Swim with whales, canoe in a volcano, shop in a souk or just hit the beach in Barbados – there are family adventures galore in our… half-term hit parade
- The Mail on Sunday’s Jane Knight picks the best autumn half-term breaks that are available to book now
- There’s everything from beach cricket to calypso dance lessons at the all-inclusive Turtle Beach, Barbados
- Book your teenagers in for some fun at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in the Sani Resort in northern Greece
For families who have been longing to get away for a real taste of overseas adventure, the autumn half-term break is proving more popular than summer did, so get in quick!
Here are some of the best breaks available now.
Portugal’s castles and camps
When in Lisbon, you can’t miss a visit to the town of Sintra famous for its hilltop castles and fairytale palaces
Tuck into the local speciality of custard tarts during a couple of nights in Lisbon along with a trip to the fairytale castles of Sintra. Then it’s time to explore the dramatic rocky coastline of the Arrabida Natural Park by sea kayak. Should you wish, you can camp on a secluded beach.
In nearby Alentejo there’s the chance to go horse riding, cycling or to take surf lessons. End the week on the Algarve where you can recover from all that activity before the flight home.
Book: Seven nights for a family of four from £4,250, with flights into Lisbon and out of Faro, car hire, B&B and activities (stubbornmuletravel.com).
Getting busy in Barbados
Barbados has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. Pictured is Paradise Beach
Among the many great things about staying in the all-inclusive Turtle Beach resort in Barbados is taking the free water taxi to use the facilities and restaurants in the other Elegant Hotel resorts of Waves Hotel & Spa, Crystal Cove and Tamarind. There’s everything from beach cricket to calypso dance lessons, and non-motorised water sports are complimentary too, including boogie boarding, sailing, kayaking and surfing lessons.
Book: Seven nights from £3,099 per adult and £1,899 per child under 12, including flights (caribtours.co.uk).
Tackle bears in Greece
Wild child: Adventurers of all ages can learn fantastic survival skills at a Bear Grylls course in Greece
Book your teenagers in for some fun at the Bear Grylls Survival Academy in the Sani Resort in northern Greece, where they’ll learn shelter building, how to scavenge wild food, navigation by the stars and enjoy an evening around a camp fire.
Or take a family course with children aged eight and above and make spears and rafts, and track and catch your dinner.
The academy is new to the resort in Halkidiki, which also features football coaching in association with Chelsea Football Club and tennis lessons at the Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre.
Book: A week’s half-board for a family of three costs from £5,075 with flights (sovereign.com). Bear Grylls sessions are €40 a day, football academy is €95 a day and tennis from €250 for five daily 90-minute lessons.
Hot stuff in the Azores
Kayak in a volcanic crater lake at Sete Cidades in the Azores as part of a full-day jeep tour
The geological hotspot that is the Azores is a great place for kids to experience the geographic features they’ll learn about in the classroom – but much more fun.
Kayak in a volcanic crater lake at Sete Cidades as part of a full-day jeep tour, where you’ll explore smoking fumaroles and bubbling hot springs and go caving in grottoes formed from solidified lava.
There’s also time for whale watching and swimming with dolphins. Add on coasteering – a fun scramble along the wild coastline – and you have an amazing family adventure, returning each night to the Grand Hotel Acores Atlantico in Ponta Delgada. An added bonus? It’s way cheaper than similar trips to Iceland.
Book: Six days with flights via Lisbon, activities and car hire, costs from £1,125pp (bushbabytravel.com).
Waves of fun in France
If you’d rather stay close to home, nip over the Channel for a break at this waterside retreat on the border of Normandy and Picardy.
Domaine du Lieu Dieu has floating wooden water cabins sleeping four, some with hot tubs. There are onsite activities including horse riding, paddle boarding and boating, and you can go sand yachting or seal watching on the wide open stretches of nearby beaches.
It’s just over an hour and a half from Calais, and there are yurts, wagons and cottages to stay in, too.
Book: Three nights for four from €489 (lieudieu.com).
On your bike in Majorca
Explore the idyllic beaches and salt flats of the Migjorn region, located in the southern part of Majorca. Pictured is Cala Pi
Explore the lanes and cycle paths of the quieter, southern part of Majorca.
Starting at the idyllic beaches and salt flats of the Migjorn region, head towards the rural heart of the island through the rolling plains of Es Pla.
The terrain is largely flat and you’ll cover between eight to 23 miles a day, with options for shorter or more challenging routes.
Book: Six nights’ half-board from £945 per adult and £728 per child, with luggage transfer between accommodation, cycle hire but not flights (inntravel.co.uk). E-bikes are available for £70 extra.
