We all need a holiday now and then but half the battle is deciding where to go. Sure, Center Parks might do the trick for you but for those who long for something new, interesting and even enlightening we’ve picked out a few hot spots of our own. Check out where we’re headed this summer for our summer breaks…
When most people hear ‘Iceland’ they think of snow, ice and chilly conditions best suited to a winter getaway however Iceland is a wonderful place to visit in the summer. Not only are flights slightly cheaper at this time of year; the weather is much less harsh and although you will still probably need a coat and some decent shoes, you can use the opportunity to explore more of what Iceland has to offer.
The city of Reykjavik is big on nightlife and striking colorful architecture for those who want to explore and have fun whilst the natural volcanic landscape presents plenty of hot springs, thermal caves and scenic terrain ideal for clearing your head and relaxing. Why not partake in some whale-watching or visit one of Iceland’s many volcanoes? The wildlife is also pretty unique and highly impressive with puffins, arctic foxes and reindeer all being native to the island. Aside from the countless spas, interesting cuisine and museums to venture into, the natural scenery is the real selling point of this magical holiday destination. The breath-taking combination of glacial valleys and rivers, caves, waterfalls and rolling hills make Iceland a spectacular sight to behold and with almost 24 hours of daylight in from April to September, you’ve got plenty of time to take it all in.
Tourism to Barcelona has been booming for past 10 years and its easy to see why. A vibrant city in the heart of Catalonia, Barcelona may have gained its’ momentum as the number one party spot for Brits but Barcelona has a highly cultured, glamourous more relaxed side too. Located on the North West coast of Spain, Barcelona is a perfect fusion of old and new that one rarely finds with a European city. Home to the enormous Camp Nou Barcelona FC football stadium and the breath-taking La Sagrada Familia Basilica, Barcelona is filled with eye-catching architecture (Gaudi has no less than 10 buildings across the city) and countless galleries and museums containing fine works worthy of a visit. Understandably the nightlife is booming with many restaurants and bars not opening until late which is perfect after an afternoon siesta out of the summer heat. The number of festivals across Barcelona such as Primavera regularly draw in visitors and for those who want a more traditional city break, you can find designer stores, patisserie’s, coffee shops and gelato stands on almost every corner. The Catalan cuisine of tapas, cured meats, fresh breads and Mediterranean veg is also to die for and thrill-seekers will rarely find themselves getting bored as there is a beach located in the city centre, a zoo, a park with a boating lake and plenty of tourist stations where you can hop on a bike to explore the streets.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Forget Thailand and Vietnam, the hottest holiday destination in Asia this season is Malaysia. The capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur has fared well from oil money and has been quickly trying to catch up with Dubai as a visually stunning city escape for both Easterners and Westerners thanks to its’ impressive Petronas Towers skimming the skyline. Surrounded by mountains and beautiful tropical scenery, Kuala Lumpur has a host of religious temples to visit, tea-rooms which hark back to its’ Colonial days and colourful wildlife which populates the landscaped gardens in the city centre. Malaysian dining is also said to be a high point of any visit as it fuses the best of Indian, Chinese and Malay cuisine and as a result there’s plenty of atmosphere among the local cafe’s and food stalls for those who want to soak up the every-day culture. If adventure and escaping the hustle and bustle is more your thing you can head out to the Batu Caves which were hand-carved and are a regular destination for Hindu pilgrims thanks to the intricate shrine inside which sits atop 272 steps.
Dorset, United Kingdom
If a vacation abroad isn’t for you this year, you may want to look a little closer to home. Dorset, located on the South-West coast of England has been listed as one of the best holiday destinations of 2015 and with its’ quaint sandy beaches and postcard picture villages, Dorset had a traditional English feel that makes for the perfect getaway. Home to some of the most unusual natural landmark features in the UK including the Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove, Pulpit Rock, the Jurassic coast, the Golden cap and Chesil Beach, Dorset has been the inspiration to many poets, writers and painters over the years. The scenic coastline and rolling cliffs has drawn the attention of Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen and Enid Blighton as well as painter William Turner and today, much of the coast is owned by the National Trust to preserve it in all its’ beauty. As a place which sees more sunshine than any other location in the UK, Dorset is home to many harbors, country parks, pubs and hotels to titillate the tourist scene. With freshly sourced seafood and local produce, you can be sure to sample some of Britain’s finest traditional dishes cooked to perfection with a West Coast twist.
Cuba’s tourism industry is undergoing somewhat of a revival thanks to President Obama mending the relations between Cuba and the US so that Americans can visit more freely. For this reason, 2015 should be the perfect time to visit before the capital city of Havana becomes too commercialized and you can still absorb a side of Havana that has been undisturbed for the last fifty years.. Whilst communist to its’ core, Havana appears to be the city that time forgot with its’ large and often Technicolor colonial buildings, 1950s Cadillacs and Chevrolet’s lining the streets as well as the constant sound of jazz music emanating from the local cafe’s; scenes that have hardly changed since the Forties and Fifties. Filled with museum’s; one of which is dedicated to the Cuban love for classic cars whilst another houses the largest collection of Napoleonic memorabilia outside of Europe, there is plenty for jet-setters to do whilst soaking up the atmosphere and culture. Cuba’s main exports are of course cigars, chocolate and coffee so don’t forget to try these out for yourself and bring back some authentic gifts for your friends and family.
