Milan might be filled with beautiful architecture and fascinating history, but it’s no secret that many people flock here because of the city’s undeniable influence on the fashion industry.
The streets themselves look like something straight out of Italian Vogue. Those wacky catwalk fashions you see at Fashion Week? You might look ridiculous wearing them in the UK but in fashion-centric Milan, it is the norm.
While you might assume you need to re-mortgage your house to shop here, savvy shoppers know how to find a designer bargain. You just need to know where to look.
So grab your shopping bags, we’re going to Milan.
If you really want to buy the latest high-end threads and don’t mind dropping a few grand, then visit the beating heart of the fashion industry. Roughly translating to the highly apt 'rectangle of gold’, you’ll spot all the big brand names such as Prada, Versace, Valentino, Tiffany & Co, Roberto Cavalli, and Fendi. Keep an eye out for the flagship Gucci store and the Armani Megastore.
Even if you aren’t planning on dropping some serious cash, it’s still an impressive place. The window displays are works of art and the atmosphere is energetic.
Corso Buenos Aires
If you’re looking to pick up some familiar high-street names, then head to Corso Buenos Aires in north-east Milan. It boasts the largest concentration of clothing stores in Europe, most of which are mainstream and recognisable. H&M, Zara, Nike, Adidas, and Guess all make an appearance.
After you’re finished shopping, take a breather in the nearby Indro Montanelli Public Gardens where you’ll find the Planetarium and the Civic Museum of Natural History.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
Similar to Corso Buenos Aires, this is a great place to pick up some high-street favourites. But it is also home to one of the city’s biggest department stores, La Rinascente. Boasting eight floors, you’ll find everything from clothing to perfume.
Serravalle Designer Outlet
There’s a joke amongst locals that only tourists shop in the expensive city centre. Experienced shoppers know that you can find top designer labels for much less in the many outlets found around the city – especially the ones you have to make more effort to get to.
Serravalle is the city’s biggest outlet and lies 50 miles outside of the city centre (a convenient shuttle bus service runs 3 times a day from Milan Foro Bonaparte and once a day from Piazza Duomo). Here you’ll find 300 designer brands all with a price tag of 30-70% off. The shopping centre also had free WiFi, multilingual staff, a children’s playground and restaurants.
Not far from the city centre, you’ll find this unbelievable gem. While outlet stores have a reputation for being sweaty and a fight-for-all, Basement has a more boutique feel. Hidden beneath street level in a basement (hence the name) you’ll find some well-known designer labels for 30-70% off.
Top tips for shopping in Milan:
Sale season is the same as the UK: January and August.
Most shops in Milan operate from 9:00 till 19:30 (13:00 – 15:30 is usually lunch break).
Only shop in the designer stores if you really want this season’s top fashions and have the money to spare
You can still own designer threads for half the price if you know where to look
Don’t get hung up on shopping – Milan is a lot more than just fashion!
Winter is the perfect time for a city break. A nice budget friendly way to fit in one last holiday before the expensive festive period. But Europe only has so many cities – or so you think.
Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome and Paris are undoubtedly Europe’s most popular cities. However, even if you’ve ticked all these urban hubs off your bucket list there are still numerous other cities perfect to explore this winter. Here is just a selection of some of Europe’s hidden metropolises with just as much culture and entertainment as the big players.
Looking for a spooktacular Halloween break? Why not take a trip to the home of Dracula! Bran Castle is a three hour drive from Bucharest, and there’s no shortage of tour operators offering a bargain price. In the city itself, you’ll find an eclectic mix of historical buildings and post-1980 architecture in the six distinct districts.
This well-known German city is hardly the most out-there destination, but it doesn’t have the same celebrity-status as Berlin. However (in the same way that some British people consider London to be heavily commercialised) many Germans consider Berlin to be a metropolitan hub full of hipsters and reckon Hamburg offers a more genuine Germanic experience.
3.Galway or Cork
If you’re looking for a super quick weekend away with your pals, Dublin is usually top of the list. But don’t forget about Cork or Galway. The two coastal cities offer everything you would come to expect from Ireland: music, scenery, nightlife, history and culture.
The capital of Estonia is already popular with stag dos and beer enthusiasts, but it also packs a lot of history into its compact walls. Its Old Town survived the war and is well-preserved, while the modern part of the city is a mix of Baltic, Nordic, Teutonic and Russian cultures. A great time to visit is during the annual Tallinn Music Week (27 March – 2 April) when the city highlights its growing rock and electronic music scene.
Paris isn’t the only chic city you can reach via Eurostar: the quieter city of Marseille in the south of France is only 6.5 hours from London. As you wander around the various areas of the city, you’ll be met with independent boutiques, contemporary art galleries, beautiful churches, and trendy rooftop bars.
While Malta might be widely considered a great escape for a beach break, its capital city is home to the biggest density of historic sites in the world. Malta is also home to some Europe's best festivals.
If you’re looking for a city full of cultured arty types – then we recommend the Swedish city of Gothenburg. You’ll find colourful architecture, charming canals and street art. There’s even an amusement park with a lime green rabbit as its mascot!
Craving a taste of real Italy? Bologna is a foodie hub of Italy that has remained sheltered from mainstream tourist crowds. The city is also home to Europe’s oldest university and, as such, the nightlife is second to none.
Athens is not exactly unknown, but Greece is more famous for its beaches and holiday resorts that its ancient capital city. The Acropolis is by far the city’s most popular attraction, but make sure you also stop by the Temple of Poseidon, Museum of Delphi and The Panathinaiko Stadium (where the very first Olympics was held).
Looking for a winter wonderland? Norway’s original capital boasts northern Europe’s second largest cathedral (Nidaros Cathedral) and the scenic Nidelven River winds its way through its streets. Viking heritage is also in full-swing here, with the Stiklestad Cultural Center built on the site of country’s goriest battle. If you’re lucky, the northern lights might also make an appearance.
Hygge: A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture). – Oxford Dictionary.
This Danish catchphrase has definitely made its way into the conscious mind of the UK with many Hygge how-to-guides popping up in magazines and bookshops. But it’s always better to experience something first-hand rather than read about it. So we recommend that a trip to Copenhagen is definitely required if you want to truly bring some proper hygge into your life. Here are some top activities that should definitely inspire to inject some Danish wellbeing into your everyday life.
Stop for some hot brunch
Brunch is a big thing in Copenhagen and will help set your mind in a positive direction for the rest of your day. Some of the most popular and trendy brunch cafes in the city include Café Bang & Jensen, Mad & Kaffe, and Café Europa. For a really quick bite you can stop by one of the several Meyers Bageri bakeries that you find around the city.
Canal Boat Tour
While a canal boat tour isn’t the warmest thing you can do in the city, it definitely is one of the most relaxing ways to see as much of the city as possible. A canal tour will take you by some of the most recognisable sights of Copenhagen including The Little Mermaid statue, colourful Nyhavn and The Royal Danish Opera House.
Nansensgade is the trendy neighbourhood of Copenhagen that is home to second-hand boutiques, cosy cafes and an annual street festival. It’s also conveniently located next to the famous Copenhagen lakes – perfect for a scenic afternoon walk.
Like any major city, Copenhagen can get busy. When you want to retreat head to King’s Garden, an expansive green space in the city. The gardens were originally laid out during King Christian IV reign in the early 1600s, and are the country’s oldest royal gardens. Inside the grassy escape, you’ll find an herbaceous border, a rose-garden and a multitude of different-sized sculptures.
Tivoli Gardens during Christmas
From November through to the end of December, European cities sparkle from the lights of their Christmas markets. Tivoli is one of the world’s oldest amusement parks, and from mid-November its grounds are decorated with Christmas stalls selling everything from Danish tree decorations to heart-warming Danish street food.
How do you inject some Hygge into your own life?
In the UK we are no stranger to Greek cuisine, thanks to the availability of Mediterranean style restaurants. However, nothing beats the real thing. And no trip to Greece is complete without filling your plate up with as much delicious local cuisine as possible. While it’s tempting to stick to what you know and order a Greek Salad, Moussaka, or Baklava – we instead recommend giving one of these traditional recipes a try that are not as readily available in the UK.
This almond based cookie is extremely popular and isn’t hard to find. Typically you’ll find them in casual settings and many Greek locals like to pair it with a glass of warm Greek coffee.
Ellinikos (Greek Coffee)
On the topic of coffee, we recommend trying Greece’s most popular type of hot drink: Eillinikos. Available in three variations, choose between Vari Glyko (strong & almost honey sweet), Metrios (medium sweetness) and Sketos (without sugar).
Courgette Balls (kolokithokeftedes)
This popular starter brings together a creamy filling and a crunchy coating, with a burst of flavour made up of courgette, feta cheese and fresh mint.
