The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

Planning a last minute summer getaway? Here’s where some of our favourite travel bloggers recommend you jet off to…

If you still don’t have plans for the summer, fear not, because you could still bag a cheap last minute deal with travel agents like Thomson Holidays – but time is of the essence so get booking. Here’s a dose of holiday inspiration, helping you to whittle down your options, whether you’re a party animal or history buff, beach goer or culture vulture.

1. Dubrovnik, Croatia

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

So much more than a filming location for Star Wars: Episode VIII and Game of Thrones, where the King’s Landing scenes unfolded and dung was thrown at King Joffrey. Dubrovnik is a UNESCO world heritage site, famed for its seafood, freshly plucked from the Adriatic Sea. From September to October, you can expect sunny skies, warm sea and fewer crowds, so why not catch the cable car up to Mt Srđ for a bird’s eye view of the Baroque churches in the medieval walled city?

Travel blogger Natalie Redman from Up Your Vlog is planning a trip, telling us, “Known for it’s distinctive old town and gorgeous views, this city is fast becoming a popular tourist spot. I think this is also a place I’ve been looking at for mine and Sam’s holiday so keep your eyes peeled for a holiday post to find out where we decided to go!”

2. Budapest, Hungary

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

How about a trip to the Hungarian capital, Budapest? The city’s bursting with neo-graphic and art nouveau architecture, from Roman ruins to the Jewish District. And there’s plenty to keep you entertained, whether you feast on fresh goulash soups and Palinka fruit brandy at The Great Market or catch the river cruise past Parliament, cross the iconic Chain Bridge over the Danube River or watch a fountain light show on Margret Island in the middle of the water.

There’s no better place for a spot of rest and relaxation, enjoy the massages and wellness treatments on offer at the famous thermal baths, such as Szechenyi. Rhian Westbury has visited Budapest twice in September, saying, “There’s plenty to explore in the city, but with so many natural hot springs, you can spend a day relaxing in the warm waters and getting a massage.”

3. Barcelona, Spain

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without one of the oldest cities in the world. Barcelona has it all, from tapas bars and white sand beaches to one of Spain’s most iconic shopping streets, Las Ramblas. Take in the sites, like La Sagrada Família, Park Güell and iconic Gaudí landmarks on a bike tour through the narrow streets or climb hilltop Montjuïc for panoramic views, sculpture gardens and a trip to the castle.

Emily Ray, The Cosy Traveller, couldn’t imagine a better last minute holiday hot spot than Barcelona. “Colourful, world-famous art, delicious food on every corner – and when you get tired of that, just head to the beach! I’ve never visited a city that’s offered so much. It’s great for those who want to sunbathe, for those who want to shop, and for those who want to sightsee.”

4. Ibiza, Spain

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

If your idea of a good time involves a whole lot of sun and partying, Ibiza is your rite of passage this summer. Imagine dancing the nights away with a Pina Colada in hand at Club Pacha, throwing shapes at the Bora Bora parties on Playa D’en Bossa or tucking into Spanish Paella on Sunset Strip in San Antonio. And if you need to recharge, hop across for a mud bath on the neighbouring island, Es Palmador.

Travel blogger Rachel Nicole visited Ibiza a few times, seeing every side of the Spanish island, “From the insane superclubs, incredible sunsets, picturesque beaches and charming capital city, there’s something for everyone…  Aside from pushing myself out of my comfort zone to go parasailing, experiencing the beautiful sunset at Cafe Mambo and seeing David Guetta at Ushuia were highlights of the trip. I do have to admit, it’s quite an expensive island but it’s well worth it!”

5. Naples, Italy

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

Naples boasts three castles and a plethora of world class museums, such as the Museo Archeologico Nazionale showcasing frescoes, sculptures and mosaics from excavations in Pompeii. And it’s also home to the best pizza in the world, so venture down to Naples Harbour and wrap your lips around a slice.

Travel blogger Oana Roua has been to Italy more than 15 times, from Alpine top to volcanic bottom, but it’s Italy’s third largest city that keeps her coming back. She explained, “Love food? Then head down to Napoli and enjoy the city which gave pizza to the world: a stone oven baked dough topped with tomatoes which grow on the volcanic soils at the base of Mount Vesuvius, mozzarella di Bufala Campana, basil and olive oil. So simple but so delicious!”

Cover image of Barcelona copyright Rceluch, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Dubrovnik image copyright Jorge Franganillo, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Budapest image copyright ParisSharing, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Barcelona image copyright Umberto Nicoletti, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Ibiza copyright Michela Simoncini, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Napoli image copyright NWojtowicz, licensed for use under Creative Commons.

How to Get Cheap and Cheerful Thomson Holidays

Pay less for your Thomson Holidays by taking your child for free, haggling with your travel agent or going to the right place at the right time. Here’s how to get yourself a bargain summer break, winter holiday or 2018 Thomson trip…

1. Chose a cheap place to visit

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Surprisingly, it could be cheaper to whisk your family away to Bali than Spain this summer 2017. Thanks to a risky exchange rate, long haul exotic adventures could prove cheaper than a traditional European break. So if you’re serious about saving money, why not trek through jungle, sail around tropical islands or explore Bangkok in Thailand with Thomson Holidays?

2. Go all-inclusive

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Depending on your package, Thomson all-inclusive holidays promise three meals a day, as well as snacks like afternoon tea, soft or alcoholic drinks and all manner of fun. Think volleyball or football and evening entertainment, like stage shows, barbecues and quizzes – leaving you to relax knowing everything’s paid for and also stay on budget.

