We asked our travel specialists to choose their favourite European destinations for summer 2020. They did not disappoint…
1 Folegandros, Greece
Kate Parsons, Head of Reservations
Why go: Every time I return to my desk, my screensaver scrolls through photos of last summer’s dreamy trip to Folegandros. I just can’t get it out of my head. Stunning sunsets, a hotel perched on a cliff with magnificent views and a real sense of being away from it all mean that I’m tempted again beyond measure. Folegandros is tiny and yet its charms are vast.
When to visit: If I didn’t have to work around the school holidays I would go May, June or Sept. However, I’m stuck (like many) with July and August, and these dates book up rapidly.
Why go: Just off Land’s End, yet a million miles from mainland malaise. Think exotic subtropical gardens, white-sand beaches and Carribean-blue waters. Tresco is brilliant for families as it’s remote and super-safe. No cars, just boats and beautiful vistas. Cycle, beach comb, crab, mess about in the shallows. Elsewhere you’ll find tennis courts, spa facilities, indoor pools and some very good food.
When to visit: May to late September for the best weather, but it’s busiest in August. Scilly has its own microclimate so you’ll probably buck the worst of any British weather during these months.
Why go: The Costa de la Luz is on the same latitude as California, so the climate here is great! Beaches are wide, sandy and good for surfing. Moorish hilltop towns are packed with boutique shops and rustic tapas bars, and the fresh seafood (don’t miss Almadraba tuna season) is some of the best I’ve tasted.
When to visit: June and September, when the season is in full swing but the beaches are largely empty. July and August are fun and lively but can get overcrowded.
Stay here: Hotel V in pretty Vejer is extremely romantic and has a tranquil roof terrace with a hot tub. For something more remote, Bolonia Beach Houses have extraordinary sea views out towards North Africa.
4 Dalmatian coast, Croatia
Nadine Mellor, Kids Collection Editor
Why Go: I learned at school that the Dalmatian coastline is an example of a ‘submergent’ feature (rising sea levels create islands from parallel mountains and valleys) and have always wanted to see this landscape. These lushly forested fairytale isles come in many sizes, best reached by boat, have beaches, historic towns and crystal blue waters, and are conveniently close to medieval Dubrovnik.
When to visit: We’re locked into school holidays, so mid-July until the end of August, or the May half-term.
Stay here: Boho retreat Palmizana is set in amazing botanical gardens on the car-free island of Sveti Klement near popular Hvar; The Beach House in Bol is a four-bedroom stone cottage with pool on a hillside on Brac (famed for windsurfing and SUP).
5 Arles, France
Jake Hamilton, Editor
Why go: There’s a reason we picked Arles as the best place to visit in 2020. Apart from it being a beautiful UNESCO-listed ancient city, this former haunt of Vincent van Gogh is experiencing a once-in-a-century cultural renaissance. Frank Gehry’s soon-to-open Luma Arles dominates the skyline, while a dazzling mix of chic hotels, boutique stores and concept galleries have transformed the downtown area.
When to visit: I’m hoping to get there in May for the big Van Gogh exhibition. Failing that, September when the crowds have thinned.
Why go: Explore the real Tenerife and escape the tourist trail in the breathtaking Anaga mountains, located in the quieter northeastern tip of the island. For those of you who crave adventure, delicious food and wild coastlines, this region is well worth the winding roads and hairpins. And year-round sunshine makes it the perfect destination!
When to visit: Northern Tenerife experiences slightly cooler temperatures at certain times of the year, so it’s great for the late summer months. But any time is lovely.
Stay here: Relax in Jardin de la Paz, a peaceful oasis overlooking the sea and Mount Teide. Further along the northern coast near pretty Garachico, feast on excellent food in Hotel San Roque’s luscious courtyard (without the kids!).
7 Mediterranean Coast, Turkey
Rosanna Spence, Editorial Assistant
Why go: Turkey is an ancient, mystical land. The Med’s sapphire waters are home to dolphins, sea turtles and even bioluminescence. You can paraglide in Ölüdeniz or hike Mount Tahtali. I prefer to wander Lycian ruins, refuel with freshly made spinach and cheese gözleme, then watch the sky blush and turn mauve as night draws in.
