Visiting a new country is sometimes scary, so a helping hand is appreciated. That’s where Escorted Touring comes in. Especially in a country like Canada, which is so diverse and just begs visitors to explore it properly. It’s not the sort of place where you visit one place for two weeks.
Below we’ve rounded up four amazing itineraries that are perfect for discovering the best Canada (and – in some cases – the USA) has to offer. Let us know which one is your favourite.
1. Heart of the Canadian Rockies
You’ll have a lot of ground to cover when you visit the Canadian Rockies (the mountain range stretches across Alberta and British Columbia for 180,000 km²) so it’s a good idea to know where you’re going. With this itinerary, you’ll start off in the metropolitan Calgary, where you’ll be treated to a city tour. Then you’ll move your way through the Rocky Mountains day-by-day with stops in Banff, Jasper, and Kamloops. Afterwards, you’ll also be treated to four days on the west coast while you flirt between Vancouver and Victoria.
2. New York, Niagara Falls and Washington D.C.
You can spend months exploring Canada and everything it has to offer, but it also feels like a waste to visit and not stop-by its equally fascinating neighbour. With this itinerary you’ll get to explore three iconic sights within one trip, including an overnight stay in Philadelphia.
3. Canadian Rockies
If the first Canadian Rockies itinerary didn’t tick all the boxes, maybe this lengthier adventure will. This time you’ll start in Vancouver, where you’ll stay for two nights and be treated to a day-long city tour. Then you’ll start your journey into the Rocky Mountains, with overnight stays in Kelowna, Banff, Jasper, Sun Peaks, and Whistler. Afterwards, you’ll then return to the west coast for two nights in Victoria, before your flight to the UK from Vancouver.
4. Eastern U.S. & Canada
As we said, it’s well worth stopping by the USA while you’re in Canada. This itinerary offers you a 19-day round trip that starts in the iconic New York City, before you enjoy a one night stay in Boston crossing the border where you’ll visit Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. You’ll then stop by the Niagara Falls, where you’ll cross the border again and, this time, enjoy overnight stays in Lancaster, Washington DC and Philadelphia.
“Is it expensive though?”
This is a common question we get from customers who are looking to stay close to the action at a Universal Orlando on-site hotel. Equally the hotels can offer amazing value for money and easy access to the parks with great benefits only on-site hotel customers get.
And now there really is something for all budgets: the upcoming Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, opening in 2019 (but available to book now), is Universal’s first ‘Value’ hotel offering budget-friendly accommodation. It still, however, will come with many of the extra perks that Universal Orlando hotels are known for. Here is a quick rundown of the features and amenities.
1. Universal Orlando Park benefits
It wouldn’t be a Universal Orlando Resort hotel if it didn’t offer benefits that you can use in the parks. Guests can enjoy Early Park Admission, credit their purchase to their room key, and receive complimentary delivery of merchandise purchased throughout the resort to their hotel. There will also be complimentary shuttle bus transportation to and from the theme parks and Universal CityWalk
2. It’s right in the heart of International Drive
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort is being built on the site where Wet n Wild waterpark once stood. It’s just off where International Drive intersects with Universal Boulevard and a quick (free) shuttle to CityWalk and the parks
3. There will be two hotels
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort will boast two hotels: Surfside Inn and Suites and Dockside Inn and Suites. The first of which will have 750 rooms and will open in August 2019, while the second will be home to a massive 2,050 rooms and will open throughout 2020. Guests at each hotel will be allowed to make use of amenities at the other hotel.
4. The theme will be sea, surf and sand
While the décor at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort will be more minimalist than other Universal Orlando hotels – this is still a Universal hotel, and that means it needs a theme… think relaxed and fun surf vibe with beach details woven throughout the experience (fairly fitting as it will look out onto the lake that Wet n Wild used to wrap itself around!)
5. There will be five room categories
Out of the 750 bright and beachy guest rooms, 390 will be 2 Bedroom Suites that comfortably sleep up to six adults with the rest a comfy standard double queen room (sleeps up to four). You can also get the standard double with a pool view and the 2-bedroom suites with a pool or water view – perfect!
6. The Two-Bedroom Suite is ideal for large families
These suites are the perfect base for the entire family, sleeping up to six. They feature two bedrooms: one room with two queen beds and the other with one queen bed. There’s also a kitchenette area and cool picnic table for dining and hanging out; as well as a bathroom with separate shower and vanity areas so all the family can get ready at the same time.
