How to turn 13 days of annual leave into 38 days of vacation (and where to go)

caribbean vacation beach trip 2023 public holidays annual leave - Getty

caribbean vacation beach trip 2023 public holidays annual leave – Getty

Knowledgeable travelers know the value of using public holidays wisely to their advantage to spend as much time as possible drinking coconut cocktails under a palm tree. This year offers even more chances to maximize your annual leave with an extra public holiday to mark the King’s coronation on 8 May.

Here we explain how you can turn a 13-day annual leave into a 38-day vacation and offer suggestions on where to go. Act quickly before your colleagues beat you up…


Book four days off for a 10-day vacation (April 7-16)

  • Public holidays: April 7 (Good Friday) and April 10 (Easter Monday)

  • Book a day off these days: April 11, 12, 13, 14

Where to go?

In these financially troubled times, few countries look as attractive as Turkey. One pound is currently worth around 23 Turkish Liras – from 18 a year ago to just 8 Turkish Liras in 2020, making this already affordable country an even better value. Our guide to visiting key coastal areas of Turkey includes flight information and tips on where to stay. If what you are looking for is an all-inclusive hotel, we have two Turkish hotels in our list of the best in the world.

Turkey is among the cheapest options in the Mediterranean - Getty

Turkey is among the cheapest options in the Mediterranean – Getty

Madeira is another good bet for Easter, whether you want to get out and take levada walks (pathways next to irrigation canals) or just relax in the city while the countryside is still lush. Discover offers both Madeira Island Discovery tour (from pp 859) and Hiking holiday in Madeira (from pp 840). Both in the last eight days.

Other European options include Crete, which offers everything from beaches, fine dining, and ancient sites to some of the continent’s most spectacular hiking trails.

If you’d rather stick with the Blighty, Cornwall’s Roseland Peninsula is a beautiful spot, offering gorgeous rolling countryside, fishing villages, woodland, gorgeous coastal road stretches, and walled-garden mansions. It also has its own microclimate that welcomes spring before the rest of the country. Who needs Costas? Stay at Driftwood, ranked among the UK’s best seaside hotels.

Falmouth, Cornwall - EyeEm

Falmouth, Cornwall – EyeEm

Early May / King’s Coronation public holiday

Book four days off for a 10-day vacation (April 29-May 8)

  • Public holidays: May 1 and May 8

  • Book these days off: May 2, 3, 4, 5

Where to go?

Go to a place where the king will approve to celebrate his coronation. It could be Poundbury, Dorset’s new “love it or hate it” town built on the King’s own traditional principles, or perhaps Transylvania. Charles III has a deep love for this rural part of Romania and even owns properties there that can be rented by vacationers.

Jules Verne’s nine-night Treasures of Transylvania tour (from £1,395 pp) begins in Bucharest and takes travelers through mountain trails, river crossings, idyllic landscapes and inspiring heritage to “medieval towns and rural villages, legendary castles and iconic ‘ to the painted churches. ”.

Bran Castle, Romania - Getty

Bran Castle, Romania – Getty

Or keep your carbon footprint in check by taking a vacation by train. The south of France will warm up nicely by May, so set off from St Pancras early in the morning and you’ll be in Avignon by the afternoon – the gateway to one of the country’s most enchanting corners, the Luberon, famous for it. Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. A self-catering holiday in one of the charming hill villages (Bonnieux, Roussillon, Gordes, Goult, Menerbes and Lacoste are the most attractive), the regional capital Aix-en-Provence, day trips to see the magnificent (if overcrowded) Les Baux in Provence, Mont Ventoux (best handled by bike if you’re feeling masochistic) and (farther afield) Gorges du Verdon are hard to beat.

There are also a number of new sleeper services that connect Europe’s major cities if you prefer to turn your train vacation into an adventure.

For an English vacation filled with blackberry walks, Unique Homestays never fails. Their luxury self-catering properties tick all the style boxes and are located in some of the UK’s most charming corners.

spring holiday break

Book a day off for a four-day vacation (May 26-May 29)

Where to go?

We can’t think of a better place to spend a long weekend at the end of May than Porto. Our city expert Oliver Balch writes: “Long considered the quieter sibling of Lisbon, Portugal’s second city is currently undergoing a magical rejuvenation. Centuries ago, English merchant ships would assemble at Porto’s medieval port to take home the port wines named after the region. Now, the city’s riverbanks are filled with cool new bars and cool sidewalk restaurants. From world-class concerts at Casa de Musica to exciting art exhibitions on Rua de Miguel Bombarda, it’s Porto’s resurgent cultural scene that has helped accelerate its transformation. However, this ancient metropolis, like many other popular European destinations, is not in a position to let tourism pamper itself. Portuenses love old world methods too much to give up on them. That’s why the city’s cobbled streets and beautiful tiled churches, lazy lunch hours, and poignant intimacy remain constant. In short, what is on offer is the best of both worlds.”

Other good options include Palermo, one of Europe’s most sensual cities, ancient, honey-coloured Valletta, and Seville, the sensual tapas capital.

Gorgeous Porto - Alamy

Gorgeous Porto – Alamy

Summer holiday

Book a day off for a four-day vacation (August 25-28)

Where to go?

There is one obvious option for families during the month of August – a long weekend at Disneyland Paris. You can get there directly from St Pancras with Eurostar. Other options for a no-fly weekend break include Amsterdam or its sister Rotterdam, with a nonstop Eurostar connection. See our ultimate European rail map for more ideas.

Or escape the heat and head to a Scandi capital. Copenhagen (connected to Malmö by one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels), Stockholm and Oslo all offer a similar combination of trendy bars, watery scenery and imposing architecture.

Copenhagen - Muriel de Seze

Copenhagen – Muriel de Seze

Defy the busy roads and cross the road to one of our lesser-known gems for a UK vacation. How about the time-forgotten English county of Herefordshire, or The Forest of Dean, which offers simple pleasures such as cozy cottages without Wi-Fi, hearty meals in simple bars, and long walks in the old woodland with a chance to spot timid deer? wild boar?

Christmas/New Year

Book three days off for a 10-day vacation (23 December-1 January)

  • Public holidays: December 25, December 26, January 1

  • Book these days off: 27, 28, 29 December

Where to go?

You want warmth and winter is coming – so where better than the Caribbean? More than 7,000 separate islands make up this sunny region – so picking just one is a challenge. Some are suitable for beach-goers, while others are created for adventure. There are islands for history buffs, naturalists, night owls and luxury lovers. St Lucia offers a little bit of everything, making it a great option for first-time visitors to the area. BA’s all-inclusive packages start at £975 per person.

Sugar Beach in St Lucia

Sugar Beach in St Lucia

Or there’s Sri Lanka for even better value. The political situation has stabilized since last summer, but visitor numbers – and prices – are quite low. Consider beers at £1 instead of £7 in a place like the Maldives. It’s the perfect place to combine chilling on the beach, with culture and wildlife without breaking the bank. Trailfinders’ one week Classic Sri Lanka tour costs £1,097 per person.

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