The Best European Breakaways to Book Now
Put a spring back in your step with these European getaways
Measuring just nine miles by five, the tiny Mediterranean island of Gozo is a real hidden gem, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of better-known tourist destinations. It’s a sister island to Malta, lying just three miles to the north, and shares Malta’s gorgeous year-round climate. A deceptively small yet hugely charismatic island of hills, coves and heaps of history, it’s one of Europe’s last great secrets.
Expect warm hospitality wherever you go on this rustic and charming island. Sunbathe on the orangey-red sands and swim in the electric blue sea, and there’s lots of history to discover.
Of the many town and villages on the island, the most popular is Xaghra. From some of Gozo’s best dining to hidden caves, picturesque scenery and the world’s oldest manmade structures, Xaghra is a constant surprise. Hidden beneath two private houses in Xaghra’s residential streets you’ll find Xerri’s Grotto and Ninu’s Cave, but you’ll have to knock on someone’s front door to visit their cave out back. The guided tours are conducted by members of the families that live there.
Xaghra is also home to the Ggantija temple complex which consists of two Neolithic stone temples dating back to 3,600BC. They are huge, mesmerising and among the oldest freestanding stone buildings in the world. Small wonder they hold UNESCO World Heritage status. Aside from its archaeological and subterranean treasures, Xaghra is a particularly picturesque village encircled by the lush valleys of Ramla, Ta’ l-Ghejjun and Marsalforn and by three beautiful bays; Ramla (Gozo’s best beach), Ghajn Barrani and Marsalforn. Close by is the restored 18th-century windmill, Ta’ Kola, with its original mechanism and miller’s living quarters.
But Gozo is not just about history, it’s clear blue waters, and sheltered coves make it an ideal place for a family holiday. Marsalforn is popular with divers and home to several diving schools. An eclectic range of bars, cafes and restaurants fringe the large bay where Sunday is a particularly good day for food, because that’s when Marsalforn’s many restaurants host the leisurely family lunches that locals love.
Tiny Comino (the island between Malta and Gozo that you’ll pass on the ferry over) is a popular destination for boat trippers and its here you’ll find the legendary Blue Lagoon. If you’re wondering where you’ve seen it before, it’s been used as a location for countless movies and TV shows.
When it comes to somewhere to stay, Jules Gozo Holidays offer a selection of quality self-catering villas and farmhouses, many of which have been updated and modernised while retaining original features and characteristics typical of Gozotian homes including unique local limestone arches. With properties available for parties of up to 14, you can soak up the sunshine by your private outdoor pool before cooking lunch on the barbecue. For the cooler months (November to March), choose a property with an indoor pool or jacuzzi with wood burner.
The team at Jules Gozo Holidays will work with you to find the perfect accommodation – but we love the look of Arches, a modern, light-filled farmhouse with four bedrooms and three bathrooms. Open-plan living on the ground floor (complete with well-equipped kitchen, large dining table and comfortable living space) leads out to the pool and terrace which overlook the fabulous surrounding countryside. Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, sleeping nine, two of which have balconies to make the most of those views.
Find out more at julesgozoholidays.com or call 01430 626061
The second largest of the Canary Islands, the white sand beaches and year-round warmth make this a popular holiday destination for anyone seeking some winter sun (you can still expect an average temperature of 18C in January).
The many beaches which wrap round the island are interrupted by cliffs and sheltered coves, making it a perfect spot for watersports, and it’s a popular destination for wind and kite surfing.
It’s not just about the sea here though, explore the history and culture of the island found in its quaint, sleepy villages and bustling towns. One of the first islands to be conquered by the Europeans, there’s lots of living history including Betancuria. Founded in 1404, it was the island’s first capital city and is still home to many beautiful, historic buildings.
Then there’s contemporary Corralejo which is Fuerteventura’s most popular resort, with seven miles of sandy beaches, plenty of chilled bars and restaurants and the Baku Water Park – perfect for a family-friendly day out. Keen to express your creative side? Find something unique at the weekly arts and crafts market here. The Parque Natural de Corralejo is 10 kilometres of vast, rolling sand dunes, whilst further down the coast, Costa Caleta is a family-friendly favourite and the Jandia peninsula in the far south combines stunning protected beaches with plenty of lively bars.
There are so many different options on Fuerteventura but we like the luxurious Barcelo Corralejo Bay, an adult-only hotel with a great spa. It’s all about lazy days beside the pools (there are two), sun-filled palm fringed terraces, and a choice of activities from scuba diving to tennis, and tai chi and yoga. The spa and wellness centre with a state-of-the-art fitness centre is an oasis of calm and the perfect place to chill out should the sun disappear for a day.
For more information on holidays to Fuerteventura and details on the Barcelo Corralejo Bay visit your local Hays Travel, head to hays-travel.co.uk or call 0808 115 1048.
A hugely popular destination for sun seekers (and golfers) the Algarve is a great place for year-round sunshine with temperatures in January averaging well above 17C. Easy to get to, and geared up for visitors, it’s the perfect place for a week of winter sun.
Quinta do Lago may be one of the top resorts, just a 20-minute drive west from Faro airport, but travel a little further along the A125 and you’ll come across the quieter, more relaxed resort of Carvoeiro. This former fishing village is flanked by sandstone sea cliffs and the town’s horseshoe-shaped bay is one of the most beautiful on the Algarve.
There’s lots to explore on foot in and around the town, and boat tours from the beach run to the stunning coves and caves along this stretch of the Algarve, including the Benagil Caves – the world famous grotto formed by erosion – and the stunning Arches of Marinha. The sheltered beach, protected by the huge cliffs, means that you can still swim in the sea, even in January, and surf lessons are available all year round here.
The five-star Tivoli Carvoeiro Hotel is nestled among clifftop gardens, overlooking the picturesque cove and the sparkling waters of the Atlantic. Super stylish, the hotel has a contemporary and tranquil spa, restaurants (including the sophisticated The One serving Portuguese and Pan Asian cuisine) and a great Sky Bar which makes the most of the intoxicating views over the cliffs and the Atlantic below.
Take an evening stroll into the village where you’ll find a number of popular restaurants, or check out the local golf courses. There are an unbelievable 40 Championship courses all within a two-hour drive of Faro, eight of which are less that 20km from the hotel who will arrange everything from preferential green fees to tee times, and will even clean your golf equipment if required.
For more information on holidays to the Algarve and the Tivoli Carvoeiro visit your local Dawson & Sanderson Travel Agent, call 0191 284 9709 or visit holiday.co.uk
Travel requirements are continually changing and although at time of print travel is allowed to the above destinations on presentation of a negative PCR test, please check with your chosen destination before booking your holiday.