7. There’s on-site food and drink
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort boasts its own food court that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also have pizza delivered to your room. When you’re looking for a liquid refreshment, you can choose between the coffee bar in the lobby and the pool bar.
8. The pool area is pretty great
The pool itself is surfboard-shaped and has a Splash Zone for the kids. There are also poolside activities such as Hula-Hoop Contests, Bingo and Ping-Pong.
9. There’s other entertainment on-site
In the form of a fitness centre and a Game Room, where you’ll find video and arcade games. Plus a Universal Studios Store to stock up on all your favourite character merchandise!
10. Rooms start at only $73 per night
We weren’t exaggerating when we said this new hotel was budget-conscious.
Mauritius boasts all the ingredients needed for the perfect beach wedding: idyllic white sand, luxury resorts and mouth-watering French cuisine. Here’s everything you need to know about tying the knot in Mauritius.
Mauritius is known for its luxury, beach-front, all-inclusive hotels – most of which offer their own wedding package. Here are five of our favourites.
Beachcomber boasts eight resorts across the island of Mauritius and guarantees that only one wedding takes place a day. So your Wedding Co-ordinator can give your big day their full attention.
Beachcomber offers two Wedding Packages: Classic and Luxury. The Classic includes all of the following:
Cost of all legal procedures, fees and documentation
Civil Status charges in Port Louis including the cost of transfers from your resort to the Civil Status office
Dedicated wedding planner in Mauritius and a wedding team in the UK
Choice of wedding locations at their chosen resort
Wedding cake for 10 people
Bridal bouquet and groom's buttonhole
Celebration breakfast in bed
Separate room for the groom to change in (subject to availability)
The Luxury Package includes everything above, as well as spa treatments, hair and make-up, four-course wedding dinner, and a romantic set-up in the couple's room.
Sugar Beach Resort & Spa
If you’re after a lively wedding with your nearest and dearest, then you need to look into this place. You can choose from three venues (the lawn outside Manor House, the white sandy beach or the gardens) and can cater up to 100 guests.
The Sugar Beach Wedding Package includes:
Choice of wedding venues
Dedicated wedding coordinator
Seasonal fruit basket in the couples room upon arrival
Wedding attire pressing/steaming
Romantic background music – CD player, during the ceremony
Brides make up at the resort spa
One bottle of sparkling wine during the ceremony (Graham Beck or Prosecco
Wedding cake (maximum of 6 invitees)
Photo package of 50 (10x15 cm) prints presented in an album with CD
Romantic candle-light dinner ( set menu) for the couple on the wedding day
Breakfast in the room or on the terrace/balcony the morning after the ceremony
All local legal fees
Maritim Resort and Spa
Maritim Resort and Spa is a favourite with couples seeking an upmarket wedding that is suitable for families. On-site there are watersports, nine-hole golf club, fitness centre, four restaurants, three bars and a hotel run kids club.
If you’re looking for a wedding here, you’ll be treated to the following:
Decorated Ceremony Location
Cadlelit dinner for the couple
Bottle of sparkling wine
Transport to Port Louis to Complete Wedding Registration
Marriage License and Certificate
Legal fees and ceremony
Lux Grand Gaube
This contemporary resort on the island’s north coast is informal but sophisticated, mixed up with a retro-chic lifestyle. The cuisine here is just as eclectic with Peruvian, Argentinian and Turkish dishes all making an appearance in the resort's restaurants. It is also suitable for families with supervised activities for 3 to 11-year-olds.
You can choose from a Light Wedding Package and a Delight Wedding Package. The first of which includes the following:
All legalities for the Bride & Groom, and transportation of the Civil Officer
One wedding a day
Dedicated wedding co-ordinator
Special Wedding Menu (excludes beverages)
Wedding Cake for the couple & 2 glasses of champagne
Special breakfast in room the following day
The Delight Wedding Package includes all of the above but with the extra additions of hair and make-up, Bridal Bouquet & Groom’s Button Hole, a live musician and breakfast in bed for the couple.
This new resort not only has a beach right outside its front door, it also has a few private islands to its name &ndash, and you can get married on one of them. The resort has its basic Free Wedding Package (if you stay at the island for seven days or more), Islander Package, and the Islander Wedding Package (which includes a ceremony on a private island).
