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Inspiration for October holidays


Autumn colours are the obvious attraction of travelling in October, but this is also a great time for a holiday if you want to visit some of Europe’s more popular areas once the summer crowds have departed.


Savour the very best of autumn in Italy’s Apennines
Autumn colours in the Apennines
In Europe, there can surely be few places where autumn is more beautiful than in the Apennines, the mountains that form Italy’s spine. Their thick cloak of beech, oak and chestnut woodland makes for a superb display of colours to feast your eyes on. But the treats are not just visual – freshly harvested chestnuts and succulent wild mushrooms feature in autumn menus. Other regions where you can enjoy the very best of autumn are the Aracena Sierra, Garrotxa and Sicily's Madonie Mountains.
Visit the palaces of Sintra
Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal
The reds and golds of the landscape west of Lisbon are a year-round feature – it is the glorious stretches of golden sand, as well as the opulent palaces with striking mustard façades and strawberry-jam coloured domes, which provide the colour here – but it’s worth waiting until autumn as October is warm but quiet. Our gentle walking holiday takes you from the pretty seaside town of Cascais, past Europe’s westernmost point, to Sintra, with plenty of time to visit the palaces of Monserrate and Pena, and much more besides.
Pedal through Puglia in southern Italy
Cycling in Puglia
Our cycling holiday around the ‘heel’ of Italy leads via a wild coastline honeycombed with grottoes and rock arches, crumbling watchtowers, a wetland inhabited by lots of different bird species, medieval and Baroque towns, olive groves which stretch as far as the eye can see, and Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’. The reason we recommend it in October is the weather – cool by southern Italian standards, but still pleasantly warm by British standards.
Hike in the mountains of north Italy
The High Alpine Way
If you’re looking for a rewarding challenge this month, it has to be The High Alpine Way – snaking above the Val Venosta, it is the only one of our self-guided grade-three holidays available in October. As well as superb high-altitude walking, it reveals age-old traditions and spellbinding views which are enhanced at this time of year by the autumn colours and possibly fresh snow on the Ortler Mountains towering on the opposite side of the valley.
Meander along the Ebro on two wheels
Ebro, Spain
While Europe’s wine-growers are busy harvesting grapes at this time of year, farmers on the Ebro Delta south of Barcelona are hard at work from mid-September to mid-October harvesting a very different product: rice, which features in a wide range of dishes, not least paella. The farmers aren’t the only ones creating a pleasant bustle – the delta is a very important habitat for birds. In October, you can spot not only birds that will over-winter in the wetlands, but also those passing through en route to destinations further south, so be sure to pack your binoculars.
Follow paths along the coast of Corfu or Crete
October brings ideal conditions for walking on the Greek islands of Corfu and Crete, promising both pleasant temperatures and tranquillity. Choose Corfu for moderate walking through the olives, cypresses, maritime pines and holm oaks above the island’s enchanting west coast (whose sunsets are sublime), or, for more demanding walking, head to Crete, where splendid Minoan palaces, Venetian mansions and forts, frescoed monasteries and ancient cities vie with the panoramic trails for your attention.
Take a train journey between three great cities
Plaza de Espana, Madrid
Our Classical Cities of Old Castile and Beyond the Iron Curtain holidays couldn’t be more different in terms of the cities they visit – other than being at their best in the quiet of autumn, Segovia, Salamanca and Madrid (all of which contributed greatly to Spain’s Golden Age) have very little in common with Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden (which have been completely rejuvenated since the fall of the Berlin Wall). What the holidays do share is the same formula to enjoy the cities to the full: centrally located hotels of character and self-guided walking-cum-cultural tours.
Enjoy the paths and beaches to yourselves in Liguria
Cinque Terre, Liguria
The Ligurian Riviera is justifiably popular among walkers, who come to enjoy some of Europe’s finest coastal walks and the famed Cinque Terre villages of tall, pastel-coloured houses. Although our walking routes lead along the higher, lesser-known coastal paths, we still recommend coming here at the end of summer – the beaches are much quieter, yet it is still warm enough to bathe in the sea. The same is also true of Spain’s Catalan Coast if you are looking for gentler walking.
Revel in Lycia’s history after the summer visitors have left
Lycian Way
Conditions on Turkey’s Mediterranean Coast in October are ideal for walking: warm but not too hot. This region combines scenic beauty (secluded coves, turquoise waters and golden beaches) with a fascinating history – you walk past the site where the eternal flames of the mythical chimaera come straight out of the ground, as well as the remains of Greek temples, sarcophagi, the city of Olympos and the ancient site of Kyaneia which comprises a theatre and mausoleums. By October, most of the summer visitors have left, leaving you to marvel at the ruins in relative tranquillity.
Discover Tuscany at your own pace
Tuscany is arguably at its best in autumn, once the summer tourists have left. Whether you choose a walking or a cycling holiday, you can stroll at leisure through the winding streets of the medieval hill-top towns that you pass through, admiring the many art treasures and the timeless views. As in other vineyard regions, the grape harvest results in a pleasant buzz in the surrounding countryside.