Temperatures are on the rise and Europe is a delight this time of year. Parks in full bloom, streets alive with festivals and beaches with come-hither blue waters deliver breaks worth savouring. Take time out for more than the weekend and treat yourself to a slow and balmy summer holiday. This handful of sun-drenched stays will make summer 2019 your best yet…
1. Chalkidiki, Greece
Sparkly sands, sigh-inducing sunsets and hefty loads of history, Chalkidiki is so awash with natural and cultural treasures that it would be a shame to melt straight into a sunlounger. Instead, see the region’s underwater world on an otherworldly diving course, feast on freshly-caught seafood and sip coffee in sleepy ancient villages – switching to wine straight from local vineyards as dusk falls, naturally.
Where to stay: Savour the low-key vibes in minimalist marvel Skites Hotel & Bungalows. With UNESCO-protected Mount Athos closeby, the hotel’s architecture is inspired by the monks who settled in this holy land centuries long ago.
2. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Leafy Ljubljana is particularly lovely in summer. Slovenia’s capital comes alive, with locals relaxing in riverside cafes and glorious landmarks such as Ljubljana Castle and Triple Bridge twinkling in the sunlight. It’s a beautiful place to explore on a bicycle, thanks to car traffic restrictions in the city centre. This, along with the elegant emerald park, gained Ljubljana the European Commission’s ‘Green Capital of Europe’ title in 2016.
Where to stay: You might find you’re in no rush to explore the city after all when you stay at Antiq Palace. This boutique treasure is a culturally protected monument itself, due to its former regal life as a noble residence in the 16th century and location on the ancient necropolis in the Roman settlement of Emona (Iulia Aemona).
3. Santa Maria, Switzerland
Nothing is better than Swiss air in the summer and Santa Maria Val Mustair is heaven. Outdoor enthusiasts can take their pick from almost 50 hiking trails, each bursting with greenery and history. Explore the Benedictine Convent of St. John (world cultural heritage), snap shots at the quirky and unique Sgraffito and awaken all your senses at the heavenly Swiss National Park.
Where to stay: “Here you experience the magic moments without having to eat hallucinogenic mushrooms before”: so go the scribblings of Albert Hoffman (inventor of LSD) in the guest book of Chasa de Capol. Choose from one of 10 individually designed rooms and imagine the ancient dwellings as they
4. Brecon Beacons, Wales
Lace up your walking boots and revel in the grandeur of Pen y Fan, the highest mountain range in South Wales. Soak up the mellow morning as it glistens off the cascades and gorges of Waterfall Country. End the day stargazing in some of the best dark sky spots in Brecon. This scenic and wholesome region is a dream for nature lovers all year round – but it’s especially memorable in summer.
Where to stay: Poking its handsome head from the treetops of Brecon Beacons National Park, Gliffaes Country House Hotel is a serene haven that epitomises country house hospitality. Expect warm welcomes, fresh local food and guest rooms with their own mini libraries: this late-19th-century listed house truly feels like home. With over a mile of River Usk flowing alongside it, Gliffaes is also a famous and much-loved trout and salmon fishing hotel.
5. Reeks District of Kerry: Ireland
The Reeks District of Kerry transport you inside a real life postcard, with some of the most spectacular natural scenes in Europe. The region came third on the Rough Guides 2019 list of top places in the world to see. This summer, take on some of Ireland’s highest peaks in the MacGillycuddy Reeks, with hikes and treks suitable for all abilities. If you’re more of a stroller, simply enjoy a sunny walk around Caragh Lake and inhale the fresh Irish countryside.
Where to stay: Carrig Country House & Restaurant sits on the shores of Caragh Lake in Kerry’s Reeks District. With bike hire available directly from the hotel, it’s easy to explore one of Ireland’s best cycling routes on two wheels. Carrig’s award-winning Lakeside Restaurant is the perfect place to start and finish your day, with a signature homemade Irish breakfast to set you up for an activity-packed day. Ard Na Sidhe Country House is another delight close to the Ring of Kerry. With 10 beautiful rooms stuffed with antique-style furnishings and gorgeous country decor, a stay in this 20th-century home is living the true Irish dream.