Five last-minute holidays to book right now

Noble Horvath

Looking for a last blast of sun or cultural city break? Consider these quarantine-free destinations this October. Puglia If you are set on travelling to Italy this autumn, then Puglia, the so-called “heel” of the country, is your best chance for some sunshine. Whitewashed towns, brilliant beaches and countless little […]

Looking for a last blast of sun or cultural city break? Consider these quarantine-free destinations this October.

Puglia

If you are set on travelling to Italy this autumn, then Puglia, the so-called “heel” of the country, is your best chance for some sunshine. Whitewashed towns, brilliant beaches and countless little osterias serving up simple, but usually excellent, pasta dishes are other reasons to make the trip. A slow year in travel may mean more willingness to splash out on a stay at one of the region’s finest hotels. Borgo Egnazia is a fabulous take on a traditional Puglian village, which has lured countless celebrities over the years. Choose between four pools and five restaurants (from a Michelin-starred spot to a pizzeria) on the sprawling estate, before taking a free yoga lesson or heading to the golf course. At night, the place is lit by thousands of candles, to complete the fairy tale. 

Borgo Egnazia is designed as a Puglian village

Carrier (carrier.co.uk) offers seven nights from £1,875 per person, departing on Oct 10, including flights, private transfers and breakfast.

Krakow

Most city break favourites may be off-limits, but there are no quarantine requirements when returning from Poland – meaning weekends in Krakow are just a click away. The city brims with cultural delights from the medieval Market Square, which forms its beating heart, to the Royal Castle. Meander along the cobbled streets of Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter, which is now scattered with art galleries and hip cafés, alongside its 16th-century synagogues. A stay at the elegant Bonerowski Palace is in keeping with a historical holiday. This 600-year-old mansion has had many lives – converted into a pharmacy during the Second World War, it then became dilapidated under communist rule. Now it has been restored in Polish aristocratic style with chintz curtains and parquet floors.

Historic Krakow brims with cultural delights

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Lastminute.com offers two nights from £129 per person, departing Oct 2, including flights.

Rhodes

Big-hitter Greek islands such as Crete and Mykonos may have been struck off the “safe list” but ever-popular Rhodes remains open to English and Welsh holidaymakers. With around 300 sunny days each year and plenty of sandy beaches, it’s a sure bet to recapture the feeling of summer, which seems more distant each day. Exploring the Dodecanese island’s medieval capital is a must, as is a visit to the Lindos Acropolis. Book to stay at the Amada Colossos Resort, set on a long stretch of beach in the north. Recently refreshed, its spacious rooms are now decked out in a neutral palette and there’s an indoor-outdoor feel to the common areas. The hotel’s half-board packages suit a fly-and-flop holiday, as does its sprawling pool area. 

There are no quarantine restrictions for English and Welsh travellers returning from Rhodes

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EasyJet holidays (easyjet.com) offers seven nights from £635 per person, departing Oct 6, including half board, flights and transfers. 

Madeira

There are a few hoops to jump through when travelling to Madeira. The day before you go you should submit a questionnaire and upload proof of a recent negative Covid-19 test. Otherwise, you’ll be tested at the airport and face a 12-hour wait at your accommodation for the results. Still, what’s a little admin after six months of adjustments? Madeira has shaken off its sedate image in the past few years with a crop of trendy bars and restaurants opening up in Funchal. The Savoy Palace hotel dominates the harbour area of the capital and caused a splash when it opened last year. All rooms have views of the Atlantic, and the spa is the largest in Portugal, while the pool is inspired by one of the island’s lagoons. Book a table at the 16th-floor restaurant for a contemporary take on Portuguese cuisine. 

The Savoy Palace caused a splash when it opened last year

Thomas Cook (thomascook.com) offers seven nights from £579 per person, departing on Oct 15, including flights and breakfast.

Gibraltar 

In this British Overseas Territory, you won’t escape home entirely but balmy temperatures, monkeys and views of Africa serve as a reminder that you have ventured abroad. Don’t be surprised if you are surrounded by newly-weds; Gibraltar has become an elopement hotspot during the pandemic, owing to its relative lack of restrictions. Stay on Sunborn Gibraltar, a static cruise ship moored just a five-minute drive from the airport. The contemporary rooms have marina, sea or Rock views and most have a balcony. 

Enjoy balmy temperatures and monkeys in Gibraltar

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British Airways Holidays (ba.com) offers four nights from £319pp on selected October dates, including flights and breakfast.

Travel restrictions are changing regularly: check FCDO advice before booking at gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

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