Greek Fava Dip (Yellow Split Pea Puree)
If Santorini is your Greek island of choice, you’ll see this appetizer popping up on menus across the island. Sometimes extra olive oil is added, so it can be used as a side dip as well.
Saganaki – Fried Cheese
Calling all cheese lovers. This only takes 10 minutes to prepare (it’s literally cheese coated in flour and fried) and makes for the perfect comfort-food appetizer.
Also known as a Greek spinach pie, this tasty and hearty dish is prepared with (or, sometimes, without) feta cheese, butter, olive oil and baked until golden and crispy. It can also be served as a starter, side or main meal.
Bursting with juicy flavour, Yemista is the Greek word for stuffed tomatoes (but sometimes you’ll find variations made with green peppers, courgettes, eggplants or aubergines) that are usually filled with rice and various herbs (sometimes mincemeat).
The perfect main when you need something tasty and filling. Pastitsio is a baked pasta dish with added ground beef and béchamel sauce.
Moving onto desserts now, you have to let this beautiful sweet dish melt in your mouth at one point of your holiday. A traditional sweet dish that goes back hundreds of years, it is made up of crispy pastry sprinkled with melted butter and usually served with custard and syrup.
If you like your desserts a little more savoury than sweet, then try these golden puffs of fried dough. Usually sprinkled with sweet syrup, walnuts and cinnamon.
Iceland is a destination that is bucket list worthy and easily achievable. Not only because it is just two and a half hours from the UK, but also because it's perfectly located for a stopover on your way to the USA or Canada.
Iceland’s national flag airline, Icelandair, offers daily flights from Glasgow to some of North America’s most popular tourist destinations such as New York City, Boston, Washington DC and Orlando. All flights are via Iceland and offer the opportunity for a stopover of up to seven nights at no additional cost. This makes Iceland ideal for a two-stop holiday – here is how to make the most of your stopover.
Get cultured in Reykjavik
Iceland’s capital offers culture by the bucket load and – even better – its compact size means you’ll easily fit a lot in without too much effort. The city is full of museums, ranging from The National Film Archive of Iceland to The Settlement Exhibition, featuring the oldest relics of human habitation in Reykjavík. There’s also no shortage of performance art either – with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Icelandic Dance Company, the National Theatre, and the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre, all of impeccable quality.
Relax in the Blue Lagoon
If you’re craving a bit of downtime before your North American adventure, then stop by the Blue Lagoon in the southwest of the island. The water has a unique composition, featuring the three active ingredients Silica, Algae & Minerals (all of which combine it to give the lagoon its vivid blue colour). The temperature varies between 37°C and 40°C, and is created by the merging of freshwater and seawater at 2,000 metres below the surface. The lagoon and the surrounding spa are very popular with tourists and locals alike, and advance booking is recommended.
Game of Thrones
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, then you probably already know that Iceland is used for most filming that takes place Beyond the Wall. The filmmakers shot scenes across the country, but some of the most memorable locations were Dimmuborgir (Wildling Camp), Vatnajökull (general backdrop for most of the glacial scenes), Höfðabrekka (Frostfang Mountains) and Grjótagjá (a spring cave you’ll recognise from Season 3). Thingvellir National Park was also used as a backdrop for mid-Westeros when Arya and Sandor Clegane's were moving from village to village.
Witness the Northern Lights
This natural phenomenon is one of the biggest reasons many holidaymakers make the trip across to Iceland. At their most visible from September to mid-April and away from the city lights, an appearance from the aurora borealis isn’t guaranteed but anyone who has been lucky enough to witness them will tell you that it is worth the journey.
Rome is a remarkably stunning city and is home to some of the world’s most notable and historically important buildings. From ancient ruins to Baroque churches, Rome has made its stamp on the world of architecture thanks to the visionary talents of architects like Michelangelo, Bramante, Borromini and Bernini.
Even holidaymakers who aren’t usually keen architecture buffs spend days wandering the city looking upwards at the beautiful domes and neoclassical towers. For anyone who doesn’t usually know the difference between their Renaissance and their Romanesque, we’ve compiled a quick guide to the history and architectural style behind some of Rome’s key buildings.
St. Peter's Basilica
With a dome roof that dominates the skyline of Rome, the St Peter’s Basilica grabs your attention as soon as you enter the city. The very first foundation stone was laid in 1506, and the plan was to build the grandest building in Christendom – and to this day it remains the largest church in the world and is considered one of the holiest Catholic shrines.
Construction of the church took until 1626, but the original design print was by Donato Bramante and featured a floorplan that was the shape of a large Greek cross, with the first stone being laid in 1506. When Pope Julius died in 1513, the design changed hands to Giuliano da Sangallo, Fra Giocondo and Raphael who changed the Greek cross to a consortium of bays. After all three architects passed away, the project was passed to Baldassare Peruzzi who reverted back to the Greek Cross but kept elements of Raphael’s proposal (such as the internal arrangement of the three main apses). This plan did not go ahead because of difficulties between church and state, with Peruzzi passing in 1536. Antonio da Sangallo the Younger became the next architect, and his vision was a combination of all the former images with only a few eternal elaborations.
It was only on the 1st January 1547 that Michelangelo – who is considered the primary architect of the building – took over. He kept the original Greek cross layout but borrowed features of later plans such as the curved walls of Raphael's drawings.
The church went on to have a great influence on the architectural style of churches in the western world. The domes of Karlskirche (Vienna), St. Nicholas Church (Prague), and the Pantheon (Paris) all pay homage to St Peter's Basilica.
We can’t discuss important buildings in Rome without mentioning the iconic Colosseum. It is the most prominent example of ancient Roman architecture and is the largest amphitheatre ever built. The construction actually started way back in AD 72 under the eye of Emperor Vespasian – and completed in AD 80 under his heir and modifications were made during the reign of Domitian. This dynasty was known as the Flavian dynasty and is how the Colluseum earned it alternative name, the Flavian Amphitheatre.
The structure is built from concrete and sand, and could hold 50,000 and 80,000 spectators back in its day. It’s widely known that it was used for gladiator battles, but it was also used for mock sea battles, executions, and enactments of Classical Mythology.
Rome is regarded as the second Renaissance capital of Italy – after Florence – with the Quirinal Palace as one of the prime examples. It’s currently one of the three official residences of the President of the Italian Republic, and has housed thirty Popes, four Kings of Italy and twelve presidents of the Italian Republic.
Originally built in 1583 by Pope Gregory XIII as a papal summer residence, and commissioned the architect Ottaviano Mascherino. The palace is built around an internal courtyard, and boasts 1,200 rooms that include Hall of the Cabinets, The Grand Ballroom, the Hall of Mirrors, and The Chapel of the Annunciation. Outside there is also the Quirinal Gardens that clocks in at 40,000 m² and is famous for its water organ (a new addition, built in the late 90s) that has a single keyboard of 41 notes.
Altare della Patria
In 1870 neoclassical architecture came to Italy and Rome became the new capital city. During this time period, many new palaces were built to host ministries, embassies, and other governing agencies.
One of the most well-known symbols of Neoclassical architecture on Rome is Altare della Patria (also known as the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II). It was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi in 1885, inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925. Inside the building, visitors will find stairways, Corinthian columns, fountains, an equestrian sculpture of Victor Emmanuel and two statues of the goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas.
It isn’t a pleasant part of Rome’s history, but the EUR business district is home to many examples of fascist architecture and illustrates how different Rome could look if fascism hadn’t fallen. The buildings were originally constructed for the 1942 world's fair that Benito Mussolini planned to celebrate twenty years of Fascism. But after World War 2, the exhibition plans were scrapped despite buildings having been erected.
The Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana is the most recognisable structure and was designed by Giovanni Guerrini, Ernesto Lapadula and Mario Romano. While much of the other buildings are a simplified Neoclassical style of architecture, this building also has elements of Metaphysical art.
Other notable buildings in this district are Palazzo dei Congressi, Archivio Centrale dello Stato and Basilica parrocchiale dei Santi Pietro e Paolo.
If you’ve been to Rome – what building caught your eye?
If you’ve got children – especially children under 12 – then selecting a hotel with plenty of activities is a must when going on holiday. And what better way to keep your children occupied than a waterpark? Thankfully there is an array of European hotel options that have a waterpark right on their doorstep (or even in the resort itself) guaranteed to ensure you’re little ones never moan about being bored!
3* Club Mac Alcudia Resort & Waterpark
Tucked into the northern corner of Alcudia lies this family-friendly hotel that offers unlimited entry to its adjacent waterpark. Here you’ll find 8 outdoor pools including 3 children's pools, ranging from an infinity pool to a children’s pool with slides and water dome. The waterpark also includes slides, kamikaze, multi lane racer and aqua loop slides.