Swim with whales in Dominica
There’s plenty to do Dominica, including abseiling down waterfalls and swimming with sperm whales
Dominica is the Jurassic Park of the Caribbean, with lush rainforest, volcanoes and national parks rarely visited by UK tourists. And it’s a great place for an active holiday, hiking to the ‘boiling’ lake in the Morne Trois Pitons National Park with its fumaroles, hot springs, lakes and volcanoes, abseiling down the waterfalls or even swimming with sperm whales in the surrounding sea. The last option isn’t cheap – it’s a real bucket-list activity – but you’ll remember it for ever.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B at the Fort Young Hotel And Dive Resort from £1,795pp with flights via Barbados (steppestravel.com). Or spend a week on a private catamaran with three days’ swimming with whales, three scuba dives and three land tours from £4,125pp with flights (diversetravel.co.uk).
The wild side of Canada
Start a 13-night tour of Canada in Toronto, above, where a private guide will take you around the city
If your children get a two-week half-term break and are either vaccinated or under 12, head across the Atlantic to see autumn colours at their best.
This 13-night tour starts in Toronto with a private guide to take you around the city, before you pick up a car to hit the road and explore the forests and waterways around Lake Huron. There’s plenty of hiking, cycling and fishing along the way, with nights in cottages and rustic hotels.
The trip ends with two nights in a tented camp on the shores of Lake Ontario in Algonquin Provincial Park, home to moose, beavers and white-tailed deer.
Book: 13 nights’ B&B with flights and car hire from £4,300pp (originaltravel.co.uk).
Gorge walking in Crete
The dramatic Samaria Gorge is only a few feet wide in some places, where its sides seemingly reach to the sky. It makes a scenic full-day hike.
You can also cycle the foothills of the White Mountains, through olive and orange groves, walk to the fishing village of Loutro and try sea kayaking at Sfakion. There’s plenty of time to explore the old town and Venetian harbour of Chania and to relax on the beach.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B costs from £4,880pp with flights and activities included (stubbornmuletravel.com).
Fun on the Catalonian coast
Rock and stroll: The beach at Calella de Palafrugell in Catalonia
Enjoy an active holiday at the family-run Hotel Garbi, based in the fishing village of Calella de Palafrugell where the rocky coastline has plenty of small coves to explore. There are numerous fully researched, self-guided walking and cycling routes, and a complimentary bike for each guest’s exclusive use.
Cycle to Palafrugell, which has daily food markets and a cork museum, or walk to the lighthouse of Sant Sebastian, continuing to the little resort of Tamariu.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B costs from £1,179pp with flights and bike hire included (headwater.com).
Take it easy in Cyprus
You’ll still get temperatures in the high 20s in October in Cyprus, so you don’t have to go long-haul for a simple beach holiday.
The Columbia Beach Resort in Pissouri on the south coast is on a long Blue Flag beach. You can hire a mountain bike to explore or take advantage of the hotel’s pools (there’s a heated indoor one too) five restaurants, kids’ club and spa. Activities include everything from archery to aerobics and boules to basketball.
Book: A week’s B&B at the Columbia Beach Resort costs from £2,142pp with flights (sunvil.co.uk).
The magic of Morocco
Enjoy the hectic bustle of the souks in Marrakesh (pictured) before joining a guided trek into the Atlas Mountains
Explore the souks of Marrakesh and visit the Djemaa El Fna square at dusk with its snake charmers, story tellers and exotic food stalls.
Then join a guided trek into the Atlas Mountains, with donkeys to carry your kit. A final stop takes in the fortified seaside town of Essaouira, with kite surfing and camel rides across the sand.
This trip is tailor-made so you can add-on activities or extra nights, or trim it if your children get only a week at half-term.
Book: Ten nights’ B&B costs from £1,375pp including flights (originaltravel.co.uk).
An odyssey in Sicily
From the Minareto hotel you can take a boat across the stunning bay to explore the historical centre of Syracuse. Stroll past the ancient buildings, including a cathedral that was originally built as the Temple of Athena with Greek doric columns, elements of the Norman period and a Baroque facade.
Back at the hotel there are 97 rooms, including some modern suites with private pools, as well as a beach in the protected marine reserve.
Book: Seven nights’ B&B costs from £1,099pp with flights (britishairways.com).
Pictured is an aerial view of Saaremaa, the largest island in the Estonian archipelago
While others are flocking to the Canaries or Crete, take a Baltic island-hopping tour instead.
Starting in the fairy-tale medieval city of Tallinn, drive to Lahemaa National Park to explore magnificent waterfalls, forests and lakes.
A ferry ride to Muhu island and a land bridge crossing takes you to Saaremaa, the largest island in the Estonian archipelago, with its impressive limestone cliffs and a medieval church.
Another ferry from the mainland takes you to Kihnu island – known as the Island of Women due to its seafaring and fishing traditions which keep the menfolk away for long periods.
Book: Six nights’ B&B costs from £876pp (baltictravelcompany.com).
- All trips and prices are for the week from October 23 unless otherwise stated. All the countries allow UK holidaymakers but requirements may vary for non-vaccinated visitors. Check the latest details at gov.uk.
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