If a traditional beach holiday is what you seek, the Maldives never seem to go out of style. With growing fears that the Maldives will be one of the most affected areas by global warming, now is your chance to see these beautiful islands located in the Indian Ocean. With crystal blue waters, palm trees and pure white sandy beaches, the pristine Maldives are the perfect picture of paradise. The local culture is a combination of South Indian, Sinhalese and Arab influences with international cuisine offered at a Five Star standard; perfect to enjoy with the tropical and luscious almost all year around (from November to April is typically monsoon season!) so naturally, the secluded Maldives are the perfect chance to leave your troubles behind. With reefs filled with exotic sea life, ready to be explored and cultural attractions to be admired, the Maldives are the ultimate byword in luxury travel.
The Deep South, USA
Whilst most will target the big-name coastal cities of North America such as New York, L.A, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, the Deep South is the new hot spot to visit if you’re heading out for an adventure. From Tennessee to Atlanta, the warm hospitality of America’s ‘Deep South’ is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to must-see destinations. Steeped in history and pop culture credentials of course is Memphis, the home of Elvis Presley who would have turned 80 this year. Venturing a little further west will take you to Jazz capital New Orleans located in the heart of Louisiana with its’ stunning Gothic French quarter. Alabama offers a peek into the setting of Martin Luther King’s Selma civil rights protests whilst Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi present unique outdoor experiences thanks to their stunning national parks, nature trails, forests and rivers. If the trendy steak-houses and smokers that have popped up in the UK have been a hit with you, then southern USA should be an almost religious experience as it is the ultimate heartland of traditional delicious home-cooked food with prime rib, Cajun cooking and fried chicken regularly appearing on the menu.
Whilst New Zealand may be more commonly recognized as the setting of Middle Earth, this island off the coast of Australia is like Britain’s long-lost, more beautiful cousin. In fact it would be a crime not to place New Zealand’s stunning landscape as the number one reason to explore this unspoiled, geographically diverse haven. From mountains and glacial lakes to rolling green hills, beaches and lush sub-tropical forests, New Zealand’s landscape is nothing short of breath-taking. Aside the stunning sunsets, unique plantlife and exotic wildlife (they’ve got whales and sheep galore!), the terrain creates excellent opportunity for a whole range of activities such as bungee jumping, snowboarding, surfing, kayaking, caving and horse riding – all of which can be squeezed within a 100 mile radius. If a more relaxed feel is what you’re going for, New Zealand are also one of the most famous and finest exporters of wine and with a combination of European colonial influence to offset the traditional Maori South Pacific culture, New Zealand has a comfortable blend of nationalities which welcomes diversity.
Okinawa Islands, Japan
Japan is an impressive destination at the best of times thanks to its’ ultra-modern cities and impressive historical preservation however it was only a matter of time until Japan had sunshine to offer as well as sushi. The Okinawa islands are made up of 6,950 land-masses and are located south of the coast of Japan, near to the Philippines. Sub-tropical in climate, until a few years ago the Okinawa Islands belonged to the Ryukyu people; their culture being a fusion of Chinese and Japanese sensibilities thanks to their neighbors. Instead of your traditional Conservative every-day wear however, you will find the locals repping Hawaiian style printed shirts; perhaps an influence from the US military bases which were houses there during the War. Here, you can sample a unique less commercialized side to Japan with cuisine exclusive to the region with delicacies such as sashimi chicken, heaving bowls of Ramen and the signature purple sweet potato which they use in everything including ice cream! The islands also count Shurijo castle as a world heritage site which is certainly worth a visit or you can do a little more travelling to reach Iriomote Island which is home to virgin jungle and mangrove forests.
Still a highly popular destination, Morocco tops lists year after year for tourism. Located next to both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean seas, Morocco has plenty of coastline to chill out on if trekking mountain ranges and riding on a Camel through the desert isn’t your thing. The cities in Morocco are also fantastic and its’ impossible to stick to just one as Fez, Rabat and Meknes have all been capitals at some point or other with Casablanca and Tangier taking the title as the ultimate shopping spots. Littered with grand mosques, important historical monuments and enough markets to boot, Morocco is straight out of a story-book with the scent of herbs and spices creating a heady and aromatic atmosphere to compliment the traditional colorful souks selling luxury ceramics, carpets, leather goods and jewelry. The unique combination of influences from Spanish and French settlers as well as the archaic remnants of the Berbers and Roman Empire make Morocco truly unique and the festivals which take place there are always filled with music, art and story-telling to illustrate Morocco’s rich heritage. With authentic local dishes that are sure to tantalize your taste-buds , visiting Morocco is a once in a lifetime experience that you shouldn’t delay any longer!
** COMPETITION TIME **
Psst… Don’t forget to enter our competition to win a Deluxe Holiday Hamper HERE
The prize includes up to three pairs of designer sunglasses for all the family from B Sunglasses, a £250 voucher towards a holiday from VeryCheapHolidays.co.uk, Nerdwax and many more beach essentials! Read about it HERE