I’ve always loved the summer months but, after four long hot Spanish summers I have a newfound appreciation for autumn and all that it brings.
If you’ve never been to Andalucia here are just a few good reasons why autumn is such a magical time to visit.
Summer in Andalucia is hot hot hot! On the Costa del Sol where I live temperatures are regularly well above 30°c throughout June, July, and August. Head inland and it’s even hotter but, by the time the autumn equinox rolls around in late September, the sweltering temperatures are already dropping.
Although the mornings tend to be a bit chilly the temperature generally reaches a pleasant 20-25°c which means that, yes, you can still hit the beach even if you’re not feeling brave enough to go in the sea. There are a few hardy souls who regularly go in for a dip but it’s just as nice to find a sheltered spot on the beach and read a book in the late afternoon sunshine.
Many of the chiringuitos (beach bars) tend to be seasonal but some, in the more popular areas, do stay open throughout the year so al fresco wining and dining by the sea is still a possibility at this time of year.
The cooler mornings are also the perfect excuse (not that I personally ever needed one) to start the day with churros con chocolate – the best way to warm up your weekend.
The arrival of autumn means it’s time to say goodbye to gazpacho and starting welcoming in heartier fayre. In autumn that usually means lots of stews that make the most of seasonal Spanish produce.
Have a wander round any local market at this time of year and you’ll see plenty of pumpkins, pomegranates, and quince (which makes a lovely jam that goes well with local cheese).
Autumn is also wild mushroom foraging season. If you do plan to head into the woods to have a look for some I’d recommend going with an expert so that you know what to look for and, perhaps just as importantly, what to avoid!
Even if you don’t pick your own, you’ll find lots of wild mushrooms on the menu in restaurants, like these freshly foraged ones that I enjoyed in Jimena de la Frontera.
Special mention needs to go to my favourite of all the autumn foods – chestnuts. Think of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and you’re most likely transported to Christmas time but, by mid-October, braziers have appeared on the street corners of many towns around Andalucia and, for just a couple of Euros, you can buy a cone of freshly roasted chestnuts.
The great outdoors
I love going for long walks but, during the summer, it’s just too hot to do anything too strenuous. However, with the drop in temperature, autumn is the perfect time for getting out and about and exploring.
There are plenty of pueblos blancos (white villages) to spend time in and most of them are ideally placed for walking. Casares, for example, has some excellent hiking trails nearby and, once you’ve finished, you can head to the Roman Baths for a relaxing dip to soothe your aching muscles.
For something more taxing head to the hills. On the Costa de la Luz there are excellent hikes in the Parque Natural del Estrecho where you will more than likely spot vultures.
On the Costa del Sol head to the Sierra Bermeja near Estepona and either enjoy the walking trails on the lower part of the mountain or head to the summit for outstanding views of the coast all the way down to Gibraltar.
Inland there are countless walking routes – luckily there are plenty of guidebooks to the best hikes in the region. I’m a fan of the Cicerone guides having also used them for walks on the Isle of Man.
It’s less crowded
Obviously summer 2020 has been quite unlike other years as there hasn’t been the usual number of tourists flocking to visit the popular sites. In previous years though autumn has always been a good time to visit cities like Seville and Granada as the summer holidaymakers have gone home so the popular attractions like the Alcazar or the Alhambra are a lot quieter.
I’d still recommend booking the skip the line tours for the main attractions though – why waste time in a queue after all?