10 of the Best: Travel Destinations to Visit This AutumnBy Francesca Brooking
Autumn is nearly upon us and with it, cooler weather, turning leaves and the ritual of digging out those winter jumpers from the back of the wardrobe. It’s also a time for catching the last of the summer sun, and where better to it than on holiday? Whether you’re looking for a relaxation session on a Moroccan beach or a boutique hotel experience in Spain, here’s our guide to the best holiday destinations to escape to this autumn:
What: In Autumn, Spain’s Andalucian coast is bathed in autumn sunshine so where better to catch some last-minute rays?
Why: Vejer de la Frontera is best known for being a gastronomic hub. A historic town filled with turreted walls, flower-filled courtyards and ancient buildings, it has earned itself a name on the foodie scene with its excellent collection of restaurants, cafés and tapas bars. Visitors can while away the day wandering along the coastline, exploring the forests or heading over to the beaches of El Palmar and Cape Trafalgar. Stay at the newly opened Plaza 18, a luxurious six-bedroom ‘home-hotel’ set in a former 19th Century merchant’s house. Restored by the award-winning interior architect and designer Nicky Dobree, the boutique hotel’s interiors are inspired by the iconic building itself which dates back to 1896 and stands on the foundations of the ancient 13th Century Arab house. Relax in the hotel’s shady central courtyard, find a cosy spot in its large double-fronted sitting room or admire the spectacular views across the town from the rooftop terrace. Vejer de la Frontera has all the makings and comfort of a home away from home and it’s a worthy destination to escape the autumn chill.
How to book: Book a room at Plaza 18 here
What: If you feel like getting away and finding your zen then an extended break in Florida’s The Palm Beaches is the destination for you this autumn.
Why: Spanning 39 unique cities that bring together 15 districts, The Palm Beaches is located along South Florida’s Atlantic coastline. Its districts offer distinct experiences, a lively collection of cultural events and gorgeous golden sandy beaches for visitors to explore. This October, The Palm Beaches is inviting guests to ramp up their relaxation with the destination’s fourth annual Spa & Wellness Month. Visitors to America’s First Resort Destination can enjoy a schedule of spectacular discounts and deals on serene spas, outdoor wellness activities and healthy dining. Just some of these wellness activities include free fitness at Hilton West Palm Beach, a Sunshine Spa Ritual at The Breakers Palm Beach, wellness retreats at The Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach and pampering packages at Wyndham in Boca Raton. Participating partners will donate a portion of their proceeds to a choice of five charities in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, including: The American Cancer Society, Susan G Koman, Sari Center, Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
What: Named by Forbes as one of the top cheapest places to visit in 2019, Baltimore and its busy calendar of autumn festivals might just be the place to catch a break.
Why: Travellers visiting Maryland’s largest city can explore over 200 colourful neighbourhoods, indulge in fresh seafood and immerse themselves in Baltimore’s rich history and culture. This autumn, the city will play host to five festivals and to kick it all off will be the Madonnari Arts Festival (6-8 September 2019), a three-day cultural event that will showcase chalk paintings by artists on the pavement of Baltimore’s Little Italy neighbourhood. This free outdoor festival includes live music, street performers, participatory art, markets and al fresco dining. The second festival on the calendar is the one-day Hampden Fest (21 September 2019). The festival has three music stages, art performances, kids’ activities and four blocks of arts and crafts markets. The Edgar Allan Poe Festival (5-6 October 2019) celebrates Poe’s life, works and his influence on the arts. Held on the 170th anniversary of his death in Baltimore, this free two-day festival features Poe-themed performances, art, markets and street food. Other festivals include Baltimore Running Festival (19 October 2019) and Baltimore Book and Light Festival (1-10 November 2019) which concludes with a firework display over the Inner Harbour Basin.
How to book: Find out more about:
What: Sometimes an autumnal chill calls for a weekend of sunshine and luxury. Enveloped by Marbella’s micro-climate, Puente Romano Resort offers guests a plethora of ‘learning holiday’ activities while relaxing in the sun.
Why: Puente Romano is the leading luxury resort on the golden mile. A chic Andalusian resort nestled within tranquil subtropical gardens, its architecture is inspired by the traditional Mediterranean-style villages that dot the southern Mediterranean coastline. If you’re keen to practice or pick up a new skill then this luxury resort is offering guests the chance to serve like a Wimbledon champion, cook like a Michelin starred chef and discover untouched Andalucia. Some of the experiences include a game of tennis with Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic’s brother, Marko on the same courts that have hosted the likes of Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. For football enthusiasts, the ultimate football experience offers a private helicopter ride to Madrid for behind-the-scenes access to Athletico Madrid training, dinner with a former player and a VIP box for a game in the evening. Tapas lovers can indulge in a 90-minute masterclass and learn about the different flavours and dishes that make up this iconic Spanish staple. Whatever your style, Puente Romano is the ultimate luxury learning holiday escape.
How to book: Find out more about the resort and book here.
What: For an adrenaline rush against the backdrop of a nominated UNESCO World Heritage Site, why not take a quick break to Wales and try your hand at the longest zipline in Europe?
Why: The Zip World Velocity zipline holds the title for the longest zipline in Europe and the fastest in the world. Situated in Penrhyn Quarry on the edge of the stunning Snowdonia region in North Wales, Zip World Velocity allows you to fly for a thrilling 500m above the bright blue quarry lake. The quarry itself is the largest slate quarry and the world and was recently nominated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a great family trip but if ziplines aren’t your thing then fear not because Zip World Velocity provides Penrhyn Quarry Tours so you can learn all about this stunning site. Afterwards, watch the zippers fly by from the Blondin Restaurant or Café or have a go at Quarry Karts, the UK’s first-ever mountain cart experience.
