As you’ll have noticed (unless you’ve very literally been underneath a rock for the past three weeks), the UK isn’t a particularly nice place to be at the moment. Ever since the referendum result was announced, I’ve had a little voice in my ear whispering “get out. Get out. Get the hell out.” My husband and I have talked about moving to Sweden, we’ve talked about moving to Berlin and we’ve talked about moving to Canada. Neither of us particularly wants to be living on an island with population of which 52% have indirectly (or directly, in some cases) voted for a Britain that sends death threats to Polish families and burns down their property. Unfortunately, though moving away is a lovely idea, in reality it’s not going to happen. So we’re going to content ourselves with an EU mini break instead – while we can still afford to at least, eh?
At this time of year I want some sunshine, and since the UK is so loathe to give us any, Spain, Italy and Portugal are the soothing balm my aching, devastated, fragile soul needs. Here are my top 3 sunny destinations for a ‘get the hell out of the UK‘ mini break.
At this point, I really think pastel de nata are the only things that are going to make me smile again – and I really need to go to Lisbon to get authentic ones. I priced up an October Lisbon long weekend with flights and an apartment, and it was only £100 each for two people. Can’t get much cheaper than that! Flight prices vary depending on the time of year but are pretty reliably cheap – in October they’re around £50-60 per person. An Airbnb in Lisbon is also cheap, around £50 a night for a cute, private apartment apartment. If you stretch up to £80 a night you’re looking at a swanky loft apartment, so it’s definitely at the reasonable end of the scale.
Lisbon is prime mini break material, as there’s something for everyone. Have a wander around the old streets and soak up the gorgeous architecture, get yourself to the beach and chill out with a book, go for a little ride on a tram, visit the oceanarium and learn about marine life, eat some delicious seafood, watch some live music, recline on a roof terrace with a cocktail and soak up some sun… endless possibilities.
And when we’re feeling glum, what better than to load ourselves up with delicious Italian carbs and wine? Pasta is comfort food for the soul. Anything can be solved by spaghetti carbonara. And Chianti is medicinal and will warm your heart back up until it’s pumping joy around your veins once more.
Flights sit at around £100-150 in late August, September and October, and the temperature is still a very respectable 18-24 degrees by autumn. £50-80 per night will bag you a lovely apartment near the river – because who doesn’t like to enjoy their carbs beside the water?
Home to some gorgeous parks and as many museums as you could possibly want to visit, you’ve got the opportunity to see architecture, history and literature up close (Florence is both home to the iconic David statue by Michelangelo and is where E.M Forster’s A Room With A View was set. Florence is for those who like their mini break on the grown-up side – lots of wandering, looking at beautiful art and drinking beautiful, beautiful wine.
Barcelona’s always a pretty safe bet, right? You can always count on the sunshine, beaches and street performers to put a smile on your face. Flights are only £45-90 during September and October, and you’re spoiled for choice in terms of accommodation – I can highly recommend Violeta Boutique, a cute hotel in the Eixample district that comes in at around £120 a night for a double room. It has the added bonus of being around the corner from Petit Pot, the most gorgeous cafe I’ve ever seen that does delicious scrambled eggs and french toast. Elsewhere, a nice little apartment sets you back around £70-80 a night, and you can even rent a boat to stay on in the marina.
The main city beach (Barceloneta) is nice enough, but a short walk east past the Port Olimpic takes you to Nova Icaria, a larger, more natural beach with calmer, gorgeous seas to swim in. There’s no shortage of sights to see in Barcelona – the ever-scaffolded Sagrada Familia, the gorgeous and colourful Parc Guell (which involves outdoor escalators because the hill is TOO STEEP), the slightly-crazy-but-lots-of-fun La Rambla… and as much sangria and delicious tapas as you could ever possibly need.
Plus, by heading over in September/October, you’ll miss the opportunity for a 40+ degree heatwave like the one I experienced last July. I spent the entire holiday terrified of getting sunstroke and it did not make for a relaxing mini break.
Next time – more mini break recommendations towards the east and north of Europe with less sun but MORE FUN.
Do you have a recommendation for somewhere to hotfoot it out of the UK to?
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