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Category: Destinations

Best beach holiday destinations in Europe blog image

Our pick of the best beach holiday destinations in Europe

It’s without doubt that we’re spoilt for choice when choosing our summer holiday — with so many incredible and picturesque European destinations, right on our doorstep, how do we choose?

This 2019, we have four favourite beach hot-spots: Sardinia, Crete, Cyprus and Mallorca. All classic destinations with unique personalities and plenty to discover. You won't be disappointed!

1. Sardinia

Sardinia beach

The miles upon miles of white, sandy beaches are one of the biggest draws to the Italian island of Sardinia. There are some stretches that could be mistaken for the idyllic island of the Seychelles, with their granite boulders and turquoise shimmering seas. Plus, there are plenty of hidden away little beaches and coves to enjoy if you prefer having space to yourself, even in peak season!

It wouldn’t be a visit to Italy, without trying their most popular cuisine… pizza of course! The buzzy city of Cagliari is worth a visit in its own right, but when there, don’t miss out on trying some pizza. The city’s renowned for a particular type of pizza called Pizzetta sfoglia — a round snack that combines a flaky pastry crust with a savoury filling, often tomato sauce and cheese (classic)!

Pizza, Italy

Outside of the hot summer months, Sardinia has an array of festivals to enjoy, in particular in late February and the spring, when you’ll still feel the warmth on your face. Local villages host the festivals with elaborate decorations, traditional costumes and horse racing, so before you know it, you’ll feel like a true Sardinian yourself.

Your Sardiania holiday

There are plenty of boutique and friendly hotels and resorts to choose from in Sardinia. To find out more, call us or pop in-store!

2. Cyprus

Cyprus best beach holiday destinations blog image

The third largest island on the Med, there’s plenty to see and do in Cyprus — with beaches being the main attraction. From secluded hidden gems to larger beaches with restaurants and bars galore, you’ll find it here. What’s more, the beaches are clean and clear. What else do you need?

Well, seeking a little local culture and exploring the sights is something many of us search for in a summer holiday — and Cyprus isn’t short of either of those! The history of Cyprus is more than 10,000 years old, so if you’re a history buff you’ll be in the right place — there are ruins and museums to keep you busy for days upon days. There are even traces of old Venetian culture in Nicosia, so be sure to explore it!

A visit to Cyprus wouldn’t be complete without trying their delicious cuisine — in particular in North Cyprus… and yes, it’s even better over there than here in the UK. There’s an abundance of places to eat; from international style restaurants to traditional North Cypriot dishes with the freshest of ingredients. Be sure to try one of their most traditional dishes, lamb Kleftiko when dining out — you won’t be disappointed! The hospitality in North Cyprus will impress you too — each and every restaurant will give you the very best service, so you keep on coming back.

Cyprus food

Oh, and did we mention that Cyprus has the perfect climate, 365 days a year? Unlike other destinations on the Med, Cyprus has mild winters and hot summers — meaning that whenever you visit, you’ll be guaranteed that much needed Vitamin D. Just make sure you pick the time of year that’s best for you!

Your Cyprus holiday

There are plenty of beautiful resorts for families, couples and groups of friends available in North Cyprus. Pop in-store or call us today to find out more.

3. Mallorca

Cyprus best beach holiday destinations blog image

The largest of the three Balearics, Mallorca has plenty of sun, sea and sand — so trust us, you’ll never get bored! The island caters for just about anyone: families, couples, friends… you name it, you’ll find it. But why Mallorca? Apart from the many beaches and sparkling blue sea (which yes, is often enough), there are hidden gems too…

Unbeknown to many, Mallorca is a diver’s paradise! There’s a varied marine life here — and what makes it so good is the rocky nature of the seabed, unique to other nearby destinations. The south west of the island is particularly good, where you’ll also find caves, tunnels and wrecks surrounding the coastline. There are plenty of scuba diving centres offering courses and excursions that cater for all levels — so whether you’re a newbie, a pro or somewhere in-between, make sure you check them out.

If you’re the exploring type, take a day trip to Alcudia Old Town for a dose of history. This medieval town looks like something from a fairy tale; there’s a maze of tiny streets to meander through and ancient walls to gaze at — the town was in fact built to protect the island against pirates! The beauty of Alcudia will keep you gripped for hours, so do stop off at a local restaurant or bar to watch the world go by.

