Autumn may be creeping upon us here in the UK, but don’t give up on your summer just yet. Hop on a short flight to one of these balmy destinations and you can still have your day in the sun.
KOTOR BAY, MONTENEGRO, 28°C
Forget Portofino, Cannes and Capri, when it comes to chic European resorts Montenegro’s Kotor Bay is where to head to. While there is a hip scene shaping up around the mega-watt Porto Montenegro development – a swanky marina attracting super-yachts with its designer shops, glitzy restaurants and luxury residences – there’s more to the bay than just suntans and sequins. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kotor Bay is unfeasibly pretty with a stunning fjord of clear water surrounded by lush, forested mountains. Its old town is also a delight with its 12th century city walls, medieval piazzas and palazzos. The place to stay, if budget allows, is at one of the starry boutique hotels at Porto Montenegro. Check out the Operosa on 13 September, an operatic version of Romeo & Juliet, with sets by British designers Jamie Vartan and Simon Corder (www.portomontenegro.com). And make sure you have a wander around the ancient city of Kotor, with its 4km of city walls – particularly stunning lit up at night. From the bay you can take a sailing boat across to the iconic Our Lady of the Rocks, a small man-made islet with a preserved 17th-century church and charming museum. You’ll be moved.
Save your pennies for the exquisite Aman Sveti Stefan, which looks out across the Adriatic to the magical Sveti Stefan island, and which also boasts a new super-sized spa (from £754 per suite per night, www.amanresorts.com).
Montenegro Airlines flies to Tivat, from £234 return (www.montenegroairlines.com).
MYKONOS, GREEK ISLANDS, 25°C
September is the perfect month to hop across to the Greek Islands. The searing heat of high summer is on the wane, the sea is warm and inviting and the tourists have thinned out. Mykonos is one of the Cyclades’ most glamourous isles but it’s also one of the most laid-back places to zone out for a while. Sundrenched beaches, such as the notorious Paradise Beach with its resident DJs, boutique hotels and a charming old town pull in a jet-set crowd. The white-on-white town centre has a famously warren-like maze of streets. Deceptive at first, many of these narrow lanes have hidden gems, such as the dazzlingly cool Interni Restaurant (www.interni-restaurant.gr), tucked away in a hidden courtyard and which blends a Hoxton vibe with a laid-back Aegean attitude (the food is pretty stellar, too). A must is a cocktail or two at the waterfront lounge-bar that is Caprice, in Mykonos’ Little Venice area – worth it simply to have a drink in view of the town’s old windmills with the ocean at your feet (www.caprice.gr). For something a little more authentic, check out the Grape Harvest Festival held at the Agricultural Museum in Mykonos Town on 14 September. Traditional folk music and dancing is the backdrop to a communal wine treading in celebration of the harvest (www.simplymykonos.org). It’s a barefoot kind of place.
Take a room at the revamped Santa Marina Resort before it closes for the season in October. Expect contemporary décor with an Indonesian design ethos, a private beach and an exceptional Japanese restaurant (from £309 per room per night, www.santa-marina.gr)
Easyjet flies to Mykonos, from £300 return (www.easyjet.com).
AKAMAS PENINSULA, CYPRUS, 30°C
One of the Brits’ most popular destinations, Cyprus boasts an impressive average of 30°C for the duration of the month. The southern coast near Paphos is a good base for sun-worshippers with secluded beaches, quiet bays and luxury hotels. But for those who get itchy feet, there’s more to Cyprus than margaritas in the sun. Rent a car and head north-west to the Akamas Peninsula – here the landscape changes to an untamed, almost Middle Eastern panorama (from Cape Arnaoutis, the tip of the peninsula, the Turkish coast is just 60 miles away across the Mediterranean) and offers a quiet respite from the hectic south coast. Perfect for wildlife lovers, mountain bikers and walkers, the area is renowned for its dense flora, huge variety of birdlife and wild terrain. A must is a trip to Lara Bay, a beautiful beach off the beaten track and the nesting site of loggerhead turtles. Stop off for lunch at Viklari The Last Castle Taverna, near the village of Agios Georgios. Despite its fancy name, this remote open-air restaurant has some of the best views on the island. Be warned – it offers no menu as only one dish is cooked here – souvlaki (priced at £10). Simple but satisfying.
The rustic Paradisos Hills Hotel in the traditional mountain village of Lysos is on the edge of the Akamas forest, the ideal gateway for exploring Cyprus’ untapped northern region (from £80 per room per night, www.paradisoshills.com)
Cyprus Airways flies to Paphos, from £221 return (www.cyprusair.com).
