Photo on Instagram by @OnlyMaldives Since finding a few amazing locations for my Hidden Holidays: Gems of the World post, I just seem to be coming across new places that I would love to visit every day! I was starting … Continue reading
August means holiday time for most and looking online there are plenty of great packages that can help you get that tan without having to worry about where to get dinner. Although there are many inclusive holidays, they all seem to target a group of specific popular destinations repeatedly. Where are the hidden gems of the world? Whilst browsing around for alternative #travellinggoals, I found some beautiful destinations. They may not the seven wonders; but these natural, secret escapes are guaranteed to make your holiday unforgettable.
The Short Hop: Croatia
This beautiful place is located South East Europe and best enjoyed during an off-peak season for the most authentic experience. Croatia is a brilliant option for those wanting to explore heritage and coastal surprises. The coastline boasts breathtaking caves great for avid snorkelers or sea babies. An example of this magnificent seashore is the Blue Grotto based in a small bay called Balun. It is said the best time to go is between 11am and noon when the sun is hitting the cave at just the right angle to reveal the sea of ‘silver’ objects below the gorgeous blue water.
If you are more for land, Croatia is home to some stunning national parks like Palenica and Plitvice. These two walking trails are the most popular, so best enjoyed in the less tourist-y seasons. If you are visiting during the peak times, there are some quieter places for an active holiday. Vis Island was not accessible by tourists before 1989 as it used to be a military base. All that time away from the crowds has ensured preservation of character. There are wonderful local food and wines to enjoy in the evenings too.
The Long Haul: Bolivia
Photo by Wikimedia
Located in central South America, this place is a stunning destination for those excited to explore some of the world’s most awe-inspiring creations. Bolivia is bursting at the seams with both natural and historical heritage, with spots like the Casa Nacional de la Moneda, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a gorgeous one at that. This destination is also perfect for foodies, with a mix of Spanish cuisine and exotic ingredients that are sure to please your palette.
As if that’s not enough to tempt you, this breath-taking country is also home to the ‘largest mirror on earth’. Salar de Uyuni or the Bolivian Salt Desert is the biggest salt flat in the world and during the rainy season when it floods, the flats create an incredible endless reflection of the skies above it. When planning your Salar de Uyuni tours, keep in mind the season, as winter (August – December) is dry so you won’t see the mirror effect in its full splendour, however it will be drier for the rest of your Bolivian adventure!
City Break: Marseilles
Photo by Wikimedia
Discover a lively scene in Marseille, France and explore boutiques and quaint coffee shops. Marseille has amazing architecture and historical sites such as the famous Notre-Dame de la Garde or the old port of Marseille, which is great for kayaking adventures. For social butterflies, the Friche la Belle de Mai comes highly recommended as the place to be for the art and social scene. This looks like it would be lovely on a warm summers evening
Much like Bolivia, this place would be a foodie’s dream. There are many gourmet cultural restaurants that cook cuisines from all over the world. Form North African delicacy’s like Le Souk, to Classic French food like Chez Fonfon.
Beach Break: Isola Bella, Italy
Photo by Wikimedia
This is the type of destination that the locals don’t want you knowing about! Going for a beach holiday can be stressful with crowds of people rushing to get the best spot in the mornings. However, you can’t get more quiet or discrete than this stunning little islet. The beach, named Taormina, is a scenic destination full of fun activities like scuba diving and boat trips.
This island originally started out as a small fishing village before becoming a sought-after location featuring the Grand Palace – which looks like something out of a Disney film! This beautiful spot has treasures waiting to be explored like the vibrant garden full of botanical marvels. If you are a music lover, every year this island plays host to the Stresa music festival presenting a variety of classical and jazz musicians.
On my online adventure to find a getaway off the package holiday track, I truly have discovered some real gems! From the biggest mirror in the world, to a man-made island of the utmost beauty – these places have definitely made it onto my bucket list.
Have a dream destination you’d like to share, leave it in the comments!
The best family destinations shouldn’t mean something that’s specifically for the kids; it should also be something just as fun for the adults. Parents don’t want to be spending all weekend in a ball-pit, just as much as kids don’t want to be stuck in a vineyard for hours on end. The only solutions is to seek balance!
Finding the balance can be hard, but with careful planning you can achieve this parent-child Zen for yourself. There’s plenty of places across the UK which offer fun, cultural and cool activities for parents and children alike.
Planning your next family trip away? Keep in mind these famous UK destinations which guarantee something for everyone.
For families who like keeping active, the UK’s largest national park is a must see destination. Beyond the stunning natural beauty of the Lake District, there’s a wealth of active pursuits with which you can truly take in the sights and enjoy a wide range of special events. You could take a gentle cruise down the Ullswater, one of the UK’s biggest natural lakes, follow the famous mountain biking trails, or simply grab a map and explore.
The Lake District offers plenty of family friendly hotels and accommodation to ensure you have a comfortable stay in the wilderness. I would recommend the Lodore Falls, a stunning family hotel nestled at the foot of the Lake District’s forests, with brilliant views of the Ullswater itself.
The UK’s vice capital also serves as a place with countless kid friendly activities. One can get lost on Brighton Pier for hours feeding chips to seagulls, getting henna tattoos or getting lucky on the 2p machines. The rest of the city boasts hundreds of restaurants for all kinds of fussy eaters, as well as plenty of bars and pubs for the adults.
Brighton is within easy reach of London, with a direct train service between the two, and has links from almost every major city in the UK. Remember Brighton during in the summer is where you’ll get those holiday vibes, so avoid the drizzle of the winter seasons for a true holiday at home.
