From Hamburg to Crete: Readers’ Favorite Early Summer Holidays | European holidays

Winning tip: hilltops, Andalucia

The main challenge in Vejer de la Frontera, south of Cádiz, is reaching your accommodation. It’s at the top of an imperious hill, and the winding streets designed for horses and carts force pedestrians to crowd against the whitewashed houses as the occasional car bounces off the cobbles. The traditional apartments overlook vast plains where low clouds meander towards the coast each day. The city’s long Moorish period (711 to 1248) sees local bars rubbing shoulders with hammams and Moroccan restaurants, with tajines and stewed pork cheeks, two specialties.
Cameron Smith

The drama of Crete

Crete is greener at the start of the season. Photography: Kate Holbrook

We took an early summer trip to Rethymnon, Crete, staying at the Veneto Hotel (double from around €150 B&B). The weather was dramatic and storms at sea caused huge waves on empty beaches. We traveled twisting mountain roads with stunning views, spotting birds of prey and flower offerings at roadside shrines. Sometimes we stopped for the sheep, the bells announcing the appearance of a gnarled old shepherd. We traveled for miles each day alone, discovering villages, ancient mills, gorges, monasteries and deserted beaches. The museums were open and peaceful, the palace of Knossos was quiet, and the surroundings were teeming with birds.
Kate Holbrook

Guardian Travel readers’ tips

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage



Readers’ tips: Submit a tip for a chance to win a £200 Coolstays break voucher

To show

Tips for Guardian Travel readers

Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their trips. A selection of advice will be presented online and can be printed. To enter the latest contest, visit the reader tips homepage

Thank you for your opinion.

Atmospheric labyrinth, Kotor, Montenegro

View from St Ivan's Fortress, Kotor.
View from St Ivan’s Fortress, Kotor. Photograph: robertharding/Alamy

For stunning views of Kotor’s triangle-shaped medieval Old Town, mountain backdrop, and harbour, climb the 1,350 steps to St. Ivan’s Fortress. On the return, refresh yourself with alfresco beers in the Plaza de Armas, before strolling through the atmospheric maze of cobbled streets leading to former noble palaces – which were taken over during the Communist era. There are fabulous historic buildings, museums and churches for culture and a plethora of bars and restaurants serving borek, black risotto and bajaderaa layered nougat confection.
Roy Messenger

Hiking in the Albanian Alps

A belvedere near the road from Valbonë to Theth.
A belvedere near the road from Valbonë to Theth. Photograph: Sailingstone Travel/Alamy

Albania are hard to beat in June, just before the start of the summer season. The snow has melted in the Monts Maudits (Albanian Alps), opening the magnificent hiking route between the villages of Valbonë and Theth. The northern city of Shkodër makes a great base, with a fascinating history and restaurants serving delicious Albanian and Italian cuisine. Further south, the coast is dotted with pristine beaches, some of which are only accessible by kayak. Try the fabulous Greek cuisine served in the taverns of Himarë, or the seafood at Mussel House in Ksamil, near the ancient ruins of Butrint. Your mussels come from the lake in front of you, and lunch for two with wine is around €30, which is expensive for Albania.
Chloe Hutton

Lush peninsula, Greece

Damouchari. Photograph: Rawdon Wyatt/Alamy

We ventured to Damouchari on the Pelion peninsula in east central Greece in early summer. The small town, which appeared in Mamma Mia, has a harbor and a white pebble beach that makes the water look deliciously turquoise and tempting. The sun was shining every day and the sea temperature was perfect. Bring mask and snorkel: the visibility is excellent and there is plenty to see. The valley behind is steep and full of olive trees, and a short drive up the hill offers plenty of dining options. A visit to a 1,000-year-old plane tree in the nearby town of Tsagarada is recommended, as the town square it sits on is beautiful and there are also lovely walks from Damouchari along the coast.
Layla Asley

Island idyll, Kythera

Chora, Kythera.
Chora, Kythera. Photograph: Hercule Milas/Alamy

Off the southern coast of the Peloponnese lies Kythira, an island often overlooked by visitors. You will find charming villages, secluded beaches, hiking trails with hidden waterfalls and stunning views from the Venetian castle of Chora. And the local cuisine is delicious, especially the seafood and homemade cheeses. If you’re looking for an authentic Greek experience without the crowds, Kythira is the place to be.
Matthew Carter

skip newsletter promotion

Green city break, Hamburg

Alster lake in Hamburg.
Alster lake in Hamburg. Photograph: Christian Ohde/Alamy

Hamburg, one of the greenest cities in Europe, is ideal to visit in early summer. Stroll around the jewel at its heart, the huge Alster lake and circle the huge harbour. Walk along the mighty Elbe River and visit the deer park above its banks in Rissen. We used the ferries (included in the public transport ticket) to visit the beautiful area south of the river which has orchards and traditional houses. If there are a few patches of rain, there are plenty of museums where you can learn about the tumultuous history of this great city.
Barbara Forbes

Boat trips, northern Italy/southern Switzerland

Varenna, Lake Como.
Varenna, Lake Como. Photograph: robertharding/Alamy

Early summer is the best time to visit the northern Italian lakes. The sun, water and snow-capped peaks on the horizon sparkle like jewels cleaned after a long winter. The morning and evening air is crisp and energizing while during the day the mercury soars into the mid-20s – perfect for swimming, sunbathing or strolling around the lakeside towns with an ice cream in hand . We had a lovely boat trip for a €15 day pass, starting from Lugano in Switzerland, then zigzagging back and forth to many pretty villages on the Italian coast at a leisurely pace. The boat trips on Lakes Como and Maggiore are also wonderful, with day passes offering total freedom.

Get on a train, Pisa

Pisa is an ideal base for exploring Tuscany.
Pisa is an ideal base for exploring Tuscany found our reader. Photograph: Kirk Fisher/Alamy

The beginning of summer in Pisa is just perfect. The good weather and the little frequented sites allow you to walk at will. We stayed in a traditional guesthouse and walked the city walls. The train from Pisa to Florence only takes an hour. Florence was amazing – every corner we turned brought another amazing building. My daughter and I also enjoyed a day trip to Chianti, San Gimignano and Siena which is beautiful. On our last day, we took a hop-on hop-off train trip to Cinque Terre, enjoying the colorful houses tumbling from the cliff and a boat trip back to our starting point. Beautiful memories.

High hike, Andalusia, Spain

Visitors walk along the Caminito del Rey.
Visitors walk along the Caminito del Rey. Photography: Jon Nazca/Reuters

The Caminito del Rey, 40 miles northwest of Malaga, offers amazing guided hikes along cantilever walkways hundreds of meters along the cliff face, through tunnels in the rocks and through walkways suspended over a gorge. Once the most dangerous hike in Europe; it is no less dramatic now that security measures are in place. Guides gently lead you through the trail giving you details about the history of the trails as well as the flora and fauna along the way. Stunning views over the entire 8km culminating as you cross the gorge over a suspension bridge and descend to the river below via hundreds of steps. Not for the faint-hearted but still suitable for anyone between eight and 80 years old. We visited it on an excursion from Seville with Naturanda (from €69).
Elizabeth Hodges

Coolstays uses this one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *