Venture out into Morocco's stunning scenery

If the recent heatwave has got you longing for more sunshine, October is the perfect time for crowd-free beach holidays in Turkey or leisurely sunset gondola glides in Venice. For more beach, city and outdoor breaks this month, check our round-up of the best October holiday destinations below.

Best October holidays for… beaches

Short haul: Turkey

October 2011 holiday destinations - TurkeyHead to Turkey's Aegean Coast for sun-soaked beach days in October
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As Turkey’s summertime surge of tourists dwindles, there remain plenty of sun-soaked beach days to be had – and all for a pleasantly off-season price tag. While the country’s Mediterranean side is considered a notably picture-perfect stretch of coastline, it is the rugged charms of the Aegean Coast – characterised by historic sites and dense greenery– that is Turkey’s sure-fire sun spot this time of year.

From the cheerful resort of Çeşme, to the boisterous tourist hub Kusadasi, to the pretty port city of Bodrum, find an assortment of sandy beaches backed by rocky outcrops and an undulating landscape carpeted with emerald pines and olive groves. Adding to the rustic environs is the area’s ancient collection of crumbly ruins, all steeped in their own dose of historical tales and fantastical legend.

One of the Aegean Coast’s most famous sites is the ancient city of Troy, immortalised in Greek mythology as the focus of the Trojan War. For an exquisitely preserved Roman dwelling, head to Ephesus, once only second to Rome as the largest city in the world.

Long haul: The Gambia

October 2011 holiday destinations - The GambiaOctober is a glorious month to visit The Gambia
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Year-round sunshine and a supremely friendly population make The Gambia your quintessential happy-go-lucky beach destination whatever the month. But as the rainy season tails off, leaving greenery in full flourish and wide beaches still relatively quiet, October is a particularly glorious month for a visit.

The Gambia’s strip of Atlantic coastline is a colourful mishmash of glossy resorts, lively fishing villages and palm-studded stretches. The buzzing beach bars and thatched sunshades of Kololi are where many of The Gambia’s beach-loving visitors head, and it isn’t tricky to compliment your hotel room with vast pools, sea views and exotic cocktails by the dozen – for all this plus exquisite tropical gardens, try The Kairaba Hotel on Kololi Beach.

The yawning golden stretch of Kotu Strand is another big draw, as is the resort of Bakau, with botanical gardens and the white sands of Cape Point – where the snaking Gambia River meets the Atlantic.

Best October holiday for... cities

Short haul: Venice

October 2011 holiday destinations - VeniceNo trip to Venice is complete without a sunset glide on a gondola
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October welcomes Venice’s quiet season – a blessing for those who prefer their cultural sites taken with a good dose of elbow room. The weather in Venice at this time of year is equally relaxing - a balmy climate, with generally little rain - and an autumn city break can be a far pleasanter experience than ploughing through the packed city centre in the midsummer heat.

This fascinating compilation of 116 little islands is one of the artistic centres of the world, and with its make-up of ornate architecture and shimmering canals, it is itself a masterpiece. Attractions in Venice are world-class and plentiful – from the breathtaking form of the Basilica di San Marco to the fascinating exhibits of the Galleria dell'Accademia – and of course, no trip to Venice is complete without a leisurely sunset glide on a gondola.

Long haul: Tokyo

October 2011 holiday destinations - TokyoJapan’s capital is a truly beguiling place to be
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Visitors to Tokyo in October are likely to find themselves amid clear skies, mild temperatures and beautiful autumnal foliage, as well as the city’s trademark high-tech and fast-paced treats. The world’s most cutting-edge in fashion and technology flourish side by side with age-old traditions, and Japan’s capital is a truly beguiling place to be.

Tokyo is well and truly back on its feet after the atrocities of March when an earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan. Tokyo is a city with a history and a heart that captivates every visitor. From the hectic multi-road crossing at Shibuya to the peaceful tree-filled gardens at Meiji-jingu, Tokyo's key sights are varied and mesmerising. Watch the fashion-obsessed teens every Sunday in Shibuya, step back in time in Asakusa's crowded street stalls, and revel in the neon-lit view from the top of Roppongi's Tokyo Tower.

Best October holiday for... outdoors

Short haul: Morocco

October 2011 holiday destinations - CamelsVenturing out into the Sahara is one of Morocco’s prized activities
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A juxtaposition of snowy peaks and scorching desert, Morocco’s High Atlas Mountain range is jaw-dropping terrain for even the most seasoned trekker. As the intense summer heat eases, exploring the remote beauty becomes particularly appealing, and trekkers of all ages weave their way around imposing rock formations, through secluded indigenous villages and up jutting pikes offering far-flung vistas. Those with the leg power observe this sun-baked land from the summit of its highest peak, Jebel Toubkal, which stands at 4,167m (13,667 ft).

Biking around the mountain paths has also become increasingly popular, and bikes can be hired from Marrakech – the common starting point for exploring this otherworldly landscape. Venturing out into the Sahara is another of Morocco’s prized outdoor activities, with regular camel treks heading out across this vast ocean of sand, to nomad settlements and the awe-inspiring dunes of Erg Chebbi.

Long haul: New England, USA

October 2011 holiday destinations - New EnglandAs October arrives, New England crackles in fiery hues
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As October arrives, New England crackles in fiery hues, as its vast plumes of foliage glow with burnt oranges, vibrant yellows and deep crimsons. As the leaves turn through their procession of colours, visiting the region’s many forests, mountains and parks is especially rewarding.

In Massachusetts, strap bikes to the roof-rack and drive across the undulating Mohawk Trail; along the way, find plenty of leafy woodland and vast parks at which to hop out and explore on two wheels. Further north in New Hampshire, the White Mountains Region is the focal point for autumnal beauty, rewarding hikers with sweeping valley views glowing in the golden tones of birch and maple.

October is the heart of the harvest season, and New England’s burgeoning produce can be garnered by the armful at farms across the region. While catching the soft autumn rays, wineglass in hand, from one of Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s many vineyards is a thoroughly pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.