10 places that deliver the ultimate holiday combination – sun, sea and summits (2024)

Sometimes, when it comes to a holiday, you want the best of both worlds. A beach is a must, of course. But so might be somewhere more elevated, where you can wander along meandering trails, point your camera at widescreen views – and escape (some of) the heat.

Europe is awash with such geographical alliances; places where epic curves of coast and ragged-hemmed mountains sit almost side by side. From the stylish hotels of the Cote d’Azur to the olive groves of Cyprus, here are 10 options for going both high and low…

1. Cote d’Azur

Sea: Nice

The Cote d’Azur needs no introduction; nor does Nice need to sell itself to those seeking coast and culture in equal measure. It is all there in one stylish package – the Promenade des Anglais running parallel to the Mediterranean; the likes of Plage de Carras and Place de l’Opera awash with sun-seekers. Vieux-Nice brings the baroque grandeur of the city’s 17th-century cathedral, the blooms of the Marché aux Fleurs, and the restaurants of Rue Saint-Francois de Paule; Castle Hill no longer has its castle – but the views are wondrous.

How to do it:Five nights at the four-star Splendid Hotel & Spa, flying from Heathrow on August 30, costs £598 a head, via British Airways Holidays (0344 493 0787; ba.com/holidays).

10 places that deliver the ultimate holiday combination – sun, sea and summits (1)

Summits: Mercantour National Park

One element of the Riviera’s charm that does perhaps need explaining is just how swiftly you can escape its cities for higher ground. Mainland France is home to a mere eight national parks, and one of them waits scarcely 30 miles north of Nice. The Parc National du Mercantour offers a remarkable tranche of Alpine scenery – elevated villages (like the gorgeous Belvédère) locking arms with water features such as Lac d’Allos and epic peaks including Cime du Gélas. Hiking trails crisscross the lot (see mercantour-parcnational.fr).

2. Corsica

Sea: Porto-Vecchio

France’s biggest island in the Mediterranean remains something of an unboxed package for British tourists. Barely 40,000 of us travel per year to what – shimmering in a prime position towards the middle of Europe’s great sea – should be an obvious destination. The French, unsurprisingly, are far more clued-up on its joys. And with 668 miles of coastline to play with, there is no need for things to feel too crowded. The south-east has an elegant charm – luxurious villas dotted in the hills around the bijou resort-town of Porto-Vecchio.

How to do it: Simpson Travel (020 3468 3602; simpsontravel.com) has a range of properties in the Corsican south-east. These include Les Lofts de Palombaggia – a four-bedroom retreat with a pool, available in the week starting September 22 for £2,971 per person, based on two sharing (flights included).

Summits: Aiguilles de Bavella

Corsica’s geography gets straight to the point. The island offers some of Europe’s sharpest ascents from coast to clouds, and you really can be higher up, and at a cooler temperature, in a matter of minutes. From Porto-Vecchio, a short journey north-west will propel you into the Barocagio-Marghese massif – and some truly spectacular scenery. The Aiguilles de Bavella – pointed teeth of red granite which bite into the horizon above the village of Zonza – would make a drive of many more miles worth every moment of effort.

3. Spain

Sea: Lloret de Mar

The Costa Brava issues a summer siren call to families, softening Spain’s north-eastern corner into a 100-mile sequence of sandy beaches. Lloret de Mar has one of the best of them – a broad arc dotted with pleasing resorts. For those taking to its sands with children in tow, the nearby Water World (waterworld.es) provides splashes and giant slides galore.

How to do it: A seven-night getaway for a family of four to the three-star Rosamar Maritim resort, flying from Stansted (to Girona) on July 6, starts at £559 per person, including bags and transfers – through Jet2 Holidays (0800 408 0778; jet2holidays.com).

10 places that deliver the ultimate holiday combination – sun, sea and summits (2)

Summits: La Garrotxa Natural Park

The Pyrenees loom on the periphery of the conversation wherever you are on the Costa Brava, but you do not have to drive to Andorra to lay eyes on mountainous magnificence. The Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa (see parcsnaturals.gencat.cat) delivers precisely this 50 miles north of Lloret de Mar, wrapping its arms around 40 volcanic crags. That the area has not seen serious seismic activity since the 15th century does nothing to diminish its beauty. Not least in the case of Santa Margarida, where a hermitage – destroyed in 1428, subsequently rebuilt – exists precariously within the crater.

