INSPIRATION • July 2019
The heat warming your skin, the sea lapping your toes and the sand hopefully not getting into your sandwiches, August is the time to stretch out, kick back and enjoy some of Europe’s most beguiling cities at their sun-dappled best. We asked travel journalist Rob Crossan to apply his factor 50 and check out five of the finest
Nothing moves too fast in this Cypriot harbour town in August, when the eastern Med sun dictates a daily itinerary of little more than luxuriating in the sun with a G&T in hand. Few places combine the two better than Theo’s on the harbour front, where, with the town’s medieval castle as a backdrop, you can feast on piscine pleasures including a heaving meze platter of prawns, calamari, whitebait and swordfish. And, if you feel the urge for a light breeze on your face, head up the pine and cedar-smothered Troodos mountains for some refreshing respite from the sun’s insistent beam.
Dream flight: Take BA2676 from Gatwick at 12:55 on Friday, arrive into Paphos at 19:35.
Setting a boat alight may not seem like the natural way to spend a summer’s evening on a Greek island, but come August that’s exactly what happens, amid much fireworks and fanfare, in the village of Paleokastrítsa, just a 30-minute drive from Corfu Town. The blaze, and subsequent party, are a tribute to the miracle of Saint Spyridon, the saint who locals believed saved the island from a Turkish siege in the 18th century. After all this nocturnal excess you’ll need a quiet day on the beach to recover, and Corfu delivers with acres of pillow-soft sands. Try Halikoúnas beach, a narrow spit bounding the Korissíon lagoon, and one of the most wild and unspoilt stretches of sand on the island.
Dream flight: Take BA0654 from Heathrow at 08:55 on Friday, arrive into Corfu at 14:10.
With its bumblebee-yellow trams, terracotta rooftops and impeccable taste in cakes (just try going even half a day without eating a custard-filled pastel de nata in this city), Lisbon also boasts more hours of sunshine per year than any other European mainland capital. Just an hour away by train lies Cascais, where, come August, the natural amphitheatre and butterscotch sands are home to the free annual Festas do Mar, a 10-day celebration of the town’s maritime history, with live concerts and firework displays.
Dream flight: Take BA0502 from Heathrow at 15:05 on Friday, arrive into Lisbon at 17:55.
Fig trees, wall mosaics, limestone cliffs and honeyed sands – Alicante may get overlooked by noisy neighbour Benidorm, but this bijou city is a discreet charmer in its own right. The white sands of Playa del Postiguet lie in the city centre, making this a perfect spot for an early morning stroll before exploring Castillo de Santa Barbára, a photogenic, ninth-century, ruined former fortress. In the afternoon see how cons have been swapped for canvases at Maca, the city’s impressive Museum of Contemporary Art, housed in a former prison.
Dream flight: Take BA2544 from Gatwick at 09:10 on Thursday, arrive into Alicante at 12:40.
‘A sunny place for shady people’ wrote W Somerset Maugham about the French Riviera. A century on, however, and the blue skies and bougainvilleas of Nice are famous for their mellowness, not murkiness. Step onto the daily one-hour coastal Trans Côte d’Azur cruise and observe the Cote d’Azur at its most beguiling – all bobbing yachts, rich green hills and cerulean, sparkling waters. Come late afternoon, take a stroll past the stately Belle Époque buildings on Promenade des Anglais, perhaps the most chi-chi seaside promenade on the planet, before a pear cardamom cocktail on the 10th-floor Le Meridien bar.
Dream flight: Take BA0344 from Heathrow at 11:30 on Friday, arrive into Nice at 14:35.