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Enjoy beautiful beaches on some of Europe's most stunning islands

Party the night away in Ibiza, enjoy the buzz of Barcelona or soak up some sun in Palma – you can do it all with Monarch. With amazingly low fares, a fantastic selection of destinations plus the option to pre-book your seats, it’s so easy for you to get away this year.

Whether you’re planning a short break or a backpacking adventure, Monarch’s frequent flights to destinations including Ibiza, Almeria and Barcelona give you the chance to hop from island to island, or from city to city, and enjoy so many of Europe’s highlights.

Time Out's team of expert travel writers have rounded up some of the wonderful locations you can fly to with Monarch.

Almería

  • The Andalucian province of Almería is the hottest, sunniest and driest corner of Europe, but it’s not all beaches and burros. The provincial capital, Almería city, is on the rise – it was a key port in Moorish times and has grown rich in recent years on the back of the mega polytunnel industry you see as you drive around the region. Heading south, Cabo de Gata is the classy part of the coast, while Mojácar, to the west is a popular and fun seaside spot.

  • Do/see

    Once you’ve notched up some good swims and seen the Moorish Alcazaba in Almería City, visit Oasys, better known as Mini Hollywood, a bizarre American cowboy theme park that celebrates Almería’s lead role in all those famous Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western films.

  • Eat/drink

    Casa Puga in Almería City has fab tapas and an astonishingly good wine list, while, on the coast, the candlelit beach restaurants in Cabo de Gata serve fresh and flavourful fish dishes.

  • Stay

    Whitewashed El Tío Kiko, in Cabo de Gata, is a stylish boutique property, with terraces and Jacuzzis in all rooms; eight-room Mamabel’s in Mojácar Pueblo is the place to eat and stay in the resort – each room is individually decorated and the views are stunning.

  • Further afield

    If you have a week and are all beached out, go for a drive inland to see – and, weather permitting, hike - the arid, ravine-strewn mountainscapes of the Sierra de los Filabres and Almerian Alpujarras. Here you’ll come across the Tabernas Texas Hollywood: yep, cowboy, a second Western theme park, less publicised but at least as much fun. A third location, Western Leone, contains the ranch used in Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West’.

Barcelona

  • Barcelona beach front Barcelona beach front - © Olivia Rutherford/Time Out

    Firmly established as one of Europe’s favourite cities, Barcelona is a lot more than Las Ramblas, a glamorous footie team and those curious Gaudi buildings. The capital of Catalunya, it is a cultural, historical and retail hub for an entire region, and boasts the gastronomy, hedonism, sights and museums that warrants – and, above all, a joie de vivre that even madrileños envy. See available flights to Barcelona.

  • Do/see

    Okay, let’s get Las Ramblas out of the way first: if you’ve not walked this famous boulevard, set out from Plaza Catalunya and hike the mile or so down the thoroughfare to the sea – take a sidetrip to the right to see the Barri Gotic and its cathedral. Afterwards, head for the trendy Eixample district to see Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and the Museu del Mondernisme Catalá to see spectacular art nouveau furniture and objects of beauty.

  • Eat/drink

    Is Barcelona the greatest culinary capital in the world? Probably. While legendary El Bulli closed in 2011, Big Fish, Casa Delfin and Patxoca continue to deliver fine ‘New Catalan’ cuisine, while tapas bars Bar del Pla and Tapaç are best for hot bites and cold beers.

  • Stay

    For luxury, the new Casanova BCN Hotel in Eixample has huge rooms (the suites have two bathrooms) and a rooftop pool; if you want romance and old-school class, aim for Casa Fuster, which is a Modernista classic with a famous in-house café and top-notch service.

  • Further afield

    From Barcelona, you can either head to the beaches – to party town Sitges, bustling Barceloneta or handsome Caldetes – or continue along the coast to historic Tarragona, the site of extensive Roman ruins and medieval buildings.

Ibiza

  • Families, clubbers, honeymooners, history fans, foodies, birders – Ibiza, the second largest of the Balearic Islands, ticks more boxes than you might first assume. There is also something rather enigmatic about the island locals call Eivissa, because despite decades of tourism it retains unspoilt countryside – especially in the north – and there’s also an enduring hippie vibe that seems - for all the partying - to calm the place down. See available flights to Ibiza

  • Do/see

    The Unesco-listed Dalt Vila - the old part of Ibiza town – is worth a wander for its magnificent gateway, the Portal de ses Taules, cathedral and necropolis. See the flamingos on the salt flats at Ses Salines in the southeast corner of the island and then head to the unspoiled stretch of beach at nearby Es Cavallet. Calle de la Virgen in the harbour district is where to head if you’re after after-dark fun and games. In Ibiza (41km by 14km at its widest points) nowhere is very far from the sea, so spend a day beach-hunting and escape the crowds.

  • Eat/drink

    Seafood reigns supreme on Ibiza, so try the fish stews (the skate stew, borrida de rajada, is a classic). There are some great restaurants in Sant Josep – Ca Na Joana has a seasonal menu and occupies a lovely old farmhouse.

  • Stay

    For a rural retreat, pick one of Ibiza’s agroturismo hotels nestling in the green hillsides Agriturismo Xarc in Santa Eularia – a resort on the island’s only river – is a classy country hotel with a gorgeous pool and traditional features such as stone walls and wooden beams.

  • Further afield

    Once you’ve seen the beaches, resorts, bars and rural areas of Ibiza, why not travel over to the tiny island of Formentera – just an hour by boat – where life is a lot slower.

Palma

  • Many visitors to Majorca never set foot in its cosmopolitan capital – heading straight from airport to resort – but those who do are always surprised by its assured character and sophistication. Packing in interesting shops, fine Modernista architecture, cool seafront bars and a lively contemporary art scene, it’s as a sort of mini-Barcelona, but without the tourist droves.

  • See/do

    Palma’s cathedral – known locally as La Seu – is impressive for its great age as well as its dimensions: it was started in the 13th century and as late as 1901 Gaudi was invited to make alterations. Other must-sees are the modern and contemporary art at Es Baluard and the Miró works at the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró.

  • Eat/drink

    As well as characterful eating opportunities – don’t miss tapas bar La Bóveda, an old favourite, or a big night out at Majorqui-style food supremo Celler Sa Premsa.

  • Stay

    Palma has an impressive number of boutique hotels for such a small city – Hotel Portixol goes for a maritime art deco vibe and is Swedish-run so minimal, calming and suave. The Puro is ethno-chic heaven with an oriental-slanted restaurant and yoga mats.

  • Further afield

    It’s less than an hour from Palma to Majorca’s spectacular Sierra de Tramontana mountain range or to the lovely beach at Pollenca; Soller is also worth a look: take the old train from Palma to see the landscape and then jump on the local tram to the port.


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