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Travel: Late greats; If you haven't been on holiday yet, don't panic - September is the best time to visit these fab places.

Byline: Gill Williams

Join the jet set in Sardinia

Sardinia's Costa Smeralda equals rich playboys and yachts. Even the local nightclub is called Billionaires. But behind the glitzy image is a beautiful corner of the Mediterranean. The rocky coastline gives way to white-sand bays and the rich turquoise sea which gave the province its name, the Emerald Coast. It's a good late-break option as the temperature averages 28C in September. And Ryanair's decision to fly daily to Sardinia from Stansted means you don't have to be a millionaire to get there. However, if you want a bit of pampering, there are hotels to cater for your needs. Sipping cocktails on the terrace of the Hotel Romazzino, you can't help feeling holidays don't get much better than this. The hotel looks like a white-washed Mediterranean village and is just two storeys high. Large padded loungers surround the curved pool and bedrooms are crisp in style. There are mountain bikes (apparently) and a gym (if you must) and it's just 11km to Port Cervo, a famously chic Costa Smeralda village.

September sizzler: Ryanair flies daily from Stansted from pounds 29.99 one- way including tax; call 0871-246 0000. Rooms at the Hotel Romazzino start at about pounds 110 a night; call 00 39 0789-977111. For car hire call Holiday Autos on 0870-400 0000.

Enjoy the quiet in Menorca

Ditch the car and follow winding paths down to hidden beaches during a late summer escape to Menorca. Or take advantage of temperatures peaking at a bearable 26C to explore fields of ancient standing stones and romantic 17th-century towns. Even in high season, the second largest island in the Balearics is quieter than neighbouring Mallorca and Ibiza. By September, you'll find uncrowded beaches and Spanish replacing English chatter in the beach cafes. And not only is the island less crowded, but prices are lower too. Menorca has few big hotels. Instead, rent a villa in small resorts like Binibeca and make day trips. Visit the town of Ma on Sunday when entertainers play to the crowds on the main square. Pass on tourist cafes serving anglicised versions of Spanish food. Instead, head for La Minerva, a converted flour warehouse in Ma which serves seafood cooked in a classic Spanish style.

September sizzler: You can rent Villa Binimar in Binibeca in September for pounds 449 each when six share. This includes flights from Gatwick between 9 and 22 September and car hire through Meon Villas; call 01730-230370 or see www.meonvillas.co.uk.

Make merry in Cyprus

Feel the juice squelching between your toes when you kick off your flip- flops and help tread the grapes in Cyprus. Chase the sunshine to Limassol, an ancient city that's been reinvented as the island's biggest holiday resort. Every September, tourists join locals in the Limassol wine festival, an up-to-date version of ancient revelry dedicated to the god of wine, Dionysus. Musicians entertain the masses while the town council buys a round for all visitors. The sea is still warm in September and the resort simmers beneath 11 hours of sunshine. Make a day trip into the capital Nicosia and stop in one of the cafes along Lidra or Onasagorou streets for coffee.

September sizzler: Call the Cyprus Tourism Organisation on 020-7569 8800. A week's B&B at the Le Meridien Limassol Spa & Resort from 19 September with flights and private taxi transfers is pounds 669 through Argo Holidays; call 0870-066 7070.

Get fit in Croatia

Join tennis stars like Anna Kournikova for a sporty stay on Brac in Croatia. The island is a 75-minute ferry ride from bustling Split on the mainland and the third largest island in the Adriatic. Ten years after war ended here, Brac is restyling itself as a sports and spa destination. Do as the locals do and get around by bicycle or practise your backhand on international tournament courts at the island's tennis club or join yoga sessions at the Olive Bay Retreat, which pampers its handful of guests with massage, meditation and local organic food. Several newly renovated tourist hotels in nearby Bol have opened watersports' clubs offering paragliding, windsurfing and sailing tuition.

The island averages nine hours of sunshine a day in September but you may need a light sweater in the evenings when breezes whip in from the Adriatic. Work on a late summer tan down at Zlatni Rat, otherwise known as the Golden Horn and claimed to be the most beautiful beach in the Adriatic.

September sizzler: Seven nights full-board at the Olive Bay Retreat with daily yoga and meditation classes and two treatments is pounds 750 excluding flights; call 020-7795 0195.

CAPTION(S):

Clockwise from top left: gorgeous green seas give Sardinia's coastline its name: The Emerald Coast; enjoy the tranquillity in Menorca off season; take time out to explore Limassol Castle during a late-break to Cyprus; be among the first to discover Croatia's coast
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2002
Words:818
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