Flights to Lefkada, Corsica, Charleston and Chengdu, in China’s Sichuan Province, have all been announced for summer 2019. Read on to see who’s flying where, and why you might want to go.
UPDATE: Flybe has announced flights from Heathrow to Newquay, Cornwall. And British Airways has added two new summer routes, to Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Montpellier (France), and a year-round service to Islamabad (Pakistan). Details below …
Sichuan Province, China
If you aren’t familiar with the capital of Sichuan, you’ll certainly recognise its most famous inhabitants. If you want to get up close and personal with a panda, there’s simply nowhere else like it.
In the lush valleys nearby you’ll find the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre – part zoo, part science lab and part habitat, it’s the best place IN THE WORLD to get up close and personal with pandas and their cubs. And, frankly, there isn’t much that’s cuter than a panda baby.
Chengdu is China’s fifth-most populous city, but don’t make the mistake of writing it off as yet another megalopolis.
The ‘City of Hibiscus’ is ranked among China’s most liveable cities, and makes a great base for exploring Sichuan sights including the Giant Buddha of Leshan, Mount Qingcheng and the Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area.
It’s also a great stopover for Tibet, offering daily flights to the capital, Lhasa.
You’ll dine well here, too. Sichuan cuisine is famously spicy and you shouldn’t miss a chance to try the local hotpots, Chongqing duck neck or spicy dragon prawns.
Air China begins year-round direct flights to Chengdu on Tuesday 2 April 2019 from Heathrow Terminal 2. Services depart Heathrow at 22:00 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and arrive in Chengdu at 15:25 local time the following day.
Ionian Islands, Greece
With its paradise beaches, traditional villages, fabulous climate and ruggedly stunning scenery, Lefkada just might be the perfect Greek island. Which is funny, considering that for a long time it wasn’t an island at all.
The ancient Corinthians dug the canal that turned a peninsula into an island, and it’s still one of the few Greek islands you can drive to. In fact it’s only 20 minutes’ drive to Preveza Airport, on the mainland.
If island-hopping is your thing, there are car ferries to Kefalonia, Ithaca and Meganissi from the south coast. But don’t be in too much of a hurry – there’s plenty to see and do here first.
Tourism is most developed on the east coast, around the main resort of Nydri, but it’s the island’s scenic interior – all cypresses, olive groves and vineyards – where you’ll find the real back-in-time experiences.
It’s well worth exploring villages like Englouvi, near Karya, dramatically situated with mountains on three sides, or taking a scenic drive through the southern hamlets of Fterno, Vournikas and Syvros.
The west coast is where you’ll find the very best beaches, all golden sands and ridiculously turquoise waters. Sadly, beautiful Egremni was severely damaged by an earthquake in 2015, but it’s still accessible (and stunning) if you take a boat trip.
And on the south coast are picture-postcard bays and inlets, as well as the cliffs where the poet Sappho is said to have jumped to her death. These days it’s a magnet for watersports enthusiasts.
British Airways flights to Aktion National Airport, Preveza, begin on 26 May 2019 and continue until 29 September. There will be two flights a week, on Wednesdays and Sundays, from Heathrow Terminal 5. Flight time is 3 hours, 15 minutes.
South Carolina, USA
There’s no missing the history when you touch down in ‘Chucktown’. Despite wars, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes, South Carolina’s oldest city still boasts hundreds of preserved and restored buildings.
The downtown area is packed with old-fashioned inns, cobbled streets and colourful wood-panelled houses. And if it’s sightseeing you want, there are even horse-drawn carriages to take you on a tour. Old South atmosphere? It’s all here.
From slave trade plantations to the place where the American Civil War started, there’s a lot to see and learn. Even Charleston Museum itself opened in 1773, when the US was still a British colony.
This is a compact, walkable city, known for its friendly people and southern charm. The local Lowcountry cuisine is big on seafood, from crab soup to oyster stew to prawn gumbo. Outside the city are marshlands rich in natural beauty.
British Airways will operate the only direct flight from London to Charleston when flights start in April. There will be two weekly flights from Heathrow Terminal 5, on Thursdays and Sundays.
Craggy coastlines, mountain landscapes, rich history and a beguiling mix of French and Italian culture – there’s plenty to love about Corsica.
And just in case you needed one more reason, how about: another new Heathrow-Corsica route, courtesy of British Airways.
In 2018 the airline launched flights to Figari, in southern Corsica, and for summer season 2019 it’s adding Bastia, in the north. So if you’re looking to explore the citadel at Calvi, the white sands of L’Île-Rousse and the waterfront at St Florent, you can be there even sooner.
Of course, whether you fly to Figari or Bastia, nowhere on Corsica is more than three hours’ drive away. So you still can enjoy the famous wines of Cap Corse without missing the fortress at Corte or the dramatic clifftop town of Bonifacio.
The island as a whole is balmy, not stifling, thanks to its mountains and sea breezes, and the average August high is 29C. So it’s perfect at a time when the rest of the Med can be uncomfortably hot.
From 25 May to 28 September 2019, flights depart Heathrow Terminal 5 to Bastia on Saturdays and Figari on Sundays. Flight time is a little over two hours.
Exploring England’s wild West is about to become a lot easier. Flybe has announced flights from Heathrow to Newquay – Britain’s top surfing hotspot and gateway to beautiful Cornwall.
From 31st March 2019 Flybe will operate four flights a day, seven days a week from Terminal 2 to Newquay Cornwall Airport. Flight time will be around an hour by 78-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop.
Connecting Newquay to the UK’s hub airport will also create simpler connections between the South West and major cities around the world.
Newquay, on the north Cornish coast, is a great base for exploring the region’s attractions including Land’s End, Lizard Point, Bedruthan Steps and Tintagel Castle. The Eden Project is a little over 30 minutes’ drive and the Scilly Islands a 15-minute flight.
The surrounding country is famous for its impossibly pretty fishing villages, rocky coves, prehistoric sites and unspoilt beaches.
If the long drive to Cornwall has put you off in the past, summer 2019 just might be the perfect time to head way out West.
Even more announcements about flights from Heathrow for 2019. These British Airways flights depart from Terminal 5: