What are your plans for long weekend? We’ve combed through the October bank holiday deals to find 10 cheap family holidays from Dublin, Cork and Knock to destinations like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and Naples. Time to grab yourself a bargain mid-term break!
Note that prices are based on return flights for a family of two adults and two children.
The London Eye sedately circles to a giddying height of 135 metres and makes a good starting point for first-time visitors to the UK capital trying to get their bearings. Open daily from 11.45am to 4.45pm in October, the big white wheel is located on the opposite side of the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, and you can download a free London Eye Guide app that provides information on the landmarks you can see from your glass capsule. Book online for a 10% saving on tickets, which start from £24.30 – and you can save even more by purchasing a combination ticket with other attractions like Madame Tussauds and The London Dungeon. October also sees the arrival of the MCM Comic Con at the ExCeL London exhibition centre. Running from October 26th to 28th, the show features an appearance by Dave Bautista – Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy. Looking for a place to stay in London? Check out our guide to the best hotels for every budget.
Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) is an astonishing fairy-tale castle that’s monumentally popular with tourists, attracting around 1.3 million visitors per year. It famously appeared in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so a visit here is likely to be a big hit with the kids – as long as you give reassurances that the Child Catcher isn’t up there waiting for them, of course. Built in the nineteenth century by Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle was intended to be his private residence. But he died in 1886 just before it was completed, and the castle was instead opened to visitors to pay off the construction fees. Neuschwanstein Castle is around two hours’ drive from Munich in southern Bavaria, and it’s open daily from 10am to 4pm in winter. Tickets cost €13, but make sure to reserve them in advance.
Naples still has a balmy average temperature of 18°C in October, and the sea is a welcoming 23°C on average – warm enough for an autumn dip. If you want to head to the beach, the charming seaside town of Positano is just a short trip away (take the train to Sorrento and catch a local bus from there). The pastel-coloured houses of this photogenic town spill down verdant cliffs towards the sea, making Positano a stunning place to visit – and if the kids get bored of the beach, there’s always the option to take a boat trip along the Amalfi coast (try Blue Star Boat Tours). The author John Steinbeck positively fell in love with Positano when he visited in the 1950s, saying that it’s “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”. It’s also just a short ferry ride from Naples to the stunning isle of Capri, one of our top ten Love Islands.
The 102-metre-high Atomium in Brussels consists of suspended silver spheres that represent an iron crystal – but 165 billion times bigger. This strange structure looks like the realisation of a 1950s sci-fi future that never came to pass – and it’s sure to fascinate the kids. It was built in 1958 as part of the World’s Fair, and rapidly became a much-loved Brussels landmark; and since a makeover in 2006, it has become considerably shiner. Five of the spheres are open to the public – currently there’s a temporary exhibition looking back on the 1958 Expo. But the real highlight of a trip to this bizarre building is the view from the top, where Brussels landmarks are picked out, along with photos showing how the view looked in 1958. The Atomium is open daily from 10am to 6pm; adult tickets cost €15, and kids under 115cm get in free.
Amsterdam is best experienced from the water. Various outfits offer boat trips along the famous Amsterdam canals, ranging from a basic one-hour cruise with sightseeing commentary up to a candlelit cruise over dinner. But perhaps the most useful is the hop-on, hop-off combined bus and boat ticket, which allows you to leap ashore at canal-side landmarks like the Anne Franks House Museum whenever you wish. Expect to pay around €24 for a day pass. Another highlight is the huge Vondelpark, Amsterdam’s most popular green space, which is home to gardens, ponds, sculptures and two huge playgrounds with massive climbing frames for the kids to clamber through. Head this way to discover more of the amazing things to do in Amsterdam.
The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo is home to three Viking vessels that are well over 1,000 years old – yet look like they could sail away at any moment. The Oseberg ship is the largest at over 23 metres long, and it has been painstakingly reconstructed to give an idea of what this beautiful boat would have looked like in its prime. As well as various artefacts recovered from the burial mounds where the boats were found, including a woman’s ornately carved sleigh, the museum features a room-filling projection called Vikings Alive, which recreates the life of a Viking ship from creation to burial.
Edinburgh Castle is offering a chance for visitors to wield a deadly medieval weapon. On October 27th and 28th, it’s holding a hands-on exhibition about the Schiltron, a vicious-looking pike that was used by Scottish soldiers up until the seventeenth century. Demonstrators will be on hand to explain how this weapon was used – as well as offering the audience a chance to try one out for themselves. Admission to the castle costs £17 for adults and £10.20 for children. This includes access to all exhibits, including the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, which was laid in Westminster Abbey for hundreds of years until it was returned to Scotland in 1996. Now check out the top ten attractions Edinburgh has to offer.
Milan’s huge Natural History Museum (Museo Civico di Storia Naturale) is packed with prehistoric predators. In Hall 7, a scary Allosaurus skeleton looms down on visitors, accompanied by less-ferocious dinosaurs like Stegosaurus and Triceratops. Elsewhere there are endless displays on almost every animal you can think of – and it’s cheap, too, at €5 for adults and free for under 18s. But if you get bored of museums, you could always head off on a shopping trip to the glass-domed Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. It dates back to 1867, making it one of the world’s oldest shopping malls – and of course, this being Italy’s fashion capital, it’s packed with amazing clothes shops.
In October, the Algarve is still relatively warm at around 19°C – but the tourist hordes have long left the sandy beaches. One of the best is Praia da Rocha near Portimão, about an hour’s drive east of Faro. It’s fairly sheltered, and there are lots of caves to explore, as well as some striking rock formations. Meanwhile, Praia do Castelo near Albufeira is a lot smaller but is wonderfully secluded, hemmed in by sheer cliffs. Head this way to discover eight more beaches around the world that will blow your mind.
Disneyland Paris will be taken over by evildoers this Halloween. The Halloween festival runs from October 1st to November 4th and will feature appearances by the Disney Villains in their own show, as well as characters like Mickey Mouse in spooky costumes. Expect to see plenty of Mickey-shaped pumpkins, too. Tickets start from around €72 for a one-day pass. For more awesome autumn events around Europe, take a look at this guide. Back in the city meanwhile, Parc de la Villette is home to the mother of all playgrounds in the form of the Jardin des Dunes et des Vents, which features giant hamster wheels, a zip line and all sorts of things for kids to clamber over.Find cheap flights to Paris
Top tips for savvy travellers:
Tired of being stung with baggage charges when flying with Ryanair? Read on for our a full breakdown of Ryanair’s baggage allowances, fees, plus tips on how to maximise your hand luggage and minimise those pesky payments.
Getting stuck in airport security isn’t just an irritation. If you make a mistake and are pulled aside for additional screening, you might just miss your flight – so take the stress out of the process by preparing thoroughly.
Aer Lingus, Ryanair, Laudamotion and Aeroflot are all offering new flight routes from Ireland in October. Take a trip to see the Harry Potter theatre show in London, explore the opulent Moscow Metro or take a tram through the beautiful streets of Lisbon.
Published September 2018. Any prices are lowest estimated prices only at the time of publication and are subject to change and/or availability.