Fall in Spain is spectacular. The country’s forests turn a kaleidoscope of yellow, orange, and red. Spain’s sizzling Mediterranean coast remains pleasantly warm and still buzzing with European vacationers.
Areas of southern Spain, including the sultry cities of Seville and Malaga, feel like summer, even in fall—just without the blistering heat of July and August. The beaches of the Canary Islands, sunny year-round, tantalize travelers, while fall is a wonderful time to explore the balmy Balearics.
Seasonal specialties are plentiful during fall, including mushrooms and chestnuts, and festivals celebrating these delicious morsels spring up in towns and cities across the country. It’s also the time to catch the country’s world-beating vineyards during the annual grape harvest as olive-green vines slowly turn auburn.
Here are nine experiences to try in Spain in fall.
Relax on Spain’s Glorious Beaches
Fall in Spain presents the perfect opportunity to laze on sandy beaches and swim in azure waters.
Spain’s beaches dazzle on the country’s Mediterranean coastline in and near Valencia, Malaga, and Cadiz, with the sea warm enough for swimming until late October.
Barcelona’s beaches stretch for miles from the towering sail-shaped W hotel to Llevant Beach, offering plenty of amenities within easy reach of the city’s famous attractions.
If you’re visiting the mainland’s north coast, San Sebastián is one of the best beach towns in Spain, home to three city beaches, including Playa de La Concha facing a tiny island.
The Balearics’ largest island, Mallorca, is home to long, sandy beaches and pretty pine-fringed coves. One of the most popular is Platja de Alcúdia, a sweep of soft, white sand and gentle ripples of turquoise water in the northeast of Mallorca. You can swim here until early October.
The Canary Islands—a Spanish archipelago off the coast of Morocco—has a sub-tropical climate with warm sea temperatures through November and a diverse mix of beaches.
Playa Las Teresitas is a gorgeous beach in Tenerife flanked by palm trees, while Maspalomas Beach on the southern tip of Gran Canaria is defined by its swathes of giant dunes.
Sip Delicious Wines at a Vineyard
Fall in Spain marks the arrival of the annual grape harvest, with plump and juicy grapes picked in September and October in the country’s esteemed wine-growing regions.
La Rioja, lying roughly 90 minutes from Bilbao, is arguably the most famous of Spain’s wine region, known for producing robust reds bursting with flavor. There are over 80 wineries open to the public that offer tours and tastings.
Enjoy vintage libations in the hamlet of Laguardia, where fields are lined with neat rows of leafy vines. Nearby, in picturesque Eltziego, visit the extraordinary Frank Gehry-designed Marqués de Riscal, a vineyard renowned for its architecture as much as its wine.
In Novelda, near Alicante, Bodega Heretat de Cesilia has been producing wine and olive oils since 1707. While the white grapes here are hand-harvested in August, the grape-picking continues through to October, with the sun-dried red grapes producing rich, sweet red wines.
If you’re visiting the Spanish island of Mallorca, sip on delicious wines at Bodegas Bordoy, located 30-minutes south of Palma. You could also tour the vineyard and winery to learn about the region’s growing conditions and how the wines are blended.
Tour Antoni Gaudí Landmarks in Barcelona
With fewer crowds than in summer, fall in Spain is one of the best times to explore Barcelona’s iconic landmarks at your leisure.
Antoni Gaudí, the acclaimed Catalan architect who died in 1926, forever left his mark on Barcelona, most notably with the skyline-defining La Sagrada Familia.
Begin a walking tour of the city by visiting the colossal basilica in the central Eixample—one of Barcelona’s best neighborhoods—before ticking off other Gaudí attractions.
One of the most beautiful churches in the world, La Sagrada Familia draws you in with every visit to Barcelona, with travelers eager to see what new details and structures have been added since their last visit.
If this is your first time in Spain, prepare for your jaw to drop to the floor as you gaze at the intricate elements of art nouveau, Catalan modernist, and late gothic architecture of the unfinished basilica.
