Briton's summertime favourite is a hot-to-trot choice for autumn too, says Karl Cushing
Spain’s tourism juggernaut doesn’t apply the brakes after summer’s passing – it merely changes gear. Indeed, there’s a fantastic choice of breaks and deals available this autumn, with temperatures often tickling the low 20Cs to boot.
“Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the country,” says Enrique Ruiz de Lera, the Spanish Tourist Office’s UK director.
“The smaller visitor numbers means a bit more of a relaxed pace, while inland and in other less-developed tourist areas, the feel is more authentic, offering the chance to experience the real Spain.”
Plus, there’s a packed calendar of events to tack holidays on to, and some uplifting airlift news. Having recently begun flying Gatwick-Lanzarote twice-weekly, British Airways starts its new London City-Granada service and increases Malaga services from July, with a weekly Heathrow-Gran Canaria service launching ahead of the October half-term.
The Spanish sun provides short haul options for those set on late-season tan topping. The low-lying Canary Islands are the obvious choice, with toasty temperatures right through the winter. A great deal of new airlift comes online this year, giving an even more extensive set of options.
The sensitive skins of younger kids will benefit from mainland Spain’s cooler autumn temperatures, which in October average 18C on the Costa del Sol. There, First Choice’s Holiday Village, with its aerial adventure park, is a family favourite. Waterbabies love the Aquasplash Estival SplashWorld on the Costa Dorada, which is sold with unlimited access to Aquopolis waterpark.
On the Costa de la Luz, Thomson recommends Hotel Riu Chiclana, where a seven-night all-inclusive break with Gatwick flights on September 27 costs from £509. Keycamp and Pierre & Vacances both offer keen deals at their Costa Dorada holiday parks until at least the October half-term.
Spain’s islands are awash with healthy options as temperatures cool off. Menorca’s easy trails are perfect for biking, hiking and horse riding, while Inntravel’s top seller last autumn was its week long, self-guided Hidden Gem of the Canaries hiking trip, on La Gomera.
New for 2013, with an October departure, is Ramblers Worldwide’s Adagio-branded tour of nearby La Palma.Exodus’s three new active Spain trips for 2013 all have autumn departures, including an eight-day, self-guided cycling trip along the fabled Camino to Santiago route in northern Spain and an eight-day Wildlife and Photography break in the stunning Picos de Europa.
Family-run Tenerife hotel chain Adrian Hoteles is offering private hiking packages at its three Costa Adeje properties, available until the end of September. Seven-night packages include three excursions with a private guide, with a picnic and post-hike massage included in the price.
Many tours reward physical efforts with food and drink, such as Headwater’s Contrasts of Catalunya, which mixes ‘pancake-flat’ coastal cycling with gourmet grazing; Explore’s new 10-day Wine, Walks and Tapas tour from Bilbao to Barcelona; and Inntravel’s Moorish Flavours walking holiday in Las Alpujarras, which features demonstrations by top chef Tom Ryalls.
If golf’s their thing, consider Gran Canaria, the IAGTO’s European Golf Destination of 2013, or Murcia’s La Manga resort, home to three championship courses and a 28-court tennis centre. For real adrenaline junkies it has to be the Pyrenean outpost of Lleida, though: from peaks and rapids to paragliding, it’s all here.
CITIES & CULTURE
Steamy summer can make Spain’s cities seem unmanageable; instead, send clients in autumn.
Cosmos Holidays launched a range of city breaks this year including Palma, Majorca’s cosmopolitan capital, where the operator recommends sampling tapas in local bars La Bodega and Wineing.
One of the world’s great cities, Barcelona stands up to repeat visits, especially when tours focus on a unique aspect of the city, such as Cox & Kings’ four-night Gaudi’s Masterworks trip, which focuses on the city’s most famous architecture.
Many Spanish cities have great beaches on their doorstep, such as Alicante, Palma and Malaga, recommended by Superbreak national sales manager Graham Balmforth. “Many see Malaga only as the gateway to the Costa del Sol, but it has a huge amount to offer as a city-break destination in its own right,” he says.
Andalucian gems such as Seville and Granada are ideally explored outside of the stifling summer months.
As well as stand-alone city breaks, tours can give a twist to the area. For example, Exodus’s Moorish Spain & Morocco studies their architecture (from £1,079, departing October 23), while Collette Worldwide’s Land of Castles, Palaces and Gardens tours their green spaces (from £1,404, departing September 20).
For some Basque culture, send clients north to Bilbao, where they’ll find pintxo tapas joints and the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Inntravel clients can bolt a city break here on to tours such as its Rugged Hills and Coast of Asturias itineraries.
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