Head to the Med for some decent weather

No crowds, lower prices - and do take your shades, says Susan Marling

What a pathetic summer we have had! Wet in May and June and only grudgingly, sporadically sunny the rest of the time, the summer ended with torrential rain, thunderstorms, eight inches of hail, snow and a tornado in Hull. Ever the model of restraint, the Met Office pronounced 2000 the dullest summer for 13 years.

What a pathetic summer we have had! Wet in May and June and only grudgingly, sporadically sunny the rest of the time, the summer ended with torrential rain, thunderstorms, eight inches of hail, snow and a tornado in Hull. Ever the model of restraint, the Met Office pronounced 2000 the dullest summer for 13 years.

Now, with October upon us, it is only the leaves on the trees that are turning brown. We feel cheated. We want the sun on our backs. One last swim. One last picnic. Time to throw a bit of cash at the situation and head to the warmer Mediterranean.

And here's where the web can help. The Good Web Guide to Travel, published last week, leads me into quality surfing of sites which give top news on the sunshine front. In Majorca this week, according to weather.com and www.bbc.co.uk/weather, I can expect clear days - along with some partly cloudy ones too - but a temperature high of 80-83F.

Of course, that isn't the only reason for going. It's sunny in Riyadh, and no one's suggesting a holiday there. On this page and the next, we highlight two places which are beautiful, warm in autumn and not full of other Brits: the Aeolian islands off Sicily and Çirali in south-east Turkey.

But there are many other possibilities, particularly for those of a more urban bent. I've always been a fan of Majorca in the low season and especially the island's charming capital. Palma is a greatly undersung Mediterranean city, known to too many British people only as the airport destination for 18-30 clubbers and stuffed-donkey-carrying tourists. In fact it has much more than transfer buses to recommend it.

Palma is layered with the remnants of Roman, Moorish and Christian empires. It has a royal palace, an Alcazar, to rival anything in Seville, a Gothic cathedral as fine as any in Spain, boulevards and parks like Madrid, even a modernista (art nouveau) hotel that could hold up its head in Barcelona. There's a Moorish bathhouse, a Jewish quarter, several more than halfway decent art galleries, a compelling and busy waterfront (part naval, part fancy yachts) and a market where food is rich, fresh and plentiful and where workers come for their morning brandy. And, yes, there's still opportunity for wearing shades in pavement cafés in October. You can also manage a swim before your hotel closes the pool.

This year, indeed, Majorca is smartly playing the winter card, promoting the idea of enjoying not just Palma but the beaches and mountains and countryside hotels without the pressure of summer crowds. There's a special emphasis on cultural events and developing local festivals. A season of more than 300 concerts is planned across the island. Walkers and birdwatchers, shoppers and wetsuit wearers are encouraged. The message is that, with its mild winter weather, the island is very much open for business.

Mdina, which was the capital of Malta before the Knights of St John dug themselves in at Valetta 10 miles east, is another overlooked Mediterranean city, perfect for a late summer visit. Often called the Silent City, it's a slightly faded aristocratic place tucked inside massive ramparts. Next weekend the silence is broken, however, as Malta's equivalent of the Sealed Knot prepare to re-enact the bicentenary of the French blockade of the city. A huge fiesta locally, it will provide an excuse for much outdoor music-making. The weather forecast is for clear skies and 82F temperatures.

The poshest hotel in Tunisia, the Residence, is right on the Mediterranean coast, just north of Carthage. While the majority of Tunisian hotels are fine for a late-season souk-shopping and flopping holiday, this one is a special treat for British summer-starved travellers wanting to make up for lost time. No need to swim in the Mediterranean - the thalassotherapy spa offers a close encounter with the sea in the form of bubbling seawater baths, hydro massages and the kind of flashing power showers which make you wonder if the local fire brigade hasn't arrived on a training day.

The hotel is a comfortable retreat from which to explore the walled Medina and the Bardo Museum in Tunis. The Bardo has an exceptional collection of Roman mosaics which make it clear that frolicking in the late summer sun is nothing new. In October the average temperature here is 79F with an average of eight hours of sunshine a day. Later in winter the temperature drops a little, but the weather is still bright and the pools swimmable by hardy northern Europeans.

Finally, consider Palermo. Sicily's battered fighter of a city, its gangsterish features slightly the worse for wear, is not the choice of the fastidious tourist. Sitting out in the sun eating squid and mixed fried fish by the Vucciria market may introduce you to new ways of clearing your plate (on to the pavement, into the local cat). But the Byzantine buildings here, and the gilded mosaics of the Cappella Palatina in particular, are alone worth the visit. And the Aeolian islands are within easy reach.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - major leisure brand

    £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Partner

    £25000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Partner is required to ...

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003