The first country I ever visited was Spain, on a school trip in the 1990s. Little did I know then that this was the beginning of a love affair, with the country as well as with telling people about my very favourite secret spots there.
I travel to Spain multiple times each year and always find something new. I am still discovering new quiet corners and new stories to tell, so I was delighted to be asked to compile my top 50 holidays to Spain for 2018 for the Times.
Find out what made the cut here, and feel free to get in touch with any of your favourites – I’m always on the lookout for new angles on my favourite European country.
Think of a Spanish city break. Does Alicante come to mind?
Probably not, right? Most people flying in to Alicante are actually en route to Benidorm, the high rise resort a few miles up the coast. But rushing straight off means missing out on one of Spain’s most enjoyable weekend break destinations.
The airport is close to the city, the beach is in the centre of town and there are dozens of tapas bars a short stroll back from the seafront, including one of Spain’s best, La Taberna del Gourmet.
Read my feature on a weekend break in this sunny Spanish city in the Times.
A new Canary Island is opening up. That island is La Palma, the greenest of these volcanic beauties marooned in the Atlantic. Until now, UK travellers have either had to fly via Madrid or on the weekly Thomson charter flight.
But no longer. Easyjet launched direct flights to La Palma on October 1st. I went on ahead to check out the highlights and found epic walks through verdant mountains, delicious local fish served by passionate locals and a lot of banana plantations. I also found that the island is one of the best places in the world to stargaze (it has the world’s largest optical telescope), as well as one of the best places in Europe to paraglide.
What I didn’t find were large resorts and lots of tourists. So get in their now and you’ll be ahead of the crowd.
Read my feature for The Times on La Palma here.
I know I keep banging on about this, but the Canaries really are underrated. Yes, I know they get millions of visitors every year, but those visitors basically stay in a few small strips on the larger islands and they miss so much.
They miss the bizarre volcanic landscapes. They miss the wonderful fresh seafood and salty papas arrugadas. And they miss some truly gorgeous hotels.
A lot of those hotels are affordable too. I rounded up my favourite Canarian hotels and fincas under £100 a night for The Times recently. Check out my top 20 here.
My very first trip abroad was a school trip to Spain and ever since then I’ve been somewhat obsessed with my favourite European country, returning multiple times each year.
One of my favourite regions is Andalusia, the land of sunshine, orange trees and Moorish architecture as well as some fabulous beaches and plenty of gorgeous places to stay.
I rounded up some of my favourites for the Times. Check out my 20 favourite hotels in Andalusia.
I first went to the Channel Islands as a child and I remember being blown away by them – especially Sark, with its horse and cart rides and its bicycles.
There are no cars on Sark. But there are fabulous hotels, an abundance of fresh lobster and numerous secluded beaches to explore.
I returned to Sark to write an article the Times on how best to spend a weekend here. Check it out here.
Spain is the most popular destination for British travellers, with visits there in 2015 numbering some 13 million.
That’s a lot of towels on the beach – or is it? Not everyone who heads to Spain is seeking a beach holiday after all, and if you want to get away from the crowds this summer it’s very easy to escape, simply head to a region that is still largely undiscovered.
I’ve written several articles for The Times on Secret Spain – the bits the Spanish have been keeping to themselves. My latest is on Matarrana, a region that can be reached from Castellon or Barcelona airports easily and explored with barely another English accent in earshot. Here you’ll find the bizarre mountain scenery that inspired Picasso, vultures by the hundred and some of Spain’s best wild swimming spots. Not to mention plenty of olive oil, tapas and local wine, of course.
Many thanks to Real Holidays for hosting my trip to this fabulous region.