Hidden idylls and stunning sunsets: late summer breaks in Europe, chosen by readers | Europe holidays

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Winning tip: wild shores and exotic plants, Lanzarote

The north of the island of Lanzarote is a hidden idyll where sunsets burn golden orange and surf pounds the wild shores. Famara Beach is a surfing paradise for families looking for winter sun and a relaxed beach community. Staying in a yurt in nearby Arrieta is fantastic: at night you can watch the stars from your bed as you gently drift asleep listening to the waves. La Graciosa is a 20-minute boat ride away and hosts two tiny but perfect beachside restaurants serving freshly caught sardines. Spanish fills the air and British voices are rare. The mountains here are home to huge agave plants, aloes, bougainvillaea, date palms and pepper trees.
Vikki Rimmer

Beaches near Porto

Matosinhos beach
Matosinhos beach. Photograph: Manuel Fernando Araujo/EPA

Porto is rarely considered as a beach destination but it has lovely long autumn days for sunbathing and swimming 20 minutes from the city, with beaches such as Matosinhos and at Espinho to the south that are easy to get to on public transport. Unlike in the Algarve, you will find plenty of space on the sands and the west-facing bays means the sun lingers longer. The little known Costa Verde to the north is a rocky coastline full of golden beaches, natural headlands and lovely scenery. You can eat outside in the city in September and October. A superb day trip would be a boat trip on the canals of Aveiro 70km to the south.
Peter

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Perfect peninsula, Mallorca

View from the mountains to the beach Platja des Coll Baix, Alcudia, Majorca, SpainCF3MJ6 View from the mountains to the beach Platja des Coll Baix, Alcudia, Majorca, Spain
Platja des Coll Baix on the Alcanada peninsula. Photograph: Alamy

Aucanada peninsula (also called Alcanada) between Alcúdia and Pollença has a beauty that comes into its own in the lazy days of autumn. The sea is warm, even on a rainy day and the beaches as mesmerising as ever, with their backdrop of pine trees and mountains. Snorkelling is good here too: you may see an octopus along with plenty of fish. I’ve found that if the Med is choppy on one side, it is usually sedate on the other. It’s a lovely 15-minute cycle between the northern and southern side. Try the favourite beach of the locals – S’illot. It is partly pebbly but the water is pristine and the views to the mountains are timeless. The menú del día at La Casa Gallega (on Carrer de l’Hostaleria in Port d’Alcúdia, no website) is the perfect way to finish the day.
Antony T

Island of pines, Croatia

Croatia - The landscape of national park Mljet island
Photograph: Jozef Sedmak/Alamy

Scenic and secluded, the island of Mljet in Croatia is a wonderful place for enjoying a peaceful, extended summer. Reached from Dubrovnik by ferry, this unspoilt island is two-thirds forest. Take a relaxing bike ride through the national park in the north, swim or kayak in one of two saltwater lakes, Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero or, if you are feeling more adventurous, hike or take a boat to the cave of Odysseus on the stunning south coastline. Though the island has only one hotel, options for private accommodation, including camping, are plentiful.
Lindsay Wilson

E-bike to the bay, Gozo

Dwejra Bay.
Dwejra Bay. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

My partner and I recently rented e-bikes to get around the island of Gozo, Malta. It’s a great way to power up the hills, wind through the cute towns and pootle to the coves and caves. You can visit the likes of Dwejra Bay for views of the Fungus Rock and the valley of Wied-il Ghasri with its secluded beach, all on two wheels. We hired them from a lovely couple in Marsalforn who owned a bar/restaurant next door. The bikes cost £25 a day. We were allowed to return the bikes when it suited us in the evening.
Sophie Delamothe

Laurel forest and a tranquil finca, La Gomera

Garajonay national park.
Garajonay national park. Photograph: Violeta Mesa/EPA

The green oasis of La Gomera is not as touristy as its Canaries sister islands and a true walkers’ paradise. Traipse through the enchanting laurel forest of the Garajonay national park, which boasts many endemic species of birds and amphibians. Visit the lively Valle Gran Rey on the south coast with its black sand beaches and stay at Finca Argayall, where meditation and yoga are practised. Enjoy ripe mangoes straight from the trees in this warm and welcoming community. Fresh and super-tasty vegetarian food is served and at night the chirping crickets will sing you to sleep. You’ll be ferried round to the finca after a landslide blocked the road late in 2020.
Monique Gadella

Satisfy your soul, Crete

Stavros Beach
Stavros Beach Photograph: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto

North-west Crete’s Akrotiri peninsula is a wonderful place to visit in September and October. Whether you are seeking the golden beaches of Stavros or Marathi, the serenity of the 16th-century Gouverneto monastery and 11th-century Katholiko or the lively nightlife of downtown Chania with its Venetian seafront, this corner of the island satisfies the soul. Good food abounds in the numerous tavernas offering traditional fare, local produce, mamma’s kitchens and hearty portions. At Vlamis Villas (doubles from €60) in Stavros, where Manolis welcomes his guests, the toughest decision is whether to head to the pool or the warm blue sea.
Chris Watson

Serene shores, North Macedonia

Dusk on Lake Ohrid.
Dusk on Lake Ohrid. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

The Robinson Sunset Guesthouse (doubles from £39 for two nights) in Lagadin on the shores of Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia, welcomes visitors with bowls of cucumber, tomato and feta salad known as shopska. Home-cooked suppers, washed down with the local Zlaten Dab beer, are shared around trestle tables as the sun sets over the peaks of neighbouring Albania. Kayaks are available for a leisurely 5km paddle in the crystal clear waters of Lake Ohrid to the photogenic Bay of Bones Museum – a reconstructed prehistoric settlement built on stilts over the lake.

Sue Bell

Turn left at Lisbon

Ribeira beach in Cascais.
Ribeira beach in Cascais. Photograph: Edson De Souza/REX/Shutterstock

October or November are perfect months to visit Cascais, 30km west of Lisbon. The crowds have left, the weather is warm and sunny, the air crisply clear. Push the boat out and stay at the Albatroz (doubles from €150 B&B), for wonderful old-fashioned service and rooms you could get lost in. Take a seaside stroll for clams-with-a-view at the restaurant Mar do Inferno, or opt for a breakfast of pastel de nata (egg custard tart) at their spiritual home, Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon. Walk off the calories in the stunning Cascais/Sintra national park, and when evening comes, head to neighbouring Estoril for people watching around the casino.
Jayne Pearson

Late summer Bonaparte bonus, Elba

Portoferraio, Elba.
Portoferraio, Elba. Photograph: Alamy

My tip for a late summer getaway would be to the island of Elba. Although it’s most famous for Napoleon’s absence without leave, there’s lots more to it when you begin to scratch below its Napoleonic surface. The Romans loved it and left lots of fabulous architecture for the historian to fathom. The sea is a delicious salty, clear and a sapphire and turquoise mix – perfect for late-afternoon snorkelling. Unlike Napoleon, escape is the last thing you’d really want to do. Instead, dance in the moonlight, swim under the stars, lose yourself. You’ll never want to leave.
Lisa Honan

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