I’m looking for a warm, sunny autumn break, but don’t want to have to travel too far. Where can you recommend?
Autumn is a wonderful time to catch European sunshine, but without the crowds. There are still plenty of Med destinations where the mercury is at a respectable level, so you don’t have to spend hours on a plane to bag those sun lounger days and al fresco evenings.
I’ve just come back from northern Spain and would highly recommend it for an autumn break. You’ll get sunshine, but with a refreshing breeze, and it’s ventage, or grape harvesting, season.
It’s the most exciting time of the year across the rural Basque and Rioja regions, when the landscape turns to stripes of red and green vines and the task of reaping the season’s harvest gets everyone into the fields.
If you fly to Bilbao, there are hundreds of vineyards within a couple of hours’ drive where you can take wine tours, tastings and, in some cases a meal, while watching the wine making process. If you’d like to enjoy a tipple, the Rioja Alavesa Tourist Board operates a wine tour and buses between vineyards. You can get all of the details to plan your trip at www.rutadelvinoderiojaalavesa.com.
The region is renowned for its striking architecture, including the Marquis de Riscal hotel, designed by Frank Gehry. Hotel Viura opened this year and is another design hotel. It has a striking exterior that looks like a pile of shipping containers at jaunty angles (trust me – it’s fantastic), plus modern décor and wonderful food. If that’s too much for your budget, you’re still spoilt for choice for places to stay – many of them listed on the website above, including single-room B&Bs and “agrotourism” guesthouses in many Riojan villages.
If that’s not quite hot enough, why not head a little further east to Greece? Of course, the Greek islands are wonderful, and you’ll be able to rent a villa on Kefalonia, for example, or the tiny Paxos islands for a fraction of their August prices (as long as you avoid the October half-term).
However, if you want to try something a bit different, the Peloponnese, a huge peninsula of western Greece, remains largely undiscovered by mass tourism.
I’d suggest heading to Messinia. It’s a region in the south-west of the peninsula and although it’s little-known, you might have heard of the capital, Kalamata – famous for its olives.
The area offers easy and more challenging hiking, and the sea is still at a swimmable temperature in the autumn. You’ll dine on fresh fish, Greek salads and flavoursome grilled meats. As you’d expect in Greece, there’s also a good chunk of Greek history to explore. From Homer’s tales to the Byzantine adventures.
Sunrise Village, at Chrani, is good for families, as it has a kids’ club and lots of activities on offer. If there are just two of you, try the three-star Comfy Boutique Hotel (better than the name suggests). It’s boutique, but simple, and close to the beach.
Still not hot enough? Try Cyprus, which can reach 25 degrees in September and October. Most Britons holiday in southern Cyprus around resort towns like Paphos and Limassol. There’s plenty to do here, from water activities to spas, walking, cycling and golf.
You can pick a family-friendly hotel, like Le Meridien Limassol Spa & Resort, which has a kids’ club and babysitting, or bust the budget with a property like the Hotel Anassa.
It’s in the shadow of the mountains and pine forests of the Akamas Peninsula – a stunning location. The hotel has been designed to look like a white-washed Cypriot village, with guests staying in individual villas. There are four restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools with waterfalls, tennis, squash, and a stunning spa.
As with any autumn sun destination, it can get chillier in the evenings, so take some clothes to cover up. It’s a small price to pay, for having space on the beach, your pick of sun loungers, and a wonderful villa or hotel for a fraction of the peak summer price.
Answer by Ginny Light – TimesOnline travel editor
Got a travel question? Email email@example.com and we’ll get our panel of travel experts to answer your question.