Still not had an overseas summer holiday? Do you fancy bagging a last-minute bargain now that the UK heatwave has cooled off?
As we approach the end of the school holidays you may think that you’ve missed out on the chance of finding a cheap holiday before the kids go back to school. Well think again. Here are our tips for great value breaks returning before 4 September.
Getting a decent week or fortnight away in the guaranteed sunshine destinations of the Mediterranean during the school holidays can be a nightmare, with favourite hotels selling out and prices rocketing the closer it gets to the dreaded ‘school’s out’ date.
If you are happy to play it cool, however, and are not as fussy about where you go or what hotel you stay in, there are still bargains to be had. So if you are happy to take the risk of being a last-minute shopper, there is always the chance that some tour operators will have excess stock and start to discount the holidays heavily the closer it gets to the departure date.
For those who have been enjoying the UK’s most consostently glorious summer in recent memory, it may seem like you don’t need to get away. However, the best of the heatwave seems to have passed, so if the hot weather has given you a taste of what it would be like to be hitting the beach in foreign climes then it’s time to book that break away.
So, passports at the ready, get your suitcase half-packed and be ready to take off at a day or two’s notice – last-minute bargain-hunting is fun and exciting – you never know where you may end up before the week is out.
Apart from taking a chance on a last-minute destination, departing from regional airports can make a big difference when looking for bargains. Here are some of the best deals in the coming week or two.
All prices correct at the time of writing and available to book through the Directline Holidays late deals calendar. The cost is per person based on two sharing, for a week’s holiday on a room only basis unless otherwise stated.
Best price – £360 departing from Cardiff on 27 August , staying at the 4-star Portals Palace Hotel
A four-star Balearics break for under £400 in August? The return flight arrives into Cardiff at 4.20am on Wednesday 4 September, which may be just in time to get the kids to school though not an ideal time of day to get them home before the new term. However, if you aren’t travelling with young ones it’s a great peak season deal.
Situated southwest of the capital Palma de Mallorca in the resort of Portals Nous, the Portals Palace Hotel has a lovely outdoor swimming pool and the rooms come equipped with complimentary wifi and private balconies.
The same package is available departing from Stansted for £411.
While in Mallorca be sure to visit Palma’s remarkable cathedral and it’s worth hiring a car for a few days to see the sights.
Best price – £303 half-board departing from Glasagow on 25 August, staying at the 3-star Hotel Dreams Beach in Sousse
Head to North Africa for some sun. Tunisia is a cultural hotspot, from its souks and sand dunes to Roman ruins. And, of course, there are sandy beaches aplenty including the one right in front of the Hotel Dreams Beach. This Tunisia trip only just tops the £300 mark, and includes breakfast and evening meals, an absolute bargain.
OK, so Scottish term starts early so if you live north of the border you can’t take the kids, but it may well be worth booking this package if you live in the north of England where the schools go back after the flights gets back early on the morning of Monday 2 September. Schools in Cumbria, for example, don’t reopen to pupils until 5 September.
Make sue you explore Sousse’s Medina – a UNESCO World heritage Site since 1988.
Best price – £313 departing Gatwick on 27 August in a 3-star self-catering Sandy Villa in Perissa
There’s great value to be had in many of the most popular Greek islands as the UK summer holidays draw to a close. Santorini is currently the cheapest flying out of London and these lovely apartments are great for kids as well as adults – they even have a children’s pool.
It’s only 300 metres from the centre of the town and 650 metres from the beach. There are also excellent late deals available in Zante, Crete and Corfu, to name but a few, so get searching.
Best price – £421 departing Manchester on 24 August in the 3-star Ozgurhan Hotel, bed and breakfast
Sunshine, ancient sites, sea, sand and superb hospitality are all on offer on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast this summer. It’s still an affordable destination and you can fly there for a week for a little over £400 this weekend from Manchester – one of the best deals available from the northwest of England.
Best price – £497 departing Liverpool on 26 august, staying in the 4-star Villas Hotel Punta on a bed and breakfast basis
It’s hard to find any good value holidays to Croatia in the peak season nowadays, so a 4-star hotel on its glistening coastline in late August for under £500 is a steal. The hotel has a spa and wellness centre for you to enjoy including a luxurious indoor pool, while its location in the northern part of the Dalmatian coast is ideal for exploring nearby islands (the country has more than 1,000), and heading inland to visit the Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or ancient towns and cities such as Split an Zadar.
Best price – £473 departing Exeter on 26 August, self-catering in the Albufeira Jardim I & II Apartments, Albufeira
The Algarve is notoriously expensive at this time of year, what with it being a firm family favourite. If you are based in the southwest, however, you could pick up a package for under £500 leaving next Monday.
Albufeira is one of the four summer destinations picked by our family travel expert for the school holidays, so if you have time to squeeze a quick trip in with the kids this could be the one for you. Read all about it in Kerry Christiani’s guide to the Algarve.