Let summer begin with four easy escapes this May or June
Why go? Bieszczady National Park sits deep in Poland’s south-east corner, and is home to the poloniny (lofty meadows) and forests of the Carpathian Mountains. You can join wolf- tracking tours, but also look out for bison, lynx and brown bears; birding is good May/June too. Cisna village is a good base for hiking trips along the park’s network of trails. Walks up onto the grassy shoulder (up to 1,300m) are fairly easy.
Where to stay: Villa Helena in Cisna has homely rooms from £7.
Getting there: Ryanair flies to Kraków from £67 rtn. Buses run from Kraków to Sanok (4.5 hrs), then on to Cisna (1hr). The park is a further hour by bus.
Why go? Tourist season has not yet begun on this French isle, so it’s the perfect time to explore unimpeded by the summer hordes. Visit Italian-influenced Bonifacio in the south (it’s just 12km across the water from Sardinia), to explore the town’s signature limestone cliffs and caves by kayak. Dine among sparkling yachts, before taking your own boat to the Îles Lavezzi, a group of barren granite islands famed for diving, friendly fish and azure waters.
Where to stay: Enjoy breakfast overlooking the sea at the Hotel Santateresa; doubles from £88.
Getting there: Corsican Places runs Stansted-Figari flights, May-Sept. Figari is 20km from Bonifacio.
Why go? Time to ditch the winter furs! The sun’s out in St Petersburg and it’s here to stay (for a bit at least), illuminating the night skies in a lingering twilight from around 25 May to early July. Locals relish these White Nights, an ethereal window of almost 24-hour daylight, meaning the city’s abuzz. Take advantage of the long days, air of frivolity and alfresco entertainment: fireworks, late-night walks, evening cruises and the obligatory vodka toasts.
Where to stay: Nevsky Inn B&B is comfortable, simple and welcoming. Doubles from £84.
Getting there: BA flies Heathrow-St Petersburg from around £280 rtn.
Why go? World-class sailing regattas flood the seas here in May and June; if you prefer dry land, try Falmouth, which sits prettily along the 1,000km South West Coast Path. Sample a series of creek-side, cliff-top or beachside day walks to old fishing villages, regal castles and waterside retreats. And take the ferry across to the Roseland Peninsula, stopping for a tasty lunch at the secluded Hidden Hut.
Where to stay: The Edwardian-style Rosemary B&B overlooks Falmouth Bay, and serves up delicious afternoon tea. Doubles with a sea view from £88 in May.
Getting there: Falmouth-Truro is 28 mins by train; trains connect from here to other cities (firstgreatwestern.co.uk).