Best autumn holiday destinations for 2018 – from sailing the red sea to a staycation in Sussex

Sail away

Late summer is perfect for exploring Croatia – assuming you’ve forgiven the country for ending England’s World Cup dreams. New this year is an active, small-group exploration of the Elaphiti Islands, close to Dubrovnik. The week-long holiday combines a beach break with three nights aboard a catamaran and includes sea kayaking, paddle-boarding, hiking and cycling excursions, plus expert guiding (but not flights). Departs every Saturday and Sunday until 21 October, from £825pp.

artisantravel.co.uk

Tourists visit the ancient city of Petra in Jordan. Photo: Getty

Sea red in Jordan

Autumn is prime time for a sun-soaked break on Jordan’s Red Sea coast, a trip that will be made easier when easyJet launches a new route from Gatwick to the port of Aqaba on 10 November. The sandstone desert landscape of Wadi Rum and majestic “rose city” Petra, one of the New Wonders of the World, are also within easy reach. A week based at the Movenpick Resort and Residences in Aqaba costs from £828pp with B&B and flights.

easyjet.com/en/holidays

Villa Riecine Riecine vineyard in Tuscany
Villa Riecine Riecine vineyard in Tuscany

Tuscan harvest

La Vendemmia – the grape harvest – is a big deal in Chianti. Get involved by treading this season’s fruit at Riecine vineyard, a particularly pretty estate in the heart of the celebrated wine-growing region. Stay on-site at Villa Riecine, tucked into a hillside, or at one of many similar properties nearby. This year’s harvest has started earlier than usual, with a week’s self-catering for four costing £1,268 from 29 September.

to-tuscany.com

Lodges at New House Farm in Sussex
Lodges at New House Farm in Sussex

Sussex staycation

Celebrate summer’s last hurrah with a country escape to the Kent/Sussex border, where the six smart and comfortable Lodges at New House Farm overlook rolling High Weald scenery. Relax with a massage or facial while the kids play with friendly farm animals, or follow footpaths to Ticehurst village for memorable pub grub. There’s even a hot-tub for end-of-day soaks while barn owls hunt over the fields. Three-night self-catering stays cost from £450 for up to four people.

thelodgesnhf.com

The Salmon Run grizzly bears of British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Windowsonthewild.com
The Salmon Run grizzly bears of British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Windowsonthewild.com

Bear necessities

The salmon run – when the king of fish battle upriver to spawn – draws grizzly bears out of the woods for a pre-hibernation feast. Spot them on a week-long trip to British Columbia, Canada, which includes a stay at Knight Inlet Lodge in northern Vancouver Island, known for its dense population of bears. Combine this with a city break in Vancouver from £1,450pp, including flights, transfers, accommodation and a bear-watching excursion.

windowsonthewild.com

The Rock Hotel, Gibraltar
The Rock Hotel, Gibraltar

Eyes on the skies

As the closest point in Europe to Africa, Gibraltar clings onto sunbathing weather until well into October. Its position on the Straits of Gibraltar also makes it a magnet for migrating birds. In October, look out for storks and eagles spiralling high before embarking on their short sea crossing. A three-night break on The Rock costs from £598pp, including flights, transfers and a walking tour.

kirkerholidays.com

Fall foliage in the New England region is reaching its peak. Photo: Getty
Fall foliage in the New England region is reaching its peak. Photo: Getty

Fall foliage

The switch from summer heat to shorter days and cooler nights is the signal for trees to show off their seasonal splendour. Nowhere does “fall foliage” better than New England, where fiery coppers, golds and reds flush the landscape with brilliant colour. Catch the spectacle on a leisurely fly-drive from Boston to Vermont, via a few days hiking in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.Plan your route at discovernewengland.org/fall-foliage-maps. Nine nights from £1,795pp, including flights, car hire and accommodation.

bon-voyage.co.uk

Halkidiki, Greece. Photo: GNTO
Halkidiki, Greece. Photo: GNTO

Greece is the word

Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos – the three peninsulas of Halkidiki – reach into the Aegean Sea like the prongs of Poseidon’s trident. This crowd-free corner of northeast Greece remains perfect for beach breaks until late October and is easily accessible from eight UK airports with low-cost carrier, Jet2. Departing from Manchester on 22 September, for example, a week’s half-board at four-star Kriopigi Hotel costs from £499pp, including transfers.

jet2holidays.com

Lycian Way, Turkey. Photo: Ramblers Holidays
Lycian Way, Turkey. Photo: Ramblers Holidays

Coastal hiking

In Turkey, even walking from lounger to sea is a struggle in peak-season temperatures, but autumn offers ideal conditions for hiking the Lycian Way. One of the long-distance trail’s most photogenic stretches lies between Ölüdeniz and Adrasan. Follow it via classical sites, cedar forests and coastal mountains on a 14-night small-group walking tour from £1,450pp, including flights, transfers, most meals, guiding and a boat trip to a Byzantine city. Departs 9 October and 5 November.

ramblersholidays.co.uk

Levi Glass Igloo break in Finland by Best Served Scandinavia
Levi Glass Igloo break in Finland by Best Served Scandinavia

Autumn aurora

Dream of seeing the Northern Lights but put off by the cold? An autumnal aurora experience in Finnish Lapland, new this year, could be for you. The period before winter sees a spike in celestial activity as Earth’s orientation increases encounters with solar flares. It’s also wild mushroom season. Until 30 November, stay four nights (including one in a glass “igloo”) from £815pp, including flights, transfers and a Northern Lights cruise.

best-served.co.uk

Performers in a dragon costume at Jui Tui shrine during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival in the southern province of Phuket. Photo: Getty
Performers in a dragon costume at Jui Tui shrine during the annual Phuket Vegetarian Festival in the southern province of Phuket. Photo: Getty

Phuket parade

Don’t be fooled by its meat-free moniker: The Phuket Vegetarian Festival does more than venerate tofu and salad. Devotees parade through the streets bearing extraordinary facial piercings in an eye-popping show of bravado intended to ward off malevolent spirits. This year’s main parade takes place in Phuket Town on 15 October, as monsoon season starts to wane. A week in Phuket costs from £895pp, including flights, transfers and half-board, four-star accommodation.

flightcentre.co.uk

Monument to the Zulu warriors that fell at the Battle of Isandlwana. Dundee. KwaZulu Natal. South Africa
Monument to the Zulu warriors that fell at the Battle of Isandlwana. South Africa

Sizzling South Africa

Our summer may be on the wane, but it’s only just beginning in South Africa’s seaside city of Durban. Get there conveniently with British Airways’ new non-stop, thrice-weekly service from London Heathrow, which launches at the end of October. Set off on a self-drive adventure of KwaZulu-Natal province from Durban, to explore Atlantic beaches, the Drakensberg Mountains and Hluhluwe Game Reserve. Flights and 10 days’ car hire start at £489pp.

britishairways.com

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