By Sally Peck
The first term of the school year is the longest; by October, children – and parents – are ready for some fun. And this is a great time to travel: there’s still some short-haul sand and sun available for the half-term holidays, and at relatively budget prices.
It is also a great time for British country breaks, before the gloomiest time of year sets in.
Here are the five places your family should be going in October.
Drive time: Good luck. London to Truro can take five hours on a good day.
Why go: This may be a beloved summer spot for bucket and spade holidays, but October is a great time to head to the South West for savings. The crabbing is just as fun, the Eden Project just as cool, and the hearty pasties more appropriate than ever as dramatic winds sweep the rugged coast.
What to book: For a luxurious self-catering stay, look at the beautiful properties of St Mawes Retreats. For a broader range of locations and budgets, and plenty of child-friendly properties, try Cornish Gems.
2. Algarve, Portugal
Flight time: 2hrs 45min from London.
Why go: This is a risk, but the rewards will be great if the weather is good, and the savings may make the risk worthwhile regardless, because the best of the Algarve’s family-friendly hotels have all-singing and all-dancing kids’ clubs. So, rain or shine, the children will be entertained, and the parents will eat well, be active, and relax. Win-win.
What to book: Anantara Vilamoura, a short drive from Faro, is great for young children: it takes babies from four months and has fantastic dining and golf options for a hotel of this (relatively small) size.
The beautifully set Pine Cliffs is great for families keen on tennis (the Annabel Croft academy is popular), and has an extensive kids’ club for children of various ages.
Martinhal, further west along the Algarvian coast, is a family-focused resort with plenty of activities to charm children and parents alike, and is our expert’s pick for the most child-friendly resort in the Algarve.
3. Crete, Greece
Flight time: 3h 45m from London.
Why go: Affordable self-catering and up to six hours of gentle sunshine a day make this island a good half-term option for families who want plenty of outside play in comfortable heat: expect temperatures in the low 20s.
Flight time: 4.5 hours from London.
Why go: The Canary Islands are Europe’s most reliable options for winter sun, rarely dipping far below 20C. The fourth biggest and easternmost member of the group, Lanzarote, offers relaxed holidays in the three resort areas dotted on its south coast, Playa Blanca, Costa Teguise and Puerto del Carmen. And its dramatic volcanic landscape has plenty of scope for adventures.
What to book: Try one of our local expert’s pick of the best hotels for families in the Canary Islands.
Flight time: 9 hours from London.
Why go: This semi-autonomous region of Tanzania in the Indian Ocean is a chunk of low-slung islands lapped by turquoise waters. Here is a place of discoveries, if you want them – not least the Omani heritage of the capital Stone Town – but if you want a beach, the islands’ hot sands, 30C temperature, and chic resorts will delight.