3. Explore Thomson last minute deals

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Didn’t book nine months in advance? Browse Thomson late deals up to eight weeks before you want to go – the ‘Last Minute Holiday’ filter gives you a choice of summer and winter 2017 deals, last minute long or short haul trips, city or beach breaks. Save £425 per person on a week-long Thomson all-inclusive holiday to Greece, for example.

Call Thomson Holidays before booking, to check the price online is actually still available.

4. Be flexible with your dates and flights

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Searching for your Thomson Holiday online? Tick ‘flexible by +/ -3 days’ to see if you could get the same trip for less. Plus, Thomson Holidays’ Flexible Flying program lets you chose your flights with other airlines – giving you the chance to fly for less mid-week or at a more convenient hour. Use the ‘Flight Insight’ tool on ‘momondo.co.uk’ to compare 150 routes or try to predict the best time to buy your flights on ‘kayak.co.uk’ which tells you whether the cost is likely to go up or down within seven days.

When you book your own flights, Thomson Holidays will take 70% of the cost as your deposit, leaving you to pay just 30% of your flight cost eight weeks later.

5. Take your kid for free

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Book a Thomson Holidays trip for two full-paying adults and your little one could come for free – flying for free, sleeping free in selected hotel rooms, apartments or villas, eating for free on the same board as you and riding the free transfers to and from the airport. Thomson’s free child places sure are generous.

6. Spread the cost of your Thomson Holidays

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Take advantage of Thomson’s Low Deposit Scheme to help you split the cost of your holiday. Pay a partial deposit to secure your holiday and hand over the rest eight weeks later. That’s £75 per person for your short or mid-haul holiday, for example, or £125 per person to book your long-haul trip. And if you decide to cancel your holiday within 14 days, you should get a full refund.

7. Haggle with Thomson Holidays’ travel agents

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Decide the highest price you’re willing to pay for your Thomson Holiday, before calling today. Aim for the biggest discount by asking them to improve the cost per person, not the total cost of your holiday. And if that doesn’t work, ask if there’s a discount for paying the full amount immediately or whether extras like car hire and days out can be included in the price.

You’re more likely to whittle the cost down on long haul trips, because travel agents have to sacrifice their commission to give you a discount. But a slim chance is still worth taking for cheaper Thomson Holidays.

The 5 Best Winter Sun Destinations

Feeling sun-starved? Here’s where’s hot right now…

Winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom if you fly out to one of these sun spots with easyJet or Thomson Holidays, Emirates Airways or Thomas Cook. Not only are these places still positively tropical this time of year, but winter breaks can be dramatically cheaper than summer, leaving you more money for day trips or cocktails on the beach. Go on, put your sun cream, not scarf on during our sub-zero British months.

1. Malta – October average 25°c

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One of the world’s smallest, but perfectly formed countries, Malta’s sunny for at least 300 days a year, guaranteeing you a toasty winter break. Run riot in Qawra and Bugibba’s waterparks or head down south to Mellieha Bay to relax on one of the island’s few sandy beaches. Fancy sightseeing? Here, you could explore everything from prehistoric temples to the oldest stone building in the world.

Fly to Malta with easyJet or Thomson Holidays.

2. Tenerife – December average 21°c

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After the dry season, the Canary Islands come alive with plants during the milder winter months, making Tenerife’s Teide National Park especially beautiful. Climb Spain’s highest mountain there or soak up the winter rays on Playa del Duque beach, lined as it is with cafes and high end shops. Those of you with kids in tow can let them loose on the Thai-themed Siam Park, Tenerife’s largest waterpark. This time of year, your all-inclusive resorts are far quieter, calming and more relaxing, whether you stay at Los Cristianos, Puerto de Santiago or somewhere else.

Fly to Tenerife with easyJet or Thomson Holidays.

3. Kerala, India – December average 27°c

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Feeling adventurous? Winter is the best time to visit Kerala, India, where you could canoe down the backwaters, trek tea-covered hills or find your personal paradise somewhere along the 600km stretch the Arabian Sea coast. You wildlife lovers will also be in your element, as the Western Ghats, one of the world’s most biodiverse places, are famously known as the ‘Elephant Hills’ and you could come face-to-face with a big cat in Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary tiger reserve.

Fly to Kerala with Thomson Holidays.

4. Morocco – October average 21°C

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Swap your hot chocolate for mint tea this winter. Morocco has you covered, whether you fancy camel trekking in the Saharan desert, hiking through forests potted with waterfalls and caves or relaxing on 9km of sandy beaches in Agadir – a bustling city, packed with European style cafes, that gets 300 days of sunshine a year.

Fly to Morocco with easyJet or Thomson Holidays.

5. Gambia – November average 27°C

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Just six jet-lag-free hours from the UK, Gambia offers an incredibly laid back sub-tropical winter break where you could sunbathe on the incredible Bijilo or Cape Point beaches by day, and party in Kotu or Kololi when the sun goes down. Of course, the wildlife here is a major attraction, you could find anything from leopards and hyena in the Kiang West National Park, to monkeys and crocodiles in the Abuko Nature Reserve. Just don’t expect the traditional African safari experience, this is far more unique.

Fly to Gambia with Thomas Cook.

To speak to some about your holiday booking or to ask about winter discounts, phone easyJet or Thomson Holidays, Emirates Airways or Thomas Cook direct.

 

Malta copyright Flavio Ensiki licensed for use under Creative Commons. Tenerife copyright Javier Losa licensed under Creative Commons. Kerala copyright Mehul Antani licensed under Creative Commons. Morocco copyright Mycroyance licensed under Creative Commons. Gambia copyright Forbes Johnston licensed under Creative Commons.