It’s without doubt that we’re spoilt for choice when choosing our summer holiday – with so many incredible and picturesque European destinations, right on our doorstep, how do we choose?
This 2019, we have four favourite beach hot-spots: Sardinia, Crete, Cyprus and Mallorca. All classic destinations with unique personalities and plenty to discover. You’ll not be disappointed!
The miles upon miles of white, sandy beaches are one of the biggest draws to the Italian island of Sardinia. There are some stretches that could be mistaken for the idyllic island of the Seychelles, with their granite boulders and turquoise shimmering seas. Plus, there are plenty of hidden away little beaches and coves to enjoy if you prefer having space to yourself, even in peak season!
It wouldn’t be a visit to Italy, without trying their most popular cuisine…pizza of course! The buzzy city of Cagliari is worth a visit in its own right, but when there, don’t miss out on trying some pizza. The city’s renowned for a particular type of pizza called Pizzetta sfoglia – a round snack that combines a flaky pastry crust with a savoury filling, often tomato sauce and cheese (classic)!
Outside of the hot summer months, Sardinia has an array of festivals to enjoy, in particular in late February and the spring, when you’ll still feel the warmth on your face. Local villages host the festivals with elaborate decorations, traditional costumes and horse racing, so before you know it, you’ll feel like a true Sardinian yourself.
The third largest island on the Med, there’s plenty to see and do in Cyprus – with beaches being the main attraction. From secluded hidden gems to larger beaches with restaurants and bars galore, you’ll find it here. What’s more, the beaches are clean and clear. What else do you need?
Well, seeking a little local culture and exploring the sights is something many of us search for in a summer holiday – and Cyprus isn’t short of either of those! The history of Cyprus is more than 10,000 years old, so if you’re a history buff you’ll be in the right place – there are ruins and museums to keep you busy for days upon days. There are even traces of old Venetian culture in Nicosia, so be sure to explore it!
A visit to Cyprus wouldn’t be complete without trying their delicious cuisine – in particular in North Cyprus…and yes, it’s even better over there than here in the UK. There’s an abundance of places to eat; from international style restaurants to traditional North Cypriot dishes with the freshest of ingredients. Be sure to try one of their most traditional dishes, lamb Kleftiko when dining out – you won’t be disappointed! The hospitality in North Cyprus will impress you too – each and every restaurant will give you the very best service, so you keep on coming back.
Oh, and did we mention that Cyprus has the perfect climate, 365 days a year? Unlike other destinations on the Med, Cyprus has mild winters and hot summers – meaning that whenever you visit, you’ll be guaranteed that much needed Vitamin D. Just make sure you pick the time of year that’s best for you!
The largest of the three Balearics, Mallorca has plenty of sun, sea and sand – so trust us, you’ll never get bored! The island caters for just about anyone: families, couples, friends…you name it, you’ll find it. But why Mallorca? Apart from the many beaches and sparkling blue sea (which yes, is often enough), there are hidden gems too…
Unbeknown to many, Mallorca is a diver’s paradise! There’s a varied marine life here – and what makes it so good is the rocky nature of the seabed, unique to other nearby destinations. The south west of the island is particularly good, where you’ll also find caves, tunnels and wrecks surrounding the coastline. There are plenty of scuba diving centres offering courses and excursions that cater for all levels – so whether you’re a newbie, a pro or somewhere in-between, make sure you check them out.
If you’re the exploring type, take a day trip to Alcudia Old Town for a dose of history. This medieval town looks like something from a fairy tale; there’s a maze of tiny streets to meander through and ancient walls to gaze at – the town was in fact built to protect the island against pirates! The beauty of Alcudia will keep you gripped for hours, so do stop off at a local restaurant or bar to watch the world go by.
For something seriously spectacular, pay a visit to Cap de Formentor. In our eyes, it’s a must-see –visitors rave about it more than anywhere else on the island. Located on the most northern point on the island and also at the highest point, at 384m above sea level, it’s described as looking ‘otherworldly’ with its limestone peaks and sharp cliff edges.
The largest of the many Greek islands, Crete has an array of resorts, history, picturesque scenery and history to get stuck into.
In particular, the diverse scenery is what helps stand Crete out from the crowd. Obviously, there are beautiful beaches to enjoy (and plenty of them), all of which have their own unique character and charm – but go a little in-land and the scenery will continue to wow you. You’ll find gorgeous gorges, a wild nature and a mountainous landscape; the ‘White Mountains’ in-fact dominate Western Crete, offering spectacular views. There are plenty of opportunities to hike through gorges too – in fact, Europe’s longest gorge is in Crete. The hike through it is a long one (16km to be exact), but well worth it if you’re an explorer.
Crete has all of the benefits of an island: pristine beaches, a relaxed lifestyle and all the amenities that you need, but it’s big enough to easily get off the beaten track and explore. It’s the place to go for escapism and adventure! Boat trips are a great way to get under the skin of the island and soak up the scenery, as well as towns and villages you wouldn’t otherwise get to appreciate.
The colourful Cretans themselves are what brings the island to life and are well-known for their strong spirits and pride in their culture – and they’ll be enthusiastic to share it with you! While you’re sipping a drink and soaking up the warm atmosphere and sunshine, they may even spark a conversation with you and share an anecdote or two!
For more advice on holiday destinations, get in touch today!