The typically inconsistent English summer weather has left us all dreaming of an exotic break in the sun. Whether you’re after a cultural escape, a serious bit of R&R, or a wild party getaway, these hot holiday destinations are not only conveniently affordable and close, but will also tick off all your holiday desires.

Barcelona

You can’t go wrong with a holiday in Barcelona. The Spanish city offers its visitors breathtaking scenery and weather that is sure to be warm enough to enjoy the beach in both spring and summer, all within a rich and eclectic culture.

Soak in the very best of modernista architecture—related to the Art Nouveau movement—which was championed by architect Antoni Gaudi who left an important legacy in Barcelona. Influenced by nature, Gaudi’s work is reflected in curved stones and organic-like forms, which can be seen in the world famous unfinished Sagrada Familia, his life work.

Perhaps the best place to explore Gaudi’s art nouveau masterpieces is in Eixample, a neighborhood characterised for its long straight streets and grid pattern. Don’t miss Gaudi’s Casa Batllo, a building of great grandeur and iconic architectural merit that stands proud against the cityscape of Barcelona. And, if after a day of walking around, you are desperate for a bit of respite, the neighbourhood is also overflowing with bars and clubs for all tastes.

If you’re considering staying in Barcelona for a few days, take the train 40 minutes to the popular beach town of Sitges. As one of the main gay summer destinations in Europe, the town boasts numerous gay bars and clubs, restaurants, a sauna and two gay beaches.

Key Events:

April: BEARcelona Festival
June: Barcelona Gay Pride
August: The Circuit Festival Party
October: International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

Gran Canaria

Situated along the northwest coast of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria has the benefit of year-round sun.

Gran Canaria most definitely provides its tourists with the opportunity for 24-7 partying, with a number of resorts, fantastic bars, clubs and activities on offer. Organised by a group of gay French men, Dunas Party is a week-long celebration you can’t afford to miss if you’re looking for a serious party. The festive event includes boat cruises, dinners and excursions – what more could any party animal want?

When you’re ready to take a break from it all, bask in the beauty of the city’s long white beaches, contrasting green ravines and picturesque villages. Delve a bit deeper into this island’s charm and tranquility by heading away from the touristy beaches to explore Gran Canaria’s trail of laid back towns, and meet the island’s welcoming locals who really make this a destination you’ll want to return to time and time again.

Key Events:

January: Bear Beach
February: Las Palmas Carnival
May: Maspalomas Gay Pride

Rome

For anyone looking to indulge their inner history nerd, why not escape to Rome which is overflowing with fine architecture on every corner. The Italian capital’s streets are lined with Baroque and Renaissance architecture, with world famous sights that include the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trajan’s Column, the Catacombs of Rome, the Circus Maximus, to name just a few. Each site offers a perspective on a distinct part of Rome’s rich and complex history.

When you want to unwind and treat yourself to a little retail therapy, visit Via Condotti, the main shopping district, where you’ll find some of Italy’s most luxurious brands all within close proximity of each other.

For those looking to let loose, Giardino Delle Cascate, also known as ‘Gay Village’, is Rome’s biggest LGBT summer party. Drawing tourists from all over the world, this party runs from June to September and includes fun bars as well as a large outdoor dance area with many DJs, shows and entertainment.

Key events:

June-September: Giardino Delle Cascate
June: Bunker Bear Party
October: Roma Pride