If you’ve been lucky enough to flit away for a fortnight this summer, then sun-bleached baseball caps off to you. For those who haven’t (or have and still want more), fear not; from a beach weekend in Crete to a cultural break in Croatia, it’s never too late for a last-minute getaway, and there’s a whole list of places out there that are cheaper, quieter and just plain better when you visit a little out of season.
So throw on your shades, slip into your espadrilles and head out on a weekend jaunt to one of our top picks, as you get your sweet revenge on all those who’ve filled your Instagram feed with sun-soaked palm trees over the past couple of months. No bitterness here.
Sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and more cultural gems than you could shake a selfie stick at. Dubrovnik, set on the coast of the Adriatic, has come a long way over the past couple of decades: a battleground during the Yugoslav War, it’s now one of Europe’s hidden gems, with its shimmering, marble-paved streets lined with baroque churches and palaces.
Averages of 19°C in September mean it’s an ideal destination for late-year sun and a great-value alternative to the other side of the Med. Add that to the fact you can get there for £30 (and in less than three hours) and only a lost time-off request form should keep you away.
If the chance to tell your friends you’re “just off to North Africa for the weekend” isn’t enough to book trip to Marrakech, its year-round sun, opulent architecture and intriguing history should be.
Marrakech’s culture ranges from Hammams – the traditional Moroccan steam baths – to modern art galleries, plus a bevy of shopping options; everything from souks to luxury boutiques riddle its winding alleyways.
The three-day Oasis music festival descends on the city in September (16-18), but if you go even later in the year it’s less crowded, the hotels are cheaper and the heat is rather more bearable.
Lisbon is on the radar right now and it’s not hard to see why: food, fashion, culture and coastline, all nestled among seven stunning hills.
By night it morphs into a party-seeker’s paradise with clubs, dive bars and cocktail lounges all mingling together, and you can sleep off the hangover the next day on one if its nearby beaches.
Oh, and it can all be done on the cheap – the Post Office City Costs Barometer 2016 named Lisbon one of the best-value city breaks in Europe. Time to get booking.
Rome in the height of summer is like Central Park when that rare Pokémon appeared – seriously busy (and everyone’s flocking to see the same thing; in this case the Vatican, not the Vaporeon).
But venture here when the summer rush is over and it’s a different story – the eternal city’s 3,000 years of history are comparatively peaceful, with the cooler climate more conducive to actually exploring it all.
As the most southerly of all the Greek islands, Crete is a safe bet for post-summer breaks with guaranteed sunshine, and EasyJet offer flights from as little as £37 each way in October.
As Greece’s biggest island it offers plenty in the way of variety, from adventures in the White Mountains to sightseeing in Chania, and for history buffs there are archaeological sites, fortresses and Renaissance remnants to be discovered almost everywhere you go.
St Tropez, France
St Tropez should be on the wish list of any self-respecting sartorialist, and if you head over out of season you can tick it off without having to declare yourself bankrupt at the end.
If yachts are your thing you’re in luck, with the annual regatta Les Voiles de Saint Tropez taking place at the end of September, which happens to be a perfect time to go. Temperatures hover around 20°C, and there are far fewer tourists bobbing around than in July, meaning there’s no-one to obstruct the views of rolling hills, lush green countryside and bright blue ocean which characterise this charming fishing-village-turned-superstar-hangout.