Aludia

For something seriously spectacular, pay a visit to Cap de Formentor. In our eyes, it’s a must-see — visitors rave about it more than anywhere else on the island. Located on the most northern point on the island and also at the highest point, at 384m above sea level, it’s described as looking ‘otherworldly’ with its limestone peaks and sharp cliff edges.

Your Mallorca holiday

We’ve got an incredible range of Mallorca getaways available — and we can help you choose the perfect one. So, do get in touch, as we’ll be happy to help!

4. Crete

Crete best beach holiday destinations blog image

The largest of the many Greek islands, Crete has an array of resorts, history, picturesque scenery and history to get stuck into.

In particular, the diverse scenery is what helps stand Crete out from the crowd. Obviously, there are beautiful beaches to enjoy (and plenty of them), all of which have their own unique character and charm — but go a little in-land and the scenery will continue to wow you. You’ll find gorgeous gorges, a wild nature and a mountainous landscape; the ‘White Mountains’ in-fact dominate Western Crete, offering spectacular views. There are plenty of opportunities to hike through gorges too — in fact, Europe’s longest gorge is in Crete. The hike through it is a long one (16km to be exact), but well worth it if you’re an explorer.

Crete has all of the benefits of an island: pristine beaches, a relaxed lifestyle and all the amenities that you need, but it’s big enough to easily get off the beaten track and explore. It’s the place to go for escapism and adventure! Boat trips, are a great way to get under the skin of the island and soak up the scenery, as well as towns and villages you wouldn’t otherwise get to appreciate.

Crete

The colourful Cretans themselves are what brings the island to life and are well-known for their strong spirits and pride in their culture — and they’ll be enthusiastic to share it with you! While you’re sipping a drink and soaking up the warm atmosphere and sunshine, they may even spark a conversation with you and share an anecdote or two!

 

LET US HELP YOU DECIDE

If you’re still unsure where to go to next, we’ve got plenty of great value offers that could help make your decision a little easier. Call us, pop in store or drop us an email and we’ll share our latest offers with you.

We also share many great deals and inspiration on our Facebook and Twitter pages, so be sure to check those out!

Northern Lights

Where to see the Northern Lights in 2019

The Northern Lights are a sight like no other. The ethereal dance across the dark sky amazes those who spot them — we think they’re the world’s finest natural phenomenon. With that in mind, we thought we’d share our favourite places to see the Northern Lights in 2019.

1. Tromsø, Norway

Tromso, Norway

Tromsø is at the centre of the northern aurora zone, meaning the odds on spotting them are definitely in your favour. We love Tromsø because, while the main draw is undoubtedly to see the Northern Lights, there’s plenty to enjoy on the ground. Opt for adventurous excursions, including husky sledding, snowmobiling, hiking, kayaking and whale safaris, or head to Fjellheisen, the cable car behind the city’s Arctic cathedral. Once at the top, a number of delightful walks afford superb views of the city below.

We’ve not even mentioned the lively nightlife. From traditional Norwegian cuisine to more typical home comforts, everybody is catered for here, while for those who want to stay up after hours, Tromsø boasts more pubs per capita than any other city in Norway.

2. Svalbard

Svalbard

With a population of just 2,600, and three hours from Oslo by plane, Svalbard is remote — and it’s this that makes it the ultimate winter experience. In winter, the sun barely appears above the horizon, giving it an eerie, mystical feel, while its topography is both dramatic and beautiful — think snow-laden peaks, towering glaciers and ice fields as far as the eye can see. The total lack of light pollution makes for a terrific Northern Lights experience. Wintry excursions are all on offer here too, though Svalbard has an ace up its sleeve: polar bears. There are more of them than people, so pack your camera and hop on a photography excursion — the month of September is best for combining both polar bears and the Northern Lights.

3. Icehotel, Sweden

Icehotel, Sweden

The name says it all, doesn’t it? Nestled in Swedish Lapland in the tiny village of Jukkasjärvi, and dotted with glassy lakes, snow-clad fir forests and reindeer, the original ICEHOTEL won’t disappoint — it was, in fact, named as one of the ‘world’s greatest places’ for 2018 by Time Magazine. After nights spotting the lights in the virtually pollution-free north Swedish Lapland, discover the incredible architecture of the hotel itself as you sleep in an expertly-carved -5c ice room, kept warm by reindeer furs, and woken the next day by a glass of hot lingonberry.

