Ronnie McCluskey

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I enjoy reading and writing fiction, music, movies, boxing, tennis and, of course, travelling. When I'm not indulging in such pastimes, I work as a subtitler for Red Bee Media Ltd.

Ronnie McCluskey

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What do you look for in a summer holiday? For many, the answer to this question will be relaxation – perhaps achieved by laying supine on a sun-kissed beach with aquamarine waters lapping at your feet. Some may opt for something slightly more adventure-orientated. For the younger reader, it’ll most likely be a place to party with their friends until the wee hours, with afternoons spent topping up their tans. If you fall into any of these categories – or perhaps even if your mind is set on other ventures – Cyprus holds the key to your heart's desire.

When the summer's in its dying throes and the kids are back at school, memories of your sunshine holiday are but a distant memory. We’ve all been there: that flicker of sadness that normality has resumed, and the cold bite of autumn just around the corner. 

When the summer's in its dying throes and the kids are back at school, memories of your sunshine holiday are but a distant memory. We’ve all been there: that flicker of sadness that normality has resumed, and the cold bite of autumn just around the corner. 

Bank Holiday Ideas

There’s something undeniably charming about winter. Even with the commercialism and consumer stampedes that inevitably make the high street during this time a, shall we say, bit of a chore. Because when all’s said and done, the run in to Christmas is a period when the festive spirit takes over and time spent with loved ones becomes central. So when the dreaded shopping is over and done with, what better way to celebrate the season than with a romantic getaway?

Christmas Holiday Ideas

We all know Christmas is a time for family, but uniting one’s brood in the same place can often prove an onerous task! Do you go to them or do they come to you? Do you book a table and have Christmas turkey in style, or opt for home comforts? 

When the summer's in its dying throes and the kids are back at school, memories of your sunshine holiday are but a distant memory. We’ve all been there: that flicker of sadness that normality has resumed, and the cold bite of autumn just around the corner. Then comes the bank holiday – a fleeting respite that affords you some extra time away from work to take the edge off it all. In the interests of both time and money, it's only prudent that you don’t stray too far from home; but that doesn’t mean that you can’t reap the benefits. 

 

Family Holidays

It’s an all too familiar scenario. You’re trying desperately to decide on the destination for your next holiday, scouring the web and travel agent windows hoping for that eureka moment to hit. Speech bubbles emanating from mum and dad’s head read “RELAXATION”, while the kids crave constant entertainment.

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sardinia is the kind of island paradise that so often takes form in the dreams of restless travellers. White sand beaches, raked by a glimmering turquoise sea, give way to a wild landscape of mountains and forests; caves, olive groves, springs and waterfalls spread out in all directions, just waiting to be explored. So why does Sardinia make a great destination for family holidays in particular?

 

Theme Holidays
 

HomeAway is committed to offering wheelchair accessible holiday rentals around the world, everywhere you want to holiday – and to that end, we've tried to make searching for them as simple as possible. When performing a holiday rental search, after selecting a destination, just select 'wheelchair accessible' under 'more filters'. And that's it.

If your first question, when pondering holiday destinations, is "Are there any good golf courses nearby?", you’re probably as well going the whole nine yards – and constructing your break around golf itself. The UK is well placed where the sport is concerned – there are 7,500 courses throughout Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland – but let’s be realistic: a green only becomes immaculate when lavished with a generous covering of sunshine. The UK’s seaside links courses are a joy to play, but it’s difficult to argue in their favour when comparing them to similar greens in the Algarve, or on the spectacular Lisbon coast.

That moment in life when your parents finally decide you’re responsible enough to go on holiday without them? Exhilarating and daunting in equal measure. It is, after all, a venture into the unknown: a week of endless opportunities and infinite levels of fun with your closest compadres; a getaway that you hope will forge memories to endure a lifetime. Of course, the process of actually booking the trip can often be the most laborious part of it all. In a larger group the preferred destination will inevitably vary, but with a spot of research, a unanimous decision is within your grasp.

