What is your favourite European holiday destination? Holidays are highly subjective, with some expats preferring quiet, calm, relaxing breaks and others hooked on partying ‘til dawn. But the respected Sunday Times travel writers Mark Hodson and David Wickers have done a great deal of legwork, recommending resorts in Europe based on personal preference, Sunday Times reader opinions and British government travel data. Here they are. If you have recently moved to Europe, you’re bound to enjoy at least one of these!
The best places to visit in Spain
The Balearic islands of Mallorca and Ibiza, Menorca, the Canary Islands of La Gomera and La Palma plus the mainland Spanish Costa de la Luz and Catalonia are all prime holiday destinations. But northern Spain is significantly less crowded with its magnificent empty beaches, stunning countryside, misty mountains, medieval towns and vibrant cities. It’s the real thing, the essence of Spain without all the tourist hustle as well as great value for money. And the food is simply unforgettable.
Heavenly destinations for Francophiles
The glorious beaches of Corsica and Ile de Ré score high in France, with gastronomic breaks particularly popular ways to explore the countryside and sample its extraordinary wares, from great food to fabulous wines and champagnes. Ideal destinations for foodies are Burgundy, the Canal du Midi, Provence and Gascony. And there’s always Paris, one of the world’s most romantic cities, a veritable hive of culture and history.
Experience gorgeous Greece
Greek cuisine, lifestyle, landscapes, seascapes and beaches are as well-loved as ever despite the recession. And the Greek islands never lose their appeal. The larger islands of Corfu and Crete compete with tiny, jewel-like, isolated islets like Paxos for the ultimate in relaxation while Kos, just off the Turkish coast, is perfect if you love watersports. And sailing in the deep blue, ancient Aegean sea is hard to beat.
Discovering the best of Great Britain
You can’t always rely on the weather but there’s so much to see in Britain, from the dramatic ice age-carved mountains of Cumbria’s famously beautiful Lake District to the south coast resort of Brighton, with its vibrant night life and the South Downs National Park on the doorstep. Visit Stratford on Avon, the home of Shakespeare, or spend a few days exploring London with its lovely parks and gardens, west end theatre scene and international shopping.
Lively, bustling, ancient Italy
The Sunday Times regularly rates Italy as one of Europe’s best summer holiday destinations. Rome, Florence and Venice come top for city breaks. And the wonderful scenery in Umbria, with 500 miles of glorious coastline in Puglia, vie with the Italian Lakes, mysterious Le Marche and the remarkable Amalfi coast, complete with Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum, for the top spot.
Croatia’s splendid coastlines and colourful cities
Croatia’s spotless and unspoiled coastline is a big hit and thought by many to be one of the world’s most beautiful. The country also offers great value for money. If you haven’t heard of the delightful island of Hvar, it’s within a ferry ride of the city of Split and incredibly pretty. And the recently-restored city of Dubrovnik, originally built by the Venetians, is home to fabulous local cuisine as well as a feast of fascinating culture.
Turkey – not quite Europe but a satellite star of the holiday show
Turkey isn’t a member of the EU yet but it is worth mentioning because it’s on the European holiday doorstep and extremely popular because of its fantastic, dramatic Aegean coastline, containing some of the continent’s finest and remarkably unspoiled beaches. A country rich in ancient history, the capital Istanbul makes for an unusual and fascinating city break.
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