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Holidays to take right now

Dreaming of going somewhere, anywhere, beyond your own postcode? Embrace blue-sky thinking – and relaxation – with these European and Caribbean destinations that are welcoming travellers

01/08/2021Updated 27/09/2023

Vis in Croatia was the setting for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Oliver Ash)


Best for: island-hopping

If it’s space you’re after, more than 1,200 islands are sprinkled off Croatia’s Amalfi-like Adriatic coast, accessible by boat from the mainland. Lavender-field-scented Hvar is a swanky stop-off for the superyacht set, which is as cool as its cocktail bars. Remote Vis, kept off limits by the Yugoslav army until 1989, is as peaceful as it is beautiful – used as a body double for Greece in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and near the blue cave of Biševo, where the ocean shines phone-torch bright. Mljet, meanwhile, is a hiker’s paradise, boasting forest so dense that myth claims Odysseus was marooned there for seven years. You likely haven’t got that long, so, while each island is topographically diverse, there’s an irresistible thread that runs through them all: secret coves to be found, staggeringly clear water that’s a wild swimmer’s paradise and fresh-off-the-rod seafood to satiate your island adventures. Where to crash? The inventively titled Villa Nai 3.3 on Dugi Otok is the new luxe address – eight subterranean suites with huge outdoor decks have been built into a 100-year-old olive grove.

Take off to Croatia

Ceviche carretillero at Uchu, Cap Juluca, Anguilla


Best for: culinary adventures

Where better to feast on fine things than with a Caribbean backdrop? Anguilla is a mere slip of a British territory: 16 miles long, with the kind of beaches that make people unfollow you on social media (worth it, though) and a disproportionately large food scene. Dining options span name-droppy hotel restaurants, such as those at Cap Juluca (Belmond’s sleek Anguillan outpost), to funky food stalls like Ken’s BBQ, where Ken himself raises the animals for his hugely queueable ribs. Seafood is a menu staple – lobster, crayfish, conch. Visit romantic Veya for jerk tuna with poached pineapple served by candlelight. Blanchards, which has a beach shack and a restaurant, is famous for its MBLT – that’s a mahi-mahi BLT – and a Caribbean sampler comprising crayfish, jerk chicken and grouper. If you love lobster so much that it wouldn’t be out of place in your morning omelette, Straw Hat is the place for freshly caught breakfasts and dinners.

Take off to Anguilla

Cala El Pilar, Menorca (Getty Images). Opening image: Cala Turqueta, Menorca (Getty Images)


Best for: disconnecting

Menorca today is how you imagine Mallorca 30 years ago: its beaches remain wild and less-discovered, roads still sport the occasional donkey (though cycling is a more reliable transport option) and its citrus groves are dotted with ripe-for-reno fincas. Menorca’s pace is wonderfully siesta-like, making it ideal for switching off – if only it wasn’t so damn pretty that it demanded your smartphone camera. Swap TV for sleepy villages, such as Es Migjorn Gran, where sunflower-coloured houses are interlaced with bunting. Look out for black horses – straight out of an Anna Sewell novel – where it’s good luck to stroke the chest of one rearing up (health and safety, whatevs). The beaches, too, are magnificent. Word has spread about Cala Turqueta and its untrue-looking blue, but try Cala Trebalúger, or – if you relish a 30-minute hike to the sand – Cala El Pilar, surrounded by Martian red earth. Sleep tight at Cristine Bedfor – a relatively new boutique hotel that delights the eyes with antiques and the stomach with tapas in candlelit gardens. Or try elegant Torralbenc, where whitewashed farm buildings are turned into design-magazine fodder. 

Take off to Menorca

Bistro on the beach Catherine’s Café in Antigua

Antigua and Barbuda

Best for: fun

If you’re craving respite from the seriousness of the past year, Antigua and Barbuda – one country made of two neighbouring Caribbean islands – is a hammock-resting, punch-swigging tonic. Visually, it’s a riot of joy: buildings painted in primary colours with signs cheerfully drawn by hand, plus electric-blue waters. For sheer beauty, head to Darkwood Beach, where the sand resembles glitter dust, while vendors on Pigeon Point Beach pour towel-side piña coladas plentifully, potently and with a side of gossip. Ask locals for directions to Elaine’s Culture Shop – a one-woman institution on Fig Tree Drive where Elaine sells seasonal juices (ginger, guava, passionfruit), homemade jams and knock-your-socks-off sauces, such as Susie’s Hot Sauce, which accompanies meals with the seriousness of prayer. For fancy dining made fun, Catherine’s Café brings a Parisian bistro menu to the seaside, offering salads, steaks and a must-try Avo-colada cocktail (avocado, coconut, cinnamon syrup and a ‘healthy’ pour of liquor). While Sheer Rocks serves tasting menus with the least serious accompaniment ever – plunge pools.

Take off to Antigua and Barbuda