Aside from a ceremony on a Private Island, the Islander Wedding Package also includes:
Discount for the bride
Personalized gifts for the couple
Discount at the Spa Attitude
One massage for the couple at the Spa Attitude
Wedding ceremony on Gran Zil
Set up of the wedding venue
Bottle of sparkling wine
Trial and hairdressing for the bride
Manicure and pedicure for the bride
Gala dinner, lobster menu
Special breakfast in room the day after the wedding
When to get married
Mauritius is at its finest between the start of November through to April.
In order to get married in Mauritius, you need to be 18 or older (16 with parental consent), and not be related by blood or adoption, have two witnesses, and provide the following legal documents:
2 Copies of passports
2 Copies of birth certificates
2 passport photos each
Decree absolute (if divorced)
Deed Poll (if name has changed)
Death Certificate and previous marriage certificate if widowed
Non-English documentation must be translated into English and duly stamped
French passport holders and citizens of other countries need to submit their documentation to us 3 months prior to your arrival in Mauritius
These documents will have been to taken to an official office in Port Louis. Don’t worry though – most Mauritius hotels will include the costs of this in the Wedding Package. Many Wedding Coordinators will also accompany you.
You only need to have been in Mauritius for one day before you tie the knot, however if you wish to have a religious ceremony you need to have stayed a minimum of 15 days prior to the ceremony taking place (Anglican and Catholic weddings are both possible).
(Please Note: please check with your Wedding Co-ordinator that the legal process in Mauritius has not changed).
I have just returned from a wonderful trip to Las Vegas and was lucky enough to take in one of the famous Cirque du Soleil® performances. When you are in Vegas, there are some experiences that just cannot be missed, and this is definitely one of them. I can say with confidence that a Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas is an absolute must do, and I would recommend taking in a show to anyone planning their trip.
With such a variety of shows on offer it can be difficult to make a decision. Each show is unique and there really is something for everyone. I opted to see Mystère™ by Cirque du Soleil® at Treasure Island.
Mystere by Cirque du Soleil is the original Cirque du Soleil production. Combining high energy acrobatics and dramatic dance, the show caters for all ages and is suitable for families. Some of the acrobatic stunts were so intense that I was literally on the edge of my seat! The artists put on an exciting, thrilling show, with comedic acts to entertain the audience. There is also some audience participation which is great. The performance takes places to the thunderous rhythms of the Taiko drums, an amazing experience in itself.
I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance, so many people are left disappointed when they arrive in Las Vegas only to find out the show is sold out. The shows are incredibly popular and certain performances sell out weeks in advance. I highly recommend pre-booking your tickets to guarantee you get the best seats and avoid any frustration. Don’t worry if the show is close to capacity, the theatre is designed incredibly well, with seats raised all around the stage. With artists on the ground, trapezing through the air and running through the audience, you will always have sight of something.
On the evening of the show, make sure you allow plenty of time and arrive early. The artists come around the audience for photo opportunities and it is a great experience to meet the artists. A fantastic experience for all, but something extra special if you have kids with you.
Hong Kong is the perfect Asia stopover. It’s small and compact, with the attractions of Lantau Island on the airport’s doorstep and the main downtown area only 25 minutes away. Hong Kong International Airport is also regarded as one of the most efficient airports in the world, so it’s unlikely you’ll be held up in customs for too long. The local transport system is also second to none (read our blog on navigating Honk Kong by subway). So even if you only have two days in the city it’s not impossible to see all of its biggest attractions – here’s what we recommend seeing.
Treat your taste buds
You’ll be hungry after your flight – and Hong Kong definitely knows how to satisfy peckish travellers.
Start at one of the city’s many dim sum restaurants. You can choose between the traditional dim sum that the locals eat, or you can visit a fusion place (including Kawaii-style dim sum where the dumplings have cute cartoon faces drawn on them!).
If you really want to dive into the local culture and try foods that you don’t see much of in the UK, sample the local delicacy: dried fish. You’ll find the best selection at the food market around Des Veoux Road West, Wing Lok and Ko Shing Streets. You can keep it simple with dried scallops or dried shrimps – but if you’re feeling adventurous keep your eye out for abalone, sea cucumber, fish maw and shark’s fin.
When you’re in need of a refreshment, seek out one of Hong Kong’s many tea houses. Tea can be traced back to China so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting types of tea, ages, grades, preparation, mixes, and infusions. British-style Afternoon Tea is also more common in the city than you would think.
