As summer draws to a close, the resorts of Europe breathe a sigh of relief as tourism wanes and the temperatures lessen to more bearable temperatures. Autumn is the perfect time for walking holidays in Europe, and further afield adventures in Asia and the Middle East too. Cooler days and quiet trails make for enjoyable hikes and treks, and at the slower pace of being on foot it’s easier to spot the details that you might otherwise miss on a standard tour.
Accompanied by one of our award-winning Explore Leaders you’ll not only learn more about the region you’re visiting than you’d ever imagined (including the ideal place for a picnic or the best gelato you’ve ever tasted) but feel a sense of achievement, improve your fitness levels and explore new regions at the same time.
Here are our top eight walking holidays for autumn.
Famous for its mild year-round climate, the mid-Atlantic island of Madeira is a great place for autumn walking. Originally volcanic, its mountains, fertile valleys and jagged coastline offer enjoyable hiking and wonderful scenic views. Many of the walking trails follow the old network of irrigation channels known as levadas which contour the slopes of the island, making the sometimes steep mountainous terrain more easily accessible.
Small in size but big on sunshine, Corfu is one of Greece’s most popular islands. Its whitewashed hillside villages, quiet pebbly coves and lush valleys make for enjoyable walks that follow meandering footpaths. Corfu’s trails pass through shady olive groves that offer protection from the sun and follow cliff paths that provide a welcoming sea breeze. Visit in the autumn when most of the tourists have left and you’ll get the island almost to yourself.
Walking through Tuscany offers many pleasures but the main draw is, predictably, its food. Visit after the summer and you’ll find the olive, wine and truffle seasons in full flow, offering the chance to witness the harvest en route as well as sample the goods after a walk in the balmy warmth of a Tuscan autumn. A centre-based holiday offers more flexibility than you might think, as you can visit several regions in one week without needing to navigate to your next stop each day.
Spain remains one of our most popular walking destinations, and the autumn months provide the perfect temperatures for following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims who traverse the Camino de Santiago each year. Walking through the north of Spain, take in the most scenic sections between Leon and Santiago, crossing the high plains and passing through medieval villages along the way. At the end you’ll claim your pilgrim’s certificate; a just reward for walking almost 160km in 10 days.
Croatia’s azure Adriatic coastline is understandably popular, but for a different side to the country (minus the crowds) consider combining its lesser-visited islands with the unspoilt coast of neighbouring Montenegro. Autumn in the Balkans means milder temperatures and fewer crowds, plus the route takes in all of the sights, like Dubrovnik, alongside the picturesque green islands and tiny fishing villages where few tourists tread.
Glitzy Lake Como may be home to some of Italy’s most luxurious hotels and grand palazzi, but around its pretty shores you’ll find charming villages and a network of easy paths that link the towns together. Staying on the water’s edge affords spectacular views to enjoy over a well-deserved cocktail at the end of each day’s walk, and the lake itself offers plenty of attractions like ferry trips to other towns. Autumn brings cooler temperatures to the north of Italy, ideal for walking.
October sees the Middle East’s rocketing summer temperatures return to pleasantly warm levels. Walking through Jordan means you’ll get to see all of the sights up close, including the rosy-hued ‘lost city’ of Petra and the plunging canyons of Wadi Rum. Walk in the footsteps of the ancient Nabateans as you follow the spice trails and camp in Bedouin-style tents under the star-studded night sky. Jordan is the perfect destination for families, so if you want to take budding younger walkers along there are also departures that coincide with half term.
Wending its way through rural China over some 4,300 kilometres, the Great Wall is one of Asia’s most famous landmarks. Walking the full length might be a stretch, but taking in some of the most spectacular sections offers the chance to get away from the tourist trail and explore a different side to China. Autumn departures mean fewer crowds and better weather, with deep blue, clear skies allowing better photographs of the Great Wall snaking off into the distance, and russet-coloured trees contrasting beautifully with the stones.