There’s nothing like jetting off for some summer sun; and even better when it doesn’t break the bank! Be inspired by one of our selection, here….
For a truly unspoiled destination, try the quiet and peaceful island of Thassos, in the northern Aegean sea, near the coast of southern mainland Greece. Here life is almost as authentic as it was hundreds of years ago, slow and relaxed, surrounded by rolling hillsides, lush olive groves and plentiful vineyards. There are beaches aplenty, and a main town which still has many remnants from Roman times, including an ancient amphitheatre and an acropolis.
Stay at the Kamelia, a charming seafront hotel in the village of Skala Potamias, which has lots of Greek character. It’s in a quiet location yet is close to the centre of the village (2/3 minutes’ walk) and the beach, which is a wide arc of sand. The village has a fishing harbour, and the old village sits on the hillside above the beach. Rooms are simple with pretty décor and furnishings, with the bonus of a balcony with sea or side-sea views. Gardens (with free sun beds) lead down to the sea, and there’s a small café-snack bar too. Plus there are plenty of tempting tavernas within a short walk!
HOW: Cost is £499 pp (based on two sharing) including flights (Gatwick), transfers and 7 nights’ B&B accommodation at the Kamelia Hotel, departing 10th June. Book with Sunvil Holidays, www.sunvil.co.uk, on 020 8758 4758.
If you thought ski resorts are only worth visiting in the winter, think again; summer brings out pretty meadow flowers, clusters of cows who make themselves known by the sound of their clanking cowbells, and unbelievably picturesque walks. So it’s time to give Chamonix, in France, a try; from relaxing strolls to challenging hikes, holidays here offer a huge choice of outdoor activities includes rafting, mountain biking, paragliding, horse-riding climbing and summer tobogganing. There is also a superb adventure park, a sports centre and a wonderful 18 hole golf course and mini-golf so you can be as relaxed or active as you like.
Ride one of Europe's highest cable cars to the spectacular Aiguille du Midi overlooking Mont Blanc, the famous rack railway to 6,200ft to admire the stunning Mer de Glace glacier, or take a trip to Les Houches, Chamonix's quieter village neighbour, 6km down the valley. Inghams customers will receive a free "Chamonix Valley Card" which is provided by the hotel upon arrival and offers free bus and train travel in the Chamonix Valley and reductions on many other services. Stay at the Chalet Hotel Sapinière; not only is it perfectly situated, only five minutes from the centre of the resort, it also boasts stunning views of Mont Blanc.
HOW: Inghams is offering seven nights, half board accommodation at the 3.5* Chalet Hotel Sapinière from £399 per person based on four sharing departing on 10th June 2015. Price includes return flights London Gatwick to Geneva and resort transfers. For more information visit www.inghams.co.uk or contact 01483 791 114.
For a taste of sunshine even beyond the summer months, you can’t go wrong with Las Vegas; it’s sunny and warm for most of the year, although people don’t really come here to sunbathe…Vegas is big, bold and bright (some might even say brash) but one thing everyone who visits agrees on is that it’s a lot of fun. With spectacles from the likes of big name shows (think Elton John or Cirque de Soleil), world class dining in some of the fanciest hotels ever conceived (try STK at The Cosmopolitan, www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com for some of the best steak you’ve ever had in your life), fantastic shopping (don’t miss The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace for designer stores, high street names and quirky independent boutiques) and of course the chance to get hitched to a stranger at a drive through wedding chapel, one thing you definitely won’t be is bored.
If gambling’s not your thing, visit the fascinating Mob Museum (www.themobmuseum.org) for the history behind organized crime or gaze at the strange beauty of abandoned neon signs at the Neon museum (www.neonmuseum.org). And there’s always a day trip to the Grand Canyon…
HOW: 3 nights room only at the new 4 star Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel including transatlantic flights costs from £499 pp, travelling between 9 – 23 November 2015. Book via www.netflights.com
Most people flock to Dubai for sunshine, but that tends to mean it’s often busy. So why not try one of its neighbouring emirates? Fujairah is located on the east side of the Persian Gulf, and is one for more adventurous travellers, who like to do more than just sit on a beach. You can enjoy some of the many watersports and underwater activities on offer in the region. Characterised by mountainous landscape, sweeping coastlines and with a reputation as a leading diving resort, Fujairah is a destination not to be missed, and is one of the hidden gems of the Emirate.
