olive travels: where to visit in July
From Hampshire vineyard festivals to Slovenian riverside dining and Provençal market towns, here's our pick of where to travel this month
Want some ideas on where to go on holiday in July? We've selected our pick of destinations for a food lover's break this summer: vineyard tours in the Hampshire countryside, fresh produce in Provençal towns and outdoor dining in Slovenia's picturesque capital city. This is just a small selection of our UK, European and global travel guides, click here for more inspiration, or check out our pick of the best UK culinary escapes for 2022 and Europe's top food trips for 2022.We also have our pick of destinations to visit in May and June.
Vineyard tours and country pubs in Hampshire
The rolling Hampshire countryside is home to a crop of family-run, award-winning vineyards, eight of which come together as Vineyards of Hampshire, to put on celebrations of the county’s wine. Join an afternoon of wine masterclasses, guided tastings and vineyard tours on the River Test at this year’s Fizz Fest on 24 July. Hosted by expert Helen McGinn at Black Chalk Vineyard, the festival will showcase more than 20 English wines from Hampshire, including top picks from Danebury Vineyards, Hattingley Valley and Hambledon. Sit on a hay bale, listen to live music and tuck into street food from local producers.
Plenty of country pubs and restaurants with rooms are nestled into Hampshire’s villages of red-brick and thatched cottages. Within 30 minutes’ drive of Black Chalk vineyard, Bel & the Dragon in Kingsclere (from £115 per night, check availability at booking.com) manages to feature both a gastro dining room and the feel of an authentic local pub, with plenty of Hampshire ales on draught. Or Whitchurch’s quintessential country pub, Bourne Valley Inn (from £85 per night, check availability at booking.com), boasts nine elegantly decorated rooms and a garden that runs down to the River Test, home to wild trout. Other excellent lunch options range from modern flourishes on traditional pub food at village pub The Purefoy Arms, to Skye Gyngell’s elegantly simple seasonal dishes on the terrace of perfectly manicured estate, Heckfield Place (from £350 per night, check availability at mrandmrssmith.com).
Fresh produce and pale rosé in Provence
Hop on the Eurostar from King's Cross St Pancras and ride it all the way down to Provence, through miles of lavender fields in glorious purple bloom and rows of vines ripening in the southern French sun. Multicultural coastal city, Marseille, makes an excellent first stop for eclectic dining experiences, from calamari with Espelette pepper at lively seafood joint La Boîte à Sardine, to pistou soup with courgette flowers at contemporary bistro Madame Jeanne and Patisserie Sylvain Depuichaffray's green tea and strawberry mille-feuille. Bask in the early evening sun with an apéro (pair pastis with spiced chickpea fritters) on the pavement of Café de l’Abbaye, perched above the Vieux Port.
Drive further into the countryside to take in July’s heady aromas of herbs and abundant fresh fruit and veg piled high on market stalls in tiny, honey-hued villages. Base yourself at La Bastide de Gordes, a five-star hotel built into the ancient ramparts on the side of the gorge in dramatic, cliff-top town Gordes. Book a table beneath The Orangery's leafy awning for an elegant Sunday brunch with vast views of the Luberon Valley’s vineyards. Make the most of the Eurostar baggage allowance and stock up on dry and floral viogniers, crunchy, fruity cabernet sauvignon and iconic pale rosé from smart boutique vineyard La Citadelle.
Slovenia’s bike-friendly capital city comes alive in the summer, with restaurant and café terraces spilling onto the embankments of the Ljubljanica river. Taste through Šuklje's 200-strong list of Slovenian wines, sip on the country’s best-loved brews at contemporary pub Lajbah, and tuck into brunch eggs and wild asparagus fritters at EK Bistro, complete with a backdrop of forest-blanketed hills. The city’s cobbled streets are also home to plenty of sun traps – Vigò churns gelato to rival that of neighbouring Italy, sycamore trees provide pleasant shade to enjoy TaBar’s Slovenian tapas and orange wines, and the perch outside funky hole-in-the-wall coffee shop, Črno Zrno, is an ideal people-watching spot for a cold brew.
Every Friday in July (and throughout the summer), Pogačar Square comes to life as the city’s Open Kitchen Market. There’s a festival atmosphere beneath the shadows of the green-domed Ljubljana Cathedral, and all manner of vendors, from farms to gourmet restaurants, sell dishes and drinks for visitors to graze on. Sample vibrant pumpkin seed oil and Broken Bones gin (distilled with linden flowers and rosehip from Slovenia’s Karst region), or tuck into dishes from the country’s top restaurants – Gostilna Mihovec, Vander and JB Restaurant.