The new holiday calendar: why you should visit the Italian Lakes in March and the Swiss Alps in July
There was a time when the European holiday calendar was set, if not in stone, then certainly within four defined boxes. Spring, summer, autumn, winter. One of these was hot, one was cold – and the other two offered a little of both. Pack your bags accordingly.
But things change. Not least the climate. And the old certainties of travel have changed with them. Where once the southern Mediterranean seafront was the ideal setting for an August escape, now the heat can be unbearable, as last year’s Greek wildfires made all too apparent. Where, not so long ago, you could assume a thick coating of Alpine white in December, now the ski resorts of France and Italy face a nervous wait for the first flakes. Where even the idea of aiming for the mountains during July would have caused confusion in a former decade, now such an idea is just as likely to prompt nods of sage agreement.
And as weather patterns have altered, so have we, moving on from the straitened travel windows of 30 or so years ago into something more fluid and flexible – shoulder seasons, winter-sun wanderings, journeys further and further afield in search of whatever it is we cannot find on familiar turf, whether that be Canadian snow or Far Eastern sand. Add in the current cost of living crisis, where value for stretched budgets is more important than ever, and the holiday calendar looks rather different to how it did even relatively recently.
A little like the following, maybe. If you are already planning your getaways for this new year, but wish to avoid the sunstroke, rain clouds or bare pistes of unhappy holidays past, the following 24 suggestions – two for each month – will provide some sort of guidance.
Rising temperatures have been gnawing at the edges of the Alpine ski season for a while, but the picture became grimly clear this time last year, when resorts including Adelboden and Anzere (Switzerland) and Combloux (France) suffered a December and January blighted by a lack of snow. In other words, if you want to ski in Europe straight after Christmas, you may need to aim high. And resorts don’t come higher than Swiss sentinel Zermatt, whose highest skiable area, at 12,792ft (3,899m), is also the highest in the Alps.
How to do it: A seven-night stay at the four-star Hotel Derby in Zermatt, flying from Manchester on January 20, starts at £1,498 a head, with Crystal Ski (020 3451 2821; crystalski.co.uk).