Tips for your Mediterranean holiday for every kind of season, except summer
Have the Med to yourself in the off-season
The smell of roasted chestnuts, harvest festivals and the first buds of spring – these are all things you can only experience in the Mediterranean if you’re travelling in the off-peak seasons of autumn, winter and spring.
Avoid the crowds and consider a Med holiday to destinations such as Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, France and Italy outside of the peak summer months from June to August.
“The queues are considerably shorter, the temperature fairly mild by European standards and the experience will be completely different depending on when you travel and to where,” says Teresa Richardson, managing director of The Travel Corporation, the parent company of Insight Vacations.
A frequent traveller herself, Richardson offers her Mediterranean selections for every kind of season, except summer:
If it’s autumn, visit Greece
Head to Greece in autumn and enjoy the bounties of its olive oil and grape harvest as you join a local chef in Olympia to savour regional specialities. In addition to delving into the ancient history of Athens, witness the splendour of Nafplio and walk the Sacred Way of Delphi.
Insight Vacations takes visitors to meet the artisans of a family-run pottery studio to learn about their unique traditional methods and explore the remarkable centuries-old monasteries of Meteora with a local expert. The brilliantly colourful autumnal landscape surrounding Meteora makes a visit to this Eastern Orthodox monastic complex in autumn even more impressive.
Autumn highlight: September, October and November are harvest time in Greece, so this is the time to indulge in olive oils and a bit of traditional tipple, including the famous raki.
If it’s winter, visit Italy
The Italians know how to have a good time when it’s cold outside. So much so, that many of their festivals, saints’ days and celebrations are held in winter. Venice obviously takes centre stage during this time, although visitors will find magical Christmas markets in Rome, Florence, Milan and even as far south as Naples. Guests on Insight Vacations’ Best of Italy trip will embark on a gondola serenade ride through the romantic canals of Venice and witness the ancient and delicate craft of Venetian glass-blowing on Giudecca Island. In the Tuscan countryside, they’ll visit an eminent wine estate to enjoy a wine tasting.
Winter highlight: Carnevale is best celebrated in Venice and is held every February, so schedule your visit to Italy so that you can witness it first-hand. This is an opportunity for locals, and visitors, to dress up and don one of the colourful masks for which Venice has become so renowned.
If it’s spring, visit Spain
Sizzling Spain must certainly be on your agenda when spring comes to the Northern Hemisphere, normally signalled by the arrival of the first cherry blossoms. While Spain is a year-round destination, it is in spring that Richardson says its cities are most magical. With Insight Vacations, guests visiting in spring will enjoy the fresh early morning exploration of the Alhambra Palace and its beautiful Generalife gardens in Granada. They’ll meet a local chef of a family-run restaurant in the heat of Old City Valencia and learn his traditional paella recipe. They’ll also take to the Gothic Quarter of bustling Barcelona with a local expert and view the lively Las Ramblas.
Spring highlight: If you’re visiting Spain in spring, consider a trip that incorporates Seville over Semana Santa in mid-April. This is one of the most famous religious festivals across Spain and is characterised by its elaborate processions, beautifully woven lace veils worn by the local women, and la saeta performances.
The entire Mediterranean, stretching from Morocco and Spain in the west, to Turkey, Israel and Egypt in the east, offers mesmerising autumn, winter and spring experiences.
The first step, says Richardson, is to pick a destination that interests you in the region and speak to a travel expert to see what noteworthy celebrations or special occasions each of the seasons bring.
“Better still, check with your travel agent or tour operator if their itinerary offers special departures that include entry to the event or a special experience. You’ll often find that there are certain departures that include free tickets to a festival or event, while all the rest of your travel arrangements will be sorted to ensure a hassle-free off-peak visit to the Mediterranean.”
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This article was paid for by Flight Centre.