Ask the Experts: where to find relaxing summer holidays

Q. Where can we go for a simple relaxing summer holiday with good weather and culture?

My girlfriend and I are 22. We have had bad luck with holidays recently (including a week in Majorca last summer where it rained for 5 days) and want somewhere quiet and simple between June and September with good weather, staying close to a beach or pool. We want to eat local food, avoid lots of Brits and have cultural sights nearby. Our budget is up to £1,500 pp but we would prefer to spend less. Our nearest airports are Glasgow and Edinburgh.

A. Stick with the Med. Try the South of France, Catalonia or Sicily.

David Wickers, Editor of 101 Holidays, writes: “Although you’ve been unlucky to have experience bad weather in Majorca last summer, I still think the Med offers the best answer to your holiday dilemma, not least of all because few places in the world offer a better chance of guaranteed good weather in our summer (there are plenty of destination where there’s no risk of rain but you would probably be burnt to a crisp).

“The other reason why I’d urge you to give the Med another go is the unrivalled opportunities to combine time on the beach with culturally interesting things to see and do. Not all the Med, of course, fulfills these criteria but hopefully my whittled down suggestions will tick the boxes.

“My first thought would be the South of France. It’s easy to access from Scotland, has miles of beaches (lots of pebbles, yes, but plenty of sunbed/parasol/showers/restaurant concessions to make the whole experience extremely comfortable), a great choice of hotels – for affordability and style I would particularly recommend the Grimaldi in Nice – superb restaurants of course and – a big plus if you don’t want to rent a car – an excellent train service that not only links most the resorts but also can take you into the mountains. Of course it will be busy but mostly with French visitors and, if you avoid August, not overcrowded.

“Another suggestion would be Catalonia and, specifically, the knobbly coastal region north of the tacky resorts of the Costa Brava. There is no useful train service but assuming you are happy to walk, rent bicycles and hop in the occasional taxi, you could base yourselves in a resort such as Llafranc or even smaller fishing villages such as Sa Tuna or Timariu, which is far more popular with Spaniards than Brits.

“You can enjoy walks along the coastal footpath or visit some of the inland hill towns (such as Begur), the excellent botanic gardens and the much neglected, architectural splendid city of Girona (also a town where you will almost certainly be able to fly on a charter from Scotland).

“Or you could enjoy a proper walking or  cycling holiday, part beach, part inland, with luggage transferred from hotel to hotel. You will eat really well here too, especially on the local ‘sea and mountain’ cuisine.

“Or how about Sicily, flying first and spending 2 or 3 days in the fascinating city of Palermo (again flying, probably via another Italian city, from Scotland). I would then suggest taking the coastal train to Trapani where you can catch a fast hydrofoil to the Egadi islands which, as well as giving you plenty of sea and sunbathing time, offer fascinating insights into Italian life away from the prying eyes of foreign tourists.”

– David Wickers, Editor.

Find more ideas for relaxing holiday destinations from David’s co-editor Mark Hodson.

Do you have a travel question or holiday dilemma? Email David and Mark with the details including your budget and nearest airport.

See more holiday ideas for couples. If you know which month you plan to travel, see Best Time to Visit. Also check out the best summer honeymoon destinations on our sister site, 101 Honeymoons.

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