The hotel itself has a further range of entertainment facilities including a cinema, daily evening entertainment, children’s playground, and restaurant with high chairs and kids’ buffet.
4* Paradise Island
Set within the beautiful surroundings of Lanzarote’s Playa Blanca region, this four star hotel offer both rest and adrenaline. All guests here are given a free of charge daily ticket to the Dino Water Park, while the hotel itself has a choice of four swimming pools to kick back and relax by. There is also an onsite sauna and games room.
3* Oasis Village with Waterpark
Stay here and gain free access to Fuerteventura’s only waterpark, Acua Waterpark. There’s 15 different slides and pools to keep your family occupied including wave pool, lazy river, children’s areas and 6 lane racing slides.
Back at the hotel, active families can sign up for volleyball, basket, or waterpolo. Younger members of the family can also join the onsite Lollo & Bernie Kids' Club, or work off some energy in the playground.
4* Anastasia Beach Complex
Set in the Pernera area of stunning Cyprus, the Anastasia Beach Complex comes complete with its own exclusive waterpark. All guests are granted unlimited access to the park and its 9 waterslides, lazy river and a splash pool (the beach is also only 100m away). Other family activities in the hotel include a children’s club, playground and kid’s buffet. Adults will also enjoy the onsite gym, sauna, steam room, fitness classes and two bars.
Aska Lara Resort & Spa
Heading over to Turkey now, this is the perfect hotel of choice for families after fun and sophisticated surroundings. The near-by Wet 'n' Wild water theme park features 9 slides (6 of them for adults and 3 smaller slides for children under the age of 12) as well as an adventure park and hobby garden. There are 9 restaurants and 8 bars also on the resort as well as a fitness centre, massage room, beauty salon, sauna and Turkish baths.
Each of the Greek Islands has its own personality – but Corfu is definitely the one that is a great all-rounder. Whether you’re after a lively party holiday with your friends, a family-friendly resort that looks out onto the beach, or culture and food Corfu has bucket loads of options. Here's just a taster of what you can get up to.
Explore ancient fortresses
Back in medieval times, Corfu was protected from invasion by two fortresses. While it is no longer needed for practical purposes, The Old Fortress is a great example of Byzantine and the Venetian architecture and can be found on the east side of Corfu. In contract, The New Fortress was built by the Venetians in the 16th Century and was built when the original fortress could no longer adequately defend the city.
Go for a night out in Kavos
If you’re looking to let your hair down at a party, Kavos is the best place to visit. Not only is it famous for its unbeatable nightlife it is also home to sun-soaked beaches that are just as lively during the day.
Slip on your hiking boots
If you’re a keen hiker, you can set your sights on the Corfu Trail that will take you right across the island taking roughly 10 days to complete. It’s a very rugged path and is recommended for experienced hikers only but it will take you past rich lagoons and impressive peaks.
Grab your snorkels
Corfu has one of the best snorkelling and scuba diving reputations in Greece. The northeast coast is amongst the hotspots and (on a clear day) visibility can reach 25-30 metres while water temperatures can reach 24°. The sea cave Hole of Ha near Paleokastrítsa beach is considered a must-visit area for divers because of the brightly coloured sea stars that are commonly found in other waters.
Splash at Aqualand Water Park
Located in the centre of the island is Corfu’s resident water park – that also just happens to be home to Europe’s largest wave pool. The park is split into three areas: the children’s area, Family area and adrenaline area ensuring that everyone is set to have a good time.
What's your favourite place to visit in Corfu?
Costa Daurada means Golden Coast in Spanish and it’s not hard to imagine why this lovely stretch of land in southern Spain managed to obtain such an attractive name. Stretching for 81km along the Mediterranean coast, this area is adorned with butterscotch-sands and Blue Flag beaches. But another reason why it has become so popular with British families, couples and friends seeking some sun is its plethora of resorts. We’ve rounded up six of the towns most popular with holidaymakers to help you make up your mind up about which one is right for you!
Salou has been a popular holiday hotspot for years, and for good reason. Aside from the beautiful stretch of coast line that families flock to in the summer, it’s also home to Spain’s largest theme park, PortAventura along with the newly opened FerrariLand and the Caribe Aquatic Park.
Tarragona is the cultural capital Catalonia and everywhere you look you’ll spot reminders of its fascinating past. The most poignant and eye-catching of all is definitely the Roman amphitheatre where gladiators battled it out in the 2nd century.
If you’re looking for sun, but consider yourself more of city-break person rather than a beach bum – then consider the city of Reus. It’s a perfect blend of incredible architecture, history, culture, shopping and cosmopolitan living. Plus, the beach is still only a 15-20 minute drive away and there’as regular buses to Salou, Tarragona, Barcelona, Valls and Cambrils.
Calafell is another Costa Daurada gem that combines beach with history. Set around a medieval castle dating back 2,500 years and the Romanesque church of Santa Creu from the 11th century, the town is a great mix of sandy beaches, great food, and culture with plenty of activities to keep holidaymakers happy. Remember to pop by the old fishing neighbourhood of La Platja, which is now a bustling collection of restaurants and bars and the perfect place to spend an evening.
Kick off your shoes, and slip on your sandals in this traditional Spanish fishing village turned holiday resort. It’s a polished place with upmarket hotels that still retains its own-town feel and is the perfect blend of Blue Flag beaches, Michelin-starred restaurants and relaxed nightlife. It’s also only an hour’s drive away from Barcelona.
La Pineda is the quieter sister of near-by Salou, and is the perfect choice for families who want a laid-back atmosphere with easy-access to livelier activities. As mentioned, Salou is within a short drive but also within an accessible radius is PortAventura theme park and an hour is away is the metropolitan hub of Barcelona. Within La Pineda itself however you’ll also find a collection of powdery beaches and water sports, as well as tapas bars, pubs and restaurants.
Berlin is definitely one of Europe’s most popular city breaks. Full of rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious food and plenty of nightlife – it’s not a surprise that British holidaymakers of various stripes choose Berlin as their city break destination of choice.
Whether you’re preparing for your first visit, or you’re heading back for your second (which wouldn’t be surprising, as many people do go back again!) make sure you keep this handy list nearby and tick off as many as you can.
1. Get a selfie in front of the Brandenburg Gate
2. Appreciate art on Museum Island
3. Enjoy the view from the top of the Fernsehturm
4. Drive around the city in a Trabi
5. Wander between the pillars of The Holocaust Memorial
6. Take a photo at Checkpoint Charlie
7. Treat yourself to a currywurst
8. Explore the city by bike
9. Have a picnic in Tiergarten, the city’s largest green space
10. Admire the striking beauty of the 300-year-old Charlottenburg Palace
11. Learn more about Germany’s Jewish history at the abstract Jewish Museum
12. Relax on a river cruise along the Spree and Havel
13. Gaze into the AquaDom – the largest fish tank in the world
14. Admire the graffiti art at the East Side Gallery
15. Spot the Ampelmann on the East German pedestrian lights
16. Stroll through the Berlin Botanischer Garten, the second largest botanical garden in the world.
17. Drink German beer in a Biergarten
18. Shop at the Mauer Park Flea Market
19. Walk (or drive) across the famous Oberbaum Bridge
20. Pay your respects at the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park
21. Delve deeper into the history of WW2 at the Topography of Terror
22. Have a somber moment exploring the Alter St.-Matthäus-Kirchhof, keeping an eye out for the grave of the Brothers Grimm.
23. Set outside the city and pay your respects at the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp
24. Learn about the history of Berlin at The Story of Berlin Museum.
25. Visit in the winter and inhale the buzz of the famous Christmas Markets
26. Chill out on the abandoned runways of the non-operational Tempelhof Airport.
27. Look up and admire the golden Neue Synagogue.
28. Make a luxurious purchase at KaDeWe, a high-end shopping mall
29. Blag your way into Berghain, the city’s most exclusive nightclub
30. Walk along the Berlin Wall and swot up on history at its educational touchpoints
What is your must-see bucket list activities in Berlin? Let us know in the comments.
Hiring a mobile home is a perfect alternative to a hotel if you’re looking for family-friendly accommodation in some of Europe’s most popular destinations. Enjoy a bit more privacy, your own garden space to relax in the sun, plus you’ll have the comforts of home with your own kitchen and living facilities. All European holiday parks come with on-site facilities that can range from understated restaurants in peaceful settings, or energetic waterparks for adventurous kids.
