Seeking out a sunny and adventurous destination for October half-term break? Look no further than the Middle East.
For most parts of the Middle East region, autumn is prime shoulder season with mild weather bringing about fantastic opportunities to explore. It’s our favourite time of year for getting into the great outdoors and as many schools in the region – and in the Northern Hemisphere – stagger the timing of their half-term break, crowds tend not to be an issue even in the most popular sites.
Here we are picking out our top 4 destinations to enjoy for a week in October, but the list is honestly limitless! Take a deep dive into all our favourite destinations and see what’s on offer for family travellers who like to take unique, educational and adventurous trips with their kids!
Top 4 Middle East Destinations in Autumn
Cruise down the Nile in Egypt
Expected Climate in October: Day time temperatures in Luxor average around 37c at the start of the month dropping to 32c by month-end.
Why you’ll love it in October: The cooler day time temperatures make it easier to explore with little ones in tow, but you will also miss the peak crowds that come over the coolest winter months. It will still be warm enough that a refreshing dip in a pool will be a welcome retreat after a long day of exploring.
A side trip to Hurghada on the Red Sea would also still be pleasant in October.
Itinerary & highlights: A Nile Cruise will take you from Luxor to Aswan, or vice versa over 3/4 days, stopping at Edfu and Kosombo on the way. There’s a good guide here on what to expect on a Nile Cruise.
Some of the highlights you won’t want to miss with the kids include Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple on the east bank of Luxor, and the Valley of the Kings and Hatshepsut Temple on the West Bank.
In Aswan, you can extend your trip to Abu Simbel, or enjoy nearby the Aswan High Dam, sailing on a felucca to Elephantine Island and visiting the Temple of Philae.
Your journey will most likely start or end though in Cairo, where you can spend a few days before or after your Nile cruise to explore the Great Pyramids of Giza and Cairo Museum. You will then need to transit by train or plane to your cruise starting point, which can be an experience in itself.
Lose yourself in the lost cities of Jordan
Expected Climate in October: The capital Amman cools from around 32c at the start of the month to 24c. Expect slightly higher temperatures at the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and Petra. Or floating with your book in the Dead Sea, of course.
Why you’ll love it in October: Cooler day time temperatures make it perfect for hefty days of outdoor exploration. It is still warm enough though at the seaside resort towns to make diving or snorkelling pleasant without full body suits.
The slightly cooler days show of the desert at it’s best too when overnight temperatures are still pleasant.
Itinerary & highlights: The three biggies that everyone visiting Jordan shouldn’t miss are exploring the Lost City of Petra, sleeping at a bedouin camp in the Wadi Rum desert reserve and floating in the Dead Sea. There are, of course, plenty of other important historic destinations in Jordan that you can fit into a full week; the country is quite easy to drive throughout in the space of 7 to 10 days.
We suggest you take our 5-day Jordan itinerary outlined here and add on a couple of days for visiting Tala Bay and the Red Sea in the south, plus a day to see the ancient Roman city of Jerash, just north of Amman.
Discover why Oman is the Middle East’s hidden gem
Expected Climate in October: Both Muscat and Nizwa (over the Hajar Mountains) have average October maximum temperatures from 35c down to 32c. In the mountains and Jebel Shams, you will find it several degrees cooler.
Why you’ll love it in October: The perfect time of year to enjoy all parts of Oman. Unlike the spring there is less chance of rain and flash flooding. The temperature are mild enough for outdoor exploration but a refreshing dip in a wadi can still be enjoyed.
Itinerary & highlights: Most start and end their trip in the capital Muscat. After exploring the capital’s highlights, it is easy to hire a car and cruise to the south coast, Bimah Sinkhole and Ras Al Jinz, before winding your way back through Wahiba Sands, Nizwa and on to the mountain tops of Jebel Shams before returning down to Sohar and the east coast.
We have a great guide here on how to capture the best highlights on an Oman road trip with kids.
If you are coming from Dubai, we have a detailed guide here on how to make the circular round trip to Muscat and the border crossing process between the UAE & Oman.
Majestic mountains of Ras al Khaimah & the Musandam Peninsular
Expected Climate in October: It cools in Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) from highs of 40c+ at the start of the month to 35c by month-end. Musandam (Oman) is relatively cooler with highs only in the low 30’s in October.
At the start of the month, you will still experience hot, humid days languishing from summer. However, the mountains can bring a refreshing retreat, anything up to 10c cooler than on the coast. Be mindful, visibility may not be at it’s best.
Why you’ll love it in October: Ras al Khaimah sits to the north of Dubai, only 1 hour away from DXB. It has so much to offer, yet is too often overlooked for the shiny lights of Dubai.
We love it because it’s the perfect mix of relaxing beach resorts (often at a fraction of the cost of Dubai), with desert, mountains & local culture right on your doorstep.
Further to the north, following the Hajar Mountains, you will cross to the small Omani enclave of Musandam. Here you can experience one of the most epic trips of a lifetime as traditional dhows navigate you around spectacular khors (fjords) that have helped it earn it’s nickname “the Norway of Arabia”.
Dolphins will play with the boats and you can enjoy swimming and snorkelling straight off your boat in one of the most serene outdoor settings in the world.
Itinerary & highlights: Spend your first few days lapping in the sunshine at one of Ras al Khaimah’s glorious beach resorts. From here, you can make day trips including a trip up the mountains exploring Jebel Jais (and for the brave taking of the Jebel Jais Zipline). Add on some half-day tours taking in the historic Emirate’s cultural sites and exploring Suwaidi Pearl Farm and the mangroves around Al Rams.
Continue your journey to spend a night or two up in Khasab, the regional capital of Musandam (either on a boat or staying in one of the Atana resorts).
And finish your trip off with an amazing luxury retreat to the Ritz Carlton Al Wadi Desert to enjoy falconry, desert sports and amazing Bedouin hospitality.
Travelling in autumn without kids?
If you are kid-free or not restricted (yet!) by school holiday dates, we suggest you take up these itinerary suggestions in early November. You will still get plenty of sunshine hours and very limited, if any, rain in these destinations; for the most part water temperatures should still be warm enough to enjoy in November.
Most schools enjoy their holiday break somewhere over the last two weeks of October.
Before you go! Check out these handy Middle East guides:
- Is the Middle East “Safe” for Family Travellers?
- Power plugs & adaptors you will need for Middle East Travel
- Plan your travel year – UAE Holiday Calendar 2019-2020
- UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Middle East
- Short Getaways from Dubai – extend a Dubai trip or escape for a long weekend with these Middle East and Central Asia ideas