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1 | For style: Reykjavik, Iceland
Birthplace of beards and Bjork, Iceland had true style down long before someone invented the word Nordicool. Head to Reykjavik for design-led dining spaces such as Grillmarkadurinn – the best burgers in Iceland, and find covetable clothing at proper gentlemen’s outfitters Kormáks & Skjalder. Forty five minutes out of the city, bathe in the Reykjadalur hot springs, and stay in the wilderness to witness the midnight sun along a trek of some of the most dramatic surroundings on earth. Return worldlier, beardier and most likely better dressed.
All Iceland offer a “build your own weekend” break, three nights from £695pp.
2 | For history: Tallinn, Estonia
In the 15th century Tallinn’s Old Town was the centre of the impressively named Hanseatic League. Before you pack your sword, it’s worth noting that the League was a guild to protect food merchants in Northern Europe. The medieval spires of that once housed feudal overlords remain perfectly preserved and, from Toomkirik (Estonia’s oldest church) to the town hall (completed in 1404), every building is a historic marvel. There’s a dual backstory too, the city was a seat of espionage during the Cold War. Indeed, the country’s Interior Ministry is housed in the former KGB headquarters in the old city. Today, Tallinn is the perfect place to pretend to make dead drops on various bridges.
Norwegian flies to Tallinn from London Gatwick with prices in September from £84.10pp. norwegian.com
3 | For parties: – Mykonos, Greece
Forget everything you know about Ibiza, the tiny island of Mykonos is where the great and the good really let loose. It’s postcard perfect Greece but, having been colonised by hippies in the Seventies, boasts a nightlife like no other. Cavo Paradiso, Caprice and the Delos Lounge are all favoured by the locals for a dance, while Astra – at times frequented by the likes of Keith Richards and Ayrton Senna, is a good spot to party until dawn. If you get a chance, try eating at Kiki’s or Niko’s Taverna and then escape for a bit of skinny dipping to Paradise Beach.
Easyjet fly from London Gatwick to Mykonos, starting from £36.99 in September (one way). easyjet.com
4 | For a city break: Istanbul, Turkey
In action epic Taken 2, Liam Neeson was so busy blowing parts of Istanbul to bits he didn’t have time to appreciate that this Turkish city is one of the best in the world. Luckily, his exploits were fictional and the city remains preserved for us to enjoy. Get lost in the unbelievable Grand Bazaar, sip a cocktail at the 360 bar while taking in the panoramic view that gave it its name, or taste real Turkish food at Khorasani in the Sultanahmet district, a restaurant that will make you turn your nose up at anything you’ll find at home.
BA flies to Istanbul from £149 return. ba.com
5 | for a beach holiday: Sicily
It is the largest island in the Mediterranean and, along with heaps of geographic and historic character, Sicily boasts some of the best beaches in Italy. Team a visit to Palermo with a drive out to Mondello, popular with locals. Or head to the south coast to find seemingly undiscovered escapes around Portopalo. For variety, the ancient city of Syracuse, or Mount Etna and Catania are good day trip detours. For the best of the best, abandon the car and take a hydrofoil out to Marettimo – a badly-kept-secret island off the west coast which feels gloriously far-flung.
Ryanair fly London Stanstead to Palermo from £28.99 one way. ryanair.com; For Marettimo Ryanair fly to Trapani from Manchester from £28.99 one way.