Tim Magee has suggestions for where we might jet to later this summer and into autumn …
Fully vaccinated people in Ireland will begin to receive digital Covid certificates for travel within the European Union from Monday July 12, meaning holidays are a possibility for many this summer. Those who have not been vaccinated will have to pay to get a private PCR test if they wish to travel abroad. Below, Travel Editor Tim Magee shares where we should plan to go this summer and into autumn – start booking now …
Greece and the Islands
I flew for work a few times since C-Day last year. Getting connecting flights nowadays is more draining than not, especially while keeping your mask on through terminals. For the year that’s in it, go direct. It’s easier for small islands to vaccinate everyone and control things and Greece has done spectacularly well since this pandemic started, despite a considerably creakier health system than our own. If you want to climb around a calmer Athens, there are a couple of beautiful new openings with the Modernist and the Kefalari Suites in the leafy burbs. If it is silence and staying in your own private version of Mount Olympus you’re after, the new Santorini Sky is the limit. www.themodernisthotels.com; www.yeshotels.gr; www.santorinisky.com.
The Canary Islands and the Balearics
It’s 2,000km from Madrid to the Canaries as the sunburnt and very tired crow would fly. It’s not really Europe. The island’s alert system worked well over winter but won’t be tested again until Brits are allowed back. Bear in mind the island’s highest alert means you can still go to a restaurant, sit outside and have some of the island’s excellent and widely varied wine while admiring the remarkable local compliance with outdoor mask-wearing. The Canaries’ three little sisters of El Hierro, La Gomera and La Palma have cute two and three-star hotels that haven’t changed in a century but if that isn’t your thing and you want something shiny, polished and luxe, then head to the other Spanish island. The much-anticipated sustainable glamour of Six Senses has just opened in Ibiza or the gorgeous Can Ferrereta, a renovated 17th–century mansion on acres of green in the historic heart of Santanyí in Mallorca, is close to some of the island’s best beaches. www.sixsenses.com; www.hotelcanferrereta.com.
Ca’ Di Dio, Venice, Italy
I wonder if I can make it back to Venice to see how nature is healing, before the high tide of vaxxed cruise ships hits, wandering the streets with phone locked in the safe, fish-watching and breathing in the quieter campi and calli. I doubt I’m the only person thinking this. If I do make it there, I will try the new Ca’ Di Dio, unusual for Venice with its contemporary style. The 13th-century building which has welcomed guests for more than eight centuries has been given a lavish update by queen of the eclectic, Patricia Urquiola, the architect behind the brilliant Il Sereno in Como and half a dozen handsome hotels in Italy and Asia. www.v-retreats.com
Douro Valley, Portugal
Quinta Nova, Douro, Portugal
I was slow to pick a spot in the Douro, the traditional destination for Portuguese wine tasting, as everywhere in Portugal now has some of the best pound-for-pound wines in Europe, but the country’s featherweight sunny day-drinking wine, Vinho Verde, lives just next door to the big reds and port of Douro and Quinta Nova de Nossa Senhora do Carmo is some spot. This is a year for breathing in different scenery and Quinta Nova, perched on the steppes of the upper Douro, surrounded by centuries-old cypresses, between terraces full of vines and fruit trees, will do nicely. If you’re coming from Porto, take advantage of a cheap and sleepy designated driver with one of the most gorgeous train journeys in Europe that tracks along the river to nearby Pinhão. www.quintanova.com.
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