Perhaps your family enjoys the more rural aspects of England? If so, there’s no better place to explore the wilderness than The Cotswolds, which itself covers 6 counties (most notably Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire). Cotswolds holiday cottages have always welcomed families and young children, as well as pets such as dogs and cats, so don’t be afraid to bring the entire family!
If you’re looking to blow your children’s minds, there are several nearby shooting locations from the Harry Potter series. This includes scenes shot for both the inside and grounds of Hogwarts School, created from the corridors of Gloucester Cathedral and Lacock Abbey located less than 13 miles away. There are also a range of guided tours available, ensuring you don’t miss any of the highlights.
Can’t go to Disneyland? No need to be upset, because Staffordshire’s Alton Towers is just as bold as its Paris-based counterpart. Alton Towers is widely considered to be one of the best theme parks in the world, with some of the biggest rides in Europe set in a hugely imaginative park across a whopping 500 acres of British countryside. Alongside the park’s huge selection of hair-raising rollercoasters is an ‘extraordinary’ golf course, a water park, an aquarium and an outstanding historical spa.
Turning an Alton Towers trip into a holiday is easy with access to the park’s 2 unique hotels. Each hotel has plenty of entertainment for adults and kids to enjoy, as well as a variety of fun, themed rooms ranging from the Coca-Cola room to the Cadburys room. Either way, you’ll be dealing with a sugar rush.
Longleat Safari Park
Longleat was the first safari park to be opened outside of Africa. Since 1966, it has grown into one of the UK’s best wildlife attractions, providing access to a range of exotic animals living in natural habitats. Based in Wiltshire, the safari is home to range of fantastic beasts including tigers, lions, elephants, rhinos, and monkeys (who will steal your windshield wipers without hesitations).
Wiltshire itself is an attractive county with various other points of interest, including Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. If you’re going to visit Longleat, keep yourself in Wiltshire and enjoy exploring the various sleepy villages that border the likes of Dorset, Oxfordshire, and Berkshire.
So that’s our day of summer for the year then! It was lovely whilst it lasted, it even reached 33°C where I was. But yeah, that’s all the sun England is allowed. Heaven forbid we actually get a nice tan! I pleaded with the hubby and he didn’t exactly say yes…but he said we could “potentially look at going away to somewhere nice – work permitting blah blah blah”. So I, being me – have narrowed it down for him in a very neat little list of my four top holiday destinations for Summer. What do you all think?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Florence. I’d consider myself a pretty avid interior design fan, but Michaelangelo took it to another level entirely! The statue of David is iconic, so if we’re going to Florence – we can’t miss the Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia. The architecture in Florence look absolutely stunning, it really is like something out of a film. In my experience, I find that the way the local city looks after its rich heritage and culture sites adds so much more to the experience. Those are the memories of travel that I can recall the most, the immersive sunset walks along intricate canal systems that look like they haven’t been touched since they were built.
From the reviews and forums I frequent, it doesn’t seem like anyone looks after their rich history like the Italians!
Points of interest:
• Florence Cathedral
• Ponte Vecchio
• Galleria dell’Accademia
• Uffizi Gallery
• Boboli Gardens
Of course, there are incredible points of interest in Cyprus. Gorgeous heritage sites like the Tombs of the Kings, the Savrovouni Monastery and Kyrenia Castle – which are, undeniably, a must visit. However, I feel a little guilty that one of the top reasons why I’m considering visiting Cyprus is because of the beaches! I shouldn’t be though, right? How can anyone argue against those absolutely stunning white stretches of hot sand.
I’m picturing a helicopter excursion when we first arrive to see the sights of Cyprus from above. Then maybe we’ll visit a restaurant and try the local cuisine! At this point I will definitely need a rest. After all, wining and dining is exhausting work. Experiencing the luxury villas Cyprus has to offer is another matter of paramount importance. But compared to the state of the weather in the UK the other 364 days of the year, calling them luxury probably won’t do Cyprus any justice.
Points of Interest:
• Tombs of the Kings
• Nissi Beach
• Kyrenia Castle
• Savrovouni Monastery
Following on from the postcard perfect beaches of Cyprus with the next best thing. The Bahamas! So this one actually came to me as I was browsing my Facebook newsfeed…PIG BEACH! These adorable little piggies roam free and swim in the crystal clear sea. I even hear Johnny Depp goes frequently, but I won’t tell the hubby about that! Supposedly, some sailors left the pigs in the bay and had planned to return later to cook them but luckily for us they never came back!
Nassau and Grand Bahama are both on the bucket list too, maybe we could book a private boat ride across. Weather permitting! I wouldn’t want to be out on the water on a stormy day. Less Home and Away – more Castaway!
Points of Interest:
• Marsh Harbour
• Grand Bahama
• Pig Beach
OK, OK. You caught me – it’s another beach destination, but you can’t seriously expect me to take another week of this gloomy ‘summer’ weather! I was thinking I could top up the tan and a couple of air miles at the same time. How’s that for efficient! Scuba diving, skydiving (eek!) or spending all day on the beach? I just can’t make my mind up, best to do all three I reckon. I could also persuade my husband another way, because I’ve read that the Seychelles is actually sinking! Apparently scientists think that it will be entirely underwater in the next fifty years! I certainly don’t want to miss out, so it’s probably best to go now right? And maybe next year…and the year after. Might be best to go the year after that too just to double check it’s still there!
Points of Interest:
• La Digue
• Silhouette Island
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