It’s time to look ahead and book a trip where sparkling seas meet sunny skies.
But will you choose Greece or Croatia?
Editor-in-Chief Sinead McIntyre, husband Alistair and their twins Riley and Harris, 10, fell in love with island life at TUI Blue’s Elounda Breeze.
THE PAD: Just 2km away from the bustling seaside Cretan town of Elounda, the all-inclusive four-star Elounda Breeze Resort is as family-friendly as you can get. Many of the 189 rooms have private pools, but even if you book one without, there are plenty of communal pools to go round. There’s the main one, a peaceful adults-only one, a family pool where kids’ activities take place during the day, as well as a splash park with several adrenalin-fuelled slides!
A five-minute stroll down a track leads you to a small private beach, perfect for snorkelling and swimming in the crystal-clear water. In the evening, get involved in quizzes in the auditorium and watch the shows – from local magicians to ABBA tribute performances.
All the TUI staff are exceptional – nothing is too much trouble for them and they get to know all the kids by name to make sure they all feel included. High-fives all round!
REFUEL: Enjoy picturesque views of the rolling hills while eating at the resort’s buffet-style restaurant, which serves huge breakfasts of eggs, toast, cereal and pastries, hot and cold meats and cheeses, as well as delicious lunches and dinners of pasta, curries and fresh fish. At the pool-side grill, you can pick up kebabs, pitta, Greek dips and fries.
Fancy a change from the buffet? Book into one of the resort’s other restaurants – the Taverna, where you can enjoy traditional Greek mezze, or Green & Grill for grilled meat, fish and salads.
Alternatively, take the 20-minute stroll into Elounda town and try out one of the many local restaurants by the sea. We chose family-run Megaro and enjoyed a Cretan mezze for four, £14, plus delicious seafood spaghetti, £9.50, washed down with a carafe of local white wine, £9 (Megaro-restaurant.gr). Afterwards, wander around the pretty harbour town, which still remains relatively untouched by tourism.
EXPLORE: From Elounda, take a 25-minute boat trip to the tiny island of Spinalonga. The island has a fascinating history and was once occupied by the Ottomans and the Venetians before being used as a leper colony – where anyone who contracted leprosy was forced to live – until 1957.
Spinalonga was immortalised in Victoria Hislop’s bestselling novel The Island in 2006, and today you can walk around its now-deserted streets to see where its inhabitants lived and worshipped, as well as the hospital and cemetery where many ended their days. Be sure to check out the remains of the spectacular Venetian walls while you’re exploring. The trip, organised by TUI staff at the resort, costs from £65 per person for a full day, including lunch.
DON’T MISS: Exploring the sunken city of Olous, 15 minutes’ walk away from the resort. Some believe it sank due to volcanic activity, while experts say it gradually sank over the years. You can’t see obvious ruins below the sea from the shore, but if you look carefully you can make out some of the ancient walls. Pick up snorkelling gear from nearby shops, from £5.50, if you want a better look!
BOOK IT: A seven-night all-inclusive stay at Elounda Breeze Resort costs £635 per person, including flights and transfers (Tui.co.uk).
If you’re looking for the perfect mix of party vibes and chill, this is the place for you, says Celebrity Style Editor Nana Acheampong.
THE PAD: With breathtaking views, four swimming pools set among palm trees and a pristine beach a stone’s throw away, the Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort is the ideal base to explore the island. Hvar town is just a 15-minute walk along the rugged coastline, and when you arrive there by ferry from Split – crossing takes one hour, £5.60 per person – you’ll be met by smiling hotel staff to collect your luggage.
Book a room with a sea view to enjoy beautiful sunsets from the comfort of your balcony. Breakfast is a lavish buffet, with everything from fresh pastries to scrambled eggs. In the main pool you can swim up to the bar and perch on an underwater stool to sip your Aperol frosé (that’s the famous liquor mixed with rosé wine and strawberry purée, FYI), £9. Or chill by the pool and order a delicious Caprese salad with the freshest mozzarella, £9 (Suncanihvar.com).
REFUEL: Fans of seafood or Italian cuisine are spoilt for choice, but one must-visit is Dalmatino, where the grilled octopus salad, £7, and seafood truffle gnocchi, £12, are to die for. Located in one of Hvar’s pretty cobbled lanes, dining alfresco gives you the ultimate holiday vibe (Dalmatino-hvar.com).
For brunch, Fig is the place to be. You can’t book, so either arrive at 10am for a first sitting or put your name on the waiting list a little later and spend an hour or so shopping in the lanes. The spicy eggs, £8.50, and Californian toast, £8, piled high with roasted tomatoes and guacamole are highlights, and the huge portions will set you up for the day (Figrestaurants.com/hvar). Be sure to carry cash though, as many restaurants don’t accept cards.
EXPLORE: No trip to party isle Hvar would be complete without a visit to the Insta-famous Hula Hula bar, just a seven-minute walk from the hotel. Arrive early to nab a four-poster daybed to lounge on while soaking up the lavish beach atmosphere with chill-out music and a glass of prosecco, £5.75. Later, dance away the sunset and enjoy great DJs long into the night (Hulahulahvar.com).
DON’T MISS: The island’s world-class wine scene. Book a half-day tasting experience through the hotel, which will see you travel 30 minutes to the picturesque region of Vrboska to visit a traditional Dalmatian wine cellar. There you’ll sample glasses of vino, including prosecco and grappa, followed by a feast of prosciutto and cheese, £84 per person.
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