8 August 2017 by Simon Langley
To help you decide on your autumn holiday, our destination experts have compiled the following collection of this season’s finest getaways. There’s everything from a dose of European sun to Myanmar’s hidden wonders and America’s secret ‘fall foliage’.
1. Pousadas of Portugal
Ranging from 700-year-old castles to extravagantly Baroque palaces, Portugal’s network of historic pousadas offer a unique chance to stay right among the country’s rich heritage. And, on our Green Portugal route, you’ll showcase some of network’s finest offerings, linked together by idyllic rural drives and stops at charming villages, Roman ruins and untouched national park. What’s more, over autumn, the sun lingers while the high-reason rates fall away, making the pousadas a surprisingly affordable option.
While autumn in Europe often – unfairly – conjures images of poor weather, it’s arguably the finest time to visit Andalucia in southern Spain. Scorching temperatures subside, making it an ideal time to explore the region’s golden beaches and UNESCO-listed treasures. Here, great Moorish castles rub shoulders with Renaissance wonders and Roman ruins alike, each remembering a step in Andalucia’s uniquely diverse heritage. It’s all knitted together by delightful road trips.
3. The Italian Lakes
This is your chance to step back to the indulgences of the early 20th century. Alongside quaint fishing villages and sweeping vineyards, extravagant Belle-Époque hotels line the postcard-perfect shores of the Italian Lakes, having hosted the likes of Churchill and Laurence Olivier. Days here are spent walking idyllic waterfront gardens, enjoying local specialities in pavement cafés and stopping off at magnificent Baroque palaces. And, come autumn you can beat the crowds with our curated self-drive route.
Sometimes you just need a splash of sun to offset those post-summer blues. But, alongside its bathtub-warm climate, Tenerife welcomes with everything from traditional whitewashed towns to hikes up Pico del Teide – Spain’s tallest peak. Our recommendation? Look to the Gran Hotel Bahía del Duque. A member of the Leading Hotels of the World, it offers dining from a Michelin-standard chef, direct access to a pristine beach and a full spread of superb facilities. Don’t forget, this is all just a short flight hop away.
Like its Spanish cousin above, Madeira combines autumn sun with European accessibility. However, Madeira swaps sandy beaches – head to next-door Porto Santo for your fix – for a spectacular natural world. Volcanic peaks cascade down into rolling hills dotted with award-winning vineyards and waterfall-cloaking forests. It all makes for idyllic hikes along the island’s 16th-century network of aqueducts. Then, alongside superb kayaking and snorkelling, there’s a chance to spot dolphins and whales well into October. Our suggested retreat is the iconic Belmond Reid’s Palace. Another favourite of Winston Churchill, it’s the last word in marble elegance.
6. New York State
While New England grabs the headlines for its striking ‘fall’ foliage, New York State is the perfect, quieter alternative – and is still bookable. You’ll get the same kaleidoscope of deep browns and flame reds, spread across scenic country drives that link together quaint hot-spring towns, the wineries of the Finger Lakes and, yes, Niagra Falls. There’s also the small matter of the Big Apple where skyscraping icons are paired an endless menu of cultural pursuits.
7. Western Australia
Other than being Australia at its closest, the country’s west coast is particularly impressive over autumn. As the southern hemisphere slips into spring, the region comes alive with the largest collection of wildflowers in the world. Some 12,000 species – most of which are found nowhere else on Earth – colour spectacular road trips. Sweep between world-class wineries, hike through old-growth forests and relax on white-sand beaches. And, from cellar-door sales to artisanal farmers’ markets, it’s no surprise that Western Australia is becoming something of a foodies’ paradise.
With October marking the tail end of the dry season, autumn’s beginning is an ideal time to travel to Namibia, with favourable rates and superb wildlife viewing. Animals congregate around waterholes and vegetation recedes, making it easier to spot everything from lions and leopard to elephant and rhino. It’s also the start of the calving season – perfect for spotting newborns. However, alongside Big-Five national parks, our Best of Namibia itinerary also showcases ancient rock art, charming seaside towns and magnificent, apricot-red deserts.
Virtually guaranteed sunshine? Superb-value prices before peak travel season? A luxury getaway to Oman really is an excellent option. Our pick is the fantastic Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah. There are 100 metres of private beach, acres of exotic gardens and a near-endless range of amenities, from spas and swimming pools to gourmet restaurants and inviting bars. Along with Muscat’s urbane delights next door, there’s also a wide variety of activities, including mountain hikes and snorkelling trips. Indeed, all are catered for; the Barr Al Jissah is really three resorts rolled into one, with secluded options for families, couples and those looking for something truly opulent.
As the shoulder between monsoons and peak season, autumn is among the best times to visit Myanmar. And, after the rains have watered verdant landscapes and swelling rivers, a luxury cruise is perhaps the finest way to see the country’s myriad highlights. You’ll take in everything from teak monasteries and floating lake villages to volcanic mountains capped with golden spires and the forgotten temple cities of ancient empires.