The top 20 sunshine escapes

Can't believe it's nearly time to turn back the clocks? Then you'd better grab the last few rays while you can. Ian McCurrach snaps up the best bargains to send you on your way
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The Independent Travel

1. Sail the Ionian sea

Beginners join a tuition yacht with a qualified instructor. Experienced sailors travelling solo, or in a couple, are matched together so that each boat in the flotilla has a suitable mix of skippers and competent crew. Yachts meet up at a different port every evening for dinner ashore.

What's the deal? Sunvil Sailing (020-8758 4780; sunvil.co.uk) offers this seven-night flotilla cruise for £399 including flights from Gatwick, transfers, learn-to-sail tuition and live-aboard accommodation. Departs 24 September and 1 October and offers a saving of £134. The single supplement has also been waived.

2. Take in the view in Mallorca

Enjoy views of the Mallorcan countryside and the monastery of San Salvador from Es Pujol de Miguel, a four-bedroom, three-bathroom property situated close to the market town of Felantix. The villa sleeps up to eight, has its own private pool and separate children's pool and is within easy reach of country restaurants, waterfront fish cafés and unspoilt beaches.

What's the deal? Vintage Travel (0845-344 0420; vintagetravel.co.uk) offers a week's rental of Es Pujol de Miguel for £650 (or £82 per person based on full occupancy), excluding flights and car hire. Starts 30 September and saves £200. Flights and car hire arranged on request.

3. Chill out in Ibiza

Enjoy the quiet side of the white isle at the Montemar Apartments in the peaceful resort of Cala Llonga. North-east of Ibiza Town, the resort has a long stretch of golden beach and is surrounded by picturesque pine-covered hills.

What's the deal? Direct Holidays (0870-191 9185; directholidays.co.uk) offers this seven-night self-catering break for £129, including flights from Manchester and transfers. Departs 1 October; offers a saving of £191.

4. A cruise for the cultured

Discover the Mediterranean's cultural hot spots on this Mediterranean Highlights Cruise. Expert tour guides will show you the works of Miro, Picasso and Dali in Barcelona, St Peter's Cathedral in Rome and the vineyards and villages of Santorini.

What's the deal? Orient Lines (0845-6588050; orientlines.co.uk) offers this seven-night fly-cruise for £599, including all meals and entertainment aboard ship, transfers, port taxes and economy flights from Heathrow. Departs 11 October and offers a saving of £500.

5. Soak up the sun in Greece

Soak up the last of the summer rays at the all-suite Porto Sani Village in Halkidiki on mainland Greece. The purpose-built resort has more than 7km of golden beaches, extensive grounds, lagoon-style pools and around 15 bars and 16 restaurants to choose from.

What's the deal? The Sani Resort (00 30 23730 95100; saniresort.gr) offers five nights' half-board accommodation for £550, excluding flights. Two children stay for free when travelling with two adults. Valid 8-20 October and offers a saving of £220.

6. Do it yourself in Menorca

Villa Ribes is a three-bed property, sleeping up to six, near Binibeca in Menorca. With panoramic views of the sea and its own private pool, the villa is close to a good selection of bars and restaurants

What's the deal? The Villa Collection (01753 853737; thevillacollection.co.uk) offers a week's rental of Villa Ribes for £599, including welcome hamper of groceries, towels and linen but excludes flights and car hire (can be arranged on request). Starts 22 September and offers a saving of £436.

7. Get on the water in Turkey

Ottoman meets Oriental at Club Perili, in Turkey. Situated on a secluded bay, it has good conditions for windsurfers, dinghy sailing and day yacht sailing. Beyond the shelter of the land, the outer sailing area challenges more seasoned sailors. For the less active, the spa offers indulgence and relaxation.

What's the deal? Sunsail Clubs (0870-112 8487; sunsail.co.uk) offers 14 nights half-board at Club Perili for £608, including flights and use of water sports equipment. Departs 30 September; offers a saving of £420.

8. See Limassol on a budget

Stay on a budget at the two-star Caravel Hotel in the busy seaside resort of Limassol, the centre of the Cypriot wine-making industry. Backed by the Troodos mountains, the resort has plenty of nightlife, beaches and makes a good base for exploring the island's highlights.

What's the deal? Olympic Holidays (0870-429 4242; olympicholidays.com) offers seven nights b&b for £240, including flights from Manchester and transfers. Departs 8 October and offers a saving of £168.

9. Hop off the Lycian coast

The pristine pedestrianised island of Sovalye is just 10 minutes by boat from the port of Fethiye on the Lycian Coast but is a world apart. Set on the water's edge, the Ece Boutique Hotel has 11 rooms all with sea views, a private beach club, pool, terrace restaurant and shady gardens.

What's the deal? Exclusive Escapes (020-8605 3500; hiddenturkey.com) offers this seven-night b&b break for £600, including flights from Heathrow or Manchester to Dalaman, transfers and a day's gulet cruise. Departs 23 September and offers a saving of £150.

10. Ship to shore around the Med

Cruise the western Mediterranean onboard the Island Star taking in Villefranche, La Spezia, Marseille, Barcelona and Ibiza Town. Highlights of the cruise also include trips to Florence and Pisa.

What's the deal? Island Cruises (0870-850 3959; islandcruises.com) offers this seven-night full-board cruise for £499, including flights from Gatwick to Palma and transfers. Departs 23 September and offers a saving of £560.

