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Spain in autumn


Autumn - from around 22 September to 21 December - is the perfect time to take your first break since the summer holidays. Why not organise a trip to Spain? It's a time for savouring seasonal specialities, such as mushrooms and chestnuts, having fun in the fiestas around the grape harvest, or buying something unique before Christmas comes round. What’s more, you will find going out to hear the sound of footprints on a carpet of dry leaves, seeing large forests coloured in russet and yellow hues or spending the night in a mountain hotel very inspiring. We have several ideas for enjoying this season to the full.

A rural getaway... with the aroma of roasted chestnuts, soups and stews

In autumn, you can already start thinking about lighting a fire, sampling the unmistakable flavour of roasted chestnuts, black truffles and warming soup and stew recipes... And the best way to do this is in a charming Spanish town! For example, you are going to love the white-washed villages of Cádiz and Málaga, the villages with “black architecture” in Guadalajara, the medieval towns, etc. By the way, many Spanish regions have fiestas to celebrate the arrival of chestnuts: Castanyada in Catalonia, Amagüestu in Asturias, Magosta in Cantabria, Gaztainerre in the Basque Country, Chaquetía in Extremadura, Magosto in Galicia... And the list could go on a lot longer.

Roast chestnuts

Mushroom season

Going mushroom hunting in autumn is almost a cult activity in many Spanish regions. However, as it requires a permit, if you want to try it, the best thing to do is to get in touch with a specialist company. And where are the areas with the most activities and delicious dishes featuring this delicacy? For example, Navaleno, a tranquil little village in Soria, is famous for its mycological centre offering courses for tracking down and cooking mushrooms. In fact, there is a wild mushroom tapas week in November throughout the entire province of Soria, when you can try dishes like cream of boletus with shavings of foie gras. To discover the secrets of fungi, you can visit the Ultzama and Erro-Roncesvalles mycological parks in Navarre. Other great destinations for mushroom lovers are Berga (Barcelona), where you can even take part in a mushroom hunting contest, or the province of Huesca with mycological fairs, such as those in Canfranc and Ayerbe.

Mushroom picking

Harvest is a festival

We cannot contemplate autumn in Spain without thinking of the grape harvest. There are scores of regions you can visit to enjoy wine tourism. On this occasion, we are going to suggest a trip to La Rioja (home of one of the most famous Spanish wines) where there are over 80 wineries offering tours and wine is part of the local culture. As well as visiting wineries, you can fly over the vineyards in a balloon, go to a wine museum, attend a tasting course and treat yourself to a vinotherapy treatment. Very close by, in Rioja Alavesa, you will also find some of Spain’s most spectacular wineries, such as Marqués de Riscal, designed by the architect Frank Gehry.And when we say that harvest is a festival in Spain, it is because there are a multitude of celebrations taking place as early as the end of summer, such as the Riojana Harvest Festival (in Logroño, La Rioja), the Jerez de la Frontera Harvest Festival (Andalusia), the Montilla Harvest Festival (Andalusia) and the Cangas del Narcea Harvest Festival (Principality of Asturias).

Grape harvest festivals in Jerez

Enjoy nature in all its glory

Are you looking for specific travel plans to natural spaces that become spectacular in autumn? For example, in the Ambroz Valley (Extremadura), “Magical Autumn” is celebrated with activities, such as hikes, artisan markets, photographic rallies, etc. A wonderful opportunity to explore this valley, listed as a European Destinations of ExcelleNce (EDEN) by the European Commission in 2019 in recognition of its sustainable tourism options. Some beech forests, such as the one in Montejo (around 100 kilometres from the city of Madrid), offer guided tours, and in the Irati forest (Navarre), the second largest beech and fir forest in Europe, you can take part in a free educational excursion. In this report, we provide details of up to 10 natural spaces that are ideal for this season.

Irati Forest

Autumn is also time for the rut or mating season for red deer, when the stags bellow to attract the does. There are several regions in Spain where jeep excursions are organised to see this spectacle, such as Cabañeros National Park (Castilla-La Mancha), Monfragüe National Park (in Extremadura) or the Culebra mountain range (in Castilla y Leon).Also, get your binoculars ready for spotting migrating birds. Recommended areas? There are many: the Gallocanta lakes (Aragón), the Ebro Delta (Catalonia), Doñana National Park (Andalusia), etc.

Deer rut at Los Alcornocales Natural Park

Halloween... Spanish style

Did you know that All Saints Day is celebrated in Spain on 1 November? Traditionally, people visit cemeteries and decorate their family graves with flowers. Even though it might seem a bit strange, some cemeteries are now more like outdoor museums thanks to their sculptures. Throughout the year and especially in late October and early November, several cemeteries, such as the ones in La Almudena and San Isidro (in Madrid), organise guided tours where you can learn about the exciting stories of the famous people buried there. In fact, around twenty Spanish cemeteries form part of the European Council’s European Cemeteries Route.

Arenys de Mar cemetery

An autumn of music and film

Liza Minelli's famous song “All that jazz” could easily be dedicated to Spain in autumn. The season brings two festivals where you can experience the sensations only jazz can express: the Voll-Damm Jazz Festival in Barcelona and the International Jazz Festival in Madrid. As well as letting yourself be carried away by the melodies from the great artists, you can attend lectures, masterclasses, and other activities. However, these are not the only events happening now, as some of Spain’s most famous film festivals take place in autumn: San Sebastián International Film Festival, Seminci - Valladolid International Film Week, Gijón International Film Festival, Seville European Film Festival and the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia.

Kursaal, the venue for the San Sebastián International Film Festival

Early Christmas shopping

In Spain, the Christmas lights are lit at the end of November... The sign that the festive season is on its way. So, if you come to visit over these dates or even before, you can enjoy shopping for unique Christmas gifts. Why not take home a garment or accessory by a Spanish designer that nobody at home will have seen? You must have heard of Custo Dalmau, Adolfo Domínguez, Delpozo, Purificación García, Ágatha Ruiz de la Prada, Manolo Blahnik... The list is endless and here you can find shops with the most iconic Spanish fashion. Bear in mind that Black Friday takes place in Spain on the last Friday of November, featuring huge discounts in all types of shops, which will motivate you to buy even more.Also, during this time, different artisan markets start to pop up where you can buy a souvenir or even typical Christmas confectionery, such as the famous turrón de Jijona, polvorones and mantecados de Estepa.

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