1. Malaga, Spain
Southern Spain is a bang-on bet for guaranteed sunshine and beach fun. With many short cheap flights from the UK, it’s both easily accessible and easy on the pocket. At this time of year average temperatures in Malaga range from 23 to 26 degrees, perfect for lazy days on the beach, enjoying leisurely lunches and picking your favourite yacht in the glitzy harbour. The sun’s got his hat on and you should too: pick up a traditional sombrero or panama hat in the un-hipsterish and delightfully old fashioned milliners, Ricardo del Cid Fernandez on Calle Caldereria. When you’re done shopping, step back into Malaga’s North African past and explore Alcabaza, a Moorish castle built in the eleventh century, or the Castillo de Gibralfaro which sits on a large hill overlooking the city – take the bus to the top if you don’t fancy sweating it out under the Spanish sun. If you can drag yourself away from Malaga, the birthplace of famous artist Pablo Picasso, then it’s a convenient starting point for exploring the rest of the Costa del Sol and Andalucia. The main coastal road, the A7, connects most of the major towns in this region of Spain – hire a car and set off to Marbella, just a quick half hour ride down the road from Malaga.
2. Ibiza, Spain
This small (it’s only 42km in length) Balearic Island has a big reputation. Famous for its super-clubs, all-night beach parties and packed street bars, Ibiza is the go-to sun spot for most school leavers, dance music ravers and all-round party animals. Most of the hardcore revellers head to Ibiza Town or San Antonio, where you’ll find the biggest nightclubs. Pacha and Amnesia are two of the island’s largest clubs, regularly hosting famous international DJs like David Guetta and Apollonia, but they can be pretty pricey places to party – don’t expect to get in for les than €40 and drinks are around €10 a throw. If you’re looking for rest and relaxation rather than all-night raves then head to the quieter resort of Santa Eulalia: enjoy the refined, laidback atmosphere and unwind with a chilled cerveza in one of the many waterfront bars you’ll find here. Families looking for a break in Ibiza should check out Cala d’Hort, a beach town in the west of the island where locals go to spend time building sand castles with the kids – there’s also a superb paella restaurant, Es Boldado, within walking distance from the sands.
3. Algarve, Portugal
Swim in the Atlantic Ocean off one of the 100 beaches in southern Portugal’s Algarve region. The easiest (and cheapest) way to get there is to fly to Faro. Kick off your Portuguese beach tour with a trip to Praia de Faro – just a short bus ride from the airport (the airport bus in fact stops here) you can step straight off the plane and on to the sand, and it’s big so you’re guaranteed a spot to throw down your towel even in the height of summer. Another city to stop over in is Albufeira. Once a small fishing village, it’s now a burgeoning holiday favourite for many Brits, largely because of their beautiful beaches (are you sensing a theme?) the most popular of which is Praia dos Pescadores next to Albufeira old town. Grab a few suitably tacky souvenirs along Avenida Sá Carneira, before heading to Teodosio restarant for traditional Portuguese piri-piri chicken that puts Nandos in the shade. If you want to escape the swarms of sumemr tourists in Albufeira then head to the smaller beaches of Praia do Lourenço or Praia da Galé, a 10 minute drive from the centre of the city. Public tansport is limited (although the train connecting Lagos with the Spanish border is relatively convenient) so the best way to explore the Algarve is typically by car.
4. Pula, Croatia
Once a little known Balkan state on the fringes of southern Europe, Croatia is fast-becoming a holiday superstar amongst British tourists, but it still receives a tiny proportion compared to Spain or France, and we’re not quite sure why… Hot summers (average temperatures for June to August are between 25 and 28 degrees) an abundance of beaches and islands dotted along the Istrian and Dalmatian Coast (there are 1185 of them!) and low in-resort costs (a pint costs about £1.60) make it an ideal alternative to better known summer destinations. Sold? Then you should check out Pula, a small town on the tip of the Istrian peninsula. Discover the area’s Roman heritage with a trip to the Arena, the sixth largest surviving amphitheatre in the world – many of the stones were taken by locals to build their homes but, luckily, enough survive for you to wander around and explore the caverns below. Visit during July (18th – 25th) and catch a movie at the Pula Film Festival, although it might seem a shame to spend so much time in a dark room when there are beautiful beaches and protected parkland in nearby Premantura (8km from Pula) a popular spot for scuba divers and mountain-bikers.
5. Nice, France
Fancy a few nights quaffing champagne, riding around in fast cars and eating some of the finest cuisine in the world? Well, it’s certainly an option in the French Riviera, but on a budget, you might have to swap expensive fizz for supermarket prosecco and Lamborghinis for a local Lignes d’Azur bus. Even so, Nice is a grand place to while away the summer without spending a fortune. For budget eats, stock up at the daily market in Vieux Nice or Cours Saleya – buy all the ingredients to build your own traditional tuna sandwich, a pan bagnat, to take on a picnic atop one of the many vantage points, including Mont Boron. Other local specialities include socca (chickpea flatbread) pissaladiere (a sort of pizza topped with anchovies, olives and onions) and or course, salade Nicoise (tuna salad). When you’re not too busy stuffing your face, check out Nice’s art galleries, including those dedicated to the works of Marc Chagall (guided tour €4.50 per person) and Henri Matisse (€6). France is famous for it’s wine, so it would be rude not to give it go while you’re there – turn it in to an educational opportunity with a trip to the Château de Bellet and learn about the wine making process, before sampling some of the goods of course.
