If you’re thinking that summer in Europe is over for another year, then think again. You can stretch out your summer a little longer with a last-minute visit to one of the islands of the Mediterranean. Many offer an opportunity to catch some rays as late in the season as October.
With temperatures cooling down after their peak in July or August, it’s a great time to slip into a car and take a coastal drive along the shimmering sea or up into the hills. The comfortably warm weather and lack of large crowds makes it easier to really get to know a place. Why not give one of these beautiful sun-drenched rocks a try?
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The east coast of Menorca is the first place in Spain to witness the sunrise each day, and it continues to shine brightly into October. With 300 days of sunshine per year, you’re likely to be greeted with great beach weather, even in autumn. The attractive natural scenery is dotted with sleepy villages and the island is fringed with a series of small sandy coves and bays.
Laidback Punta Prima has a Blue Flag status and shallow waters that are great for bathing in. You’ll also get fabulous views of Isla Del Aire and its lighthouse in the distance. Or try Cala’n Forcat and Los Delfines, tranquil coves lapped by calm, clear waters.
On the other side of the island, there’s the lovely three-kilometre stretch of sand at Santo Tomas. It’s just a short drive away from the capital, Mahon, where you can wander through the historic streets or chill at an open air café. If you’re feeling active, the Path of Horses encircles the island offering some fantastic hiking, cycling and horse riding routes.
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Malta is made up of three enchanting islands where you can catch some sizzling hot, sunny October days. The largest of the trio is Malta Island itself, jam-packed with fascinating historical attractions and a melting pot of various cultural influences that have left their mark over the years.
As well as quaint hilltop villages and palm tree-lined port towns, you’ve got the charming capital Valletta. The city reveals tales of the Knights of Malta, including Saint John’s Cathedral. Set off up the hills to check out the medieval city of Mdina or visit the Neolithic UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Hal Saflieni Hypogeum to see Prehistoric Tarxien temples.
Malta Island has got its fair share of beautiful beaches, such as Ghajn Tuffieha and Golden Bay. But if you’re after some real stunners, hop on a boat to its friendly neighbour, the island of Gozo. Within just half an hour, you could be relaxing on the pristine sandy beaches or snorkelling around the stunning rock pools in the clear turquoise waters.
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The rugged natural beauty of Corsica is breath-taking. Forest-cloaked mountains stretch down to sensational bays and secret coves. Take a drive and explore the 200 beaches along the Corsican coastline. Shallow, crystalline waters surround these magnificent patches of dazzling white sand.
Check out Porto Vecchio, where you can tuck into authentic food at the harbour-side restaurants. The Italian and French flavour influences of Corsican cuisine are intensified by the just-picked freshness of the local ingredients that grow there.
Hop in your car and explore the picturesque cliff-top villages. You might want to opt for a small vehicle as some of these winding roads, pretty as they are, can be a tight squeeze. The hills hum with the fragrant scent of wild herbs and there are plenty of hiking trails to explore, all with stunning views. They include the challenging GR20 route, running diagonally across the island.
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Whether you’re looking for history, cuisine or beaches, bright and bubbly Sicily has got it all. From its bustling capital city of Palermo, with its lively street markets, to quaint medieval hilltop villages, there are many shades to Sicily’s colourful culture.
You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to sight-seeing. Take the scenic road up to the town of Erice and its impressive Norman castle. In the south, you’ve got the Valley of the Temples, a collection of magnificent 5th century Doric-style ruins. Or head to the history-rich town of Syracuse, one of this year’s Avis Untrending hidden gems. The panoramic views from Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest volcano, are not to be missed.
Sicily also comes with a selection of delightful beaches. Try glamourous Taormina beach, where you’ll also find chic beach bars, designer boutiques and a Greek amphitheatre to explore. Or for something a little more traditional, check out the sandy beach and fishing town of Cefalu. Or Alì Terme, a beach surrounded by warm thermal waters.
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Greece’s largest island also happens to be its hottest. You can expect the majority of the year to be dry and warm on Crete, including the autumn months. It’s a good time to fit in a bit of sight-seeing, after the large queues have eased off. Don’t miss the archaeological site at Knossos or Lychnostatis Open Air Museum.
A little exploring can bring great rewards. Aside from the beautiful popular beaches, quieter bays and secluded coves can also be found if you drive along the shoreline. Try the golden sands of Elafonisi beach which is on an islet joined to the main island by a road. Or if you’d like to explore other natural Cretan wonders, take a trip to Samaria National Park to see the spectacular 18-kilometre gorge.
Crete also has some vibrant port towns to discover, such as Chania with its pretty Venetian harbour. Or visit the capital, Heraklion, where you’ll find a selection of shops, cafés and museums. Pop into the Heraklion Archaeological Museum to see intriguing collections from the Prehistoric, Roman and Hellenic periods.
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Holiday-makers flock to Cyprus in their thousands during the peak of summer. But the island is particularly lovely as the season draws to a close. Family resorts like Protaras are a little more laidback and you get to see another, more traditional side to upbeat party towns like Ayia Napa. But while the crowds and prices drop, the sunshine remains strong with October temperatures simmering around 28°C.
As well as the Troodos Mountains providing scenic driving routes and plenty of picturesque villages to stop off at, there’s also a fantastic selection of beaches to choose from. Head over to the west coast to discover the harbour town of Paphos, with its charming marina and gold-sand beaches. It’s also near one of the island’s main attractions, The Tombs of the Kings.
As well as boasting some of the island’s most beautiful stretches of sand, the Larnica region is home to a series of salt lakes where you might spot a flock of flamingos. Be sure to explore the abundance of ancient attractions across Cyprus, including Kourion. Here you’ll find temple ruins and mosaics with the glistening blue sea as a backdrop.