Sun Holidays in September - When the Crowds have gONE

It’s August, and half of Britain seems to have decamped to roast on the Med. And we mean really roast: Cyprus is pushing 40C. Heston Blumenthal doesn’t need much more than that to cook a chicken. If you like your holiday heat set at “balmy”, not “blistering”, you need to hang on. September’s the golden month across much of the Mediterranean. The weather’s perfect, the hordes are back at their desks and — we like this — it’s much better value.

Sure, you’ve got to choose carefully. And the weather’s turning a touch unreliable in the more northerly sun spots. That’s why we’ve picked out bikini-friendly places where you’re pretty much guaranteed just the right degree of warmth, and found breaks to suit all tastes and budgets: romantic hotels and foodie farmstays, world-class sailing and walking, budget camping and private castles. So, if you’d sooner bask than broil, here’s where to do it. Unless stated, prices are per person for a week. Where included, flights are from London; contact the tour operator for details of regional flights. Prices were correct at the time of going to press.


Things are on the turn on the Costa Brava, but down in Andalusia, the rain’s still weeks away and you’re looking at 27C on the coast, or a shade less higher up.

Much of the coast is a study in concrete, but the interior’s still wild and wonderful, so head for the hills. Finca el Moro (00 34 959 501079, is a shaggy-chic farmstead in the Sierra de Aracena, with prettily restored cottages among fig and olive groves, and lots of chickens, horses and sheep. A one-bedroom cottage starts at £415, with three-bedders from £664. Fly to Seville with Vueling ( or Ryanair (0871 246 0000,

For something similar but toddler-friendly, there’s Las Nuevas (, in the hills near Alora. It’s four pretty cottages carved from a restored cortijo — minus the menagerie, but it has toys, games, tea parties, baby-sitting, and a lovely little pool. A one-bedroom flat costs £332, a four-bedroom house £659. Fly to Malaga with Flybe (0871 700 2000, or Monarch (0871 940 5040,

It’s great riding weather. In the Saddle (01299 272997, still has places left on its villa-based weeks in La Breña National Park, by a rare stretch of coast that’s escaped the JCBs. Riding spirited Spanish-Arab crosses, you’ll need to be comfortable at all paces and prepared for four hours’ riding a day, with lots of lazy lunch stops, and an afternoon or two chilling by the pool. Departing on August 29 or September 5, the price is £995, full-board; fly to Gibraltar with British Airways (0844 493 0787, or EasyJet (


All points north are cooling fast, so the further south, the better. Sicily and Sardinia average 25C.

For a mix of authenticity and comfort, go for an agriturismo. Harvest will be in full swing at Baglio Fontanasalsa, a working farm in western Sicily. It produces its own olive oil and wine — both of which you can sample, along with plenty more local produce, in the dining area overlooking the orange grove. There’s a pool, but overall it’s folksy not flash, and great value at £575, B&B, with Real Holidays (020 7359 3938, The price includes flights and a car, so you can reach the beaches and archeological sites.

If money’s tight, but you want guaranteed sunshine, you won’t get cheaper than this: a mobile home in Sicily for £198. Between six. And no, it’s not a hellhole; you’ll hear the railway occasionally, but the Camping Sporting Club is friendly, the restaurant’s surprisingly good, the pool ditto, there’s a sandy beach 300yd away and it’s packed with stuff to do, including tennis, basketball, cycle hire and a big playground for tots. Book with Vacansoleil (0333 700 5050, Ryanair (0871 246 0000, flies to Trapani.

At the other end of the scale, how about your own castle? Really — 1,000 years old, towers, battlements, a ghost, the lot. Built circa the 11th century by the local emir, Al Jafar is now meticulously restored, with an eagle eye for historical accuracy. Well, apart from the swimming pool. And the modern kitchen, comfy bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms and discreet solar panels. Sleeping seven, it costs a princely £6,202 — or, as the owners put it, £886pp — with Think Sicily (020 7377 8518, Fly to Trapani with Ryanair, as above.

