The best places to go on holiday in Europe in October
Verdura Resort, Sicily
Recommended by A&K travel specialist, Ellie Hughes
Sciacca in southern Sicily is best known for its thermal waters, seafood and wine. Travel in September and you can indulge in all three, and do so while the air is still warm, the beaches are empty, and the annual grape harvest festivities are in full flow. As the second largest wine-producing region in Italy. There’ll be plenty of tipples on offer. The Planeta Winery, just a short drive from the hotel, is well worth a visit. If you fancy enhancing your culinary skills, cooking classes will equip you with the wherewithal to whip up a tasty regional speciality on your return home. Culture vultures will enjoy a trip to Agrigento, home to the Valley of the Temples, one of the most significant archaeological sites in Sicily. The super stylish spa and golf resort of Verdura, west of the baroque town of Sciacca, offers uninterrupted views of the glistening azure Med from virtually every vantage point. With golf, football and tennis academies on site, water sports aplenty and complimentary bikes for exploring the resort, there’s loads to keep even the most active visitor entertained. The indoor pool and state of the art gym are there for the asking. If it’s rest and relaxation you’re looking for, the spa offers serenity and indulgence galore.
Castello del Nero, Tuscany
Recommended by A&K travel specialist, Rebecca Cox
Oozing with 900 years of history and architectural heritage, this beauty of a property sits in the heart of the Chianti wine region. It boasts its own Michelin-starred restaurant, La Torre: not bad for starters (or mains or desserts). Add to this the 300 hectares of olive groves and vines (both olive oil and wine are produced on site), an ESPA spa with outdoor Vitality pool, a Turkish hammam, ice fountains and fitness suite, and a complimentary shuttle service to Florence and Siena. You’ll be hard pushed to find a better choice in the region. The air is still warm in October. A hot-air balloon flight over the Tuscan hills will provide a bird’s-eye view of the burnt orange autumnal landscape. What better time of year for a guided tour of the local vineyards in a classic Fiat 500 or tuk-tuk? For ice-cream lovers, there’s a behind the scenes glimpse of the Italian gelateria – tasting compulsory, of course. Foodies can have a guided market tour, cookery lesson, or maybe a truffle hunt, followed by a feast at the hunter’s local restaurant. If you’re looking for la dolce vita, look no further.
La Mamounia, Marrakech
Recommended by A&K chairman’s club manager, Aurelia Van Lynden
October is arguably the best time of year to visit Marrakech, the city has shaken off the oppressive summer heat, and basks in deliciously warm temperatures. It’s perfect for city exploration, or luxuriating in the grounds of exclusive property, La Mamounia. A five-minute walk will see you transported into the drama of Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech’s famous square. Historically a place of public execution – the square’s name means ‘assembly of the dead’. It’s now buzzing 24/7 with snake-charmers, musicians and street theatre. By day it’s intriguing, but at night the square comes into its own, with acrobatic displays, storytellers, music and street food vendors. It’s hard to believe you’re staying so close to the action, but back at the hotel, the frenetic pace of the square seems a million miles away. The pool provides an idyllic spot to sip a refreshing mint tea. The snow-capped Atlas Mountains create a rather spectacular backdrop. Sport enthusiasts will love the tennis courts and Pilates sessions, while those looking for R&R can chill out in the spa. Fashionistas may be aware that Morocco is said to have been the inspiration for much of Yves Saint Laurent’s work. October sees the exciting opening of a museum in the city devoted to the legendary fashion designer’s work. You could be one of the first to visit.
Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas, Crete
Recommended by A&K’s Europe product manager, Europe, John Berry
When the hordes of families that flock to the island in the school holidays have all dispersed, Crete basks under a late summer sun. In October, it's still open for business as usual, making it a blissful time to visit. The traditionally Cretan-style Elounda Beach Hotel & Villas complex is scattered amid 16 hectares of landscaped grounds beside the mountain-backed Bay of Mirabello. The property, a Leading Hotel of the World, offers sensational views of the Aegean Sea, and access to two private, sandy beaches and an outdoor saltwater pool from which to enjoy them. The glistening turquoise waters remain warm late into the season. The seafront rooms with steps down to the beach provide a little piece of personal paradise for those who love swimming in the sea. If you suffer from itchy feet on holiday, there’s tennis, mini-golf, scuba diving, water sports, and a health and fitness club offering yoga, Pilates and aerobics on site. Stay for a week and you can dine in a different restaurant every night, enjoying worldwide cuisine from Greek to Japanese to Peruvian. Outside the resort, you’ll find charming villages and beautiful scenery. If you’ve read Victoria Hislop’s historical blockbuster novel The Island, a visit to Spinalonga, a former leper colony and the location of her tale of love, secrecy and devastation is an absolute must. And while a helicopter tour will provide some amazing views of this Greek goddess, scuba diving lessons will bring you an altogether different, although no less incredible, perspective of life under her ocean borders.