Q. We are a family of four, including two girls of 12 and 14. Work duties mean we can only go away for a week in August. The girls are determined that we take them abroad this year to experience some sunshine and the thrill of going on a plane! We are at a loss as to where to go. Ideally we want somewhere with culture, shops and a pool, but also with places of historical interest close at hand. Corinne, Ashford, Kent
A. Two suggestions for an affordable high-season holiday. The first: book flights to Porto in northern Portugal, on easyJet or TAP Portugal from Gatwick or Ryanair from Stansted. Buy now, because fares will only rise as summer approaches. Don't pay for extra luggage, because it will be so warm in August that you won't need much baggage. Porto offers a blend of dramatic cityscapes, robust culture, great food – and a beach at the end of a tram ride from the city centre. It is also excellent value, with the lowest prices of any major city in western Europe. At the clean and cheerful Residencial Aviz, a family room for four costs as little as €50 a night – including breakfast. With flights at around £180 return each, travel and accommodation for a week for the family could cost as little as £1,000 in total. For our 48 Hours guide to Porto see bit.ly/48Porto.
The other option is a package holiday to Mallorca, staying at Puerto Pollensa in the north of the island (the funspots of Magaluf and Palma Nova could be a little too hyperactive for your girls).
Puerto Pollensa has an excellent beach, and reasonable bus connections with the capital, Palma. That means you will be able to make an excursion or two to this sublimely beautiful city to visit the cathedral, museums and shops.
If you book now, expect to pay around £2,000 in total for a no-frills Mallorcan package with Thomson or Thomas Cook, including flights, transfers and a modest hotel with breakfast. You could choose to wait, as the price may fall in the weeks and days before departure – though if you do take this chance be prepared to settle on somewhere like Benidorm or a Greek island if Mallorca gets highly priced or sells out.