The best places in Spain to see the autumn leaves

Esme Fox
Esme Fox - [email protected]
The best places in Spain to see the autumn leaves
Visit the Natural Park of Gorbeia to see the fall leaves. Photo: pablofausto / Wikimedia Commons

It's not just New England in the US or Canada where going to see the fall foliage is popular in autumn. There are plenty of places in Spain, from national parks and ancient forests to even volcanoes, where leaf peeping is very rewarding.


According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Spain has the second-largest forested area in the whole of the EU, at 27.7 million hectares, surpassed only by Sweden.

It's no wonder then that Spain is the perfect European destination to see the autumn colours. 

Parque Natural de Gorbeia, Basque Country

Otzarreta is a magical forest that can be found within the Basque Country's Gorbeia Natural Park (pictured above). Home to hundreds of centuries-old beech and oak trees covered in green moss, it looks almost like the land of the fairies. The beech trees here are unique because their branches grow upwards rather than outwards. Once autumn comes, their leaves turn a rich copper brown, covering the entire forest floor.


Parque Natural del Montseny, Catalonia

Just over an hour from Barcelona, the Natural Park of Montseny is one of the best places to see the autumn leaves on a day trip from the city. A biosphere reserve, the park comprises of several forested mountains crisscrossed by hiking trails and interspersed with small villages. In fall, the park's oak and beech trees transform the scene into a patchwork quilt of ochre, sienna and mustard. 

Montseny Natural Park is one of the best places to see the foliage in Catalonia. Photo: Pixel / Wikimedia Commons


Fraga de Catasós, Galicia 
Situated near Lalín in Galicia, Fraga de Catasós is filled with century-old chestnut and oak trees, stretching up to 30 metres into the canopy above. Autumnal walks provide pathways of scarlet and vermilion and great backdrops for photos. 
There are many places in Galicia to see the autumn colours. Photo: Gabriel González / PxHere


Parque Natural Saja-Besaya, Cantabria

In between the Saja and Besaya rivers in the centre of Cantabria sits the Saja-Besay Natural Park, a destination prime for leaf-peeping. Hazelnut trees, beeches and oaks surround the rivers and waterfalls that run through the park, creating hazy scenes in pumpkin orange and olive green. One of the best ways to see the leaves here is on two wheels as bike trails meander through the whole park. 

Head to Cantabria to the Parque Natural Saja-Besaya. Photo: LBM1948 / Wikimedia Commons


Fageda d'en Jordà, Catalonia

Autumn colours and ancient volcanoes, what more could you want from a hiking destination? The Fageda d'en Jordà lies within Catalonia's Garrotxa Natural Park, north of the city of Girona. Beech trees carpet the ground that once flowed hot with lava, changing the forest into a landscape of carmine and gold. 

See the colours at Fageda d'en Jordà in Catalonia. Photo: Juan Manuel Gienini / Wikimedia Commons


Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido, Aragón

The UNESCO World Heritage Ordesa and Monte Perdido is one of the most spectacular in Spain, so it's no wonder that it's a great destination to see the changing colours in autumn too. It's situated to the north of Huesca in the Aragónese Pyrenees and comprises large swathes of forest in between meadows, rocky mountains, dramatic gorges and gentle rivers. Base yourself in Torla-Ordesa for easy access to hikes taking in the crimson, marigold and russet tones of the leaves. 

Explore the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Photo: PxHere



Selva Irati, Navarra

One of the largest beech and fir tree forests in Europe, the Selva Irati is located in the western Pyrenees in the region of Navarra. Lying virtually untouched by man gives it an almost wilderness-like feel, where trees are covered in overgrown moss and burgundy leaves crunch underfoot. The forest is filled with countless routes for walking or mountain biking, suitable for all levels. 

Snap the autumn leaves in Navarra. Photo: Miguel Ángel García / Wikimedia Commons


Heydo de Montejo de la Sierra Valle de Lozoya, Madrid

You don't have to leave the capital region and head to northern Spain to see the best of the leaves. A biosphere reserve the Heydo de Montejo de la Sierra Valle de Lozoya sits in the northern area of Madrid, bordering Castilla y León to the north and Castilla-La Mancha to the east. Legend has it that mischievous elves and fairies used to entice walkers who dared enter it with their songs and then turn them into birds or lizards. Whether you're brave enough to enter or not, access to the forest is restricted and you have to pay for entry. 

See the fall leaves in Madrid. Photo: Dapatxi / Wikimedia Commons


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