Look up at the Big Buddha statue
In only 25 minutes from the airport, you can find yourself looking up at one of the biggest bronze statues of Buddha in the world.
Officially called Tian Tan Buddha, it was unveiled in 1993 and modelled after Buddha Shakyamuni. You’ll find it at the most southern end of Lantau Island in Ngong Ping, and it is an extension of Po Lin Monastery. Po Lin Monastery and the Buddha are open to the public between 10:00 am and 5:30 pm. Access to the outside of the Buddha is free of charge, but there is an admission fee to go inside the Buddha.
Shop ‘til you drop
The shopping scene in Hong Kong is second to none – and is one of the main things visitors rave about when they leave.
Citygate Outlets is the largest outlet mall in Hong Kong and is home to over 90 international brands for fashion, beauty, accessories, and household items – and only 10 minutes from the airport.
If you want to pick up something local and unique we recommend checking out a street market (Temple Street Market is considered one of the best). We’d also suggest strolling along the popular Hollywood Road (which is also the second oldest road in Hong Kong) that is home to several antique shops that sell everything from Buddha sculptures to Tibetan rugs.
You’ll definitely need a full day set aside for this one – but it is well worth it if you’re a big Disney fan. Found on the north-east corner of Lantau Island, you can spend a good half day wondering around the seven lands within the park: Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street.
Hong Kong Disneyland is also going through an expansion period. By 2020, Hong Kong Disneyland will boast its own Arendelle, Marvel area within Tomorrowland (with rumours of an Ant-Man experience), and Moana-style Village Festival. But that’s not all: Hong Kong is also getting a new castle (which will incorporate elements from several Disney stories).
Finish your stop-over with the sunset
Finally, you can’t visit Hong Kong without having admired it from the local mountain. Victoria Peak sits on the western half of the island and offers a stunning view of the urban landscape. If you don’t fancy hillwalking, don’t worry – there’s a tram. The best time to visit the peal – without a doubt – is when the day turns into night. Perfect end to your stopover in Hong Kong.
River Cruises have traditionally been a peaceful way to travel, popular with retired travellers looking for an easy way to explore different cities in the one holiday.
U by Uniworld is a new river cruise line (owned by luxury Uniworld) that is bringing something new to the rivers of Europe. On-board their modern ships, you’ll find late nights bars, fluorescent accents and rooms you’d more typically associate with a hostel than a cruise ship. Also, their range of excursions varies from laid-back activities to energetic adventures. Does a river cruise now feel like something you’d want to book? Here are 10 things to know about U by Uniworld.
1. They have two ships
Named the A and the B, they each sail through a dedicated area of Europe. The A can be found floating along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers in Central Europe. While the B cruises down France’s Seine River. The small size of their ships also means they can dock in the city centre of most destinations.
2. There’s solo rooms and dorms
Anyone travelling by themselves who wants to save some money (and make friends in the process) can book a bed in one of the dorm rooms. Though if you are travelling alone and don’t fancy sharing with someone, single rooms are also available.
3. Fully functioning dining
The two U by Uniworld vessels both have a fully-functioning restaurant like any other cruise ship. The main dining room, called Dine, serves brunch and dinner (including vegetarian and vegan options). Then on the top-deck, you’ll find the U Lounge, which serves tapas-style sharing plates and after-hours snacks.
4. There’s a lot included
U by Uniworld isn’t all-inclusive, but you won’t need to reach for your wallet too often. You’ll enjoy two meals on-board per day (usually brunch and dinner) selected non-alcoholic drinks, selected daily shore excursions, and onboard entertainment. Gratuities are also included.
5. There are bikes on-board
More and more ships boast onboard bikes that guests can take out for a day exploring – and U by Uniworld is no exception. Each ship has 50 U Bikes onboard for complimentary use.
6. Immersive excursions
All the U by Uniworld itineraries have complimentary excursions, along with additional U Time excursions that were designed by local destination experts. There’s a wide range to choose from – including a mixology lesson in Amsterdam, rock climbing in Germany, classical music in Vienna, and a street art tour in Paris.
7. There are six itineraries to choose from
Starting with Rolling on the Rhine, Seine Experience, Germany’s Finest, and the Danube Flow – and then ending with the festive-themed Dashing Through the Danube and A Merry Little Christmas Cruise.
