The best autumn breaks in Europe and beyond
Escape the onset of darker autumn nights with a city break or holiday abroad - with plenty of post-summer discounts
Catch some autumn sun in Malta
A favourite shoulder season (between peak and off-peak) destination, the Algarve has dramatic cliffs, castles, diving spots, golden sandy beaches, and charming bars and restaurants. It also offers excellent value, from three stars and up.
Budget Travel has seven nights in a studio apartment, with balcony at the three-star Mirachoro in Praia Da Rocha, including flights and a departure date of October 10th for just €178pps, including flights with Ryanair (budgettravel.ie). Or head up-market and for the five star Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort Hotel in Albufeira, on a bed and breakfast basis with flights, for seven nights and direct flights with Aer Lingus, departing on October 19th, for €422pps with Click&Go (clickandgo.com).
Travel Department trips are great for those who like everything laid on, for solo travellers, and for those who are feeling social. With shoulder season departures for Tenerife throughout September and October, a seven night break, full board in a four star hotel costs from €679 including return flights out of Dublin, transfers and a range of guided excursions to choose from, including to Mount Teide (traveldepartment.ie).
Switzerland: Grand Tour
Go free and easy in Switzerland, with a Grand Tour itinerary that lets you drive your own (hire) car through the mountains, with stops along the way. The full Grand Tour, with eight overnight stays (plus breakfast) in Zürich, St Gallen, Davos, Lugano, Zermatt, Montreux, Gstaad and Lucerne, plus a VW Golf 5 to get you between your destinations costs from CHF1,322 (about €1,156) excluding flights.
See slopes of vineyards at harvest time (and sample their wares), find cows being driven off the mountains to more sheltered slopes, and stop at some tantalising places to eat. You’ll also get maps, a guide, and coupons for dining and experiences en route. Shorter itineraries also available. Direct flights from Dublin to Zürich with Aer Lingus from €123 (aerlingus.com/myswitzerland.ie).
Autumn in France is wine time, and the unbelievably beautiful Les Sources de Caudalie, and the surrounding vineyards of family winery Château Smith Haute Lafitte, has to be one of the nicest spots to enjoy it.
The In the Steps of the Wine Maker package includes two nights in a prestige room, meals, including one at the Michelin two-star la Grand Vigne, wine tastings and a workshop in the vineyards. From €1,600 for two, Wednesday-Sunday, between September 19th and October 31st. Dublin-Bordeaux on Aer Lingus from €90 return (aerlingus.com/sources-caudalie.com).
Steeped in history, and with amazing churches, little rocky coves, sandy beaches, fabulous castles and the whole history of the Knights Templar, Malta is a great pick for September and October. It gets a little chillier come November and December, and the days are shorter, but there’s much more to Malta than lying by the pool. With direct flights from Dublin, Budget Travel has seven nights in a one-bedroom apartment on a bed and breakfast basis for €396 per person, departing on September 18th (budgettravel.ie).
Or wait until November, and get the four star Pergola at pretty Mellieha Bay for just €259, including flights with Click&Go. Mellieha Bay has a lovely beach, and is close to the ferry port to explore the island of Gozo. Go even fancier again at the five star Sliema Palace for €499 in November, also with Click&Go (clickandgo.com).
Europe long stay
Watching prices come down from September onwards could inspire some creative thinking in those who don’t have to spend all winter in Ireland.
The five star Grande Real Santa Eulalia Resort Hotel in Albufeira is just €422 pps for a week in October (see above), but it comes right down to €279 in November, again including flights (see clickandgo.com). Sunsearch Holidays has the Hostal El Nogal in Malaga for three weeks, departing on November 3rd, room only including flights for two adults at €480 per person (sunsearchhoildays.ie).
Go for even longer with Budget Travel, where a search gives you two months in Lanzarote at the three star Diamar, overlooking Reducto beach, including flights for €2,312 per person, which is probably less than you could make for renting out your house. It’s also worth contacting hotels directly to ask for long -stay rates. You could also consider a house swap and, while the website and app for rentals of at least one month’s duration, Spot A Home (spotahome.com) is more city based, there are also some intriguing spots there, including Seville, Porto, Valencia and Barcelona.
US: Santa Monica
You’ll find Santa Monica oddly familiar, even if you’ve never visited before. That’s because the pretty town and its pier have had starring roles in film and TV from Charlie’s Angels to Iron Man, Star Trek to Forrest Gump. Temperatures are around the mid-20s, and there’s a laid-back atmosphere that’s a world away from LA’s east-coast cousin, New York.
Uniquely for LA, you won’t need a car as Santa Monicans like to cycle, walk and rollerblade. Find great shops, amazing food, and use it as a base to explore further into the City of Angels. The Casa del Mar is one of only two hotels right on the beach, and has prices to match (from $550/€469, hotelcasadelmar.com), but you’ll find better value inland, and direct flights from Dublin to LAX in September start at approximately €500 round trip with Aer Lingus (aerlingus.ie/santamonica.com).
With average temperatures of 30 degrees during September and October, Queensland is an ultimate getaway for sun seekers, with added treats for those with a love of the great outdoors. Stay at the Lady Elliot Island Resort to explore wildlife, the lagoon and the Great Barrier Reef.
It’s an eco-conscious resort, so you can assuage any residual air-miles guilt by taking in their dedicated Climate Change Trail and Tour around the island. Austravel has a five-day Rainforest and Reef Discovery package to Lady Elliot and Fraser Island from €1,000 based on two sharing. Price includes two nights at Lady Elliot Island in a Reef Unit with return internal flights, and two nights at Kingfisher Bay in a Resort Room with catamaran transfers. International flights not included (austravel.com).
Direct flights from Dublin make Qatar an interesting option for some shoulder season sunshine. Expect temperatures in the mid-20s, and with low humidity. The adventurous action is beyond the city, where you can take a desert safari, get up close and personal with camels, zip across the dunes in a 4x4, and stop off at Khor Al Adaid (the inland sea), right in the middle of the desert, where you can paddle board, kayak and get your moonlight thrills in the mangrove forest. Hayes and Jarvis has a four-night holiday to Qatar from €1,859, staying at the five star Banana Island Resort, Doha. Price includes return flights from Dublin with Qatar Airways and transfers (hayesandjarvis.ie).
Renowned as one of the best preserved cities in Morocco, Fez is the ideal short-haul destination with a long-haul flavour. Explore the medina, so dense and packed it’s the world’s largest car-free urban area, discover the markets, workshops, ancient ruins and a city alive with colour, noise and the smells of spices. Speaking of smells, they’ll give you mint to hold under your nose when you visit the Chouara Tannery, were leather is preserved and dyed. Afterwards, soak up some sweeter smells at the Givenchy Spa at the Hotel Sahrai, where rooms start at €189 per night (hotelsahrai.com). Fly via Paris or Rome.
With a new direct route from Dublin to Beijing with Hainan Airlines, at about €600 return (hainanairlines.com), it’s a good time to explore China’s famous city. Temperatures in September range from 15-26 degrees, dropping in October to highs of 19. Visit the Forbidden City, the Silk Market, and the Temple of Heaven, before setting off to walk the Great Wall. If you’re thinking that the sky is the limit for a trip of a lifetime, the Peninsula Beijing starts at €275 a night, for this all-suite hotel (peninsula.com).
Terms and conditions will apply to all the offers detailed above, so check websites for final details.