Short-haul European gems

The best of Europe in under 4 hours

Gorgeous beaches, cultural treasures and dreamy landscapes are only a short flight away. With so many different experiences to be had within Europe, you don’t need to go far for an adventure. Relax on the picture-perfect beaches of the Algarve, discover the archaeological sites of Sardinia, live the glamorous life on the French Riviera or climb Spain’s highest mountain in Tenerife. There are so many little wonders to discover all over Europe – here are just some of our favourite spots. Time to start planning an unforgettable holiday!

1. Majorca

Famed for its gorgeous architecture, limestone mountains and secluded coves, Majorca is the perfect holiday destination. With countless hiking trails, beaches, wineries and tapas spots, Majorca beckons visitors to dine, hike, mountain-bike, and indulge. Visit La Seu, a masterpiece cathedral of Gothic architecture situated in Palma, the capital of Majorca. Later, sunbathe on Cala Formentor beach until day turns into night. Or, take a drive to Cap de Pera Lighthouse to watch the sunset. Next, find inspiration strolling through the walled Alcúdia, a medieval village that’s home to a 15th-century monastery. For an upscale feel, visit Puerto Portals, a seaside resort frequented by celebrities.

Flight info: Flying directly from London to Palma de Mallorca Airport takes about 2h 20min. Direct flights from Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Edinburgh are also available year-round.

2. Sardinia

The second-largest Mediterranean island makes for an unforgettable holiday. With pristine waters and white-sand beaches, it is a sunseeker’s paradise. But it's also got a lot of fascinating history. You might’ve heard about Nuraghe, the ancient megalithic structures that have become symbols of Sardinia, but did you know that there are over 7,000 of them? Don’t miss the chance to see these scattered across the island, and be sure to visit the UNESCO-protected Su Nuraxi in Barumini. If you’re more into hiking, caving, canyoning and wild swimming, check out Gola di Gorropu, which has been dubbed Italy’s Grand Canyon. Located on Supramonte Mountain, the Gorropu gorge drops almost 500m.

Flight infoIt takes around 2h 35min to fly from London to Cagliari. 
There are also direct flights from Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Manchester.

3. Algarve

Pretty fishing towns, sandy beaches, and year-round sunshine combine to make Algarve an ideal destination for a short-haul getaway. Albufeira, a former fishing village that has transformed into one of the liveliest resort towns of Algarve, makes a great spot for couples and group getaways. With dolphin watching tours, waterparks and high rope adventures, there’s also plenty to do with kids. Lagos is also a great option for sunseekers, offering some of the best beaches in Portugal. For a breathtaking view, head to the Ponta da Piedade and explore the grottoes and hidden caves. If you’re after more of a city vibe, there’s Portimão, where you’ll meet locals strolling around the riverside esplanade at the old docks. Most people stay here to be close to Praia da Rocha. 

Flight info: Flights from London to Faro take 2h 50min. You can also fly directly from Exeter, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Southampton, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Edinburgh.

4. Corfu

Corfu is one of the most romantic Ionian islands thanks to its Venetian architecture, picture-perfect beaches and endless olive groves. On the mountainside, there are monasteries and houses to explore alongside a beautiful coastline. If you are looking for lively resorts and a cosmopolitan feel, check out Paleokastritsa and Benitses. Alternatively, get lost in quieter seaside villages like Pelekas, where a hill known as Kaiser’s Throne gives scenic views of the island. It also makes a perfect base for beach tours to Pelekas, Myrtiotissa, Glyfada, and Gialiskari shores.

Flight info: Direct flights from London to Corfu take approx 3 hours. You can also fly directly from Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol and Belfast.

5. Tenerife

Tenerife, the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands, is full of life and full of activities for every kind of traveller. Las Teresitas beach is a total must for sunseekers. Have a drink at a chiringuito and chill out on the golden sands that were imported from the Sahara Desert. Take a day trip to the UNESCO-protected Teide National Park and stay for sunset. Mount Teide is the highest volcanic peak in Spain, and its base makes an excellent place for hiking and road trips. Get a permit to climb the final cone summit if you want to enjoy views of Tenerife, La Palma, and Gran Canaria. 

Flight info: Direct flights from London to Tenerife take about 4 hours. You can also fly directly from Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow to Tenerife Airport.

6. French Riviera

The French Riviera never fails to enchant travellers with its Mediterranean climate, picturesque villages and strong sense of luxury and glamour. Enjoy the view of the yachts in the harbour of Saint-Tropez or stroll through the Le Suquet district in Cannes, known for its typical Mediterranean architecture. The azure blue waters of the famous Pampelonne beach (Saint-Tropez) and Promenade des Anglais (Nice) invite you to take a dip, while the romantic coastal town of Villefranche-sur-Mer is the spot for those who prefer a bit of peace and quiet. For panoramic views, head to La Croix-des-Gardes, a forest park that offers a 360-degree view of the bay of Cannes.

Flight info: Flying directly to Nice from London takes 2 hours. Direct flights are also available from Manchester, Bristol, Belfast, Liverpool, Leeds, Southampton and Edinburgh.

