12 winning reasons why shoulder season travel is the best

The “shoulder seasons” are those travel periods that fall in spring and autumn, between the peak and fully off-peak seasons. For those not at the mercy of school terms – like couples, retirees, and families with tots – they can be the perfect times for a villa getaway. Here are 12 top reasons to get booking and jet off this spring:

1. Save on accommodation

There are great bargains to be had on our huge range of villas outside the summer holidays. This spring 2020, you could book a fantastic property for just £500 per week – that’s a whopping saving of £1,500 compared to peak season!

2. Nab your dream villa

There’s much better availability in the shoulder seasons, so you can have the pick of the bunch and snap up that fabulous villa you’ve been eyeing for months.

3. Spend less on flights

Air fares are often lower at off-peak times too, which can significantly cut the cost of your trip even more. Across our destinations, flying in the spring shoulder season is on average £100 cheaper than peak season.

4. Bask in better weather

Love the sun but hate melting in the heat? The shoulder seasons’ slightly cooler temperatures are perfect for sightseeing and adventure, while still warm enough for lazy days spent lounging by the pool.

5. Beat the crowds

You won’t be jostling for space in the museum or fighting for spots on the beach, meaning a much more pleasant experience all round.

6. Skip the queues

Who wants to waste precious time waiting in long lines when you could be fast-tracking straight to the fun?

7. Get around easily

With fewer cars on the roads and less busy public transport, you’ll find it a stress-free breeze to get from A to B when you’re out exploring.

8. Be snap happy

Looking to make your Instagram followers green with envy? You’ll be free to capture those perfect holiday shots without throngs of other people ruining them!

9. Live like a local

With fewer tourists about, you’ll enjoy a more authentic experience of your destination and have better chances to mingle with the locals.

10. Enjoy discounts on foods and attractions

Did you know some tourist spots slash entrance fees and menu prices outside peak times? So you could come home with even more pennies in your pocket.

11. Support the local economy

By visiting and spending money outside the main tourist period, you’ll be benefiting your destination’s local economy – so everyone wins.

12. Help reduce overtourism

Travelling in the shoulder seasons helps distribute the weight of tourism on a destination across the year. And that’s much better news for locals and the environment.

Fancy a bargain last-minute getaway during the upcoming shoulder season? Take a look at our fantastic range of holiday villas still available this spring 2020!

Discover the Val di Noto

Cruising through Sicily’s stunning and lesser known south east corner, you might start to feel a little conflicted. On one hand, you may want to tell all your friends to stop what they’re doing and come immediately! However, the desire to keep this endearing pocket of the island a secret may triumph…

Ortigia

Take Siracusa for instance, a UNESCO protected city full of energy and history, divided into the mainland and its beating island heart, Ortigia. From the interesting architecture to the buzzing, local markets and streets teeming with craft shops, it’s hard not to fall in love with. Wandering around the narrow, pretty lanes, you’ll discover something fascinating at every turn – from churches with no roofs to tiny, tucked away ristorantes serving excellent food.

And then there’s the Archeological Park, housing relics of the Greek and Roman eras. Most impressive is the huge 5th century BC Greek theatre. Believe it or not, it is still in use today for the annual Greek Theatre Festival. When you’ve finished exploring for the day, sit along the lungomare (seafront) in Ortigia and watch the sun set over the water.  

Greek Theatre of Siracusa

Elsewhere, step back in time as you visit the unmissable late Baroque towns of Val di Noto. Collectively, they make up a UNESCO World Heritage site, of which Sicily has 7. They were all rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1693, whereby the architects were given free rein to add their flourishes.

You’ll see this in the expressive gargoyles of twisted, wrought iron balconies and the colourful marble used inside churches. Nearest to Siracusa, Noto is a great spot for lunch or gelato. Dine among the grand, honey coloured buildings or climb up a bell tower on the main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, for magnificent views across the town.

Noto

Heading west along the winding mountain roads, the sight of Modica as it appears will take your breath away. Its remarkable buildings seem to tumble down the sides of 2 hills, with the heart of the town nestled in between. If you’re feeling especially active, you can scale the stone staircases that separate the upper and lower parts of the town.

All that exercise surely deserves a treat, which Modica is perfect for! Famed for the art of chocolate production, you’ll find the oldest chocolatier in Sicily here, Anticua Dolceria Benajuto. Tuck in to the delicious cocoa treat, which uses an Aztec recipe and comes in a range of unusual flavours such as cardamom and nutmeg.

Modica Chocolate

Other Baroque gems of the Val di Noto include Ragusa and Scicli, brimming with grand palazzi and divine dining options. Fans of the detective series Inspector Montalbano may recognise filming locations in Scicli and might also like to visit Punta Secca on the south coast, where you’ll find Montalbano’s fictional home.

After site-seeing to your heart’s content, indulge in a well-deserved glass of local wine, Nero d’Avola, at one of the region’s stunning sandy beaches such as Fontane Bianche – bliss!

Scicli

View our full range of villas in Sicily

Taking Children Out of School for a Holiday

Term Time

Have you ever been tempted to take the kids out of school to take them on the trip of a lifetime? Perhaps work commitments get in the way, you’ve found an amazing mid-term deal on a holiday to Spain, or maybe there’s a package on a family getaway to France that you just can’t pass up.

As we start to think about where we’re off to on our travels in 2019, the debate about whether it’s ever ok to go on holiday with your children during term time is starting up again – and according to our research, it’s one that doesn’t seem to be settling any time soon.

At Villa Plus, we asked 2,000 British parents to see what the general consensus seems to be now. Here’s what everyone’s saying about running the risk of fines for a family break.

70percent

The Big Getaway Debate

If you think it’s fine to take the kids away for a little break, you’re not alone. When it comes to taking our children out of school during term time for a holiday, almost three-quarters (70%) of the parents we asked think it’s ok to take our children out of school during term time for a family getaway.

Timing-wise, over a quarter (26%) say that a getaway of up to seven days is an acceptable length of time to keep them out of school, while a surprisingly high 14% think taking them away for seven to 14 days is ok.

Most parents who are happy to book their holidays mid-way through the school term say they do so because they don’t have a choice when they take holidays and also because it’s cheaper to book at this time. In addition, many said that travel is just as important as education and a few days doesn’t hurt.

However, those who are opposed have their reasons for holding off until the school holidays to book their break. These parents believe children have enough holidays and that too much learning is missed if they are taken out of school. According to them, the only acceptable time to keep the kids off during the school term is for medical reasons or bereavements.

Sheffield

Challenging Times

While many of us are in favour of going on holiday during term-time, with a whopping 100% of parents in Sheffield saying it’s fine, almost half (46%) would challenge a fine for doing so.

In addition, the numbers of those who would query a fine vary across the UK. In Bristol, 75% wouldn’t think to challenge a fine while over half (58%) in Cardiff and over a quarter (37%) of those in Leeds would.

Grandparents

The Grand Getaway

Interestingly, the over-65s are the most lenient age bracket who are happy to take their child out for up to 14 days (50%). Their younger counterparts aren’t so sure, however.

We found that 19% of 35 to 44-year-olds and 32% of 55 to 64-year-olds think it’s never acceptable. With these stats in mind, it looks like grandparents may have to spend some time convincing their children that they can take the grandkids away.

Only 42% of those aged over 65 would challenge a fine, though. This implies that the older generation are happy to foot the bill if it means they can get away with the children.

Would you allow your own child or children to take time off from their studies to go away with grandma or to spend some quality family time with you all? Would you challenge a fine for doing so or would you accept it as part of the risk of taking them out for a week or so?