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The ultimate guides to summer

Gloriously wild in parts, the Costa Brava has some of the finest Blue

Flag beaches in Europe

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To paraphrase the evocative song, and with Ella Fitzgerald’s soulful rendition

in mind, it will soon be summertime, the season for living easy – let

Telegraph Travel’s team of trusted experts take the stress out of your

summer holiday planning, and help make your life just that little bit easier


A taste of the Greek Islands

There has been a resurgence of pride in regional specialities (including wine

from legacy grape varieties) across the Greek Islands, and of cooking based

on the superb raw materials that were always a mainstay of tavernas

patronised by Greeks rather than tourists. Crete has figured prominently in

this revival, drawing on such local ingredients as flavoured rusks, fresh or

cured meats, wild edible weeds and of course rakí or tsikoudiá. Restaurants

leading the way include Rakodikeio (0030 694 577 4407), in Réthymno , which

is an exquisite little ouzerí , popular with local university students,

offering creative takes on Cretan standards – for example, pork fried with

saffron and ouzo, Hánia-style píta (turnover), apák (cured streaky pork),

and beet salad with yogurt and walnuts; also Ouzythino, in Neahóra, Hánia,

for mountainous servings of delicacies such as marinated anchovies, Sfakian

sausage and cheese-stuffed peppers.

Santoríni is best approached by sea to truly appreciate the island’s

sheer lava cliffs

Top tip

Order an assortment of mezédes (appetisers) to share, rather than expensive

mains for each diner. Hima wine, ordered by the quarter, half or full kilo

(a litre, that is, but the Greeks universally quote the weight), is cheaper

than bottled and usually drinkable. If in doubt, start with just a quarter

(a katroútso in slang) and order a soda, which makes even the harshest wine

quaffable – though interestingly, this will get you tiddly faster. Or you

can ask to taste first.

Our expert

Marc Dubin first visited Greece in 1978 and was immediately drawn by the

Aegean light (which spurred him on as a photographer), the pace of life

compared to America or Britain, swimming in the brilliant blue sea, the

music, and even the then-unpolished food. Marc has lived part-time on Samos

since 1989.


Travel’s guide to the Greek Islands

Life’s a beach in Cornwall

England’s most south-westerly county is defined by its magnificent coastline,

with 300 miles of dunes and cliffs, medieval harbours and oak-forested

creeks – and every mile accessible on foot. The coast – and coastal

communities – took a battering last winter but nearly all of the storm

damage has been repaired and it is business as usual beside the peninsula’s

Grecian blue sea. Two of my favourite beaches include The Strangles, near

Crackington Haven, a high-summer hideaway reached down a steep and tricky

path, where at low tide you can walk to Rusey beneath 700ft cliffs; and

Gwithian Towans, near Hayle, which has three miles of dune-backed sands

perfect for escaping the hordes and waves that are suitable for novice


Cornwall is defined by its magnificent coastline

Top tip

The winter storms have reshaped the coastline. Beaches such as Nanjizal , near

Land’s End, have lost every grain of sand to reveal polished round boulders.

In contrast, Porthminster Beach in St Ives has risen several feet. To escape

the crowds this summer, it’s worth leaving the main resorts and walking out

along the coastal paths to see if there’s a newly created sandy cove on

which to lay your towel. Do watch out for rip currents and new sand cliffs

hiding beneath the waves. If you find you can’t get back to shore, don’t

fight the current. Try to swim across it, parallel to the beach, until its

power eases and you can swim back in.

About our expert

Gill Charlton fell in love with the landscape and people of Cornwall while

writing a Telegraph guidebook, Cornwall in a Week, in 1991, and moved to the

county more than 15 years ago. Gill likes nothing better than to walk the

Land’s End peninsula, which she considers one of the most beautiful

stretches of coastline in Europe, finishing with a sunset drink and tapas at

the Porthmeor Beach Café (

in St Ives.


