UK October Half Term Holidays

When the October half term holiday is upon us again, I'll know what you're thinking – but, sssh. Sssh. Listen: Spain, all sunny and friendly, packed with tourists, chilling out next to Portugal, being all magnificent – it's still gonna be there in summer. It is. It's not going anywhere. Because it's land and it can't. I promise. And trust me, I understand its allure – few things so readily lend themselves to romanticization as sunlight does during one of the UK's famously mild and refreshing autumns. As a California native, I am acutely aware of this. But if you open your mind, and temporarily – just temporarily, mind you! – shelve those Mediterranean dreams to consider less trodden paths, you may be shocked by the number of excellent (and uncrowded) half term holiday opportunities available here in the UK.

Top destinations for October half term holidays in the UK

In fact, there's a very good logistical case to be made for holidaying – staycationing, if you will – within the UK for the October half term break: since you won't need to travel far, you'll be able to maximize your leisure time by minimizing your travel time (which, when travelling with kids, is a blessing in its own right). Even better, you'll likely minimize your expenses, too. And those are two very good things. Still need persuading? Read on for HomeAway's guide to local October half term holidays.

October half term breaks in Scotland

Scotland

There's good reason that no one mentions Scotland without mentioning its stunning scenery – the scenery of the Highlands is genuinely, well, stunning; and perfect for tiring out springy little legs. Its beautiful lochs offer excellent boating opportunities (weather permitting) – and what kid, or adult for that matter, wouldn't like a chance to hunt for Nessie? Loch Ness is three to four hours' drive from Scotland's beloved capital, and European cultural heavyweight, Edinburgh – itself a perfect place to eat well, or take in some theatre. King's Theatre, for example, located just off the Meadows, Edinburgh's large and lively central park, regularly hosts fantastical children's plays.


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October half term breaks in Wales

Wales

Snuggled up to England's western flank, Wales is a criminally overlooked source of October half term family fun – especially for more active families. For example, Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia and Mid Wales offer excellent pony trekking opportunities through picturesque landscapes; pony rentals are also available all along the coast. If pony riding sounds a bit ambitious, hiking and walking is available throughout Wales. And there is always the celebrated Welsh coast, of course. There are also almost too many castles to name, many of them some of the best examples of their type in the UK: Raglan in Snowdonia, Laugharne in Carmarthenshire and Powis in Mid Wales are all highly recommended. And if you want something really unforgettable, try hot air ballooning through the Tywi valley!


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Urban October half term breaks in England

England

Merry 'ol England presents two distinct faces to the potential holidaymaker: the first of these, its (to let a questionable metaphor ride) urban face, which offers some particularly tantalizing holiday prospects. London's got theatre, shopping, museums and some of the best people watching in the world. And less than an hour away? Alton Towers, which hardly needs an introduction. Brighton's got lovely beaches, a very kid-friendly sea life centre and a famous pier. Manchester's got an array of museums spanning art, football, and science – and nearby, Legoland. England's diverse and bustling cities are brimming with activities of every possible variety – perfect for a holiday spent, as I like to spend them, absolutely avoiding nature (so overrated) in favour of exquisitely climate-controlled pleasures.


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Rural October half term breaks in the Lake District

Lake District

As I have recently hinted, my favourite way to enjoy nature, generally speaking, is not to. That said, some people just love the singular combination of dirt and fresh air that typifies a hiking holiday – to each their own. The Lake District seems especially ideal for this. Even I can't argue with the views of the Lake District National Park. The area includes any number of walking trails, suitable for every mobility level – and photo ops till your heart will burst. Alternately, Cornwall's extensive coastline boasts windswept trails aplenty, through remote moorlands and over the tops of cliffs. And the Peak district has horseback riding and cycling; excellent for active families, and those with older children.


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October half term breaks in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland presents some can't-miss October half term holiday options. Any of your family members Game of Thrones fans? Many of the show's most iconic locations were filmed here (Winterfel castle, for example, is actually Castle Ward, in County Down)! Touring them all – there are over a dozen all together – can make for a trip in and of itself. Nerdry aside, Northern Ireland also provides ample chance to walk, hike, cycle, beach comb – or even more exotic activities like archery or kayaking. And then there's Belfast, which you may be surprised to hear has many family-friendly activities, ranging from bowling to the myriad interactive experiences of the W5 Discovery Centre.


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UK October Half Term Cottages

THE STUDIO, country holiday cottage in Stallington, Ref 918719

The Studio is situated besides the owners' home near Blythe Bridge in Staffordshire, overlooking beautiful countryside with its own private garden. The property has an open plan studio living space, comprising a king-size double bed, a kitchen, a ...

MILL COTTAGE, pet friendly in Wotton-Under-Edge, Ref 919133

Mill Cottage is a welcoming single-storey studio cottage, adjoining the owner's home, on the edge of the market town of Wotton-under-Edge. This cottage sleeps two people and has an open plan living/sleeping layout with a double bed and sitting are...

ELMET FARMHOUSE, family friendly in Pecket Well, Ref 918960

This handsome 18th century farmhouse is in a stunning location on the hilltop above Hebden Bridge, with spectacular views over the steep wooded valley of Hardcastle Crags and the ancient village of Heptonstall. Elmet Farmhouse is a historic Grade ...

EVANGELINE'S CABIN , romantic, with open fire in Penallt, Ref 916067

Evangeline's Cabin is a lovely detached log cabin situated one mile from the village of Penallt near to the town of Monmouth in the Wye Valley. The cabin can sleep two people in one bedroom with en-suite shower room. The rest of the cottage is mad...

PENNYLANDS LODGE, pet friendly, with a garden in Broadway, Ref 913474

Pennylands Lodge is a detached timber lodge, set in three acres within the grounds of the owners' B&B, with fabulous views over this unspoilt part of Worcestershire just outside the delightful Cotswold village of Broadway, and has been featured on...