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News Hello sunshine: last-minute affordable summer holidays

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Hello sunshine: last-minute affordable summer holidays

Summer’s officially here, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to go on holiday. Whether you’ve got the family in tow or you’re flying solo, we’ve discovered seven affordable destinations for last-minute summer sun.

1. Sliema, Malta – fly from £35

Photo credit: Leonid Andronov

Located about as south as you can get before reaching Africa, the island of Malta is the perfect summer destination. Fly into Luqa, jump in a hire car and set your sat nav for Sliema, a resort town 20 minutes away. Malta is rife with forts, and Sliema is no exception with Fort Tigné completed in 1795 and used by the Brits up until 1979. Today, Tigné Point is home to a large redevelopment project complete with The Point, Malta’s largest shopping centre. 

For those who want a beach holiday with a difference, drive for 30 minutes to St Peter’s Pool – a natural rocky swimming pool hidden down a dust track. Daredevils can be seen jumping and diving into the azure water while sunbathers lie on the flat rocks surrounding the pool. Just make sure the ladders are there (they usually remain installed from June to September), otherwise there’s no getting out. If you’ve still got energy left, stop off at Fond Ghadir for a swim and snorkel in the deep blue water on your way back to Sliema.

Stay: Located on the Sliema Promenade, The Diplomat Hotel is as close to the sea as possible. Staff are friendly and rooms start at £71. 

2. Langkawi, Malaysia – fly from £310

Photo credit: Jesse Vermeulen

While Asia may not feel like the cheapest summer holiday destination, the cost of living once you arrive helps keep things affordable. Fly in to Kuala Lumpur and spend a day or two marvelling at its soaring skyscrapers, but KL shouldn’t be your final destination. Instead, head back to the airport and catch a £30 one-hour flight to Langkawi.

Known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is an archipelago of 99 islands and a slice of Malaysian paradise. Explore the ancient rainforests, relax on the white-sand beaches of Pantai Tanjung Rhu and Datai Bay and take a dip in the balmy sea (with average temps of 28ºC). If you want to be a little more active, take the cable car over the rainforest; at the top you can walk across the SkyBridge (not for the faint hearted) and visit the boardwalk located in the middle of the valley. There’s even a 6D cinema to experience – whatever that is. To tick that culture box, head back down the valley to Laman Padi – a working rice field with enthusiastic local guides who’ll talk you through the process of harvesting rice.

Stay: Perched on the coast with magnificent sea views is Ombak Villa Langkawi. With a huge infinity pool, you’ll have to tear yourself away to explore the rest of Langkawi. Rooms from £66.

3. Constanța, Romania – fly from £44

Photo credit: Anestiev

Romania’s Black Sea resorts are often overlooked in favour of Turkey, but with high temperatures, good beaches and, most importantly, budget-friendly prices, Constanța is not to be missed.

Of course, with a resort holiday, your first port of call will be the beach. Constanța has an 8km stretch of sand merging several different beaches together. Stay close to the Old Town and promenade for some lively action, with sun loungers and bars dotted across the beach. The promenade is also where you’ll find the abandoned casino for a slightly eerie take on the usual holiday snap. Stroll further along towards Zoom Beach and you’ll practically have the place to yourself. If you’re with the kids (or just a big kid yourself), check out Magic Mamaia Water Park, which is half price after 4pm.

Stay: Try Hotel Carol for traditional Romanian rooms at a bargain price (around £67 a night), plus the beach is at the end of the road.

4. Orlando, Florida – fly from £247

Photo credit: Songquan Deng

Before you assume Orlando is only for families and die-hard Disney fans, let us persuade you there’s more to Florida’s famous city than the theme parks. For grown-up attractions, take one giant leap to Kennedy Space Centre to celebrate 50 years since man landed on the moon. Or, head just outside of the city for the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, a 440-acre park containing Bayhead Swamp, Longleaf Pine Forest and a butterfly garden (plus a potential alligator or two).

For an excellent view of the skyline, head downtown and mooch over to Lake Eola. If a simple walk isn’t exciting enough, hire a swan-shaped paddle boat for better views and photo opportunities. And finally, if the call of Disney World is too strong to ignore, check out the Disney after hours tickets, prices start at £100 compared to the next cheapest option of £214 for a two-day ticket. Available for limited dates, these tickets give you entry to Magic Kingdom from 7pm to 1am – so say goodbye to the mountain of kids and the long queues as everyone else gets kicked out at 10pm.

