If you’re short on remaining annual leave this year, but fancy getting away with friends or the other half, you can still pull off a great escape without wasting precious bank holiday hours on the plane. Fly off Friday night and return Monday night, and there’s still plenty of time to explore Europe’s coolest cities. Head to the hip seaside town of Dubrovnik, flight time: 2 hours, 50 minutes, sunny party town Palma, flight time: 2 hours, 20 minutes, or Scandi-cool capital Reykjavik, flight time: 3 hours. In Croatia’s Dubrovnik, wander around the ancient walls and seek out a seafront café for sinking beers while overlooking the sparkling Adriatic. Or on Balearic island Majorca, Palma is a sun-soaked pocket of classy cocktail bars, grand Gothic architecture and busy markets. For something a bit different, Reykjavik in Iceland is a scenic spot offering trendy microbreweries and snow-capped mountains. And a three-day itinerary in Iceland includes hot springs, epic waterfalls and glacier hiking. Plenty of bang for your bank holiday.
Planning family getaways during peak-time school holidays can be tricky. So why not maximise your bank holiday on a quick and easy beach break with the kids? A long weekend won’t mean missed school days, and there’s sun and sea just two hours away in the Algarve and Balearics. On Portugal’s south coast, the Algarve’s Alvor is a family-friendly former fishing village with a lively town centre and wide Blue Flag beach. While in Majorca, laid-back Palma Nova has three white-sand beaches and a restaurant-packed promenade, plus the Aqualand waterpark is just 15 minutes up the coast.
Are you gasping for an adventure, but didn’t think four days’ annual leave was enough? Or maybe you’re self-employed, and figured short-hauls were the only option? Take that handful of days off you promised yourself, and add them to a bank holiday weekend, so you don’t have to lose out. Make the most of a seven or nine-day escape by doing something really intrepid: try temples and hilltop tea towns in Sri Lanka, or hiking volcanoes and white-water rafting in Costa Rica. Best of all, there are package deals to both of these destinations that mean you can cram in loads of activities without having to organise them. Prefer to spend all this precious time away just relaxing? St Lucia is a luxurious Caribbean paradise island well worth making the long-haul flight for.
Those who like to leave things unplanned – or, let’s be real, are disastrously disorganised – will have some annual leave left in the bag come the end of the year. Make like a magician and turn four days of leave into a seven-day break by tacking it on after a bank holiday Monday – you could even use the following weekend to make it a nine-dayer. Since you’re obviously up for spontaneous fun, we reckon either rollercoaster rides in Florida or Cancun's infamous nightlife could be for you. In Florida’s Orlando, there are 15 theme parks to run around, while Mexico’s Caribbean coastal resort is a non-stop party, with options to explore ancient pyramids and swim with whale sharks nearby.
Author: Laura Chubb
Want to start planning for the next bank holiday now?
An easy 15 minutes from Dubrovnik’s picture-perfect Old Town, the Grand Hotel Park has a pool, spa and three bars to relax in.
With a kids’ club, two pools and a free shuttle bus taking you the five-minute ride to Alvor beach, family-friendly Club Alvorferias Apartments couldn’t be more convenient.
Close to the major theme parks and set in a 48-acre garden dotted with palms and lagoons, the is both sprawling and modern.
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