Q. We have a seven-year-old daughter and would like to go to Alonissos in Greece, preferably staying in a villa with pool.
Q. We have a seven-year-old daughter and would like to go to Alonissos in Greece, preferably staying in a villa with pool. However, we are too fair-skinned to go in peak season, so we will only be able to go at half-term, which is at the end of October. Will it still be warm enough? We are also concerned that it will be too late in the season, and that everything will be closed. We would really welcome your advice, or suggestions for any other locations. We like relative peace and quiet and want to book flights and accommodation for no more than £1,000 for the three of us.
M Hudson, via e-mail
A. Alonissos is a wonderfully tranquil island in the Sporades, but by the end of October most things will indeed be closed. The season in the Greek islands ends at the beginning of October, and many of the charter flights from the UK begin to peter out at the end of September, so you will need to look at some alternatives. You can still go to mainland Greece, when the weather should still be hovering around the 20C mark. You will also need to move quickly: already many companies that I have spoken to are reporting extremely limited availability for the half-term break.
Greek specialist operator Filoxenia (01422 371 796; www.escape-packages.com) still has availability during the October half-term, at Villa Lilly near Tolo in the Peloponnese.
The Peloponnese is Greece's largest island, attached to the mainland only by the bridges at Corinth. It is a beautiful region with glorious beaches, and ancient sites dot the landscape. Villa Lilly is a small block offering studios and apartments with the use of a shared pool, and wonderful views over open countryside. The long, sandy beach and the nearest taverna are only five minutes' walk away and Tolo, steeped in history and ancient sites, is 15-20 minutes on foot.
Although most of the tourists will have gone by this late in the season, shops and restaurants in Tolo should still be open. You will also only be five miles from Nafplio, the one-time capital of Greece and a city of great charm. There is a paved marble square, many castles (including one on a tiny island), a pretty waterfront and traffic-free streets in the old quarter.
The cost of a studio apartment (one large room with three beds, kitchenette, bathroom, balcony/terrace) at Villa Lilly is currently £918 for the three of you. This includes return flights from London Heathrow to Athens on 23 or 24 October (flights from Manchester or London Gatwick are also possible at about the same cost). The flight time is about three hours, followed by a two-hour drive. Filoxenia can arrange car hire for the week from the airport, from £180 for an Opal Corsa (Group B), although you might find a cheaper option booking online - try www.holidayautos.co.uk or www.carrentals.co.uk.
Alternatively, if you want to be a little surer of the weather, you could head further south to southern Turkey, where the temperature should be about 25C at this time of year - although you will still need to pack a jumper for the evenings. Exclusive Escapes (020-8605 3500; www.hiddenturkey.com) features Villa Terra Nova on the Lycian Coast in south-west Turkey, set in wild gardens with stunning views over the valley and bay of Gokova, and a private swimming-pool. The light and airy stone villa has a fully equipped, open-plan kitchen and sitting-room with two air-conditioned bedrooms. The villa is 7km from the pretty town of Akyaka, which is in the traditional architectural style known as Ula-Mugla, with riverside restaurants and a sandy beach.
Akyaka caters for many Turks from Istanbul who have holiday homes there, ensuring that a good choice of restaurants will be open at that time. Marmaris and the Dalyan Delta are about a 45-minute drive away while the Bozburun Peninsula is an hour's drive away. The total price of £1,000 for the three of you departing on 23 October, includes return flights from Heathrow to Dalaman, seven nights self-catering at Villa Terra Nova, plus transfers (about 50 minutes). Again, you can arrange car hire though the company, but it should be cheaper if booked online.
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