Finding the perfect October half-term holiday can be tricky – especially with only seven days to play with. But with city breaks, UK jaunts and some last-minute European sunshine all viable options, it doesn’t have to be.
Whether you’re planning to max out the whole half-term break, a weekend, or you’re lucky enough to have pre-schoolers who can travel throughout the whole month, these are the best family-friendly October holidays…
1. Paphos, Cyprus
Best for… Half-term sunshine
With temperatures hovering between 22C and 27C, October is a great time to visit Paphos. Not only that, but Cypriot locals love children, so you’ll find that most decent hotels have plenty of activities on offer for youngsters, as well as food to suit even the fussiest of eaters.
Family fun in Paphos (Alamy)
The city itself is full of culture and history too, not to mention sandy Blue Flag beaches.
Top tip: For a family day out, try Cove Adventure Mini Golf, Super Aphrodite Waterpark or Paphos Zoo.
2. Orlando, Florida
Best for… Thrills for the whole tribe
It may be a bit of a push to squeeze all the thrills and spills of Orlando into a one-week holiday, but it’s totally worth a try.
Head to Universal Studios in Orlando (Alamy)
In October you can expect fewer crowds, seven or so hours of daylight, great hotel deals and shorter queues, which all add up to more time enjoying the rides that Universal and Disney have on offer.
Top tip: Be sure to try out the newest theme park addition on your holiday: Universal’s Volcano Bay, a tropical water park.
3. The Jurassic Coast, UK
Best for… Term-time weekend holidays
Just because we’ve waved goodbye to the sunny summer weather, doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do in the beautiful southern county of Dorset.
Have a staycation in Dorsey (Alamy)
So get your rain macs and wellies at the ready and head for the Jurassic Coast, where you can all go sightseeing at Lulworth or hunting for fossils in Charmouth.
Top tip: If you’re a family of animal lovers, stop in at the Donkey Sanctuary in nearby Sidmouth, Devon.
4. Queensland, Australia
Best for… Far-flung holidays with pre-schoolers
If time isn’t an issue and you’re willing to brave the long flight, Queensland offers an abundance of rewards for water babies of all ages.
Make new friends in Australia (Alamy)
Head for the Agincourt Reef this October – the state’s dry season – to discover the Great Barrier Reef in a controlled, family-friendly environment. From the pontoon here, you can snorkel, dive, take a tour in a semi-submersible, or even ride a helicopter over the corals. Lunch is provided too!
Top tip: Hug a koala and hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas.
5. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Best for… City breaks with older kids
Off-season hotel rates, mild weather and some beautiful fall foliage – Amsterdam is perfect for October holidays. It’s also a good place to bring older kids and teens too.
Explore Amsterdam on two wheels (Alamy)
For a dose of humbling history, take them to Anne Frank’s House, or for a more laid-back weekend, try Artis (the city zoo), a canal boat ride and Madame Tussauds Amsterdam.
Top tip: For Anne Frank’s House, we strongly recommend reserving your time slot online in advance.
6. York, UK
Best for… Halloween-themed weekends
From ghost walks to discovering the terror of Tussauds’ York Dungeon, this historic northern city is the perfect place to spend 31 October.
A city break in colourful York (Alamy)
Consider heading for the award-winning York Maze, open from 21 October to 1 November. Most of the maze’s maize will have been harvested for the year, but families can still enjoy pumpkin carving, a haunted treasure hunt, and the spooky Ghostmania ride.
Top tip: If your little ones prefer a treat over a trick, try the Shock-olate Halloween event at the York Chocolate Story.
7. Riviera Maya, Mexico
Best for… Exotic family fun A week in Mexico will fix the whole family up – sun, turtles and gloriously sandy beaches, with calm, crystal-clear waters to boot.
Hit the beach in Mexico (Alamy)
Riviera Maya’s Xel-Ha and Xcarat are both ecotourism water parks where you’ll have the chance for some adventure: think zip-lining, snorkelling, underground cave swims and the chance to get in the water with dolphins.
Top tip: Take the time to visit the atmospheric ruins of Chichen Itza, although be sure to take plenty of snacks and games for the transfer – it’s an early start and a four or five-hour drive.
8. Sardinia, Italy
Best for… Food with children in mind
With gentle sun, uncrowded beaches and heaps of culture, Sardinia is ideal for October holidays – but the big draw for the island is its food.
Sardinia is great for sunny October holidays (Alamy)
The region is renowned for its healthy local cuisine for adults, as well as crowd-pleasing favourites for the kids, such as pizza and pasta. The portions are big too, so you’ll never be hungry after a feast here.
Top tip: Head to north-western Sardinia for the most child-friendly beaches and wildlife excursions.