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Europe’s best autumn destinations

Autumn is the favourite season of many people when it comes to travelling. If you’re lucky enough to be able to take a few days off, why not take a look at some of the destinations our travel expert has selected? They are especially beautiful this time of year.

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Why is it better to travel in autumn? 6 reasons to get away

Golden leaves on the trees, sunsets, chestnuts... many things come to mind when we hear the word "autumn". Summer is long gone and it seems like all that is left to do now is stay at home and wrap up warm. Hold on a minute! Stay at home, you say? Not necessarily! Travelling in autumn has become the best option for many reasons. Not convinced? Here are a few of them:

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Autumn Delight in Majorca

After the hot, bustling Majorcan summer crowded with tourists seeking the sun and fabulous beaches, autumn arrives and, with it, tranquility, at one of the most beautiful times in the year to visit the island. The weather is still good enough to go on excursions around the island and the number of people you are likely to encounter is infinitely lower. Just one hitch – on any outing in this season, you are likely to find many beach bars and summer businesses closed. However, it is well worth taking the risk, especially if you’re hankering after some peace and quiet and are eager to relax amid some of the most picturesque Mediterranean scenery.

Stroll Around Palma

One of the first things to do on the island is to enjoy its capital city and seek out traces of its past in the historic centre. The many sites you should make a point of visiting on your itinerary include the formidable Cathedral – where works by artist Miquel Barceló are featured in the Santísima Chapel – the Almudaina Palace, the Lonja and the Plaza Mayor. And, be sure to head for Santa Catalina, the city’s trendiest district, where you can enjoy the varied culinary offerings, among other things.

Enjoy the Beaches

Have the last dip of the season on a solitary beach, enjoy a magnificent sunset or go into contemplative mode and delight in the splendid views – these are some of the pleasures to be had in Majorca at this time of year. Boasting almost three hundred beaches – be they sandy, rocky or shingle – and secluded coves, you are sure to find the ideal spot for switching off from everyday noise.

Take Part In Nature Activities

The island’s good weather all the year around and the wealth of possibilities it offers make it the ideal spot for doing sport in natural surroundings, particularly cycling and hiking. Devotees of cyclotourism can either check in their bike or hire one, and then set off on main or district roads, cycling comfortably from one village to the next while enjoying the scenery to the full.

Hiking enthusiasts should make a point of heading to one of the most beautiful spots on the island, namely the Serra de la Tramuntana mountain range, which has areas of acclaimed ecological value such as the island nature reserve of Sa Dragonera or Torrent de Pareis and the Fonts Ufanes, both of which are listed as natural monuments.

Birth-watching buffs take note – Majorca is a great spot for bird watching as it is a place of passage for numerous migratory species in the months running from autumn to spring. Among the various activities related to this pastime is the event known as the I Mallorca Birding Race, a bird-watching marathon held from 21 to 23 October.

Taste Their Wine

Majorca boasts some 70 wineries, a great reason for embarking on a wine-tasting tour of the island. The most popular route is through the DO Binissalem, which includes the following towns in the centre of Majorca – Santa María del Camí, Consell, Binissalem, Sencelles and Santa Eugenia. This route will take you to such classical wineries as José Luis Ferrer and Vins Nadal, and others which have not been on the market for so long, notably Celler Ramanya. Curiously enough, off this route and outside this DO is the 4Kilos winery, home to the enologist, Francesc Grimalt and one of the founding partners of SÓNAR, Sergio Caballero.

Fire up and take your autumn getaway to Majorca – book your Vueling here.

Text by Los Viajes de ISABELYLUIS

Images by Cristian Bortes

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5 Essential Ideas for Madrid In Autumn

It never fails! In recent years, for one reason or another, I always seem to end up travelling to Madrid in autumn and the outcome has always been equally rewarding. The temperature is still pleasant for outdoor activities and, should the weather let you down, there is always a host of options to get you out of the rain and cold, with some incentives included. While this might sound overblown, the fact is that this city offers loads of ways of having a great time, leaving virtually no room for brooding. Here, then, are my basic recommendations for autumn in Madrid:

1. Go and see the leaves falling in one of the city’s numerous parks

Madrid has lots of parks where you can enjoy the good weather as it comes to a close, delighting in the scent of dry leaves and relishing the odd sunset. Among the great classics is El Retiro where, in addition to setting out in search of the popular statue known as the Ángel Caído (Fallen Angel), you can do sport, try to avoid getting wet in the Estanque Grande (Big Pond), see an exhibition at either the Palacio de Cristal (Crystal Palace) or the Velázquez Palace, or even buy a book on the Cuesta de Moyano before going into the park. And all this just a stone’s throw from the city centre.

