Autumn can be a great time to enjoy a last-minute getaway to Europe: the crowds have subsided, the weather is warm but not oppressive - and best of all, there are plenty of bargains to be had. Read on for our pick of the best short-haul destinations for October – plus some spending tips on how to make your money go further.
If you're hankering after sunshine but can't face a long-haul, head to Cyprus. The island's southerly position means it enjoys a long summer season, with a balmy 25C possible even at the end of October. Aside from the many glorious beaches, there are many monasteries and archaeological sites to explore, as well as dozens of picturesque villages dotted among the pretty olive groves.Stay in Northern Cyprus, which lies outside the Eurozone, and you'll get roughly three times as many Turkish Lira as Euros to the pound. The hotels, while not as grand, tend to be much cheaper than Cyprus proper.
Thanks to its proximity to the African coast, Lanzarote enjoys year-round sunshine - but autumn is perhaps the best time to visit. In October, the north-easterly trade winds have dropped, the sea has warmed up, and the mercury can reach 22.5C or more. A volcanic lunar landscape, stunning black-sand beaches and stunning nature parks, like the Timanfaya National Park, make the island popular with activity seekers, as well as families wanting a relaxing holiday. Lanzarote tends to be good value for a weekly shop, so self catering can be a good option if you're on a budget.
Located west of mainland Italy and south of Corsica, Sardinia is celebrated for its stunning coastline, un-commercialised towns and villages, beautiful mountains and interesting history. Visit in October and you can avoid the crowds, as well as the stifling heat. Autumn is also when the Autunno in Barbagia festival starts in the inland mountainous region of Barbagia. To save money, head away from the more touristy areas around Cagliari. Less busy areas, such as the Oristano region with its pristine beaches, are much cheaper - book a farm stay or 'agriturismo' and enjoy rustic charm for a fraction of big resort prices.
Costa Blanca, Spain
Boasting 200 kilometres of sandy beaches, bars and restaurants, not to mention glorious weather, Britain's long-standing love affair with Costa Blanca needs no explanation. Early autumn is a good time to visit with highs of 28C still possible, dropping to 19C in November (though there's more chance of rain if you go later in the season). The cost of meals out, drinks and self-catering groceries have dropped in recent years – but shop smart and you can save even more. Shop at a large supermarket and save on resort mini-mart prices.
Nestled between the Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea on the south western coast of Turkey, Antalya enjoys an idyllic position - and with clean beaches, a historic castle and a Roman harbour to explore, its popularity with holidaymakers is well deserved. The region is blessed with glorious weather, though the heat can be intense – 35C is not uncommon in July and August. Autumn is the best time to visit – exploring ancient ruins comes with less risk of sunstroke. Turkey isn't cheap for self catering compared to some other European countries. The good news is that there are all-inclusive deals to be had, particularly if you go in October.
The land of 1,000 islands, Croatia is celebrated for its abundance of beautiful beaches, tranquil mountains, well-preserved national parks, fascinating history (Dubrovnik and Split are both Unesco world heritage sites) and dance festivals. Visit in autumn and there's plenty of sunshine but the crowds have gone and prices are significantly lower. Croatia may be reasonably priced compared to some Mediterranean destinations, but bars, restaurants and hotels in tourist hotspots such as Dubrovnik and Split can be pricey. For the cheapest deals, stay away from touristy areas and consider camping or stay in a private hostel, similar to a traditional B&B where the owner lives on site.
The mercury hovers in the mid 20s during September and October in Rhodes and the sea is still warm enough for swimming, staying above 20°C until late November. Once the peak season is over, there are fewer crowds to spoil your enjoyment of the medieval Old town, narrow alleys and tranquil squares - and you can explore the island's mountains, pine and cypress forests and rocky shores in peace. If you're looking to stay in the old town for less, there are many budget hotel options available.
Are you planning a holiday to Europe this October? Leave a comment below...