Where to go for Mediterranean sun this autumn

Seville’s Plaza de Espana – tupungato/iStockphoto

The world of travel has suddenly become brighter. Last week’s removal of several destinations from the red list, the ending of pre-departure tests and – at the end of October – replacing day two PCR tests with lateral flow tests has made a huge difference to our choice of destinations and in reducing the costs and stresses of travel.

But it has come very late in the season – this time of year is normally considered the last gasp for sun-seekers in the Med. But how late can you realistically expect to enjoy a warm sunny holiday without travelling long haul?

Weather, of course – especially in a time of global warming – is never completely predictable. But it’s a pretty safe rule that most of the Mediterranean, including the South of France, basks in warm and sunny weather for at least another couple of weeks. As I write this, the forecast for Nice for the next seven days is for sunny weather and 25C highs.

Obviously, that won’t last forever. The Mediterranean summer tends to break at some point in October, with a few days of rain and wind. That doesn’t mean that there might not be more benign, settled weather well into November, but from the beginning of next month the risks of picking a bad week increase rapidly.

The further south you head, however, the later the weather tends to break. So, if you want to make the most of our new travel opportunities, choose your destination carefully. Here are 10 of the best bets for late season sun less than five hours away.

Coral Bay Beach, Paphos – iStockphoto

1. Cyprus

Nowhere in the Med does the summer warmth cling on longer and more reliably than in Cyprus, which still gets nine hours of sunshine a day, temperatures peaking at 77F (25C) in October and 70F (21C) in November and the sea, after a long hot summer, is like a warm bath. It’s true to say that much of the coastal ­development is not subtly done, but the far west of the island, and especially the Akamas peninsula and the inland villages, are still largely ­unspoilt. Paphos is the most attractive of the large Cypriot resorts, Limassol the liveliest. Try Sunvil (sunvil.co.uk).

2. Sicily

Sicily is supreme among Mediterranean islands whether you are looking for a beach, villa or cultural holiday, or a combination of all three. It has some of the greatest archaeological sights anywhere, outstanding museums and cathedrals, and a spectacular landscape and coastline. It is also so far south that it enjoys a reliably warm autumn: either for staying by the pool or for exploring the Greek and Roman ruins of the east and south, and the great Norman sights of Palermo and Cefalu. Try The Thinking Traveller (thethinkingtraveller.com).

Palermo, Sicily – Simone De Negri / EyeEm

3. Puglia

The heel of Italy can’t quite, in my view, compete with the ­cultural attractions of Sicily. But it does have some wonderful places to stay – especially the old ­masserias (fortified manor houses), which have been converted into five-star hotels and a growing selection of villas, and the food and wine isn’t bad either. October’s averages peak at about 70F (21C), but it does cool a little in November (63F/17C), so don’t leave your break until too late in the year. Try Oliver’s Travels (oliverstravels.com).

4. Crete

Greece’s biggest island also has the longest summer and the mildest climate. The south coast is the warmest, but if you are interested in days out, the key Minoan ruins, ­including Knossos and most points of cultural interest are on the north coast, where you can expect daily highs of 72F (22C) in October and 66F (19C) in November. Try Pure Crete (purecrete.com).

Knossos Palace, Crete – Vladimir_Timofeev/iStockphoto

5. Lanzarote

Not in the Mediterranean of course, but this is the pick of the bigger Canary Islands. The south coast around Playa Blanca has the best beaches and, with temperatures around 77F (25C) in October and 72F (22C) in November, it’s still warm enough to enjoy them. Try Cachet Travel (cachet-travel.co.uk).

6. Bodrum and the Turquoise coast

Now Turkey is back on the travel agenda, this corner of south-west of Turkey is a good option. It stays hot through ­October (daily highs of 75F/24C) and the skies remain virtually cloudless with eight hours of sunshine a day. It’s a bit milder in November (66F/19C with six hours of sun), but still balmy enough to make it one of the warmest destinations in the Med. Try First Choice (firstchoice.co.uk).

Bodrum, Turkey – Alexandra Goldbach / EyeEm

7. Marrakech

Marrakech has an idyllic and very reliable late-autumn climate that, although it doesn’t count as a beach destination, it makes for an excellent holiday in the sun. It stays seriously hot (81F/27C) through October, so you might even want to leave your trip until November, when the ­temperature peaks are rather lower at 72F (22C). Try CV Villas (cvvillas.com).

8. Tenerife

The biggest and most popular Canary Island is a safe bet both in terms of the huge choice and high standards of hotels and the weather. It’s a year-round destination, but arguably autumn is the best time to visit, with highs of 75F (24C) in ­October and 70F (21C) in November. The only thing you might baulk at is the four-and-a-half-hour flight to get there. Try Tui (tui.co.uk).

Teide National Park – Balate Dorin/iStockphoto

9. Madeira

There is a reason that Madeira is such a green and pleasant ­island – it does get a certain amount of rain blowing in from the Atlantic. But it is also a long way south and stays warm throughout the year with daily highs about 72F (22C) and five hours of sunshine a day on the south-east coast in November. It’s not a beach destination, of course (go to the neighbouring Portuguese island of Porto Santo for those) and there are few villas. But take your pick from some excellent hotels and reacquaint yourself with the feeling of luxuriating lazily by the pool. Try Kuoni (kuoni.co.uk).

10. Andalucia

The south of Spain is the mildest part of mainland Europe and summer weather can cling on here well into November. If you prefer the coast, then the Costa del Sol still manages daytime peaks of 72F (22C) in October, though November is noticeably cooler at 64F (18C). As well as the coastline, it also has the advantage of the sights of Ronda, Malaga and Granada within an hour or two’s drive. If you prefer the idea of a sunny city break, then Seville is significantly ­hotter (79F/26C in October and 68F/20C in November). Try Vintage Travel (vintagetravel.co.uk) for villas.

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