Although Easter is just three weeks away, those who haven’t booked a break haven’t necessarily left it too late, with flight and train fares as well as accommodation still reasonably priced in destinations that are experiencing lower demand.
That doesn’t mean to say you need to set the bar low, or look at destinations you might consider unsuitable. For example, summer staple Mallorca can be considerably cheaper in April than in June, July and August. The Met Office gives an average daily maximum temperature of 20.4°C on the island in April, although the chance of rain is higher than in June (but still considerably lower than in autumn).
Vintage Travel, which specialises in villa rentals with private pools in key Mediterranean destinations, points out that rentals in Mallorca are “great value” over Easter, costing on average between £700 and £1,000 a week, which can double in June. Its one-bedroom Ca Na Reieta near Pollenca costs £595 for a week commencing 1 April, rising to £695 the following week (vintagetravel.co.uk).
Of Skyscanner’s most popular flight searches over the key Easter period this year (1-16 April), Palma only just scrapes into the top 20, while Ibiza comes in 27th.
Airlines such as easyJet and Wizz Air currently have returns from London to Palma from around £150pp in the first week of April, while fares to Ibiza can be as low as £100 on easyJet and Ryanair.
Search-comparison site Kayak highlights Ibiza as one of the best-value destinations for Easter, with average return flights costing £116. Its new deals page (kayak.co.uk/c/flightdeals) guides users to the cheapest fares for their chosen destination – such as one-way fares to Palma for £14 on 14 April.
Looking further down Skyscanner’s list of popular Easter searches, some interesting destinations pop up, such as Lisbon, Copenhagen and Marrakech.
Skyscanner spokeswoman Naomi Hahn told i: “A flexible mindset has been key for those looking to get away over the past three years, and this has meant many travellers have discovered destinations they wouldn’t have previously considered. The year looks set to be a year of new discoveries as emerging, pocket-friendly destinations come to the fore.”
This might mean swapping Andalucia for Galicia, with flights to Santiago de Compostela almost 40 per cent cheaper in the first week of April, or looking at even less obvious destinations. We’ve analysed the data and spoken to experts to highlight seven of the most cost-effective last-minute breaks to consider this Easter.
London to Amsterdam is one of the busiest – and therefore pricey – flight routes. However, it pays to look further afield. Ryanair has return flights from Stansted to Eindhoven from £73pp between 4 and 8 April, while Eurostar has return fares from London to Rotterdam from £173 between 9 and 14 April. Return ferry crossings for a car (two adults and two children) from Harwich to Hook of Holland cost from £252 between 4 and 12 April (stenaline.co.uk).
It is easy to explore this compact country, which is more than a third smaller than the UK. Rotterdam is well-connected to the rest of the Netherlands by fast and efficient trains, while being an excellent-value city break destination itself, and the country’s many holiday parks are easily reached from both Eindhoven and Hook of Holland.
Within an hour of Eindhoven, in the south-east of the country, are several appealing parks, such as Landal Het Vennenbos and Landal Domein de Schatberg. The first is set amid forest and lakes in the Brabant countryside, with cycling trails, playgrounds and a central 650m2 indoor pool complex. Domein de Schatberg is close to the borders of Germany and Belgium and encompasses playgrounds, water sports and indoor pool with slides and rapids, alongside its handsome lodges.
Also in the region is Farmcamps BoeBaDoe – a dairy farm with safari-style tents, pony-riding lessons, farm animals and a playground – and TerSpegelt Holiday Park, with a heated indoor pool, woodland walks, bike rides, a gnome path and the nearby Efteling theme park.
All parks are offered by Little Clogs Holidays, with a week in a glamping lodge at TerSpegelt costing from €515 (£454) for up to seven guests from 31 March (little-clogs-holidays.co.uk).
EasyJet Holidays highlights good-value deals in a handful of Europe’s “up-and-coming city and beach destinations” over Easter. In Montenegro, a week’s B&B at the five-star Iberostar Slavija costs from £592pp including Gatwick flights on 9 April and transfers.
Next door to popular Croatia, Montenegro is currently outside the EU and has a much lower cost of living than its neighbour, with prices around a third cheaper than in the UK. April temperatures average in the high teens, making beaches viable, though sea swimming is still on the chillier side.
