DEPARTING FROM GENEVA
by Sarah Scaddan
Summer holiday – a time for relaxation, precious family time, deep sleep, amazing food and wine and heavenly weather. Or, a time of airport delays, long transfers, grizzly children, overpriced food and finding yourself in the middle of holiday camp tourist hell.
Geneva is not the best travel hub, but it is certainly not the worst. Love them or loath them, Easyjet open up so many holiday possibilities from here. Or you can throw your bags in the back of the car and seek out your perfect holiday destination by road.
Here are my eight low stress summer holiday options from Geneva to consider:
Sardinia is a no brainer holiday destination from Geneva. For a start, it is well connected with direct flights to Olbia in the north or Cagliari in the south on Swiss, Easyjet and Etihad Regional. Secondly, it is just so easy when you are there. Driving is simple; there is hardly any traffic, just the occasional donkey. The food is hearty, rustic and inexpensive. Although there are clusters of extreme tourism, especially around the Costa Smeralda, you can still easily find yourself on amazing beaches with only a handful of people. I love it in the rugged north, staying inland but within driving distance of the coast. I find Just Sardinia to be very helpful.
Between 5 and 5.5 hours drive from Geneva, Liguria is home to the beach resorts of the Italian Riveria as well as Cinque Terre, five picturesque fishing villages built on terraces on the steep coastline. You can stay in the villages but accommodation tends to be small and basic (although have my eye on Hotel Marina Piccola). Definitely look into the option of staying at an agriturismo instead of a hotel. Cosier, less expensive and often with fabulous restaurants, there are some gems to be found. Portofino is also on the Italian Riviera, a stunning fishing harbour now a popular resort for the rich and famous. Maybe you are rich and famous, but for us mere mortals you could look at one of the beach towns on Western Riveria such as Finale Ligure (see Hotel Punta Est). In the middle of the Ligurian Coast is Genoa, where you can catch a direct ferry to Sardinia, offering the option of a two destination holiday.
I generally refuse to go on French speaking holidays, but even I couldn’t resist the pull of the easy drive, abundant sunshine and natural scenery of Provence. Drive 3.5 to 4 hours from Geneva, select a delightful villa somewhere, lie by your pool, wander to the local restaurants, do the odd day trips to the beach and totally unwind. No brainer. Owners Direct and James Villas have some good options.
Majorca gets some bad press, but unless you really want to stay in Magaluf, party until dawn and down tequila shots for breakfast (who am I to judge?), you should head away from the big resorts and focus on the more sedate Majorca such as Soller or Polença. Alternatively move inland and stay at one of the amazing Finca’s or boutique hotels Majorca has to offer, for example Ca’s Xorc. Majorca is well connected from Geneva by both Easyjet and Swiss.
Admittedly I have never been to Corsica but I know I must. It is the ultimate easy holiday from Geneva with direct flights to Bastia, Ajaccio, Calvi and Figari Sud Corse. With so many flight connections, it must be good right? If you don’t like to fly, you can drive to either Marseille or Genoa and take a car ferry. Corsica has 1000km of unspoilt coastline, and apparently Corsican cuisine is famed for its use of locally sourced produce and fusion of French and Italian influences. I have just noticed that there is a direct ferry link to the Italian island of Elba. I you may have guessed, I love a two destination holiday….
Easyjet fly direct to Split and Dubrovnik, from where you can catch a boat the many islands in Dalmatia or even hire a boat and skipper to cruise through amazing crystal clear water for a week. Croatia is short of sandy beaches, and also accommodation with swimming pools but is compensates for that with truly perfect sea. If you prefer driving, northern Croatia is 8 hours drive from Geneva. Break it up with a stay in Venice, Verona or Lake Garda if you prefer. Istria in the far north, is considerably less touristy than the Dalmatian coast but still a lovely place to holiday.
‘Why go on holiday to a lake when we live by a lake’ asked my husband? The answer is simple, it is ITALY. Friendly people, awesome food, inexpensive and relaxing. That being said, you need to avoid the main tourist hubs and the coach tourists. Lake Maggiore is 3 hours drive from Geneva, Lake Como, 4 hours drive and then Lake Garda is 5 hours drive (you must try Locanda Bella Italia at Lake Garda for accommodation or just dinner, I had the best steak I have ever eaten). My advice would be to look where the main towns are, and then pick a place to stay at the opposite side of the lake to that! It is easy to catch a boat to the main attractions, but if you prefer to enjoy a bottle of wine in the evening with peace and quiet and a lake view, stay away.
What I love about Ibiza is there is SO much choice in accommodation. Nearly every Finca, villa or boutique hotel you research describes itself as ‘Situated in an idyllic isolated rural setting, but well connected to local villages and beaches’. I wonder how there are so many places to stay that are all isolated? Surely Ibiza has run out of idyllic rural settings? Apparently not and with direct flights with Etihad Regional and Easyjet, Ibiza is a great holiday destination. There are some great family beachfront family hotels, or search for a villa or Finca that ticks all your boxes. I guarantee you will find it.
Sarah Scaddan is a travel planner at www.inspiremytravel.com.