By Emma Trill on 08 October 2018

It wasn’t that long ago that we were all basking in the summer heatwave taking over the UK. But as fast as you can click your fingers, it’s all a distant memory, and the Autumn half-term is nearly upon us. But what better way to reduce the winter blues, than use the week-long October break to catch some rays and have a rest?

When is October Half Term?

The actual dates vary by county, but generally the week-long October break begins with schools closing on Friday 19th October, and opening again on Monday 29th October. So if you’re lucky with flights, you could get away for up to 9 nights, without missing a day of term time.

Where’s cheap and hot for the October break?

If the British weather forecasts are anything to go by, strong winds and rain are predicted to strike the island we call home (aren’t they always!), so no one will blame you for wanting to chase the sun.

We all know it’s more expensive to travel during the school holidays, and it can be difficult to find the perfect deal for you and your family whilst demand is at its peak, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t deals out there waiting to be found.

So if a trip away is on your radar during the upcoming school holidays, then why not consider these destinations?

For young families:

Primary school is a big change for your children, they begin to learn important skills and broaden their knowledge through learning. But all that learning can be exhausting, so a holiday is the best way to refresh and be sure that they’ll return to school ready to go again.

  • Barcelona

With an abundance of low-cost airlines offering an excellent choice of flights from the UK to Barcelona, this is the perfect place to start. You can use it as a hub for that perfect city break, or choose to stay closer to the sea for a more relaxing holiday.

If you’re interested in exploring the streets of the city, popping in and out of the many museums and shops which fill the area, then it’s the perfect time to get outside and explore the culture (and spark imagination!). You’ll find plenty of watering holes and places to grab some authentic Catalan food to recharge the batteries as you go.

Perhaps you’ve heard of a certain successful football club? Tours are offered at the magnificent Camp Nou, home of FC Barcelona - these tours take you behind the scenes at the home of the Catalan giants. Children under 6 go free, so it’s no extra to bring the whole family to see the stadium in all its glory – just be aware, you may need to leave buggies behind.

 A birds eye view from above the cathedral in Barcelona, Spain 

  • Algarve

Portugal is very accessible for young families, with many resorts built specifically for enjoyable family holidays. The Algarve is the perfect place to visit for some October sun, knowing you’ll be comfortable with your family, whilst enjoying plenty of activities offered to keep you occupied.  

There are many boat trips available to go out and see the dolphins, which for a small child you have to admit is pretty exciting! Albufeira Marina is a great place for a bite to eat once you’re back from dolphin spotting, as is Portimao Marina – both offering these amazing dolphin trips.

The flight time is a mere 3 hours from the UK, and the temperature in October for the school holidays has highs of 25°C, which is plenty warm whether you’re chilling on the beach or by the pool, or if you want to get out and about to explore the local area.

 See dolphins in their natural habitat in Algarve, Portugal

  • Athens

Ancient Greece, host city of the first modern-day Olympic Games, and home to not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Athens is the perfect place to let your child’s imagination take over, and learn about history by being in history!

It’s also the perfect place to introduce your family to a wealth of new food. There’s no better place to indulge in olives, and find out what the local spices are. For breakfast, you can try koulouri sesame bread rings, which are a popular Greek breakfast snack which you can find almost anywhere.

Don’t forget to stop by the School Life and Education Museum – there are plenty of fun things to do once you get inside. They also provide guided tours, and workshops for children, so your little ones will be going back to school with exciting tales to tell their classmates.

 A view of one of Athens UNESCO World Heritage sites 

For the older families:

Family holidays are always a good time to bond, and as your children get a bit older, you may have either found a favourite destination to travel back to time after time, but you may feel more comfortable exploring new locations.

Some destinations a bit further afield that you might not have considered yet could include:

  • Sicily

With 7 hours of sunlight a day, southern Italy cannot be ignored for your October break. Sicily is a beautiful island, with plenty of places to visit. But would you have ever thought about staying in an Agriturismo?

There are many dotted around the picturesque Sicilian countryside, but what exactly are they? Not dissimilar to staying in a countryside manor, Agriturismo is loosely translated to “farm stays” and are popular amongst Italians, especially for the excellent home cooked food - which definitely beats having to pop out to the local grocery store to get supplies when you arrive.

Sicily is the largest of the Mediterranean islands, slightly larger than Wales - so it’s best to decide which part you want to visit before heading out there. Palermo and Catania are the largest cities on the island, and are probably a good place to start – and there are plenty of beaches to relax on when you’ve had enough of exploring.

 The clear blue waters surrounding Sicily

  • Cape Verde

Although October is the start of the rainy season, the highs in Cape Verde can reach the lovely low 30’s – beats the UK! There are also all-inclusive hotels aplenty on the islands, so the choice is yours. However, you should be aware that not all hotels are equipped for small children, lack of baby change units, high chairs etc. So it may be more suited to families with older children.

There’s a steady breeze which sweeps the island, which can only mean one thing: great waves! Body boards provide hours of endless entertainment for older children, just remember to keep the sun cream topped up, and keep an eye on the lifeguards – do not enter the sea if conditions are too rough.

The unofficial motto of Cape Verde is “no stress” which is lovely, considering holidays are supposed to be just that – but often turn out opposite. The music is something you probably won’t have heard much of before, but you’ll find yourself scouring Spotify for songs which remind you of holiday once you’re back home!

 The golden sands of a Cape Verde beach

  • Gran Canaria

The popular Canary Islands are a safe go-to for holidaymakers, and the weather shouldn’t disappoint either. It’s a volcanic island, but there’s no need to worry about it erupting, it hasn’t for 3,500 years!

There’s plenty to do while you’re there, especially if you’re staying in one of the many self-catering options on the island. Camel trekking is a favourite for visitors, Palmitos Park is a bird park, and not forgetting the many volcanic sandy beaches.

If you’re heading for the South of the island, more specifically, Playa Taurito, there’s a small but very fun water park by the beach. Banana boats, jet skis and a whole other range of water based activities are also available. In the evenings, hop in a cab and take the short ride around the mountain to the beautiful Puerto de Mogán – it’s known as “Little Venice” by the locals because of its many small canals.  

 Boats moored in the harbour of the small fishing village of Puerto Mogan, Gran Canaria

So now you’ve got some options to consider, and they’re not a million miles from home. All you have to do now is book, get your travel insurance, and pack - then it’s nearly time to go!

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