8 Short-Haul Family Half-Term Holidays

Didn’t get to enjoy the summer family holiday you had planned? All is not lost – October half term is also a great time to get away, with warm temperatures and plenty of crowd-free beaches. Here, we round up the best short-haul destinations for a memorable trip, as well as our favourite places to stay...

SICILY, ITALY 

Known for its Baroque churches, ancient temples and excellent food, not to mention wild beaches with turquoise waters, Sicily is the perfect spot for a family holiday. Palermo is the island’s capital – dripping with ancient grandeur and glamour, it’s a vibrant city with a relaxed feel. The seaside borough of Mondello is where you’ll find the nearest beach, while adventurers should head to Etna, home to the eponymous volcano. Follow this with a trip to Sicily’s chic seaside town, Catania, where children of all ages will love exploring the ancient ruins. In October, temperatures still reach the mid-20s, with plenty of Sicilian sunshine to enjoy all the sites. 

Where to stay… 
Perched on the south west coast and set in a valley of olive trees and orange groves, Verdura’s 230-hectare resort couples coastal with country living, to provide families with everything they need. During October, the resort runs a selection of child-friendly activities, ranging from arts and crafts to cooking classes. While children have fun at the kids’ club, parents can make full use of the spa, as well as the five-star dining options, with seven restaurants and bars to choose from – including a pool side eatery and beach bar. 

Visit RoccoForteHotels.com

Cat Bassano
Dubrovnik
Filip Baotic
Dubrovnik

DUBROVNIK, CROATIA

The walled city of Dubrovnik makes for an idyllic half-term getaway, with temperatures often reaching the mid-20s even in late October. Famed for its historic old town and harbour, the city is a great destination for culture buffs, as well as adventurers keen to explore the sites. Families with older children should embark on the mile-long walk along the city wall, and plan a visit to Fort Lovrijenac, a 13th century fortress offering up stunning panoramic views. Water lovers will delight in the many pebbled beaches that Dubrovnick has to offer, including Copacabana, which has plenty of sun loungers on which to soak up the October sun. For something more secluded, hop on the water taxi to Lokrum, to wander the shoreline backed by pine trees and eucalyptus. 

Where to stay...
This family-friendly apartment looks out over the sparkling Adriatic Sea, and comes with a large private terrace and spacious garden-cum-orchard. There are two bedrooms as well as two sofa beds, so it can sleep up to five guests in total. Expect to find an al fresco dining area on the terrace, as well as an idyllic sunbathing spot complete with comfy deckchairs. Nearby, there are plenty of local supermarkets, restaurants and boat rental companies. 

Visit AirBnb.co.uk

MONTPELLIER, FRANCE

The historic, picturesque city of Montpellier is one of the loveliest spots in the South of France. The cooler weather – think low to mid-20s – makes it the perfect holiday for families who enjoy exploring, with sites like the Jardins des Plantes and Zoological Park close by. Beach wise, the best include Carnon and Espiguette – both just a short drive from the city centre. Carnon is the closest, and can get incredibly busy during high season, but come October it’s almost deserted, with plenty of space to stretch out. Espiguette is wilder, with a rural feel that ensures it’s beautiful in any weather. For a day trip, hire a car and explore the neighbouring lavender scented region of Provence, one of the most beautiful areas in France. 

Where to stay…
This chateau-turned-hotel makes for a beautiful home away from home. Surrounded by rolling hills, families can explore the area on bikes before tucking into picnics brimming with homemade sandwiches made by the kitchen team. Back at the hotel, children’s activities are split up into four categories: Explorers, Land Art, Water Play and Drama Time. Meanwhile, for older children, there are kids-only dinners, parties and movie nights. If you’d rather not get on a plane, drive to the hotel from Calais, stopping off at pretty towns on route to turn your holiday into a true adventure. 

Visit MrAndMrsSmith.com

MARBELLA, SPAIN 

Glitzy Marbella is so much more than buzzy bars and tourist-friendly attractions. While it may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a family getaway, the warm weather and quiet beaches make it a relaxing break come October. There are plenty of activities to keep children entertained, from swimming in the natural rock pools at El Canalon to sea kayaking along the shoreline. Journey outside of the city centre and you’ll reach Cabopino Beach, a wide stretch of sand that sits along a backdrop of sand dunes and palm trees. 

Where to stay... 
Marbella Club is one of the prettiest resorts in the area. There’s a kids’ club open 365 days a year that, along with babysitting facilities, runs a range of child-friendly activities like vegetable growing, cookery classes, dance classes, pottery, yoga and treasure hunts. Off site, the hotel can arrange tennis, water sports, horse riding and golf lessons, (all of which are best-suited to older kid) while in the evenings, the resort hosts family-friendly movie nights. The whole resort, including the kids’ club, is beautiful, with bohemian touches and luxuries. 