Still unsure what to do? Check out our ultimate Orlando guide.

Stay: The Eo Inn is in the heart of downtown. This quaint 21-room hotel is in walking distance to Lake Eola Park. And as each room comes with on-site parking, you’ll be out exploring Orlando in no time at all. Rooms from £103.

5. Tainan, Taiwan – fly from £560

Photo credit: vichie81

While you’re more likely to associate Tuscany with a summer holiday than Taiwan, this Chinese island has everything to tempt sun-seeking travellers. Think historical temples in the south, buzzing nightlife in Taipei, and a whole range of beaches to explore – it’s an island after all. Start you trip in Tainan to soak up the local culture. Visit Dongyue Temple, one of Taiwan’s ominously named ‘Hell Temples’ where locals come to communicate with the dead of the underworld – it’s like real life Stranger Things. Then, to understand Taiwan’s layered history of colonisation, pop by Chihkan Tower – originally created by the Dutch in 1652 and rebuilt by the Chinese following an earthquake in the 19th century.

With a hire car, you’re a three-hour drive away from Taipei and the excellent beaches found in the north. Head north-east to Fulong Beach, home to the island’s sand sculpture competition that runs from April to the third week of August. Last year’s event included sand boats, mermaids and flower sculptures, so be prepared to up your sandcastle game. Although August is still in typhoon season, the days are H.O.T. so you’ll find relief in the rain showers that often come in the afternoon. If you have any concern, plan your outdoor activities for the morning when the day is likely to be dryer.

Stay: The business hotel of Tan Tso Ma Li Commercial Hotel is located in the West Central District. The rooms are clean and simple plus, the weekends are quiet once all the business travellers go home. Rooms from £39.

6. Toronto, Canada – fly from £258

Photo credit: Kevin R Smith

The east coast of Canada is more affordable than you think, flights start at £346 in August and a trip across the pond feels far more exotic than flying across the Channel to France. Luckily for us Brits, English remains the top official language in Toronto, which makes getting around as easy as buying poutine. In order to save time and money, use the Toronto CityPASS for access to the CN Tower, Casa Loma and the Royal Ontario Museum to name a few – you’ll bypass the summer crowds with a queue-jumping perk at most attractions. Next, it’s time to get outdoors and hit the festivals that pop up on every street corner throughout August. Whether you spend an evening watching a film at the Open Roof Festival or getting the drinks in at a craft beer tent in Roundhouse Park, the city is rife with affordable entertainment.

No visit to Toronto would be complete without a trip to Niagara Falls. August is an excellent time to tick this iconic landmark off the list, as the cooling mist is a pleasant distraction from the heat. Still warm? You can always get a proper soaking onboard the Hornblower Niagara Cruise – just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Stay: The Beverley Hotel, an 18-room boutique hotel in the heart of Toronto. You’ll be minutes away from Downtown, Old Toronto and the waterfront. Rooms from £137.

7. Tivat, Montenegro – fly from £79

Photo credit: Faruk Kaymak

The seaside town of Tivat in Montenegro may not be on your summer radar yet, but with four-star hotels starting at £40 a night, this is affordable luxury at its best. Surprisingly, this old naval town has become a hot spot for luxury yachts, which makes for an eye-watering walk along the marina. After you’ve been fully gob-smacked by how the other half live, continue your sightseeing walk to the Maritime Heritage Museum. There’s a submarine right in front – you can’t miss it.

But enough of the navy, it’s time to head to the beach. Zupa Beach is a natural beauty: perfect soft sand backed by a fragrant pine and cypress-tree forest. For an upmarket beach day, there’s the Almara Beach Club with protected sea swimming, a bar and DJs. 

Stay: For easy acess to the airport, the centre of Tivat and Zupa Beach stay at Hotel Franca. Plus, there’s an on-site sun terrace, swimming pool and plenty of parking. Rooms from £70.

Still looking for your cheap summer holiday? Search flights ‘everywhere’ below:

All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 30 July 2019.