las Medulas, Castilla y León


Photo: Munea Viajes/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. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘Only the rich will travel’: How EU rules could cost Spain 11 million tourists

EU measures to reduce the aviation sector's net emissions by 2050 could have a huge impact on Spain's tourism industry and economy, the country's main airline and tourism associations have warned.

'Only the rich will travel': How EU rules could cost Spain 11 million tourists

Leading airline bosses have warned that EU plans to reduce the aviation industry’s net emissions to zero by 2050 could have a major impact on the Spanish tourism sector, with potential losses of 11 million international tourists a year, according to a report.

The startling figure comes from a report made by consulting firm Deloitte, who estimate that the loss of tourists could mean a reduction in Spain’s GDP by around 1.6 percent (roughly €23 billion) and the loss of 430,000 jobs by 2030. 

The economic impact would be felt across different sectors, too, with the hospitality sector projected to lose €3.6 billion, and the new tax measures on aviation alone would mean a 0.9 percent drop in GDP and 236,000 jobs lost.

READ ALSO: Spain eyes tourism record after ‘dazzling’ summer surge

For a country like Spain, whose tourism sector makes almost 13 percent of its overall GDP, the socioeconomic effects could be dramatic.

Spain is the second most visited tourist destination in the world, with over 80 million visitors a year, and it is expected that it could be one of the countries most effected by the incoming changes to the aviation sector as eight out of every ten international visitors to Spain come by plane.

The Deloitte report was presented at an event jointly held by the ALA, Spain’s airline association, and the CEOE, its business federation, during which the presidents of both bodies met with the bosses of some of the biggest airlines in the Spanish market.

‘Only the rich will travel’

The environmental measures wouldn’t only have an impact on the Spanish economy or its big airlines, however.

At the meeting Jesús Cierco, Corporate Director at Iberia Express, expressed his fear that “these measures will make only the elites able to travel,” suggesting that any increased costs to the aviation industry could be passed down to the consumer. These include the use of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) , the restriction of emission rights, the application of a tax on kerosene and the possible application of a €7.85 tax on airline tickets.

The Deloitte report suggests that the use of sustainable fuel to meet the 2050 deadline, which is as much as 6 times more expensive than normal fuel, combined with a tax on kerosene and reduced CO2, which will also become more expensive, mean that costs could rise for the consumer – in this case tourists hoping for cheap flights abroad. 

READ ALSO: How Spain is imposing caps on visitor numbers for its top attractions

Javier Gándara, president of ALA, explained that “airlines are committed to achieving zero net emissions by 2050 and we are already on the path of decarbonisation.”

“The sector agrees with the environmental measures that contribute to achieving this goal,” he added, “and we are willing to assume an extra cost to the extent that they contribute to the decarbonisation of the sector.”

Gándara did however warn that the measures could have an “impact on the tourism sector,” something he considers “an economic pillar for Spain.”

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