Its tourist board is also encouraging visitors to look beyond its sparkling Adriatic coast and visit rural areas such as its five national parks. Lovcen, for example, looms large over the Bay of Kotor with the old royal capital Cetinje clinging to its forested slopes, while Lake Skadar is a tranquil haven of wetlands, rare birdlife and tiny islands.
Spring is the ideal time of year to explore the countryside by bicycle, cycling past fields of wildflowers and stopping at rustic restaurants to refuel on iz crepulje, bread baked in the ashes of a fire. Farm stays can cost as little as £30 per night for four (montenegro.travel).
Just as comparison sites such as Skyscanner and Kayak and villa rental companies are pointing towards lower demand for Mallorca, the same applies on neighbouring Ibiza and Menorca.
The most easterly of the Balearics, Menorca is also one of the most low-key islands, with its dozens of quiet coves and rural hamlets – a contrast to mountainous Mallorca and chi-chi Ibiza and Formentera. It is also one of the easiest to explore, either by hire car or bus, taking little more than an hour to get from one end to the other.
Jet2 Holidays has packages from around £450pp commencing 8 April, from self-catering holidays at Villas
Playas de Fornells with Manchester flights and a week’s car hire, to an apartment at Carema Beach resort in Cala’n Bosch on the south-west coast, also with Manchester flights and transfers (jet2holidays.com).
Tui is seeing good availability for packages in the Dalaman and Antalya regions, where temperatures average 22°C in April – ideal for enjoying the beaches and coastline, but also for exploring the interior before the scorching heat of summer.
It has a week’s all-inclusive for £495pp at the Tui Blue Xanthe Resort and Spa Hotel in Side, Antalya, with Manchester flights on 11 April, and a week’s all-inclusive at Liberty Hotels Lykia, set against the emerald waters of Ölüdeniz for £660pp with Gatwick flights on 10 April.
The Post Office’s recent Holiday Money Index revealed that Turkish lira is now more than 180 per cent weaker than in March 2020, meaning that visitors will receive £321 more in lira on a £500 transaction compared with three years ago.
Easily accessible, north-western France is an overlooked gem, packed with gorgeous golden Opal Coast beaches, forests, great food and fascinating cities. Calais merits more than just a zip through, with its new giant fire-breathing dragon and redesigned port.
Hotels in this part of France can be as much as 50 per cent cheaper than in the south. For example, in the pretty city of Arras, Sawdays offers stays at Entre Cour et Jardin, an 18th-century mansion set against an elegant garden with doubles from €115/£101 (sawdays.co.uk).
Spring is also an ideal time to visit the region’s many theme parks, among them Parc Astérix, Bagatelle and, of course, Disneyland Paris. Berck-sur-Mer hosts a huge kite festival from 15-23 April (hautsdefrancetourism.com).
The Costa Vicentina is Portugal’s wild, south-west coast, where the Atlantic fizzes on to miles of golden sand and hiking trails thread across fertile clifftops.
Easily accessed from Faro, to where flights are around £170 return in the first two weeks of April, it is also an excellent-value part of the Algarve and Alentejo, where rustic hotels can cost as little as £70 a night over Easter, and feels far removed from the busy resorts on the south coast. The Monte das Alpenduradas has rooms from £53 B&B and is half-an-hours’ walk from the fishing village and beach of Praia Zambujeira do Mar (alpenduradas.com). Also nearby is Kuanza Farmhouse and Lodge, with safari-style tents from £150 for four (lodgekuanza.pt).
The demand for domestic breaks soars at Easter, when much of the UK can arguably look its best. Travel Chapter, which includes self-catering brands Holidaycottages.co.uk, Original Cottages, Canine Cottages and Farm Holidays, is seeing high demand in the usual suspects – Wales, Devon, Cornwall, the Lake District, Norfolk and the Peak District.
However, regions with better availability include Northumberland, Scotland and Suffolk. Rentals in Suffolk cost from around £530 for the first week in April, such as the one-bedroom Japonica Cottage in Wenhaston, which is near seaside favourites Southwold and Walberswick. Canopy & Stars highlights Devon as its most popular destination, with Herefordshire in second place. However, there is good availability in locations such as Stirling, where Flycatcher is a stylish treehouse sleeping up to four overlooking the River Teith near the Trossachs. Two-night stays over the first two weeks of Easter cost £620 (canopyandstars.co.uk).