May is shoulder season for the warmer parts of Europe and one of the best times to visit. Temperatures are pleasant but the hordes haven’t descended yet on the Continent’s hot spots, and the atmosphere is less frenetic than during the summer months. And unless you’re travelling during half-term week, you won’t be pummelled by high-season price rises. Get inspired by some of these travel ideas, and start looking ahead to where to go for your August summer holiday.
Croatia’s popularity shows no sign of slowing down, and now’s the time to explore its exquisite Adriatic islands before high season. Unwind on the MS Captain Bota, a 40m luxury motor yacht, as it cruises from Split to Hvar, Brac, Korcula and Dubrovnik before coming back via Mljet, the fortress town of Omis and Krka National Park. Completely Croatia (completelycroatia.co.uk) has a seven-night cruise from £715pp including transfers and half board, departing 6, 13 and 20 May. Flights are extra but can be arranged.
Tuscany’s rolling hills of vineyards and cypress trees look even dreamier when seen from your own villa terrace. Surrounded by Chianti Classico vineyards near the village of Lecchi in Chianti, Valliole is a beautifully restored 17th-century villa with its own pool and views of Siena. With three bedrooms in the main house and a fourth in an annex, it’s handy for groups who want a bit of privacy. To Tuscany (to-tuscany.com) offers a week’s rental for £2,305 on Saturdays in May.
Combine chilling out on Sabah’s sandy beaches in 30-degree temperatures with discovering Borneo’s wildlife on leisurely boat trips along the Kinabatangan River. You should be able to spot pygmy elephants, orangutan and proboscis monkeys. Audley Travel (audleytravel.com) has a tailor-made 14-day trip that also includes excursions to the Danum Valley rainforest and the beaches of Gaya Island. The price of £3,890pp includes flights, transfers, B&B and some meals.
It’s still the dry season in Tobago, Trinidad’s laid-back little sister. Head to the north-east coast where the Main Ridge forest reserve attracts nature-lovers and Batteaux Bay keeps scuba divers and snorkellers happy. It’s the setting for Blue Waters Inn, which faces the private horseshoe-shaped bay and is a candidate for the most relaxed spot in the Caribbean. Western & Oriental (westernoriental.com) offers a week’s B&B from £2,205pp including flights and transfers, departing 16 May.
Book now for August
Don’t leave it too late to book a family holiday in Cornwall. Sands Resort Hotel & Spa (sandsresort.co.uk) just north of Newquay is five minutes’ walk from Porth Beach and a five-minute drive from Watergate Bay. But there’s plenty in the resort to keep children busy and parents calm, with indoor and outdoor pools, activities and a kids’ club. A week’s B&B in a family suite from 6 August costs £1,547 for two adults and one child.
Breathe in pure Alpine air in Austria’s Ötztal Valley in the Tirol region, where there’s as much going on in the summer as during the winter ski season. If you have children aged 10 or older, try a pick’n’mix activity holiday with Activities Abroad (activitiesabroad.com). Try anything from cycling, rafting and climbing to canyoning, archery or high ropes courses. A week’s B&B at the Feel Free Nature Resort costs from £685pp for Saturday departures in August and includes mountain bike hire. Flights are extra but can be arranged.
Miles of sandy beaches and some spectacular seafood make Jersey a good bet for an indulgent summer break. Over on the west coast, the Atlantic Hotel has sweeping sea views and a Michelin-starred restaurant to go with its outdoor pool and luxuriant gardens. Jersey Travel (jerseytravel.com) has a week’s B&B from £824pp including flights for a 12 August departure.
Mary Novakovich is editor at large at 101holidays.co.uk
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