4. Greece

Sea: Central Macedonia

From the north tip of Corfu to the south coast of Crete, Greece is alive with popular resort areas, pulsing with international tourists during summer. Central Macedonia is not one of them. With the exception of Halkidiki, this north-easterly part of the mainland is rather a mystery to visitors. All the more reason to visit its westerly reaches – and the stretch of shoreline that curves between second city Thessaloniki and the Pelion peninsula. Plaka, 50 miles from the former, offers tavernas and hotels, but none of the crowds of Mykonos.

How to do it: A seven-night stay at Cavo Olympo (a five-star, adults-only property, right on the beach at Plaka) from July 6 costs from £1,999 per person, including breakfast (flights extra), through Expedia (020 3024 8211; expedia.co.uk).

Summit: Mount Olympus

Peer inland from Plaka, and you are looking into one of the hearts of ancient mythology. Mount Olympus, which swells up immediately to the south-west, was probably not the only peak to be considered holy in ancient Greece – but by the fifth century BC, it had coalesced into the accepted home of the gods; Zeus seated on his cloudy throne. There is no guarantee that you will meet the old boy if you venture onto slopes now protected as a national park (olympusfd.gr/en), but wander any of its hiking trails and you are tackling what – never mind legend and hoary tales – is Greece’s tallest mountain (9,570ft/2,917m).

5. Slovenia

Sea: Portoroz

Admittedly, Slovenia does not have a great deal of coastline – just 29 miles, where it dips a (little) toe into the Adriatic. But it makes the most of this miserly allocation, especially on the narrow stub of a peninsula which juts out directly above the Croatian border. Here, the small city of Piran dispenses that postcard version of the Balkans, all orange roof tiles and pale churches. The adjacent resort town of Portoroz offers comfortable hotels aplenty.

How to do it: A seven-night stay from July 6-13 at the four-star Grand Hotel Portoroz, not including flights, costs £1,538 via Booking.com.

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Summits: Bled

The shortness of the Slovenian coast is mirrored in the size of a country which does not take up too much of the European landmass. Indeed, go 100 miles north-east of Portoroz, and you are practically in Austria. You may also be in Bled, a spa town of rare beauty – spreading out around the lake of the same name, the summits of the Julian Alps replayed on its placid surface. Bike trails dissect the area. You may prefer to stand and stare – or rest by the water, at the Grand Hotel Toplice (sava-hotels-resorts.com).

6. Cyprus

Sea: Limassol

The Mediterranean provides few more reliable propositions for sunshine than the biggest island-nation within it – and almost every metre of Cyprus’s 110-mile-long south coast is a suitable spot for sitting and admiring the waves. You might pitch up in westerly Paphos, where ancient ruins adorn the front. There is also much to recommend Limassol, midway along that southern shore – where a 12th century castle mixes with restaurants and hotels.

How to do it: A seven-night getaway to Limassol’s five-star Amara resort, flying from Gatwick on July 14, starts at £2,143 per person, via Sovereign (01293 324 638; sovereign.com).

Summits: Troodos Mountains

Cyprus’s size – it is the Mediterranean’s third biggest island, smaller than only Sicily and Sardinia – translates into peaks and paths. The Troodos Mountains swarm across its midriff in olive groves and pine needles, reaching a rooftop where Mount Olympus (another one) bothers the skies at 6,404ft (1,952m). You can ski here in winter; summer is more likely to draw you towards the Kalidonia Waterfall, near Pano Platres. The national tourist board suggests a raft of hiking routes, including a Troodos option that starts close to Limassol. See visitcyprus.com.

7. Croatia

Sea: Rovinj

Piran’s prettiness is replicated a few miles and one country due south – where Croatia and the Istria peninsula stick to the Balkan template of revitalised medieval citadels dreaming on the shore. Umag, Novigrad and Porec all deal the same card with aplomb, but Rovinj plays it best – climbing up to the 18th century elegance of the Basilica of St Euphemia, then dropping back down towards gentle Adriatic coves and hotels of pleasing modernity.

How to do it: A week at the four-star Island Hotel Istra, flying from Bristol (to Pula) on July 6, starts at £974 per person, with easyJet Holidays (0330 551 5151; easyjet.com/holidays).

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Summits: Ucka

Istria lends itself to the opportunity that comes with small places of steep topography – a two-tone day; a morning on the beach, an afternoon on high. It rises sharply into the Ucka range – a line of peaks which shapes the east side of the peninsula, granting epic glimpses of the Bay of Kvarner to those who reach the ridge. Much of the area is safeguarded as Ucka Nature Park (pp-ucka.hr/en). All of it can be found a 50-minute drive from Rovinj.

