5 Itineraries For A Long Weekend In The Sun
FOR ISLAND LIFE
For a slice of island life, book a trip to beautiful Corsica, a mountainous French island in the Med. Just a 50-minute ferry ride from Sardinia, it has interesting Italian influences that extend to its unique cuisine, which fuses classic French cooking with Mediterranean ingredients. Corsica is all about exploring the great outdoors and relaxing on the beach – think snorkelling, hiking along its mountain ridges, and walking through the island’s verdant valleys and forests. Make a beeline for the beautiful Plage de Palombaggia, a picture-postcard beach with white sand and clear waters, then explore ancient architecture, including the prehistoric Flitosa and the Citadel, a 12th-century fortress with striking views of the Med. Réserve Naturelle de Scandola (a World Heritage Site only accessible by boat) is another must-see, as is Îles Lavezzi, a protected cluster of islets teaming with aquatic life.
Where To Stay
Affordable: Cala di Greco
There’s no shortage of luxury hotels in Corsica, but Cala di Greco offers great value for money. High on a hill opposite the Citadel, the four-star hotel has beautiful views of Sardinia in the distance. Swim in two heated outdoor pools, enjoy Mediterranean dishes on the terrace, order sundowners at the bar, and explore the area on the hotel’s e-bikes. Accommodation ranges from superior rooms with a patio and terrace to stylish suites with private pools, all with minimalist and modern décor.
Rooms from £167 per night.
Luxe: La Plage Casadelmar
Right on the beach in the Bay of Porto-Vecchio, this luxury hotel has 19 rooms designed to blend in with the scenic surroundings – think natural colours and textures, and light wood furniture throughout. It’s ideal for a romantic trip for two, as guests can sunbathe by the outdoor pool or on sun loungers on the beach, dine on the likes of linguine vongole at the hotel’s restaurant and book boat trips to explore the south of the island, which offers crystal-clear waters and limestone cliffs.
Rooms from £400 per night.
FOR A FOODIE WEEKEND
For the ultimate foodie weekend in Italy, where better to head than the birthplace of spaghetti bolognese? The largest city in the country’s northern Emilia-Romagna region, Bologna is lined with terracotta buildings, medieval squares and historic churches with majestic views. Architecture aside, the main draw is the famous culinary scene fuelled by family run restaurants, traditional trattorias and more. For Michelin-starred dining, book a table at I Portici which serves elegant traditional dishes made with local ingredients; for something more casual, a lovely evening is best spent at Cantina Bentivoglio for pasta, wine and jazz, or Banco 32 for top seafood. Other must-visit restaurants include All'Osteria Bottega for fresh pasta and authentic meat dishes, and Trattoria Battibecco for simple family style cooking. Don’t miss the weekend food markets to bring home a taste of Italy.
Where To Stay
Affordable: Aemelia Hotel
This hotel is a 15-minute walk from the city centre – ideal if you want some respite from the crowds. After a full renovation last year, it has modern interiors, a restaurant serving continental breakfasts and dinner, and two terraces, one of which has beautiful views of the city and the Bolognesi hills. Superior rooms have everything you need for a weekend stay, from king-sized beds to modern en-suites with rainfall showers.
Rooms from £95 per night.
Luxe: Hotel Corona d'Oro
Hotel Corona d'Oro is in an enviable location, tucked away on a street in Bologna’s medieval centre. The building itself dates to the 13th century, and many of the original features have been carefully restored, with the addition of 40 classic bedrooms. From double bedrooms to grand suites, rooms have a mixture of contemporary and vintage furniture, plus beautiful marble bathrooms. Guests can enjoy early aperitivos, dine on elegant Italian dishes and drink wine on the romantic terrace.
Rooms from £360 per night.
FOR ARCHITECTURE & VIEWS
A top destination for any kind of city break, Lisbon has it all. Portugal’s coastal capital is spread across seven hillsides with breathtaking views overlooking the Rio Tejo cradle. Visitors can discover ancient architecture and explore the cobbled alleyways and white-topped cathedrals – not to mention enjoy the city’s fantastic restaurants and bars. Wander down the hills or catch the famous Tram 28 to explore Alfama, Lisbon’s traditional side, then visit the beautiful Mosteiro dos Jerónimos monastery and Castelo de São Jorge, an impressive castle which dates back to the 11th century. In term of museums, Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and Museu Calouste Gulbenkian are worth a visit, as is Fronteira Palace, a former hunting pavilion filled with 17th-century antiques.
Where To Stay
Micasaenlisboa is a small but stylish guesthouse perched high on Calcada do Monte in the Graca neighbourhood. The property has nine rooms across over four floors with whitewashed walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and some of the best interiors on this list. Doubles have everything you need for a comfortable stay, while attic rooms have a private terrace and freestanding baths in the room. Fresh bread and eggs, coffee, homemade jams and pastries are served for breakfast in guests’ rooms, the dining room or the pretty pebbled courtyard. The best part? Micasaenlisboa arranges weekly in-house dinners with some of Lisbon’s top chefs where you’ll learn about Portuguese cuisine and wines.
Rooms from £65 per night.
Luxe: 1908 Lisboa Hotel
The 1908 in the title is a clue to when this hotel was built, but today it comes complete with a top restaurant and stylish bar. Mixing art-nouveau heritage with modern style, the property is in downtown Lisbon next to the Tagus river – perfect for exploring the city. Rooms range from comfortable doubles and spacious family rooms to The Attic on the top floor with a freestanding bath. Infame restaurant is a destination in its own right, where you can enjoy modern dishes made with local ingredients, while the bar along the front of the hotel serves well-made cocktails.
