Family holidays in October half term

By Amanda Statham, Editor

October half-term week is going to be particularly busy in 2021 with travel restrictions and testing requirements being eased. Fortunately, there are plenty of options, whatever your budget and the ages of your children. All the travel companies featured on this page are personally recommended by our editors. Click the links below for details of prices and rebooking terms.

* Did you know you can save up to 40% on holiday prices? See all the latest deals.We publish new deals most weeks and you can get them delivered to your inbox by entering your email address below.

Quick links

UKMediterraneanRest of EuropeLong haul

October half term holiday fun

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. You could rent a cottage in the Cotswolds.

i-escape has some love quirky self-catering ideas across the UK including  Augill Castle, a 19th-Century folly in Cumbria. You could explore Brecon Beacons National Park, staying in one of these family-friendly cottages.

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.

For activities focussed on teenagers, try this selection of active holidays including ghyll scrambling, mountaineering and abseiling in the Lake District.

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.

Another option is to pack the kids off to camp. Kingswood Camps has locations in Norfolk, Kent and North Wales with challenging activities from mountain karting to quad-biking.

See my full guide to the best family activity holidays.

Tennis holiday in October half term

Autumn half term holidays in the Mediterranean

Italy’s agriturismos are great for families: outstanding value, warm and welcoming and a wonderful way to explore nature in a sustainable way. This agriturismo in southeast Sicily is a fine example. See a full collection of rural hideaways.

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.

In Greece, the MarBella Corfu is a luxury hotel dedicated to happy family holidays. It has water sports on the beach along with extensive child care options, including a creche for babies and toddlers and classes in robotics and pottery for older kids.

Sardinia combines great beaches, charming hotels and Italian style. Among the best places to stay is Chia Laguna Resort.

For budget options in Cyprus, try this collection of characterful places to stay which includes a boutique guesthouse and these self-catering suites, both in lovely rural settings.

Active teens can go tubing down a gorge in Turkey or diving on the Maltese island of Gozo – see the full selection of active holidays.

You’ll find warm temperatures on Turkey’s Aegean coast where you can stay in a luxury villa with private pool or a family-friendly hotel such as the Kalkan Regency. For big groups, check out Korsan Kuzey.

Also in Turkey, Mark Warner’s new Phokaia Beach Resort has a great selection of activities on tap including tutored watersports, tennis and mountain biking.

Or you could rent a luxury villa with private pool – the best include Quinta d’Alegria which is close to Nick Faldo’s Amendoeiras golf course and even has its own tennis court.

It’s not too late in the season to rent a villa in Spain. Find my recommendations in MallorcaCatalunya 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. This can work out a lot less expensive than you might think. See the latest special offers.

And if you want to splash out, see Sir Richard Branson’s new Son Bunyola estate in Mallorca.

Half term holidays elsewhere in Europe

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.

Do you love tennis? Take the kids to the five-star Pine Cliffs on the Algarve for a  tennis holiday with professional coaching at the Annabel Croft academy.

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.

Arguably the best way to explore a city is to rent a family apartment and go self-catering. You’ll enjoy a lot more space, privacy and freedom than you would at most hotels, and pay a lot less. The team at i-escape.com 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.

Long haul holidays in October half term

For a burst of tropical beaches, head to Mauritius. Direct overnight flights and only a three-hour time difference make it ideal for a half-term break. Try the contemporary-styled Lux* resorts or the all-inclusive Beachcomber Hotels with their free kids clubs.

In the Caribbean, Beaches Resorts have a dazzling selection of water sports included in the price, from tubing and water skiing to “snuba” and paddleboarding.

A six-hour flight gets you to the Arabian Gulf where you can expect temperatures of 35ºC and 10 hours of daily sunshine in late October. There’s a baffling choice of hotels, but I recommend Abu Dhabi where you can get some great deals from around £500 including flights. See the latest deals.

Many families who’ve done Dubai are heading now to Oman which has desert dunes, historic forts, 4X4 adventures and turtle beaches. Best places to stay include the Al Waha and the spectacular Six Senses Zighy Bay.

It’s a great time of year to visit Sri Lanka before the start of the peak season. This luxury family holiday combines high adventure with classy accommodation while families with teenagers will love this Family Adventure.

In Morocco, the specialist tour operator Fleewinter has a great selection of family holidays including this popular private tour which takes in Marrakech, the Essaouira coast and the Atlas Mountains.

For a bit of playground one-upmanship, how about a malaria free safari in South Africa. This 7-night Cape Town and Eastern Cape trip has been tailor-made to squeeze into half-term week without the need for days off school.

It’s also a great time of year to explore Madagascar where you can track lemurs on a night walking safari.

And you can just about squeeze in a 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.

Find more half term holiday ideas, or visit the homepage for more family holidays.

Last updated: 21 September 2021

* Did you know you can save up to 40% on holiday prices? See all the latest deals.We publish new deals most weeks and you can get them delivered to your inbox by entering your email address below.

Before you book

Travel guidelines and advice are changing constantly amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Check the latest travel restrictions for UK residents.