News It’s all about the sun: 5 most-searched destinations revealed

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It’s all about the sun: 5 most-searched destinations revealed

Wondering where the holiday hotspots are likely to be this year? After some dedicated data-crunching, we can reveal that some of them, at least, are perennial favourites – popular Spanish resorts accounted for around a quarter of the top 20 flight searches on Skyscanner over the Christmas and New Year break. These are the places you’re dreaming about, and they’ve got more to offer than just sun, sea and sand.

1. Palma

The days of Mallorca being a summer-only destination are long gone – with the tourist board pushing a ‘Better in Winter campaign’ and British Airways recently launching its first winter flights from Gatwick, the Balearic hotspot has clearly become established as an island for all seasons. The off-peak months are the perfect time to discover a quieter, more authentic side to the island. Wander the cobbled streets and squares of Palma’s old town or hike inland trails and check out Roman ruins, ancient castles and impressive cave systems. Art-lovers can also once more get an insight into the creative processes of Joan Miró at the Fundació Miró Mallorca – his former studio has been closed for renovations for the best part of a year but reopened to the public in mid-December.

Stay: Hotel Joan Miró Museum

Two hundred yards from the Fundació Miró is the Hotel Joan Miró Museum, where the interior design is themed around the artist’s work. It’s a 10-minute walk to Cala Major beach and about four miles in to central Palma, with a free shuttle bus to take you there. Rooms from around £64.

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2. Lanzarote

If your mental image of Lanzarote is still stuck in Lanzagrotty mode, make 2019 the year you see the error of your ways. Yes, there are a few densely developed areas in the major resorts, but the minute you venture beyond them you discover an island that’s remarkably untouched and unspoilt, with lunar landscapes, wild beaches and the weirdest vineyards you’re ever likely to come across. This is the perfect time to go, too, as Lanzarote gears up for a year-long celebration marking the centenary of the birth of César Manrique, the artist, architect and environmental activist who played a large part in saving it from being taken over by high-rise developers and at the same time embellished it with a few wonderfully surreal creations of his own.

Stay: La Isla y el Mar

One of the newer hotels on the island (it opened in 2015), La Isla y el Mar sits on the western edge of Puerto del Carmen, one of the main resorts. There’s a cool urban look to the decor and all of the 81 good-sized suites (from around £138 a night) have a sea view.

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3. Alicante

Alicante’s high ranking in the popular search stakes isn’t so surprising – as one of Spain’s busiest airports, it’s the gateway to classic Costa Blanca package destinations including Benidorm. Don’t go writing it off as all Irish-bars-and-English-breakfasts territory, though – in recent years, the region has become a hotspot for keen foodies, with a respectable sprinkling of Michelin-starred restaurants (including Quique Dacosta in Dénia, with three stars to its name) and high-quality local produce, including excellent seafood, fresh cherries and artichokes, and all manner of rice dishes. Not quite convinced? Then how about this: influential Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, of el Bulli fame, has described Alicante as having the best food in Spain and the country’s Royal Academy of Gastronomy recently declared the region Gastronomic Capital of the Mediterranean for 2019.

Stay: Hotel Hospes Amérigo

Converted from a former Dominican convent, Hotel Hospes Amérigo sits a couple of blocks back from the Alicante waterfront and is well placed for exploring the old town. Rooms (from around £106) are an elegant blend of old and new, and there’s a rooftop terrace with a pool, bar and great views.

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4. Malaga

It used to be that pretty much every tourist arriving at Malaga airport would head instantly out of town to the resorts of the Costa del Sol. Not any more. Since the turn of the century, Malaga has transformed itself into a city break destination in its own right, acquiring an impressive roster of museums and pulling in a whole new bunch of holidaymakers looking for a culture fix rather than a tan. Big hitting attractions include outposts of Paris’s Centre Pompidou and St Petersburg’s Russian State Museum and among the arty highlights for 2019 are Olga Picasso at the Picasso Museum (26 February-2 June), examining the life and influence of the artist’s first wife, and a new exhibition at the Carmen Thyssen Museum (30 March-8 September) dedicated to depictions of femmes fatales in modern art.

Stay: Rome Mate Valeria

As well as being excellent value (with rooms from around £98), Rome Mate Valeria also has striking design, friendly staff and a central location that’s walking distance from most of the main attractions.

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5. Tenerife

You’d think Tenerife’s popularity with sun-seeking Brits must surely have peaked by now but no – the island just gets more popular by the day and was the most searched European holiday destination over the Christmas/New Year break. Some will simply be looking for beach-based R&R, or a chance to drive through and explore the mountains, others keen to explore the cultural attractions of the capital, Santa Cruz. But with so many in the grip of body-conscious New Year’s resolutions, we’re betting the island’s growing reputation as a medical tourism destination might also be playing a part. If a friend arrives back from Tenerife looking 10 years younger, it might not be down purely to the recuperative powers of a restful break…

Stay: Baobab Suites

Combining super-sleek, modern design with family-friendly facilities, Baobab Suites has large, well-equipped apartments, an on-site sports club and wellness centre, and a choice of four restaurants. Suites from around £195.

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Ready to book one of the most-searched destinations?


All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of writing on 8 January 2019.