Once you’ve spent time marveling at La Sagrada Familia, walk southwest on Calle Provenza to reach Passeig de Gracia, one of the most upscale places to shop in Barcelona.
You’ll find the 1912-built Casa Milà, the last private residence designed by Gaudí. Close by, also on Passeig de Gracia, is the whimsical Casa Batlló, another Gaudi masterpiece that is now a Spanish museum.
Finish up at Park Güell, a bucolic paradise in the center of Barcelona. Visiting here is one of the best things to do in Barcelona with kids, with its series of gardens and buildings famous for their wavy mosaic design.
Stroll Around Pretty Andalusian White Towns
The Costa del Sol’s whitewashed towns and villages are scattered across the wooded mountain ranges of southern Spain.
One of the best and easiest to visit is Mijas—a short drive from Malaga—a postcard-perfect Andalusian white town.
Perched 1,476 feet above sea level, Mijas offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, the Costa del Sol resort of Fuengirola, and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea.
Step into Mijas’s uniform of whitewashed streets, the buildings adorned with sapphire-blue plant pots and cascading bougainvillea. One of the most beautiful places in Spain, you’ll find an array of pretty boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, cafés, and sun-dappled squares in the village.
Mijas enjoys a slow pace of life, even slower in fall. Linger over coffee or something a little stronger in one of the many cafés and bars. Stop by the 16th-century shrine to the Virgin de la Peña (Virgin of the Rock), and pick up Spanish souvenirs to take home—olive oil, wine, pottery, and paintings are popular options.
Enjoy Seville on Foot
Seville is an extraordinarily charming city with extravagant Moorish and sublime modern architecture. The sound of flamenco gently wafts through lively side streets and in shaded tapas bars, sherry flows like the Guadalquivir, the river that snakes through the heart of Seville.
Some 75 miles inland from Cadiz, Seville misses out on the pleasant coastal breeze seaside cities benefit from. As a result, Seville can feel stiflingly hot during summer, making fall the best time to enjoy this sensual Spanish city on foot.
Start by exploring the UNESCO-listed 14th-century Royal Alcázar of Seville and neighboring Seville Cathedral in the buzzing Santa Cruz quarter.
This grand royal palace is built in the decorative Mudéjar style, its romantic Moorish interiors surrounded by flower-filled gardens home to peacocks and reflective pools.
The sprawling Seville Cathedral is the third-largest church in the world, encompassing 80 chapels, imposing Gothic architecture, the Moorish Giralda bell tower, and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
If the Royal Alcázar is Seville’s ancient wonder, then the Metropol Parasol—known locally as Las Setas—in La Encarnación Square is the city’s modern masterpiece.
It’s the world’s largest wooden structure, featuring a sculptural, mushroom-shaped design that houses the city’s archaeological museum, a food market, bars, and rooftop walkways.
Before wrapping up a visit to Seville, settle down to graze over plates of mouthwatering tapas. Casa Morales is a tiny spot near the cathedral serving delicious carrilladas, a braised pork cheek dish, among other tasty options.
Taste the Culinary Delights of Bilbao
From yolk-colored mushrooms to mildly sweet chestnuts and fresh red peppers, fall in Spain is brimming with delicious seasonal produce.
On a visit to the Basque Country—one of Spain’s most celebrated culinary destinations—trawl Bilbao’s colorful Ribera Market. The stomach of the city and one of the largest covered food markets in the world, Ribera Market offers an array of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, meats, fish, bread, and wines.
After picking out a selection of gourmet goodies to take home with you, delve into Bilbao’s delectable pintxos bars—the Basque Country’s take on the traditional tapas bar—in the Old Quarter. It’s one of the best things to do in Bilbao for foodies.
Sip on local Txakoli, an extra-dry Basque Country white wine with a slight sparkle, as you munch on freshly prepared plates of bread topped with anchovies and cured meat, stuffed peppers, and flavorful croquettes.
