It’s June, and that means summer is here. It’s time to get outdoors – whether that means relaxing by a beach, working up a sweat or wandering round city streets, we have the perfect suggestions for brilliant breaks.
Best for bikes
Hadrian’s Cycleway, England
It’s quite incredible that Hadrian’s Wall still snakes its stony path across the north of England, 1900 years after the first brick was laid. Although much of it has been stripped, you can still find long stretches of this ancient wall, alongside ruined Roman forts, across Cumbria and Northumberland. What better way, then, to explore this evocative countryside than by bike? Hadrian’s Cycleway (unfortunately not built by the Roman Emperor) starts at Ravenglass, before curling round the Cumbrian coast to meet the path of the imperial frontier. From there, it stretches across Northumberland before finally coming to an end at Newcastle. It’s a beautiful route, passing the pretty Cumbrian coastline, attractive landscapes and picturesque villages – with plenty of pubs and rest stops to keep you fresh along the way. Some of the best places to rest include Newcastle, the market town of Hexham, Carlisle, Cockermouth and Workington. If you don’t happen to own a bike, you could walk the 84 mile coast-to-coast path along the wall instead.
Groningen, tucked away in the top right corner of the Netherlands might look rather isolated, but it has something pretty unique going for it. This youthful, vibrant, progressive university city is the ‘World Cycling City’, because more than 57% of all journeys take place by bicycle. In a country already known for its love of cycling, this makes Groningen the perfect place to explore on two wheels. You can wind through its old streets, by its tranquil canals, and past plenty of unique street art like the urinoir, a pissoir covered in striking graffiti art. You might also discover the Groninger Museum, a colourful modern building housing a good selection of international art, the 16th-century Martinikerk and its huge tower, and the Grote Markt, the lively market at the heart of the city, with its excellent food stalls.
For more from the Netherlands, check out our travel guide.
Best for beaches
If you’re out in search of sunny weather, clear blue waters and fine sandy beaches, where better to look than the Greek islands? Our favourite is Mykonos, and June is one of the best times of year to visit, as the winding streets are not yet packed with tourists spilling off cruise ships. For beaches, there is no better choice than this. Among the very best are: Psarou, popular with Greeks; Paradise, excellent for parties; and Kalafati, quieter and perfect for windsurfers. But you may be surprised that Mykonos offers much more than beaches. There’s history and culture in the form of Mykonos Town’s picturesque, whitewashed Little Venice or the iconic sixteenth-century windmills. There are tavernas and shops selling tasty gyros and souvlaki and quiet harbourside restaurants with traditional Greek cusine. If you’re happy to take a short ferry ride, you can even find ancient ruins on uninhabited Delos island. It’s also a great destination for LGBT+ travellers, with a gay-friendly vibe and a slew of new gay bars and nightclubs recently having opened.
Cyprus has never gone unappreciated, not least when the weather is as good as it is June. With averages of 30°C/86°F, clear blue skies and azure Mediterranean waters, it’s the perfect place for a beach holiday. Beaches are obviously a big draw. One of the most beautiful is Aphrodite’s Rock, just off the road between Limassol and Paphos. According to legend, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love, rose from the waters that surround this rugged coastline. It’s very beautiful, but unsuitable for swimming and sunbathing. A better choice for that would be Konnos Bay at Ayia Napa, with powdery white sand and calm water. Cyprus is also home to some of the earliest traces of European civilisation, and as a result you’ll find evidence of a long and storied history. Why not take a trip down to the Tombs of the Kings in Paphos, which dates back to the 4th century BC. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ancient necropolis is carved into the very rock, and can be explored fairly easily by tourists.
Best for breaks
We think it’s time Lisbon got a little more love. The underappreciated Portuguese capital has undergone something of a revival in recent years, with a freshly refurbished metro system and extended cycle paths making navigating the city easier than ever. Highlights of this fascinating city include the bustling city life at Rossio square, the atmospheric Alfama neighbourhood and the monument-filled Belém. Food, however, is one of the things Lisbon is best at. Seafood is a speciality here, and it’s delicious and abundant. From octopus to crab to seabass, you can find pretty much anything that comes out of the sea, but Portugal’s most famous fish is the sardine. June is perhaps the best time of year to eat it. You won’t want to miss out on a pastéis de nata either – you can find these tasty custard tarts at any decent pastelaria. For an authentic dining experience, head to a restaurant that hosts live performances of traditional Fado music as you eat.
New York City, USA
Fans of Woody Allen’s masterpiece Manhattan can only ever picture the city’s evocative skyline in black and white, accompanied by Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. New York might have changed a lot since 1979, but that diverse, restless atmosphere remains, and if you find yourself in the Big Apple, you’ll want to make the most of it. Once you’ve orientated yourself, you’ll find yourself confronted with a whole host of things to see and do, from iconic sights like the Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler Building and the World Trade Centre (and the neighbouring Ground Zero memorial), to superb art museums like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Guggenheim Museum. There are walkable neighbourhoods like Harlem and SoHo, famous sports teams like the New York Yankees baseball team, and a vast selection of theatres and venues, restaurants and bars. On top of that, you’ll want to try a traditional New York bagel or a classic American hot dog. It’s a city that never sleeps, and if you visit New York, you’ll won’t either (no, not due to insomnia).
Looking to travel on a different month?
Hadrian’s Wall – image by davidnewgas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Mykonos Windmill – image by Rich via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Aphrodite’s Rock – image by Rum Bucolic Ape via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Belém tower – image by Maria Ekiind via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Little Venice, Mykonos – image by Steve Summers via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Lisbon_00090 – image by Guilio Jiang via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)