8. Albania

Sea: Sarandë

The least appreciated piece of the Adriatic jigsaw presents the same combination of high and low, and in as dramatic a fashion as Slovenia and Croatia – with the caveat that, if you opt for a week in Albania’s most attractive resort-town, the sea you will be staring at is the Ionian. Sarandë sits in the far south of the country, just 22 miles north of the Greek border, and borrows plenty from its neighbour. Indeed, you can see Corfu heat-hazing in the distance, both from the town waterfront and the beaches of Ksamil – a nearby village.

How to do it: A seven-night stay at the El Primero Hotel from July 6-13 costs from £1,018 per person through Booking.com (not including flights).

Summits: Llogara National Park

Take a 50-mile northward drive out of Sarandë, and you encounter Llogara National Park (see national-parks.org/albania/llogara). This protected zone is remarkable for several reasons. Although tiny – just under four square miles – it showcases a location where the Ceraunian Mountains rear up on the very edge of the waves. There are fir forests and alpine meadows. And there are views. On clear days, you can see Italy across the water. On any day, you can spot the Karaburan Peninsula – where the Adriatic and Ionian meet.

9. Italy

Sea: Venice

There can be more to Italy’s great lagoon city than canals, churches and Renaissance art (though these should all be part of a spell in its company). Venture 15 miles north-east, along the mainland coast, and you encounter Lido di Jesolo – a resort town ideal for day-trips into Venice, but also for lazy afternoons on a beach that stretches out for eight miles.

How to do it: A half-board week for a family of four at the Hotel Ambasciatori Palace, flying from Gatwick on August 26, costs £708 per person, with Tui (020 3451 2688; tui.co.uk).

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Summits: Alta Badia

It isn’t a hop or skip from Venice – a northbound trek of 75 miles – but the ragged majesty of the Dolomites justifies the journey. Your route should take you into Dolomiti Bellunesi National Park (dolomitipark.it), where peaks like Schiara and Talvena claw the sky – and maybe to Alta Badia (altabadia.org), the ski zone whose vistas are as lovely in summer as winter. Linger at the Berghotel Ladinia in Corvara (berghotelladinia.it).

10. Mallorca

Sea: Port de Soller

There are many reasons to visit the biggest of the Balearic Islands – and many places to stay. Palma is as intriguing and vibrant a Spanish city as any on the mainland; Magaluf has plenty of bars to sustain its noisy reputation; Pollenca and Alcudia illuminate the north-east coast as reliable destinations for family escapes. But you might just as easily head for Mallorca’s quieter north-west flank – where Port de Soller is one of the options.

How to do it: A week at the four-star Fergus Style Soller Beach, flying from Manchester on October 21, costs £579 a head with Love Holidays (01234 975 975; loveholidays.com).

Summits: Serra de Tramuntana

A considerable bonus of choosing the Mallorcan north-west for a holiday is its proximity to the island’s mountain spine. The Serra de Tramuntana, which runs south-west to north-east across the top of the landmass, is a geographical wonder – hailed as a Unesco World Heritage Site for its physical significance. Professional cyclists use it as an out-of-season training camp, pedalling doughtily in the shadow of Puig Major, the range’s highest member (4,711ft/1,436m). You can scarcely ignore this behemoth if you stay in Port de Soller – it is on the doorstep. You can find hiking tips at seemallorca.com/walking/guide.

This article was first published in July 2022 and has been revised and updated.

10 places that deliver the ultimate holiday combination – sun, sea and summits (2024)

FAQs

10 places that deliver the ultimate holiday combination – sun, sea and summits? ›

Morocco has more than 3,000 km of coastline on the Atlantic coast. In its southern sector, where the climate is warm practically all year round, this city has been oriented towards sun and beach tourism since the 1960s, when an earthquake devastated the city and forced a reorientation of activity towards this sector.

Which Middle East holiday destinations offering a combination of both cultural and sun & beach activities are you aware of? ›

Morocco has more than 3,000 km of coastline on the Atlantic coast. In its southern sector, where the climate is warm practically all year round, this city has been oriented towards sun and beach tourism since the 1960s, when an earthquake devastated the city and forced a reorientation of activity towards this sector.

Is Albania the new holiday destination? ›

Albania recorded 5.1 million tourist arrivals in the first seven months of 2023 compared with 3.9 million in all of 2022. The Albanian Tourist Board expects to attract 10 million visitors by the end of this year. easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz Air have all recently launched flights from the UK to the capital, Tirana.

