The top 20 bargain getaways

Fancy a holiday before the half-term crowd hits the airport? Ian McCurrach rounds up some last-minute bargains, from a city break in Reykjavik to whale-watching in the Azores


1 . Med cruise

Find your sea legs on a Mediterranean cruise aboard the Costa Concordia.Sailing out of Barcelona and back, ports of call include Palma, Tunis, Valletta in Malta, Palermo, Civitavecchia and Savona.

The deal: Costa Cruises (020-7940 4499; costacruises.co.uk) offers a seven-night fully inclusive Mediterranean Magic break from £984 per person, based on two sharing a two-bed inside cabin, including return flights from Heathrow or Gatwick to Barcelona and transfers. Departs 13, 20 May and offers a saving of £240 per person.

2 . Malta

Enjoy the countryside of Malta before the heat of summer hits. Your base is the four-star Gillieru Harbour Hotel on the water's edge in St Paul's Bay, a family-owned hotel with swimming pool and roof terrace.

The deal: Chevron Air Holidays (0844 412 4440; chevron.co.uk) offers a seven-night half-board break at the Gillieru Harbour Hotel from £185 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick and car hire. Valid for departures 9 to 24 May and offers a saving of £95 per person.

3 . Germany

Self-skipper a five-star Europa motorboat and discover the waterways and lakes that connect Hamburg and Berlin.

The deal: Cardinal Boating Holidays (0845 450 5229; cardinalboating.com) offers a seven-night self-catering river-cruising break from £378 per person, based on six sharing, including return flights from Stansted to Berlin. Valid for departures 9 to 24 May and offers a saving of £96 per person.

4 . Tuscany

Hole up in Tuscany at Il Bagnese, a rural villa which sleeps six and is close to the village of Montagnano. The villa has a well-equipped kitchen, pool table and large garden with a pool.

The deal: James Villa Holidays (0870 085 0722; jamesvillas.co.uk) offers a seven-night break from £244 per person, based on six sharing, including flights from Gatwick to Pisa and two hire cars. Departs 16 May, saving £111 per person.

5 . Corsica

The Villa Castagni is a traditional two-bedroom villa with a large private pool, just a 10-minute drive from Porto Vecchio and the sandy beach at Pinarellu. Set in peaceful surroundings the property offers easy access to walking in the mountains.

The deal: Voyages Ilena (020-7924 4440; voyages ilena.co.uk) offers a seven-night break at Villa Castagni for £499 per person, based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick to Figari and car hire. Departs 13 May and offers a saving of £258 per person.

6 . Helsinki

Stay at the Seurahuone Hotel, a four-star 19th-century Art Nouveau property within walking distance of the top sights including the Old Market Hall and Market Square.

The deal: Expedia (0871 226 0808; expedia.co.uk) offers a four-night b&b break from £288 per person, based on two sharing, including flights from Heathrow. Departs 17 May and offers a saving of £140 per person.

7 . Azores

Stay on Sao Miguel, the largest of the islands at the three-star Avenida Hotel in the main town and port of Ponta Delgada.

The deal: Sunvil Discovery (020-8758 4722; sunvil.co. uk) offers a three-night b&b break from £337 per person, based on two sharing. The package includes a whale and dolphin-watching trip, flights from Gatwick and transfers. Departs throughout May and offers a saving of £166 per person.

8 . Mallorca

The five-star Son Net hotel is a converted finca with a wellness centre and one of the island's top restaurants.

The deal: Original Travel (020-7978 7333; originaltravel.co.uk) offers a seven-night b&b break with an upgrade to a superior room from £1,105 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow to Palma and car hire. Valid for departures from 6-31 May and offers a saving of £457 per person.

9 . Ravello

Stay at La Villette apartments near the centre of Ravello above the Amalfi coast. Each apartment has a private patio or balcony and there is a shared pool.

The deal: Citalia (0870 909 7554; citalia.com) offers a seven-night self-catering break from £299 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Bristol, Gatwick, East Midlands, Glasgow or Manchester. Departs 18 May and offers a saving of £300 per person.

10 . Greece

Enjoy water sports at The Retreat Neilson Beach Club on the Ionian coast, near the port of Sivota.

The deal: Neilson (0870 909 9099; neilson.com) offers a seven-night break from £399 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick, transfers, half-board accommodation, four evening meals and all activities. Departs 20 May and offers a saving of £320 per person.

