Travel inspiration and insider tips

3 years, 1 month ago

Great Adventure Holidays for Half-Term 2015

October half-term adventure holidays in the Algarve, Basque Coast, Tenerife, Amsterdam, Marrakech.

We’re the first to admit October half-term doesn’t automatically scream, ‘adventure’. It’s more a comfortably warm museum and art gallery type of break. Or is it? Autumn’s a great time of year to try something new. October weather’s still warm in plenty of exciting Europe. And almost everywhere that’s active, is all-year-round active now – but with some great low-season costs in the sneaky space before winter. So if grabbing a last bit of outdoors, some sun – even sea –might be something you’re up for this half-term, here are a few adventures we think you’ll like.

Algarve and San Sebastian for Surfing

algarve

With 300 days of sunshine a year, the Algarve is a pretty safe bet for good weather in autumn and not just for golf holidays. Western Algarve has some of Europe’s most incredible Atlantic beaches for surfing, kiteboarding, wakeboarding and windsurfing in October. Unsurprisingly the country that regularly breaks world wave records also has excellent surf schools. They’re open all-year-round and most have excellent off-season rates and offer flexible packages from just a few hours to several days.

You can’t move for surfers on the Basque Coast in summer, it’s that good. Come October it’s a lot quieter, but the beaches are still fantastic, the weather’s warm and you can surf from sunrise to sunset – if you aren’t distracted by rafts of other water sports. Beginners love San Sebastian for cool schools like Pukas Surf, experienced surfers have peak conditions and everyone else can just enjoy Spain’s favourite small city for the pintxos, Txkoli and general all-round splendidness.

Rock Climbing on Tenerife

tenerife

Spain is fast becoming Europe’s most exciting rock-climbing destination. But for guaranteed warmth (but not too hot) weather, an amazingly rugged landscape and accessibility, climbers of all levels should be looking to Tenerife this autumn. With over 200 routes, the island’s Arico region is perfect for beginners and high-quality training schools are open all-year-round. If you’re a seasoned climber, volcanic Cañada del Capricha round Mt. Teide is impressively challenging. And stunning El Rio is diverse and tough and has no shade, so it’s fierce in high summer but magnificent in autumn. Tenerife’s October temperatures are low to mid 70s so, perfect for walking and hiking too. There’s sensational surfing to the north of the island. And snorkelling on this strangely beautiful Canary Island is fantastic without the summer crowds.

The Lake District Outdoors’ Challenge

lake district

Even in July and August, The Lake District can’t guarantee good weather. But that’s not what the most famous of all UK National Parks is about. Home to England’s largest lake, Windermere, and its deepest, Wastwater, the Lake District is basically a huge non-weather dependant, adventure playground. It’s covered with hills and fells, ridiculously romantic villages and pretty towns, forest, rivers, waterfalls, canyons and gorges. And, even in the depths of autumn, there’s always something going on. You can try anything from archery to abseiling. There are schools for sailing, climbing, canoeing, rafting and dozens of other activities. And the Lake District doesn’t close, so it’s great for museums and galleries, restaurants, cosy pubs, shopping and anything else your half-term heart desires, indoors and out.

Cycling Amsterdam

amsterdam

Amsterdam is fantastic for a half-term cycling holiday. The city itself is famously bike-focused. But what people don’t tell you when they suggest you just pitch up and hire your wheels, is that most Amsterdammers have been riding these streets since they were small enough to be hanging helmetless off handlebars. There’s a definite knack to cycling in the city centre and if you aren’t born and bred in the ways of it, chances of really enjoying the experience aren’t high. Where to get the most out of the great Dutch biking tradition is out in the country and along the canals and rivers. The roads are beautifully flat, the landscape is gorgeous in autumn, drivers are very respectful and there are cycle paths and routes everywhere. Try Amsterdam Bos and the course of the legendary River Amstel. Travel a bit further to picturesque towns like Haarlem. Or cycle round strange suburbs like amazing Zaardam. Hiring a bike in the city is easy and inexpensive. And, if you don’t want to go it alone at first, there are dozens of guided tours and they’re very reasonable – some include bike hire.

Hiking the High Atlas Mountains

marrakech

‘High Atlas Mountains’, even saying the words feels adventurous. The vast chain of peaks linking almost all of the very north of North Africa is land of the mysterious Berbers, ancient trading routes, goats that climb trees (yes, really) and endless other extraordinary experiences. We’re not suggesting you spend all half-term in the hills, but Marrakech is less than one and half hours from the foothills and there are walks, climbs and hikes you can easily do in a day. Ourika Valley and Setti Fatma combines stunning walking with tiny, traditional villages to explore (Ourika is where you’ll find gorgeous lamps, rugs and furniture to buy at source, instead of the Marrakech souk). And Imlil is famously good for trekking in October when the apple orchards smell wonderful. Autumn weather in Marrakech is warm and sunny but not too hot, so if there was ever a time to strap on your boots and take to the High Atlas Mountains, this is it.

And if our suggestions aren’t tempting enough to unleash your inner adventurer this half-term, perhaps we could interest you in hundreds of HouseTrip holiday homes with up to 50% off this October. Be bold, have a look.

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