7. Cyprus

Known as Aphrodite's Island, Cyprus makes for an incredibly charming and romantic getaway. For a taste of history and culture, head to Nicosia, which is filled with incredible museums and fantastic architecture that’s very reminiscent of Istanbul. If you’re after some peace and quiet, set off for the Troodos Mountains and admire the ancient painted churches, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can also climb to the highest point of the island, Mount Olympus. Another must-see destination is the city of Paphos, where you can see the ancient royal tombs, the Agios Neofytos monastery and the magnificent beaches of Coral Bay. For seaside resorts, do not miss Limassol, Larnaca and Pissouri.

Flight info: Fly directly from London to Paphos or Larnaca in 4h 30mins. Direct flights are also available from Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

8. Croatia

With a coastline of 2,000 km and more than 1,000 islands, one thing is certain: Croatia is the spot for idyllic beaches. Enjoy the crystal clear sea on the islands of Brac, Pag or Lokrum. Another jewel is the island of Hvar, which is known for its beaches, lavender fields, vineyards and charming cafes. For a taste of history, head to Dubrovnik’s medieval Old Town or the ancient port city of Split. There are also some fantastic national parks to see in Croatia, such as Plitvice Lakes, Krka, Mljet and Paklenica. Whether you’re after culture, nature or the perfect beach, you’ll definitely find it in Croatia.  

Flight info: Fly directly from London to Zagreb Pula, Split or Dubrovnik in 2h 30min. Direct flights to Dubrovnik are also available from Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast, Manchester and Birmingham.

9. Malta

With around 300 days of sunshine every year, Malta is one of the sunniest spots in Europe. But it’s not just about the weather–  Malta packs all kinds of sights, from World War II remnants to Neolithic temples. It’s also great for outdoorsy folk – you can hike along Dingli cliff tops or discover underwater mysteries while scuba diving Gozo’s reefs. Recently, Malta has also been attracting music lovers with Ibiza-style festivals like Lost and Found. Foodies will also love it here – Maltese food is a mouthwatering combination of Italian, French and British cuisine. 

Flight info: The average flight time from London to Valletta is 3h 10min. You can also fly directly from Leeds, Liverpool, Nottingham, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle and Glasgow.

10. Ibiza

Ibiza is undeniably one of the best spots in the world for nightlife, but there is more to this Balearic Island than bars and clubs. For an outdoor adventure, hike Sa Talaia in Sant Josep, the highest elevation point in Ibiza. Take in the gorgeous views at the top and stay for sunset. Believe it or not, Ibiza is also steeped in history and culture, as evidenced by Dalt Vila, the fortified center being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also got some of the most beautiful beaches – Cala Salada and Gracioneta are great if you are looking for shallow water, while Cala de Sant Vicent is the place to be if you want to snorkel. Looking for a beach to get the party started? The party never stops at Playa d’en Bossa, which goes on for over 2km.

Flight infoThe average flight time from London to Ibiza is 2h 40min by plane. Direct flights are also available from Manchester, Liverpool, Belfast, Cardiff, Nottingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

11. Lanzarote

Though a small island, Lanzarote is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. Partygoers head to Puerto del Carmen as it has plenty of clubs, bars, and restaurants that run till dawn, while beach bums tend to while away the hours at Playa Blanca. If you’re into watersports, you’re spoiled for choice in Lanzarote with surfing, kite-surfing, jet-skiing and kayaking spots around the island. For days out away from the sea, consider taking a guided tour around Timanfaya National Park, or visit the incredible cactus garden designed by famous Lanzarote artist César Manrique. 

Flight info: Direct flights from London to Lanzarote take about 4h 10 mins. Non-stop flights are also available from Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Newcastle and Cardiff. ‎ ‎

12. Crete

There are many reasons to visit Crete, the largest island in Greece, but the beautiful scenery and incredible history certainly top the list. Marvel at the Palace of Knossos, which was considered the centre of Crete over 4,000 years ago. If you’re a bit of an adventurer, check out Samaria Gorge National Park and stare in awe at the breath-taking landscapes. The countless beaches are also some of the island's highlights. Vai Beach is great for snorkeling and feels like a world away with the gorgeous palm tree forest that surrounds it. And don't miss the natural beauty of the Balos Lagoon: the pink sand and shallow water make it perfect for children!

Flight info: Direct flights from London to Crete take about 4 hours, Direct flights are also available from Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, Belfast,Leeds and Norwich.

13. Sicily

In addition to its famous cliff-top villages and mouth-watering cuisine, Sicily boasts an array of incredible beaches Rabbit Beach, Mondello Beach and Isola Bella are some of the best in Italy. Cefalu is the place to be if you are seeking Italian authenticity. Check out its medieval cathedral, old town, and fishing port. If you love natural wonders, the nightly display of Stromboli and Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe, will leave you in awe.

Flight info: Direct flights from London to Palermo or Catania–Fontanarossa take about 3 hours. You can also fly directly from Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham.

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