Summer holidays: Where to go and what to pack
For something that signals the start of a good time, holiday packing can be a drag. What goes in? What stays at home? Do I really need three pairs of shoes for a weekend away? (Yes) I can still get away with this, can’t I? (If you have to ask, the answer is always no.) And that's before you factor in the never-ending labyrinth that is Ryanair’s hand luggage policy. It’s enough to put you off going away completely, but fear not. With the holiday season tantalisingly close, we’ve put together a quick guide on our favourite summer hot spots, and what you’ll need to pack for each.
Toulon, south of France
Weather in July: 30C Price: £££
If France had it their way, the rest of the world would see Toulon as little more than a sleepy naval port town with a penchant for rugby. This is true, but unbeknownst to most it’s also home to some of the best beaches on the Côte d'Azur. You can hardly blame the French for wanting to keep it to themselves when towns like Le Mourillon are filled with pristine sands and clusters of craggy coves, a far cry from bustling St Tropez just a few miles away. Be sure to visit the harbour for a spot of boat watching and to feast on freshly-caught seafood – all washed down with a nice, cold local beer. Sports fans should try to catch a game at Toulonnais – just remember to cheer for the right team!
What to pack
Weather in July: 32C Price: ££
What’s your usual checklist when choosing a holiday destination? Climate, architecture, gastronomy, strategic importance? Sure, the latter wouldn’t usually enter our radar either, but Palermo’s unique location is, strangely, crucial to its appeal. Sitting at the heart of the Mediterranean, Palermo has been occupied countless times throughout its history, leaving it a cultural hotchpotch of Arabesque domes, Byzantine mosaics and Norman architecture. Check out the Cappella Palatina – a breathtaking building and singular example of the city's complex past. It goes without saying that the cuisine is also a major draw here. Venture down the side streets to sample Sicilian favourites such as spaghetti ai ricci (spaghetti with sea urchin), pasta con le sarde (with sardines) and pasta alla norma (a speciality originated in Catania).
What to pack
Weather in July: 32C Price: £
If you’re after sun, sea, cigars and rum, then there’s no place quite like Havana. Though Cuba has undoubtedly changed since it opened its doors to the US, the capital retains its rustic charm. Old Havana is filled with picturesque cobbled streets, colourful squares and Baroque architecture - not to mention a mean cocktail. Check out El Floridita, a bar which claims to be the birthplace of the daiquiri and was once a favourite hangout of Ernest Hemingway. There’s also the nearby Dona Eutima, famous for its Ropa Veija or ‘old clothes’ beef stew. Trust us, it tastes better than it sounds.
What to wear
What self-respecting purveyor of Cuban Shirts would recommend anything else for a trip to Havana? Get into Cuba's colourful spirit with mustard Hawaiian print, or – if pattern isn't your thing – bold navy blue.