 

At one time, Croatia might not even have appeared on your shortlist of dream destinations. Nowadays, though, much of the country’s economy is founded on a booming tourist trade: backpackers continue to sample its chic cities and coastline, families bake in the sun-blessed oasis of Hvar, and adventurers flock to the Plitvice Lakes for a week of exploration in the mountains. So what’s stopping you? Go for the culture and festivals, the medieval settlements, the stone-built villages residing on the Adriatic coastline. The cuisine isn’t lacking, either, with everything from roasted lamb and suckling pig to Skrandinski rizot – a slow-cooked, meat-based risotto – on the menu.
Far from the pandemonium of the big cities, the adolescent fervour of its myriad clubbing resorts and gridlocked beaches, lies a side to Greece that many a holidaymaker scarcely knows about. This ancient land is steeped in more mythology and history than perhaps any other, but whilst wandering around any one of its 12 national parks, you can easily forget about gods and serpents for a while; instead, simply marvel at the natural wonders on offer. And all of this under the almost perennial Mediterranean sun, that blesses these parts of southern Europe.
 
It may come as some surprise to learn that the National Parks of Italy make up somewhere in the region of 5% of the country’s territory. That’s 24 designated regions of exceptional beauty away from the urban madness of Rome and Milan that have been specifically selected for conservation purposes. You may already be familiar with one or two of them – the area surrounding the fearsome yet breathtaking volcano Vesuvius and the marine pleasures of Arcipelago di La Maddalina spring immediately to mind – but you can just as easily find all you desire in some of the lesser-travelled locales.
 
UK holidaymakers, in general, need only the tiniest amount of encouragement to jet off to Spain for a break; you only need to look to the hordes descending on the coastline year after year. Away from the sun-drenched, Sangria-soaked resorts, though, you can get to grips with another side to this astonishingly beautiful country. The 15 officially designated National Parks of Spain collectively offer everything imaginable to those who cherish the wonders of the great outdoors, be your preference climbing, swimming or simply absorbing the unique natural pleasures that each have in their armoury.
 
 
Did you know there are no less than 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom? Think about it: in a country so small, that’s 15 officially recognised areas of outstanding natural beauty, each of them bustling with activities, adventure or relaxation opportunities, as you see fit. Although our country is blessed with such areas from coast to coast, the beauty of the National Parks is that they have been designated as protected areas in an effort to preserve them for future generations, ensuring that everyone can make the most of their visit.
 
Did you know there are no less than 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom? Think about it: in a country so small, that’s 15 officially recognised areas of outstanding natural beauty, each of them bustling with activities, adventure or relaxation opportunities, as you see fit. Although our country is blessed with such areas from coast to coast, the beauty of the National Parks is that they have been designated as protected areas in an effort to preserve them for future generations, ensuring that everyone can make the most of their visit. 
 
When we hear the word ‘countryside’, we each of us conjure images in our minds that fit our own special interpretation of what the countryside means. Whether it’s rolling fields, grazing cows or thatched cottages in quaint villages, we tend to associate the countryside with a kind of old world tranquillity; if city life is a rush, with commitments, attractions and images taking a frantic toll on the senses, we venture to the countryside to disappear - to reinvigorate our deeper selves, and enjoy the wonders of the great outdoors.
 

When mulling over a holiday, the two-pronged question foremost in your mind will invariably be “where and when?”. The time of year you decide upon will be dependent on many factors - whether you crave sun or snow, when you can get time off work, at what time flights are cheapest or resorts busiest - while the destination will have to appeal to all parties making the trip. Luckily, we’ve compiled a guide designed to make your decision less onerous. City breaks, ski holidays, weekends in the sunshine: whatever floats your boat, there’s a tip in here for you.

As the summer months draw near, minds inevitably begin to wander - we just can’t wait to jet off to sunnier climes. Unfortunately, the “great” British weather is hardly that: we can’t even think about improving a tan without the aid of sun beds! And so it's time to round up the family and whisk them away on the holiday of a lifetime, to somewhere where the sunshine is consistent, the sea forever blue, and tranquillity the order of the day.

