The best part of spontaneous travel is that there are no rules – and sometimes the best getaways are unplanned. All you need to pack is a passport and a sense of adventure. If you’re feeling in need of a last minute retreat this summer, we’ve compiled the best destinations to help you escape the 9-5 work routine.
Barcelona combines the best of sun and city – averaging 30°C in July and August, plus great options for family activities and cultural excursions.
The Spanish sunshine is within just two hours from Dublin by plane, making the Catalonian capital perfect for quick breaks. Despite soaring popularity in recent years, Barcelona is still relatively affordable. Since it’s possible to travel across the city in under 45 minutes, consider staying in the suburbs for a budget city break, or book into a pristine hotel on La Barceloneta for a luxury beach holiday, with all the boutiques and history of the Gothic quarter right on your doorstep. Barcelona holidays can be shaped to fit your lifestyle – whether you’re looking for a spontaneous long weekend break, a last minute getaway or a well-deserved two weeks in the Mediterranean sun.
There’s no mystery behind Croatia’s soaring popularity as a holiday hotspot. With a stunning 1,000 km coastline and temperatures averaging 25°C in July and August, it’s perfect for a family holiday relaxing on the beach.
The quaint Slavic villages and pure white sand, combined with crystal clear seas make a Croatian holiday the perfect way to feel like you’re a million miles from home – all from within Europe. Eastern Europe is famed for its affordability, and this Adriatic coastal paradise is no exception.
Fly direct into Dubrovnik in the south, and stay in a beautiful hotel overlooking the sea, for a taste of luxury. Split is among the country’s liveliest corners, and the islands around Dubrovnik are the jewels of Croatia, perfect for couples and families alike, looking to unwind.
A quick getaway to one of the Algarve’s many resorts is perfect for food and wine lovers. Enjoy an espresso in the afternoon and plenty of fresh fish and traditional steak dishes in the evening. The best towns for traditional Portuguese food are slightly inland, but coastal resorts like Albufeira and Vilamoura offer great variety, as well as coastal cruises and the opportunity to explore local history and culture. Explore churches and the Roman ruins of Cerro da Vila, and museums paying tribute to Portugal’s established football culture.
Surfers will love the Atlantic waves along the Costa Vicentina – among the biggest in the world. Stunning cliffs and endless sand make the Algarve’s relaxing towns a real haven, and all under three hours away by plane.
The Greek Islands
Whether you prefer Crete, Rhodes or Mykonos, the Greek islands are always a safe bet for hot weather and beautiful beaches.
Crete is Europe’s southernmost island, meaning swimming in warm Mediterranean seas is a must on the travel itinerary. From colourful cities to slow, dreamy fishing harbours, the natural beauty of gentle coastlines is matched only by its vibrant culture – traditional street musicians and the island’s many festivals will set the tone of this magical retreat.
For something unique, take a water taxi across to one of Greece’s smaller islands. Symi has picture-perfect neoclassical houses dotted along a sun-kissed coast, while in Ios, you can tiptoe across white sand and into deep blue seas.
Most Cypriot resorts are grouped around its two main airports in Paphos and Larnaca. Both east and west are great for sun-worshippers. Cyprus’ still, southern air means daytime temperatures rarely drop below 25°C in spring and autumn, and often approach 35 °C in the school breaks.
The island enjoys Europe’s cleanest beaches, which have huge sea caves and turquoise oceans to swim in. In early summer, you’ll enjoy exploring its many cultural centers like the Ancient Kourin ruins – reminders of the island’s rich history. In the heat of the summer, Cyprus is best for sipping cocktails, soaking up sunshine and cooling off in a sparkling sea.