Q We're keen to go away during October half-term with our four-year-old daughter, somewhere within a four-hour flight that will still be warm then. We'd prefer the coast – and a nice hotel – with some activities for our daughter and cultural excursions for us. Where do you suggest? D Hawks, via email
A Crete, with its family-friendly resorts, sandy beaches and pleasant average October temperature of 20C, is a popular half- term destination, and comes in under your four-hour flight stipulation. The port town of Agios Nikolaos, on the north coast, is one good option. Set on a hilly peninsula beside Lake Vouslismeni, there's no shortage of hotels and resorts, mainly on the outskirts bordering sandy beaches. Agios Nikolaos itself is teeming with tavernas, cafés and craft shops, and has a quaint Folk Museum and fascinating Archaeological Museum. While it can get busy, there's plenty of breathing space further out on the beaches; and you could do a half-day boat trip to one of the outlying islands. These trips, booked through local agents, often include a barbecue, and cost around €60 (£50) per person.
The Tapestry Collection (020-8995 7787; www.tapestryholidays.com) offers one week in Agios Nikolaos at the St Nicolas Bay Hotel from £2,180 for the three of you, departing 23 October. This includes return easyJet flights to Heraklion, transfers and accommodation with breakfast. St Nicolas Bay is a luxurious village-style resort opening on to the beach, with an infinity pool, spa, children's club, games room and cinema. Babysitting can also be booked.
Alternatively, you might consider a coastal city, and Barcelona is hard to beat. With warm weather in October, the Catalan capital has a great buzz and plenty of activities for any age to enjoy. Gaudi's wacky Park Guell (Metro Liceu) is peppered with fairy-tale architecture, play parks, and craft sellers. The Picasso Museum is just one of many cultural places of interest, and a visit to Boqueria market is a must. You might not want to brave the sea, but the beaches are lovely for a stroll, stopping off for a paella in Barceloneta.
Flights are operated by easyJet (0905 821 0905; www. easyJet.com); BA (0844 493 0787; www.ba.com); Bmibaby (0871 224 0224; www. bmi baby.com); Jet2.com (0871 226 1737; www. jet2. com); Flyglobespan (0870 556 1522; www.flyglobespan.com); and Monarch (08700 40 50 40; www.flymonarch.com). A central family hotel is the Petit Palace Opera Garden (00 34 933 020 092; www. hthoteles.com), with doubles with an extra bed from €235 (£196). Also, www.kidsinbarcelona.com is very useful.
Send family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or email crusoe@ independent.co.uk