The 13 Best Destinations for a European Summer Holiday

The 13 Best Destinations for a European Summer Holiday

for some summer holiday destination
? Nothing beats a European summer break. Whether
it’s a
road tripping through Italy
or discovering
‘s lesser-known west coast, these are some of our
favourite summer holiday spots.

Our favourite European summer-holiday destinations to book

Egadi Islands


When people think of Sicily, they think of the mainland – that
hefty chunk on the tip of Italy’s boot – but so often overlook this
smattering of tiny islands sprinkled on the tip of its northwest
coast. You might not be able to spot any filming locations from The
Godfather or Cinema Paradiso, nor will you see many fellow
travellers, but this is what Sicily looked like before tourist footfall. Try
the tiny fishing town of Favignana or the crumb-like gem of
Marettimo if you’re really after an off-grid getaway. Bring your
flippers; this is one of those destinations which looks as good
underwater as it does above.

Stay: Cave Bianche Hotel



Head for the Basque Country then keep going. This artsy
enclave on Spain‘s northern coast is dripping with
architectural history and delightfully thin on tourists, most of
whom hop it to the Costa del Sol. It’s not as scorchingly hot as
Andalusia, it should be said, but the beach is
all the better for it. Too busy for your liking? Head west to the
Oyambre Natural Park for a real dose of tranquillity – bonus points
if you visit mid-afternoon, when siestas are in full swing. Inland
there is a handful of ostentatious mansions to explore, including a
little-known Gaudi masterpiece – El Capricho de Gaudí – which comes
with all the wibbly-wobbly turrets you’d expect and a
gothic-revival palace dressed in florid stonework and filled with
one-off items of furniture hand-polished by Gaudí himself.

Stay: We’ll take this beachside apartment, thanks.



The summer spot for those in the know, Comporta’s laid-back,
beach-shack vibe boasts 12,500 hectares of protected nature reserve
where rice fields meet unspoiled coastline. It’s often described as
the Ibiza of 20 years ago thanks to the A-listers
and creatives who flock there. Though Comporta is only an hour’s
drive from Lisbon, crowds remain away, so you’ll be able to
get under the skin of Portugal’s largely untouched west coast. Rent
a villa and rest up, feeling smug in the knowledge that you’ve got
there before all your friends.

Stay: Quinta Da Comporta



If you’d like a slice of Corfu without the considerable price tag, try
this charming seaside village in southern Albania instead. Near the Greek border, Qeparo looks
like any dusty town you might find dotted on hilltops across the
Mediterranean – all terracotta roofs and crumbly, washing
line-strewn ruins, plugged with coarse, salty shrubbery. Its old
town was near abandoned following the fall of the Iron Curtain, as were many epic religious
monuments which are staggered throughout the craggy mountains, but
lower Qeparo remains abuzz with restaurants and cafés which look
out over the village’s powdery, crescent coastline.

Stay: Qeparo isn’t blessed with an abundance of
boutique hotels. We’re pitching up at the perfectly perfunctory,
Villa Panorama.



The tower of St Euphemia Church rises from the highest point in
this picturesque town – the jewel of the Istrian coast – where
old-world meets cosmopolitan chic in Croatia’s answer to the French Riviera. A surprising art scene threads
through Rovinj’s winding cobblestone streets, where galleries are
scattered among local restaurants and candlelit bars. Stroll
through the centuries as you get lost among changing architecture
of the old town before heading south to Zlatni Rt Park where
cypress tree-lined pathways lead you to small pebbled coves
beckoning you to dip in the Adriatic Sea. For the more adventurous,
there are great spots for cliff jumping.

Stay: Spirito Santo Palazzo Storico



According to D. H. Lawrence, “Sardinia is different” – and it’s
difficult to think of a better way to describe the rugged interior
and breathtaking beaches of this Italian island. The surprising landscape will take you
from mountainous woods to powder-white beaches, before introducing
you to the wild horses which roam the plateau of Giara di Gesturi
and the blue-eyed albino donkeys of Isola dell’Asinara. History
buffs will delight in the Bronze Age ruins which dot the island,
but the beaches are the real draw – expect some of the best (and
most quiet) in the Med.

