Family holidays in October half term
By Mark Frary, Editor of 101 Family Holidays
Looking for family holidays in October half term? I have compiled some exciting ideas for you and your family both at home and abroad, whatever your budget. I have recommendations for families with children of all ages from Year 1 through to teenagers.
October half term holidays in the UK
Even if the UK doesn’t luck out with a long Indian Summer, it does have some great places to stay in October. The Sands Resort Hotel in Cornwall has plenty of indoor activities and facilities, especially well suited to younger children. Take (or rent) wet suits and try your hand at surfing too – the hotel is right on Watergate Bay.
If you prefer the freedom of a self-catering holiday, Classic Cottages has the pick of family-friendly houses in Cornwall. Alternatively, you could go glamping at gorgeous Trevella Park, or stay in a log cabin at Gwel an Mor, a five-star wood-built resort in Cornwall.
Sheepskin has some wonderful (and unusual) cottages for families including Hawkesmoor Barn, which has panoramic views of the Peak District National Park, and for very active families, Spring Barn in Snowdonia. There’s no half-term supplement either – Sheepskin charge the same price year round.
The kids adventure specialist PGL – affectionately known as “Parents Get Lost” – also runs family adventure breaks across the UK from just £145 per adult and £125 per child including accommodation, meals and activities (raft-building, zip-lining, quad-biking and abseiling). It also hosts half-term camps for children aged 7 – 17.
If you fancy renting a thatched cottage or a grand country house but the dog must come too, Rural Retreats has a wide choice of places throughout the UK that permit pets. See their dog-friendly properties.
I defy any child not to adore the Merton Hotel on Jersey in the Channel Islands. It has a weather-proof Aquadome complete with swimming pools, slides and fountains, a large outdoor pool complex with a learn-to-surf Flowrider – plus spacious family suites and serviced apartments, four family-friendly restaurants, evening entertainment.
If your kids are excited about Halloween, check out Family Twist which has an imaginative range of Halloween trips and holidays in London, as well as Paris and Rome.
See my full guide to the best family activity holidays.
Autumn half term holidays in the Mediterranean
Ideally in October you want to head as far south as possible. One of Greece’s southernmost islands, Crete is a good bet. With their own private pool, Cachet Travel’s Pendamodi Villas are in a delightful countryside setting with a hire car thrown in so you can explore at leisure.
If a luxury hotel is more your style, head to Verdura in Sicily. Or consider Cyprus where both the five-star Anassa and Almyra hotels have an exclusive Scott Dunn Explorers children’s club for ages 4 months up to 13 years.
The Algarve tends to enjoy fine weather long into the autumn. The Martinhal Beach Resort & Hotel on the Western Algarve is stylish and family-friendly with lots of activities for kids and a stunning beach all set within a national park.
In Greece, the Westin Resort Costa Navarino has an unusually high repeat rate with families. Facilities include water slides, bowling alley, adventure playground, two golf courses, mountain biking, open air cinema and a range of water sports from paddle boarding to scuba-diving.
Also on the Greek mainland, the Sani Resort is a superb family destination set on an ecological reserve with a gently shelving sandy beach, excellent childcare and sporting facilities. There are three hotels within the resort, the most popular of which for families is the Sani Beach Hotel.
On the French island of Corsica, the San Lucianu Beach Resort has a great selection of activities on tap including tutored watersports, tennis and mountain biking.
It’s not too late in the season to rent a villa in Spain. Find my recommendations in Mallorca, Catalunya and lovely Sitges near Barcelona. Also try South West France, the Dordogne and Provence. If you get together with friends you could rent an entire chateau in France.
And if you want to splash out, see Sir Richard Branson’s new Son Bunyola estate in Mallorca.
Half term holidays elsewhere in Europe
Arguably the closest destination with guaranteed sunshine in October is the Canary Islands. One of our top tips for families is the new Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife. It’s a fun, lively places to stay with cool decor, pop-up events, lots of live music, poolside parades and activities. There are also children’s clubs for all ages, from a creche to a teens club with X-box and cinema.
If your kids love bikes, take an independent family cycling holiday with Inntravel, to explore one of Europe’s most scenic regions. Get an itinerary to fit your individual needs, plus maps and a hotel booked each night. Your luggage is transported each day to the next hotel.
Inntravel also has a great range of activity holidays in Spain including walking in Catalonia where each day your luggage is transported to your next hotel (which will have a swimming pool). There are also lots of chances for dips in the sea as you go.
Iceland is an incredibly exciting destination and it’s only a short flight from the UK. In late October you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights and you can take a trip off-road in a Superjeep to explore Iceland’s natural wonders either on the South Coast or in the Golden Circle.
For a short break with young children, you can explore Paris on a bespoke private tour and enjoy family activities such as treasure hunts at the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, a scooter ride around the Eiffel Tower or a lesson in making baguettes and classic French pastries. Details from Family Twist which also has family-friendly trips to Rome and Florence.
Arguably the best way to explore a city is to rent a family apartment and go self-catering. The team at i-escape have some cracking ideas including a loft in Paris, a canal boat in Amsterdam, a stylish apartment in Lisbon and a designer home in Barcelona.
Or head to Holland, where Efteling is Europe’s third largest theme park set in beautiful natural parkland. It has a great selection of rides and attractions and – it claims – the world’s only talking tree.
Long haul luxury holidays in October half term
A six-hour flight gets you to Dubai where you can expect temperatures of 35ºC and 10 hours of daily sunshine. There’s a baffling choice of hotels, but I recommend the One and Only Royal Mirage for ages 4-11 while teenagers absolutely love the Atlantis, The Palm, which has its own Aquaventure Waterpark, and the top-selling Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, which has endless activities from a climbing wall to a cinema, and free entry to the Wild Wadi Water Park.
In the Caribbean, Antigua is only an eight-hour flight away with short transfer times once you arrive. Stay at the all-inclusive Verandah Resort & Spa with activities geared for all ages including those hard-to-please teenagers – and low season prices.
Antigua is also home to Carlisle Bay, one of the most chic hotels in the region. Children from 6 months upwards are made very welcome with all sorts of special touches for the grown-ups as well as younger guests. The beach is text book white sand tropical idyll. Also consider these all-inclusive hotels in Barbados – popular choices for families include the Almond Beach Resort which has ten pools, a nine-hole golf course, water sports, a nursery for under-2s and kids clubs for 2 to 13-year-olds and a teen club.
If you want more than sun and sand, I recommend The Family Adventure Company who offer really creative itineraries crafted to suit different age groups and interests. They include destinations such as India, Cuba, China and a safari in Kenya. Tourdust has some great trips designed with teenagers in mind including the Laikipia Wilderness Camp in Kenya.
For a bit of playground one-upmanship, how about a horse-riding safari in South Africa. It’s pricey but perfectly feasible in a week with no jetlag and no anti-malarials required. Aardvark Safaris will ensure you are perfectly matched to the right camp according to your experience and children’s ages – Ant’s Hill and Ant’s Nest are the most popular. You can also take a more conventional malaria free safari in South Africa.
October is a great time to visit Tanzania where you can enjoy a safari and beach holiday starting with a stay at Selous Impala Camp. You will sleep in a family tent and see elephant, lion, giraffe and hippo – then it’s off to the coast, staying at Breezes Beach Club, a friendly hotel with cottages dotted along a stunning beach.
You could just about squeeze in a quick trip to Vietnam – a fascinating and friendly country with stacks of ancient and recent history, thrilling cities, great food and endless beaches. Check out the weather in October.
Last updated: 13 February 2017