10 top places in the sun

It's not too late to grab a bargain for summer. If you know where to look, there are still some great deals out there. Ian McCurrach bags the best


1. Get the city heat in Barcelona

Spend a long weekend at the luxurious Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona's historic and hip neighbourhood of El Born. After getting to grips with Gaudi and indulging in retail therapy, guests can relax by the rooftop infinity pool and enjoy sweeping views over the city. Discover secret parts of the city using the inside knowledge of the hotel's private guidebook. Feeling peckish? The hotel's restaurant, Actual, offers a Mediterranean cuisine and tapas, courtesy of Michelin-star chef Ramon Freixa.

Getting there: The Grand Hotel Central (00 34 93 295 79 00; grandhotelcentral .com) offers three nights' b&b (28-31 August) for £99 per room per night, saving £146 per double room.

2. Keep it chic in Cyprus

The chic and contemporary design-led seaside resort of Almyra in Cyprus attracts singles, couples and families alike. It is set in eight acres of landscaped gardens with commanding views across the bay towards the medieval castle and harbour of Paphos. Designed by Joëlle Pléot, the interior designer to Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld, Almyra has 189 spacious rooms, each with a garden or sea view. Expect state-of-the-art amenities to satisfy even the most demanding of techies. Facilities for kids include a supervised club, dedicated swimming pool and special menus. There are three golf courses nearby, and the shops, castle and house of Dionysus in Paphos are a short walk away.

Getting there: Abercrombie & Kent (0845-0700 612; abercrombiekent.co.uk) offers seven nights' b&b in a superior sea-view room for £875 per person, including return flights and transfers, saving £206 per person (excludes travel 1-20 August).

3. Go green on Skopelos

Villa Metochi is a three-bedroom property with a spacious garden situated on the edge of Skopelos Town on the Greek island of the same name. Set against the mountainside and surrounded by dense olive groves, the villa has uninterrupted views of Skopelos Bay and the harbour. The town itself is a warren of tavernas, cafes and bars. The villa has a private pool and the beach, port and restaurants are only a 10-minute drive away. Skopelos is the greenest of the Greek islands so expect plenty of pine forests and majestic scenery.

Getting there: Simply Greece (0870-405 5005; simplytravel.co.uk) offers seven nights' self-catering at Villa Metochi for £359 per person, based on six sharing, including return flights and car hire, saving £160 per person for departures on 30 August.

4. Tee off on the Spanish coast

Opening in June, the Sheraton Real de Faula Golf Resort & Spa on the Costa Blanca has two 18-hole golf courses designed by Jack Nicklaus with views of the Mediterranean and the Finestrat mountains. There is also a range of activities for children, including a club and games room. Other facilities include floodlit tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, a Sheraton wellness spa, gym and aerobics studio. Watersports, hiking, horseback excursions on the beach and theme parks are on the doorstep. Eateries include an all-day restaurant, barbecue area, Spanish Tasca restaurant and an Oriental restaurant.

Getting there: The Sheraton Real de Faula Golf Resort & Spa (00800-325 35353; realdefaula.com) offers a seven-night b&b break in a junior suite for £663 per suite, based on two adults and two children under 12 sharing, for arrivals during August, saving £693.

5. Keep the kids active in Italy

The Ca' Savio camping park in Italy's Treporti area, which separates the Bay of Venice from the Adriatic, has been family-run since 1959. The kids are kept busy and entertained with six pools, a children's club and mini-golf. The park also has its own gently shelving beach which is safe for young children. St Mark's Square and Venice are only 30 minutes away by public water taxi, and the Aqualandia water park is close by too.

Getting there: Eurocamp (0870-366 7552; eurocamp .co.uk) offers seven nights' self-catering (accommodation only) for £720, based on two adults and three children sharing a Venezia mobile home, saving £250 on departures on 29 July.

6. Hit the beach in Bulgaria

On the side of a small hill on the southern Black Sea coast of Bulgaria stands the four-star Marina Palace Hotel. Facilities include a rooftop pool and a spa with an extensive range of treatments. Nearby Nessebur has a historic old town with cobbled streets, the sites of more than 40 churches and a good selection of lively bars and restaurants.

Getting there: Balkan Holidays (0845-130 1114; balkan holidays.co.uk) offers a seven-night half-board break for £479 per person, including return flights from Gatwick and transfers, departing 28 August.

7. Try country life in Catalonia

Mas Sabena is a large rambling village house in the beautiful countryside of Catalonia. Set in eight acres of lawns and woods, the property sleeps up to 18. There are six bedrooms in the main house and three in the cottage across the courtyard. Features include a large vaulted kitchen, billiard room, an indoor pool on the first floor and an outdoor pool. It is also within easy reach of sandy beaches and the city of Girona.

Getting there: Vintage Travel (0845-344 0420; vintage travel.co.uk) offers a one-week rental for £4,195, saving £400, starting 24 July. One week starting 31 July costs £4,395, saving £200.

8. Take a new look at Cephalonia

Votsalo is a brand new villa near Avithos in the south of Cephalonia. It has views of Avithos Bay, the cliffs and sea in one direction and the towering Mount Aenos in the other. The deserted sandy beach of Megalipetra is a short walk away down a quiet track and there is also a large private swimming pool in the villa's grounds. There is one twin and one double bedroom, a large living/dining room, a shaded terrace and a well-equipped kitchen.

Getting there: Meon Villas (0870-850 8551; meonvillas .co.uk) offers seven nights' self-catering for £1,499 from 1 August, saving £780.

9. Find peace in Mallorca

Villa Encinas is a four-bedroom, three-bathroom villa just outside Pollensa in the north of Mallorca - one of the prettiest and least developed parts of the island, with good sandy beaches and impressive mountain scenery. Villa Encinas has its own large private pool and is situated in lawned gardens.

Getting there: Villa Centre (01223 513593; villacentre .com) offers one week, sleeping up to eight, for £1,547 in July and August, saving £350.

Prices based on two sharing and exclude flights unless stated and are correct at time of going to press

10. Hop along Croatia's coast

Sail around Croatia's islands on the Jeanneau 49ft yacht, taking in the highlights of the Dalmatian coast, from large buzzing marinas to small quiet coves and turquoise bays. Take a Jeep safari to the top of Hvar island, taste the fine wine on Brac and explore the Green Cave near Vis.It sleeps eight and costs £2,635 for a one-week charter, including skipper, transfers and route consultation. Contact Sail Croatia (020-7751 9988; sailcroatia.net) and quote IOS49.

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