Water babies will relish the refreshing azure waters and discover the picturesque seascape of the Indian Ocean and rich marine life, including stunning coral reefs, tropical fish and black-tip reef sharks. Those who prefer to stay on dry land can take on the terrain of Fujairah’s stunning mountain range, while more active travellers can challenge themselves by scaling the rock faces and ravines, before reaching the summit and being met with breath-taking panoramic views of the Gulf state below. Other natural highlights of the area include the thermal and therapeutic natural waters of AL Wurrayah waterfalls and Madhab and Ain AL Ghamour sulphuric springs. The the five-star Fujairah Rotana Resort and Spa, nestled between the Hajar Mountains and the Indian Ocean, is the perfect base from which to explore. Take advantage of the resort’s water sports centre, with day diving courses available with fully trained guides. At the end of a busy day, you’ll love the treatments and massages available in beachfront cabanas, with Zen the Spa at Rotana.
HOW: Thomas Cook (0844 879 8442/ www.thomascook.com) is offering a seven-night stay for two people at Fujairah Rotana Resort & Spa from £449 per person. Price includes five-star accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis and return flights with Emirates from London Gatwick to Fujairah, departing July 2015.
Energetic adults will enjoy taking the children or grandchildren to Austria’s Oetz Valley on an unusual trip specifically designed to appeal to all ages. Using a points system, it allows families to tailor-make their own holiday and pick their preferred activities from those on offer. Catering to all levels, activities include hiking, mountain-biking, white-water rafting, climbing and via ferrata, and you don’t all have to do the same thing. So while grandparents take the younger ones to the archery range, parents could be enjoying a well-deserved and indulgent time at the nearby thermal baths – all included in the points system. The hotel is a short walk from the town of Oetz – and wandering through the town, shopping for souvenirs and stopping for coffee and cake takes up no points at all!
HOW: The trip costs £425 per adult and £325 per child (aged 10-16) – based on a family of four sharing – and includes seven nights’ B&B at a traditional family-owned hotel,16 activity points (additional activity points can be purchased in Austria) and all equipment and tuition. Activities Abroad can advise on flights/self-drive options. Direct flights from £250 pp (London to Innsbruck) with EasyJet. Drive to Innsbruck from 9 ½ hours from Calais (or 12 ¼ hours from London). Departure dates available until 11 October 2015. Book via Activities Abroad (01670 789991, www.activitiesabroad.com).
This picturesque seaside resort is a small and picturesque fishing port on the Gulf of Sorrento, offering some beautiful scenery along the coastline. There is so much to see and do, making it a really fantastic place to visit. The winding streets are nestled into the hillside and are full of restaurants, cafes and – of course - souvenir shops. Amalfi serves as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area; it can get very busy in July and August, therefore it is best to visit out of season; but, be aware that a lot of the facilities do tend to shut down between November and mid March. With that in mind, September is a great time to visit.
Head along the east coast and you will find Minori and Maiori, small villages with larger beaches than some of the narrow, pebble beaches that Amalfi is better known for. One of Amalfi's greatest attractions is the ninth century Duomo which dominates the town's central piazza, sitting at the top of a wide flight of steps. If you fancy seeing some of the surrounding countryside, take a wander up the valley and through the lemon groves and old paper mills. Keen walkers will enjoy the challenging walks among the steep mountainsides. There are several musical events, such as piano and vocal concerts, held in the Piazza del Duomo on Friday evenings during July to September. There is also the Wagner Music Festival which showcases both upcoming musicians as well as recognised musicians. Nearby attractions include Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, the springs on Ischia and the Emerald Grotto.
HOW: 7 nights half board at the elegant, 4 star Grand Hotel Excelsior costs from £500 per person (hotel costs from £359pp, flights from Gatwick with www.easyjet.co.uk from £141pp). Book via www.sunshine.co.uk
Dubai is basically Las Vegas in the Middle East, though without the gambling. It’s a bold and buzzing emirate, which has grown spectacularly over the past few decades, and is now a shining, shimmering steel oasis in the desert. Sunshine is guaranteed year round, and it’s got endless entertainment for young and old. From taking an exhilarating desert safari on a 4x4, to shooting up to the viewing platform at the top of Dubai’s tallest building, the spindly Burj Khalifa, it’s a non stop thrilling.
