Best picks for last minute beach holidays from the UK

Do you find yourself thinking that lounging on the beach, cocktail in hand and watching sunlight glinting on aquamarine water are things that you should be doing posthaste? A spur-of-the-moment seaside holiday needn't be impractical or expensive. Whether you're looking for last minute beach deals from London, Scotland or from Belfast, there's always a sunny destination waiting to be explored just a short plane ride away.

Value for money beach holidays in Portugal

With its charming cities and towns, tasty eats and stunning coastline peppered with some of the best stretches of sand in Europe, it's no wonder Portugal is a popular year-round holiday destination. Exquisite beaches provide a plethora of activities, from surfing to swimming to simply just sunbathing. And with Portugal's reputation as one of Europe's best-value destinations, affordable luxury holiday homes here aren't a rarity.

All-day fun for all ages in the Algarve

You'll find holidaymakers trooping to the Algarve region in southern Portugal at any given time of the year, where it's cool and breezy in summer and mild in winter. It's home to some world-class surfing beaches like Praia do Amado and Arrifana, as well as pretty spots like Praia do Ancao and Praia da Marinha, whose calm and clear shallows make them perfect getaway destinations for families with young children.

Discover last minute beach deals near Lisbon

Feel like combining a last minute beach deal with a delightful city break? Then a holiday in Lisbon could be just what you need. Holiday lettings in Portugal's capital city will put you close to landmarks like Belem Tower and Sao Jorge Castle, as well as coastlines brimming with sandy beaches. Many of them, such as Praia de Carcavelos, Costa da Caparica and Praia do Tamariz, are less than an hour away from Lisbon by public transit.

Sun and sand galore in Spain

Surrounded by more than 5,000 miles of stunning coastline, Spain is no stranger to travellers seeking last minute beach holidays. Whether you're looking for a fun-filled family getaway or a romantic escape for couples, you won't lack for options. From last minute beach deals on the Costa Brava in summer to luxury stays on the Costa Blanca when the weather turns colder at home, Spain's warm rays of sun won't disappoint.

Carefree beach holidays on the Costa Brava

The Costa Brava in Catalonia offers plenty of great beach holidays from London, being just a 2-hour flight from the UK capital. Book a holiday rental in August, when the sun shines 11 hours a day, and enjoy long, lazy days on the golden sand of Cala Sant Francesc in Blanes or go snorkelling off the shores of Cala Giverola in Tossa de Mar. Stay in Roses and take a boat trip to the white-sand beaches within the Natural Parks of Medes Islands.

Chilling on the Costa Blanca in autumn

If you fancy a beach holiday in autumn, a getaway to the Costa Blanca in Alicante is a fantastic option. Daytime temperatures stay in the 20s from September to November – with scant rainfall. Book a holiday cottage in the town of Javea and make your way to Cala Ambolo, where you can sunbathe and swim in the clear sea. Or stay in Santa Pola and spend enjoyable days with the kids in the shallow waters of El Carabassi.

Plan last minute beach holidays to gorgeous Greece

Bright blue skies and warm, crystalline waters, the Aegean and Ionian seas lapping at the stunning coastline, and breathtaking islands with white-sand beaches are the stuff of dreams that make Greece a popular beach holiday destination. Whether you're in search of adrenaline-pumping water sports or set on spending lazy days basking in the sun, a Greek getaway is a perfect way to de-stress and recharge.

Heavenly beach getaways in Crete

Legend has it that Zeus was born on the island of Crete, and with its amazing beaches, it's easy to believe that this place is a slice of heaven on earth. Holiday lettings in Chania are great jumping-off places for exploring the award-winning Falassarna Beach and the marvellous pinkish sands of Elafonisi Beach. If you can't get enough of the water, head to bustling Agia Marina Beach for some night swimming, followed by refreshing drinks at the beach bars.

Experience a one-of-a-kind beach holiday in Santorini

You've probably seen Santorini in photos of white-washed buildings perched on cliffs overlooking turquoise waters, but this Aegean Sea gem offers so much more. The largest island in a small archipelago of the same name, Santorini is home to a number of unique beaches. Holiday lettings in Fira are within easy reach of upscale Kamari Beach and Red Beach, named for its blush-coloured pebbly sand. Stay in a holiday rental on the west coast if you want stunning views of the mostly submerged Santorini volcano.