Stay: Su Gologne

Ile de Ré


The favoured holiday spot among affluent Parisians, this charming island off the west coast of
France couldn’t be more different from the flashiness of the
Côte d’Azur. Lacking any hint of glitz or
celebrity glamour (though its chilled-out holiday vibes have been
known to attract stars), this is the kind of place where you’re
more likely to bump into local fisherman delivering produce to
port-side restaurants than P Diddy popping bottles in his gin
palace. Wander leafy, shuttered streets, lounge on a golden beach
or visit a local market and stock up on French cheese, bread and
wine before hitting one of the many cycle paths, stopping for a
picnic along the way and spending the afternoon getting giddy on

Stay: Hotel de Toiras



There’s something about Formentera. The end-of-the-world destination in a Jules
Verne novel, a mecca for musicians of the 60s and 70s (think Bob
Dylan, Pink Floyd and Joni Mitchell) and once deserted due to
pirate raids, the island channels its own special kind of summer
magic. Reachable only by boat from Ibiza – it’s often described as the White Isle’s “hippy
sister” – the island vibe was largely shaped by the creativity of
its artist-filled past. Though slightly more developed nowadays,
with beach clubs and chic restaurants scattered along the coast,
Formentera is still a place for the free-spirited and offers
welcome refuge from “beefa” disco heads.

Stay: Hotel Es Marès



The remote heel of the Italian peninsula, a combination of baroque
architecture and fairy-tale farmhouses have given this region a
reputation of quiet modesty, steeped in a history palpable from
countryside to coast. Hire a car and village-hop through the
region, filling days with long, boozy lunches (don’t drink and
drive), clandestine roadside swims and befriending locals. Don’t
miss the sleepy seafaring town of Savelletri or Sentiero Airone,
home to Europe’s largest colony of pink flamingos. A surprising
region of natural and architectural beauty, Puglia oozes romance and makes for the ultimate summer
Italian getaway.

Stay: Borgo Egnazia



Drawing vast numbers of package holidaymakers thanks to
year-round sunshine, Tenerife could easily be written off. Yet beyond the
sunburn and revelry of its resort-lined coast, the largest of the
Canary Islands boasts many summery surprises.
It’s home to Spain‘s tallest peak, Mount Teide, which is set
amid a lunar landscape in a national park that doubles up as a
protected Starlight Reserve. Thanks to low light pollution, you’ll
bear witness to some of the most spectacular stretches of night sky
in the world. Those still after a typical seaside holiday can head
to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a port situated in the northeast of the
island where you’ll get all the benefits of the beach but without
the bums.

Stay: Hotel San Roque



Somewhere along the line we conflated summer holidays with beach
holidays. If you’re happy to do without a choppy surf, why not take
a lakeside getaway instead? While this picture-book town,
sandwiched between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz attracts loyal
visitors from Germany and Austria each summer, Brits haven’t yet caught
on. From Zurich airport, it’s a two-hour train journey through
rippling Alpine foothills that give way to gaping mountains. It’s
all about bracing dips, fantasy hikes through tumbling landscapes
and earthy evening meals. It would be criminal to leave without
tasting at least one gloopy forkful of fondue.

Stay: Maison Bergdorf



Spain’s Balearic Islands are known for their unique
personalities; while Ibiza jostles between rowdy partygoers of San
Antonio and Euro jet-setters of Ushuaïa, Mallorca ushers in old-world glamour and
celebrity status. By contrast, whitewashed Menorca has grown up in
the shadow its larger-than-life neighbours, making it the perfect
spot for party graduates still looking for a taste of Balearic
sunshine. Great for a holiday with friends, this is the place to
spend hazy days exploring rocky coves and diving into azure waters
before kicking back among fuchsia-pink bougainvillea at your
stone-built villa with a refreshing pomade – a local drink of gin
and lemon Fanta.

Stay: Menorca Experimental



Goethe declared Sicily to be, “the key to Italy” – and he’s not
wrong. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily is situated
off the southwest coast of mainland Italy and has garnered a
reputation for its lush landscapes, year-round mild climate and
historic cities where Greek temples mix with romantic churches and
palazzos. The most popular of these are Palermo, Catania and Siracusa, but we suggest
heading to the Etna region where the volcanic landscape provides
fertile ground for some truly excellent wine. Head on a tour across the region and be
sure to stop by enchanting Taormina, a fourth-century cliffside town where
you’re sure to get a taste of the Sicilian dolce vita.

Stay: Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia

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