Activity week in Spain
This action-packed week will certainly wear out the kids as you travel by foot, canoe and bike around the Picos de Europa. Highlights include a guided paddle down a river, canyoning in rough-and-tumble waters, and taking a cable car on a 1,000m journey up the high Picos for spectacular views. Stay along the way in small family-run hotels. The trip is suitable for children aged eight and over.
Details Seven nights’ B&B is from £750pp including excursions, activities and car hire but excluding flights (01273 676712, pura-aventura.com). Ryanair.com has return flights to Santander from £133.
Rugby in Sardinia
The Rugby World Cup will be filling our screens and stadiums for the next few weeks, and if your child fancies themselves as the next Chris Robshaw, head to Sardinia, where he or she can be coached by the stars of yesteryear. Held at the luxe Forte Village Resort and aimed at children aged 5 to 16, the course is run by former England star Paul Grayson and the like, and teaches skills and drills devised by Will Greenwood and Austin Healey. If rugby isn’t their thing, there are similar netball sessions.
Details Seven nights’ half-board is from £3,450 for a family of four, excluding flights (020 3696 5745,superskillsexperiences.co.uk/holidays/rugby). Cheapflights.co.uk has return flights to Cagliari from £107.
Cycle through Catalonia
Discover that there’s more to Catalonia than Barcelona with this family-friendly cycling trip that takes in Roman archways and medieval squares from the green countryside around Girona to the Med. Stay in traditional farmhouses before embarking on routes that are flat or gently undulating, so suitable for all levels. Thanks to pull-along bikes for five to eight-year-olds, most of the family can join in.
Details Seven nights’ B&B is from £595 per adult and £510 per child, including most meals and bike hire but excluding flights (0845 2417599, utracks.com). Ryanair.com has return flights to Girona-Costa Brava from £237.
Pizza-making and volcanoes in Italy
Accommodation on this family trip around southern Italy may be on the basic side, but the itinerary is so packed, you’ll hardly notice the difference. It includes the beautiful Sorrentine peninsula and a boat journey to Capri’s Blue Grotto, as well as pizza-making in Naples and a visit to Mount Vesuvius that towers over the Bay of Naples. If the children are studying geology or ancient history at school, visits to the ruined cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are sure to bolster their knowledge. The trip is a group tour for a maximum of 16 people.
Details Seven nights’ B&B is from £1,005pp, departing on October 22, excluding flights (01728 885514, imaginative-traveller.com). Alitalia (alitalia.com) has return flights to Naples from £130.
Car-free Princes’ Islands, Istanbul
Step back in time for a visit to the sleepy hideaway of Heybeliada, the second largest of the Princes’ Islands, 50 minutes by ferry from Istanbul city centre. Heybeliada has no motorised transport, so transfers are by horse-drawn carriage for the journey to Karamanyan, a 140-year-old Ottoman mansion with three country-chic apartments and a decked terrace with barbecues. Days can be spent cycling around the island, enjoying beaches and woodland picnics or exploring the other islands in the group.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering is from £466pp for six people, excluding flights (07455 015754, karamanyan.com). Atlasglobal (atlasglb.com) has return flights to Istanbul from £336.
City and country in Sweden
Combine a city break in stylish Stockholm with a rural retreat in this end-of-autumn trip to Sweden. After exploring the capital, guests travel north to Ockelbo for a stay at Stilleben, a stylish B&B in a former blacksmith’s cottage. From there, there are guided walks through bear country with the chance to see moose and reindeer, as well as cycling and hiking. The trip ends with a stay in a rustic cabin on a secluded private island.
Details Four nights’ mixed board is from £930 per adult and £450 per child, including flights (01427 700115, simplysweden.co.uk).
Snorkel between America and Europe in Thingvellir National Park, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates are slowly pulling apart to create a huge rift. Based in trendy capital Reykjavik, the trip includes private walking tours outlining Viking history, visits to the famed Blue Lagoon thermal baths, and the chance to see geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls and geothermal lunar-style landscapes. Tours can include Jeep, quad-bike and snowmobile tours, or visits to the Westman Islands, known as the Pompeii of the north. Hotels include the art deco Hotel Borg in the capital and the Hotel Ranga wilderness retreat.
Details Five nights’ B&B is from £2,199pp, including flights (020 7426 9888, blacktomato.com)
Foodie family break in the Algarve
If your children are fussy eaters, this holiday is for you. Fiona Faulkner will be at the Martinhal Sagres Beach hotel this October, trying to encourage the youngsters to eat more than 20 items of fruit and veg a day during their stay. The kids’ food expert will be offering children’s cooking lessons and demos for their parents, as well as activities and mini challenges. The hotel itself is one of the most family-friendly in the Algarve, with activities including surfing, jeep tours, sports academies and bike hire.
