Top 10 shoulder season destinations

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We’re now definitely in that happy holiday time when the summer crowds have melted away. Time for a cheap getaway.

We’re now in that happy holiday time when the summer crowds have definitely melted away, school children are safely back in their classes, beaches are empty (as in our featured image by Renee Silverman) and the price of flights, accommodation and holidays have dropped back to more manageable prices.

We’ve rounded up our favourite shoulder-season destinations around the world – a mix of short and long-haul. One word of warning: if you’re looking for a good-value getaway, dodge the October half-term hols when the beaches will once again ring out with the sound of happy sand-castle makers.

Praia do Barranco das Canas (Alemão) in Portimao, Portugal
Praia do Barranco das Canas (Alemão) in Portimao, Portugal. Photo by lele3100


The Atlantic Ocean might lap the beaches of the Algarve but it feels much more Mediterranean. The beaches are sublime, vast sandy stretches punctuated by rocky outcrops and backed by sand dunes and deep-red cliffs, and the weather is glorious.

In July and August, temperatures of 28 degrees and hotter might be a little too hot for us, but in October they’re in the comfortable mid 20s.

The sea temperature is just starting to fall back from its August and September high of 21 degrees, and is perfect for a dip. Search and compare: cheap flights to Faro

Valletta, Malta at sunset
Valletta, Malta at sunset. Photo by zader


Temperatures in Malta now are a scorching 27 degrees, gorgeous weather for this beautiful island. Malta’s capital Valletta has narrow streets and Italianate architecture with a dash of British influence – not least the Great British High Street with retail giants such as Marks & Spencer.

Marsalforn Bay, Gozo
Marsalforn Bay, Gozo. Photo by runeng

Malta’s sister islands Gozo and Comino offer all the greenery, ancient ruins and water sports you need to round out your stay. Search and compare: cheap flights to Malta

 The colours of Cyprus
The colours of Cyprus. Photo by pink_pixie21


Cyprus is an island for all seasons with its 300-plus days of sunshine, but if you go in shoulder season you’ll dodge the bucket-and-spade brigade and the winter rains. Larnaca on the east side of the island is the best spot for easy beach holidays.

Paphos Castle at night, Cyprus
Paphos Castle at night. Photo by apdk

Paphos has the history, with a fortress that dates back to the Middle Ages and some of the best-preserved mosaics anywhere.

In the centre of the island, the Troodos Mountains have great walking trails for all the family and charming little villages. Search and compare: cheap flights to Cyprus

The Old Harbour at the Old City, Dubrovnik, Croatia
The Old Harbour at the Old City, Dubrovnik, Croatia. Photo by S J Pinkney


This ancient city in the southernmost part of Croatia enjoys a dramatic location. The mountains are on one side, the sparkling Adriatic on the other. Topping the natural wonders is the red-roofed Old Town, surrounded by 2km of sturdy, medieval walls.

During the summer months Dubrovnik is mobbed but autumn sees temperatures in the mid-20s, beaches are less crowded and there’s the wonderful bounty of Croatia’s farms and vineyards to savour.

Dubrovnik Old Town
Dubrovnik Old Town. Photo by Michael Cavén

Dubrovnik is one of the most popular cruise-ship destinations and the Old Town will be very busy when there is one in port. Crowds will usually thin out about lunchtime when the seafarers go back to their ship. Search and compare: cheap flights to Dubrovnik

The Turquoise Coast, Turkey
The Turquoise Coast, Turkey. Photo by kenny barker


For autumn sun, think the Turquoise Coast where temperatures are in the mid-20s. In Turkey’s southwestern corner this coastline, at the confluence of the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, is a coastline of soft beaches and blue seas.

Olu Deniz, Fethiye, Ephesus and Antalya offer the landscapes and experiences for all types of traveller – history buff or nightclub queen. Search and compare: cheap flights to Dalaman

Agadir's wide, sandy beach, Agadir, Morocco
Agadir’s wide, sandy beach, Agadir, Morocco. Photo by atkinson000


There’s not much in the way of history in Agadir (it’s a purpose-built resort) but it boasts a wonderful wide beach and an array of cafes, restaurants, shops and bars.

Taghazout, 20km north of Agadir, is considered the best surfing spot in Africa and the season runs from October to April. Best of all, current temperatures are 25 degrees! Search and compare: cheap flights to Agadir

A souk in Tunisia
Colourful lanterns for sale in a Tunisian souk. Photo by Amine Ghrabi


Sousse, bordering the Gulf of Hammamet, sees temperatures soaring into the 30s in October! Apart from the great beaches and sparkling turquoise waters, there’s a UNESCO-listed medina with a wonderful, colourful souk. Search and compare: cheap flights to Monastir

Boats are moored in Aci Castello, a city in the province of Catania, Sicily
Boats are moored in Aci Castello, a city in the province of Catania, Sicily. Photo by gnuckx


The island that lies off the coast of Italy is a fascinating and historic place. Greek temples, golden cathedrals, Norman churches, ornate palazzos, atmospheric cities and an amazing natural setting. Mount Etna smoulders above it all, there are beautiful nature reserves and the beaches are sublime. As is the food…

Oh and the October temperatures are in the mid to high 20s. Search and compare: cheap flights to SicilySearch and compare: cheap flights to Sicily

The sun sets over downtown Dubai, UAE
The sun sets over downtown Dubai. Photo by the_dead_pixel


Dubai in the peak summer months is hot, hot, way too hot. And humid too. By October temperatures have cooled down to a sizzling 30 degrees or so, ensuring that Vitamin D levels are topped up before the winter winds blow back home.

Superb resort hotels, great beaches plus an astounding urban landscape make for late holiday heaven. Search and compare: cheap flights to Dubai

The waterfront in California Adventure, Anaheim, California
The waterfront in California Adventure, Anaheim, California. Photo by robertpaulyoung


If you’re bound for the theme parks, national parks or beaches of Southern California, there’s only one clever time to go – autumn. The glorious Mediterranean weather calms down a tad, rates fall from high season to shoulder season and most tourists are now back in the office or on the school run.

It’s “Value Season” at Disneyland (last three weeks of October and most of November) and beaches are still bask-worthy. A little more Fall-y are winery tours in the Temecula Valley or seeing the autumn leaves in the state parks (Cuyamaca Rancho or Palomar Mountain). Search and compare: cheap flights to California

Top 10 shoulder season destinations was last modified: October 28th, 2015 by Oonagh Shiel
Author: Oonagh Shiel (3400 posts)

Content Manager at Cheapflights whose travel life can be best summed up as BC (before children) and PC (post children). We only travel during the school holidays so short-haul trips and staycations are our specialities!