Last-minute half-term holidays, from UK breaks to green-list escapes

Is your half-term diary looking sparse? Traffic lights, local travel curbs and waterlogged forecasts may have put many off securing a late-May break. Yet for those who have cleared their week, ready for some much-deserved respite, there are still enticing options at home and abroad.

From a long weekend in the Scottish countryside to a five-star clifftop hotel stay near the Algarve’s best beaches, here’s our pick of last-minute family holidays for next week. 

Sleep like an 18th-century earl

Get everyone packed up before Friday morning, then head straight from the school gates to Falkirk. In between the town and the small, picturesque village of Dunmore you’ll find The Pineapple. This 18th-century summerhouse, built for the 4th Earl of Dunmore, is topped by the giant, ornate carving of the fruit. The eye-catching dome was added in 1777 when the earl was forcibly returned to Scotland after serving as Governor of Virginia – his own take on the tradition for sailors to put a pineapple on the gatepost as a sign of their homecoming. It sleeps four people, with three-night stays available from May 28 to June 1 for £1,082 (landmarktrust.org.uk).





Historic Stogursey Castle guards the ruins of an medieval keep


Credit: John Miller

Combine the coast and countryside 

Stogursey Castle in Somerset, a thatched, custard-yellow gatehouse encircled by a moat, is still available for stays this weekend. “Castle” may seem like a grandiose term for this nevertheless fairytale-like property. That’s because it guards the ruins of a former stronghold, which hosted King John in 1210. Nearby you’ll find the market town of Bridgwater, the Quantock Hills, Glastonbury Abbey and the Somerset coast. Available from May 28 to June 1 for £1,650 (landmarktrust.org.uk).

Explore the mountains of Madeira

The Portuguese islands of Madeira and Porto Santo are among our few green-list foreign holiday options thus far. A break with Tui will help to avoid some of the current foreign travel hassle tgabjs to the tour operator’s discounted Covid-19 testing packages. It offers a seven-night all inclusive break at the Vila Gale Santa Cruz, where you’ll be right beside the sea, five minutes from the airport, 15 minutes from the city of Funchal (where you can hop on a wicker sledge for the Monte toboggan run) and 10 minutes from the nearest golf course. Prices start from £850 per person, based on two adults and two children sharing. Flights depart from Manchester on May 30th (tui.co.uk).





Madeira is one of the few overseas destinations currently open to Britons


Credit: Getty

Book in for B&B in Albufeira 

Fancy a package break in the Algarve, with evenings spent in local restaurants? EasyJet Holidays offers a seven-night stay at The Paladim & Alagoamar in Albufeira on a bed and breakfast basis for £495 per person, including flights from Bristol Airport. The hotel is centrally located between the old town and main strip, and is just a short walk from the beach. It’s an ideal base for a fly-and-flop escape, especially with temperatures pushing up into the mid-20s from next week (easyjet.com).

Indulge in Madeira

Those who want to splurge on their first post-lockdown break might be tempted by this property, which includes a two-Michelin starred restaurant. The five-star Cliff Bay stands “on a promontory with direct access to the sea and beautiful views over the Bay of Funchal,” writes Telegraph Travel’s Portugal expert, Mary Lussiana. She also mentions its flower-filled garden with direct access to the ocean. 

The Cliff Bay has three swimming pools and a spa, so to occupy children and weary parents. Even more awaits those who venture beyond the town to soak up the attractions of Madeira and its sister island. A seven-night stay for a family of four (on a bed and breakfast basis), including flights departing from London Gatwick on May 29 is available for £4,438 through Thomas Cook (thomascook.com). 





It’s small in size, but green-listed Gibraltar packs in plenty of fun things to do


Credit: Getty

Go for a long weekend in Gibraltar

The tiny British Overseas Territory is welcoming Britons with just a free, rapid test required on arrival (visitors must also complete a passenger locator form). Those itching for outdoor adventure could flit between dolphin-watching boat trips, paddleboarding sessions and encounters with some of the Rock’s population of 200 Barbary macaques. For holidaymakers seeking sun and sea, the glut of restaurants around the Ocean Village development and eclectic collection of beaches – from the attractive man-made sweep of Sandy Bay to the colourful homes of Catalan Bay – will more than suffice. British Airways holidays offers four nights at The Elliot Hotel from £669 per person for a family of three. This includes return flights from Heathrow, departing between May 29-31 (ba.com/gibraltar).

Travel rules and restrictions are liable to change at short notice. Check local travel guidance and/or international travel restrictions and entry requirements at gov.uk before booking.