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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
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

    Old Royal Naval College: ORNC Visitor Experience Volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Sales Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This airport parking organisation are looking...

    Recruitment Genius: PCV Bus Drivers

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Do you enjoy bus driving and are looking for ...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - York

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Technician - Y...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project