But that’s not all: since Europe’s rivers are home to some incredible festivals, so U by Uniworld offers special itineraries that include them. Such as an Oktoberfest Cruise, and a Danube cruise that stops by the Sziget Festival (one of the largest music festivals in the world).
8. There’s an onboard gym and spa
You’ll find treadmills, TRX bands, yoga mats, free weights, and other equipment to help keep up your fitness routine while on holiday. You can then relax in the spa afterwards.
9. U by Uniworld has charity partnerships and a sustainability pledge
U by Uniworld work alongside TreadRight, Just a Drop and One Tree Planted to make sure that the world remains as beautiful as it is now for years to come. They also have a partnership with All Hands and Hearts, which rebuilds resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters.
10. It’s open to all
U by Uniworld has been regularly described as a “river cruise by millennials” – but it is actually open for all. In fact, it’s largely been the 40+ cruisers who are booking themselves onto these stylish boats.
If you’re looking for a destination that combines city and beach, you won’t find much better than Greater Fort Lauderdale .
Located on Florida’s east coast, Greater Fort Lauderdale boasts 23 miles of blue-wave certified beaches alongside a cosmopolitan playground (that is still home to a relaxed beachy-vibe). No matter what kind of city-type culture is your favourite – whether it’s dining, art, nightlife or shopping – you’ll find it in this sun-drenched destination. Here’s how to spend your holiday in Greater Fort Lauderdale.
1. Indulge in Floribbean cuisine
The south of Florida is home to a unique blend of culinary flavours that are descendant from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe and Asia – and can be traced back to when the Spanish first landed on US shores. Popular Floribbean dishes include key lime pie, conch fritters, mango salsa, rice and bean dishes, jerk chicken, plus seafood gumbos and salads.
2. Visit the Downtown Hollywood Art Mural Project
Head to Hollywood’s Downtown Area to admire street art by local and international artists. Artist names include Tatiana Suarez, Evoca1, Rone, The London Police, Jessy Nite, Ernesto Maranje, Logan Hicks and Kenny Scharf. You can stroll through the streets yourself or book a guided tour. Afterwards, why not check out the area’s cafes, bars and restaurants or dip into Greater Fort Lauderdale’s craft ale scene?!
3. Explore Bonnet House
Bonnet House is a historic home found in the Fort Lauderdale Beach area. It dates back to 1895, when Hugh Taylor Birch, a successful Chicago lawyer gifted it to his daughter and new husband as a wedding gift. The husband, Frederic Clay Bartlett, was a self-taught architect and the main house is based on his interpretation of Caribbean plantation-style architecture and also features his eclectic art collection. When Bartlett’s second wife died in 1997, she deeded the property to the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation (the largest donation in state history).
The main properties in the estate include the main house, an art studio, a music studio and a guest house. Plus, there are also five different ecosystems: primary and secondary dunes, mangrove wetlands, a freshwater slough and a maritime forest. It is also licensed for private events, including weddings.
4.Shop till you drop in Sawgrass Mills
Welcome to the largest designer outlet mall in North America. You’ll find many quintessential American names here including Barneys, Bloomingdales, Kate Spade and Super Target – alongside international brands like Armani, Valentino, and Versace. Bag yourself bargains of up to 70% off!
5. Paddleboard in the ocean
Watersports are plentiful in Greater Fort Lauderdale – but paddleboarding is definitely the most popular. There are numerous tour companies who’ll take beginner and experienced paddle boarders out into the Atlantic – including special tours like sunset boarding, full moon boarding and yoga boarding!
6. Dock and Dine
If you’re feeling peckish while paddleboarding, you can paddle over to one of Greater Fort Lauderdale’s many waterfront restaurants. We mean this literally, as many have a Dock and Dine policy where you can park your boat or board up front and get out. If you opt for one of the many seafood restaurants, you can also witness crates of fish being freshly delivered that day.
7. Hop on the Jungle Queen Riverboat
Explore the city (and beyond) on-board the Jungle Queen Riverboat. You can choose between either a 90 minute sight-seeing cruise (which takes you along the New River where you’ll pass by Millionaire’s Row, spotting mega-yachts and celebrity homes) and a Tropical Isle cruise (which takes you on the same route, but this time you’ll end up on Tropical Isle where you can watch an alligator show, see exotic birds, lemurs and monkeys, and hold a baby alligator).