4. Iceland

Iceland

One of the most popular and well-known Northern Lights destinations, Iceland’s delights are endless — and ideal for a bit of romance. The ‘land of fire and ice’ is packed full of adventure, with everything from self-drives among epic waterfalls and erupting geysers, to soaks in the famous Blue Lagoon. And, if you’re looking for the ideal romantic retreat, Hotel Grimsborgir, surrounded by Iceland’s natural scenery and on the doorstep of UNESCO-listed Thingvellir National Park, is unparalleled. This luxury hotel is ideal for the adventurous, with horse-riding, quad-biking, snowmobiling and glacier hiking on offer. Plus, its rural location means chances of catching sight of those famous lights are even higher — and can even be done from a private hot tub. Why not combine Iceland’s iconic Golden Circle sights and south coast with the Northern Lights for the ultimate romantic break?

5. Glass igloo and Icehotel holiday, Finland

Finland

Some would say we’ve saved the best until last with this bucket list experience. You’ll start with a stay in the snow-carved rooms of the ICEHOTEL, alongside sauna soaks and hearty Lappish cuisine, before swapping to a heated glass igloo for the most magical of private performances — seeing the Northern Lights from the comfort of your bed. What’s more, if you do fall asleep, a “watcher” will act as an aurora alarm, so you don’t miss a second.

Alongside this unique accommodation, there’s plenty of winter activities to enjoy, too, from snow sculpting and ice fishing to snowmobiling and husky safaris; it’s the ultimate polar adventure.

Book your Northern Lights holiday with us!

Spotting the Northern Lights is high on many a bucket list and, combined with so many unique destinations and experiences, makes for a wonderful short break. Talk to us about a range of unforgettable holidays to Scandinavia and the Nordics, with tailor-made options throughout.

Call us or send us an email to find out more about Northern Lights holidays.

Top holiday destinations for 2019

It’s that time of year when we start thinking ahead – and in the midst of the cold weather, often the most important thing on the agenda is getting your next holiday secured. Booking your holidays for the year early will certainly help with the winter blues!

To give you some inspiration on where to go on holiday, we’ve listed the holiday destinations tipped to be the best places to visit in 2019 — perhaps it’ll help you decide where to discover next.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka

The pearl of the Indian Ocean is certainly having its moment! Far more reasonably priced than neighbouring Indian Ocean holiday hot-spots, the destination offers an affordable getaway that differs from the norm. Whether you’re an intrepid traveller wanting to get stuck into the local culture, or being pampered in a beach resort is more your style, it’s all possible here. The hospitality will impress you too – you won’t have to do a thing!

Don’t forget the incredible wildlife either – there are elephant sanctuaries to visit and a whopping 22 gorgeous national parks to explore.

When to go? Sri Lanka varies depending on what side of the country you choose to visit. If you’re heading to the west coast, we recommend you visit between December and March. But if it’s the east coast you’d like to get to know, then it’s best to take your trip between April and September.

JORDAN

Jordan

With a population of just 10 million, Jordan is often overlooked as a holiday hot-spot. But with just a five-hour flight from the UK, this destination will surprise you with how much it has to offer.

Petra, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World is a must-see while you’re here – the historical and archaeological city dates back as far as 213 BC! In fact, it’s known as one of the world’s most treasured UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Jordan’s hospitality is top-notch too. There are plenty of incredible hotels and resorts, with a delicious, authentic cuisine to sample, and lots of opportunities to be pampered — you’ll be treated like royalty! To put your minds at rest, Jordan remains comfortably sheltered from the troubles within the region, so you’ll be safe on your holiday here.

When to go? Despite Jordan’s small size, you’ll find wide variations of climate, often because some regions are high above sea level. The best time to visit is in the spring and autumn, when temperatures are toasty but not scorching. If you opt to visit in spring, you’ll be treated to a display of gorgeous wildflowers everywhere!

