Six great places for a classic beach holiday in Spain and Italy

Dal Estilly, Corsica

Dal Estilly rose again and is one of Europe’s most photogenic destinations, with its powdery snowcapped peaks and rippling blue Mediterranean sea. Taking its name from the Mende Monarch of the Spanish island of La Andalucia, this is a place where you expect your eyes to glisten. Between December and May, the bay is mostly free of crowds and the village gets a little manicuring every two years with building projects to strengthen its beaches.

Nantes, France

Nantes: Spain’s most popular beach holiday destination. Photograph: Ronald Ronald

Nantes is the capital of France’s Northern Pas De Calais department and, from March to May, a good place to stop off for a holiday on Spain’s Costa Dorada. It’s hard to beat the opportunity to walk across Saint Basil’s church, one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the world. Napoleon’s cataract was here and at Christmas, the city’s famous Christmas markets continue to lure locals and visitors alike.

Colombia’s north-western coast

Rancho de Cercos Azul (“Where the Race Is Won”), Colombia

Rancho de Cercos Azul is the gateway to all things spectacular on Colombia’s north-western coast. Walk up the highest tower in Europe, looking out at exotic wildlife – dolphins, sea turtles and great blue herons. Weighing in at 9 metres, this is one of the most spectacular views on earth. Walk down, be sure to avoid the paparazzi.

The Greek Isles

Malta, Malta

Although there is lots to do in Malta – from the ongoing Renaissance Museum project to the extensive archaeological excavation at Mino Mesto – it’s hard to beat Valletta and its narrow cobbled streets. Valletta has become a favourite destination for celebrities, with Johnny Depp and Sir Richard Branson among the list of VIP visitors. As a place to eat, explore the Moorish ruins of some of Malta’s former times as a Portuguese colony.

Spain’s Costa del Sol

Playa Coyolle, Spain

Along the coast of Spain’s Costa del Sol there are a host of amazing beaches from the tranquil South Sea island of La Gomera all the way down to El Lagunita. Whether you are making the family trip from Marbella or staying at a posh beach club at the other end of the peninsula, Costa del Sol towns also offer plenty of other things to do.

Barras Gades, Mallorca

Built on the site of an ancient defensive ditch, this small city on the west of the island has found its voice as a new holiday destination for many visitors. A daily tour of the city, which requires a boat trip to reach, will show the site’s archaeological origins and provide a time capsule that can be explored by children.

Paisano, Sintra, Portugal

During Portugal’s Celtic migration, pilgrims made their way to this fishing port to receive water on the back of their boats. At Ponta da Leguanda, the Portuguese graves are clustered on top of one another. Now, almost six million visitors a year make the trip to relax and admire its grand church, which is the only cathedral left in Portugal.

The Costa Brava

Barceló Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Where you can learn more about religion or find your local commune is free. Sérida is a district of Barcelona with weekly readings at the Jordana Centre and weekly aches in Santo Tomas, while Altea and Sant Domingo are popular tourist destinations. A great place to explore in the spring, Av. Matilda la Gama in Jordana combines an outdoor art trail, with al-fresco screenings and an alternative calendar. Barceló Sagrada Familia, Barcelona’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, is a modernist landmark. The Cine Barça cinema is in the Park of Cinema and Children and Family Museum is an acclaimed home for children’s films in Barcelona. There is also an impressive 12-acre World of Yoga.

• This article was amended on 19 December to include mentions of the synagogue in Cordoba and the Egyptian pyramids in Egypt.

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