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Autumn breaks – from 1 to 4 hours away

Planning a last-minute half term getaway? Here are 6 destinations perfect for the season, plus the chance to win one of FIVE Saltee Skin bundles to take with you, worth £500.

All in favour of a last-minute escape, say aye…. thought so! We’ve rounded up six fabulous autumn breaks with everything from sea swimming and coastal walks to tax-free shopping and ancient history. We’ve even helped you with what to pack…

ST HELIER, JERSEY – less than 1 hour by plane

credit: Visit Jersey

Jersey is the most southerly point in Britain, and has its own microclimate – yes, really! Hit the beach for walking, bathing or just to work up a hunger, and none is better than the golden sands of St Ouen’s Bay, oft compared to California for its surf vibe and sunsets. If you need an excuse to shop, it’s all tax-free! From boutiques of St Helier’s pedestrianised centre to the original, independent department stores, Voisins and De Gruchy.

credit: Visit Jersey

Seafood (and the eponymous potatoes) are the gastro highlights. Those in the know get their seafood from Faulkner Fisheries in a converted German bunker at the top end of St Ouen’s Bay. As for where to stay, you’re spoilt for choice with snazzy hotels galore (the bankers have to stay somewhere…). Try The Royal Yacht, for its pool, spa and fine-dining.

What to pack: This waxed cotton holdall from John Lewis (£119) will only get better with age, and is just the right size for a long weekend in the Channel Islands. This waterproof raincoat from Joules (£129) has got your back if the microclimate lets you down but doesn’t disappoint in the style stakes… And for skincare, Saltee’s Daily Face Collection (£38) will hydrate skin that’s been exposed to sun, wind thanks to the Hyaluronic Acid for moisture and Vitamin C to brighten.

ILE DE RE, FRANCE – 1.5 hours by plane

credit: Destination Ile de Ré

Head to Ile de Re in October and you’ve missed the crowds but not the sunshine. OK we’re talking high teens here but you won’t need more than a lightweight jumper/jacket and you won’t have to elbow your way through the crowds of Parisians to get the best tables. Hire a bike and miles of flat, car-free paths await to vast beaches like Plage de la Conche des Baleines or the fabulous food market at La Flotte-en-Re (though every village has it’s own market).

credit: Destination Ile de Ré

There aren’t enough meals in a week to try every one of Ile de Re’s fabulous village and beachside restaurants but Ré Ostréa is a must for sandy toes and oysters, or La Baleine Bleue for a snazzy night out. Stay at Hotel Le Toiras, an impossibly pretty boutique bolthole in St Martin.

What to pack: Sneakers for cycling, shopping, mooching… this update to the classic Veja Campo style (£155) with pops of pastel pink will go with just about anything in your suitcase, and styled with this chic vegan Caro backpack from Matt & Nat (£135), you’re oh so stylish and ethical. Trap that sun and bring it home (or at least a faint glow) with Saltee Tan Enhance Formula (£24), a delicately scented after-sun for face and body.

SORRENTO, ITALY – 2.5 hours by plane

credit: Ferenc Horvatha for Unsplash

The Old Town in Sorrento is where you’ll find the heart of the city – cobbled piazzas, old men playing cards and the smell of fresh coffee (two months earlier and it would have been lemons, but harvest season is over by autumn). At this time of year you’ll also find it easier to bag a ticket to see Pompeii, climb Mount Vesuvius and get around the Amalfi Coast without the bumper-to-bumper traffic – all this and it could top 25 degrees C!

La Maison Minervetta

Hire a boat (or driver) for some cove-hopping, or hop over to Capri for some beach time. Hotel-wise, La Maison Minervetta is fabulous but bonkers, with the reception on the top floor (best views) and 12 bedrooms beneath.

