Summer might be over but it doesn’t mean your vacation has to come to an end too. While the mercury has begun falling in some parts of the world, these European destinations are still enjoying some early fall sun. Yes, this means perfect water temperatures, cool autumn breezes and above all, cheaper off-peak tickets. Here, we bring you five hotspots you have to visit before winter descends.
Crete, Greece A white and blue church on the Greek island of Crete.
One of the most southerly destinations in Europe, Crete is perhaps most well-known for its magical tapestry of sun-drenched beaches, dynamic city life and quaint villages. As fall takes over, the Greek island offers one of the most ideal temperatures – between 23 and 25ºC – for a dip in Mediterranean waters. If exploring the island is on your itinerary, renting a car would be highly recommended – trundle quiet roads less traveled to discover Heraklion’s wineries, Greek ruins, orthodox monasteries and even hike to the cave where Zeus was born. Crete’s off-peak season runs from November to March, so those seeking better value can enjoy more affordable prices.
Malta (main picture)
If otherworldly landscapes are your thing, Malta should be your destination of choice this year. The archipelago in the central Mediterranean between Sicily and North African coast is widely known for its historic sites, hidden coves and limestone cliffs. With waters at temperatures from 25 to 27ºC in October, and dropping no lesser than 20ºC in November, dips in the pristine waters would certainly be one of the highlights of your trip. However, winds are also expected at that time of the year. The smallest country in Europe also sees equally scenic islands such as Gozo, while history enthusiasts can expect a fruitful trip to Valetta, Mdina and hypogeum of Hal Saflieni in the small town of Paola.
Sardinia, Italy Spiaggia del Principe on the Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
Another Mediterranean option on the list, this Italian island captivates with some of the dreamiest beaches you’ll find in Europe. Activities there include frolicking in emerald waters, which would fall around 20ºC on the mercury right up till the end of October. If you’re up for some adventure, Sardinia’s wild landscapes – from La Maddalena’s granite islands to the coves of Golfo di Orosei – promise to satisfy that wanderlust. Trekking enthusiasts will also enjoy a trip to Gola Su Gorropu (nicknamed “Europe’s Grand Canyon”).
Puglia, Italy Polignano a Mare, in Puglia, Southern Italy
It might be fall, but the sun continues to light up the Puglia region (also called Apulia) in Italy. Bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, the area enjoys pleasant temperatures following months of stifling heat during the summer. Visit the historic vineyards of Poligano a Mare, Lecce, Vieste and Bari while you’re there, or take a stroll along one of the many beaches Puglia has to offer. Wineries and olive groves during harvesting season are also key activities you need to participate in for an authentic Italian escapade.
Faro and The Algarve, Portugal Castelejo and Cordoama beaches on the Vicentine coast, Portugal
While highly popular during the summer season between July and August, the Portuguese region celebrates cool Atlantic waters at places such as Cascais. Besides a stunning marina, Faro also boasts well-maintained plazas, historic towns and plenty of alluring lagoons. September and October also sees temperatures that remain above 25ºC, so you can take in the picturesque views, minus the autumnal chill. While you’re there, head to the Vicentine Coast Natural Park, a preserved stretch of European coastline that’s not only home to unique species of wildlife, but also has a tremendous variety of beaches that are untouched and uninhabited.