20 great ideas for last-minute summer holidays

Mark Frary of 101 Family Holidays shares his pick of late-summer family getaways, from kayaking and adventure trips to luxury hotel stays in the former palaces. Read on and book now to make your summer last longer.

The summer holidays are in full swing but it’s not too late to book a last-minute trip before the kids go back to school. Many companies have some great deals with discounts of hundreds and even thousands of pounds too. Here is our selection of 20 of the best last-minute offers out there.

Villas and cottages

Villa Delphine and pool on BritMums

Fancy a swim? Villa Delphine in Corsica

Mallorca is the classic summer holiday destination and the northwest is a tranquil escape from the hubbub of the rest of the island.

Son Balagueret is an eight-person villa with a 13th-century turret on the Son Bunyola Estate. A week’s hire including breakfast as well as lunch and dinner on six days as well as wine, beer, spirits and soft drinks costs from €25,660 all in.

Croatia is hot this summer – and not just in temperature.

The islands off the Dalmatian coast are unspoilt and perfect for families. The island of Brac is dominated by the mountain of Vidova Gora and is a great day trip for views over the Adriatic. The white-pebbled Zlatni Rat beach is picture-perfect. Spend a week at the rustic Villa Tresnja, with its own pool and barbecue, in a quiet part of Brac from £1,650 for the entire property.

Agrigento on the south cost of Sicily is the perfect base for understanding the island’s past – the World Heritage site of the Valle di Templi is nearby. The weird lunar-like coastal formation of the Scala dei Turchi (Turkish Steps) is also here. Villa Orsini makes your perfect base for exploring this rural area. A week before the end of the holidays with Oliver’s Travels costs £3,458.

While some people go for traditional villas, there are those who just love a touch of the contemporary chic. Villa Delphine in Corsica (see picture above) has that in spades. This stunningly designed villa with a pool to match overlooks the sea in the Marina de Davia development and has more than £500pp off with Corsican Places at the end of August.

Le Chateau Aubenas is a former retreat of French royalty and it shows – chandeliers, huge fireplaces and beautifully tended gardens. Go by the end of the holidays and you can get up to 25% off the price with CV Villas. Its location in Forcalquier in Provence is great for exploring the south coast – and drinking local rosé!

Villas do not just mean Europe and the Indonesian island of Bali has some beauties. Bali offers a great blend of natural landscapes, including tropical beaches and lush rice terraces, as well as a fascinating culture and friendly local people. Tailormade itineraries with Selective Asia cost from £1,520pp.

SpringVillas is a boutique company that specialises high quality rentals in the Algarve region. It’s a family business run by two brothers. They know the villa market is crowded and differentiate themselves offering a selection of 19 villas of exceptional quality perfect for family or group holidays. The extra is the value-add services – such as arranging a chef, masseuse, personal trainer, private transportation, even a tour guide. 

UK villas and holiday homes

But don’t forget Britain in this sweltering summer.

If you love Poldark then it has to be Cornwall for your late summer break.

Cosy Cottage in St Austell is a short hop from Charlestown harbour, the beautiful Georgian backdrop for some of the series’ best scenes. The Lost Gardens of Heligan, the Eden Project and the Polperro heritage coastline are all also nearby. A week from the end of August costs £580. Sykes Cottages has many properties still available across the country for the holidays, some with hundreds of pounds off their usual price.

 Hotels across Europe

The Annassa in Cyprus, on BritMums

The Anassa in Cyprus

The Anassa in Cyprus regularly garners rave reviews in the newspapers and on TripAdvisor and rightly so. If you want to have a five-star experience for less then take advantage of summer later summer discounts of 25% on stays at the hotel, which has outstanding food, an excellent spa and one of my favourite infinity pools anywhere (see photo above). Prices start from £1,600pp with Scott Dunn including BA flights and private transfers. The company also has 25% off rooms at Pine Cliffs resort on the Algarve. This property has a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts, a spa and an Explorers kids club. Prices start from £1,000pp including flights and transfers.