What to pack: The Corsica bikini top from Boden (£35) can be matched with various style bikini bottoms to flatter any figure. meanwhile we fancy this Scuba Oversized Full Zip top from Lululemon (£118) for daytime adventures that are comfy, but still chic. If the sun does come out, Saltee’s Sea & Sun Formula (£29) is super easy to apply because it’s lightweight, but packs an SPF of 50, so perfect if your skin hasn’t seen the sun in a while…

CEREDIGION & GOWER, WALES – 2-4 hours by car

credit: Visit Wales

Pale sandy beaches, white-washed dunes and cocktails on the sea front… it’s got to be… Ceredigion. Occupying the lower part of a vast crescent bay about half way down the west coast of Wales, this is the driest spot in the area. On a good day, you could be in the Hamptons (we’ve got our pink-tinted sunnies on, sweetie). Add to that dramatic coastal walks, surfing, sailing, dolphin spotting, the vast sand dunes of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve and an ancient petrified forest that emerges in Cardigan Bay at low tide, and it’s all rather magical. Stay at Nanteos Mansion, a Georgian pile with it’s a four-bed self catering annexe.

credit: Visit Wales

If it’s sun you’re after, head further south to the Gower Peninsula. It’s the sunniest part of Wales though it is wetter; we can’t move the jet stream, people. Surfers head to Llangennith, twitchers to Three Cliffs Bay and posers to Rhossili, itself considered the ‘supermodel’ of British beaches. Stay at the Oxwich Bay Hotel, right on the beach and with the option of cottages and dog-friendly rooms.

What to pack: Two words… be prepared. Welsh brand Howies is the place to go for merino base layers (get in early cos they sell out), and check out this wind and rain blocking lightweight jacket (£59), new for the season. Natty and practical – win! Hiking boots are having a bit of a moment this season and these Isadora Boots from Boden (£180) are not only waterproof but sexy too – go on, get the leopard print pair…. For sun protection and hydration Saltee’s Active Sun Lotion (£32) has SPF, hydration and natural essential oils work to soothe aching muscles.

VALLETTA, MALTA – 3 hours by plane

Palazzo Consiglia

Get the bikini out of winter storage… does 24 degrees C sound good to you (and that’s just the sea temperature!)? Hit Malta this autumn and you could be snorkelling in the clear Med by day, and eating fish soup and rabbit (seriously, it’s a local delicacy) in a little trattoria at night (Legligin is one of the hot tables in town).

credit: Ferenc Horvatha for Unsplash

Valletta is a walled city with bucket-loads of history (gen up at the National Museum of Archaeology), cafes spilling into squares (Cafe Cordina is an institution), and water taxis buzzing about the harbour. This is Venice, without the crowds (especially if you go now). The Palazzo Consiglia is a somewhat fabulous boutique hotel with 13 bedrooms, a rooftop pool and spa. For culture vultures who want sun, sea and snazz, this is your autumn city break.

What to pack: Sunglasses! They’re big this season, and they’re 70s. This tortoiseshell pair from Ralph Lauren (£163) nails both those trends. This Maeve Jacquard Shift Mini Dress from Anthropologie (£120) is just calling out to be sashayed around the side streets of Valletta. If you’re looking to get home with a glow, the Saltee Sun Essentials Collection (£42) is a winner with its SPF30 for day and calming after sun to keep the colour and halt the peel.

FIFE, SCOTLAND – 1 hour by plane/5 hours by train

credit: Anstruther Fish Bar

The Kingdom of Fife, as many of the fiercely independent residents of this little peninsula would have you call it, is a nook of postcard fishing villages like Anstruther and Crail (don’t miss the pottery shop), wild and empty beaches like Kinsgbarns (don’t miss the cheese toastie shack for heavenly sarnies), quirky culture and epic fish and chips (Anstruther Fish Bar).

credit: Visit Scotland

The much overused expression ‘microclimate’ (see Jersey) might be a step too far, but geography is kind to Fife and it’s less wet and cold than much of Scotland. The coast path is a big draw plus golf, fishing, distillery visits (Kingsbarns for whisky, Eden Mill for gin and Futtle for craft beer and live music), the superb Bowhouse artisan markets, and of course the historic St Andrews, where two famous people called William and Kate met… Stay at the Fairmont St Andrews for some serious snazz though you may have to work on your golf chat at the bar.

What to pack: The beret is back this AW 2021/22! And it’s just perfect for the Scottish coast – stylish but warm addition. Try this teal option from Accessorize (£14), perfect with the new Hunter Balmoral Field Hybrid wellie (£160) as a subtle to ode to the duchess. Fish and chips on the beach/toastie on the coast? You’ll be needing some handgel, and Saltee’s Refill Duo (£25) is perfect for the job – it’s got the sanitising alcohol but doesn’t stink like loo cleaner. Instead expect a blend of natural essential oils including Neroli to calm and hydrate. Civilised.

Head to Reader Treats to win one of FIVE bundles of sun and skincare from Oxfordshire brand Saltee, worth £500.

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