Crisp, fresh air, manageable temperatures and - best of all - scenery alive with the most spectacular colours of the year... autumn is the season for getting outdoors with walks through pretty, leafy landscapes. Here are some of the best around Europe for outstanding scenery and vibrant autumn colours.
The Ardennes: Belgium's best scenery
Anywhere known for its forest is a good bet for autumn walking. The Ardennes is a huge expanse of forested hills and mountains, with the southeast Belgian section home to the best scenery. There's quite a bit of coniferous wood here, but there's also masses of mixed deciduous forest, with orangey sycamores, yellow hazel, and fiery oak, beech and more. Near the German border, the High Fens Natural Park has some of the region's best walks (nearby Verviers makes a good base, with hotels such as the four-star Hotel Verviers Van der Valk), or stay in La Roche-en-Ardenne for some of the most idyllic, unspoilt wilderness. The town is popular in summer but quietens down in autumn, when the landscape is even prettier - Hostellerie La Claire Fontaine is just outside the town, letting you make the most of the natural surroundings.
The Mullerthal: Luxembourg's Little Switzerland
Luxembourg flies well under the radar when it comes to scenery, with most visitors sticking to the city. Let 'em. That leaves the country's rugged and surprisingly varied wilderness wonderfully quiet. The best of the best is the Mullerthal region, commonly known as Little Switzerland - a name that's well-deserved with the area's dense forest, rocky hills and clear streams. The region is dotted with little villages where you can find hotels well set-up for walkers, such as Trail-Inn Natur & Sporthotel and Hôtel Eden au Lac.
Bavaria: Hit the Alpine trails
For most, autumn brings one big attraction in Bavaria - Oktoberfest. But if you'd rather leave the crowds behind and earn your beers with a brisk hike through some beautiful forested alpine scenery, Oberstdorf in the Bavarian Alps is the place. As a mountain resort it's full of places to stay; Hotel Birgsauer Hof and Alpenhotel Oberstdorf both let you make the most of the scenery.
The Cotswolds: Colours closer to home
The UK is also home to some of the best autumn landscapes. After all, we've got some gorgeous woodland up and down the country - particularly in England, where most woodland is made up of the broadleaved deciduous trees that make for the best spread of scarlets, golds and oranges in autumn. The Cotswolds is one of our favourite areas for diversity - there's masses of natural English woodland along with interesting spots like Batsford Arboretum, where you can see some unusual non-native trees in their autumn splendour.
Stay at nearby Moreton-in-Marsh for an autumn weekend away and you're walking distance from Batsford Arboretum - there are some lovely places to stay in the little town, like the Manor House Hotel and the White Hart Royal Hotel.
The Sporades: Head for the hills
If you'd rather escape somewhere warmer (or if, like me, you're colour-blind and the whole autumn colours thing leaves you nonplussed) then autumn is also the perfect time to explore places that are too hot for much activity in the summer. Like Greece, where the searing heat of summer eases into very pleasant temperatures, making this the perfect time to explore the gorgeous pine-covered, mountainous landscapes of the Sporades Islands. On Skopelos you can explore the hills and trails with a stay somewhere like Alkistis Hotel near Skopelos Town or Hotel Panormos Beach on the other side of the island.
Where's your favourite spot for an autumn walk?