From hiking in Dordogne in France to Spanish beaches, some crowd-free ideas for summer holidays

France

Hiking the Dordogne

Combining riverside stretches with fragrant forests, there's plenty to see while hiking in the Dordogne

Ideal for escaping the crowds, self-guided walking holidays don't come more scenic than On Foot's dawdle across the Dordogne region. Combining riverside stretches with fragrant forests, beautiful villages, abandoned British forts and the cliff-cut town of Rocamadour, it also features small hotels chosen for their regional food. Each day includes shortening options and luggage transfers.

Covid policy: Until June 30, 2021, you can cancel for any reason without penalty at 30 days' notice. Price: From GBP1,010pp, including seven nights' B&B, six other meals and route notes (onfootholidays.co.uk). Return flights to Brive cost from GBP48.

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Provence by car

Original Travel's new collection of road trips from the UK includes a meander across lavender-scented Provence in south-eastern France.

Staying in two restored farmhouses, you'll meet guides for tours of such historic sites as former papal base Avignon, then go wine tasting and explore the wild Camargue region's salt flats and bird-rich marshlands. Covid policy: For bookings made before 30 September, clients may change their destination - or postpone to any 2021 date - up to 30 days before departure without penalty fees. Price: From GBP2,200pp including Eurotunnel tickets, six nights' self-catering, two nights' B&B in Reims, tours and route notes (originaltravel.co.uk).

Keep busy in Brittany

Welcoming, waterfront Hotel Les Charmettes promises nautical-themed rooms and local artworks for purchase

Be it biking through sunflower fields, exploring unspoilt chateaux, striding the Crozon peninsula's clifftop paths or taking boat trips along pink-granite coastline, there's ample adventure to be found in northern Brittany.

Served by overnight car ferries from Portsmouth (brittany-ferries.co.uk), the walled port - and former pirate stronghold - of St Malo makes a buzzy base for explorers. Better still, its welcoming, waterfront Hotel Les Charmettes promises nautical-themed rooms and local artworks for purchase. Covid policy: Sawdays offers free cancellation policy up to two days before travel.

Price: Seven nights' B&B from GBP352pp (sawdays.co.uk).

The leisurely Loire

Various delights will recur during a gentle self-guided cycling trip along the Loire River. Sleepy waterside towns. Upscale chateaux-hotels in which you'll stay.

Spectacular castles where English and French royals have resided, many with moats and fine gardens. Birdsong. The aroma of roses.

And dinky, sun-baked vineyards where it's often possible to stop for impromptu tastings. Covid policy: Reduced deposit of GBP150pp offered, and amendment fees are being waived until 12 weeks before departure.

2020's prices will be frozen into 2021. Price: Seven nights' half board from GBP1,395pp, including bike hire, route maps and luggage transfers.

Flight-inclusive packages from GBP1,705pp (cycling-for-softies.co.uk).

Read More

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Spain

Aloft in Andalucia

Like a good view? An 1850s Andalucian village house turned two-room B&B, Casa Higueras gloriously overlooks Granada's Alhambra palace and the snowy Sierra Nevada beyond.

Things are just as photogenic inside, with colourful fabrics and furniture enlivening crisp white walls, painted beams and arty tiles. If extra incentive is needed, the guesthouse's owners founded the admirable #MyTravelPledge campaign, providing free stays for healthcare workers. Covid policy: Those owners aim to freely reschedule or refund any disrupted booking; full hygiene assurances are provided.

Price: Seven nights' B&B from GBP366pp. There's good availability in August and September (casa-higueras.com).

The Spanish Tuscany

There's something of the secret kingdom about Matarrana, a picturesque wedge of rural Spain southwest from Barcelona. Placid rivers open up into swimmable pools, Tuscan-style hilltowns glint in sunlight, vineyards border barley fields, lonely farmhouses face distant peaks and few cars trouble the roads.

At the heart of it all stands Torre del Visco, a British-owned rural hotel estate in a beautiful valley. Go for the big bedrooms and rose gardens, and go above all for the delectable breakfast spreads. Covid policy: Real Holidays offers free cancellation up to two weeks before departure; after that, bookings can be transferred to new dates without penalty more than 24 hours before arrival.

Price: Seven nights' B&B from GBP935pp, including car hire (realholidays.co.uk). Return flights to Barcelona cost from GBP35 (easyjet.com).

Cider and beaches

Families are directed to ex-fisherman's cottage El Rincon del Pescador for a private garden and sea views (Photo: Casas Cantabricas)

Lastres is a picturesque fishing port on northern Spain's "Dinosaur Coast" - so-called for its fossilised footprints and impressive Jurassic museum, and much quieter than the busy Costas further south. Surrounding province Asturias is also known for cider - slightly sharper than our own versions - and rugged peaks which suit hiking and biking.

Families are directed to ex-fisherman's cottage El Rincon del Pescador for a private garden and sea views. Sandy Playa de Lastres is less than a mile away. Covid policy: Casas Cantabricas has halved deposits (to 15 per cent) and balance due-dates (now five weeks).

If changes in government advice prevent travel, alternative arrangements, postponement or full credit-note refunds will be offered. Price: Seven nights' rental from GBP1,190 in August (casas.co.uk).

Balearic boutique

Though Hotel Llenaire ("yen-eye-ray") occupies a secluded spot above Pollenca's bay in northern Mallorca, there's heaps for its guests to do. On site, accompanying the 13th-century estate's dozen big, bright bedrooms, are a saltwater infinity pool and tennis court, plus an art-filled library, a local-wine bodega, a Mediterranean restaurant and bicycles to borrow.

This part of the Balearic island, meanwhile, chucks in golf courses and sandy beaches, while sunsets are stupendous. Covid policy: If there are any changes in health guidelines in resorts, Prestige will offer clients the opportunity to defer their holiday without penalty. Price: Seven nights' B&B from GBP1,196pp, including flights (prestigeholidays.co.uk).

Air corridors -- The details

Details about the Government's "traffic light" system for travel corridors will be announced later this week.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps confirmed that the 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals into the UK would be eased "shortly", by means of a number of bilateral agreements allowing the health measures to be bypassed.

In order for the new system to take effect, the Foreign Office is likely to review its advice against all non-essential travel in the coming days.

Earlier this week the Greek government extended its ban on flights from the UK until 15 July, due to concerns about the rate of infection in the UK.

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