Travel’s guide to Cornwall

Majorca’s secret sands

Pine trees rise from the rust earth of the ridge around the coast, forming a

discreet curtain around this delicious string of little bays on the Victòria

peninsula, which separates the Bay of Alcúdia from the Bay of Pollença. Even

though it is only a short drive from the resort of Port d’Alcúdia, the area

has a remarkably untouristy feel. Most of the people on the beaches are

either locals or foreigners who live on Majorca. The best of these beaches

is S’illot, which means “the little island” in Catalan and gets its name

from the lump of ochre rock in the sea that protects the bay from the

Tramuntana wind. While S’illot doesn’t have any umbrellas or sunbeds, it

does have a very appealing beachside restaurant, known simply as S’illot

(0034 971 897218). I don’t mean that it’s fancy or anything; just the kind

of place you wish every beach had. Sitting there at a table overlooking the

beach after a swim, gazing across to Cap de Formentor, with a plate of

sardines, a huge salad and a glass of white wine – made on Majorca, of

course – just about sums up the concept of simple holiday pleasures.

Majorca is home to a number of great beaches

Top tip

If you are visiting the city of Palma, remember to wear a bit more than you

would on the beach. Local authorities are cracking down on tourists

wandering around in their swimwear and you could get an on-the-spot fine.

You should also put some clothes on before entering most bars and

restaurants – unless they are right on the beach.

About our expert

Annie Bennett first visited Majorca 30 years ago and has been a regular

visitor ever since. She particularly loves shopping in Palma and walking in

the Tramuntana mountains.


Travel’s guide to Majorca

A gastronomic journey through Catalonia

Any lingering associations the Costa Brava may have with egg and chips are

well past their sell-by date. Yes, English menus may still be a fixture in

the larger resorts on the southerly part of the coast, such as Lloret de

Mar, but farther north you won’t catch a glimpse of them. In fact, this

stretch of the coast is a foodie’s paradise and Catalonia – where the Costa

Brava lies – has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred chefs

in Spain, not to mention superb, locally produced wines. Little wonder that

this has been the holiday spot of choice for well-heeled Barcelonesas and

in-the-know French for years. One of my favourite places to eat is L’Hort

del Rector (,

which specialises in cod – there are 15 variations of the dish on the menu –

and is located just outside the walls of the medieval village of Monells.

The warren of rooms inside are filled with antiques, shelves laden with

books on art, cinema and philosophy, and an upright piano. There’s also a

lovely conservatory overlooking the gardens.

The Costa Brava is a foodie’s paradise

Top tip

You can savour the region’s combination of coast and countryside in the local

speciality, mar i muntanya (which translates as sea and mountain or “surf

and turf”). Most restaurants offer the dish as either a casserole stew,

paella or noodle dish (fideuá) combining poultry or red meat and seafood.

About our expert

Eddi Fiegel first visited the Costa Brava in the 1990s and was bowled over not

only by the romance and beauty of the teal-green, pine-laced, rugged

coastline but also the countryside inland. Eddi travelled up the coast every

other weekend to the Costa’s beaches and villages when she was living in

Barcelona; she still goes back frequently.


Travel’s guide to the Costa Brava

Festival fun in Brittany

There’s much more to Brittany than its beaches. For many centuries this was a

proudly independent realm, with closer connections to Britain than France;

it was after all “petite Bretagne”, as opposed to “Grande Bretagne” across

the Channel. The pan-Celtic traditions are still going strong; the Breton

language is still spoken, while festivals celebrate Celtic music and dance.

The biggest jamboree of all is Lorient’s Festival Interceltique (,

which gathers the Celtic diaspora together for a 10-day extravaganza at the

start of August (this year the focus is on all things Irish), while the

Festival de Cornouaille (,

held towards the end of July in the delightful riverside city of Quimper, is

a specifically Breton affair. The quirky Sea Shanty Festival (,

held at Paimpol in August, boasts all the bearded seasalts you could ever

hope to shake a jangly stick at. If it really is beaches you’re after,

countless little resorts, from St-Jacut in the north to Morgat in the west

and Locmariaquer in the south, have wonderful sandy crescents, and there’s

almost always a deserted strand off the coastal footpath.

Festivals celebrating Celtic music and dance take place across Brittany

in the summer months

Top tip

If you’re partial to French seafood, you don’t have to pay restaurant prices.

Head instead for one of the many viviers tucked into crannies in the

coastline, where they raise live shellfish. At places such as Viviers

Olivier at Fôret-Fouesnant (0033 2 98 56 83 89) or Prat Ar Coum (

outside Carantec, you can pick up superb oysters, clams, and crabs, perfect

for beach picnics.

