The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - Travel
Keep an eye on costs with this summer’s best-value holidays
With the humble package holiday soaring in popularity, we round up the most worthwhile options for this year’s summer escape
It’s almost summer and there’s a certain determination in the air – at least when it comes to holidays. It’s clear that while nearly all of us are facing financial challenges, we also want to make sure we don’t miss out on a holiday.
Recent data from Barclays looking at how we are using our bank cards suggests that while spending on household goods and clothes is rising only modestly, we are not holding back on our travel plans. Spending with travel agents and tour operators is up more than 16 per cent. This is just the latest report that seems to suggest that not only are holiday prices rising, but we’re turning to more traditional ways of booking them – by investing in package holidays.
That makes a lot of sense. Packages normally offer good value – especially when the cost of flying rises, and especially if you book an all-in deal that includes meals. And they also offer protection. Not only is your money kept safe under the Package Travel Directive, but if anything goes wrong, either before you go or while you are away, then it is the tour operator’s duty to sort it out.
So, if you are tempted by that sort of security and convenience, how do you find the best package at the best price? We have cast an expert eye over the options out there, coming up with a selection of 20 of the best-value package holidays we can find, and which are still available for the peak holiday months of July and August.
We have cast a broad net – as well as sun-and-sand packages, we have included city breaks, villa holidays and activity breaks, with options for families, couples and solo travellers. And while most are short hops to the Med and the rest of Europe, we have also included a couple of long-haul options.
And once you’ve found something that appeals? All the signs point to peak summer availability becoming harder and harder to find – so get booking right away.
Prices are per person, based on two sharing a room, including breakfast, flights and transfers unless otherwise stated, and are subject to availability
Summer temperatures in Fuerteventura, one of the largest of the Canary Islands, rise to about 27C – balmy, but not as searingly hot as the Med can be. On its northern tip you’ll find some of the region’s best beaches, particularly in the protected Parque Natural de Corralejo, where the coast is fringed with a long expanse of dune-backed sand. The three-star Las Marismas Hotel and Apartments, with two pools and a mini-golf course, even offers a free shuttle service to take you straight to the beach.
First Choice (020 3451 2690; firstchoice. co.uk) offers Las Marismas Apartments in Fuerteventura from £706, selfcatering, based on a family of four sharing a one-bedroom apartment. Departs Manchester on July 25
VILLA LIFE ANDALUSIA
Southern Spain provides excellent value for money for families or couples holidaying together. La Zarza, sleeping four, in El Gastor, is a stone-clad cottage with a pool and views over the Sierra Margarita mountains. The interiors come with terracotta tiles and colourful furnishings, and the historic town of Ronda is a 30-minute drive away.
Vintage Travel (01954 261431; vintagetravel.co.uk) offers stays at La Zarza in El Gastor, Andalusia, sleeping four, from £424, self-catering, with car hire. Departs Gatwick on August 18
This mountainous Ionian island is fringed with sandy beaches and pebble coves, with small villages and pretty fishing ports. Mount Aenos provides the setting for the laid-back stretch of beach at Lourdas, on the south coast, backed by small tavernas and clusters of low-key, unfussy accommodation with long sea views towards Zakynthos.
Sunvil (020 8568 4499; sunvil.co.uk) offers stays at the Lourdas Beach Apartments from £816.50, self-catering. Departs Gatwick on July 15
In the south-west of the island, Cala’n Bosch has a small harbour with a sheltered, sandy cove, near the historic port of Ciutadella. The low-rise, adults-only apartment complex of Menorca Mar overlooks a large, lagoon-shaped pool, and facilities include a cocktail bar and an à la carte restaurant.
Jet2 holidays (0800 408 0778; jet2holidays.com) offers one-bedroom apartments at three-star Menorca Mar Apartments in Cala’n Bosch from £823, self-catering. Departs Stansted on July 15
SPLASH OUT COSTA BRAVA
Alongside the region’s water parks and marine zoos, the Costa Brava offers good-value full-board hotels with plenty of on-site activities for families. The four-star L’Azure hotel in Lloret de Mar, in Catalonia, 25 miles south of Girona, has a splash park, a large swimming pool and a kids’ club, plus spacious family rooms and two restaurants. Cycling families can make use of its bike storage and repair workshop, with route recommendations in the local area.