The Casa de Campo, Madrid’s great lung, is another good option. Apart from expanses where you can get some brisk exercise while enjoying nature, it also has an amusement park and a zoo, and a cable-car I would recommend you take up to see the views over the city.

As the last of the classics there is the Real Jardín Botánico (Royal Botanical Gardens), where you come face to face with some 5,000 different species of trees and plants, capable of transporting you anywhere on the planet.

For the swingers out there who seek a special, melancholic touch in your lives, the Jardín El Capricho is the spot for you. This romantic garden, built between 1787 and 1839, features lakes, boat jetties, a maze, sculpture groups and even the remains of a Civil War anti-aircraft shelter. It is located in the Alameda de Osuna and access is straightforward on the metro (L5, El Capricho station).

2. Bounce back from the early cold with a “cocido”

Hankering after a cocido? Autumn brings back a classic of Madrilenian cuisine – the cocido (stew), the best way of combating and guarding against the arrival of the cold in the city. Among my favourite eateries are the all-time greats like Lhardy (Carrera de San Jerónimo 8), Malacatín (Ruda 5) and La Bola (Bola 5). The cocido at the grass-roots Taberna J. Blanco (Tabernillas, 23) is a hit with me and my family on account of the original setting and the kindness of the owners.

3. Sweet things never made anyone bitter

There comes an afternoon when ice-cream suddenly cedes pride of place to pastries. That’s the moment to head for the Puerta del Sol, go into La Mallorquina and indulge in their huge variety of pastries. The standouts are their napolitana de crema and napolitana de chocolate. You could also stop by at the Horno de San Onofre to have some huesos de santo (saints’ bones) and buñuelos (fritters), the traditional confectionary at All Saints.

Croissant-lovers should not fail to try the ones to be had at Pomme Sucre, where success is guaranteed, aside from the touch of serving your coffee and hot chocolate in English porcelain cups. For those seeking new sensations there is the Moulin Chocolat, where they even dare to lavish French pastries with a flourish, and Mama Framboise, dedicated to gourmet patisserie in a modern, inviting setting.

And, of course, I couldn’t wind up this section without mentioning the popular chocolate con churros establishment, San Ginés, a must which has lost none of its shine and calories over the years.

4. Cultivating your mind

So, you’ve woken up to a rainy day? Now is the time to nourish your mind and soul on the city’s cultural offerings by dropping in on some of the host of scheduled exhibitions. This autumn, you can enjoy the work of Edvard Munch at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, steep yourself in the oeuvre of “The Divine (Luis de) Morales” and succumb to Ingres’ curvaceous Odalisque at the Prado. At the Museo Reina Sofía you get the chance to discover the work of Nasreen Mohamedi, one of the first Indian artists to embrace abstract art, while the Juan March Foundation is offering the first retrospective of the Swiss artist, Max Bill.

5. El Rastro – a Sunday outing up there with the best

A day at El Rastro is often the finishing touch to any Madrid tour. With the excuse of going bargain-hunting in the street stalls and shops, weeding out antiques, clothes, books, records and anything you can imagine, you are likely to end up just strolling around and being caught up in the prevailing atmosphere. The route usually comes to an end in one of the multiple de rigueur local bars, beer in hand, accompanied by a matching tapa. Among the many options, you should try the sardines at the Bar Santurce, the snails at Casa Amadeo, the tostas at Capricho Extremeño and the tapas at the Museo de la Radio.

Ready to take on autumn in Madrid? Book your Vueling here.

Text by Isabel Lucia | ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Photos by Felipe Gabaldón, Juan Antonio F. Segal, mcxurxo, pegatina1, Fernando Bueno

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