Rooms from £180 per night.
FOR RICH CULTURE
You could easily spend two weeks in this densely packed North African city, shopping at the hundreds of markets, trying street food on every corner and finding beautiful refuge in its historic riads. For a weekend, head to the ancient walled medina to explore colourful buildings and quirky neighbourhoods that are home to some of the best restaurants and boutiques in the city. Once you’ve seen the World Heritage Site buildings – including the Koutoubiya Mosque, the Kasbah, the battlements and monumental doors – walk to Jardin Majorelle, a beautiful collection of artistic gardens originally restored by Yves Saint-Laurent himself. Don’t miss cocktails at much-loved nightspot Baromètre. With 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. If you have time, visit the Saadian Tombs and Cactus Thiemann, one of North Africa’s largest cacti farms.
Where To Stay
Affordable: Riad 42
This is a stylish riad in the centre of the medina. Carefully restored by a French couple a few years ago, guests can stay in one of five rooms which combine modern interiors with classic Moroccan architectural details. All rooms are bright with high ceilings and stylish en-suite bathrooms. There’s also a private rooftop deck for al fresco meals made with ingredients from the markets, plus a traditional hammam and outdoor plunge pool.
Rooms from £90 per night.
This is a privately owned riad in the medina. Built in the 19th century, it was originally the central part of a Caidal palace. Today, five spacious suites surround a wide courtyard garden and swimming pool. Owned by Jasper Conran, the riad combines superb Moroccan craftsmanship with antique furniture, textiles, lighting and art from his collection, making it feel more like a high-end home than a hotel. The roof terrace offers views of the Atlas Mountains and the city skyline, and is the perfect place to unwind after a day exploring the souks. Breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea can be taken under the pergola, while drinks can be enjoyed among the orange blossom and fig trees on the terrace.
Rooms from £380 per night.
FOR A BEACH HOLIDAY
Brac & Hvar, Croatia
One of the UK’s most popular holiday destinations, Croatia has over 1,200 islands to explore. Easily reached from London, it’s a great option if you’re craving some sunshine. Head to the island of Brac for its stunning white-pebble beach, Zlatni Rat, often referred to as the Golden Cape or Golden Horn. Here, visitors can try windsurfing and kitesurfing, before hitting the beachside restaurants. Blanca Hermitage, a beautiful 15th-century monastery is a must-see, as is Stina, a winery that runs 30-minute tours and tastings. For your next Instagram profile pic, climb to the top of Vidova Gora – it’s a tough two-hour hike but the wonderful views are worth the journey. The neighbouring island of Hvar, which is equally beautiful, is a 30-minute ferry ride away. A couple of days is enough time to see the highlights and soak up the laidback way of life. Visit Dubovica beach for its turquoise waters, then head for the small town of Fortica which is lined with medieval buildings, including a magnificent fortress. Hvar Town is where you’ll find some of the best restaurants and bars.
Where To Stay
Affordable: Olife Hotel, Brac
Olife Hotel has modern interiors throughout and an adjoining villa for six to eight guests. A ten-minute walk from the beach, the hotel is in Milna, a small fishing village with a beautiful harbour. This feels more like a guesthouse with its whitewashed walls, exposed brick and an elegant iron-wrought staircase. There are 26 rooms (six have sea views) plus a restaurant and terrace perched over the water for al fresco dining. Offering excellent value for money, rooms are comfortable, food portions are generous, and the staff can help you organise everything from boat transfers to family activities.
Rooms from £95 per night.
Luxe: Hotel Lemon Garden, Brac
Set on its own private beach and surrounded by lemon groves, this luxury hotel has beautiful sea views from Brac’s Old Town. Spread across three stone buildings, Hotel Lemon Garden has all the extras you’d expect, including a heated outdoor pool, beach bar and spa with a Finnish sauna and steam room. Inside, expect chic Mediterranean-inspired décor in 35 bright rooms with pops of colour and Murano glass light fixtures, while en-suites are spacious with baths and showers. The hotel has its own destination restaurant and bar, serving the likes of seabass with lemon thyme; agnolotti stuffed with polenta and prawns; lamb fettuccine; and lemon tart.
Rooms from £280 per night.
Affordable: Hotel Podstine, Hvar
One of the most affordable hotels in Hvar, Podstine is the only property on the island with a rocky beach front where you can jump straight into the sea from the deck. Sheltered by the tall rocks of Podstine Bay, the hotel has 50 comfortable rooms, ranging from simple double bedrooms to superior rooms with balconies and sea views. Guests can swim in the freshwater pool and lie on sun loungers by the sea, book treatments at the spa, sip cocktails at the beach bar and try local seafood at Restaurant Amo.
Rooms from £65 per night.
Luxe: Little Green Bay, Hvar
Ideal for large group holidays, Little Green Bay is a calm oasis close to buzzy Hvar Town. Sitting above an almost deserted beach, it offers afternoon boat excursions, complete with everything from snorkelling to kayaking. There are 15 boutique rooms with luxury bathrooms, as well as an outdoor spa where you can enjoy treatments on the deck or relax in the jacuzzi. A bistro overlooks the beach and specialises in simple Mediterranean classics like grilled octopus; roast chicken with rosemary and paprika; and watermelon and mint salad. Little Green Bay is available for exclusive bookings.
Price available on request.
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