The school half-term holiday is coming up, and it’s time to plan a getaway! The return to school after the summer holidays is always a difficult one, for both kids and parents, so why not treat the whole family to some well-deserved R&R?
We’ve rounded up the best UK holidays for families, taking you to Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Whether you’re looking for the bustle of a city trip, the peace of a national park, or one last frolic on the beach before winter, we’ve got you covered. Here are the best places to take the kids this October half-term holiday.
1. Isle of Wight, England
There’s a reason why so many travellers flock to the Isle of Wight each year, and this autumn half-term, you’ll get to see exactly why that is. Follow in the footsteps of Lord Alfred Tennyson, Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria, all of whom cherished their time spent on this gorgeous island.
The Isle of Wight has something for the whole family, with sandy beaches, historic sights, magical caves and more. To get the most out of your trip, tackle our Isle of Wight road trip itinerary.
Things to do on the Isle of Wight:
-Hit the water! It might be a little chilly, but with the right wetsuit, you’ll definitely manage. A trip to the Isle of Wight isn’t complete without a few hours spent in the turquoise waters. You could rent a kayak, take surf lessons, or simply take a boat trip through the caves.
-Right on the southern tip of the island, you’ll find Catherine’s Lighthouse in Niton. This lighthouse is surrounded by spooky legends, including ghostly animal sightings, unexplained footsteps and vanishing items… As you regain your wits, take a walk to Steephill Cove, a hidden beach that is only accessible by foot.
- Did you know that the Isle of Wight is known as the ‘Dinosaur Capital of Britain’? It featured the perfect habitat for dinosaurs, and they’ve found almost every type of dinosaur fossil there. You can see all of these at the Dinosaur Isle Museum. Don’t forget to go digging yourself, as new fossils are still being found each year.
2. Cardiff, Wales
If you haven’t got the time to go for a full week away this October half-term, why not settle for a long weekend in Cardiff? Perfectly located for a short getaway, Cardiff is a lovely city to visit with the whole family.
It was voted one of the ‘World’s Top 10 Must-Visit Countries’ by Lonely Planet, and is considered Europe’s third-best capital city to live in. You’ll get to experience history, arts, science and a surprising amount of nature in this bustling city.
Things to do in Cardiff:
-Right at the heart of the city, you’ll find the magnificent Cardiff Castle. This towering stone structure has stood for almost 2,000 years and is open for tours throughout the week. Cardiff is also fondly known as the ‘City of Castles’, and another great one to visit is St. Fagan’s Castle, which is part of the St. Fagan’s National History Museum.
-Become immensely popular with your kids by suggesting a trip to Cardiff International White Water, a rafting centre based in Cardiff Bay. You’ll spend an exhilarating afternoon of white water rafting, which might even include a bit of team-building for the family. This is a great way to get quality time together that everyone will enjoy.
-The famous children’s author, Roald Dahl, was actually born and raised in Cardiff. While here, you can visit Roald Dahl Plass, which was named after him. It’s home to the Senedd (Welsh Parliament Building) and the Wales Millennium Centre.
3. The Cairngorms, Scotland
There is no better time to visit one of the UK’s largest national parks than in the October half-term. Why is that? Well, you get to profit from the remaining warmth of summer, while skipping the crowds and queues!
The Cairngorms were named one of the ‘Top 20 Places to Visit in the World’ by National Geographic and we couldn’t agree more. There are endless things to do in this stunning national park, including hiking, biking and bird watching to name a few. It’s also extremely popular with photographers, both amateur and professional, for the unparalleled views and varied landscapes.
We especially love to visit the Cairngorms in autumn, as the fall colours really bring out the beauty of this national park.
Things to do in the Cairngorms:
-Bring a motorhome and camp at one of the many campsites in the Cairngorms. This is the best way to enjoy this stunning region, and you’ll have your most peaceful sleep in years here. Just keep in mind that there might be a few furry neighbours around, so be sure to lock up your food for the night.
-Dust off your walking boots and embark on a hike! You’ll find plenty of hiking routes across the Cairngorms, ranging from easy to difficult. If you’re hoping to spot some elusive red squirrels, try the two-and-a-half-mile walk along Uath Lochans and Inshriach Forest. A particular favourite of ours is the five-mile circular walk through Black Wood to Dun da-Lamh hillfort, which can include a dip in the waterfalls to cool off.
-Challenge yourself to complete the entire Snow Roads Scenic Route road trip! This 90-mile journey is the perfect length for the half-term break and takes you through the best of the Cairngorms National Park, and along picturesque villages and woods.
4. Anglesey, Wales
Anglesey is quickly becoming one of our favourite destinations in Wales, and it’s earned a spot on the list of the best UK holidays for families. This island is beloved by motorhome travellers, situated up in North Wales and surrounded by the sparkling Irish Sea.
