Where to go on holiday in October
As winter starts to send its first cold snaps our way, nobody could blame you for booking the first ticket out of here. Don’t be too hasty: there’s more to finding sunshine than just heading south. We’ve created a list of the best destinations to visit in October, without paying peak-season prices or ending up in a week-long tropical storm. So read on and get ready for sunshine.
Best for a Short-Haul Holiday
October brings the first dip in temperatures after the summer, as well as some of the first rains of the season. You’re unlikely to have more than one or two rainy days on your trip, and it’s still warm enough for light cotton in the daytime.
Marrakesh, with its intricate souks, lively Medina and boisterous, open-air dining, has to be experienced at least once. Meanwhile, the landscapes beyond this city-break favourite are some of the most surreal and beautiful you’ll find in the world. Towering orange cliffs, the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, flat scrubby plains and, of course, the Sahara Desert.
The coast is the reason Morocco made this list: October is the best time for a beach trip. The beaches get really busy later in the year, but in October they’re warm, sunny and relatively quiet. In Essaouira, white-washed houses line the rugged coast, and the long sandy beaches are perfect for walks, swimming and lounging.
There’s much to see in the towns and cities too. You can’t miss the colourful, bustling markets, lined with food stalls and colourful Moroccan carpets and pottery. Make sure you sample a tagine, a slow-cooked stew named after the beautiful conical clay pot it’s served in.
Portugal’s ever-popular Algarve region is beautiful at this time of year. It’s started to cool off a little, settling around the low-20s (Celsius), and the summer’s dust gives way to lush greenery.
The sea is often at its warmest in October, so you can spend whole days enjoying the coast. At little harbours, you can watch fishermen dock with the day’s catch, hauling fresh seafood off their boats.
There are few things better than settling down at a seaside terrace with a great view, a bottle of local wine, and a plate of locally caught sardines.
October marks the start of the dry season, bringing beautiful sunny days. The Gambia might be the smallest country in Africa, with only 50 miles of coast, but those 50 miles have a lot to offer. There are laid-back fishing villages, long golden beaches with swaying palms, and beautiful reserves teeming with wildlife.
The Gambia is an African holiday only a 6-hour flight away. With its well-established tourism industry, friendly locals, amazing natural beauty and colourful markets, there are few places that offer so much bang for your holiday buck within the same flying time.
By October, the scorching heat of Crete’s midsummer has passed, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy the outdoors. The sea is at its warmest after heating up all summer, so it’s a great time to enjoy some watersports, or just relax on the beach and take regular dips in the sea.
If you can tear yourself away from the exquisite beaches, there’s a lot more to see. Foodies, for example, will love it here: you’ll find seafood straight off the boats, crisp vegetables seasoned with olive oil and garden herbs, and home-style yogurts and cheeses. The baked pastries and honey-drizzled desserts are delicious.
Best for a Long-Haul Holiday
Mauritius is probably most famous for its year-round great weather, but October is on another level. The days are just warming up after the slightly cooler winter, but haven’t shot up too high. It also isn’t the rainy season yet, so the air is dry. It’s really the perfect beach weather: mild and dry.
As for the beaches - you probably know this already, but the water is crystal clear and the sands are powdery white. The underwater visibility starts to get better after the winter too, so it’s prime time for diving or snorkelling. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot rays, sharks and turtles, but even on an average day the diversity of life darting in and out of the brightly coloured corals is astounding.
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If you can bear to leave the beach, the rest of the island has a lot to offer. At this time of year, most of the island’s flowers are in bloom, and everywhere you go you’ll find vivid shades of red, pink, yellow, blue, and just about every other colour you can imagine.
Temperatures in Oman during October hover around 30°C daily. It’s highly unlikely to rain at this time of year, so you’ll have plenty of sunshine. While it’s not the blistering heat of mid-summer, you’ll still need to stay out of the sun in the middle of the day.
There’s another great drawing card at this time of year: turtle nesting season. The creatures emerge from the sea, coming onto the beaches to lay their eggs. Over the 3-month season, 20,000 turtles or more lay an estimated 50,000-60,000 eggs on Oman’s beaches. October is also late enough in the season that you may even see some hatchlings taking their first steps towards the sea.
Other Destinations to Consider
Sicily: October is still warm enough for the sea, but not too hot. It is after peak season, so prices are decent and it’s not too crowded.
Madrid: The weather is balmy and the city is alive with colour. The markets and parks are at their finest, and the crowds have all left.
Canary Islands: Avoid the high season rates and the crushing crowds by heading to the Canaries in autumn. You might get a few rainy days, but in general the weather is warm and clear.
Balearic Islands: Skip peak season, and enjoy the relative quiet of the warm Mediterranean beaches.
Cruise Month: In October, the cruise community comes together to showcase some of the greatest cruise destinations and trips in the world. Book yours this month, even if you plan to go another time.