European holiday hot spots to explore this summer
It is time to make those summer holiday plans! Our four favourite destinations deliver fantastic weather, laid-back vibes and summer flavours. Book now to ensure your place in the sun.
Bologna is a great pick if you want to combine your love of events, food and outdoor living. For any culture lovers, summer in Bologna is packed with things to do. There is the Il Cinema Ritrovato film festival and the classical music feast Varignana Music Festival. If you like popular music more, check out the Porretta Soul Festival offering a great selection of soul, funk, and rhythm & blues.
Bologna is one of the food capitals of Europe. The Italian Food Theme Park Fico hosts many food-related events from pasta courses to wine tastings throughout the year. And of course, there is no summer in Italy without a scoop, or ten, of gelato. Try Cremeria Santo Stefano or Gelateria Gianni.
Even though Bologna isn't on the coast, you can still dip your toes in cooling waters. The locals flock to the Piscina Sterlino or Free Beach pools. You can also make the most of summer weather in beautiful parks such as Giardini Margherita or Villa Spada.
Dubrovnik and beach life go hand in hand. You can, for example, take your pick from the stunning Sveti Jakov Beach, the hipster's paradise that is Coral Beach Club, or the picturesque bay of Bellevue Beach. There are great options to suit grown-ups and families, those looking for peace and the ones wanting party vibes.
You will not have to settle for second-grade ice cream either. Head straight to Dolce Vita or Gelateria Dubrovnik for your sweet fix. If you want something a bit healthier and fruitier to keep you cool, try the Refresh Juice Bar.
Dubrovnik is also a great place to try out some extreme outdoor pursuits. The Dubrovnik Panorama Zipline offers spectacular views – especially at sunset – for those willing to brave the heights. Watersports are a great option too. Many companies offer sea kayaking and canoeing tours that are a fun way to see the lovely coastline.
Beach life might not come to mind as the first thing about Santorini, but the island does have some of the most stunning beaches of the Aegean Sea. Volcanic ash gives the beaches very distinctive colours ranging from white to red to black. The best beach destinations on the island include Kamari and Perissa.
You should also visit some of the island's famous beach clubs to get into a great holiday mood. Pick Seaside for a premium experience, including a fashion shop, restaurant and bar. For a bohemian feel and a dedicated Zen area, go to East Breeze. For pool parties, there is only one right place: Jojo.
Fear not, you will not have to go without ice cream on Santorini either. Your best bet in Thera is Solo Gelato, which serves lovely classic flavour combinations. In Oia go to Lolita's Gelato with plenty of both nutty and fruity varieties. Near Oia village, in Ammoudi port there is Cool Cave, a cute small ice cream shop that is literally in a cave!
For summer music festivals and events, Nice is a great destination. The season is kick-started by The Fête de la Musique all around France. Then there is the Nice Jazz Festival, one of the top music events in Europe in July. In August you can dance the night away at the Crossover Music Festival.
A sailing trip makes for a great addition to your holiday in Nice. You can charter a boat with or without the crew; boats are available from the very simple to the utterly luxurious. On some guided boat tours, you can also visit deserted coves and beaches.
Salad Niçoise must be the best summer food out there, and the best of the best is of course eaten where it was invented. Try the classic at Chez Acchiardo. The one at Le Tchitchou is great too, with plenty of sun-ripened tomatoes and anchovies. Remember to choose some very cold local rosé to wash your salad down with.