Where to go this summer: 5 alternative destinations
Still haven’t booked your summer holiday? Get some inspiration with our pick of five alternative European locations with connections from Liverpool.
Words by Lawrence Saunders
If you’re keen to sample a typical Italian seaside holiday but not so hot for the mainland crowds then Ischia might be the summer destination for you.
A favourite haunt of Angela Merkel, this volcanic island nestled in the Bay of Naples has been welcoming famous names and Italian holidaymakers for decades with its purifying hot springs, gorgeous scenery and quaint villages.
Negombo thermal park overlooking San Montano Bay in Lacco Ameno is the perfect place to investigate the potential healing benefits of Ischia’s fabled H2O.
With 12 pools and baths to choose from, each heated to a different temperature, exploring these enchanted grounds makes a perfect day out for couples and families alike.
For a slice of Ischian culture don’t miss La Festa di Sant’Anna or The Feast of St. Anne, which takes place every July around Castello Aragonese (Aragon Castle) in the northwestern town of Ischia Ponte.
Starting with a precession of floats representing Ischia’s six main towns, the event climaxes with a firework display and incredible simulation of the medieval castle going up in flames, complete with Hollywood-style special effects.
easyJet operates two flights a week to Naples from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA). To get to the island, catch the ferry from Molo Beverello opposite the medieval Castel Nuovo in the city centre.
It might be a minuscule nine by five miles wide, but the island of Jersey off the coast of Normandy has plenty to offer families looking for an adventurous getaway that won’t break the bank.
With golden beaches boasting huge waves, awe-inspiring coastal walks and historic castles to explore, Jersey is an overlooked jewel on our doorstep waiting to be discovered.
History buffs will enjoy studying the numerous pillboxes and forts dotted along the coast – sobering reminders of Germany’s five-year occupation during the Second World War.
Anyone eager to learn more can head down into the Jersey War Tunnels four miles outside Saint Helier.
A vast subterranean complex dug deep into the rock by the occupying forces, the tunnels now serve as a museum, documenting what life was like during this dark period of the island’s history.
Alongside its storied wartime past, Jersey is also well known for its quality seafood. Call in at The Fresh Fish Company on St Helier’s Victoria Pier to pick up some delicious fresh spider crab – perfect for an evening BBQ on the beach.
easyJet operates a daily service to Jersey Airport from LJLA. The number 15 bus from outside the arrivals terminal gets you to the island’s capital St Helier in around 30 minutes.
Lake Balaton, Hungary
Nicknamed ‘The Hungarian Sea’, Lake Balaton is a huge freshwater lake situated 76 miles southwest of the capital Budapest.
A popular summer destination for Hungarians eager to escape the oppressive city heat, its expansive shoreline is lined with beaches, thermal spas, vineyards and volcanic hills.
Balatonfüred is considered the capital of the northern shore and its most stylish resort to boot. The ideal location to explore the lake from, this spa town is famed for its two marinas, stunning architecture and thriving restaurant scene.
For something a bit livelier try Siófok on the opposite side of the lake – a city known for its buoyant nightlife and impressive beaches.
Every summer, one of Europe’s biggest open-air music festivals takes place in neighbouring Zamárdi.
Featuring performances from The Chainsmokers, David Guetta and Eric Prydz, this year’s Balaton Sound runs from 4-8 July.
Wizz Air runs three flights a week to Budapest from LJLA. Train services operate daily from the city to various Lake Balaton destinations. A ticket for the two and a half hour journey from Budapest-Déli station to Siófok will set you back just over £6.
Forget images of bargain basement stag dos and cut-price lager; Vilnius is an up and coming capital brimming with culture and a fiercely independent spirit.
The Christopher Summer Festival, which runs through July and August, neatly captures the city’s ethos with its motto of “all genres are good, except the boring ones”.
Taking place in a range of spaces across Vilnius and elsewhere, the festival features 50 concerts incorporating a range of genres from jazz and world music to traditional organ, guitar and piano pieces.
Further bolstering Vilnius’s fashionable image, the city’s Užupis district has been named by travel experts as one of 2018’s coolest neighbourhoods in Europe to visit.
Home to a number of art galleries and well-to-do restaurants, the area has been likened to some of the continent’s famous bohemian hubs and in 1997 it even declared itself an independent republic.
Ryanair operates two weekly flights to Vilnius from LJLA. The airport is well served by public transport with inexpensive train and bus services running frequently into the city centre.
Experience an authentic slice of Portuguese seaside charm with a getaway to the ancient Algarvian town of Tavira.
Unlike some of the more developed parts of Portugal’s south, you won’t find any giant hotels here, but instead it’s charming cobbled streets, beautiful churches and some of the country’s most unspoiled beaches.
Hire a boat or a kayak to explore the magnificent Ria Formosa Nature Park which stretches 60km along the coast.
Voted one of the seven natural wonders of Portugal, Ria Formosa is a labyrinth of canals, marshes and islands, brimming with wildlife and magnificent vistas.
As night falls, stroll into the town’s historic centre for a drop of quality local vino and a plate of freshly caught seafood at one of the many reasonably priced restaurants.
easyJet and Ryanair both offer regular flights to Faro Airport, the closest airport to Tavira. Frequent train and bus services connect the airport to the centre of Faro, where it’s an hour’s bus ride to the town.