8. Escape the city to the Everglades
Greater Fort Lauderdale is the gateway to the Florida Everglades. Here you can awe at exotic flora, fauna, and wildlife from alligators to Florida panthers. It’s also home to the Seminole Indians, who invite visitors to learn about their proud, ancient culture.
9. Stop by Riptide and Tortuga Music Festivals
If you like music, time your visit alongside one of these music festivals. Rock the Ocean's Tortuga Music Festival was founded to help raise awareness about ocean conservation and focuses on country and rock music. Riptide, however, is held at the end of the year and past acts have included Weezer, Pvris, Boyz II Men, and Salt-n-Pepa.
10. Explore the city by canal
Greater Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of America thanks to its 300 miles of canals. There are numerous boat tours that can take you along these waterways including the area’s very own water taxi– the perfect way to relax on your final night.
Adelaide isn’t called The Festival City for nothing. In the months of February and March, the city comes alive with the sound (and visuals) of the Adelaide Festival, WOMADelaide and – of course – the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
Fringe Festivals take place all over the world – with Adelaide clocking in as the second-biggest (after Edinburgh) as well as the largest in the southern hemisphere. It’s an open-arts festivals where artists and performers of various disciplines can apply and are chosen at random rather than by a panel of curators.
March time is – unsurprisingly – Adelaide’s busiest time for visitors, with roughly 2.7 million attendees at 2018’s Fringe Festival. If you’re planning to visit 2019’s Festivals in the city, here’s everything you need to know before you go.
When and where?
The next Adelaide Fringe Festival will be held between 15th February and 17th March 2019 – with 400 venues participating, Adelaide Festival opens 1st March and runs through to 17th March with the headline performance of Mozart’s Magic Flute and iconic WOMADelaide a 4-day festival celebrating music, arts and dance from 7th to 10th March.
If you’re planning on visiting, remember that this is late summer for Adelaide with temperatures reaching highs of a gorgeous 28°C. The city is bursting with culture, flavours, events and entertainment throughout the period and golden beaches can be found on Adelaide’s doorstep. Taste your way through world-famous wine regions only minutes away, soak up the sun, join the party at our immersive festivals and events or spend the night exploring Adelaide attractions and a thriving restaurant and bar scene.
The official guide won’t be released until December, but Adelaide Fringe has confirmed that 125 acts have been booked already. Every year the acts cover a wide range of disciplines ranging from theatre to dance, and comedy shows to cabaret. There are also always shows that cater towards family and children. In the first programme announcement for Adelaide Festival, Barrie Kosky’s electrifying contemporary take on Mozart’s The Magic Flute – a blend of live opera with Tim-Burton-style animation and a silent film aesthetic – is set to be a highlight of the 2019 line-up.
How do you book tickets?
Individual performers look after their own tickets, but when the schedule is ready it will have links to any online ticket websites, click here for details. There are both free and paid performances. Adelaide Festival tickets can be booked here from 22nd August.
Are there any other festivals on at the same time?
Yes - it isn’t called Mad March for nothing! The Adelaide Fringe, WOMADelaide, and Adelaide Festival of Arts are all on at the same time.
Are there any side events on?
Events are still to be formally announced, but there’s usually an Opening Night Street Party and nightly street markets.
How do I get to Adelaide?
To get from the UK to Adelaide you will need to stop over somewhere else (perfect excuse for two holidays in one!). The most popular places to stop over are the Middle East and South-East Asia.
What should I pack in my day bag?
If you’re heading out to a full day of shows, take what you would in your normal handbag. Remember lots of physical money though, as some food vendors won’t have card machines, and some venues won’t allow opened bottles of liquid.
India is undoubtedly a bucket list country for many people - but its vast size can be intimidating for first-time visitors.
If you don’t know where to start, we’ve compiled the below guide to help you out. Whether your perfect trip to India involves the bustling New Delhi, the beaches of Goa or the beautiful architecture of the Taj Mahal, all your questions should be answered below. Leave us a question if we haven’t covered it.
Popular places to visit
India is usually best explored as part of a tour - with so many amazing places it would be a shame to stick to just one place. Here are five must-visits.
You can’t visit India and not stop by its most recognisable building. Found on the south bank of the Yamuna river in the Indian city of Agra, its complex includes a mosque, guest house and formal gardens.
