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Paphos' Coral Bay is the perfect / Image: Adobe Stock

Dreaming of unspoilt beaches, warm terraces, and poolside sunbathing? It may be autumn, but the sun’s still shining in some parts of the continent. So make your holiday dreams come true on a last-minute quest for some Vitamin D, with no travel restrictions at either end of your journey. 

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The one for nostalgics

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Monkey around on the Rock of Gibraltar / Image: Adobe Stock

WHERE Gibraltar

WHAT A British Overseas Territory in southern Spain.

WHY Faded fish and chip shops, red pillar boxes and cosy pubs… no, this isn’t old Blighty (at least, not the mainland). Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory on the tip of the Iberian Peninsula, so you can expect stuck-in-time Britannia with a balmy climate to match Marbella. Take a stroll around the higgledy-piggledy Old Town, where traditional Spanish facades mix with familiar British high-street shops.

DON'T MISS The mighty Rock of Gibraltar is the territory’s crowning natural sight. The limestone promontory is also home to Gibraltar’s most famous residents – the mischievous Barbary macaques, who you can spot monkeying around the Apes’ Den near the Rock’s middle cable-car station.

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The one for going natural

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Have a flipping great time with Paphos' turtle population / Image: Alamy

WHERE Cyprus

WHAT An island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

WHY With an average maximum temperature of around 27°C in October, Cyprus still boasts beach weather when the rest of the continent is cooling down. For the perfect mix of sun, sea, and nature, we recommend basing yourself in the western bit of the island – the area surrounding Paphos is chock-full of amazing archaeological sights and quiet stretches of sand. Make your first stop Lara Bay, a peaceful beach populated by heaps of green and loggerhead turtles who love nothing more than flapping around in the white sand. 

DON'T MISS For secret beach vibes make a beeline to Coral Bay, where you’ll find warm Mediterranean waves unfolding along golden shores.

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Read more: Commune with nature around Paphos

The one for adventure lovers

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Do go chasing waterfalls in Madeira

WHERE Madeira

WHAT An autonomous Portuguese island off the coast of Morocco.

WHY Madeira (currently exempt from mainland Portugal's quarantine rules) has a sub-tropical climate that stays pleasantly sunny year-round. It’s also dominated by slumbering volcanoes and thick forests, which makes it an ideal pick for an adventurous holiday. Take in Madeira’s confounding natural landscape on a hike across one of the many ‘levada’ trails paths that follow the extensive irrigation canals that criss-cross the island, running under waterfalls and over mist-shrouded mountains. 

DON'T MISS If you want to truly get away from it all, play castaway aboard the Bonita da Madeira – a 23m wooden ship that makes excursions to the nearby Deserta Islands, which, as the name suggests, are wonderfully deserted.

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Read more: These are the most thrilling things to do on Madeira

The one for beaches galore

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Ladiko Beach is an ideal place to lay your towel / Image: Adobe Stock

WHERE Rhodes

WHAT The largest of Greece's Dodecanese islands.

WHY Does your ideal holiday involve the beach and not much else? Then opt for Rhodes, whose southerly position means flop-on-the-sand-season stretches into late October (flights between Rhodes and the UK run until October 31 in 2020). Ladiko beach is the most famous on the island, and for good reason – with clear water, honey-coloured sand and lovely tavernas, it’s ideal for chilling to the max. But if you like your beaches a bit more under the radar, try Agios Georgios, a stunning secret cove lapped by warm turquoise water.

DON'T MISS When you need a tanning time out, take a stroll through the cobbled alleyways of the heart-stopping Old Town to shop for souvenirs while admiring the sun-bleached ancient ruins.

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Read more: Which Greek island is right for you? 

The one for balancing old and new

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Athens comes alive at night / Image: Adobe Stock

WHERE Athens

WHAT The Greek capital needs no introduction.

WHY Athens' cache of world-class sights speaks for itself. From the mighty hilltop Acropolis to the imposing Temple of Olympian Zeus, ancient history lives side by side with modern life in this fascinating city. Sure, you should stake out time in your diary to see all of the capital’s incredible landmarks – but don’t neglect the new Athens either, which teems with creative energy and a ragged party spirit.

DON'T MISS Start your day on a high note by sipping potent Greek coffee at the rooftop Public Café before strolling through the graffiti’d streets of Psyrri, a cool residential neighbourhood crammed with laidback restaurants and rowdy bars.

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Read more: Take coffee with a view in Athens

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