At Barrhead Travel we have numerous holiday park options for families, and one of our top suppliers is Al Fresco Holidays. They boast 72 parks in Europe and offer four collections perfectly tailored to what your party is looking for: Large & Lively, Midsized & Sociable, Small & Friendly and Authentic & Value. Here are just some of the popular destinations where you can find their parks.
Al Fresco Holidays have a presence across the whole of France with 41 holiday parks near popular destinations such as Paris, Normandy and North & South Brittany. Popular sites includes Les Prairies de la Mer that is located on the beaches of St. Tropez and is home to eight different mobile home types that all come with their own gas barbeque. Onsite facilities also include a minimarket, restaurant, laundrette, PC lounge and souvenir shop.
However, if it’s Disneyland Paris you’re eyeing up for a nice family holiday, another popular park is La Croix du Vieux Pont. This lively park boasts plenty of facilities for children with pools, waterslides, outdoor play area, 10 pin bowling alley, laser quest, and evening entertainment including magic shows and kid’s discos.
Choose between the pristine Dalmatian Coast or the secluded spots on the Istrian peninsula, with a range of four parks. Each of them fall into the Large & Lively category making them an amazing choice for families wanting to explore a destination with some history and culture. Every park includes a main restaurant (as well as a Pizzeria and bar), a mini-market, and a large heated outdoor pool.
Holland is home to only one park, Duinrell Holiday Park near the town of Wassenaar – but in the case of this fun-filled park, one is definitely enough. The main feature is the on-site Tiki Tropical Water Park, with an indoor and outdoor pool featuring oversized water slides, a lazy river, wave pool, and paddling pool. The other outstanding feature of this park is its theme park with roller coasters and fun for all the family PLUS entrance to the theme park is free for the duration of the holiday. Sports fans can also sign up for mini-golf, volleyball, ten pin bowling and archery. For food, aside from the main restaurant, there is a snack bar, bakery, take-away, mini-market and a charcoal BBQ included with all mobile homes.
Al Fresco Holidays have expertly chosen five of Italy’s best holiday destinations for their holiday parks: Lake Garda, Lazio, Tuscany, Adriatic Coast and the Venetian Riviera. Most are part of the Large & Lively collection but six parks are included in the Midsize & Sociable collection or the Small & Friendly collection.
One of their more intimate parks is Eden, located on the banks of the scenic Lake Garda with the resort towns of Portese and Salo only a short drive away. The lower and upper campsite are both home to unassuming swimming pools, and the wider park caters to sports fans with volleyball, table tennis, basketball, badminton, bike hire, and football. There is also an on-site spa.
Costa Brava and Costa Dorada are two of Europe’s most popular destinations with families looking for some sun. Aside from the peaceful Cala Gogo campsite near the resort town of Platja d’Aro, all the parks in Spain are aimed towards families and have plenty of activities for younger members.
One of their most popular resorts, Sanguli that is found near the friendly destination of Salou, has a brand new area for 2017: an African themed resort with Africa themed pool, restaurant, bar and Africa themed mobile homes. This means the park will now be home to three swimming pools, three paddling pools and six waterslides. Other activities in the wider park include board games, trampolining, a video games room, badminton and a weights room.
Imagine the scene: relaxing outside on a sun-drenched patio, overlooking a tranquil lake, while nibbling on beautiful Italian flavours and sipping on some of Europe’s finest wines. This imaginary scene is the reality on a holiday to Lake Garda. The handsome landscape that surrounds Italy’s largest lake is as fertile as it is charming and produces its own delicious take on some of Italy’s most famous produce. Here’s just a delicious sample to get your mouth-watering.
Citrus fruits were first brought to Lake Garda in the 13th century, and have enjoyed a fruitful and important part in Lake Garda’s culinary scene. Two local recipes where citrus fruits are a key ingredient include Limoncino liqueur and lemon cream of the Riviera dei Limoni, a citron-flavoured beverage.
Wines from Trentino
The Trentino Garda area has enjoyed a fair bit of fame in the world of wine thanks to the micro-climate that allows for a unique breed of grapes to flourish. One of the most noteworthy is the Nosiola grape, a delicate flavour that is the perfect accompaniment to some hors d’ oeuvres. The long-lived dessert wine Trentino Vino Santo is actually hand-crafted by allowing the Nosiola grapes to dry on wooden trellises!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
The micro-climate of Lake Garda’s northern shoreline also lends a hand to producing a unique brand of olive oil that is recognised by the European Community as worthy of the DOP qualification. Its DOP is verified by its intense golden green hue as well as its sweet almond and fruity taste. Whether it’s a salad, fresh meat or a fried seafood – you’ll find this locally-grown variety of olive oil drizzled on many dishes.
Locally caught fish
In many of the villages that decorate the banks of Lake Garda, fish is caught and cooked using traditional methods. Trout has longed been crowned the nickname of Queen of the Garda, because of the high quantities found in the water. Sardine, whitefish, eels and tenches are all common seafood delicacies that can be caught from its shores.
Cattle from the Morenici hills
The cheeses and cold meats that are served abundantly in the Lake Garda towns come from cattle that were bred on the luscious pastures of the Morenici hills. Most notable is the Morenico De.C.O (doc) salami and the salami of Pozzolengom, both of which are produced from beef of romagnola cattle.
This bow-shaped pasta boasts a long history in Northern Italy, and legend has it that it was made to honour the star-crossed lovers Silvia and Malco who were not allowed to be together. There’s even a 'Knot of Love' festival held in their honour!
To this day the pasta is made strictly by hand, and is rolled until it’s as thinned out as possible while still remaining intact. Traditionally, the filling is a mix of beef, pork and chicken with carrot, celery and rosemary for further flavour – then it is left to dry until being cooked in a meat broth and served with butter, sage and a sprinkle of cheese.
Local Lake Garda families have been passing down traditional sweets from parents to child for generations. Keep and an eye out for spelt flour biscuit and the saffron biscuit and the fried Saltarelle of Padenghe if you’re craving a taste of these traditional farmers’ sweets.
When it comes to the Balearic Islands, Menorca often gets overshadowed by its energetic neighbours. While Ibiza and Majorca boast lively clubs and action-packed resorts (as well as a few quieter beaches in between) Menorca strips the Spanish beach holiday back to basics. If you’re looking for a destination with great weather, that isn’t far away and doesn’t cost the earth - but isn’t overrun with people - then Menorca is one of your best options. Here are some of the reasons why Menorca should be on your summer list.
1. Pristine Beaches
The Balearics are home to some of the Mediterranean’s best beaches. However, Menorca has more beaches than the other two combined and almost all of the island’s beaches have Blue Flag status.
While Menorca is definitely the quietest of the islands, beach-lovers with a sporty streak will not be disappointed. The water that surrounds Menorca is pretty calm making it a great option for beginners whether it’s sailing, jet skiing or paddle boarding.
3. Authentic local food
If you’re looking for authentic local flavours to dig into, Menorca delivers. First on your list should be the locally-made Mahón cheese with its creamy and mild taste. As a drink we recommend trying some local wine or the local Menorcan gin! Remember to also dollop some mayonnaise on your food – Menorca was its birthplace after all.
4. It’s a natural biosphere reserve
Menorca was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993 thanks to its ecosystem that is rich with caves, lagoons, dune systems, islets, 220 species of birds, and 1000 species of plants (60 of which are endemic). One of the best ways to explore is by walking along the Cami de Cavalls – a path that winds around the island clocking in at 185 miles (but it’s broken down into 20 manageable sections if you’re only looking for a brief stroll). As a result you won’t find your view blocked by any high-rise hotels.
5. Traditional Spanish celebrations
I know we’ve already stated that Menorca is the peaceful sibling of the three islands, but Menorcans still know how to party. If you visit between June to September you’ll be treated to the sights and sounds of the traditional Menorcan fiesta. Ciutadella holds the most extravagant one, and marks the start of festival season across the island.
6. Ancient history
Menorca is home to many historic sites, some dating as far back to the Bronze Age. Castell San Felipe is one of Europe's largest fortresses, Son Catlar is the largest Talayotic settlement in the Balearic Islands and the Pirates of Menorca boat will take you on a tour of Menorca’s pirate past (including a venture into the coves smugglers used to hide in). The archaeology sites here are so impressive, Boston University even runs a summer school for Archaeological Heritage Management on the island.
Menorca’s most popular resorts are Arenal D'en Castell, Cala Blanca and Cala'n Forcat.
Gran Canaria is an island synonymous with wonder. Its volcanic history has created an intriguing unearthly landscape and its location has birthed sunny beaches that never drop below 10C - even in the winter. A historic port city, the culture is a melting ***** of stories from travellers that have passed through while exploring foreign lands. This eclectic culture and exquisite rock formations survive to this day creating a unique itinerary for holiday makers.
