Seasoned travelers know the value of judiciously using public holidays to their advantage to spend as much time as possible relaxing under a palm tree, sipping coconut cocktails. This year, you have an even better chance of making the most of your annual leave, with an extra bank holiday to celebrate the king’s coronation on May 8.
Here we explain how you can turn your 13 days of holiday into 38 days of holiday and where to go. Act fast before your colleagues beat you to it…
Book four days off for a 10-day holiday (April 7-16)
Public holidays: April 7 (Good Friday) and April 10 (Easter Monday)
Book these days off: April 11, 12, 13, 14
Where to go?
In these difficult financial times, few countries look as enticing as Turkey. One pound is now worth around 23 Turkish lira – up from 18 lira a year ago and just 8 in 2020, making this affordable country an even better value. Our guide to exploring Turkey’s key coastal regions includes flight information and tips on where to stay. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive hotel, our selection of the best in the world includes two Turkish properties.
Madeira is another good choice for Easter, whether you want to go out for levada walks (trails along irrigation canals) while the countryside is still lush, or just to relax in the city. Explore offers both a Madeira Island Discovery tour (from £859 per person) and a Walking in Madeira holiday (from £840 per person). Both last eight days.
Other European options include Crete, which offers everything from beaches, good food and ancient sites to some of the continent’s most spectacular hiking trails.
If you prefer to stay on Blighty, Cornwall’s Roseland Peninsula is a lovely place, offering stunning undulating countryside, fishing villages, woodland, stunning stretches of coastal path and mansions with walled gardens. It also has its own microclimate, welcoming spring earlier than the rest of the country. Who needs Costas? Stay at Driftwood, one of Britain’s best seaside hotels.
Early May/King’s Coronation Day
Book four free days for a 10-day holiday (April 29 – May 8)
Public holidays: May 1 and May 8
Book these free days: May 2, 3, 4, 5
Where to go?
To celebrate the king’s coronation, go to a place that he will accept. It could be Poundbury, a new town in Dorset built according to the traditional rules of the king, or Transylvania. Charles III is very attached to this piece of rural Romania, even owning properties there that holidaymakers can rent out.
Jules Verne’s nine-day Treasures of Transylvania Tour (from £1,395 per person) departs from Bucharest and takes travelers to “medieval towns and villages, legendary castles and iconic ‘painted churches’, mountain roads, river gorges, idyllic scenery and an inspiring heritage “.
Or control your carbon footprint by taking a train holiday. The south of France will be pleasantly warming up in May, so hop on a morning departure from St Pancras and by mid-afternoon you’ll be in Avignon – the gateway to the Luberon, one of Peter Mayle’s most charming A Year in Provence. Self-catering holidays in one of the wonderful hillside villages (Bonnieux, Roussillon, Gordes, Goult, Menerbes and Lacoste are the most enticing), with day trips to the regional capital of Aix-en-Provence, the magnificent (if overcrowded) Les Baux de Provence, Mont Ventoux (best by bike if you’re feeling masochistic) and (further) the Gorges du Verdon are hard to get around.
There are also a number of new rail links connecting Europe’s big cities if you prefer to turn your rail holiday into an odyssey.
Unique Homestays never disappoints when it comes to a British break full of bluebell walks. Its luxury self-catering properties cater to all styles and are located in some of Britain’s most captivating locations.
Spring bank holiday
Reserve one day off for a four-day holiday (May 26-29)
Where to go?
It is hard to imagine a better place to spend a long May weekend than Porto. Oliver Balch, our city expert, writes: “Long regarded as Lisbon’s quieter sibling, Portugal’s second city is currently undergoing a magical moment of rejuvenation. Centuries ago, British merchant ships flocked to the medieval port of Porto to bring port wines from the region of the same name home. Now the banks of the river are crowded with trendy new bars and cool sidewalk restaurants. Porto’s transformation is aided by a resurgent cultural scene, from world-class concerts at Casa de Musica to exciting art exhibitions at Rua de Miguel Bombarda. But this ancient metropolis is not about to be spoiled by tourism like so many other popular destinations in Europe. Portuenses love their old world too much to give it up. So the city’s cobbled streets and beautifully tiled churches, lazy lunchtimes and touching friendliness remain in the city. In short, what’s on offer is the best of both worlds.”
Other great options include Palermo, one of Europe’s most sensual cities, ancient honey-sweet Valletta, and the sultry tapas capital of Seville.
Reserve one day off for a four-day break (August 25-28)
Where to go?
There is one obvious option for families in August – a long weekend at Disneyland Paris. You can get there non-stop from St Pancras on Eurostar. Other non-flying weekend break options include Amsterdam, which has a direct Eurostar connection, or its sibling Rotterdam. See our ultimate rail map of Europe for more ideas.
Or escape the heat and head to the Scandinavian capital. Copenhagen (linked to Malmo, one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels), Stockholm and Oslo offer a similar combination of trendy bars, water views and impressive architecture.
If you want to relax in the UK, beat the busy roads and find your way to one of our lesser-known gems. How about Herefordshire, an English county time has forgotten, or The Forest of Dean, which offers simple pleasures such as cozy cottages without Wi-Fi, hearty food in simple pubs and long walks in ancient woods – with the chance of spotting skittish deer and wild boar?
Book three free days for a 10-day holiday (December 23 – January 1)
Public holidays: December 25, December 26, January 1
Book these days off: December 27, 28, 29
Where to go?
You want warmth and it’s winter – so where better than in the Caribbean? This sun-drenched region is made up of over 7,000 individual islands – so picking just one is a daunting task. Some are suitable for beachgoers, while others are made for adventure. There are islands for history enthusiasts, naturalists, night owls and lovers of luxury. St Lucia offers a little bit of everything, making it an ideal option for first-time visitors to the region. All-inclusive BA packages start at £975 per person.
Or, for even better value, there’s Sri Lanka. The political situation has stabilized since last summer, but visitor numbers – and prices – remain much lower. Think £1 beer instead of £7 somewhere in the Maldives. It’s the perfect place to combine beach relaxation with culture and wildlife without breaking the bank. Weekly Trailfinders tour of Sri Lanka starts at £1,097 per person.