Many of our guests are restricted by school holidays. For them, July and August and May half-term week are the only times they can visit. But those who are free to travel at any time during the season often find destinations at their best in spring or autumn. Here, our team of experts at Vintage Travel reveal some of Europe's hidden gems and the best time of year to visit them.
April May June July August September October
In Andalucia, April is a great month for spring flowers. The skies are clear and the quality of the light is exceptional, particularly on the Costa de la Luz.
Diada de Sant Jordi - St George's Day - is celebrated with gusto across Catalunya on April 23. According to tradition, men give women roses and the women respond by giving the men a book. April is also a wonderful time to walk the coastal paths of Catalunya.
May is a fabulous time to visit the spectacular Saklikent gorge in Turkey, where the cascading waters coming down from the mountains create a refreshing and memorable day out.
Walkers in Corfu will find an abundance of colourful spring flowers, including the island's famous wild orchids. May is also a great month to explore the mountainous interior of Kefalonia.
In Tuscany, before the heat of summer descends, this is the best time to walk in the gorgeous rolling hills of the Garfagnana.
May is asparagus season in Istria. So abundant is it in this corner of Croatia that it grows wild and is sold for pennies at roadside stalls. This is also the best time of year to buy local produce at the town and village markets of the South West of France.
In Italy, the arrival of summer is met with a string of festivals - a great time to mix with local people as they celebrate ancient traditions.
In Umbria, the Festival dei Due Mondi - the Festival of the Two Worlds - kicks off in Spoleto. It's a wonderful celebration of opera, theatre, dance and classical music.
If you stay in Le Marche, the second Sunday in June marks the festival of La Fiorita in Castelluccio, a village in the Sibillini Mountains. It is a celebration of the flowering of the meadows - an incredible sight.
Corfu in June is the best time of year to view fireflies. If you're lucky you'll be able to sit on the terrace of your villa after dark and watch fireflies glowing and pulsing in the trees. This is also a perfect time to walk the inland paths of Skopelos, discovering the island's many pretty monasteries.
The famous horse festival of St Joan takes place in Menorca on the Sunday of the week of 24th June. Witness this traditional festival in Ciutadella, where the riders demonstrate their superb horsemanship and you can partake in a drink of the local 'pomada'.
For lovers of historical sights, June is a great time to visit Crete's most famous asset, Knossos. Beat the crowds and get in there before the temperatures get too overpowering and enjoy a day exploring this ancient Minoan city.
Early July is a great time to visit Provence and watch the lavender fields explode into colour. In Catalunya, the Cap Roig music festival is held in the delightful Cap Roig Botanical Garden. As summer takes hold, the pavement cafes of Istria are abuzz with local people enjoying themselves, and in Corfu, open-air concerts are held in the old fortress of Corfu Town - a spectacular setting.
July and August are the best times of year to enjoy the beaches and towns of Galicia in northern Spain. Swimming in the sea is superb. In the Italian region of Le Marche, an open-air opera festival is held in Macerata, with performances held in the semi-elliptical Sferisterio. Perfect acoustics under the stars.
A superb time to visit Rhodes, should you wish to witness the amazing natural spectacle on show at the Valley of the Butterflies in Petoulades, a truly special annual event, as the colourful clouds of butterflies come to settle in the shady trees to breed.
Head to Northern Portugal for uncrowded beaches, local festivals and glorious weather. Another region where it's possible to find long stretches of uncrowded sandy beaches in August is the Peloponnese in Greece. In Skopelos it's time to witness the harvest of figs and plums.
The island is famous for its figs and prunes (dried plums) and in August they are literally falling from the trees by the sides of roads.
In South West France, August is the best time to visit the evening markets in the bastides. Food stalls and communal tables are laid out in the town squares.
After the flurry of summer, the Mediterranean begins to unwind in September. Calm is restored, and this is one of the best times of In Istria the water is crystal clear, and in Kefalonia September is a wonderful time to rent a small boat and explore the rugged unspoilt coastline.
Grapes are harvested in the Northern Portugal to produce the region's famous Vino Verde and in South West France, the vineyards of Bordeaux and Bergerac are beginning to turn colour. The quality of the light is superb and in the towns and villages there is a sense of peace and quiet.
September 8th and 9th are the days of the festival of Mare de Deu de Gracia in Mahon Menorca.
The famous black horses follow an open carriage carrying the statue of the Lady of Grace around the centre of Mahon and the festival culminates in a spectacular show of riding and jousting, followed by a firework display.
Crete is justifiably proud of its fresh and mainly organic cuisine. We recommend September as being the best month to visit, when an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables are being harvested, many of which are sold at simple stalls at the side of the road.
September is a perfect time for those wishing to explore the UNESCO world heritage sight of Rhodes old town. A stroll through the narrow cobbled streets unearth all sorts of fascinating discoveries.
Although the season is winding down and people preparing for autumn, the weather in October can often be superb. This is a great time to rent a car and explore the countryside or take long walks on coastal paths - all those wonderful things that in the heat of summer seemed too much trouble.
One of the best places to find warm weather now is Andalucia where the beaches are all but empty.
October is one of the best months to visit Turkey due to its southerly position in the Mediterranean. The warm balmy days continue well into the autumn along this privileged Lycean coastline.