How to book: Find out more about Zip World Velocity here.
What: Embrace autumn this year by immersing yourself in Estonia’s seasonal celebrations.
Why: Inspired by the autumn harvest, Estonia’s cuisine revolves around nature’s bounty. Expect dishes with foraged mushrooms, wild elk, fresh apples and root vegetables. Join in the harvest activities by picking mushrooms and wild berries in Soomaa National Park and then turn your nature haul into a delicious seasonal meal. Berry tours explore the different ways of preserving berries through demonstrations on making preserves and jams. Similarly, the mushroom tours teach you how to preserve mushrooms including salting, pickling and marinating. If you love wildlife then Estonia is the autumn destination for you. The country has some of the most untouched nature in Europe, featuring wetlands, long-stretched coastlines, over 2,000 islands and over half its land covered in forests. Autumn is one of the best times to see wildlife and visitors can spot elk, brown bears, ringed seals and wolves. If that wasn’t enough, Estonia’s spa season kicks off in autumn so why not treat yourself to a juniper body peel or a countryside Estonian sauna?
How to book: Learn more about what Estonia has to offer here.
What: An island escape is all you need to escape the hustle and bustle of real life, and where better than a cosy refuge on Guernsey Island this autumn?
Why: You don’t need to go far to discover your very own island escape. The British Isles has a rich plethora of seaside holidays to satisfy your travel cravings. Guernsey, located in the Channel Islands just off the French coast, is a self-governing British Crown Dependency. With mild temperatures and stunning seaside landscapes, it’s a real nautical getaway to experience and you can tailor it exactly to your style. For those in search of a wellness retreat, unwind on a spa break filled with beach yoga, meditation and luxury hotels. If the outdoors is more your thing then pack your walking boots and join in the Autumn Walking Festival (14-21 September 2019) which offers 44 unique guided walks led by Accredited Guides. For the adventure-seekers, Guernsey is packed with water sports activities from kayaking to sailing. And, if you want to broaden your island horizons then explore the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a stunning archipelago, for a real island hopping experience.
How to book: Explore more of Guernsey here.
What: For an autumnal retreat fit for royalty, Château de Mercuès in France has all the glam and sophistication you need.
Why: Perched on a rocky promontory, Château de Mercuès is a grand 13th Century castle situated in France’s Lot Valley region. It features 30 elegant bedrooms including several beautifully decorated suites located in the castle’s turrets, which offer unparalleled views of the beautiful French countryside. For 700 years it was the summer residence of Counts and Bishops of Cahors and now guests can walk in their footsteps while experiencing the height of French luxury. Guests can also expect the finest Michelin star cuisine during their stay, and the menus are designed by chef Julien Poisot. Renowned for his Lot inspired dishes, Poisot features an abundance of regional produce. Enjoy the likes of estate-grown black Lalbenque truffles and saffron as well as local Quercy lamb. Dine in the castle’s restaurant, go out and explore the surrounding countryside or soak up some art by Portuguese artist Mario Chichorro. His exhibition, hosted by Château de Mercuès, runs until 11 November and is free to visit during opening hours.
How to book: Book a room here.
What: Charlestown is a picturesque Cornish haven which has most recently been gracing our TV screens in the BBC drama, Poldark. The village, with its historic Georgian Harbour and UNESCO World Heritage site certificate, is home to tall ships, fisherman’s cottages and an array of exciting places to eat and drink.
Why: With its gorgeous views and gastronomic scene, Charlestown pulls out all the stops to make your Cornish getaway a memorable one. For foodies, The Longstore Restaurant offers the very best Cornish produce, locally sourced from land and sea. Indulge in signature steaks and seafood cooked by Chef Director Ben Ambridge and his team. Underneath the restaurant is Short & Strong Café which serves artisan coffee and light bites from The Longstore Kitchen. For those with an interest in wine and whisky, The Winestore offers tutored tastings and meet the producers events. Planned tastings for autumn include a guided tasting from Bonterra Organic & Biodynamic Vineyard, a Mount Gay Masterclass and a Bruichladdich Whisky Masterclass. Complete your Charlestown experience by staying at The Pier House, a charming Cornish inn with guest accommodation that looks out on the famous harbour. It has a sea-facing restaurant and bar, with a sun terrace to enjoy on a crisp autumn day. Just a few miles from the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, The Pier House is a cosy base from which to explore Cornwall and a great retreat after a blustery walk along the beach.
What: If you need a bit of sun, sea and relaxation therapy then look no further than Mazagan Beach Resort in Morocco.
Why: Only a two and a half hour flight from London, Morocco’s Mazagan Beach Resort is an off the beaten track palace with 500 decadent bedrooms, 9km of private beach and grounds spanning a whopping 250 hectares so you can always get the privacy you need. Guests can enjoy a visit to the spa which includes indulgent massages, yoga, personalised beauty treatments and traditional Hammam rituals. Discover a new dining experience every night with the resort’s choice of 8 restaurants and 4 outdoor restaurants. If you feel like going further afield then why not join one of the resort’s many excursions to neighbouring Casablanca, Marrakesh or the imperial city of Rabat. Other activities at the resort include go-karting, paintballing, archery and cycling. Maintaining the health of the local environment is important to Mazagan Beach Resort, which is why all their lakes, ponds and gardens are sustained with recycled water from the resort itself.
How to book: Find out more about Mazagan Beach Resort here.