From French riverboats to Portuguese beach breaks, here are the best holiday deals
As some of Europe’s most popular destinations remain on the amber list, September is an excellent time to catch some of the seasonal warmth that has proved elusive this British summer. But if you want to stay closer to home, there are some brilliant last-minute options in the UK, too.
Cruise along the River Charente at your own pace when you rent a boat from Nicols (boat-renting-nicols.co.uk). Starting close to the Nicols base in Sireuil, you’ll slowly cruise past the vineyards, historic towns and villages of this serene part of western France. Stop in Cognac for a tasting, and pick up bottles of Pineau des Charente along the way. A seven-night rental from 20 September costs €972, down from €1,143, on a Riviera 920. The boat technically sleeps eight, but it’s more comfortable for two couples. Boat insurance and all equipment are included, but fuel is extra.
September is a superb time to visit Greece’s Ionian islands, specifically tiny, laid-back Paxos. Have a leisurely drive along the island’s east coast and you’ll find one beautiful beach after another. Or take a boat trip that allows you to swim in inaccessible coves, before heading over to neighbouring Antipaxos. GIC the Villa Collection (gicthevillacollection.com) has availability in Loggos Mills, a cluster of four cottages and studios sleeping between two and four, with a shared swimming pool and sea views. A week’s self-catering costs from £839pp, down from £1,195. The price includes flights, transfers and car hire, departing 20 September.
You’ll have glorious Atlantic sunsets and the Portuguese border practically on your doorstep when you stay at Villa Rosal near the Galician town of Oia. The four-bedroom villa looks right over a rocky beach below, just beyond the swimming pool. There’s a games room, as well as a barbecue and a large sun terrace. Available through Vintage Travel (vintagetravel.co.uk) for seven nights from 13 September, the villa sleeps eight and costs £798 for four people or £898 for five or more guests.
See out the summer overlooking the Atlantic Ocean from the Algarve fishing village of Alvor. Wandering along its long sandy beach, you’ll marvel at the towering rock formations of Tres Imaos at the easternmost end of the beach. Mercury Holidays (mercuryholidays.co.uk) has a week’s B&B at the Pestana Alvor Praia Beach and Golf Hotel, which has fabulous views of Alvor Beach, from £534pp. The price includes flights, departing 20 September.
Get a taste of Devon country life when you stay at Little Gate Cottage, a pretty 17th-century thatched cottage in North Bovey. When you’re not cosying up in front of the inglenook fireplace in the beamed sitting room, you can follow the footpath to the Dartmoor Way and along the River Bovey. Booked through Helpful Holidays (helpfulholidays.co.uk), the two-bedroom cottage is available from 24 September for seven nights for £675, down from £720.
It won’t be long before you slip into a mellow autumnal mood at 2 The Oaks, a 19th-century sandstone cottage in Hoarwithy in the Herefordshire countryside. The two-bedroom, semi-detached cottage is attractively done up in classic country style, complete with woodburner and flagstone kitchen floors. When you’re not strolling along the nearby River Wye or checking out Herefordshire’s cider trails, you can pop into the nearby towns of Ross-on-Wye or Hereford. Available through Rural Retreats (ruralretreats.co.uk), the cottage costs £755 for four nights’ self-catering from 25 September, which includes a welcome hamper.
Mary Novakovich is editor at large at 101holidays.co.uk.