Visit MrAndMrsSmith.com

CRETE, GREECE 

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and its rural coastline makes for an unforgettable half-term holiday. After heating up all summer, expect sea temperatures to be around 23°C – perfect for swimming and snorkelling. There are some beautiful beaches on the island: Elafonisi is a remote lagoon-style cove to the south west, loved by locals for its shallow turquoise waters with pale pink foam and golden sand. Should you be looking for something more adrenaline-pumping, opt for a water sports lesson or boat ride. Agios Nikolaos is a pretty coastal town definitely worth a visit, too, with rows of multicoloured buildings lining the promenade.

Where to stay… 
Daios Cove, a luxury resort near Agios Nikolaos, has two kids’ clubs as well as a teen-friendly activity programme. Choose from a deluxe room, suite or even a villa should you want extra privacy. The resort is lucky enough to have its own private beach, as well as a heated infinity pool with views over the bay. Part of the pool has been marked out for children, with shallow water and plenty of easy-access entry spots. If you book your accommodation through the Fish and Pips site, you can receive 30% off your booking, including a flexible cancellation policy up to 24 hours before you travel. 

Visit FishAndPips.co.uk

Greta Farnedi
Florence
Alexander Slash
Crete
Giuseppe Mondi
Florence

TUSCANY, ITALY

Tuscany blends rural scenery with historic cities to keep everyone in the family happy. Known for its stunning landscape, there’s an abundance of cycling and walking routes in the region, but families should hire a car for day trips to quintessential local towns and big-ticket destinations like Pisa or Florence. If you’re after a day at the beach, you’ll be pleased to hear this region is known for its spectacular coastline. There are plenty of family-friendly beaches to visit, like the Blue Flag awarded Tirrenia just outside of Pisa, and the pinewood backed Calambrone, a popular spot for water sports. A hop over to the magical island of Elba is also a must, with plenty of tropical-esque coves made for snorkelling. 

Where to stay...
The ideal base for your Italian getaway, this rustic villa has everything families need for a relaxing stay. Perfectly positioned between Pisa and Florence, it's a great home away from home and is just a short drive from Pisa airport. There are four bedrooms which can accommodate up to eight guests, as well as a large garden offering panoramic views, a BBQ, playground equipment and a large swimming pool.  

Visit AirBnb.co.uk

CADIZ, SPAIN 

Cadiz, which can be found to the southwestern corner of Spain, is one of the oldest cities in the western world. Home to a beautiful old town, sparkling harbour, a majestic castle and ancient cathedral, you’ll also find Playa de la Caleta – one of the prettiest, most secluded beaches in the area. With a view out to the Castillo San Sebastian, it’s a great spot to enjoy a tapas-style picnic come sunset. For those wanting to try their hand at water sports, head to Canos de Meca, which boasts impressive waves, perfect for surfing. Temperatures typically reach a warm 24°C in October, with plenty of tanning opportunities, as well as cooler mornings for exploring. 

Where to stay…
Casa La Siesta is normally an exclusive adults-only retreat but during Easter, the summer holidays and October half-term it becomes one of the best spots for a family getaway. The breakfast club lets children make their own treats, while afternoon activities include treasure hunts, sports and gardening. The staff will also organise arts and crafts, child-friendly yoga classes, cycling, surfing and Spanish language lessons. Picnics for day trips to the beach or historic villages can also be arranged on request. 

Visit CasaLaSiesta.com

Antonio Mendes
Algarve

ALGARVE, PORTUGAL

This Southern stretch of Portugese coastline is famous for its pristine, golden beaches, mountainous landscape and cosmopolitan towns. For sun worshippers and water lovers, there are more than 150 sparkling beaches in the region. Falesia in Albufeira is great for sunbathing, while Praia da Amoreira in Aljezur is ideal for budding surfers. One of the most loved stretches of sand in the Algarve, Praia da Marinha is often celebrated for its clear waters and golden cliffs. For a day out, families should visit the Ria Formosa Nature Park, which is home to a plethora of lagoons, marshes and sand dunes – making it great for wildlife spotting. The Algarve is lucky enough to see temperatures hit the mid-to-high 20s in October, along with warm waters of roughly 20°C. 

Where to stay...
Pine Cliffs is often regarded as Europe’s best family resort. With direct access to the beach, a golf course and plenty of water sports on offer, expect to find luxurious touches and beautiful rooms. Little ones will feel right at home in Porto Pirata, the kids’ village, which is home to a pirate ship playground and swimming pool, and runs daily activities such as arts and crafts, treasure hunts, water games and sporting events. All activities are supervised and must be booked in advance. At the moment, the resort is running an offer where you can stay for seven nights, and pay for five, making it a more affordable option for larger groups.  

Visit PineCliffs.com
 

*DISCLAIMER

Travel restrictions are changing daily so please check the latest Government advice as well as guidance from your travel insurance provider before you book and travel. Please ensure that you are aware of the social distancing and quarantine guidelines in place before you travel, too.

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