Must see landscapes
Scenery wise, Gran Canaria is an island of contrasts. Home to both golden beaches and flowing mountains, it’s not surprising that it has been granted a World Biosphere Reserve label by UNESCO. Gran Canaria is very proud of its stunning island and has created the Gran Canaria Mirador Lookout Network, which marks out the best spots for a scenic view.
Must eat cuisine
Gran Canaria’s status as a traditional port of call for travellers passing over the Atlantic has created a diverse culinary mix, making it very difficult to pin-point exactly what Gran Canarian cuisine is due to the melting ***** of cultures that now exist on the island. Even to this day it receives an exotic hotpot of imports from across the globe.
However, it’s not just the many visitors who have contributed to the culinary scene. Gran Canaria’s naturally warm and sunny climate makes it very fertile for an array of vegetables, fruits and spices. Of course, its island status means seafood also plays a large part in the local culinary culture. Popular seafood dishes include Canary Casserole, Tollos (salted and dried dogfish), and chopped seafood with onion, tomato and peppers.
Must try sports
The mixture of sea and mountains has created an immersive land perfectly formed for both land and water sports. On its mountainous peaks, active holidaymakers will find both climbing and hiking. There’s also eight sun-filled golf courses on the island, while sporty types who prefer water-based activities will find surfing, paddle surfing, and deep sea diving.
There’s also a handful of indigenous sports active on the island. Most prominently is Lateen sailing or “Vela Latina Canaria”, which is no everyday sailing. The mast is out of proportion with the hulk of the boat, so riders have to intricately manage the balance of the boat with weights and counterweights. Competitions and events are held at the weekend in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, which attracts large crowds. There is also “el juego del palo” (a kind of jousting bout with sticks) and a Canarian variation of wrestling, “la lucha canaria”.
Must visit health and relaxation
Whether it’s relaxing after a sporty day at the beach, or choosing to spend your entire holiday relaxing in a spa, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to unwind in Gran Canaria. The island is a very popular wellness destination with numerous spas and health centres.
Gran Canaria also has the correct climate to grow its own unique variety of Aloe Vera. What is special about this Canarian Aloe Vera is that it does not need treated before being used as a beauty product, making any wellness treatment that extra bit special.
Must experience culture
Gran Canaria’s historic reputation as a transatlantic stop-over has resulted in a distinctive blend of cultures. And this local culture is not subtle or hard for visitors to find. Across the island you will find a plethora of museums, festivals and archaeological sites celebrating what makes this island so unique.
Visit the Cenobio de Valerón, an authentic aboriginal grain collection store built by ancient Canarians 800 years ago. Or visit the Ethnographic Museum and learn how gofio (a Gran Canarian flour) is made – and visit the Valleseco Ecological Market afterwards. Aboriginal artwork is also easily found and is instantly recognisable by its geometric motifs, squares, triangles and circles painted in reddish, ochre tones and white.
Costa Daurada is one of mainland Spain’s most popular holiday destinations. Located along the stunning Mediterranean shoreline it’s the perfect blend of Catalonian culture, family-family attractions, rich history, golden beaches and sun-drenched weather. With other Spanish holiday hubs (such as Barcelona) only a short distance away it’s also the perfect base for exploring some of Spain’s other coastal highlights. If you’re thinking of heading to this sunny holiday favourite soon, here’s a snapshot of some of the places to visit within the region.
If you’re visiting Costa Daurada with your children, PortAventura is a must-visit. The largest theme park in Europe, it is home to a main theme park, a water park and five hotels (hotel guests get unlimited access to the main park). The main park is home to 40 rides across six unique worlds including Dragon Khan – a thrilling roller-coaster with 8 loops that reaches speeds of 110 km/h! While the PortAventura Caribe Aquatic Park is home to the highest free fall slide in Europe, King Khajuna.
Adding even more excitement to the resort is the new Ferrari Land. The first of its kind in Europe, the park offers 70,000 km2 of excitement and fun. Inside the park, visitors will find the Ferrari Land Gallery, Virtual FMTM Experience and Red Force – the highest and fastest vertical accelerator in Europe.
Tarragona Roman City
If you consider yourself a bit of a history-buff, then you’ll love exploring this UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tourist board has even created a Roman Route along the coast that passes by all the major historical buildings, including a well-preserved Roman colosseum.
Tarragona isn’t the only resort in Costa Daurada with historical significance. The inland city of Reus is where Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852, and is now considered the Cradle of Modernism. The Modernism walking route runs through the centre of Reus and passes by 26 buildings built in a Modernist style. You’ll also find The Gaudí Centre right in the heart of historical Reus, where you can learn about the intricacies of his architectural style.
If Barcelona is still on your bucket list, it can be easily slotted into your Costa Daurada itinerary. Located less than an hour up the coast, the famous sights of this charming but bustling city are only a train ride away. One of the best things to do while in the Catalonian capital is a simple walking tour that takes you round the main streets so you can admire the beautiful architecture of this stunning city.
One of the 7 golf courses
Brilliant weather and scenic views are two necessities for a good round of golf, and Costa Daurada offers just that. There are seven golf courses in the region that are all perfect for practicing your swing.
The scenic coast
While in Costa Daurada, you’ll no doubt become acquainted with the warm sands that line the coast. If you can pull yourself away from a day relaxing on a sunbed, we recommend walking along the official Coastal Path in Salou. This 2 kilometre path hugs the shoreline and is the only way to witness some of the stunning but remote sights.
One of the many restaurants and food markets
Costa Daurada’s coastal location and close proximity to Spain’s wine and olive growing regions creates a gastronomical mix that is quintessentially Mediterranean. Restaurants and food markets alike are very popular, with seafood, fresh regional vegetables and locally grown nuts a common choice in local dishes. Remember to order a glass of wine with dinner – the surrounding area is home to some of the best vineyards in Spain.
Malta is fast becoming known as an island ideal for the energetic festival lover. Despite being a bit of a newcomer to the clubbing scene there are already a few key annual events that all festival lovers need to put on their bucket list. Ranging from house music right through to jazz tunes, there’s a festival happening in Malta that is sure to get your ears-ringing and feet-moving.
Annie Mac’s Lost & Found
This annual music festival has become one of the most renowned on the island. Featuring all-night raves, pool parties, boat parties and castle raves (!) this festival will take place between the 13th and 16th of April in different locations across the island before its main event right in the heart of Malta, Numero Uno.
Groovefest is a mash-up of open air stages and pool side parties topped off with a line-up that hand-picks the best electronic music acts. The line-up for this year is yet to be announced, but last’s year’s roaster included the likes of Jamie Jones, Hot Since 82, Art Department and Matthias Tanzmann.
Isle of MTV
The chart topping American DJ duo The Chainsmokers have already been announced as the headline act of this June-time festival. This is a free open-air concert that usually attract 500,000 music lovers from across Europe, and past acts have included Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, Jess Glynne and ***** Khalifa.
A festival created for fans of house-and-techno, past line-ups have included Ben Klock, Len Faki, Carl Craig, Midland, Fatima Yamaha, Kink, Dave Clarke, Virginia, Gesaffelstein and Tom Trago. This year Glitch will be taking place between 7th and 8th of September and will boast multiple locations.
Malta International Jazz Festival
The Malta International Jazz Festival is one of the longest running and highly-acclaimed festivals in Malta. Now under the creative control of Sandro Zerafa, the festival aims to merge the traditional sounds that jazz was built on with a contemporary edge. It takes place in July every year and includes a line-up of top international and Maltese artists.
This cultural event takes place in January every year and is firmly established in the baroque scene. 2018’s festival has not yet been announced, but the acclaimed line-up ensemble typically performs in 24 different events across 9 different venues in Valletta.
Madrid is a popular city break destination for many reasons. Firstly, its location in central Spain makes it an obvious choice for city-lovers who also want to embrace some sun. Secondly, it is rich in history and art, where culture-lovers will never run out of museums or galleries to explore. Thirdly, is its ease of access. You can book direct flights from a range of UK airports, including Edinburgh, Manchester and London Gatwick, and there’s a new route from Glasgow launching in October.
The one challenge with Madrid is choosing what to do if you’re only there for a few days, and what order to do it in. Below we’ve compiled a three-day itinerary that encompasses the must-see sights of the city ordered in a way so you’ll get round them all in one weekend.
Start your holiday at the Plaza de Oriente. This expansive square is the central hub of Madrid where an impressive collection of must-see sights are within walking distance. Our first stop would be the official residence of Spain’s royal family, the Royal Palace of Madrid. Though the family don’t actively live here, is it is the location of official events and the place is free for tourists to wander round.
