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While we kind of cringe at the word “bohemian”, we’re struggling to think of how better to describe the people we’re talking about. You know the type; nonchalantly cool, perfectly undone and always in the know. This apparently innate knowledge extends to holiday locations; you can thank them for discovering the secluded coves of Deià, wild beaches of Comporta and sun-bleached bars of Formentera. This is where to find them this summer.
The sleepy fishing village of Herdade da Comporta has been touted as “the new Ibiza”, referring to the Balearics island’s 70s heyday long before dirty beats and the Air Max crew turned up. Miles of sand dunes, wild beaches and rolling surf await just an hour’s drive from Lisbon. Pego Beach is a quieter option than Comporta’s main sand strip, thanks to an absence of day-trippers. For lunch, hit up Museu do Arroz, the oldest restaurant in the region, housed in a former rice factory and adorned with well-loved velvet sofas and global curiosities – order salt-cod fish and local “green” wine. At the weekend, everyone heads to Sal’s for kilos of sea bass and prawns washed down with jugfuls of sangria. Keep it traditional with a stay at Cabanas No Rio; the converted twinset fisherman huts designed by Manuel Aires Mateus have open-air showers and a private pontoon with a kayak conveniently parked at the end. For a more luxurious stay, Sublime Comporta offers 14 beautiful suites and several cabanas nestled in 17 acres of pine forest.
Cross an arched bridge over the Atlantic for the hollyhock-filled village, endless salt marshes and sand-dune-backed beaches of idyllic Île de Ré. Begin in St-Martin-de-Ré, perhaps the quaintest of the town on the island and a UNESCO World Heritage Site where shutters can only be painted one of 16 hues of blue and green and overhead cables must be concealed. Book into an elegantly rustic room at Le Corpes de Garde (there are just seven), then hire a bicycle complete with wicker basket and spend the day dipping in and out of wildflower meadows, perfumed vineyards and long sweeps of sand. Stop in La Flotte; smaller than St-Martin, this is the place to pick up local oysters and mussels, plump tomatoes and crusty baguettes from the historic food market. Then it’s off to Plage de la Conche for a picnic. The haunt of well-heeled Parisians, Île de Ré is best visited in September when tranquility descends and popular restaurants will always have room for you.
The most low key of the Balearics escaped the package holiday boom of the 1980s and has managed to retain its charm. Sun-worshipers should head south for transparent waters backed by limestone cliffs; Cala Galdana is set on a nature reserve, while Cala en Turqueta is a pine-clad cove better approached by boat. Those seeking solitude should venture to the sandstone cliffs of the north where you’ll find wide, wild beaches such as Cala Presili and Cala Pregonda. Start the day with ensaimadas (lard-baked spiral buns) for breakfast in hotel Torralbenc, where rooms range from exposed-beam stables to enchanting garden cottages. Saddle up for an exhilarating horseback ride across Cami de Cavalls (the path of horses) before retreating for a “pomade” (gin and lemonade – the island drink of choice) at Cova d’en Xori. The cavernous beach club opens up to scattered, cotton day beds and ocean views; cradle a G&T while watching the sun sink into the Mediterranean.
Oenophiles have been flocking to Médoc for years, but it wasn’t until recently that this beautiful part of the French countryside just north of Bordeaux began to attract the laid-back chic crowd. With more fine vintages per hectare produced here than anywhere in the world, sampling the region’s grapes is a must – as is staying in a fairytale chateau. Wrought-iron gates at Beychevelle open to reveal immaculately manicured gardens and one of the most prestigious vineyards in Saint-Julien; inside, you’ll find regal interiors where never-ending corridors are lined with medieval tapestries leading to a treasure trove of rooms. The region isn’t only known for wine; nearby Soulac-sur-Mer offers some of the best surf around. Spend the day catching waves before collapsing around a table at Le Lion d’Or; the epitome of a bucolic French restaurant, local chatter ricochets off oak-beamed ceilings, interspersed with the sound of popping corks. The best bit? It’s BYO and there’s absolutely no snobbery about it – premier plonk is poured alongside local crus, both pairing beautifully with platefuls of veal stew and roast lamb.
