09 Jun Where to go now – the summer edit
Summer has officially arrived and that usually means our minds start turning to sun, sea and salty hair. Summertime in Europe is pretty special, so many different cultures and cuisines to experience and with the rise of family focussed travel companies such as Passported and Kid & Coe, those summers in the South of France all of sudden feels a little more achievable. So here are our European picks that will make for some unforgettable memories.
Once considered to be a quieter alternative to Italy, Croatia is now a must visit summer destination in it’s own right. Rugged coastline, crystal clear waters and cuisine that has been influenced by Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Ottomans, French, Venetians and Austrians means that this country is not just a feast for the eyes. The UNESCO listed medieval city of Dubrovnik is a cultural centre, think winding streets, ancient city walls and incredible views over the Adriatic plus the many festivals that take place throughout the year mean the atmosphere of this place if off the charts. And when you’ve had enough of the crowds and the city, hop over to one of the islands, many of which are still hidden gems. Lastovo for diving, Lopud for it’s proximity to Dubrovnik (half an hour) and Opatija for Croatia’s answer to the Cote D’azure. Or charter a yacht and visit all of the above and more at your leisure!
Stay: Villa Agave
Set high in the mountains above glitzy Marbella, this moorish village offers a real taste of Andalucia. The old town and new town are dramatically split in two by the El Tajo gorge and it features an 18th century bullring where bullfighting was born. In our mind Ronda offers just the right amount of seclusion, surrounded by national parks and natural beauty yet only 1.5 hours from both Malaga and Sevilla airports and less than an hour away from all the excitement of the Costa Del Sol. Head down to Puerto Banus for some excellent ice cream and better people watching as the guys crawl by in their ferraris at 5mph or escape back up to the mountains to spend your days wondering around winding white washed streets, drinking local wine on a sun drenched terrace and eating authentic tapas. Car hire is a must so that when the sea is calling you can jump in and head to Tarifa for white sandy beaches and wind surfing. Ronda really is the best of both worlds.
Stay: The Noque Residence
The largest of Sweden’s thousands of Islands and the perfect place to slow down, forage for wild berries and swim in the wild lakes and sea. Says CN Traveller, “Mention Gotland to those in the know, and they will gush about the special light, the fragrant air and the deserted beaches, the reason why painters, sculptors and glassmakers flock here.” It is a magical place for children to explore the great outdoors, a landscape so beautiful that it makes you want to uplug, even though you don’t have to. A must see are the islands famous limestone formations called rauks. The medieval walled town of Visby is a UNESCO world heritage site and charming does not even begin to describe it. Cafes and restaurants abound serving great coffee, delicious cardamom buns and modern Scandi food as well as traditional Swedish fare. But the quality of the ingredients here is so unbelievable it would be a sin not to cook for yourself, so jump in the car and on your travels pick up the best lamb you can find, freshly caught crayfish or smoked salmon at the many local farm shops. Gotland is unlike anywhere else we have been and that in itself is a great reason to go.
Stay: Hotel Stelor
Now don’t get us wrong, we love London. We really love London and it is one of the best cities to visit in the summer. Covent Garden pubs overflowing onto the pavement, riding bikes through the royal parks, rooftop cinema and festivals almost every weekend. But you already know how amazing London is, what else does a UK summer have to offer. We’re heading North and South to find out.
From the medieval old town to the Georgian new town, Edinburgh is overflowing with history and beautiful architectural details. This compact city is easy to explore both on foot and by bus. Edinburgh is famous for its festivals and we highly recommend visiting in August during Fringe. They say the population doubles during this world famous festival when people from all over the world flock to see stand up comedy, music, theatre and of course, whiskey tasting. But don’t be put off by the crowds, this is a huge part of the electric atmosphere that you will experience during fringe and we are yet to find a person who hasn’t loved the experience.
From Scotland to the southern most county in England, the rugged coastline of Cornwall. Dotted with sandy coves and quaint fishing villages, the sea air in Cornwall is like no other. Our favourite spot? Watergate Bay. Watergate Bay Hotel has it all, the views, the pool, the spa, the food! We personally can’t stand hotels that are so fancy you don’t feel like you can relax, who needs that kind of pressure on vacation? Watergate Bay Hotel is the perfect balance between awesome interiors and that laid back Cornish vibe, make sure you try the fresh waffles for breakfast. This sheltered bay is a great spot for the kids to learn how to surf, Extreme Academy offer surf and SUP lessons all summer long and when you’re all tired out, head to The Beach Hut for Origins coffee or a hot chocolate. And for dinner, you are spoilt for choice in this area. Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant is just across the road, this glass fronted restaurant practically hanging off the cliff edge has uninterrupted views of the bay and an insanely fresh Italian inspired menu that always reflects the season. Or if you fancy exploring, jump in the car and drive a scenic 15 minutes north to Padstow. Our favourite restaurant in this seaside town is Rick Steins Cafe. This cosy spot feels just like you are in Rick Steins home, the menu is filled with fresh fish and is always influenced by his travels throughout India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.
Stay: Watergate Bay Hotel
So where will you follow the summer sun to this year? We would love to hear your favourite summer vacation spots in the comments below.