6. Antalya, Turkey
From the French to Turkish Riviera, with a holiday in the largest city on the Turkish Med coast, Antalya. If you like it hot then head here for temperature highs between 30 and 34 degrees. There are many ways to get around the city, but one mode of transport unique to Turkey that you should try is the dolmus – a crammed minibus, crawling along the curbs waiting to be hailed down so the driver can stuff a few more passengers on board, they’re not the most comfortable ride, but you’ll get an insight in to local life and save a few euros on taxi fares at the same time. Blag a ride to Kaleiçi, Antalya’s old quarter – enter through Hadrianus Gate and try not to get lost in the maze-like narrow streets as you work your way to sites such as the fluted minaret and mosque, Yivli Minare, and the Ottoman clock tower in Saat Kulesi. If the walls of this ancient city start to feel like they’re closing in then take some air down at Konyaalti Beach, an easy tram ride from the city centre heading west. With stetches of pristine sands, the Bey Mountains in the distance, watersports available, a marine animal park and a water-slide park close-by, if you get bored lazing on the beach all day there’s plenty to keep you (or the kids) blissfully busy.
7. Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
The charm of Sharm, or at least one of them, is that it boasts blazing sunshine pretty much all year round, with temperatures staying in the 30s from May to October. This means that staying close to water is preferable, from keeping that bottled H2O handy, to picking a hotel with a stellar swimming pool or direct access to the beach. Na’ama Bay draws the largest number of tourists, with its clubs, cafés and shops and is a popular holiday destination for scuba divers and sun-worshippers alike. Some of the world’s best scuba sites lie just beneath the warm waves of the Red Sea: Tiran, Ras Mohammed and the SS Thistlegorm wreck are just a few world-class reefs accessible from Sharm by a two hour boat ride. Prefer to stay on terra firma? Spend Arabian nights out in the Egyptian desert on a Sinai Safari, guided over the sands by a Bedouin. Stay in traditional nomadic camps for three to six days, touring St. Catherine’s monastery on the side of Mount Sinai, the Ein Hudra Oasis and Al hedouda, Sinai’s largest dune. Packages start at about £190 per person and include food, drink and your very own camel.
8. Bali, Indonesia
One of 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago, Bali, also known as the Island of the Gods, is a pretty heavenly place – its got lush green rice terraces, volcanic hillsides, soaring mountains and swathes of golden sands. Most of the resorts are concentrated in the south of the island, particularly in Kuta, Denpasar (where the international airport is) and Seminyak. Kuta is crowded each year largely with Aussie tourists and surfers hoping to catch some waves along the beach, and you’ll find the usual spattering on tacky souvenir shops, fast food joints and cheap bars in Jelan Legian street and Poppies Lane, an area popular with backpakcers and party-goers. For more high-end hangouts, head to Nusa Dua, a 20-30 minute drive from Kuta and spend the day in a five-star hotel spa at the St. Regis Bali Resort, or dine in one of the many Michelin star-quality restaurants in this exclusive bay. That’s just the coast; Ubud (central Bali) is considered the cultural hub of the island, home to some of the finest examples of Indonesian arts and dance. There are plenty of temples and palaces to check out, but if you’ve only got time for one, make it Puri Saren Agung, the Royal Water Palace, the perfect setting for a traditional dance performance on an open-air stage surrounded by lilypad filled ponds. Access to the palace is free, whilst tickets to the show are a streal at about £4.
9. Orlando, Florida, US
The big, brash delights of Disney and the rest of Orlando’s theme parks attract an army of Brit families to Florida year after year. Drive 35 minutes southwest of downtown Orlando and see your kids’ faces light up as you enter through the gates of Walt Disney World, which encompasses Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s and Animal Kingdom. A two-day ticket for all four, plus FastPass+ attraction access (recommended if you don’t want to completely lose the will to live queuing for 2 hours for a ride in humid 26 degree heat) costs £136 per adult and £127 for a child. But there’s more to the Sunshine State than mega mice and rollercoasters. Another ticket you might consider purchasing is an Orlando Go Card, which covers more than 30 other attractions in Orlando, including the Kennedy Space Center and the Dali Museum, and can save you up to 55% compared with paying on the door. There’s so much sand here, it’s the ideal place for any discerning beach bum: Cocoa Beach is Orlando’s closest stretch and something of a surfers’ paradise, but there’s also some gorgeous spots along the Gulf Coast, from Clearwater to Naples, the lesser-known Panhandle, the Gold Coast resorts like West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, as well as the Florida Keys.
10. Da Nang, Vietnam
This is one for the more adventurous lover of tropical temperatures and palm-fringed sandy strands. The launch of direct flights from the UK and the opening of a number of luxury resort hotels have propelled Vietnam into the spotlight as a new long-haul sun destination. Da Nang is arguably the most popular coastal resort and it’s the country’s third largest city, although it’s nowhere near as chaotic as the capital, Hanoi. To get there, fly to either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and catch a local flight. or take the train – there are varying ticket types, from bunk-bed sleeper carriage to wooden bench in cattle-class, so price depends on what conditions you fancy enduring for the 15 hour journey. Once you’ve arrived, collapse on My Khe beach, or refuel in one of the many seafood restaurants that line Pham Van Dong street – one of the best is Trieu Chau, just one block up from the beach and serving some of the best lau Thai lan, a spicy Thai-style fish soup. Get out of the city for a few days and explore Hoi An, a 45 minute taxi ride from Da Nang that will set you back about £14 – alternatively, get there for about a pound if you use your haggling skills on the local bus. Hoi An is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site, famous for its food (the street food here is some of the best in Vietnam) and its custom made suits (but watch out for scams). Don’t leave without trying cao lâu, a rice noodle dish for which the town is famous because, it’s the only place in Vietnam where these special noodles are made – apparently it’s something to do with the water they use, we’re not sure, but whatever it is they’re damn tasty!