10 Royal Vacation Spots You Can Visit
Want to vacation like a royal? Here's the low-down on where to go.
Prince Charles and Princess Diana honeymooned in the tiny British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar in 1981, and although it only covers seven square kilometres, there’s plenty to see and do in this historic spot. The famous Rock of Gibraltar towers over the landscape, forming a natural gateway to the Mediterranean. On a clear day, climb the challenging Mediterranean Steps and you’ll have a great view across the Straits of Gibraltar to the African coast only 14 kilometres away. And, the rock is riddled with caves. Check out the famous St. Michael’s Caves, and the dozens of macaque apes, known for their curiosity and boldness.
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Rab Island, Croatia
In 1936, the little Croatian island of Rab shot to fame when the new King Edward VIII took his partner Wallis Simpson on a tour around the Adriatic, stopping off at Rab en route. This beautiful little island is only 93 square kilometres, but is packed with history and picturesque sights wherever you go. The main town features medieval houses with signature red roof shingles, making it a photographer’s dream. The 15th-century city walls offer a great view. Visit the Cove of Saint Euphemia to see the historic church with four bell towers, and enjoy delicious seafood at one of the city’s many restaurants.
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Isshiki Beach, Japan
A favourite vacation haunt for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan, as well as previous generations of Japanese royalty, Isshiki Beach is located in the Japanese resort of Hayama. It boasts a lovely sandy beach that’s perfect for the whole family, and is famous for its water sports like windsurfing and kayaking. And, this beach was named in the CNN World’s Best 100 Beaches. The popular Blue Moon beach house takes centre stage, with its great food, refreshing drinks, relaxing spa and live music.
King Felipe and Queen Letizia of Spain love to vacation in Palma on the island of Mallorca. This historic city has plenty to offer everyone, including a stunning cathedral, ancient churches, bustling plaza and thriving market. When on vacation, the Spanish royals stay at their summer residence, the Marivent Palace, built by painter and collector John Saridakis (1877-1963). Here he housed 100 paintings, 1,300 pieces of antique furniture and a library of more than 2,000 books.
The exclusive Greek island of Spetses is the summer home of the deposed Greek royal HRH Prince Nikolaos of Greece and Denmark. This island has a long naval tradition, and there are plenty of historic sights to see when you explore the cobbled streets and old harbour. A horse-drawn carriage ride is the perfect way to explore! Old houses like the House of Baboulina and the House of Hatzigiannis Mexis have been converted into museums that showcase the island’s history. The island also has a cathedral and many smaller churches to visit, and when you’re tired, you can relax on one of the many beautiful beaches. In October, Spetses hosts a magnificent recreation of a naval battle.
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Costa Smeralda, Sardinia
Famed as the last vacation destination of Diana, Princess of Wales, Costa Smerelda is a holiday haven for the rich and famous. Developed by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in the 1960s, the north-eastern coastline of Sardinia is a magnet for up-market celebrities in the summer months. Here you’ll find everything you need for a luxury vacation, including marinas, beaches packed with activities, water sports, jumping nightlife and golf courses.
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Like many European royals, Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark likes to take his family on vacation in their home country. Each summer, they head for their royal residence in Skagen, the most northerly town in Denmark. This picturesque town only has 8,000 inhabitants, but this swells to more than 60,000 in the summer months, drawn by the natural beauty and peacefulness of this traditional Danish resort. The town is surrounded by sand dunes, with local houses painted yellow with traditional red-tiled roofs. There are white sandy beaches, museums to enjoy, and you can even take a guided tour of the local brewery. The iconic Skagen Grey Lighthouse, an inspiration for many local artists, is now a center for studying migratory birds. Skagen has an annual yacht race on Ascension Day, as well as a Summerfest, a music festival, and a bird festival.
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Bygdø Royal Farm, Oslo
The Norwegian royal family also has its own royal residence to use for a staycation. Each summer, King Harald and Queen Sonja retire to the Bygdø Royal Farm in Oslo, owned by the royal family since 1305. On this 500-acre site, you’ll find a lovely Baroque house surrounded by beautiful gardens. There has been a farm on the land since the Middle Ages, and it now operates as an organic dairy farm with around 60 cows, 90 calves and nine ponies. The farm is open on Saturdays out of season and even offers riding lessons for children.
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Vacation spots don’t come any more sophisticated than Biarritz on the French Riviera. Famed worldwide as a summer retreat for the super-wealthy, Great Britain’s Prince William and Kate Middleton have enjoyed a sun-soaked holiday here, staying in the five-star Hotel du Palais. Formerly the palace built for Empress Eugenia de Montijo, wife of Napoleon III, this luxury hotel is just one of the high-end spots to spend a night or two in Biarritz. The town itself has over six kilometres of sweeping sandy beaches, making it a surfing hot-spot, and the sea is infused with iodine from the local seaweed. These therapeutic properties make spa treatments a popular way to relax.
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Montego Bay, Jamaica
What could be a hotter royal vacation spot than the sun-kissed Caribbean island of Jamaica? Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are just one couple who’ve enjoyed the fabulous tropical delights of Montego Bay, a resort that offers everything you need for a luxurious holiday. Catch some sun on the white sandy beaches, play a quick round of golf (and enjoy a drink at the 19 hole!), sail a catamaran over clear blue seas, or ride a raft down some white water. If history is more to your liking, then visit the Rastafari Indigenous Village or take a plantation tour.
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