Enjoy the best of both worlds this summer… get your fix of culture then chill on an island immersed in nature…
Top image: Poros, Greece
Combine Dubrovnik with a Croatian island
Dubrovnik’s fairytale walled city is a Medieval marvel and it’s justly popular. Absorb the history of this UNESCO Heritage site and then retreat to one of Croatia’s islands – the coastline has more than a thousand islands and islets but only around 50 are inhabited. The sixth largest is Korčula, which is around 20 miles long and five miles wide. Korcula Town has medieval squares (and is actually compared to Dubrovnik without the crowds) or head to one of the hamlets for ultimate peace. A ferry or catamaran from Dubrovnik will take around two hours. Stay in a gorgeous villa – Villa Blato has sea views and direct access to the sea (theluxurytravelbook.com).
Tour buzzing Naples and relax in the Phlegraean Islands
Wander the historic centre and then discover the fascinating underground city, including ancient aqueducts, the remains of a Roman theatre and catacombs. Snack on pizza in the city where it all started and enjoy an evening at the opera. You could even fit in a visit to Vesuvius, see the ancient ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and drive along the Amalfi Coast. When it’s time to chill, take a ferry to one of the the Phlegraean Islands: take your pick from Ischia, Procida, Vivara and Nisida. Ischia is known for its thermal springs with their healing properties, stunning Procida was the film set for The Talented Mr Ripley. A hydrofoil takes just 40 minutes between Naples and Procida or arrive via private yacht.
History in the Peloponnese and sail around the Argo-Saronic Islands
The stunning Peloponnese peninsula is history central – see famed archaeological wonders such as Ancient Olympia, with its impressive arena and temple of Zeus, Ancient Corinth, and tour the incredible site of Mycenae. Stay at Seafront Villas Kilada, a boutique collection of three luxury villas overlooking the Aegean and offering stunning sunset views. The port town of Porto Heli is nearby and has a host of restaurants and nightspots. Combine the Peloponnese with a sailing trip to the Saronic Islands – Aegina, Hydra, Poros, Salamina, Agistri, Spetses and Dokos. Swim in the beautiful clear waters and wander pretty whitewashed streets.
Historic Valletta and Comino
Capital of Malta, the fortified city of Valletta is one of the most concentrated historic areas in the world. Combine it with tiny Comino (population: 2!). The highlight is the Blue Lagoon, with its white sand and turquoise water. Take a ferry from Malta or join a trip on one of the wooden sailing boats. The island was used as the setting for Troy and The Count of Monte Cristo. You can camp on Comino with a permit and it is a great place for diving.
Lisbon city vibes and the Azores
Fly into buzzing Lisbon for incredible food and culture. See the The Jerónimos Monastery, a World Heritage Site, and Belém Tower. Then fly to the Azores. A must for nature-lovers, the nine volcanic islands offer stunning walks, hot springs and whale-watching. Dine on the local speciality of grilled limpets or meat stew cooked underground in the thermal heat. Each of the islands is known by a different colour with ‘The Blue Island’ of Faial looking especially beguiling in summer when its blue hydrangeas are in bloom. Time it with ‘Semana do Mar’ (Sea Week) which honours the sea and sailors. Sunvil offers a trip staying near the harbourfront of Horta. A ferry takes you between the islands and you can fly direct back to the UK.