On a clear day, you can see all the way to Ireland. And on less clear days, you can focus on all of the beauty surrounding you right here in Anglesey. This island is also home to some of the last red squirrels in the UK, with approximately 700 of them calling this lovely place home. You might even spot these little creatures yourself as you explore Anglesey.
Things to do in Anglesey:
-This is one of the best places to take kids who love history lessons at school. Anglesey has a rich history and plenty of landmarks to prove it. You can head to Partys Mountain to see rocks that span four eras and 12 geological periods, covering over 1,800 million years. Another great landmark is Bryn Celli Ddu, an ancient burial mound and Neolithic passage tomb. It’s believed to be over 5,000 years old, and you can still see the extensive rock art covering it.
-Head to the beach! It might not be swimsuit weather, but there’s something so peaceful about visiting a beach in autumn. Anglesey is home to six Blue Flag Beaches: Benllech, Llanddwyn, Church Bay, Trearddur Bay, Llanddona and Porth Dafarch.
-Visit the village with the longest place name in Europe! Start practising so that you can say ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’ by the time you get there. This translates to ‘St.Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the red cave’. Or you can stick to the shortened version of ‘Llanfairpwll’.
Need a campsite in Anglesey for your trip?
5. Deal, England
Tucked away in Kent, you’ll find this under-the-radar beach town. Deal is often compared to Whitstable and Margate, only it’s far less crowded and expensive.
It’s a magical little place, filled with pastel-hued cottages, sandy beaches and clear waters. This is the perfect school half-term holiday destination to toast to the end of summer and catch a few final rays before winter hits.
Things to do in Deal:
- Deal Pier is the last remaining fully intact leisure pier in Kent! It was first opened in 1957 by the Duke of Edinburgh and has since been beloved in this region. You can grab a bite to eat, try your hand at fishing or simply enjoy the gorgeous view.
-Spend an educational afternoon at Deal Castle. This artillery fort was constructed between 1539 and 1540 by Henry VIII — your kids will likely know him as the one with all the wives! You can roam the underground tunnels and climb the walls for an impeccable view of the seaside.
-If you’re here for the weekend, be sure to visit the Deal Saturday Market. You can get plenty of delicious local delicacies, and perhaps even a souvenir for loved ones back home.
6. Belfast, Northern Ireland
Autumn is the perfect time to visit the capital of Northern Ireland for a city break. Belfast is known for having a grungy atmosphere that people either love or hate, but we think that if you give this vibrant city a chance, you’ll love it as much as we do!
A large aspect of Belfast is the difficult history and challenges faced, and how the citizens have overcome these and built a home for arts, culture and knowledge. This is one of our favourite places to take the kids for a holiday that combines education with entertainment.
Things to do in Belfast:
-Head to the Titanic Quarter to experience a large-scale waterfront regeneration, consisting of historic maritime landmarks, film studios, entertainment services and more. You can also visit the Titanic Experience to learn more about that doomed journey.
- Take a free walking tour to learn more about the history and culture of Belfast. Let a local teach you all about this vibrant city, and experience the places you wouldn’t think to visit. Often you’ll get an introduction to the local mysteries and legends as well.
-Combine Belfast with a motorhome road trip through the rest of Northern Ireland, to see the beauty of the coast as well. With stops at the Giant’s Causeway, the Gobbins and the Glens of Antrim, you’ll get to experience all the best Northern Ireland has to offer.
7. Edinburgh, Scotland
Visiting Edinburgh is different to your typical city trip, as the Scottish capital is actually one of the UK’s most picturesque cities. It’s filled with cobbled streets, colourful shops and a historic old town. It’s easy to spend the school half-term holiday in Edinburgh, as you’ll never run out of things to do.
Visiting Edinburgh for the October half-term holiday will also ensure that it’s less busy than during the summer. And if you’re hit with some classic British rain, you can simply seek shelter in one of Edinburgh’s incredible museums or art galleries.
Things to do in Edinburgh:
-If you’re travelling with older kids, a trip to the National Museum of Modern Art is the perfect way to get their creativity flowing. It features work by both Picasso and Matisse. If this isn’t quite the right fit, they might enjoy a trip to the Edinburgh Dungeons in time for Halloween around the corner. But be warned, it’s spookier than you’d expect…
-If the weather allows it, hike up to Arthur’s Seat. From here, you’ll get an unparalleled view of the city. The walk isn’t too tricky, so even the little ones should be able to manage it. You can enjoy a picnic at the top before heading back to the city.
-Any Potterheads in the family? Take the Potter Trail, a free tour of several locations that inspired the famous magical book series. For example, Diagon Alley was inspired by Candlemaker Row, and you’ll quickly see the similarities.
And just like that, your October half-term holiday is planned! Seize this opportunity to escape daily life with the whole family for some quality time together. Before you know it, they’ll be all grown up and heading far from home, so don’t let a school half-term holiday go to waste. Whether you choose to stay close to home or embark to the furthest corners of the UK, the best UK holidays for families merely involve a chance to laugh and talk together. So why not hire a family motorhome for the October half-term!