If you’re looking for a more high-end dining experience—of which there are plenty of options in the underrated European city—try Azurmendi, a remarkable restaurant by chef Eneko Atxa located on a hilltop just outside Bilbao. The restaurant is situated in a striking glass building, surrounded by leafy-green gardens. You’ll need to make a reservation for your visit.
Climb Spain’s Highest Mountain in Tenerife
Spain’s highest peak is the spectacular 12,000-foot Mount Teide, which rises from the hauntingly beautiful Teide National Park in Tenerife.
Travelers can reach the national park from Santa Cruz de Tenerife in roughly 50 minutes by car. Fall is a good time to head for the summit, falling between the long, hot summer days and the first high-altitude snows of winter.
First stop at one of the park’s two information centers, El Portillo or Cañada Blanca. Learn about Teide’s unique geology and nature, including the unmistakable red bugloss, which blooms with thousands of small bright-red flowers, the Tenerife lizard, the Tenerife gecko, and the Canarian lizard.
You might also spot the giant white-domed telescopes northeast of the park. They’re part of the Teide Astrophysics Observatory, with the park considered one of the best destinations in the world for stargazing.
Some of the best things to do in Tenerife include hiking sections of Teide’s four main trails or enjoying a more leisurely 4×4 guided tour of the jagged peaks, backcountry trails, surreal ochre terrain, and huge lava fields.
Take the cable car from the base of Mount Teide to just below the summit—a journey of eight minutes—to enjoy the gentle fall breeze when you arrive at the top. On a clear fall day, visitors can see past the surrounding canyons to the Atlantic Ocean and the neighboring Canary Islands.
Wear hiking boots and warm clothing as the temperature drops the higher you climb. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and plenty of water, too.
Master Surfing on Spain’s North Coast
Spain’s north coast is a paradise for surfers. The season fully gets underway in fall, when swells and waves are larger.
The long idyllic stretch of Razo Beach in Carballo, 25 miles west of La Coruna, is one of the best surf spots in Europe. Razo Beach has the perfect blend of essential facilities and a remote, untouched ambiance. With surf schools on the beach, it’s also one of the best places to master surfing.
The golden shores of Playa de Sopelana, near Bilbao, and Zarautz Beach, near San Sebastian, offer stunning beaches with high-quality surfing and schools offering lessons.
Witness Beautiful Shades of Fall
Fall in Spain sees national parks and vibrant city gardens turn beautiful hues of russet, orange, and yellow.
Some 35 miles north of Barcelona, Montseny Natural Park—a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve popular with hikers and mountain bikers—is a superb spot to go leaf-peeping and witness the fall foliage.
Made up of rugged mountain ranges, centuries-old forests laced with hiking routes, picturesque waterfalls, and enchanting villages, Montseny’s unique biosphere of trees, plants, and wildlife includes a hollow 39-foot-wide chestnut tree in Can Cuch and the shimmering Vallforners reservoir.
An hour’s drive south of Bilbao, in the Basque Country, Gorbea is a staggeringly beautiful natural park surrounding Mount Gorbea. Here you could witness beech and oak forests carpeted with leaves in shades of burnt orange.
Tracing the west coast of Mallorca’s sun-kissed bays and big skies, the dramatic Tramuntana Natural Park is another UNESCO-listed site that delivers some of the best hikes in Spain with its fairytale forests.
Join the vintage Sóller Train, a century-old carriage that passes through the Alfabia mountain range’s tangle of pine, oak, and olive trees to the hill town of Soller.
If you’re looking for a city park in which to see stunning fall colors, try Turia Gardens in Valencia, one of the largest urban parks in Spain. Turia weaves through the city in the place where a river once flowed from Cabecera Park to the Calatrava and Candela-designed City of Arts and Sciences.
Walkable ancient towns and villages, UNESCO landmarks, golden beaches, and life-affirming gastronomy make fall in Spain particularly special. Explore our luxury cruises to Spain and plan your late-season getaway.