Just across from the palace is The Cathedral of Madrid – a must see stop even if it’s just to climb to the roof and admire the stunning landscape of Madrid.
As you begin to enter the late afternoon we recommend taking a 10 minutes’ walk to another square, this time Plaza Mayor. This historically significant square is where symphonies and tournaments (even executions) took place in earlier years. These days it’s a popular tourist spot where people go to soak up the Madrid atmosphere.
By this point, your stomach is probably getting a bit cranky. We recommend stopping by one of Madrid’s main foodie hubs: the near-by Mercado de San Miguel. Despite being located in the main tourist district and being considered a must-eat destination, the prices of the numerous vendors are purse-friendly. In fact, you can easily nab yourself a filling lunch for around 10 euros.
If you’re looking for somewhere that casts a beautiful urban silhouette on the sunset and don’t mind wandering slightly further west of the city centre, you should head to the Temple of Debod. This is an authentic Egyptian Temple which isn’t exactly what you would expect in a Spanish city, but it is considered a must-see while visiting.
Madrid is home to one of the world’s most successful and famous footballs teams. Many football fans from across the world step onto the stunning streets of Madrid for this reason alone.
Even if you’re not in Madrid due to a love of football, we would still recommend taking a trip to the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. The official tour will take you round the stadium and include stops at the presidential box, dressing room, press room and the ‘best club in history’ room plus you’ll be treated to an impressive panoramic view of the stadium.
Afterwards you can choose to stay in this northern area of the city and explore the bars and restaurants, or head back into the city (via a direct Underground link). Whichever you choose, you won’t regret a night out in this lively city – especially if you hit up one of the many sangria bars.
On your final day we recommend wandering into the eastern side of the city centre for a day of admiring art and walking through immaculate urban gardens. The Prado Museum is considered one of the best museums on the planet, and offers free admission between certain hours. The building itself is also of note – it was opened by to the public in 1819 and was designed by architect Juan de Villanueva.
Located just opposite the museum is the Royal Botanical Garden. Clocking in at 8-hectares within Murillo Square, you can find yourself spending hours slowly wandering its leafy paths completely forgetting that you’re in the centre of one of Europe’s most famous cities. Here you’ll discover lakes, labyrinths, squares, fountains, and lots of flowers – there’s even a small veggie garden in the summer!
If time is on your side, head to the near-by Reina Sofía where you’ll find one of Madrid’s biggest collections of modern art including Picasso, Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí, and Bacon.
When the sky begins to dim on your last day in Madrid, slowly walk over to the Circulo de Bellas Artes. A 12 minute walk from the Prado Museum, this art centre, performance venue and cinema has a lovely roof-top bar where you can slowly watch the sun set on your Madrid escape.
If you’re looking for a holiday that is quintessentially Mediterranean, the Algarve is one of our top recommendations. Located along the southern shores of Portugal, this coastal area is adorned with rocky cliff sides, delightful seaside towns and sandy coves. Every year it attracts families, couples and groups of friends looking to soak up its charming interpretation of a sunshine holiday. Here’s our top 5 things to do while on holiday in the Algarve.
1. Find your perfect beach
The Algarve lies at the meeting point of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean: creating waters that are simultaneously gifted with warm currants and rippling waves. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the beachy-coves and long stretches of sand found along the rocky coast.
2. Shop local
The Algarve is not short of local artisan crafts. In fact, you’ll see very few big brand names lining the streets. Leave room in your luggage on the way over and pick up some unique pottery for your house or designer clobber that not everyone else has.
3. Play a round of golf
Home to 40 championship courses and a stunning coastal backdrop, the Algarve is indisputably one of the top golfing destinations in Europe. There’s even plenty of mini-golf in the towns if you’re not quite ready to take on the competitive courses.
4. Sample the local cuisine
We’ve raved about delicious but fuss-free Portuguese food before – and we’re going to do it again. The Algarve especially is a foodie haven for seafood-lovers with fresh local catches that include sea bass, sea bream, mackerel and sardines.
5. Visit a water park
If you’re visiting the Algarve with the family, treat them to a day out at one of three waterparks. Aqualand is the one of the biggest parks in Portugal, and is home to the 95 metres high Kamikaze. While Aqua Show has its own water rollercoaster that reaches speeds of 70km per hour. Alternatively there is the Slide & Splash Water Park that covers 16.000 acres and is considered one of the best in Europe.
There’s some destinations that come alive during winter, and Lapland is one of them. Located in the northern areas of Finland and Sweden, this winter wonderland is well-known as the home of Father Christmas and his busy workshop. But aside from joyful festivities, there are also plenty of other things to see and do in this artic paradise. Here are some of our top recommendations when visiting Lapland during the winter months.
1. Take the children to Santa Claus Village
We can’t write a list of things to see in Lapland without mentioning Santa Claus! Meet the famous man himself and visit his personal office, the official Santa Claus post office and learn more about Finnish festive traditions in a Christmas themed museum!
2. Explore a national park
Lapland is not short of a national park…or five. In fact, you could visit one every day of your holiday and still not tick them all off. Choose between Ranua Wildlife Park, Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Urho Kekkonen National Park, Pyhä-Luosto National Park and Riisitunturi National Park.
3. Visit the Siida Museum
Found in Northern Lapland, Siida is a museum where visitors can learn more about the native Sámi people and their culture. If you decide to visit during the summer months the regular exhibits are complemented by an open-air museum.
4. Watch out for the Northern Lights
Lapland is undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to witness the northern lights. Look out for safaris and excursions that take you away from the electricity of the city into the clear night sky that provides an excellent backdrop to this natural wonder.
5. Keep your eyes peeled for native wildlife
Lapland is home to many striking creatures that you rarely find elsewhere. Whether you opt for a snowmobile safari or book yourself an observation cabin, some of the beautiful native wildlife to look out for includes polar bears, huskies, foxes, reindeer, the Lapland owl (the tallest owl in the world) and wolverines.
With its mild year round climate, acres of golden sands and plentiful supply of authentic Andalusian culture, there’s no shortage of reasons to visit the Costa del Sol.
To make the most of your experience in one of Spain’s most stunning destinations, there’s a number of activities you simply have to tick of your bucket list!
1. Visit La Alcazaba in Malaga
This Moorish Castle is perched at the top of a steep incline which looks out over the entire city. The climb may be steep, but it’s more than worth it once you’ve reached the top. As well as the ocean sparkling beneath you, you can see the Plaza de Toros (Bull ring) and the rolling hills surrounding the city. These breath-taking vistas enable you to marvel at Malaga’s beauty from above whilst absorbing the traditional Andalusian culture in the sunshine.
2. Unwind VIP Style in Marbella
The luxury capital of the Costa del Sol, Marbella is home to a plethora of up-market boutiques and restaurants which attract a very exclusive clientele. Spend the day wandering along the Paseo Marítimo rubbing shoulders with the stars, dreaming of your own luxury yacht or sipping cocktails in one of the town’s trendiest bars.
3. Fall in Love with Mijas
You will quite literally feel like you’ve stepped onto the front of a post card with a visit to this idyllic Spanish Pueblo. Nestled in the Andalusian hills, this town has fully retained its authentic Spanish culture in spite of a plentiful supply of tourists. A myriad of white washed houses, tapas bars and Flamenco shows, it is simply bursting with character. A visit to Mijas is an absolute must for those who want to ‘disfrutar de la cultura Española.’
4. Go shopping in Fuengirola
Fuengirola offers a truly unique shopping experience when unwinding In the Costa Del Sol. As well as Spanish high street favourites like Pull & Bear, Zara and Bershka, the town is bursting with quirky boutiques and sophisticated designer stores. So, whether you’re seeking mainstream branded fashion or authentic Spanish style, this Andalusian town is a shopper’s paradise.
5. Visit the Birth Place of Picasso
A visit to the Costa del Sol wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Picasso’s birthplace in Malaga. As well as the opportunity to visit the actual house where the artist was born, there’s also a museum dedicated to his work. Visit on a Sunday for discounted entry. The Plaza de La Merced also boasts a number of Picasso-themed bars and restaurants where you can enjoy authentic tapas or an ice cold Tinto de Verano.
6. Sample the local gastronomy in Nerja
The Costa del Sol is renowned for its traditional Spanish cuisine, and there’s no better please to tantalize your taste buds than Nerja! This seaside town offers a plethora of tapas bars where tourists are free to sample authentic dishes. If you’re feeling adventurous, take part in a tapas tour – akin to a more sophisticated bar crawl, participants stop for ‘una copa’ and ‘una tapa’ in each location.– ¡Qué bueno!
