Catch The Last Of The Summer Sun In These Four European Hotspots

The private beach at the Blue Palace Resort & Spa, Crete, GreeceThe Blue Palace/Matthew Shaw

With the autumn nights becoming shorter and the air chillier, why not head south to one of these European destinations for sun, sea and fun? 1. Elounda, Crete, Greece

October temperatures are in the mid-high twenties (celsius) so swimming in the sea or the private infinity pools is a must at the Blue Palace Resort & Spa[1], located on a secluded bay in Elounda, Crete. The hotel offers an oasis of calm and the best in Greek island vacationing. Despite having 251 rooms and suites, the hotel has a boutique feel to it and unlike many other resorts on the island it never feels crowded or busy.

For history buffs, a speedboat from the Blue Palace across the bay will take you to the fascinating Spinalonga island[2], which was until 1953, the refuge of those suffering from leprosy. Ruins of that community's homes, shops and cafes can be seen as well as extensive ruins of the medieval fortress constructed by the Venetians who ruled Crete from 1204 until 1669 when the island was invaded by the Turks. Also accessible by boat from the Blue Palace, is the sunken ancient city of Olous or Olounda[3].

This was the area where modern Elounda stands today. Blue Palace Resort & Spa[4], Elounda, Crete 72053, Greece Tel:(30)(2841) 065500 Stays start at 235 EUR / night including breakfast and taxes.

Le Byblos, Saint Tropez, Paul Allen 2.

Saint Tropez, France The mild mediterranean climate of southern France makes it a good bet outside of the main holiday seasons and you'll likely have the place to yourself. Hotel Byblos[5] in Saint Tropez was a favorite with Brigitte Bardot and Roger Vadim in the 1960s while Mick and Bianca Jagger tied the knot there in 1971. The architecture, outdoor areas and interiors of the hotel fit beautifully with the lush Saint Tropez setting.

Mediterranean colors are reflected in each of the individually designed 91 rooms and suites of the hotel with handmade fabrics from workshops in Marseilles used in the soft furnishings. The scent of jasmine wafts along the outdoor pathways of the hotel. The hotel, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, also features Sisley Cosmetics' first spa, a fitness room and a casual poolside restaurant.

Hotel Byblos[6], 20 Avenue Paul Signac 83990 Saint-Tropez Tel: +33 (0) 4 945 668 00. Rooms start from 420 euros/night.

This former Arch at Gozo, one of the Maltese IslandsJoanne Shurvell 3.

Valletta, Malta Valletta[7], Malta is this year's European of Capital of Culture[8] and that's reason enough to visit but the fine weather and wide range of activities across the islands make it a lovely break for a weekend or longer. It's easy to visit several sites in one day as the main island is only 30 km long.

My visit was mainly for the history and culture (there are five megalithic temples on the island of Malta alone and the largest painting ever produced by Caravaggio is in the cathedral[9] in Valletta) but for anyone looking for a more sporty holiday, there are plenty of excellent places to go swimming, snorkeling and hiking. A 20-minute ferry trip from the north of the main island will take you to the island of Gozo[10], which is great for a really chilled out break. Gozo is greener, more rural and more tranquil than Malta, with far fewer cars and an equally splendid coastline. The Azure Window[11], a natural flat-topped arch of limestone at 20 meters high, surrounded by bathing pools and cliffs was a top tourist attraction until it was washed away by a horrific storm in 2017.

But the nearby Qbajjar salt pans[12] are still fully intact. These pools in the limestone rock have been collecting salt water to provide rock salt for over 350 years.

Cabo da Roca, near Lisbon, the most western point of Paul Allen 4.

Sintra, Portugal Offering 290 days of sunshine a year, Lisbon is within 30 minutes of beautiful sandy beaches where you can take full advantage of the fair weather. The Portuguese capital is also packed with history, culture and best of all, is the birthplace of one of the most delicious sweet treats on the planet - Pasteis de Belem (custard tart).

Lisbon has long been one of my favorite cities and has increasingly been at the top of best city lists. For a less hectic sunny jaunt, Sintra, a Unesco World Heritage site is an easy daytrip from Lisbon or better still, stay overnight at the glorious Palacio de Seteais, a palace built in 1787 and also a Unesco World Heritage site. Perched on the mountainside of Sintra, the hotel enjoys stunning views of the Moorish Castle and famous Pena Palace.

The palace was originally built for the Dutch consul Daniel Gildemeester, on lands granted by the Marquis of Pombal. After the consul's death the palace was owned by several Portuguese noble families before it became a Tivoli hotel in 1955. The 3o rooms, suites and public areas are packed with 18th-century treasures: stunning tapestries, frescos, handmade carpets and a rare Rococo Grand piano with a hand painted top, one of only five in the world.

The excellent Seteais restaurant specialises in fine Portuguese cuisine. If you drive to Sintra, a stop at Cabo da Roca[14] is a must. The cape, offering spectacular views across the Atlantic, forms the westernmost point of continental Europe.[13]

Palacio de Seteais, Rua Barbosa du Bocage, 82710-517 Sintra, Portugal Tel: (+351) 219 233 200[16] Double rooms start at 214 euros/night.[15]


  1. ^ Blue Palace Resort & Spa (
  2. ^ Spinalonga island (
  3. ^ sunken ancient city of Olous or Olounda (
  4. ^ Blue Palace Resort & Spa (
  5. ^ Hotel Byblos (
  6. ^ Hotel Byblos (
  7. ^ Valletta (
  8. ^ European of Capital of Culture (
  9. ^ cathedral (
  10. ^ Gozo (
  11. ^ The Azure Window (
  12. ^ Qbajjar salt pans (
  13. ^ Palacio de Seteais (
  14. ^ Cabo da Roca (
  15. ^ Palacio de Seteais (
  16. ^ (+351) 219 233 200 (

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