Choosing the perfect destination for your summer vacation from a range of art, culture and landscape options is no easy feat. Our tips for sites you can reach either on the road or even by bicycle span the area from Polignano to beaches along the Baltic Sea and Spain. Note them down in your diary.
The island of Rugen reveals an aspect of Germany we would never have imagined. Luxuriant vegetation, fine white sand, long beaches and chalk cliffs towering above 100 metres with the waves of the sea powerfully breaking against them. The holiday resort of aristocrats, scholars and wealthy Germans in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it was a haven from the noisy world for visitors, such as Otto von Bismarck, Thomas Mann and Albert Einstein. The island was also a muse for painters and artists. Indeed, it features in a painting by Caspar David Friedrich (1818).
To date, it is a favourite beach resort among Germans for the 60 and more beaches that lazily stretch along the island's 574 km coastline. However, Italians, who are not accustomed to the low temperature of the water, are fascinated by the island's scenic beauty and hiking trails, besides the beaches. They enjoy walking for hours, preferably at sunset, on the top of windy cliffs, touring the typical rural villages of the hinterland, perhaps by bicycle, and visiting the luxurious buildings, a legacy of the past.
Polignano a mare, Italy
Waves, wind and natural pools. Getting lost in Polignano a mare is like reading a poem. Stairways and dry walls are the blank pages of strolling poets. Pass under the Arco Marchesale, the gateway to the old town, to remain speechless. Slow down and leisurely savour the beach, the water and the lifestyle of the small town in Apulia. Lifting your eyes, you will notice the colourful, well-kept balconies of Polignano adorned by a multitude of flowers. A quiet destination that, despite having been found also by mass tourism in recent years, still maintains its authenticity, especially Cala Porto, the most photographed rock and pebble beach of Polignano. Roam amidst its sea caves, the old town and the Roman remains.
The much loved target of surfers for its long sandy beaches, surf schools and unique elegance, Biarritz was a small whale-fishing village when Victor Hugo discovered it in 1843. Since Empress Eugenia decided to make it her holiday resort in 1854, and Napoleon III built her the famous E-shaped palace, the seaside town on the Basque coast, in South West France, has become a popular holiday destination. Its symbol is the Rocher de la Vierge, a rock that emerges from the sea with a statue of the Virgin Mary on top. Tourists can reach it by crossing a walkway built by the Eiffel design studios (those very Eiffels) to admire a spectacular view of Biscay Bay.
Brighton, United Kingdom
Brighton is a landmark for the British LGBTQ scene, and for the general public too. Its annual gay pride celebrations, held in August, involve and animate the entire city, attracting visitors from all over the world. During the rest of the year, it is the holiday target of international students, who often choose it as an alternative to London to study English. Amateur photographers are also drawn to the town to capture the melancholy beauty of The West Pier, the remains of the pier that caught fire in the early 2000s. A new one has been built in its vicinity: a 'toy' town featuring entertainment sites and street food haunts immersed in the water, capable of fascinating even adults. Just outside Brighton you will find the Seven Sisters, steep white cliffs overlooking the sea. Movies often use them as a double for the white cliffs of Dover as they are whiter and, therefore, more "photogenic". They are the ideal site for a mountain bike excursion.
A solitary village of white houses and narrow alleys nestling among olive groves, this little jewel glows in the golden light of sunset. With its magical ethereal atmosphere, this small village boasts a past of notable guests, including Salvador Dalì – the village of "Portlligat", a natural harbour in a deep bay, is home to the museum house of the maestro of Surrealism. It was also the haunt of Luis Buñuel, Paul Eluard, Pablo Picasso, Federico Garcia Lorca and many others. Cadaqués is the easternmost town in the continental part of Spain and of the Costa Brava, one of the few villages in the area that has resisted building abuses and the dizzying growth of concrete buildings. Its charm lies in the isolated location, at the end of a road that winds its way up the hills of Cap de Creus (there are no coastal roads). Do not expect extraordinary monuments to be admired. Microscopic beaches and a unique atmosphere, unrivalled worldwide, await you.