Details One night’s half-board is from €358 for a family of four (00351 282 240200, martinhal.com). Skyscanner.com has return flights to Faro from £308.
Swim in Sivota, Greece
Few places in Europe are swimmable in late October but the waters off Sivota on the Greek mainland are one of them. For this trip, swimming holiday expert SwimTrek teams up with one of Neilson’s holiday clubs for an activity week that allows you to mix and match time in the water with land-based activities. Children aged 11 and over can join in the swims that circumnavigate rocky peninsulas, secluded inlets and uninhabited islands, while there’s a kids’ club for younger holidaymakers.
Details Seven nights’ half-board is from £529pp, including flights and transfers. There is a swimming supplement of £350 for the full week or £120 for taster sessions (01273 666106, swimtrek.com).
Tennis in Cyprus
Learn to smash your serve and better your backhand with a family trip to the Annabel Croft Tennis Academy at the plush Aphrodite Hills Hotel in Paphos. Over half-term, children can take part in daily classes, with a junior tournament at the end of the week, while adults enjoy the resort’s other facilities, such as an 18-hole golf course and a slick spa. Families can stay in modern villas on the resort.
Details Seven nights’ B&B is from £3,196 for a family of four, including five days’ tennis coaching for children and flights (020 8968 0501, thehealthyholidaycompany.co.uk).
Boating in the south of France
Take a self-drive river and sea-boating holiday in the south of France’s Camargue, with seafood specialities such as Rhône oysters and eel. There’s no experience necessary to captain your own cruise, and you can moor where you like along the one-way journey from Beaucaire to Port Cassafières. Highlights include Bellegarde’s 11th-century Saint-Vincent-de-Broussan priory and the fortified town of Aigues-Mortes.
Details Seven nights’ boat hire is from £678 for up to six people (08444 171827, leboat.co.uk). KLM (klm.com) has return flights to Montpellier (a midpoint on the route) from £211.
Treasure sail in the Caribbean
New from Sunsail for this autumn are these “treasure sail” weeks in the British Virgin Islands during which the whole family take to a yacht or catamaran to sail around the Caribbean. Sailings start from Tortola and there are six “treasure spots” to navigate around the islands, picking up gold coins along the way to trade in for a prize at the end. On Virgin Gorda, take an afternoon off the boat at one of the largest watersports centres in the Caribbean, then head across the waves to the uninhabited Norman Island, renowned for being the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate novel Treasure Island. At Peter Island Resort, youngsters can claim their treasure, pull up a bar-stool and relax with a refreshing “rum” punch. Be sure to dress up — the price includes hats, bandanas, eye patches and a treasure map, as well as fuel for the duration.
Details Seven nights’ self-catering is from £1,458 for a family of four on a bareboat charter (one adult must have a skipper licence). Sunsail can also arrange weeks with a skipper. Return flights to Tortola via Antigua are from £802pp (020 3811 1613, sunsail.com).
Tuk-tuks and rickshaws in Cambodia
Explore Phnom Penh by bicycle rickshaw, travel by tuk-tuk to a Mekong island, and dine with a local family in Battambang, as well as taking in the renowned Angkor Wat on this trip to Cambodia. The eight-day group trip also includes a visit to the Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre, and Cambodia’s answer to Cirque du Soleil — Phare the Cambodian Circus — which mixes theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, juggling and contortion. The minimum age for the trip is five.
Details Eight-day trips leave on October 24 and cost from £1,579 per adult and £1,421 per child, including flights, some meals, transport and the services of a guide (0808 115 5563,familyadventurecompany.co.uk).
Caribbean fly and flop
The post-summer, back-to-school period can take its toll, so recharge the batteries with this week of doing very little in St Vincent & the Grenadines. Buccament Bay Resort has a choice of great restaurants, first-class entertainment and a sunbed cocktail service — for mum and dad, of course. The most difficult decision you might have to make all week is when to roll off the sunlounger and into your private plunge pool. And if you’re itching to do something after a couple of days, there’s a Liverpool FC football academy, a Pat Cash tennis school and beach workouts with Olympic gold medal-winner Sally Gunnell.
Details Seven nights’ all-inclusive in a two-bedroom villa is from £1,750 per adult and £999 per child, including flights on October 26 (01342 886941, tropicalsky.co.uk).
Taj and tigers in India
See the Taj Mahal at sunrise and head off on a tiger safari in Ranthambore National Park on this nine-day trip from Families Worldwide. The group holiday also includes a visit to the Pink City of Jaipur (with a visit to the Amber Fort) and a city tour of Old Delhi. The trip departs on October 17 and 24, returning on October 25 and November 1 respectively. Children must be at least five years old.
Details From £1,499 per adult and £1,299 per child, including flights, all transport, some meals and activities and the services of a tour leader (01962 737 560, familiesworldwide.co.uk).