September’s a good time to stimulate the grey matter (August just fries it), but Sicily’s remarkable tangle of art history — threads from the Greeks, Romans, Normans, Moors and more — will bewilder without an erudite guide. Ace Cultural Tours (01233 835055, offers an eight-day cultural journey with the accomplished Alex Koller PhD to unravel the temples at Agrigento and Segesta, Roger II’s Palatine Chapel and Goethe’s “patch of paradise” in Taormina. It costs £1,760, half-board, including flights.

Over in Sardinia, it’s coolest on the water, which will come in handy on a week’s sea-kayaking exploration with Wilderness Journeys (0131 625 6635, You paddle the Gulf of Orosei, past rocky headlands into deep coves and sea caves; by night, it’s wild camping under the stars here, bedding down in an agriturismo there. The price is £1,150, including kayaks, kit, guides and most meals, but not flights. Fly to Olbia with Jet2 (0871 226 1737, or EasyJet (


Okay, it’s a special case this year. With a rash of strikes and a small but unnerving threat of unrest, it’s up to you whether Greece is still on your agenda. Thousands of Brits are still happy to go — if you’re one of them, September’s a great time, and the offers should get better and better.

The weather
Depends where you go. Towards the end of the month, temperatures tend to drop and the rain starts to fall in the northern Aegean. But down in the southern island conditions are fine — mid-20s and cloudless.

It’s just cool enough to get active. If you’re after watersports, Sunsail (0844 463 6578, knows what it’s doing, but have you seen its prices in August? Scary. Happily, they plummet after the school hols. Departing on September 12, a week of dinghy sailing, windsurfing, mountain-biking, tennis and general running about at Club Vounaki, on the Ionian coast, starts at £649, half-board, including all your equipment and flights — it’d be twice that a month earlier. The winds can be light — it’s better for beginners and intermediates — but the weather should hold nicely all month.

If you’d like to brush up on your tennis, head over to Mark Warner (0871 703 3887,, which has a specialist tennis week starting on September 25. As well as receiving intensive coaching from LTA pros, you’ll get to play with two British Davis Cup veterans, Danny Sapsford and James Auckland. Held at the company’s San Agostino resort, in the Peloponnese, it costs £814, half-board, including all tuition — and plenty of watersports, if you’ve any energy left.

Island-hopping the Cyclades is a classic trip, but have you thought of doing it by bike? The backroads of Syros, Tinos and Kea make for superb cycling, well off the tourist trail. On an eight-day guided sail-and-bike tour with Utracks (0845 241 7599,, you sleep on a comfy motor yacht and break out the 21-speed trekking bikes at each port. Good basic fitness is required — it’s ideal for weekend cyclists — and there are departures on September 18 and 25, when the weather should be perfect. The price is £1,380, including most meals, but not flights; the tour starts in Athens, served by Aegean Airlines ( and EasyJet ( Walking takes a little less effort and a lot less cash. A week exploring the mule tracks and mountain villages of Corfu and Paxos, in the footsteps of the Durrells, costs £699, half-board, including luggage transfers, with HF Holidays (0845 470 7558, Fly with Jet2 (0871 226 1737, or Thomson Airways (

Something more intimate? Romance on a budget is never an easy one to pull off, but this might just do it. Hidden down the end of a long, long lane on the Pelion peninsula, Pounda Paou is a simple but sweet little pension by the Pagasitic Gulf, with just 12 rooms, a cute pool, good home cooking and no kids allowed.

There’s nobody else about, except fishermen and dolphins, and nothing to do, so you’ll have to make your own entertainment. You’ll manage. A week is £551, B&B, including flights, with Ionian & Aegean Island Holidays (020 8459 0777,, and they throw in a car or a motorboat in case you need a change of scene. Can’t think why you would.


30C, blue skies; hell, that pool looks tempting.