11 . Cyprus

Enjoy complimentary half-board at Le Meridien Limassol Spa & Resort.

The deal: Harlequin (0845 450 6433; harlequinholidays.com) offers a seven-night half-board break from £795 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick to Paphos and transfers. Valid for departures throughout May and June, saving £245 per person.

12 . Sicily

Shape up for summer at the Club Med Village of Kamarina, situated on the south east coast of Sicily.

The deal: Club Med (0845 367 6767; clubmed.co.uk) offers a seven-night fully inclusive break from £449 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick, transfers, all meals with wine, insurance and all activities. Departs 13 May and offers a saving of £321 per person.

13 . Turkey

Yediburunlar Lighthouse is a six-bedroom eco retreat situated on top of the mountains overlooking the Mediterranean, on one of the dramatic sections of the Lycian Way.

The deal: Exclusive Escapes (020-8605 3500; exclusiveescapes.co.uk) offers a seven-night half-board break from £450 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Heathrow or Manchester, transfers, three days' guided trekking and a one-day gulet cruise. Departs 12, 19 May and offers a saving of £250 per person.

14 . Corsica

Villa Macapola is a large five-bedroom property on the south-east coast near the beaches of Santa Manza and Ballistra. Bonifacio is only a short distance away.

The deal: Coastline (0844 557 1020; coastline.co.uk) offers a seven-night self-catering break at Villa Macapola from £439 per person, based on 10 people sharing, including return flights from Gatwick, car hire, twice weekly maid service with change of linen, bath and beach towels, daily bread, croissants, newspaper delivery and concierge service. Departs 13 May and offers a saving of £120 per person.

15 . Crete

The Eden Apartments in Aghia Marina are set on the north-west coast of Crete on a 4km stretch of fine sandy beach. The traditional resort offers a good selection of bars and tavernas and there are plenty of water sports on offer along with sightseeing trips to Heraklion, the Palace of Knossos and the Samaria Gorge.

The deal: The Travel Club of Upminster (01708 225000; travelclubofupminster.co.uk) offers a 14-night self-catering break at the Eden Apartments from £421 person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick and other regional airports and transfers. Valid for departures in May, offering a saving of £117 per person.

16 . Lake Garda

Take a rest cure on the shores of Lake Garda at either the three-star Royal or Suite Hotel. Garda offers plenty of Italian charm, beautiful scenery and a mix of history, culture and art. Wander through Garda's cobbled streets, take a boat trip on the lake and enjoy warm spring sun.

The deal: Inghams Travel (020-8780 4433; inghams.co.uk) offers a seven-night half-board break at the Royal or Suite Hotel from £334 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Gatwick and transfers. Departs 12, 16 May and offers savings of £128 per person.

17 . Istanbul

Sample the eastern promise of Istanbul at the three-star Golden Crown Hotel, which is within walking distance of all the must-see sights.

The deal: Metak Holidays (020-8290 9292; metak holidays.co.uk) offers a three-night b&b break from £279 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Stansted and transfers. Valid for departures 9 to 24 May and offers a saving of £60 per person.

18 . Sardinia

Escape to the prestigious Forte Village in Sardinia and take along a child under 12 for free.

The deal: ITC Classics (01244 355527; itcclassics. co.uk) offers a seven-night half-board break at the five-star Hotel Castello from £3,995, based on two adults and one child sharing, including return flights from Gatwick and transfers. Offer valid throughout May and June, offering a total saving of £600.

19. The best Luxury golf: Green heaven in Marbella

Seasons in Style (01244 202000; seasonsinstyle.co.uk) offers a seven-night room-only break at Marbella's exclusive Hotel Villa Padierna from £1,005 per person based on two sharing a Classic room, including return flights from Heathrow and transfers. Guests also receive one complimentary green fee or one complimentary massage per stay and a room upgrade (subject to availability). Valid for departures until July, saving £480 per person.

The best Midnight sun: Icelandic wonders

Make the most of up to 20 hours of daylight to explore the vibrant city of Reykjavik and the natural wonders of Iceland. The deal: Icelandair Holidays (0870 787 4020; icelandair.co.uk) offers a three-night b&b break at the three-star Park Inn or Hotel Loftleidir from £295 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights from Manchester. Departs 11, 18 May and offers a saving of £124 per person.

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