Similarly generous discounts are available with Sovereign at the five-star Hotel Bahia del Duque in Tenerife, one of the Leading Hotels of the World. This colonial grand hotel has a great range of facilities for kids, including a teen club with the all-important Wi-Fi, yacht excursions and live entertainment. A seven night holiday on a B&B basis costs from £4,060 per family of four including flights and transfers.

The fall of the Turkish lira against the pound has made the country particularly attractive to British holidaymakers this summer and one of the best spots to enjoy the county is at Mark Warner’s Phokaia Beach Resort, new for this year. The resort has all the usual childcare and sporting facilities you would expect of Mark Warner and comes in at a very attractive price of £899pp including full board, childcare and sports activities.

Asia also offers excellent value. Hayes and Jarvis is offering a ten-day, two-centre trip to Malaysia and Bali for £8,429 per family of four including seven nights at the Grand Hyatt BaliKids will love the trip up the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, exploring Batu Caves and the beaches of Bali.

Mauritius has been named the favourite holiday destination by no lesser authority than my own kids. Mahlatini have a mouth-watering deal at the St Regis Mauritius for bookings made before the end of August. The hotel sits on white beaches of Le Morne overlooking the Indian Ocean and t offers a wide range of watersports and kids activities. The price of £6,695 for two adults and two children includes a 55% discount plus a free upgrade from half board to full board.

Active and adventure 

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia on BritMums

Plitvice Lakes in Crotia

If the kids have been spending the rest of the holiday on the sofa, curled up with an Xbox controller, you might want to think about activities.

Portugal is a great destination for active families and with this holiday on the Alentejo coast you can discover stand-up paddleboarding, surfing, canoeing and more from £920pp (based on 4 sharing a one-bedroom apartment) including 7 nights’ B&B accommodation, two dinners and three lunches.

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia (see photo above) is another great choice if you want to stretch the muscles and a highlight is kayaking along the Mrezica Canyon. A week’s half board based on four sharing with Activities Abroad costs from £970pp.

If you are like me, you love the idea of a cycling holiday with the family. One of Europe’s best areas for a cycling trip is along the banks of the Danube in Austria. Inntravel offers self-guided holidays where you cycle between hotels on the river from £1,148 for adults with reductions for children who share beds. The company shifts your luggage between the hotels to make it hassle-free.

Morocco is a byword for adventure but kids from as young as five can enjoy the country on a holiday that combines camel trekking in the Sahara, camping out in sand dunes, the buzz of the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech and the historic fortified city of Ait Benhaddou, From £695pp with On the Go Tours. The company also offers exciting adventures in Egypt, which take in the pyramids, the Valley of the Kings and the impressive ruins of Karnak from £845pp.

If those ideas are not adventurous enough, how about the mystical magic of Macchu Picchu? Journey Latin America is offering a discounted 14-day package to Peru, including trips to the ruins, as well as Colca Canyon, Cusco and Lima, from £2,726pp B&B, not including international flights. The discounted price is available till the end of August.

Or how about answering Laos and Cambodia to the teacher’s question of What did you do in your holidays? Experience Travel is offering savings of up to £750 per family for a 10-day adventure in those two countries, taking in Lunag Prabang, the Mekong River and the amazing temples of Angkor Wat. Prices start from £2,575 per adult and £1,950 per child.

Summer may nearly be over but it’s not too late!

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About Mark Frary

Mark Frary is the editor of 101 Family Holidays. Mark is a regular contributor to national newspapers, magazines and websites on travel. He has held a number of roles including The Sunday Times travel agony uncle and ski correspondent and business travel editor at The Times.

He writes for Huffington Post and his own family travel blog Travelling with the Kids and has circumnavigated the globe several times with the family in hot pursuit. Mark has won a number of awards for his travel writing.

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