You should play to a destination’s strengths. Forget anything cultural and slob out in style at a posh hotel. Deal of the month so far looks like the Annabelle, in Paphos. It’s a straight-up resort hotel, four stars edging towards five, and you already know what it’s like: restaurants, bars, tennis, a gym, a pair of pools and a full complement of palm trees in six acres of grounds. For September and October, they’re knocking off 20% and throwing in half-board, too: a week starts at £785, including flights, with W&O (0845 277 3304,

Move a few miles out of town, add half a star and an 18-hole golf course, and you’ve got Aphrodite Hills. It’s bigger and a bit more sporty, with a good spa; it’s not on the beach, but there’s a shuttle to a private stretch of sand. The price is £959, B&B, including flights, with Olympic Holidays (0844 576 2386,

If you’ve got a tot in tow, go for the Almyra. Its designer minimalism might be looking a bit quaint now, but it’s crisp, clean and hyper-child-friendly, — baby kit from nappies to sterilisers on call, a creche, play areas and a shaded kids’ pool. With Bailey Robinson (01488 689700, it’s £895, B&B, including flights — and you pay only the air fare for one child sharing your room.


Blue skies and typical highs of 29C. Ideal.

You don’t want the big resorts — they’re busier than ever this year, and can be oppressive even in September. You want sophisticated and boutiquey, which Turkey is getting awfully good at. The Elixir Art hotel fits the bill. The location’s fabulous: a remote hillside on the coast, accessed by boat from the sleepy village of Bozburun. The rooms (just 15) are understated but stylish, with dark-wood floors, white walls, modern four-posters and wonderful verandas over the water. It has an infinity pool and a treetop massage suite, and dinner can be served on a private raft — the waiter comes over on a dinghy. The price is £990, B&B, including flights and an upgrade to a swish suite, with Elixir (020 7722 2288,

Beyaz Yunus Faralya is smaller and remoter still. Okay, there’s a road, sort of: they pick you up in a 4WD and take you to a cove where seven rooms perch over the water. The style’s less designer, more eco-folksy, with rough, wooden verandas, organic produce from the garden, kayaks at the jetty, and free guided walks along the nearby Lycian Way (with a boat ride home after lunch). Seven nights, half-board, cost £850, including flights and a day’s gulet cruise, with Exclusive Escapes (020 8605 3500,

The craggy coastline around the Gulf of Gulluk is made for sailing, all hidden coves and pine woods, and the winds are steady all the way to October. Charter a sleek, modern catamaran and you can explore the remoter spots, and even nip over to the Greek islands of Nisyros and Symi. Can’t sail? No problem: get a skipper to do all the tricky stuff. A Broadblue 435, sleeping seven (and the captain) in five cabins, costs £3,320 with Journey Anatolia (020 8761 5605, With no skipper, it’s just £2,760. Fly to Bodrum with EasyJet ( or Thomson Airways (


It’s still too hot for temple-bashing along the Nile. On the Red Sea, though, the land’s a touch cooler (31C) and the sea at its warmest (26C).

A yoga and diving holiday — why didn’t anyone think of that before? The first is about breathing, concentration and inner calm, which is just what you need to enjoy the second. Go Learn To (0844 502 0445, has a week’s course based in a simple but friendly two-star at Dahab, with daily yoga classes and eight diving lessons on the area’s superb reefs — after that lot, you’ll have no problem chanting your mantra at 60ft down. The price is £570, B&B, including all kit and tuition. Fly to Sharm el Sheikh with Jet2 ( or Monarch (0871 940 5040,

For straightforward diving, take your pick from buckets of good-value packages. Regaldive (01353 659999, has a week at the Menaville hotel, in Safaga — great wall dives on the offshore reefs — from £583, half-board, including flights; dive packs from £33 a day. Tropical Sky (0845 543 2184, has the four-star Sierra Hotel, in Sharm, for £599, full-board, including flights; try-dives cost £60, 10 boat dives £168.