Seven European Destinations for a Sun-Soaked Bank Holiday Break

Seven European Destinations for a Sun-Soaked Bank Holiday Break

Planning your four-day-weekend getaway? Read on for our pick of the beautiful European destinations to bookmark, from a lesser-known Portuguese paradise to a pine-covered Croatian idyll – via a sorbet-fuelled pit stop in the Sicilian capital



In
need of some March motivation? You’ve come to the right
place. With that four-day weekend just around the corner, we’ve
been busy tracking down the coolest destinations for a balmy bank
holiday escape. You know the sort: sun-kissed coastlines dotted
with pin-striped parasols, picturesque neighbourhoods brimming with
family-run restaurants, boutique bedrooms that deliver all the
extra trimmings (hello, private terraces and rooftop plunge pools)
and enough cultural delights to keep even the most curious
entertained. Join us as we tour a lesser-known pocket of Portugal, a pine-studded Croatian enclave, a sorbet-fuelled pit stop in
the Sicilian capital and more.

Seven beautiful destinations for a bank holiday break

Tavira, Portugal

Tavira

Portugal

Sidestep wine-soaked Porto and Lisbon’s colourful plazas in favour of the
tranquil Tavira for your next Portuguese break. Slotted between the
foothills of the Serra do Caldeirão mountains and the Algarve’s
sun-kissed coastline, this lesser-known neighbourhood has all the
ingredients that make for a brilliant weekend break. The perfect
morning? A stroll along the pine-dotted banks of the Gilhão River,
admiring the beauty of the waterside villas, before slipping into
the municipal market for fresh fruits and veggies. Spend an
afternoon wandering around the old town, stopping at the
11th-century castle and crumbling ramparts originally built as a
defence against seafaring enemies. Pause for an evening paddle at
the sandy Praia do Barril, then linger over dinner at sustainable
restaurant Cercle,
whose locally sourced menu – think homemade sourdough loaves and
chickpea curries – and stellar low-intervention wine offering have
made it a hit with locals.

Where to stay: São Paulo Boutique Hotel

Palermo, Italy

Palermo

Sicily, Italy

Palermo – or Kingdom of the Sun, as the
Sicilians call it – is a city loved for its edgy, free-spirited
character. Having shaken off its mafia-bruised reputation, Sicily’s
capital is today a colourful canvas of open-air food markets,
charming palazzos, family-run trattorias, jazz-infused bars and
enough art-filled hangouts to have seen it crowned Italy’s Capital
of Culture in 2018. Dump your bags at Palazzo Sovrana and start your adventure with a
peach-flavoured sorbet from the award-winning Cappadonia Gelati,
followed by a visit to Pietro Tramonte’s outdoor library for some
fresh reading material. Come sunset, it’s homemade pasta at
family-run Bisso
Bistrot
and drinks at cocktail bar Bocum. Start your holiday countdown by booking
a ticket at Teatro Massimo, Italy’s biggest opera house, which is
famed for its ornate interiors and perfect acoustics – and also
hosts magical silver screen showings.

Where to stay: Palazzo Sovrana

Nafplio, Greece

Nafplio

Greece

Just a two-hour drive from Athens, Nafplio is exactly what you’d picture a
charming Greek getaway to look like: convivial tavernas, leafy squares, steep,
higgledy-piggledy streets and a wildly romantic coastline lapped by
the turquoise Aegean. The beauty of Nafplio is that you can explore
the entire city in just a day, strolling between colourful
bougainvillaea, overgrown palms and Venetian villas, swimming in
various white-sand bays (Neraki is the best of the bunch) and
feeding your inner boffin with a tour around the ancient hilltop
fortress and Palamidi Castle. When hunger hits, head to Pidalio Taverna,
where zucchini croquettes, prawn orzo and spicy feta dips are
served alongside herb-drenched veggies and grilled meats.

Where to stay: Regno Di Morea

Montpellier, France

Montpellier

France

Found yourself considering a French relocation since
binge-watching the newest instalment of a certain Parisian Netflix
series? You’re not alone. But before you book that one-way ticket,
consider the multicultural city of Montpellier, which might just
sway you south. There, tree-lined boulevards, elegant squares and
traditional Haussmann townhouses are made all the more charming for
not being overwhelmed by tourists. Ramble around the old town,
exploring delis brimming with local produce, eclectic antique
emporiums and dinky boutiques showcasing handmade collections, then
have a rummage in Absolute Vintage Le Boudoir, where you’re pretty much
guaranteed to find a gem. For a romantic meal, book a table at the
candlelit Le Bistrok. If it’s a livelier vibe you’re
after, then sharing plates and craft ales at Hopulus Brewpub are always a great idea.

Where to stay: Maison Bayard

Berat, Albania

Berat

Albania

Southeastern Europe is having a real moment, and we’re giving
all praise to the green and glorious mountainous country of
Albania. Bordered by Greece, Macedonia and Montenegro, it’s the
Unesco-protected town of Berat that we think you’ll want to make
your base, specifically, one of the slick rooms at Amalia Hotel.
Hike up to Berat Castle, where you’ll be rewarded with sweeping
views of the famous Gorica Bridge and the emerald-green waters of
the Osum River. Later, make a splash at picture-perfect Borsh
Beach, where you’ll find pin-striped parasols and sun-bleached
fishing boats bobbing on the calm waters. Hungry? Onufri Restaurant offers streetside dining, standout
sunset vistas and affordable, delicious plates – if the spinach pie
is on the menu, order it.

Where to stay: Amalia Hotel

Cadiz, Spain

Cádiz

Spain

Cycled the streets of Seville? Tapas-hopped around Barcelona?
Make the low-key city of Cádiz your next Spanish hit. Situated on
the tip of southern Spain, it’s loved by in-the-know travellers for
its go-slow attitude. Meander through the palm-strung streets of La
Viña, a neighbourhood whose outdoor dining spaces are characterised
by chalkboard menus, chequered tabletops and enough lanterns to
illuminate a festival. We love Bar La
Tabernita
for its patatas bravas and La Dorada for its fried
fish. Seeking an indoor set-up? Make tracks to El Faro de
Cádiz
. Between sun-sure lounging and surfing the white-capped
waves at Tarifa beach, make time to visit Museo de Cádiz, which is
home to centuries-old artefacts and archaeological finds dating
back to the fifth century.

Where to stay: Hotel La Catedral

Sibenik, Croatia

Šibenik

Croatia

While we can’t wait to party at the beachside festivals of Tisno
and Pag this summer, it’s the small Croatian city of Šibenik that
we head to when in need of a recharge. Just an hour’s drive from
Split, the city is the gateway to the Kornati islands – hop on a
boat tour to explore the most idyllic of them. While navigating the
Unesco-protected waters, you’ll likely spot at least one pod of
dolphins – and have your cossie ready for the pit stop at the
turquoise waters of the Lojena Lagoon. Our favourite red-roofed
address? The Armerun Heritage Hotel, partly for its prime,
water-facing location, but largely for its stylish bedrooms that
come with private terraces.

Where to stay: Armerun Heritage Hotel & Residences

This article was updated 20 March 2023 to remove a mention
of a catamaran ride between Cádiz and Tangier. It contains
affiliate links, which means SUITCASE may earn a small commission
if you click through and book.

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