About our expert

Greg Ward has been visiting Brittany since holidaying there in the Sixties –

when his father would order mussels for his five children and eat the lot.

Now he goes on annual walking, cycling and, of course, mussel-eating trips

of his own.


Travel’s guide to Brittany

A white-knuckle ride in Provence

On Tuesdays and Fridays, indulge in food lust at Lorgues market, then motor

north to Villecroze. Backed into Alpine foothills, the medieval village is

overseen by cliffs whose caves were fortified by Benedictines fearful of

Saracens, then fancied up with Renaissance frontages. They’re an

extraordinary sight. Continue to the pretty town of Aups, awarded the

Croix-de-Guerre for its Resistance activity. It’s a grand coffee stop before

the haul up to the Canjuers plateau. Shortly, you’ll spot the vast,

artificial Sainte Croix. Pause for a dip at Les Salles-Sur-Verdon, before

pushing up to Aiguines. The doughty old village perches between the lake and

the Verdon Gorges, France’s Grand Canyon. It is 3,000ft straight down in

places; nature on a supernatural scale. After aperitifs in Aiguines, head

out on the Corniche Sublime road which hems the edge of the gorges. If

you’re not good with heights, hand the steering wheel to someone who is, and

brace yourself. The gorges run for 15 miles and, at times, the drop is more

than 2,000ft. If your stomach is holding up, you might lunch right on the

edge, at the Auberge du Point Sublime (0033 4 92 83 69 15), which

specialises in hearty regional dishes.

Provence is held together by family, farming, festivities and feuds

round the fountain

Top tip

To come to grips with the gorges, you need to get in among them – hiking,

rafting or kayaking, say. The Castellane tourist office (0033 4 92 83 61 14;

is the first stop. Nearby, Buena Vista Rafting (0033 4 92 83 77 98;

will sort out all the watery stuff. Note: this summer, water activities will

be Tuesdays and Fridays only.

About our expert

Anthony Peregrine is based in southern France. He has been wandering around

Provence for the past 25 years – walking, drinking rosé, eating, playing

pétanque, drinking rosé, bobbing into churches to seeMary Magdalene and

other holy women, preparing barbecues, drinking rosé, scaring himself

witless on unbarriered mountain roads, meeting winemakers and drinking rosé.

He remembers quite a lot of it.


Travel’s guide to Provence

Cultural diversions in Sicily

Most of Sicily’s attractions are cultural or scenic; aside from a couple of

summer water parks, there’s not much in the way of family fun days out. But

this is the kind of destination where sightseeing is always more than “just”

sightseeing: it’s the combination of history, a balmy climate and a vibrant

contemporary eating, drinking and shopping scene that gives this island of

wine, citrus fruits and ancient landscapes such all-year-round appeal. The

spectacularly located ruins of the Greek temple of Selinunte, on a

flower-strewn rise above the beach, are typical of the island’s riches, and

if you seek out Cave di Cusa, seven miles to the north-east, chances are

you’ll have it all to yourself. Abandoned in 409 BC, this was where the

stone used in Selinunte’s temples was quarried. It’s a fascinating place,

with great fluted column sections, carved in situ, anchored in the mother


Most of Sicily’s attractions are cultural or scenic

Top tip

Of Sicily’s major archaeological sites, only Syracuse and Agrigento are easily

reached via public transport. For the rest you’ll need a car and a good map

or satnav. Alternatively, book a guided tour with transport out of Palermo

with Passage to Sicily (,

one of the best of the locally based cultural tour operators.

About our expert

Lee Marshall moved to Italy in 1984. Currently based in Umbria after many

years living in Rome, he has an ongoing love affair with Sicily and visits

regularly. In between, Etna rosso wine and Bronte pistachios stoke the



Travel’s guide to Sicily

Scaling the heights in Umbria

The direct, 30-mile drive north along the Vale of Spoleto between Spoleto and

Assisi – two of Umbria’s finest large hill-towns – follows the SS3 and SS75,

making for a quick, dull, and at times quite unattractive ride. It’s far

better to follow a meandering and more scenic route via several smaller

hill-towns, with an optional climb over Monte Subasio’s wild uplands, before

dropping down to Assisi. This full-day route passes through the Monti

Martani hills, the sleepy village of Gualdo Cattaneo , and Montefalco, a

charming walled town filled with art and churches, fine wines and even finer

views. Afterwards, head to Bevagna, a former Roman colony, which is worth an

hour’s wandering followed by a drink or bite to eat at Redibis (

In the afternoon, a detour to Monte Subasio (4,232ft) will be rewarded with

vast meadows and immense views.