Home to the world’s biggest Hindu temple, the country’s largest mosque, and South Asia’s largest shopping mall, New Delhi has grown beyond its own boundaries. But it is also a city with a lot of history, having been the capital for at least seven civilizations – each leaving behind its own monuments. And despite its intimidating size, you’ll find plenty of green space too!
If it’s history that you are looking for then Jaipur definitely needs to be on your list. It was built in the eighteenth century by Sawai Jai Singh as India's first planned city and is home to some of India’s best historical sites, including the City Palace, Govind Dev ji Temple, Vidhan Sabha and Birla Temple.
Goa is the India destination for anyone looking for a beach! Choose between the contrasting North and South Goa; as a rule, North Goa is for parties on the beach while south Goa is for relaxing on the beach. We’ve previously blogged about the two here so you can pick the best one for you.
You can even fly direct to Goa from the UK for a week long beach holiday, but it also make for a nice beach break after the buzz of New Delhi or Mumbai.
India can be a lively place and if you’re looking to unwind after the buzz of New Delhi, Kerala is a great option. Stretching along the south-west coast for 600km, its beaches are white and backed by palm trees, while inland you’ll find fragrant hills where tea and spice grow, as well as tranquil backwaters that have earned the region the nickname “Venice of the East”.
Getting there and getting around
India’s top five international airports are Delhi Airport, Mumbai Airport, Chennai Airport, Bangalore Airport and Hyderabad Airport. New Delhi remains the busiest airport in India and offers a direct flight to London Heathrow.
As we’ve mentioned already, India is a country to tour. One of the most iconic ways to do so is on board the Deccan Odyssey, which offers six inspirational itineraries. All the routes start from Mumbai, and can take you to the beaches of Goa or to the exotic Ellora Caves.
Escorted tours are also readily available in India, and you can book many of them through Barrhead Travel (you can see some on our website here, but we have more available if you speak to a Travel Consultant in one of our branches).
Other important information
India’s currency is the Indian Rupee (INR) and is a closed currency so you’ll need to withdraw cash when you arrive.
India is still a cash country so always carry money on you.
Remember to haggle!
UK visitors need a visa to enter India.
You’ll need either a Type C (two-prong plug) or Type D (three-prong plug).
Hindi is the official language of India, but English is widely spoken in the major tourist hubs.
It is recommended that you discuss vaccinations with your doctor
Washington, DC requires no introduction. Its monuments, buildings and landmarks have been seen on television sets across the world and are instantly recognisable. But every television broadcast in the world can’t prepare for you for how fascinating the city is in real life. We recommend that everyone should visit at one point in their lives. Here’s our guide to making the most of it.
If it’s historical monuments and museums you want to visit, then you need to head to The National Mall. It’s a lot longer than most people anticipate and it’s a good idea to schedule aside a whole day just to explore. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to visit everything, so here are our top picks.
Honour the legacy of the 16th President of the United States, and the man who ended the American slave trade. Found at the western end of National Mall, the famous 19-foot statue of Lincoln attracts the most attention. But remember to admire the neo-classical architecture and visit the museum inside. On the steps, you’ll also find the words “I Have a Dream” engraved on the exact spot where Martin Luther King Jr presented his famous and powerful speech.
Lying at the other end of the Lincoln Reflection Pool is the tallest structure in all of Washington, DC. It stands at 555ft and took so long to build that the original quarry ran out and you can see the change in colour two-thirds up. Currently, the monument is closed for renovations until 2019, but when it does re-open, you’ll need a ticket to get in and it is generally recommended that you book in advance.
The Smithsonian Institution is a world-renowned museum and research complex that consists of 17 museums, galleries and the National Zoo. Access to all of these museums is completely free. Several of them are dotted along the National Mall – including the Smithsonian National Museum of Air and Space, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of the American Indian.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
While this is a must-see on National Mall, it is humbling and sometimes difficult to take. The main exhibition starts with the identity cards of Holocaust victims, then their harrowing story is gradually revealed. You also find The Hall of Remembrance, the museum’s official memorial to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust.
If you’re visiting with children, there’s instead Remember the Children: Daniel's Story. It’s lighter than the main exhibition and tells the story of Daniel, a fictional child based on a collection of true stories about children during the Holocaust.
