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.
THE ALGARVE, PORTUGAL
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
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.
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
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 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
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 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
TURQUOISE COAST, TURKEY
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
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
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
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
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
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
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