PUGLIA, ITALIA, 27°C
Often overlooked for its more manicured neighbour of Tuscany, Puglia, the eastern region that stretches down to the heel of Italy’s boot, is the country’s most underplayed gem. Dotted with olive groves and ancient fortified towns, you can find many gems – such as the turquoise waters and quiet beach at Casalabate, the baroque beauty of the Chiesa di Santa Croce in Lecce and the enchanting seaside town of Polignano a Mare, which inspired everybody’s favourite sing-along tune Volare. Unlike Tuscany, this sunny corner doesn’t attract many Middle Englanders (a bonus) but rather this is where the Italians themselves come to holiday attracted by the temperate climate, fantastic seafood and an untouched landscape. White-washed villages, such as Ostuni, with their weird dome-roofed Trulli houses are a must-see, as are the Castellana Grotte – a series of spectacular caves with vast stretches of stalactites. Check out the website for one-off subterranean events in September (www.grottedicastelana.it).
Set in 40 acres, Borgo Egnacia carved out of cream tufa stone is a family-friendly, yet effortlessly glamourous village-style resort. Choose to stay in quaint townhouses, slick villas or the lantern-lit hotel and make sure you visit the spectacular spa (from £247 per room per night, www.borgoegnazia.com)
Alitalia flies to Bari, from £137 return (www.alitalia.com).
GUIA DE ISORA, TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS, 25°C
Tenerife has been working hard to shake off its bucket holiday reputation of late. Reinventing itself for a more discerning traveller, it has upped its game with new boutique hotel openings and a push on its offerings away from the sunlounger. As well as a great place for hiking – it has 600 miles of trails – it is also one of the best locations in the world for stargazing, particularly in the Teide National Park, due to its clear, dark skies and proximity to the Equator. This month you’ll be in time to attend the Starmus Festival, 22-28 September, will sees Stephen Hawking and astronauts Walt Cunningham and Charlie Duke from the Apollo 7 and 16 missions celebrate the world of astronomy (www.starmus.com). The quiet Guia de Isora area, on the west coast of the island, has a sleepy, old-time feel. Untouched bays, palm-lined promenades and fishing villages give it an atmospheric, traditional feel. Mix with the locals and find some bargains at the Sunday market in Guia de Isora square.
The Ritz-Carlton Abama is not only hosting the Starmus Festival but is also home to two of the island’s best restaurants. Martin Berasategui’s M.B. restaurant has two Michelin stars and the Japanese fusion Kabuki restaurant, sister to the original in Madrid, has one Michelin star (from £175 per room per night, www.ritzcarlton.com/abama).
British Airways flies to Tenerife, from £129 return (www.ba.com).
ALACATI, CESME PENINSULA, TURKEY, 26°C
Sure to take the spotlight from Bodrum as Turkey’s most chi chi resort is Alacati, on Turkey’s Cesme peninsula. While a new batch of cool hotels, art galleries and boutiques are giving the coastal town a hip factor, it still retains – for the time being at least – a quaint, village-like feel. Whitewashed houses with blue shutters give a glimpse into the town’s Greek heritage, while the powder-white beaches and year-round breezes have long made this a popular spot for windsurfers. The food scene is especially vibrant and creative here, meaning lots of great restaurants to choose from – such as Asma Yapragi, which serves local dishes in an authentic traditional dining room (www.asmayapragi.com.tr), and Alancha, found inside a converted windmill and specializing in molecular gastronomy (www.alancha.com). For something truly memorable visit Noni’s House (www.cesmenonishouse.com), a hand’s on home-style experience where you can wander in the vineyards, collect organic produce, such as artichokes, from the fields, enjoy wine tasting and cooking. Sure to cement Alacati’s place on the culinary map is the town’s first foodie festival – Vanishing Tastes – due to take place 10-12 October (www.explorealacati.com). Worth stretching out your holiday out for.
Rest your head at the wonderfully atmospheric boutique bolthole that is Tashan Hotel. The converted historic house has bare-brick walls, quirky original features and a gorgeous courtyard dining room, serving breakfast and dinner (from £67 B&B, per room for two per night, www.tashan-alacati.com).
Pegasus Airlines flies to Izmir, from £166 return (www.flypgs.com).
CALVIA, MALLORCA, BALAERIC ISLANDS, SPAIN, 25°C
With its proximity to the UK (flights are around two and a half hours) and its balmy temperatures, Mallorca is an obvious choice for a last-minute fix of sun. For a quiet escape base yourself in the smart province of Calvia, in the west of the island at the foot of the Tramuntana Mountains. The lush Mediterranean landscape dotted with ochre-coloured houses and historic churches is a world away from the busier coastal resorts. You can’t come to the island without having a dip in the sea so take a side trip to Pollensa, on the north coast, a characterful town buzzing with local artisans, stylish eateries and historic sites. If you’re here in the last week of September take in the madness that is Fiesta des Vermar (27-28th) in the wine-growing village of Binissalem (www.seemallorca.com). Events include a grape treading contest, a parade of giants, a super-sized paella, which is cooked al fresco and eaten communally in the town square, and an infamous grape fight (it’s compulsory to wear white).
The recently-opened Castell Son Claret, in Calvia, is a converted 15th century castle set in lush, scented gardens. For something extra special stay in the Rapunzel Tower (originally a water tower) – just the place to let your hair down (from £251 per night B&B, www.castellsonclaret.com)
British Airways’ CityFlyer flies to Mallorca, from £49 return (www.ba.com/londoncity)