When the weather is as temperamental as England's sporting prowess thoughts must turn to where and when to get out of the country as quickly as possible. If you haven't booked your summer holiday yet let this guide to where the cool kids are going lend a hand
Mallorca used to be synonymous with Magaluf, which in turn was synonymous with cheap package holidays but those associations are long gone. Now Mallorca is the hot spot of the Mediterranean, with its capital Palma winning its first Michelin star and a stream of effortlessly chic design hotels. But why go where everyone else is going? Instead make for the tiny village of Deia on the north east coast of the island, a terracotta roofed bolthole for bohemians, with fabulous hotels, B&Bs and restaurants. The waters are crystal clear, it is surrounded by lush mountains full of hiking trails and the beaches are some of the best on the island. For luxury stay at La Residencia or, if you prefer self-catering, there are some seriously impressive villas to rent. For food you can't beat Sebastian's, a 250 year old restaurant with incredible hillside views.
Travelistas have been raving about Puglia for the last few years but, testament to its brilliance, they're still singing its praises. Compared to the over-crowded and over-priced more touristy Italian coastal regions like Amalfi or the Lakes, Puglia is still relatively good value and if you go at the right time of year you'll find fairly empty beaches. That said, the Italians are in on the secret of Puglia's charms and we did find ourselves packed in like sardines listening to beach aerobics during the last week of August. That aside, Puglia has everything you could want from an Italian holiday. There is stunning architecture in towns like Lecce and Matera. Beautiful crystal clear sea and white sandy beaches around Salento, Otranto and Savelletri. And foodies head towards Ostuni for bowls of freshly made orecchiette (little pasta ears!). To see the best of the region stay in one of its Masseria's - old farm houses, many of which have been turned into charming boutique hotels. Check Mr & Mrs Smith for plenty.
If, like me, a summer holiday for you means beach, you may want to skim straight past this suggestion, but just hear me out. Lisbon has become the the place to visit in the last year. Its colourful buildings (especially in Sintra) match that of Italy's most-visited cities; the food holds it own against Barcelona's procession of Michelin stars; the shopping is as edgy as Berlin's and the winding, cobbled streets contend with the likes of Amsterdam and Copenhagen. And, and, my beach-faring friend, it is only a coastal train ride away from sandy shores. Between Lisbon and Cascais there are endless craggy coves and beaches churning with the Atlantic waves. So there you have it, Lisbon is a winner for a cool long or short break in Europe this summer. There are too many excellent places to recommend you visit in this short post so take a look at this Guide made by our friends at Pearlshare.
Carry on down the coast from Lisbon, about 12 miles, and you'll get to Comporta, a hip little seaside resort, less-known than The Algarve and less expensive too. It is often compared to a whole host of other beach towns that were once undiscovered, but those who really know it say it is unlike anywhere else. The name Comporta roughly translated, means a gate that holds back water, a lock. This is canal and rice-paddy land, long zig zags of fields of rice, the biggest in Portugal, stretch all the way down the coast, sheltered by sand dunes from the wild Atlantic winds. The area is also protected from big property developments, as much of the area is a nature reserve. Twelve kilometres of beach stretch out along the blue sea and this is the focus of life in the region. A pod of restaurants follow the coast, some on stilts, all serving excellent seafood. There are some fabulous hotels that have recently popped up in Comporta, like Sublime Comporta as well as chic design villas. Now the secret is out about Comporta it won't be long before the crowds swoop in - get there first.