11. Go organic on an eco-yacht

This bespoke private yacht charter sailing on a 25m traditional wooden boat follows an ecological theme. The highlights include visits to two national parks, secluded coves and beaches and Croatia's small car-free islands. Organic meals are served onboard throughout.

What's the deal? Dalmatian Destinations (020-7730 8007; dalmatiande- stinations.com) offers this seven-night half-board break from £970, based on 12 sharing six en-suite cabins, including flights from London, transfers, mooring fees and port taxes. Departs 23 September and offers a saving of £180.

12. Vintage villa in Corsica

Campo Longo is a three-bed villa with its own stone chapel, private swimming-pool, DVD player, satellite TV, microwave and dishwasher. Situated in the Valinco Gulf region of Corsica, the villa is housed in a converted old winery, which has been restored in an authentic style with wooden beams and terracotta tiles.

What's the deal? Simpson Travel (0845-811 6501; simpsontravel.com/corsica) offers seven nights' self-catering for £495, based on four sharing, including flights and car hire. Departs on 24 September; offers a saving of £170.

13. Keep it active in Sharm

From world-class diving to quad biking across the desert, camel rides, dinner under the stars with the Bedouins, snorkelling, water sports galore or just plain sitting in the sun, Sharm el-Sheikh has something for everyone.

What's the deal? Thomson Holidays (0870-550 2555; thomson.co.uk) offers this seven-night all-inclusive break at the Radisson SAS Resort in Taba for £289, including flights from Gatwick and transfers. Departs 6 October and offers a saving of £226 if booked online.

14. Luxury down on the farm

Can Toni Mosca is a beam-laden stone farmhouse, tile-hung in traditional bleached russet tones, with a luxurious country-house feel. There are three high-quality bathrooms to match each of its bedrooms, a large swimming-pool and attractive terrace areas set around the spaciously and attractively furnished living-room.

What's the deal? Meon Villas (0870-850 8551 www.meonvillas.co.uk) offers one week's rental of Can Toni Mosca for up to six from £669. Departs 3, 10 or 17 October and offers a saving of £670. Flights and car hire can be arranged on request.

15. Fresh and wild in Crete

Kalithea Apartments are situated in the small town of Kalives on Crete's north-west coastline and provide a good base for a late-autumn foodie break with the chance of sampling the first and freshest oils, wines and nuts of the season. There is also a chestnut festival in the village of Elos, near Kissamos to enjoy.

What's the deal? Travel Club of Upminster (01708 225000; travelclubofupminster.co.uk) offers this 14-night self-catering break for £383, including flights and transfers. Departs 10 October and offers a saving of £102.

16. Get walking in Samos

Samos offers a rugged mountainous interior, small fishing hamlets, untouched villages and plenty of sandy beaches. The Anastasia Apartments are a three-minute walk from the beach at Votsalakia, a small, peaceful resort with a good choice of restaurants. The nearby mountains offer good walks with remote villages and a monastery to explore.

What's the deal? Sunvil Specialist Greece (020-8758 4758; sunvil.co.uk) offers this seven-night self-catering break from £289, including flights from Gatwick and transfers. Departs 28 September; offers £163 saving.

17. Ancient and modern in Malta

Set in the village of Balzan in the heart of Malta, the five-star Corinthia Palace Hotel provides a central base from which to explore the island. Balzan is just a short journey from the ancient walled city of Mdina, the capital city Valletta and the nightlife hub of St Julian's.

What's the deal? Chevron Holidays (0870-075 7506; chevron.co.uk) offers this seven-night b&b break at the Corinthia Palace Hotel from £389, including flights from Gatwick and transfers. Departs 28 September and offers savings of £100.

18. Go five-star in Fujairah

Located at the foot of the Hajar Mountains the emirate of Fujairah, Dubai's next-door neighbour, is much quieter and more laid-back luxury five-star resort. Fujairah is the only emirate on the Indian Ocean and offers plenty of water sports including diving, fishing and snorkelling. Looking to de-stress? Then opt for Ayurvedic treatments or gentle laps of the pool.

What's the deal? The Airline Network (0870-234 9913; goldmedal.co.uk) offers a five-night b&b break at the Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort for £589, including flights from Heathrow. Departures up to 20 October offer a saving of saving of £236 (must be booked by 26 September).

All prices are correct at the time of going to press. Prices quoted are per person and based on two sharing unless otherwise stated. Savings made are per person based on the original brochure price unless otherwise stated

The best luxury hotel

The Aphrodite Hills Resort is a luxurious five-star hotel near Paphos, Cyprus, set either side of the Randidi Gorge. It offers everything from golf to spa and beyond. Billowing drapes, stylish sofas, cool stone floors and chill-out music add to the atmosphere. Planet Holidays (0871 871 2234; planet-holidays.co.uk) offers seven nights' half-board from £905, including flights from Gatwick and private transfers, a saving of £270. Departs 20 September.

The best cut-price cruise

This Iberian cruise takes in the historic French town of La Rochelle and its cognac cellars; Lisbon in Portugal; the ancient city of Cadiz; Gibraltar and its Rock with its Barbary apes and, finally, La Coruna which is crammed with cafes and bars. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines (01473 742424; fredolsencruises.co.uk) offers a 10-day all-inclusive cruise for £695, which represents a saving of £515. The ship departs from Liverpool on 29 September.

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