Shopping here is second to none, as you’d expect with some of the world’s largest malls, and you can eat anywhere from top class fine dining restaurants to friendly, local bistros. But for most people who come here, it’s all about relaxing on the beach. The JA Ocean View hotel is situated right across from Jumeirah beach, which has an elegant seaside promenade lined with more shops and restaurants. It also boasts a beautiful infinity pool if you prefer not to get sand in your swimsuit.
HOW: 3 nights at the 4 star JA Ocean View hotel including flights from London Heathrow costs from £439 per person. Book via www.netflights.com
It’s not just a party island; Ibiza has many quiet corners and beautiful stretches of coastline where you can – as people are so fond of doing here – just chill out. Base yourself in a lovely resort like the Hotel Fiesta Cala Nova Es Cana and take advantage of the beautiful beaches nearby. With its prime sandy spot and good range of activities, this is a place people return to year after year. The whitewashed property is perched above the soft sands of Cala Nova Beach, so not only are you just footsteps from the sea, the views are incredible, too. And, with a large pool area jutting out into the bay, you can pull up a ringside seat on the terrace.
In terms of things to do here, there’s an activity programme laid on daily, so you can join in with things like boules and darts. Smaller guests aren’t forgotten, either – they’ve got their own pool and playground, as well as 2 minigolf holes and table tennis. Entertainment-wise, expect shows and live music in the evenings, which you can watch while the sun sets. Further afield, don’t miss the weekly hippy market in the area, full of souvenirs and crafts.
HOW: 7 nights at the Hotel Fiesta Cala Nova Es Cana, Ibiza, costs from £467 per person on a half board basis, including flights from Stansted, departing 6 July. To book, visit www.holidayhypermarket.co.uk
The coastline of the stunning Dalaman Peninsula is known as the Turquoise Coast, with secluded coves, white sandy beaches and deep blue-green water. Base yourself in Marmaris, one of the largest and most developed resorts in Turkey, set within a stunning natural bay surrounded by woods and mountains. Attractions in the area include the famous Blue Lagoon of Olu Deniz, one of the most-photographed beaches on the Mediterranean, and the picturesque fishing village and resort of Icmeler, which has some fantastic seafood restaurants.
The inviting, contemporary Hotel Grand Pasa in Marmaris is a fantastic choice for families and couples seeking a fun-filled, all-inclusive break in sumptuous surroundings. Set against a dramatic backdrop of lush pine forest, this elegant property prides itself on its high levels of service. You'll find a host of first-class facilities on offer around the complex, so whether you're inclined to indulge in a spot of scuba diving on the beach, or prefer to unwind with a indulgent treatment in the spa, there is sure to be something here for you.
HOW: 7 nights on an all-inclusive basis at the Grand Pasa Hotel Marmaris, costs from £447 per person including flights from London Gatwick, departing 30 June. To book, visit www.holidayhypermarket.co.uk
Crotia has dozens of beautiful islands to choose from, so why not discover Veli Loinj, described by Lonely Planet describes as "languid" and "exceptionally scenic", with its pastel-coloured houses, cafes and hotels huddled around a tiny harbour. Veli Loinj is in the northern Adriatic, just south of the Istrian peninsula, and we recommend taking a walk to Rovenska, an idyllic little bay, which is a 10-minute walk from the harbour along a coastal path. Be sure to visit the Loinj Marine Education Centre for more information about the bottlenose dolphins that swim in the nature reserve around the island, particularly in the spring months.
Stay at the Vitality Hotel Punta, set on a rocky Blue Flag beach, which is just a 5-minute walk from the harbour, the colourful Baroque church of St Anthony and the 15th-century tower, which houses an art gallery. The hotel is surrounded by gardens where fragrant herbs are grown for use in its restaurants. Dining options include a buffet that serves local island delicacies and Mediterranean classics, a pool bar and two à la carte restaurants overlooking the sea. There's also an outdoor pool, a fitness centre and a spa with an indoor pool, saunas, steam rooms, a Jacuzzi and massage showers. Suites have a separate living area and a balcony with views of Kvarner Bay and Mount Velebit, and come with bathrobes, slippers, a beach bag and beach towels.
HOW: A week half board at the Vitality Hotel Punta costs from £499 per person, including flights, transfers, and ferry travel between 12 May and 7 June. To book, visit http://www.travelzoo.com