Love Holidays (01234 230440; loveholidays.com) offers family rooms at the four-star L’Azure hotel from £836, full-board. Departs Bristol on August 26
Offering excellent value for money, a tour of the Baltic capitals is among Regent Holidays’ most popular tailormade itineraries. With three nights in each city, the tour starts in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, before transferring by coach to Riga in Latvia, and flying home from the Estonian city of Tallinn, with ample time to soak up the street life and explore recommended markets, museums and restaurants – of which there are plenty.
Regent Holidays (01174 535461; regentholidays.co.uk) offers a nine-night Baltic Capital Cities tour from £895. Departs Heathrow on August 1 or 8
Guests staying at the Filion Suites Resort, with three outdoor pools and a tennis court, near the fishing village of Bali on the island’s north coast, qualify for all-day dining and can join a Thursday Greek cookery class or traditional dance lessons. The resort’s Blue Spa Club offers massages, facial treatments and an indoor pool, and there’s a free shuttle transfer to the beach.
Olympic Holidays (020 8492 6868; olympicholidays.com) offers stays at the Filion Suites Resort and Spa from £940, all-inclusive, based on a superior room. Departs Stansted on July 3
BY THE SEASIDE NORTHERN SPAIN
Located on a broad, sandy beach, sheltered by wooded headlands, just over 40 miles from Santander, the four-star Hotel Mirador de la Franca, in Asturias, offers sea-view rooms, tennis and a gym. It is an excellent base for visiting the Picos de Europa mountains, and the historic centre of Colombres and the beautiful beaches of San Vicente de la Barquera are also within easy reach and make excellent day trips.
Brittany Ferries (021 427 7801; brittanyferries.co.uk) offers stays at the Hotel Mirador de la Franca from £999, based on two couples travelling together in a car, including return ferry crossing between Plymouth and Santander and overnight cabin accommodation. Departs on July 9
Families who aren’t fazed by the heat (daytime temperatures can reach 33C in July, dipping to 23C by night) can find good-value summertime packages to Florida. The Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek provides a complimentary shuttle to Disney’s nearby theme parks, with plenty of family fun on site, including a three-acre lazy river pool with waterslides. A kids’ club offers craft workshops, bike tours and treasure hunts, and there’s golf and a spa.
Virgin Holidays (0344 472 9646; virginholidays.co.uk) offers the four-star Signia by Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, in Lake Buena Vista, from £1,126, room only. Departs Heathrow on July 12
BEACH AND BAYS
Campanet is a lesser-visited town in the island’s north-eastern region, with an 18th-century baroque church and narrow streets around the Placa Major square. Backed by the Sierra de Tramuntana, this good-value base is a 30-minute drive from the capital, Palma, and lies within easy reach of the Alcudia Bay beaches.
CV Villas (020 3993 9866; cvvillas.com) offers stays at the Casa Lavanda, near Campanet, sleeping six, from £941, self-catering, excluding transfers. Departs Stansted on July 1
The Algarve’s resort hotels offer plenty of on-site facilities that offer great value to active families. The five-star VidaMar Resort Hotel, near Albufeira, has four saltwater pools, a spa, a gym, a games room and a mini kids’ club offering supervised activities for 3- to 11-yearolds. The long, sandy stretch of Salgados Beach is within walking distance and there are golf courses close by.
EasyJet Holidays (0330 551 5165; easyjet.com) offers stays at the VidaMar Resort Hotel Algarve from £1,037, halfboard, based on a superior family room with sea view. Departs London Southend on July 21
CRUISE AND WALK
Accommodation and food in Norway is notoriously expensive, but a summer package on the Fred Olsen cruise ship Borealis helps avoid unexpected costs by including accommodation, entertainment and all meals in the price. The itinerary includes visits to Lysefjord, Eidfjord, Sandnes and Kirkwall, with a trip on the Flam railway.
Ramblers Walking Holidays (01707 537200; ramblersholidays.co.uk) offers the eight-night Sailing Southern Norway from £1,580, full-board, including picnics for shore excursions. Departs Liverpool on August 18
New for 2023, Inghams is offering a summer walking programme in a wide range of Alpine resorts, with two walks led by expert mountain guides included in the package price. The Tyrolean resort of Seefeld has a variety of circular itineraries taking in the scenic Brunschkopf Plateau – they are suitable for all levels and range from gentle strolls to more challenging mountain hikes.
