Peak seasons vary from destination to destination, but visit at traditionally less popular times of year and you’re likely to find fewer people – and lower prices. Here are five of our favourite options for off-season escapes.
Forget summer in La Serenissima, explore Venice in winter and enjoy what the city has to offer without having to battle hordes of other tourists. The piazzas, canals and churches become instantly more accessible (and the canals are significantly less smelly), while flight and hotel rates drop off around mid-November. Temperatures will be chilly and there’s always the slight risk of “acqua alta”, which is what the Venetians call temporary flooding, but that’s nothing a good pair of wellies can’t contend with.
Expedia (expedia.co.uk) has long weekends in Venice from at little as £60pp in December including flights – if you don’t mind being based slightly outside the city in Mestre. But even a stay at a three-star hotel in Lido costs just £103pp for three nights, with flights.
Austria has fine temperatures over the summer months but sometimes this weather gets extended into late October. Visiting at this time also means missing the high seasons (summer for hiking and winter for skiing) so you can walk the Alps without the crowds.
Inntravel (inntravel.co.uk) offers various walking holidays in Austria up until the end of October, starting at £475 for three nights, with full board and self-guided walks, but not flights.
One of the priciest safari destinations, Botswana is never going to be a budget-friendly place to visit. But you can save on a wildlife-spotting trip by visiting in the “green season”, November-April, when rain is frequent and the thick vegetation makes animals that bit harder to find. However, many species such as impalas and springbok give birth at this time of year so there should be plenty of babies (and circling predators) to spot.
Responsible Travel (responsibletravel.com) offers a two-week camping safari in Botswana from £1,395pp in green season, including tented accommodation, most meals and safari activities but excluding flights.
October in Colorado’s mountains is traditionally the shoulder season, when the skiers aren’t interested in visiting the major resorts such as Aspen, Vail and Wolf Creek, as the snow isn’t quite perfect yet. It will be chilly, but the landscape is just as beautiful, draped in autumn colours, and hotels and restaurants are significantly cheaper.
Lastminute.com offers hotel and flight packages to Breckenridge, Colorado, from £1,200 room only for a week in October.
Milan in August offers a rare treat to visitors as the city is practically empty. Temperatures are pretty hot but at least this isn’t heightened by having to move through throngs of people. The locals tend take their own summer breaks at this time, particularly during the traditional holiday period of “ferragosto” between 15 August and 1 September, but thankfully the city doesn’t shut down. Restaurants and tourist hotspots like the Duomo and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper are still accessible, and the hotels are cheaper, too.
British Airways Holidays (ba.com/holidays) is selling trips to Milan for next August from £177pp for three nights including flights and room-only accommodation.