7. Embrace the nightlife in Torremolinos
Considered by many to be the party capital of the Costa del Sol, there’s something for everyone in the Torremolinos nightlife scene. For the sophisticated party goer, the front is peppered with exclusive beach clubs and bars which stay open until the sun comes up. Or, if you’re looking for more relaxed revelry, the city centre is bursting with karaoke bars and pub quizzes.
8. Visit a traditional food market
Malaga hosts the Atarazana market, one of the freshest and largest food markets in the Costa Del Sol. Foodies, prepare to be overwhelmed at the quantity and variety of fresh produce – fish, meat, cheeses, fruit, vegetables, pastries and more are displayed and sold at incredible prices. Even if you’re not there to buy, you can spend hours marvelling at this unique Mercado, wandering the aisles and sampling the delicious local produce on offer.
9. Appreciate the colourful history & varied architecture
Due to its vivid history, the Costa del Sol boasts extremely distinct and diverse architecture. The evidence of Spain’s Moorish occupation remains strong and the remains of the old Roman theatre are even visible in Malaga. The cities themselves are bursting with white-washed houses and floral window displays in the traditional Andalusian style. The sunshine coast is also home to Antequera, a recently named UNESCO world heritage site and Ronda, which boasts the oldest bullring in Spain. Heaven on earth for history buffs or design enthusiasts!
10. Try and live like a Spaniard
Unlike many tourist destinations, the Costa del Sol has retained much of its traditional customs and authentic Spanish charm. Instead of spending your holiday searching for an English breakfast, try the local tapas. Where you would usually spend the evening in an Irish pub, try a Flamenco club or a salsa bar. Finally, make an effort to engage with the incredible people – Hola, Gracias and Por Favor can go a long way!
If there’s one reason why northern Europe should be on everyone’s bucket list, it’s the chance to see the northern lights. This mesmerising blanket of twirling colours can be more easily seen the further north you are and the further away you are from the cities. There’s numerous holiday packages, tours, hotels and also Scandinavian cruises that specialise in helping holidaymakers witness this natural wonder for themselves. Here’s some of the best places to spot them.
1. Svalbard, Norway
This archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole is one of the most northern inhabited islands on the planet. As such, it is one of the best places to witness the northern lights. With the sky almost permanently switched to night-time during the winter months, the chances of the colourful Aurora Borealis shining above are high.
2. Swedish Lapland
Already a popular festive holiday destination with families looking to meet Santa Claus, Swedish Lapland is also a great destination for chasing the northern lights. The Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park is one of the best spots if you’re in Lapland for this illuminating performance.
3. Lofoten Islands
What sets the experience of the northern lights in Lofoten apart from the other destinations on this list, is their majestic reflection in the water. Photographers especially rate this location highly because the rugged peaks provide limitless compositional opportunities for dramatic travel photographs. The Lofoten Islands features on Hurtigruten's Classic Round Voyage, where the cruise line is so confident you’ll spot the northern lights that, if you don’t, they will give you another 6 or 7 day Classic Voyage free of charge.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
While Reykjavik itself has one too many cosmopolitan lights for a clear enough sky, a city break to Reykjavik does provide a gateway to many of the spectacular viewing spots in Iceland. An hour’s drive away from the city and you’ll be viewing the spectacular colours in no time.
5. Tromso, Norway
This northern Norwegian city is where metropolitan lights and the Northern Lights fuse together. Enough of a city that there are plenty of places to keep warm, but also small enough that travellers don’t need to drive for two hours to see the celestial ballet that is the Northern Lights. Saga Cruises sell an itinerary named Northern Lights Adventure which passes through Tromso during its February voyage.
Lanzarote was one of the first destinations in Europe to offer what is now considered the quintessential beach holiday. However, Lanzarote has more to offer than just sun, sea and sand. Away from the soft beachy coast, holiday makers will find a wealth of stunning scenery, creative cuisine, vibrant culture and unique indigenous architecture. We’ve rounded up eight of our favourite things to do in Lanzarote that don’t involve a bucket and spade.
1. Visit the largest marine reserve in the world
The Marine Reserve of the Chinijo Archipelago surrounding the island of La Graciosa, clocks in at an expansive 70.700 hectareas making it the largest marine reserve in the world. Biologically it is home to 304 species of macroalgae and this has attracted an abundance of sea birds who come here for nourishment. The rare Mediterranean monk seal can also be sighted in its waters.
2. Dine on food heated by a volcano
Foodies looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure will find it at the top of the Islote de Hilario volcano. Aside from offering jaw-dropped panoramic views of Timanfaya National Park and its unearthly red sands, the restaurant is home to an imaginative kitchen. Six metres above gently bubbling lava is an opening with an attached grill, cooking a range of meats with volcanic heat.
3. Admire interrupted native architecture
One thing that sets Lanzarote apart from its tourist counterparts is its lack of high rise hotels. This can be accredited to Lanzarote-born artist César Manrique who campaigned heavily to make sure all hotel accommodation on the island blends in with the traditional architectural style. The César Manrique Foundation can be found on the east of the island and is home to his creations.
4. Take part in a traditional festival
There are holidaymakers who time their holiday to coincide with February’s Carnaval and its flamboyant atmosphere. Usually held in February, this is the same Carnaval that is held in Rio de Janeiro where the streets come alive. Canarian Day is another lively date in the Lanzarote calendar and local hotels get involved with themed dinners and folklore celebrations. And if you’re visiting over Christmas you might receive a visit from the Three Wise Men who are believed to stop-by bearing gifts in early January.
5. Explore the history
Lanzarote is one of the oldest islands in the Canaries and, as such, has an expansive historical appeal. The Museum of International Contemporary Art in Arrecife is hosted in a beautifully renovated 18th century castle known as the Castillo de San José. The Casa-Museo Monumento al Campesino (designed by the aforementioned César Manrique) is a tribute to the resilience of the farmers on the island who had to think quickly when the landscape changed after volcanic eruptions. And the Timanfaya Visitors Centre - dedicated to volcanology – explores the islands volcanic past.
6. Dive into Europe’s first underwater museum
Copyright Jason deCaires and CACT Lanzarote
Off the coast of Las Coloradas Bay lies Museo Atlantico. A new underwater museum created by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, who has chosen the seabed as his canvas in a bid to attract sea life and plant species. The first phase of the project is now complete and includes the Rubicon, which features human sculptures modelled after real-life Lanzarote residents. Submarine and diving excursions are both available.
7. Drink local wine
Lanzarote is home to striking and crater-like vineyards. The dark volcanic sand contrasts the green vines that are shielded from the wind by small circles of black rocks. The most common wine produced on the island is Malvasía, a dry white with a “strong and mineral taste”.
8. Walk through lava tubes
Cueva de los Verdes is a cave found in the Haria part of the island and was formed 3,000 years ago after lava flows erupted from the nearby volcano Monte Corona. These days colourful lights now illuminate the walls and there’s even a concert hall.
For many, Greece is synonymous with islands. This sun-drenched country boasts roughly 3,000 islands that are scattered across the eastern Mediterranean. For holidaymakers after the warm Greek sun (and Greek hospitality – their cuisine is mouth-watering) there’s no shortage of choices. Each island has its own unique cultural atmosphere that caters to its personal tourist crowd. Whether you’re seeking family-friendly resorts, lively nightlife, or beautiful landscapes here are our recommendations on what Greek Island is the best fit for your summer holiday.
Best for a sophisticated holiday: Mykonos
Sometimes referred to as Greece’s answer to St Tropez, Mykonos is home to boutique hotels, luxury villas and shops flaunting designer labels. While this northerly Greek island has a reputation as a nightlife hub it’s not raucous nightclubs you’ll find here. Instead it is stylish cocktail bars and relaxed dining lining the streets of Mykonos Town. Only a few miles away from Mykonos Town sits Ornos, a stylish resort that is suitable for families.
Best for picturesque scenery: Santorini
We’ve all seen the striking photos of the crisp-white cubic buildings and sapphire rooftops. As far as gorgeous traditional Greek scenery goes Santorini is difficult to beat. It’s however not just the beautiful architecture of the seaside Greek village that is Instagram perfect. Because the island was born due to the eruption of a volcano the beaches range from red, white and even black, depending on what geological layer has been exposed.
Best for beaches: Zakynthos
Zakynthos – also known as Zante – is a treasure-trove of sandy nooks making it the perfect vacation spot for beach-lovers. The most famous of them is Navagio Beach (Shipwreck) whose turquoise waters and staggering cliffs can only be accessed by boat. Beach-lovers will find large organised beaches on the east of the island, and discover secluded gems on the west.
