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Here comes the sun

Feeling the winter chill? Don’t worry, the sun’s coming – we round up 15 great breaks in destinations that will be warming up in the next few months

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Words Lucille Howe

Go On A Swimming Holiday In Sardinia

Active

Swim trekking is a get-fit holiday with a difference. There are tours off the Croatian coast, southern Turkey’s Lycian coast and the Greek Islands, or you could go for a week-long trip around Sardinia’s spectacularly pretty Emerald Coast. You’ll explore the Maddalena archipelago, a group of seven pretty islands between Corsica and Sardinia, swimming on average 5km a day, so you need to be fit. Prices start at £790 (NOK7,150), and include hotel accommodation, breakfast and lunch. www.swimtrek.com

Head To Sea In Kefalonia

Relaxing, Family 

The dreamy fishing village of Fiscardo – which is unique for surviving the great earthquake of 1953 – is one of the prettiest on the Greek island of Kefalonia, and makes a great base for a family boat trip around the stunning caves and coves in the area, including the wooden jetty that was built especially for the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. All the boats for hire here are brand new and require no previous skippering experience. Prices start from €45 (NOK330) for a standard vessel, which comes equipped with a shade and a coolbox, for a whole day. The price includes instruction and tips for exploring the coves, or taking a longer adventure across the channel to a beautiful miniature harbour on Ithica. www.fiscardo.com

Find A Family Surf And Yoga Retreat Near Lisbon

Family, Active 

Errant Surf, founded by British champion longboarder Chris Thomson, offers family-friendly surf and yoga retreats on Praia do Guincho beach, just 15 minutes from Lisbon. You stay in a five-bedroom villa with a 2,000m2 garden and views of the sunset across the Atlantic – then, when you’re not surfing or doing yoga, the family can sign up for such activities as pilates, quad biking or horse riding along the beach. Prices start from £469 (NOK4,255) per person, which includes five days of villa accommodation, five child surf lessons or childcare, five adult surf lessons and 10 yoga sessions, as well as surf equipment and transport to the beach. www.errantsurf.com

Take A Thespian Tour Of Tel Aviv

Culture, Food & Drink 

Tel Aviv’s 4,000-year-old city of Jaffa is interesting enough in its own right, but Tarbush Tours (tarbush is the name for a fez hat) offers classic walks with a historical or foodie angle, mixed with theatrical role play and comedy skits designed to entertain as well as inform. You’ll learn, for example, how many camels used to be allowed on a train without an escort and to whom Napoleon used to deal opium. www.tarbush.org

Stay On A Farm In Sicily

Relaxing, Family, Food & Drink 

Agriturismos, or farmstays, are a great way to experience Sicily. One that consistently gets positive reviews is the Sillitti farm in the centre of the island. This organic retreat, with three independent apartments, is set in green hills speckled with wild flowers, with a pool and great seasonal food, much of it from the vegetable garden. As for day trips, you’re within an hour of Palermo and the stunning Valley of the Temples in Agrigento. www.sillitti.it

Go Vintage In Monti, Rome

Culture, Food & Drink 

Monti, just a stone’s throw from the Colosseum, used to be the city’s vice-ridden underbelly but has recently re-invented itself as Rome’s up-and-coming quarter. Aside from the new bars, restaurants and shops that have sprung up in recent years, the true heart and soul of the area is the Monti vintage market on a Sunday, run by former music agent Ornella Cicchetti and local boutique owner Fabrizio Marin. It brings together more than 30 vendors, selling everything from retro sunglasses to 1970s furniture, vintage jewellery and Polaroid cameras, as well as pieces by emerging local designers. The food’s good, especially the brunch, and local DJs play all day. Every Sunday from 10am to 8pm. www.mercatomonti.com

Island-hop From Dubrovnik

Culture, Relaxing 

The beautiful old town of Dubrovnik is the perfect starting point for a tour of Croatia’s thousands of islands. For something easy, take a ferry to the serene island of Lokrum, home to a monastery, a beautiful old fort and a naturist beach. Or you can rent your own motorboat or yacht – with a skipper if you don’t have the right licences. Head into the southern Adriatic to find the charming Elaphiti Islands, medieval Rab, hedonistic Pag or the vineyards on Vis.www.visitdubrovnik.hr