When to visit: September and October see the summer holiday crowds disband, and the fierce sun relents. Evenings can get chilly (an excuse to get cosy in my books), but the sea actually warms up a little.
Stay here: Hypnotic views captivate at Avalon, an adult-only hideaway with a private footpath leading down to Kabak Bay. Beachside, Azur Hotel’s wooden cabins rest in the shadow of the Lycian Mt. Olympos.
8 South Devon, UK
Sam Betts, Head of Marketing
Why go: After the last two incredible summers, I might be jinxing it by suggesting a UK staycation for 2020, but South Devon offers some of the best beaches in Britain. With easy access to charming market towns and the wilds of Dartmoor, it has something to offer couples and families of every type.
When to visit:July and August are ideal, June is often lovely too. It’s probably worth avoiding the school holidays if you aren’t travelling with family.
Why go: It’s a parent’s dream! From the UK, Lisbon is a short flight away, leaving barely any time for in-flight wriggles. There’s no need to queue for a hire car – just grab an Uber or take the train. Beach lovers are spoilt for choice in Cascais, or head into Lisbon to get your culture and custard tart fix.
When to visit: May to September is best weatherwise, although we went in October half term when temperatures reached a lovely 22 degrees.
Stay here: Martinhal Lisbon Chiado is the perfect base for exploring Lisbon and has an amazing kids’ club for parents who fancy an evening out sans children. Or head a little further north to gorgeous Outpost Casa Das Arribas, and enjoy stunning sea views and half-empty beaches on your doorstep.
Marta Purwin, Bookings Consultant
Why go: Blinded by the bright lights of Croatia, it’s easy to overlook Montenegro. You can visit its most enchanting locations in just a day (though I’d stay longer). Discover fairytale towns, dramatic mountains, remarkable nature and expansive coasts. Being late to the party means it’s currently a less-crowded, purse-friendly paradise. But come soon. Montenegro is experiencing a surge in popularity and is bidding to become part of the EU.
When to visit: Spring or early autumn, when temperatures are still warm enough for swimming but not too hot for a hike.
Stay here: For seclusion and escapism, Perast Boutique Apartment is a precious home-away-from-home in Montenegro’s prettiest little Baroque bayside village.
11 Austrian Alps
Michael Cullen, Director of Hotel Partnerships
Why go: As uplifting and cleansing a holiday as you could wish for. Breath-taking Alpine panoramas, hearty hikes (with cable cars to help take the strain), wild swimming in emerald rivers, and super-healthy food – smoked trout, dumpling stews, plum soufflés – to recharge your batteries. You’ll be humming ‘The hills are alive…’ before you know it.
When to visit: June to September. June has some snowpack and foehn winds; August occasional afternoon storms (and more visitors); we vote July or September.
Stay here:Haus Hirt in Bad Gastein packs the best of everything into one week: guided hikes, mountain bikes, horse rides, even archery or yoga. It’s all child-friendly, and it’s all included! You could also relax with a night in musical Salzburg before or after: the Auerspergis our top pick.
12 Tuscany, Italy
Ben Reed, Bookings Consultant
Why go: Unpredictable times call for predictably good holidays. Tuscany feels like a blissful little bubble that never really changes – landscapes stun, villages are picture-perfect and the seasonal food is fresh. We’ll potter around villages, gelato in hand, offsetting with gentle walks through poppy meadows. The weight of the world floats away just thinking about it. I’m looking forward to exploring under-the-radar gems like Volterra, Pitigliano and the open-air hot springs at Saturnia.
When to visit: We’re heading over in May – our favourite time of year. You beat the crowds and the landscapes are lush: wildflowers are blooming and the bees a-buzzing.
Stay here: Fattoria Barbialla Nuova is a complete escape from the outside world. Pure nature in all its glory. Sit back, listen to the bees and stare at the stars. Follonico is the perfect base to explore the southern Tuscan countryside. It’s rustic but stylish, with heaps of charm.