Enjoy the late summer sun in Dubrovnik, one of Croatia’s most popular islands. Famous for its historical old town and picturesque harbour, it’s easy to see why it’s become a popular filming spot for numerous television shows and films. Perched on the edge of the Adriatic Sea, it’s home to plenty of pebbled beaches where you can swim, scuba dive or kayak. Be sure to embark on the mile-long walk along the city wall during your stay, and if you’re wanting a panoramic view, don’t miss out on Fort Lovrijenac – a 13th century fortress that offers up incredible views. Fancy some sundowners? Try Buza, a lively beach bar that sits high on the cliffs above the sea. For delicious food, take a trip to Proto – the city’s old town – for a variety of restaurants and bars which are sure to please.
Where to stay…
Hotel Bellevue is one of the best hotels in Dubrovnik, and you’re even guaranteed a private sunbathing spot on the beach below it. Rooms are simple, yet stylish, and all feature floor to ceiling windows for a five-star view. If you want something more low-key, try the luxurious Villa gave which offers self-catering accommodation and has a large outdoor pool and terrace to help you unwind.
Known for its subtropical climate, pebbly beaches and mountains, Madeira is a great choice for a 2021 trip this autumn. For a bit of winter sun, head there between September and October, though it has to be said the volcanic island is warm year-round. There’s so much to do and see – lovers of the outdoors will relish the hiking and cycling opportunities around the mountains, while those after more of a culture fix will be spoilt for choice with the galleries, museums and award-winning restaurants dotted around the island. It requires a journey, but visitors won’t be disappointed with a day visit to Comporta, too. With Ibiza vibes, this laid-back village has a beautiful coastline, buzzy restaurants and bars, as well cobbled streets that are guaranteed to keep you entertained.
Where to stay…
Estalagem Da Ponta Do Sol is on top of a cliff in Quinta da Rochinha. This luxury farmhouse has traditional Portuguese flair and is the ideal location if you want a relaxing escape away from the city. Offering spectacular views – especially from its outdoor infinity pool – you’ll be able to soak up the picturesque coastline without leaving your hotel. Rooms have a minimal look, while the spa and wellness centre offers something for everyone. We recommend Reid’s Palace, A Belmond Hotel, too for a touch of class. It’s the island’s most famous hotel, offering elegant interiors, first-class dining and a wealth of spaces to explore, relax and get active. You’ll find it hard to fault this one.
When you think of Sardinia, the turquoise sea and beautiful beaches on the Costa Smeralda often spring to mind – but it’s full of history, too. With more than 7,000 stone fortresses, there are several archaeological sites and impressive hikes surrounded by beguiling mountains for the active traveller, too. A short drive to the Roman and Cathaginian ruins of Nora will also lead you to temples and thermal baths, where you can find more information about the entire area. If lazing on the sand is more your thing, head to the north-west of Sardinia where you’ll find the best beaches with the bluest-of-blue seas. The pretty port of Cagliari is a must-visit, too. Here you’ll find charming restaurants, fun bars and plenty of small shops worth exploring. Afterwards, head to Porto Cervo where you’ll find fancy cocktail bars – just beware, some drinks could cost up to £28, but it’s worth it for the celeb-spotting. As for food, popular restaurant Agriturismo La Colti offers the traditional Sardinian experience with delicious pasta and seafood dishes on the menu.
Where to stay…
Family-owned Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites is not to be missed. The rooms overlook the sea with beautiful white décor for instant calm and peace. Extra points go to the private beach and hotel boat that can take you to nearby islands for the day. If you’re on a budget, The Place Cagliari comes highly recommended thanks to its affordable double rooms and large beamed ceilings. You’ll also get to experience a sauna, freestanding bath and plush furnishings if you manage to bag the Suite Regina Elena. Finally, if you want to be directly in the city of Cagliari, try the Miramare Art Hotel. Quirky and fun, it’s based right in the city-centre, so you can explore several bars and restaurants with ease.
