Our Favourite Summer Destinations
As the weather slowly but surely starts to warm up, and the dark nights are replaced by longer, lighter evenings, we can't help but start looking forward to the summer. And part of that is dreaming of summer holidays - where we can embrace authentic experiences and immerse ourselves in the local culture, whilst exploring wonderful new destinations.
Of course, the ideal summer holiday looks different for everyone. Perhaps you're dreaming of a foodie adventure, like learning how to make authentic tapas in Spain or discovering the delicious regional cuisine that Italy has to offer. Or maybe, you're a horticulture enthusiast that relishes combining some of the world's prettiest gardens with a holiday. You could be a cruise enthusiast that loves waking up each day somewhere new - whether that's Europe, or further afield. Or if you're simply after a staycation, so you can explore incredible parts of the UK during the sunniest months of the year, we have something for everyone.
If you haven't decided where you'd like to go or what you'd like to do, we've rounded up some of our best holidays to help get your planning started.
A popular destination with holidaymakers, Italy is such a diverse destination. Experience the glistening lakes and glorious gardens of the north, opulent coastal towns, beautiful cities (including Florence, Milan, Rome and Venice) and wine regions. Known for its gastronomy, indulge in authentic regional specialities - pizza in Naples, street food in Sicily and of course, seafood in Venice, for example - and raise a glass or two of chianti (or prosecco) to your summer holiday.
It's so easy to immerse yourself in authentic Italy and holiday like a local. In Puglia, be sure to visit the traditional trullo houses - a UNESCO World Heritage Site; journey through the Italian Alps and stay lakeside to enjoy some tranquillity; or simply explore off-the-beaten-track to take in picturesque towns and stunning vistas.
- Visit olive farms, wineries and bakeries and learn to make pasta on this gourmet tour of Puglia
- Discover the beautiful Tuscany region and see Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli perform live in his hometown of Lajatico
- Cruise the Venetian lagoon and explore its islands in the company of Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett
Another popular destination is Spain, whose different regions have something unique to offer. The Basque Country and Galicia are known for their mountainous terrain and lush greenery; head to Catalonia for the perfect combination of culture and beaches, not least in its capital Barcelona; the southeastern coast is home to more beaches than you can throw a stick at; and Andalucía is great for history lovers and architecture enthusiasts. And don't forget the capital of Madrid with its mix of high-street and high-end shopping, El Retiro Park and Michelin-starred restaurants.
Foodies and wine buffs will undoubtedly head to Valencia - the birthplace of the paella - and the region of La Rioja, famed for its wine. And if you're looking to breakaway from the mainland, there's always the Balearics and Canaries to discover… made up your mind, yet?
- Take in the cultural highlights of Andalucía and spend time in Seville, Córdoba and Ronda
Also making up the Iberian Peninsula, you have Portugal. While many flood to the country for its beaches and golf courses - particularly on the south coast - there is so much more to discover. Like Spain, it's a country famed for its wine, both in the Douro Valley and in the city of Porto, home to the fortified wine, Port. The island of Madeira is a great destination for fans of horticulture, with their beautiful botanical gardens - in particular, the Monte gardens.
- Experience the magic of the Douro with an all-inclusive river cruise
Each season brings a new side to the Netherlands, with different places to explore and things to do. The Dutch coast is an ideal destination if you're looking to catch some rays while relaxing on one of the many beaches - with water sports, beach clubs and pier-side restaurants at your fingertips. The Netherlands is also home to numerous festivals, so if that's your bag, soak up the culture, music and food scenes! The country also isn't too big, so you can easily explore multiple towns or cities in one trip, with a decent public transport network to get you from A to B.
- See André Rieu perform at his annual hometown concert in Maastricht's Vrijthof Square
Holidays to Croatia are becoming more and more popular, and it's easy to see why - there's a lot to uncover. From the fortified city of Dubrovnik to cultural Zagreb and the beautiful islands of the Dalmatian Coast, it's a great summer destination with a gorgeous Mediterranean climate. Whether you're looking for that beach-city combo, are a history buff with an eye for ancient sites or are looking to island hop to make the most of your time in Croatia, you'll find exploring a real delight. Discover natural wonders in Rovinj, home to one of the most famous national parks, Plitvice National Park - or make the most of the Adriatic location with diving and water sports aplenty.
- Discover pretty coastal towns and historic sites on a Dalmatian Coast boutique cruise
Perhaps slipping under the radar, Slovenia is a great location for a summer holiday, and did you know it's recently gained attention as an up-and-coming fine dining destination? Not only does that already make it a winning choice for foodies after a taste of authentic Slovenian delicacies coupled with a choice of Michelin-starred restaurants, but it's also an option for those that enjoy being outdoors, as foraging is so big. There's nowhere better for an outdoorsy holiday either, with the Slovenian Alps, Lake Bled and the Triglav National Park all waiting to be explored - Slovenia may be a small country, but it's big on natural wonders, making for an enchanting stay. Like Croatia, it's on the Adriatic coast, and while there's only 47km of coastline, the beaches are lovely, so make the most of them.
- Taste the flavours of Slovenia as you explore its rural beauty and exceptional scenery on this five-night tour
If you're not looking to travel thousands of miles or are wanting an easy and hassle-free no-fly break, the UK is home to so many fantastic destinations - whatever your interests. Whether you're into beach holidays at coastal retreats in Cornwall, wish to explore the many miles of woodland in the New Forest, or long for the serenity of the calming mountains and waters in the Lake District, England offers so much history, heritage and natural beauty.
Or cross the border to Scotland and immerse yourself in a superb mix of cities, smaller villages and rural hideaways - from its rugged highlands to its stunning islands. Foodies will relish trying delicious regional specialities, while wildlife enthusiasts will be sure to pack their binoculars in the hopes of spotting unique and native wildlife. Road trips and cruises are both fantastic ways to experience it all in one holiday.
- Spend four days visiting seven English country gardens in Kent and Sussex with Sarah Raven
- Ride the iconic Jacobean steam train as you explore the Scottish Highlands over land and sea
- Island hop in the Outer Hebrides and learn more about its history in the company of an expert
- Join top gardener Arthur Parkinson, as you explore some of England's grandest gardens, including Hardwick Hall, Haddon Hall and Easton Walled Gardens
View all of our tours online, or call our friendly reservations team for more travel advice or inspiration.