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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Chee

Secret Escapes: Off-The-Radar Holiday Destinations for Summer 2023

A summer holiday is exactly what the doctor ordered during those much-needed moments of rest and rejuvenation from work. It is a period where many of us simply want to escape our normal lives and be immersed in new cultures and climates. There is nothing more tiresome when travelling abroad, than being met with an upheaval of tourists situated in the same area. Here, we have collated a list of our favourite global locations for your upcoming summer holidays where you are unlikely to be bombarded with fellow vacationers.

The Azores, Portugal:

The unknown archipelago also known as the Azores Islands is comprised of nine mountainous islands situated in the mid-Atlantic. Nicknamed “the Hawaii of Portugal”, the Azores provides outdoor lovers with an array of opportunities for entertainment through their natural attractions. São Miguel is the largest of the nine islands and caters to a variety of interests, including the secluded Islet of Franca do Campo just off the coast of the island. Crater lakes, hot springs and volcanoes are but to name a few of what the Azores has to offer.

The best time to visit the Azores is during peak season in July and August at the height of summer. With nine islands to choose from, there are options available for everyone, and the sheer span of the Azores provides ample opportunity for rest and relaxation away from bustling tourists. Boasting up to a third of the world’s cetaceans, it is no surprise that the most popular activity in the Azores is whale and dolphin watching. However, for visitors preferring the stability of the land, hiking and geo-tourism are readily available amongst the islands.

For a perfect view of the terrain, Azores Wine Company provides the perfect balance of relaxation and adventure on the island of Ilha do Pico.

If you are searching for a similar tranquil atmosphere, SENSI Azores Nature and Spa is located on the largest island of the Azores, Ilha de São Miguel.

Alternatively, book the White Exclusive Suites & Villas and stay a stone's throw away from the sea.

Kefalonia, Greece:

Not only the largest island in the Ionian Sea, but arguably the most underrated, Kefalonia is located just off the coast of mainland Greece. Famous for its local wine, the island is adorned with vineyards and wineries offering tastings and tours. The picturesque landscape does not stop there as Kefalonia is home to strikingly colourful architecture. Although it differs significantly from the traditional Cycladic building of Mykonos, there is plenty to enjoy in the hues of coral and cobalt.

The blue beaches of Kefalonia are pleasing and plenty. Be sure to stroll along the snow-white pebbles at Myrtos Beach, and while you are there enjoy the precipitous view of the island. For the adventurous go-getters that cannot stay in one place, direct boat rides to the neighbouring islands provides freedom for exploration. For those seeking a wild night out, Zakynthos is infamous for its nightclubs on The Laganas Strip. If you’d prefer a more peaceful escape, consider travelling to Ithaka to snorkel and immerse yourself in the sea life.

An array of spa treatments are available at the adults-only F Zeen, to ensure the perfect relaxation escape. Close to many attractions of Kefalonia, adventure is still at your fingertips.

Alternatively, stay at the Eliamos Villas Hotel & Spa and enjoy the tranquility of their neutral-toned interior.

With five stunning beaches in the vicinity of the Electra Kefalonia Hotel & Spa, your island dreams become a reality.

Palermo, Italy:

If you are looking for both streets and sand this summer then definitely add Palermo, Italy to your list. Palermo caters to all curiosities as the beach-side capital of Sicily provides attractions for everyone, as culture meets cuisine and relics rest next to the Tyrrhenian Sea. To avoid the heave of tourists and still catch the summer season, travel in the earlier months of May and June.

The capital of Sicily is saturated in history as the birthplace of the Sicilian Mafia. However, the history does not cease there as Palermo displays awe-inspiring Arab-Norman style architecture. Lose yourself in the winding streets, stumble upon an outdoor street market and make sure to try their infamous ricotta-filled cannoli.

With a private tennis court, swimming pool, and spa facilities there is no lack of extravagance at the Rocco Forte Villa Igiea. This hotel boasts panoramic views of the Bay of Palermo, as well as the potential for glimpses of Pellegrino Mountain and the Tyrrhenian Sea.

The decadent interior of the Grand Hotel Wagner provides a unique and extravagant experience in the heart of the city.

With many of Palermo's top attractions within a one-mile radius of the Grand Hotel et Des Palmes, explore the city with easy access. If you get tired of walking, cycle tours are accessed through the hotel which can be booked at additional charges.

Cork, Ireland:

Away from the bustling capital of Ireland, Cork is situated along the south coast. With easy access to the picturesque west, the natural Irish landscape is merely a couple of hours' drive away. Take a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher and on your journey immerse yourself in the endless emerald countryside. If that isn’t enough for you consider following the Wild Atlantic Way Route, one of the longest coastal journeys in the world. The sheer cliffs along Ireland’s coast matched with the quaint seaside towns make for a unique experience.

The Castlemartyr Resort Hotel provides all the extravagance of a luxury hotel, with 220 acres of luscious countryside providing the ultimate Irish escape.

Indulge in the classic elegance of the Hayfield Manor whilst staying a 20-minute stroll to Cork's main shopping area.

Escape from the country and enjoy the coastal ambiance of the Cliff House Hotel. Reflective of its name, enjoy a panoramic view of the Celtic Sea right from the cliff edge.

Muscat, Oman:

For the Middle-Eastern experience Muscat, Oman is definitely worth taking a trip. From its capital, easily accessible activities are providing opportunities for adventure. Snorkelling, sink holes, and camel tours are available for visitors. Plan the perfect luxury escape by glamping in The Empty Quarter and experience the constellations from the Wahiba Sands Desert. Or if you’d prefer to stay inland, Muscat’s famous souks and seafood will satisfy your palette in the comfort of a bustling city.

With all the extravagance of the surrounding mountains, the Al Bustan Palace A Ritz Carlton Hotel is a unique experience.

Situated next to the Gulf of Oman, the Shangri-La Al Husn provides guests with access to a private beach only 100-feet away. Admire the 360-degree views of sea and mountain in this absolute oasis.

Enjoy an array of ocean activities at the Jumeirah Muscat Bay, or alternatively option for a challenging hike up the Hajar mountain range.

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