National Gallery of Art
Found on the National Mall, between 3rd and 9th Streets, lies one of North America’s largest art museums. It is comprised of two buildings – that are connected by an underground passage – with the original neoclassical building showcasing European art and the modern East Building exhibiting contemporary pieces. Entry is free, but you’ll need to set aside a good chunk of your day if you want to get around everything.
Since 1800, this is where both the lower House of Representatives and the Upper Senate meet to debate and write legislation. There’s an underground visitor centre below the East Plaza, which includes a tour of various chambers. In order to watch Congress in Session, however, you’ll need to take your passport to the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level.
Welcome to Washington, DC’s newest neighbourhood. Set along the waterfront, here you’ll find a mile-long stretch of restaurants, retailers, nightlife, sports and activities for kids. It’s also home to local events, including concerts, food markets, and outdoor yoga sessions. You’ll find it only a few streets along from The National Mall.
Food & Drink
Washington DC’s foodie scene has a reputation for focusing on power breakfasts and colossal steaks. While these two cuisines are readily available within the city, the city is much more eclectic than its reputation.
Many TV chefs have restaurants in the city, and famous-faces are not a rare sight. Washington, DC’s most famous chef is José Andrés and you need to make sure you stop by one of his restaurants - whether it’s Jaleo, Zaytinya, or the upscale Barmini.
It also probably comes as little surprise that Washington, DC is also home to 14 restaurants that have earned Michelin Star status. This includes minibar by José Andrés (which specialises in molecular gastronomy), Blue Duck Tavern (featuring a rotating seasonal menu focusing on farm-to-fork), and Métier (a 36-seat restaurant with a $200 seven-course tasting menu).
There’s also a diverse mix of international cuisine, including flavours you may not have stumbled upon before. Try Lao food for the first time at Thip Khao, or even Ethiopian at Dukem and Etete. But perhaps the most unique dining experience in Washington, DC is the Mitsitam Café at the National Museum of the American Indian. The menu contains foods that are indigenous to the Americas from wild salmon and forage mushrooms to bison chilli and fry bread.
If you’re unsure where to start, Washington, DC boasts a selection of culinary tours. These range from brewery tours, to trips around different Farmers Markets.
With the Family
Washington, DC is also a great place to visit with children. Across the city, you’ll find child-friendly museums, open spaces and restaurants with kids’ menus. Here are our top picks!
International Spy Museum
Kids will love pretending to be their favourite spy character at this interactive museum. There’s an immersive experience called Operation Spy, where the kids play the part of a secret agent who has to retrieve critical intelligence and escape from a high-security compound. Children ages 6 and up get in for free.
U.S. Botanic Garden
The U.S. Botanic Garden is already a great day out anyway but is extra enjoyable with little ones. Firstly there’s a scavenger hunt where kids have to find specific plants. There’s also a Children’s Garden where your mini-me can jump around in the playhouse, pump water, dig with shovels, water plants and, on occasion, help the staff plant flowers.
The National Zoo
You can spend an entire day wandering around this 163-acre park that is home to over 2,000 animals (25 per cent of which are endangered). You’ll find it in the residential area of Woodley Park neighbourhood, with the entrance on Connecticut Avenue. It’s part of the Smithsonian Institution, so admission is free.
The National Zoo is part of the Smithsonian Institution, a world-renowned museum and research complex that consists of 17 museums, galleries and the National Zoo. Access to all of these museums is completely free.
Madam Tussauds requires no introduction, but at Washington, DC you’ll find more historical and political figures than usual – including all 45 U.S. Presidents (alongside your favourite A-list celebrities, like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé).
The Daily Grill
When it’s time to fuel up, take your little ones to this All-American restaurant. In addition to its extensive kids' menu, it also offers healthy options for the adults. There’s a restaurant in both Dupont Circle and Georgetown.
How to get there and finding your way around
There are direct flights from the UK to Washington, DC that run multiple times a week – including a non-stop route from Edinburgh to Washington Dulles International Airport with United Airlines. Once you’re there, the Metrorail and Metrobus are the most convenient ways to get around Washington, DC. Though there’s also The DC Circulator bus– which is only $1 per ride and runs six specific routes designed for easy-on, easy-off access to popular sites. But saying that, Washington, DC is a very flat and walkable city.
Other important information
Summers are hot in Washington, DC and the capital is on the same latitude as southern Europe
Many consider spring to be the nicest time of year to visit due to the cherry blossoms.
The currency used is the US Dollar
English is the national language and widely spoken