Summer is underway, but it’s not too late to book a last-minute beach break – and there are still some bargains to be had, Which? reveals.
The watchdog has drawn up a ranking of the top 10 cheapest destinations for a last-minute package break in early August.
To curate the ranking, Which? compared the prices of more than 3,500 short-haul holidays available to book in eight countries from the UK’s biggest tour operators – Jet2holidays and Tui – to find the most affordable seaside destinations in the third week of the school summer holidays.
Overall, it found that Spain was the cheapest country – the average price of a seven-night trip to Spain in early August is more than £400 less than a week in Croatia or Greece, Which? reveals. Here’s the low-down on the cheapest holiday hotspots to visit, starting with the most budget-friendly destination of all…
1. Bilbao – average holiday price of £667pp
New research by Which? reveals the cheapest destinations for a last-minute package holiday in early August – and it’s Bilbao (above) that’s the most budget-friendly hotspot
Which? says: ‘Summer is balmy rather than baking in Bilbao. The best-known landmark in this Basque city in northern Spain is the shimmering Guggenheim Museum – a ship-shaped, titanium-clad marvel that’s as impressive as the art inside.’
It adds: ‘When you’ve had your fill of sightseeing, hop on the metro to Plentzia to stretch out on its golden beach or take a dip in the sheltered bay.’
2. Valencia – average holiday price of £694pp
Which? says that second-place Valencia (above) is a ‘great destination if you want to combine sunbathing with sightseeing’
Which? notes that – as we reported – the Spanish city of Valencia came top in its recent survey of the Mediterranean’s best seaside towns, saying: ‘Visitors gave Valencia full marks for its beach, tourist attractions, attractiveness, peace and quiet, friendliness and value for money.’
The watchdog notes: ‘It’s a great destination if you want to combine sunbathing with sightseeing. There’s a Gothic cathedral, a palatial Art Nouveau food market and the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences cultural quarter to explore.’
3. Porto – average holiday price of £790pp
Third in the ranking is the Portuguese city of Porto, which is known for its ‘prized port wine’
‘Porto sits on Portugal’s northern coast and enjoys gentler summers than Lisbon and the Algarve,’ Which? declares, noting that the city is known for its ‘prized port wine’.
It continues: ‘The waterfront and winding streets of Unesco-listed Ribeira [neighbourhood] are lined with hip bars and chic restaurants.’ Which recommends taking the ‘historic’ tram Number One to the beach or a river taxi to Vila Nova de Gaia, the city on the other side of the Douro River.
4. Thessaloniki – average holiday price of £791pp
Taking fourth place in the ranking is the Greek city of Thessaloniki – a place that’s ‘buzzing in summer’, according to Which?
Which? says: ‘Greece’s second city is buzzing in summer. Escape the midday sun in its fresco-adorned Roman Rotunda, Byzantine museum, century-old food market and traditional coffee houses and tavernas. Or catch the breeze on a boat ride on the Thermaic Gulf.’
It adds: ‘The powder-soft beaches of Halkidiki are an easy day trip.’
5. Dalaman – average holiday price of £815pp
Which? has found that the average cost of a package holiday in the Dalaman region, which ranks fifth, is ‘considerably less than elsewhere on Turkey’s sun-soaked Turquoise Coast’
‘Dalaman is the cheapest option for holidaymakers who just want to flop on a beach and chill by a pool,’ Which? reveals.
It says: ‘The average cost of a package holiday in this region was considerably less than elsewhere on Turkey’s sun-soaked Turquoise Coast, and you can still find bed and breakfast, half-board and all-inclusive holidays available.’
While there, the ancient Greek rock-hewn tombs of the Fethiye district are a must-see, the watchdog adds.
Commenting on the study’s findings, Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘Jetting off in the summer holidays this year could be very pricey, but we’ve found it’s not too late to bag a bargain coastal break this August, whether you’re in the mood to simply fly and flop or want a bit of city life thrown in too.
‘Those looking to avoid the worst of the current hot temperatures in Europe might want to consider a last-minute city break in Bilbao or Porto, both of which were highly-rated by travellers in our recent survey of European coastal destinations. Meanwhile, those wanting a relaxing break lounging by the pool will find great value stays still available on Turkey’s beautiful Turquoise Coast.’
THE CHEAPEST DESTINATIONS FOR A LAST-MINUTE PACKAGE BEACH BREAK, ACCORDING TO WHICH?
1. Bilbao – £667 (Average price of a seven-night package holiday per person)
2. Valencia – £694
3. Porto – £790
4. Thessaloniki – £791
5. Dalaman – £815
6. Barcelona – £864
7. Sorrento peninsula – £870
8. Athens – £883
9. Naples – £920
10. Costa Brava – £921