Awesome autumn adventures in Europe

An average amble just won’t cut it as the last outdoor foray before winter. With the summer crowds thinned and the kids back at school, fall is the time to get adventuring.

Here are our picks for knocking around across the pond.

Climb Spain’s highest mountain in the Canary Islands

A voluptuous volcano, just waiting to be climbed. Photo: Courtesy of Samuel Hess

Fly to: Tenerife
Stomp up Spain’s highest peak, Mount Teide, in Tenerife.

Why fall?
The snow hasn’t yet fallen, but the relentless summer heat has abated, making this the ideal climate to reach this 12,198-foot volcanic vertex. Stride through the whopping black balls of obsidian lava — picture a bowling match between giants, discarded mid-game — and summit for an unrivaled view of the islands.

Ride a horse in the U.K.’s New Forest

Plod on ponies through the misty fall forest. Photo: Courtesy of Lee Hargreaves

Fly to: Heathrow
Explore the New Forest, fabled for the semi-wild eponymous ponies that roam here.

Why fall?
Autumn is the best time to head out on a horse hack, as the wintery weather hasn’t quite arrived, but the summer crowds have dispersed, meaning you’ve got a much better chance of spotting wildlife (including those ponies) while on horseback.

The landscape is ablaze with color: The yellowing spatter of silver birch sharply contrasts with the bright, bold purples and pinks of the heather, while fungi splotches along the forest floor. Plus, keep your eyes peeled for pigs. In fall, after the nuts have fallen, pigs are released into the forest to scoff up the fallen kernel — an ancient rite known as pannage.

Go biking in the Czech Republic

Sure, you’ve heard of Czech beer — but have you tried Czech wine? Cycle across the vineyards of Moravia. Photo: Courtesy of Vasek Kadlec

Fly to: Brno
Cycle on the “wine trails” linking Southern Moravia’s vineyards.

Why fall?
Beside the seasonal hues, fall is the time of wine festivals, or vinobraní. The Czech Republic is laced with trails between the vineyards, so sip some wine in the crisp autumn air, jive at a local wine festival and then climb back on the bike to cycle on through a rug of fallen foliage.

Rock climb in the High Tatras, Poland

Grab some granodiorite. Photo: Courtesy of Manofactory

Fly to: Krakow
Rock climb in the High Tatras between Poland and Slovakia. The rock type is granodiorite (similar to granite), and you can expect cracks, chimneys, slabs and corners throughout this ripple of crags.

Why fall?
The weather is the most stable around this time of year — not too hot or cold, and with low possibilities of storms. There are also hot springs in the region, so after a couple of days’ hard climbing, soak up autumn colors and soothe pumped arms from the comfort of a thermal bath overlooking the towering Tatras mountains.

Hike along Italy’s Apennines

Around 80 miles of hiking along this ancient path. Photo: Clementine Gray

Fly to: Bologna (but fly out of Florence)
Walk from Bologna to Florence along the Via Degli Dei (The Way of the Gods).

Why fall?
Try in summer and you’ll probably pass out from the heat. Try in winter and you’ll trudge through snow. Fall is ideal, as the days are warm and nights are cool enough to snooze without sweating. The landscapes pop with color, painting the scenery into a sea of reds, yellows and oranges.

Plus, in Tuscany, it’s harvest season for wine, olives, chestnuts, truffles, squid and mushrooms. So once you’ve recovered in Florence, celebrate autumn (and the end of the trek!) with a feast of seasonal food.

Surf in Peniche, Portugal

The name, Supertubos, speaks for itself. Photo: Courtesy of João Rico

Fly to: Lisbon
Surf the sublime swells of Peniche. This peninsula (home to breaks such as Supertubos) faces a range of directions, creating a variety of options depending on wind and swell direction.

Why fall?
After a summer of relentless trade winds, the wind finally drops, making fall the time to visit. There won’t be the whopping winter swells yet, so unless you’re Alex Botelho, this is the time to score waves.

Afterward, drive a few hours to the Douro Valley to see one the best displays of fall foliage in the vineyards that line the riverbanks. Guzzle a glass of the famed local port after surfing, to fortify against autumn chills.

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