Rabbit and chicken paella, anyone? Gorge on the many delights on offer, for all the family, in this rich region.
The Republic of Cyprus might be a ticking time bomb for the Eurozone but North Cyprus is enjoying a little dose of schadenfreude. Its currency (Turkish lira) is booming while the Kyrenia Mountains boast a rugged 143-mile trail dotted with some 280 species of birds.
STAY: The boutique-style Bella View located in the foothills of the Kyrenia Mountains. bellaview.net
GET THERE: Turkish Airlines, Pegasus and British Airways fly to Ercan.
COSTA BLANCA, SPAIN
Forget the horrors of a foam-party past: Spain’s sun-bleached southern coast is a great area for scrambling up craggy rock faces. The stretch from Valencia to Alicante has a good mix of short routes and some sea cliffs to climb, too.
STAY: Les Monges Palace in Alicante is a quirky, charming hotel. lesmonges.es
GET THERE: easyJet, Ryanair, BA and Monarch fly from London to Alicante.
LES GETS, FRANCE
From cross-country biking and road racing, snowboarding and skiing (with black runs aplenty), this is the Alps adventure location du jour. Stunning vistas accompany the hub of activity.
STAY: Rush Adventures provide chalets with hot tubs. rushadventures.co.uk
GET THERE: easyJet, BA and Swiss Air fly to Geneva from London, while easyJet and British Airways fly to Lyon.
Alghero, a quiet fishing town in the north west of the Italian isle, is the home of unspoilt beaches, the most notable being Le Bombarde. Be sure to explore the magical castles and grottos dotted around the nearby countryside.
STAY: ‘Shabby chic’ B&B, Holiday Fever is located close to the port and the old city wall. Friendly staff. holidayfever.it
GET THERE: Ryanair flies direct to Alghero from London.
Maximise Gozo’s reams of coastline with some kid-friendly adventures – think rock climbing and sea kayaking. The clear waters of neighbouring Malta and Comino are ideal for snorkelling, diving or a relaxing day out on a boat.
STAY: Sleeping up to six, Margerita Farmhouse provides a base in the town of Xaghra. margeritagozo.com
GET THERE: Air Malta, Ryanair and easyJet fly to Malta. A boat journey from Malta to Gozo takes one hour.
Tourism has boomed in the largest of the Ionian Islands in Greece, famously the setting for literary weepy Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. Families will love the beaches and sea kayaking at Lassi.
STAY: On the isle’s northernmost tip, family apartments at the Emelisse Hotel include an open-air cinema, tennis court and kids’ pool. emelissehotel.com
GET THERE: easyJet flies to Kefalonia from London.
The Santorini caldera acts as a springboard to explore one of Greece’s hippest isles. From here the volcanic walls of the island jut out into the Mediterranean. Elsewhere, the floor of the hot springs is covered in mud, which can be spread thick over your body to indulge in a DIY spa treatment.
STAY: If your budget allows, choose the eponymous Cosmopolitan Suites for beautiful views over the caldera. cosmopolitan-santorini.com
GET THERE: easyJet flies to Santorini from London.
This volcanic island off the coast of Naples is less popular than its glamorous counterpart Capri, but it features a stunning natural phenomenon in the form of bubbling hot springs. Some regulars
even bring vegetables and fish to boil in the hotter springs, which gives a whole other meaning to eating al fresco.
STAY: Residence Ravino offer self-catering apartments located at the top of botanical gardens with thrilling views out over the famous Ischia coastline. ravino.co.uk
GET THERE: easyJet and British Airways fly to Naples from London.
Sandwiched between Bosnia and Albania on the Adriatic Sea, Montenegro is one of Europe’s less obvious beach-holiday destinations, and far cheaper than neighbouring Croatia. Take a short walk around the promenade away from the touristy Budva area to find a hidden beach.
STAY: Budva is still building itself up but Hotel Astoria in the refined old town is a charming place to rest your head. budva.astoriamontenegro.com
GET THERE: Jat Airways and Montenegro airlines fly to Podgorica from Heathrow.
The idea of avoiding teenagers charged up on cocktails in Kavos has ramped up the appeal of its slightly more upmarket cousin Ibiza. Still the last word in sun- drenched European party haunts, the white isle is set to welcome another club with Bomba Ibiza, which opens in May, flaunting its geometric-style terrace and thumping sound system. For an old school vibe, hit Café del Mar for a sun-upper.
STAY: The Ushuaia Ibiza Beach Hotel is so bling, it’s like P Diddy threw up on it after eating too many oysters in the shape of dollar signs. ushuaiabeachhotel.com/en
GET THERE: easyJet flies to Ibiza from London Gatwick, Luton and Stansted, Ryanair flies from Stansted and BA flies from London Heathrow.
If it’s good enough for Prince Harry, it’s good enough for us. The isle of Hvar boasts white sand, pink sunsets and a banging beach party. Kick off the party at Carpe Diem bar then watch the sunrise with a dose of electronica at Veneranda – set in the grounds of an old monastery.
STAY: Podstine Hotel is ideal for those who want to go all out at night but keep a little discretion during the day. Set in a Venetian brick building, it allows sparkling views over the Adriatic. podstine.com/en
GET THERE: easyJet flies to Split from London Gatwick.
ST TROPEZ, FRANCE
The joy of strutting around St Tropez is that you could end up scoffing blinis and drinking Moet aboard billionaire Roman Abramovich’s yacht. Or you could just chill out on a four-poster teepee at Nikki Beach, sip a lemonade for €20 a pop at VIP Room or wander around dressed all in white, and hope you might run into a Soviet oligarch.
STAY: Relax at Hotel Pastis, located in an old provençal stone building with graphic art on the walls. pastis-st-tropez.com
GET THERE: easyJet and BA fly to Nice and Marseille from London airports. Ryanair flies to Marseille from Stansted.
Every restaurateur will smugly tell you where to stick your tapas: it’s paella that this Spanish city is famous for and it’s traditional Valencian paella, made from rabbit and chicken. Sample from atop a high stool at any bar in the old town.
STAY: Caro Hotel is everything a top-notch hotel should be.There’s a free mini bar, too. carohotel.com
GET THERE: easyJet and Ryanair fly direct to Valencia.
Exploring Istanbul’s markets is essential for food hounds, but for those who don’t know their cumin from their coriander it’s as confusing as Ryanair’s pricing policy. Enrol at one of the city’s many cookery schools – we like Cooking Alaturka – and take a walk around the local markets to seek out produce, then cook up traditional Anatolian dishes in rustic kitchens.
STAY: Sumahan, which sits on the Bosporus straits that separate Asia from Europe. sumahan.com
GET THERE: Pegasus, Turkish Airlines and BA fly to Istanbul from London.
Here, almost half of Italy’s olive oil is produced, wine is plentiful and there are heavy harvests of durum wheat (used to make pasta and bread). There’s also fruit, lamb, almonds and seafood. Pugliese cuisine is Italian soul-food – rustic, homegrown and a glutton’s ruin.
STAY: Borgo Egnazia, Fasano, the opulent family friendly hotel where JustinTimberlake and Jessica Biel got married last year. borgoegnazia.it
GET THERE: Several airlines, including easyJet, fly from London to Bari, and Ryanair flies to Brindisi.