MONTENEGRO

Montenegro

Imagine Greece’s ancient cities, the tranquil emerald beaches in Croatia and Switzerland’s picturesque snow-capped peaks. Roll them all into one and you’ve got Montenegro! Ask anyone who’s been, and they’ll tell you it’s a land of paradise and promise, and cheaper than most other European holiday destinations too, including neighbouring Croatia.

Whether you want to party, relax by the beach or try the delicious local food day after day, this tiny country offers it all — and it’s only a few hours away from the UK. Our advice then is to visit this little gem of a country before everyone else does.

When to go? For guaranteed sun, we recommend visiting between May and early October. Head here in June or September and you’ll be treated to even more peace and quiet to enjoy the surroundings.

PANAMA

Panama

Forget Costa Rica, it’s Panama’s time for the limelight. This is a destination where tropical biodiversity meets white sandy beaches, and misty highlands are combined with an indigenous culture. How it’s still under the radar, we have no idea. It’s a destination full of character and history, that will keep the avid explorer busy day after day.

2019 is a particularly good year to visit as Panama has pledged to party like never-before to celebrate Panama City’s 500-year anniversary.

When to go? Panama has a tropical climate with a hot, humid rainy season between May and December and a dry season from January to April, which is generally seen as the best time to go.

SINGAPORE

Singapore

Super sleek and modern Singapore is full of flash shops and luxury hotels, and if you look a little deeper you’ll find some cultural delights and a lot of history too.

Hawker Centres are a great way to sample how this little outcrop in South East Asia has become a melting pot of cuisines defined by the cultures of neighbouring countries — and there are hundreds of them around the country to enjoy. As well as the amazing food on offer, Hawker Centres offer a perfect place to sit, people watch and open your eyes to local life in Singapore… what’s more, you can get a delicious meal for under $10!

For those in search of something a little more luxurious, 2019 brings the re-opening of Singapore’s most renowned hotel, Raffles. Whether you want to splash the cash and book your stay there, or just visit their bar for a famous Singapore Sling cocktail, it’s worth checking it out.

Also joining the long list of luxury hotels is Six Senses Maxwell that opened in December 2018. The hotel is set in a block of heritage shop houses in Singapore’s Chinatown and has been beautifully restored to its original grandeur with interiors by French designer, Jacques Garcia.

In terms of historical importance, Singapore has a long story to tell, from being a significant trading settlement during the 14th century, to its position as a strategic outpost during World War II.

When to go? If you are looking to avoid the wet weather, book your visit for June, July or August. That said, there’s plenty to see and do in Singapore all year round, including festivals and indoor activities, so there isn’t really a bad time to visit.

GALWAY, IRELAND

Galway, Ireland

Sitting on the western edge of Europe, Ireland’s fourth largest city is racing ahead in the cultural and gastronomic rankings. In fact, the city was awarded the title “2018 European Region of Gastronomy” and is now working its way to become the “European Capital of Culture”. As a result, you’ll find a growing range of pop-up culture cafes and unexpected venues throughout the city.

Galway has plenty of history that can’t be missed either. In fact, they have their own Horrible History tour that’s worth checking out if that’s your thing. And not to forget the friendly-natured locals — get to know them in some of their many lively bars, of which there are plenty to choose from!

When to go? April to August is the best time to visit Galway for those who prefer it warm — and May, in particular, has the most sunshine. An hour away from the closest airports (Shannon or Knock), we recommend taking a leisurely drive through the beautiful Irish countryside before reaching Galway if you have time on your hands.

MATERA, ITALY

Matera, Italy

For lovers of the unknown, Matera is a great choice. This hidden gem is filled with beautiful boutique hotels, bars and restaurants that sit amongst historic monasteries and natural limestone caves.

The picturesque and quaint southern Italian town is in a key stage of growth, having not left behind its typical features — so is the perfect spot for the explorers amongst us. A rich culture, authentic cuisine and incredible views are at every turn, and there’s the added bonus there are far less tourists here than the average Italian holiday destination. Need we say any more?

When to go? As there’s plenty to explore here, your best bet is to visit in the spring or autumn where you’ll find comfortable temperatures for walking in the heat of the day.

Book your 2019 holiday today!

For more inspiration and advice on where’s best to travel in 2019, call us or pop into the shop today — we’ll take care of all your arrangements and get you on the road to discovery before you know it!

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