There’s no doubt about it, holidays abroad are back. With restrictions lifted, millions of us will take to the skies this year for a bit of fun in the sun. But with everyone rushing to their phones to snap up the latest holiday deals, things can get booked up pretty fast – that’s where a last minute escape comes into play…
Now, last minute doesn’t mean you have to leave tomorrow, or even a week from now. You can book weeks ahead, and still score yourself a last-minute bargain. That means you’ve got time to fit into that swimsuit from 3 years ago, and give fair warning to your boss!
Not all holidays are made equal when comes to doing it last minute, of course. Long-haul holidays are a hassle, and that hike up K2 you had planned is going to have to wait. What you need is somewhere nearby with minimal fuss and maximum bang for your buck. Just like these 3 last minute beauties…
An island paradise
You can’t go wrong with a late deal to Tenerife, whether you’re an island explorer or straight up sun-seeker. There are tons up top beaches to bronze on, dramatic mountains to hike, and a nightlife that will knock your socks off – it’s the Canary Island that has it all.
Tenerife’s biggest draw is the fantastic year-round weather, so it makes a last minute escape a no-brainer. Visit in December and it’s shorts weather. Visit in September, and it’s shorts weather. You get the picture.
That means beaches, and Tenerife delivers the goods when it comes to strips of sand and blue ocean. Staying in the capital Santa Cruz means you’ve got Las Teresitas Beach on your doorstep, with its golden sand from the Sahara. The beach is Blue Flag, and as a bonus you’ll find kiosks serving up Canarian food, Mojitos and ice-cream. The perfect beach?
If you find yourself in the south, then head straight for Playa del Duque. This slice of paradise comes with calm waves, soft sand and a few palm trees for good measure. There are sun loungers to top up the tan, and behind the beach you’ll find an impressive range of bars and restaurants offering everything from tapas to pub grub.
Did we mention the giant volcano in the middle of the island? Don’t worry – it’s dormant, but it does make for some jaw-dropping views. If you have a head for heights, you can journey 3,500 metres to the top of Mount Teide in a cable car. For the extra-adventurous, you can hike to the summit. Either way, be prepared for an adrenaline-pumping experience.
For a night on the tiles, head to Playa de las Americas in the southwest. There’s a top night out for every taste, whether you’re into club classics, rock, karaoke or live music. You’ll find sports bars, Irish pubs, and 2 for 1 deals on cocktails – it’s all here. For a more chilled-out vibe, hop over to Santa Cruz in the island’s north for lounge bars and rooftop cocktails.
This Greek island gem is tailor-made for a last minute escape. There’s an abundance of laidback beaches, amazing ancient ruins and a night life that ranges from cocktails on the beach to dance ‘til you drop.
The beaches on the island are perfect for all-day bronzing and dips in the ocean. Check out Kallithea for clear blue water, where you can snorkel the day away looking for colourful fish and sea turtles.
Make your way to Tsambika Beach for one of the most beautiful spots on the island. Play it cool at a beach bar, or hire a lounge bed to soak up the rays. You can even fly across the water on a jet ski, or take to the skies on a parasail.
Late nights and ancient sites
When it comes to a great night out, Rhodes delivers. Start at Oasis Beach In Kallithea, where you’ll stumble across a cave – with a bar inside! This holey hotspot is open all day for a chilled-out mixed drink, but comes alive at night with DJ’s, dancing – and even diving off the pier.
Move on to Faliraki town, where you can listen to live music over dinner, or sip on a pint at an Irish pub. Walk along Bar Street and you’ll find a watering hole for every taste, with tons of top dance clubs, rock bars, and karaoke pubs. Unwind at a lounge bar or party until dawn – the night is yours!
For something a bit calmer, put Lindos on the list, where you can step back in time at the archaeological park. Get your picture taken at the Temple of Athena, and retrace the steps of royalty as you wander the Palace of the Knights. There’s even a beautiful beach nearby to cap off a peaceful day away from the crowds.
3. The Algarve
The perfect all-rounder for late deal holidays, this Portuguese paradise caters to families, couples and party-goers alike. With outstanding beaches, ocean-going adventures and wild n’ wicked water parks, it’s time to dive in!
Base your holiday in Albufeira town on the south coast, and you’re a stone’s throw from Praia de Felecia, one of Europe’s best beaches. This 6km-long strip of sand backed by orange-tinted cliffs has to be seen to be believed. Talk about Insta-ready.
To change things up, head west to Faro and Carvalho Beach, for a wonderland of grottoes, golden sand and turquoise ocean. With limestone cliffs either side of the beach, and beautiful see-through water, there’s nowhere better to get away from it all. There’s even a bar for a colourful cocktail or two.
From here, it’s time to take to the seas on a kayak adventure. Paddle around the coast and take in the amazing sea cliffs and rock formations before stopping at Benagil Cave. This ocean cave is truly spectacular – no spoilers here, but trust us, you’ll want to make time for this holiday highlight.
For watery adventures of a different kind, spend a day at Slide & Splash, the biggest and best water park in Portugal. Test your mettle on Black Hole and Kamikaze, and speed to victory on the Mat Racer. Little ones will love the park too, where they can shoot down foam slides and have a blast splashing about in the kid’s zone.
If night-time adventures are more your thing, then there’s plenty to keep you occupied in exciting Albufeira. Have a low-key start to the evening in the historic Old Town where you’ll find a number of excellent eateries and bars. Then get yourself to The Strip (watch out for the mechanical bull!) for a night of karaoke, live music, and dancing ‘til the sun comes up.