Best for an active cycling holiday: Kos
The flat plains of Kos make it the perfect Greek island for families after an active biking holiday. Cycling is a popular way for locals to get around the island and Kos Town, Tingaki and Mamari are all fitted with cycle lanes. Bike rental stations are also popular and can be rented for a few euros a day.
Best for history enthusiasts: Rhodes
Greece is a country soaked in history and many of its islands are home to remnants of what has come before. However, for those wanting to visit Ancient Greece Rhodes is the island of choice. The cobbled streets of Rhodes Old Town are the same lanes knights walked along for almost two centuries. The entrance to the old harbour of Rhodes is also where the Colossus of Rhodes once stood and remains one of the Wonders of the Ancient World. Elsewhere on Rhodes, the picture-perfect town of Lindos is home to Roman, Turkish and Italian influence and overlooked by the ancient Acropolis.
Best for an all-round family holiday: Crete
If you’ve been reading this list and struggling to narrow down the islands, have a look at holidays in Crete. The biggest of the Greek islands, it offers a limitless list of things to do. This list includes mountain ranges fit for hiking, dazzling beaches, ancient Minoan ruins, fascinating wineries, rare birds and a beach with pink sand. Due to Crete’s southerly location it is the warmest of the Greek Islands and many exotic fruits can be grown locally – such as avocadoes and bananas. Its close proximity to Turkey has also created a unique cultural melting pot.
Also best for an all-round holiday experience: Corfu
But it’s not just Crete that caters to holidaymakers looking for an endless list of activities. The northern island of Corfu also embodies the ideal holiday package perfectly. With 200km of coastline, there are no shortage of beaches for sunbathing or dabbling in water-sports. Attraction wise Aqualand Water Park offers one of the largest wave pools in Europe, while those after a lively nightlife can head to Kavos town. Also known as the Emerald Island, it is one of the greenest Greek Islands and is decorated with cypress trees, olive groves and wild flowers.
If a Paris city break is on your bucket-list, you're in good company. The city of romance and art is a popular choice among travellers promising themselves they'll complete their travel bucket list. The thing with travel bucket lists though is fitting all the world's stunning destinations into one lifetime. That's why quick city breaks are becoming so popular.
The Charles-de-Gaulle airport north-west of the French capital is the official airport of Air France and is a hub connecting Paris to 130 destinations world-wide. With a new direct flight from Glasgow, Paris has become an even more popular city break for British travellers. With flights starting from £90, you will be able to travel to Paris and beyond. Here's why we think Paris offers a cost effective and stress-free city break.
1. Some of the world's best cuisine
French cuisine has earned a reputation as one of the finest in the world. If you're a foodie, Paris is a must – make sure you book yourself dinner or enjoy the café culture along the cobbled streets. Even travelling with Air France you are able to enjoy delicious cuisine with a complementary glass of champagne on many of their flights.
2. Renowned artwork
If you're an art aficionado, a trip to Paris is a must. The Louvre is situated right in the heart of the city, beside the Seine River on the Right Bank. It's the largest museum in the world with an impressive 300 rooms displaying 35,000 works of art. Just down the road, the Orangerie Museum is home to Monet's famous water-lillies. Further along the Right Bank you'll find Musée Picasso, a museum dedicated to the work of Picasso. While across on the Left Bank, art fans will find one of the two art galleries dedicated to the world of sculptor Auguste Rodin.
3. One of the best airports in the world for duty-free shopping
The Charles-de-Gaulle Airport is one of the largest airports in Europe – with plenty of duty free shops. It's always a good idea to make it back to any airport with plenty of time to spare but this is one airport that will be part of the holiday itself.
4. Some of the best shopping in the world
While the airport offers some of the largest duty-free shops in the world, the city of Paris itself is famed for fashionable shopping. From the luxury threads available on Avenue Montaigne to the large shopping centres on Boulevard Haussmann, you'll be able to take Parisian chic back home with you.
5. It's home to a Disney Theme Park
Everyone needs to visit a Disney Destination at least once. Europe's own Disneyland® is located just east of Paris, with its own RER train line running from the heart of the city. Home to all the favourite characters, Disney fans can wander around two parks (Disneyland® Park and Walt Disney Studios® Park), the Disney Village®, seven resort hotels and Golf Disneyland®.
6. Numerous bus and walking tours
If you're finding it difficult short-listing the glamorous Paris attractions, book yourself a bus or walking tour and let someone else guide you round all the sights.
7. Over 100 onward destinations
Air France flies to over 130 destinations from Charles-de-Gaulle airport allowing you to fly on somewhere else after your city break. Whether you're dreaming of an adventurous safari in Africa or relaxing on a Seychelles beach, the itinerary options are endless.
8. One of the most organised metro systems in the world
All the stations in Paris are named after a near-by landmark, so you'll never get lost. If you've identified what it is you want to see in Paris get out the Metro map and head there. For extra confidence using the Metro, read our previous blog post on how to use the subway system in Paris (and other major world cities).
9. It's not an expensive stop-over
With flights starting from £90, a city break in Paris is also a cost-effective way to see as much of your bucket-list as possible.
10. It's Paris
Paris is famous around the world for being a must-see European city: sophisticated atmosphere, gorgeous cuisine, vibrant art scene, detailed architecture and famous landmarks. It's on everyone's bucket list for a reason - time to put it on yours.
Italy is a famous holiday destination for many reasons: traditional architecture, skiing in the Alps, the canals of Venice, the historical sights of Rome, the designer fashion in Milan as well as delicious food and the wine that accompanies it.
Italy is the oldest wine producing region in the world and remains the largest producer by volume in the world. Officially, there are around 350 wine varieties (and rumours that more exist) with each of the 20 regions growing unique varieties among their vineyards. Italy's climate – starting in the mild areas of the Alps before meeting the warmer climate of the Mediterranean – as well as its mix of coastal and mountainous planes, allows for a cocktail of vineyards to grow.
If you like a Pinot Grigio
Like many of the well-known white wine varieties, Pinot Grigio is grown in the northern regions of Italy. Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli-Venezia are two regions where Pinot Grigio is a popular glass to have with dinner, but if you've already booked a trip further south, don't worry: Molise in central Italy also has vineyards dedicated to this crisp and light wine variety.
If you enjoy a Merlot (or any red wine) with your dinner
The answer to this wine related question is Tuscany. While other regions in central Italy also produce Merlot, Tuscany is famed for its red varieties as a whole. Sangiovese is also a celebrated wine in the region, with a long list of other reds. If you're a Merlot drinker then Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio (where Rome is) all have it on menus across the warm central areas of Italy. Veneto in the north also has a few Merlot vineyards allowing fans to taste an Italian red while looking out onto the Venice canals.
If you like to sip a flute of Prosecco
While Prosecco is a sparkling white wine that immediately has drinkers thinking of Italy, there's actually only one region to travel to if you want to enjoy the real thing. Veneto, a region in north-eastern Italy, is the home of the ancient and historical city of Venice and vineyards growing the Glera grape, which is most commonly found in Prosecco. The other white reguarly served in this region is Garganega, while red wine fans can toast with Merlot, Rondinella, and Corvina.
If Chardonnay is always your choice
The Chardonnay grape produces a very neutral flavour, and is one of most common varieties grown throughout the world. In Italy, it's the north-eastern corner where fans of this particular white wine can treat their palate. The Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions all grow the Chardonnay grape and are home to the fashionable city of Milan and the relaxing Lake Como.
If you want want to try one of Italy's finest red grapes
The region of Campania – home to Naples and Sorrento – is where red wine fans can sample the complex aroma of the Aglianico wine. The name-sake grape ripens in October – much later than other varieties – and needs to be picked in early spring before the mountain frost effects it. The result is a deep and full-bodied wine that is loved throughout Italy, but grows to perfection in the climate and terrain of Campania.
If you prefer a sweet tasting rosé
Rosé wine doesn't have the extensive history that some wines in Italy have, but pink-toned wines are grown throughout the country. In northern Italy wine-drinkers will find softer and more delicate versions of rosé wine, whereas the south of Italy is home to full-bodied and drier rosés.
If your palate prefers the notes of a French wine
Italy and France are both renowned for their wine-producing talents, and you might feel strongly that the former is cut above the latter. If so your wine-buds will appreciate a trip to northern Italy, where the difference between French and Italian wine blend together at the border. Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Moscato, Dolcetto, and Nebbiolo are all grown near where Italy meets France.
Or something modern and international
Dubbed the 'California of Italy', Sicily is home to a range of modern and industrial-sized wineries that produce wine that can transport your taste-buds to another part of the world. The grape hero of the area is Nero D'Avola, but French varieties of grape are also grown by manufacturers. While Nero d'Avola is the popular red of the island, Catarratto, Grillo and Inzolia are the offering for fans of white wine.