10 places that deliver the ultimate holiday combination – sun, sea and summits


Summits: La Garrotxa Natural Park

The Pyrenees loom on the periphery of the conversation wherever you are on the Costa Brava, but you do not have to drive to Andorra to lay eyes on mountainous magnificence. The Parc Natural de la Zona Volcanica de la Garrotxa (see parcsnaturals.gencat.cat) delivers precisely this 50 miles north of Lloret de Mar, wrapping its arms around 40 volcanic crags. That the area has not seen serious seismic activity since the 15th century does nothing to diminish its beauty. Not least in the case of Santa Margarida, where a hermitage – destroyed in 1428, subsequently rebuilt – exists precariously within the crater.


Greece

Sea: Central Macedonia

From the north tip of Corfu to the south coast of Crete, Greece is alive with popular resort areas, pulsing with international tourists during summer. Central Macedonia is not one of them. With the exception of Halkidiki, this north-easterly part of the mainland is rather a mystery to visitors. All the more reason to visit its western reaches – and the stretch of shoreline that curves between second city Thessaloniki and the Pelion peninsula. Plaka, 50 miles from the former, offers tavernas and hotels, but none of the crowds of Mykonos.

How to do it: A seven-night holiday to Cavo Olympo (a five-star adults-only property, right on the beach at Plaka), flying from Gatwick (to Thessaloniki) on August 13, costs from £1,618 per person, including breakfast, through Expedia ( 020 3024 8211; expedia.co.uk).

Summit: Mount Olympus

Peer inland from Plaka, and you are looking into one of the hearts of ancient mythology. Mount Olympus, which swells up immediately to the south-west, was probably not the only peak to be considered holy in ancient Greece – but by the fifth century BC, it had coalesced into the accepted home of the gods; Zeus seated on his cloudy throne. There is no guarantee that you will meet the old boy if you venture onto slopes now protected as a national park (olympusfd.gr/en), but wander any of its hiking trails and you are tackling what – never mind legend and hoary tales – is Greece’s tallest mountain (9,570ft/2,917m).


Slovenia

Sea: Portoroz

Admittedly, Slovenia does not have a great deal of coastline – just 29 miles, where it dips a (little) toe into the Adriatic. But it makes the most of this miserly allocation, especially on the narrow stub of a peninsula which juts out directly above the Croatian border. Here, the small city of Piran dispenses that postcard version of the Balkans, all orange roof tiles and pale churches. The adjacent resort town of Portoroz offers comfortable hotels aplenty.

How to do it: A seven-night stay at the four-star Grand Hotel Portoroz, flying from Gatwick on August 16, starts at £745 a head with Love Holidays (01234 975 975; loveholidays.com).

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