October is the ideal time to get away for that final blast of sunshine and to avoid the many summer revellers that the school holidays bring. Not only do the throngs of tourists thin – allowing you to enjoy the sights without queuing, and to easily get a spot at the beach without having to get up at the crack of dawn – cooler autumn days are perfect for walking and exploring without exhausting yourself from the sweltering heat that the summer brings. Another bonus is that most hotels lower their rates, which means more money to spend on having fun. With this in mind, here’s our pick of IDEAL destinations to beat the heat and the crowds this October.
THE GREEK ISLANDS
If you’re searching for some sunshine, the more southerly of the small Greek Islands (Dodecanese and Cyclades) are still warm and sun kissed well into October. The Dodecanese islands are known for their medieval ruins, Byzantine churches, ancient archaeological sites and of course their beautiful beaches. Rhodes, the island group’s historical capital, with its maze of cobbled streets and atmospheric old town, is perfect for culture vultures or those in search of a buzzing nightlife. You can fly direct from London and hassle-free transport from Rhodes airport makes it ideal for a weekend getaway. Kos has some of the best beaches and the far-flung island of Kastellorizo has become an escape for the cool and arty. Pick any of these islands or better yet, do some island hopping and discover them all.
Ridiculously reasonable, quick flights, an easily accessible, walkable city with incredible food – an autumn getaway in Copenhagen is one of life’s great pleasures. It’s the ideal place for an impromptu, no-fuss getaway and the time of year where you can really experience the hygge atmosphere the Danes are famous for. Think cozy, candlelit cafes and inviting restaurants and outdoor venues with flickering fires. Mid-October sees Copenhagen’s Culture Night which the whole city partakes in. On this night, which happens once a year and attracts visitors from all over the country, the streets come alive. Outdoor art installations pop up around the city and museums, art galleries and political and cultural institutions all open their doors and let you get behind the scenes. Last year we visited Torvehallerne market on this night and spent the evening enjoying free, freshly shucked oysters and samples of cold ales in front of a roaring fire pit while learning about where the produce is grown and sourced from. It was a fabulous evening. All Culture Night events require a Culture Pass which costs DKK 95 and can be purchased in all 7-Eleven stores.
October in Sardinia is a time which sees the temperature cooling in the evening and the sea at its warmest. This is best of both worlds, as a pleasant night’s sleep awaits after a long, languid dip. With children back to school, the lower season extends to the prices in many of the bars and restaurants and the less crowded vibes of the island’s fantastic beaches. Ditto plane tickets, which are considerably more reasonable than the summer months. Sardinia is a foodie’s dream, and October sees in a new round of seasonality driven dishes. Suckling pig takes centre stage, alongside vegetables and fruit of a more Autumnal hue. Finally, this is the month for street festivals – and we’re not talking ones aimed at the tourist influx. Whilst not exactly celebrating the fewer visitors to the island, the traditional street festivals of early Autumn have a far more authentic, local bent and are all the better for it.
Paphos in October is just fantastic. The days are still warm and sunny with crisp blue skies, but the evenings are cool and refreshing. The buzzing party crowds that the summer attracts are long gone and the vibe is relaxed and friendly. This part of Cyprus is home to some beautiful beaches and a must-visit is Coral Bay which lies north of Paphos. With a stunning strip of white sand and the warm Mediterranean Sea lapping its shore, it’s the ideal spot to soak up the late summer sun.
If you’re after some culture the sun-bleached remains of The Kato Paphos Archaeological Park which is a UNESCO World heritage site should be on your to-do list, as should The Tombs of the Kings, where the last High Officials (not actual Kings) rest. You’re in Cyprus so you simply must eat meze. The premier Paphos place for meze is Seven St Georges – order Kleftiko, Souvla, Souvlaki, Sheftalia some Koupepia and of course lots of grilled Halloumi and in a matter of seconds your table will overflow with a plethora of dishes to be shared and enjoyed. The trick is to eat little and often throughout the day so your stomach has been stretched a little before the feast. Whatever you do, don’t fast thinking you’ll have more room for your meze as quite the opposite happens and you’ll be full after a few mouthfuls.
Brilliant sunshine, warm temperatures and a buzzing atmosphere makes Seville one of the best places to visit in October. Seville lies in ‘the frying pan of spain’ and in spring the temperatures usually hit around 35C and in July can reach a staggering 45C, so visiting at any other time of year seems silly unless you want to be baked alive. For foodies, Seville is the ideal destination as it’s home to some of Spain’s and indeed the world’s best tapas bars. Make time to indulge in the art of Tapeo – in other words a tapas crawl, hopping from one tapas bar to the next and drinking lots of Fino sherry.
You can find wonderful tapas bars anywhere in Barrio de Santa Cruz which is a labyrinth of narrow streets and interesting alleys, however don’t just stay in this area. Delve deep into Seville’s lively neighbourhood of Alameda de Hercules, which is one of our favourite areas. With a bohemian vibe and a myriad of different types of terraces and bars, it is unlike anywhere else in the city. We recommend Arte y Sabor which serves up some great vegetarian and vegan dishes (the tempura vegetables are done especially well) and Al Aljibe is great for meat eaters and has a beautiful courtyard. Also, don’t just stick to your usual tapas dishes that can be found anywhere, branch out and try regional specialties including ajo blanco (almond soup), salmorejo-style tomato soup and crisp deep-fried aubergine fritters with honey.