Umbria has all of Tuscany’s attributes – and a few more

Top tip

In many Umbrian towns, negotiating narrow streets and parking are problematic

– it’s usually best to park on the outskirts (where there’s often an area

provided) and walk in to the old historic centres.

About our expert

Tim Jepson first visited Umbria in 1982. He lived in the region, near

Castiglione del Lago, and has written extensively about the area. He has

also worked as a mountain guide in Umbria’s Sibillini National Park and

elsewhere, and returns to the region for writing, hiking and other projects

several times a year.


Travel’s guide to Umbria

Laid-back living on the Turquoise Coast

Imagine a long, curving shingle beach, home to loggerhead turtles in summer,

backed by citrus groves and book-ended by dramatic limestone spurs. Behind,

wooded mountains rise to the heights of Mount Olympos at 7,762ft (2.300m).

This is Çirali, one of the loveliest spots in the Mediterranean, where

guesthouses and boutique hotels are tucked beneath a blanket of trees. By

day, chill by the beach, but don’t expect nightlife, except a pleasant meal

at one of the simple, wooden, seaside restaurants. It’s perfect for

families, and older teenagers will enjoy Olympos Village (,

with its wooden treehouses, backpacker vibe and disco. The Lycian Way passes

through Çirali, giving walkers great scope, but anyone can hit the heights

and admire the spectacular views by taking the nearby cable-car to the top

of Mount Olympos (;

£21 return) for fabulous views.

The Turquoise Coast is home to spectacular bays and pretty coves

Top tip

Çirali is one of the few places in Turkey where locals still get around by

bike. Vehicular traffic is light, the terrain level and houses spread far

enough apart to make walking a chore, but not far enough to make it worth

getting the car out. Throw in the pleasant lanes shaded by citrus groves and

you can see why it makes perfect sense to join the locals and hire a bike –

even if it’s only to get to those perfect beach spots beyond easy reach of

mere pedestrians.

About our expert

Terry Richardson lived in Turkey for 12 years (until July 2013) and helped set

up the country’s first marked walking trail, the Lycian Way. He visits the

Turquoise Coast regularly.


Travel’s Turquoise Coast guide

Glamping in the Dordogne

The region is home to a fabulous choice of family-friendly camping and

glamping sites: the luxurious tree castles of Châteaux dans les Arbres (,

complete with fairy-tale turrets, are particularly enchanting; Le Moulin de

la Jarousse (

is a 15-hectare site with treehouses, yurts, log cabins, cottages, a pool

and other outdoor entertainment; Les Cabanes de Jeanne (

enchants with a floating wooden cabin on the site’s pretty lake; while Les

Cabanes de Vaure (

has boutique treehouses with super-chic French country interiors,

beautifully located in the sticks. Some guests choose to arrive by hot-air


If, like me, you’re a glamping kind of girl, you will have a natural affinity

with L’Étang de Bazange (,

a lakeside campsite with luxurious canvas tents and a floating cabin with

rooftop terrace from which to spot approaching pirates – or happy kids

fishing for crayfish and carp.

Another magnificent campsite for children is Domaine des Mathevies (,

an easy four-mile bike ride along labyrinthine country lanes from

Sarlat-la-Canèda with the parental bonus of excellent cuisine and fine wine

served in its on-site Cosy Nook Café.

The Dordogne has a fabulous choice of family-friendly camping and

glamping sites

Top tip

Most campsites can organise river canoeing; children must be aged at least

five and be able to swim 25m.

About our expert

Nicola Williams had her first encounter with the Dordogne in 1996. She went

with the intention of losing herself in the prehistoric art of Grotte de

Lascaux, and left completely blown away by the rural landscape, much of

which has been unchanged for centuries. It’s a place, she says, of

effortless beauty; one of the finest parts of la belle France.


Travel’s Dordogne guide


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The ultimate guides to summer

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