Just 20km below Ibiza and reachable only by boat, Formentera is an enchanting hideaway offering powder beaches licked by cerulean waters and dotted with makeshift chiringuitos. Fondly referred to as Ibiza’s “little sister”, here the authorities have all but banned beachfront development ensuring fist-pumping super clubs and high-rise hotels are kept at bay. Explore the islet on two wheels (electric or push) before heading to the bars at Playa Migjorn (Lucky Beach Bar and Blue Bar are favourites). Alternatively, head to Playa de Cavall d’en Borràs where you can stock up on dutch courage at Beso Beach before ditching your swimwear –almost all beaches in Formentera are nudist.
After shooting to fame as the filming location for A Girl in Black in the 1950s, many thought that this tiny islet would become be overrun with Hollywood starlets and showy mansions. But aside from a scattering of villas, the majority of this Greek island remains delightfully stuck in a time warp of whitewashed streets, working donkeys and fisherman hauling their daily load. Stay at Cotommatae Hydra 1810, a traditional bolthole in town where you’ll find a maze of lemon-scented courtyards, stone parapets and spacious suites. When it comes to food, lunch should be eaten on the shoreline with whatever you’ve picked up from the market; for dinner, head to Téchnē for nouvelle Greek cuisine such as sea bream and mussels with pistachio saffron. Following that, walk to the end of Avláki cove and dip your toes in the sea, watching the lights dance off the flat water. Saunter back via Karamela Zaxaroplasteion for two scoops of lemon sorbet or local delicacy galaktoboureko (milk pie) before laying weary heads to rest.
No place embodies the “other Mallorca” better than the creatives’ darling of Deià. Perched among Sierra da Tramuntana’s conical foothills, this former artist haven is awash with creeping bougainvillea and faded-green shutters concealing craft boutiques, holistic centres and Pilates studios. Lazy days are to be spent on Cala Deià, a shingle beach boasting one of the best restaurants on the island, Ca’s Patro March. Reservation is essential; come summertime, it fills with bronzed young folk who appear from yachts moored just beyond the cove. The food is simple (prawns, calamari, and so on) and perfect with icy cold carafes of white. Mallorca is best explored by boat; sail onward to Santa Elm for paella cooked from a generations-old recipe eaten on a waterfront terrace dotted with cacti.
A volcanic outcrop off the coast of mainland Italy, Ischia is as romantic as Capri is glamorous, thanks to scenic hikes, tinkling waterfalls and soothing, mineral-rich waters. An hour-long scramble to the top of Monte Epomeo reveals panoramic sea views and a patchwork of geometric villages; follow with lunch at La Grotta da Fiore, a family-run restaurant carved into the rock serving platefuls of homemade chips and bruschetta laden with goats’ cheese and smoked ham. Filled with flora and fauna, the gardens of La Mortella offer respite from the sometimes crowded beaches below. Located at the end of a dusty village path, the once-private garden now hosts classical music concerts in surrounds of fuschia-pink flowers and birdsong. Rid yourself of any hikers’ maladies with a visit to Cavascura spring; paying homage to the past, facilities are basic but a soak in the water here does wonders to body and soul.
Once a forgotten town on the verge of obsolescence, Trancoso and all its previously forgotten charm is now the beachside Neverland of Brazil’s 8000km coastline. In the 1970s, the population was a mere 20 people; it was these “bohemians” who evolved Trancoso but ensured that its rustic allure was meticulously maintained. While today it is a hotspot for the rich and famous, Trancoso has proudly refused to become a gentrified tourist trap of overdevelopment. Here, there is a singular level of harmony between usually opposing forces; luxurious boutique hotels are seamlessly incorporated into the town’s woodwork, traditional cuisine is fused with modern twists and most importantly, the locals and the tourists have effortlessly created a bond. In Trancoso, time is discarded along with any other daily woes. Begin your day at The Coffee Bar, a relaxed café run by a young local woman and her Australian husband. After a breakfast of Bahian cakes, fresh fruit and flat whites, meander over to the pristine beaches and clear blue waters. When the sun says so, wander through town passing the rows of tempting boutique stores which sit alongside even more tempting local restaurants. Arrive at the Quadrado, a car-free square in the town centre where everyone convenes in the evenings. Enjoy a caipirinha in one of the Quadrado’s bars and see where the evening takes you. The trick to Trancoso is not to plan a single thing.
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