Dive The Wrecks Of Malta And Gozo

Active

Malta and Gozo boast some of the world’s best wreck dives, with 21 sunken ships in the area. It’s also a great place for beginner divers because the warm waters have no tides and few currents. H20 Divers is one of the island’s best dive schools, with open- water courses from €265 (NOK1,950). www.h2odivers.com

Stay In Berber Villages In The Atlas Mountains

Active, Family 

Tour guide Atlas Trek Shop runs numerous tours from Marrakech, including three-day trips to the summit of Mount Toubkal, North Africa’s highest peak. But they also do family-friendly tours like the three-day trek across the Ouirgane National Park and stunning Azzaden Valley in the Atlas Mountains. A Berber guide will take you across high passes with beautiful views and mountain streams, and you’ll stay in traditional Berber villages. www.atlastrekshop.com

See Europe’s Most Beautiful Sunset In Ibiza

Relaxing

Okay, there are a lot of great places to see the sun set across Europe (see Santorini, next page) – but for our money it’s hard to beat the view from the Torre d’es Savinar defence tower on Ibiza’s south- west coast at the end of the day. Built in the 18th century, and looking out to the gorgeous Es Vedrà Island and across to mainland Spain, it’s magical as the sun goes down. Go for a dip beforehand at the nearby Cala d’Hort beach, which has a great fresh fish restaurant and also gets the sunset.

Stay In A Treehouse In Southern Turkey…

Relaxing,  Family

Southern Turkey’s Lycian coast, also known locally as the Turquoise Coast, has great places to stay whatever your budget. For a real steal, the Saban Tree Houses – near the beach in the forests of the ancient village of Olympos – offers wooden tree house lodges and hammocks, with great food and a family atmosphere. Olympos, 50km south of Antalya, is a bohemian place, where concrete is banned and mass tourism hasn’t taken hold yet – so you can explore the local ruins, climb nearby Mount Tahtali or swim at night with the phosphorescence (luminous plankton) in relative peace. Best of all, nights at the Saban Tree Houses start at just €11 (NOK80). Go now, while places like this are still a relative secret. www.sabanpansion.com

…Or Splurge On A Posh Hotel In Istanbul

Relaxing, Culture, Food & Drink 

Istanbul’s gorgeous House Hotel Bosphorus is a 19th-century Ottoman mansion right on the water in the heart of the city, near the lively cobbled Ortaköy neighbourhood. It featured in Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List 2012, and it’s easy to see why: 19 of the 23 rooms have views across the water, and the hotel has its own private boat that’ll take you cruising on the Bosphorus. Double rooms from TL365 (NOK1,170). www.thehousehotel.com

Ride A Kart Around Barcelona

Active, Culture 

GoCars are somewhere between a go-kart and a car, and are a great way to see the best of Barcelona in almost one swoop. The easy- to-drive two-seater machines have GPS navigation and recorded guides who’ll tell you where to go and what you need to know when you get there. In two hours (€60/NOK440), you should be able to drive up from the base through the old town to the Sagrada Família cathedral and up to Park Güell, Gaudi’s trippy, mosaic-filled park. www.gocartours.es

Enjoy Wine And Cocktails In Santorini

Relax, Food & Drink 

A microclimate and 3,500 years of winemaking tradition are good reasons to visit the Greek island of Santorini – try the highly-rated Argyros Estate (www.estate-argyros.com) or the Koutsoyannopoulos Winery and Wine Museum (www.wine-museum-koutsoyannopoulos.gr), set in a labyrinthine cave that’s 8m underground and 300m long. At sundown, get back to Fira for sunset cocktail on the terrace at Franco’s Bar (www.francos.gr), where Robert De Niro was spotted last summer.

Go Back To The Womb In Gran Canaria

Relax

The Corallium Costa Meloneras spa in Gran Canaria may be brash – set in a Disneyland-like series of faux caves and mountain pools – but the range of treatments is impressive, from lava floatation pools to Himalayan salt caves, Turkish hammams and an Arctic igloo. Possibly the most striking feature of the 3,500m2 complex, though, is the womb room, with red drapes, waterbeds and gentle music to recreate the feeling or, er, not being born yet. It costs €39 (NOK290) for four hours, excluding massages and other specific treatments. www.lopesan.com


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