Inghams (01483 319597; inghams.co.uk) offers the four-star Hotel Seefelderhof, with pool, games room, sauna and steam room, from £1,059, half-board. Departs Birmingham on July 1
On the seafront, overlooking the Adriatic on Hvar’s south-west coast, with views of the Paklinski islands, the four-star Amfora Hvar hotel is fronted by an invitingly large, lagoon-style pool. The hotel stands next to the island’s exclusive Beach Club Hvar and is close to the lively capital. Excursions include walking tours, boat trips and wine-tastings.
Balkan Holidays (020 7543 5555; balkan holidays.co.uk) offers the four-star Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort from £1,021. Departs Manchester on July 29
BATHS AND BEACHES
With harbourside bars, winding streets and a good variety of restaurants, Kalkan, on Turkey’s Lycian coast, offers sophistication at a competitive price. The 41-room Kalkan Regency hotel, which has a spa, is exclusive to Simpson Travel, and caters to adults only outside the main school holiday season. A week’s package includes a gulet cruise with lunch, a traditional Turkish steam bath and free access to the Indigo Beach Club, near the Old Town.
Simpson Travel (020 3839 4502; simpsontravel.com) offers stays at the three-star Kalkan Regency hotel from £1,180. Departs Gatwick on July 2
EASY BREEZY MALLORCA
Puerto Pollensa, on the island’s northeast coast, offers a combination of sandy beaches and relaxed seaside hotels. The four-star Hotel Illa d’Or in Puerto Pollensa, set among pine trees on the seafront promenade, has a private jetty, a pool, a spa with indoor pool, a tennis court and bike hire, plus a traditional sailing boat, which is available for excursions in the Bay of Pollensa, and a restaurant that features Mallorcan specialities, drawing on local produce.
Tui (020 3451 2688; tui.co.uk) offers stays at the Hotel Illa d’Or in Puerto Pollensa from £1,220, half-board, based on a sea-view room. Departs East Midlands airport on August 20
BACK IN TIME
Surrounded by vineyards in the Madonie National Park and with sea views over the Aeolian Islands, the 12th-century, stone-built Relais Santa Anastasia was formerly an abbey. Now a 28-room hotel, it offers an outdoor pool with a bar, and two restaurants, and lies close to the pretty, cobbled town of Castelbuono with its frescoed churches, and the sandy beach of Cefalu.
Citalia (01293 324188; citalia.com) offers the five-star Relais Santa Anastasia in Castelbuono from £1,015 for three nights (including transfers). Departs Gatwick on July 3
Secluded bays sheltered by pinecovered headlands, uninhabited islands and remote archaeological sites make Turkey’s coast idyllic to explore by boat. Itineraries from Marmaris, aboard a traditional wooden gulet, take in Dalyan’s royal tombs, carved into a cliff face, the scenic Gulf of Fethiye, Tersane Island with its abandoned houses, and the islands of Gocek and Yassica, with plenty of swimming stops on the way.
Mercury Holidays (mercuryholidays. co.uk) offers a Sailing Turkey’s Blue Coast tour departing Marmaris every Saturday throughout July and
August, from £1,799, full-board. Departs Gatwick on July 1
Occupying a beachside spot on the island’s west-coast Paynes Bay, the 35-room Treasure Beach is a resort for adults only. Activities include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, water skiing, tube rides and banana boats, alongside twice-weekly yoga sessions and use of the spa facilities at sister hotel Tamarind. The “dine around” programme includes the hotel’s Tapestry restaurant (with a chef ’s dinner for guests staying five nights or more), as well as 15 local resort restaurants.
Kuoni (0800 294 9705; kuoni.co.uk) offers the four-star Treasure Beach by Elegant Hotels from £2,424, allinclusive, based on a pool garden view room. Departs Gatwick on July 3
Those looking for a more adventurous, but competitively priced, twoweek package can join an escorted tour of Vietnam, in a maximum group size of 16, aimed at adults and older teens. Travelling mainly by private minibus, with one internal flight, the itinerary starts from Hanoi and takes in a Ha Long Bay cruise, sightseeing in Hue and Hoi An, and two nights in Ho Chi Minh City. A further highlight is a boat trip on the Mekong river.
Exodus (020 3131 7190; exodus.co.uk) offers the 14-night Adventure in Vietnam tour from £2,645, including flights, one lunch and two dinners. Departs Heathrow on August 12