Where is best to go in October for sun? ›

The hottest places to go on holiday in October
  • Sharm El Sheikh (28 °C)
  • Lanzarote (26.8 °C)
  • Cyprus (26.7 °C)
  • Gran Canaria (26.4 °C)
  • Kos (26 °C)
  • Rio de Janeiro (26 °C)
  • Algarve (23.2 °C)
  • Rome (22.4 °C)

What are the top 10 cities in the Middle East? ›

What are 10 major cities in the Middle East? 10 major cities in the region are Jerusalem, Israel; Amman, Jordan; Beirut, Lebanon; Damascus, Syria; Istanbul, Turkey; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Cairo, Egypt; Tehran, Iran; and Baghdad, Iraq.

Which Middle East country is best for holidays? ›

The UAE is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East, thanks to the thriving, modern cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi attracting people from all over the world. With a 7-hour flight time, the UAE is popular for those looking to enjoy a Dubai stopover package, as well as longer holidays.

Why is Albania not a tourist? ›

Why do fewer holidaymakers choose Albania? Albania has a turbulent history, having been controlled by other people for centuries, including the Romans, the Byzantines and the Ottomans. It was not until 1912 that the Albanians gained independence from Turkey.

Is Albania a cheap holiday destination? ›

Albania is generally considered to be a budget-friendly destination for travellers. Compared to many other European countries, the cost of living and travel expenses in Albania are relatively low.

How to spend 10 days in Albania? ›

And, without further ado, here is my recommended 10 day itinerary for Albania:
  1. Day 1-2: Berat.
  2. Day 3: Gjirokastra.
  3. Day 4-7: Ksamil.
  4. Day 8-10: Tirana.
May 21, 2023

What city is hot in October? ›

The best warm places to visit in October
CountryDestinationAvg. temp October
USAPalm Beach78°F
USALas Vegas70°F
SicilyCatania67°F
SpainCanary Islands74°F
6 more rows
Jul 26, 2023

What state is still hot in October? ›

Miami, Florida

Thanks to its subtropical climate, daily high temperatures in Miami average a summery 83°F even as autumn arrives. Sunseekers can relax on the sands of South Beach in September and October while enjoying water temps that remain in the 80s.

Where is the best tropical place to vacation in October? ›

  • Siargao Island, The Philippines.
  • Zanzibar, Tanzania - A great choice for cheap tropical vacations in October.
  • Acapulco, Mexico.
  • Kauai, Hawaii - Among the best tropical destinations in October in the USA.
  • Ilha Grande, Brazil.
  • Pigeon Island, Sri Lanka - One of the best tropical destinations in October.
Jan 31, 2024

Where is hot in October 2024? ›

For heat that packs a punch, you've got long-haul destinations like Dubai and the Caribbean, but some more popular hotspots like Turkey, Ibiza and the Canaries are known to still stay pretty toasty around this time of year too.

Where in America is nice in October? ›

The most beautiful time to visit Acadia National Park is October, hands down. By mid-month, this top attraction in Maine is blanketed by vibrant fall foliage, both along the coast and high atop its many mountains.

Where in the Caribbean is best in October? ›

10 Best Caribbean Islands to Visit in October
  • Aruba. Aruba. ...
  • Bonaire. Klein Bonaire. ...
  • Curaçao. Willemstad, Curaçao. ...
  • St. Thomas, USVI. ...
  • Tortola, BVI. Tortola, BVI. ...
  • Antigua. Antigua. ...
  • Grand Cayman. Stingray City, Grand Cayman. ...
  • St. Lucia.
Dec 4, 2023

What holiday is celebrated for the Middle East? ›

Jordan: New Years Day (01 January), Easter (31 March - 01 April), Labour Day (01 May), Eid Al-Adha (15 - 19 June), Islamic New Year (07 July), Prophet Muhammad's Birthday (15 September), Christmas Day (25 December).

What are the cultural areas of the Middle East? ›

Cultural places in Middle East
  • Iran. Palangan. Kurdistan Province and Kermanshah Province.
  • Iran. Tea Houses. All over Iran.
  • Oman. Goat auction. Nizwa.

What is sun and beach tourism? ›

It involves visiting beaches, seaside resorts, and coastal towns with the primary intention of enjoying the natural beauty of the beach, engaging in water-related activities, and basking in the sun. Beach Tourism is popular worldwide and attracts millions of tourists each year.

What is the major cultural group of the Middle East? ›

The largest ethnic group in the Middle East are Arabs with Turks, Turkomans, Persians, Kurds, Azeris, Copts, Jews, Assyrians, Maronites, Circassians, Somalis, Armenians, Druze and numerous additional minor ethnic groups forming other significant populations.

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