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Laidback villages, rugged mountains, stunning architecture and beautiful scenery… Tenerife offers something for everyone. The perfect place to enjoy some warmth and relaxation, expect to find lively beaches with smooth sand and calm waters, while the extraordinary natural spaces provide an array of impressive trails worth exploring – though beware, they’re no mean feat. There are several museums worth visiting, too – Casa Del Vino La Baranda is a must if you’re into wine, as the location doubles up as a restaurant, a vintner and a bodega, too. On the subject of food, you won’t have to go far to stumble upon some great locations. Lucas Maes Calle Barranco de la Arena 53 has stunning views that overlook the ocean, while the creative tasting menu is amazing value for money. Sifonia Calle El Humo 4 isn’t to be missed either. Sleek and sophisticated, it’s run by a young Argentinean couple, who’s South American cuisine comes highly recommended.
Where to stay…
Hotel Botanico is on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz and located just underneath the mountains, so you’re guaranteed a beautiful view. The gardens are a blissful oasis too, while the spa makes for a relaxing and luxurious retreat. If you want to discover the northwest of Tenerife – which is a bit further away from some of the other built-up resort area – we recommend Hotel San Roque. Family-run, it’s an 18th-century mansion that’s been lovingly restored. There are 20 rooms, with four suites and eight duplexes, so it’s great for families, too.
Crete is the largest Greek island, yet sometimes doesn’t get the same level of attention as others. Highly recommended for its kid-friendly beaches and dramatic, mountainous landscape, there’s plenty to enjoy here. A great place to top up your late summer tan, you’ll find hidden coves and sandy beaches that are true bliss – especially in September when the crowds start to thin.
If you fancy exploring, visit Mount Ida where you’ll find Ideon Cave, the birthplace of Zeus. If historical sites are your thing, don’t miss the Archaeological Museum either, where you can find and discover Greek treasures, as well as an array of fun facts. Up for a full day trip? Don’t miss a visit to Chania, located in the north-west of Crete. Full of hillside villages, quirky restaurants, pink sands and beautiful ravines, the magnificent beaches sometimes seem too good to be true.
Where to stay…
If you do venture out to Chania, book to stay at Ammos. A seaside hotel, it’s brimming with uplifting interiors, great food and zesty cocktails. The staff service is second to none, as well. If a five-star experience is on your agenda, check out Domes of Elounda. With a private beach, it’s surrounded by tumbling cliffs and beautiful scenery for an experience like no other – you’ll be able to truly switch off and zone out.
Marrakech’s exotic side is to be found within the ancient medina, where you can get lost around the colourful buildings and quirky neighbourhoods that are home to some of the best restaurants and cool boutiques in the city. Another must-see is Jardin Majorelle, which has been dubbed a great ‘Instagram spot’ for those inclined – covering more than 2.5 acres, it’s a beautiful set of artistic gardens revolving around boldly coloured buildings. Don’t miss cocktails at much-loved nightspot Baromètre either. With several classic drinks on the menu, as well as spice-infused spirits, this underground bar is seriously fun, while the restaurant serves a selection of authentic Moroccan dishes.
Where to stay…
If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to Marrakech, the Four Seasons guarantees a reliable, comfortable stay, but with a few local quirks thrown in, too. Think fresh mint tea served on chic silver trays, candlelit dinners and bedrooms that are beautifully scented with orange or rose. There’s also a beautiful spa that offers serious relaxation.
Alternatvely, if you’ve wanted to stay in a riad for some time, El Feen – which has views over the Atlas Mountains – comes highly recommended. It’s also just five minutes away from the Djemaa El Fna square, which is well worth exploring throughout your stay. With 28 stylish rooms, three swimming pools and a restaurant/bar it’s got something for everyone. Finally, check out The Source if you’re looking for something a bit different. With a rock-star theme, the rooms are colourful, fun and imaginative with a stylish mix of furniture. It’s a great option for those who want both access to the buzz of the city, as the clamour of Marrakech is only a 20-minute drive away.