 

Spring Breaks

The spring months mark the perfect time for a getaway. Before the summer crowds have so much as stepped onto the airport tarmac, why not take the opportunity to enjoy your destination in all its tranquil splendour? Italy, of course, is a splendid place to visit at any time of the year, but a spring break in Italy is especially rewarding: wildflowers are in full bloom, the weather is balmy yet not oppressive, and charming spring festivals and processions are in abundance. Not to mention, of course, that you will benefit from the seasonal increase in daylight hours; although when darkness does descend, there’s no shortage of entertainment.

Around springtime, the excitement starts to hit fever-pitch as many of us anticipate a forthcoming summer sojourn. While the mere enunciation of the word ‘spring’ should bring to mind plants exploding into bloom and temperate days lengthening, in the UK springtime can be a disappointing affair - so much so, the Met Office forecasted 2013 would be the coldest spring for more than 50 years! With the bitter British spring in flux, planes flying half empty and great deals on flights and accommodation to be had, there’s never been a better time to start summer early.

While there are no shortage of spring break holiday destinations, Spain’s proximity to the UK means it’s probably near the top of your shortlist. Unwind on sandy beaches, or explore the countryside of Andalusia and Galicia, learning new things about history and culture along the way. In Spain, you’re guaranteed to find amazing architecture – Iberian, Visigothic and Roman to name but a few strands – as well as plenty of world-class museums. The landscapes, meanwhile, are perfect for connecting with the natural world, whether you’re watching mules trip along country trails to ancient villages or surrounded by pines in the Picos de Europa National Park.

 

 

Budget Holiday Ideas

If you’re mulling over a budget holiday, Sardinia may not be the first destination that springs to mind. Long considered a favourite bolthole of the rich and famous, this is one Mediterranean island that does not evince images of frugality. 

Occupying the wild north-west corner of Spain, Galicia is as famous for its gloriously unspoiled coastline as its world-class cuisine, and makes a perfect destination for budget travellers. By and large, visitors to this windswept coast come to enjoy the finer things in life – those little pleasures that can be savoured on a shoestring. 

Enough is made about the qualities that Central and Southern Europe hold as a holiday destination. Millions of tourists flock to Germany, Austria, Croatia et al in their droves each year, inspired by any number of travel shows on television, raving about their admittedly attractive attributes. 

 

Travel Guides

 

 

Events & Festivals

Sao Paulo is the place to be this year. Or one of the places, at least. With the World Cup dominating the summer of 2014, Brazil's largest city is set to enjoy an influx of visitors, swelling its numbers to over 11.5 million. The fun doesn't stop when the final ball is kicked however – the city boasts an eclectic series of carnivals and music festivals throughout the year. What's more, there'll be another sporting highlight to enjoy in early November when the F1 Grand Prix roars into town.

There are several reasons to visit Belgium, a fact that may surprise many given its modest dimensions; it is regularly overlooked when restless travellers cast their eyes over a map of Europe. In reality, the country has much to offer the most conscientious caller: a wealth of museums, stunning architecture, vibrant nightlife and a tantalising gastronomic culture, to name but a few. It's well worthy of a trip at any time of the year, but for Formula One enthusiasts, August is easily the most appealing time to set off.

Whether or not you buy into the old “good walk ruined” adage or not, nobody can deny the game of golf has amassed a global appeal; one that surely surpasses the expectations of that first unnamed Scotsman to swing a club all those centuries ago. Today, professionals in the sport are each worth their individual fortunes in prize money and sponsorship deals, with millions across the world tuning in to watch them ply their trade. It may not pack the adrenaline-fuelled punch of other sporting pursuits, but on the big occasions the tension created can rival anything.

Having celebrated its centenary in 2013, the Spanish Grand Prix is one of the oldest Formula One races in the world. May 2014’s event will see the show come to the Circuit de Barcelona, Catalunya, and race fans won’t want to miss out on what’s set to be a thrilling event. Ahead of the contest, media attention turns to national treasure and current titleholder Fernando Alonso, who seems set to once again triumph on home soil. One thing is for sure, though: being the patriots they are, the Spaniards will turn out en masse to support the Asturian-born Ferrari driver.

When people imagine a holiday in the north of Italy, the usual suspects are almost always mentioned. The celebrity playground and scenic beauty spot that is Lake Como; the cultural and artistic hotbed of Turin; the sprawling urban chaos of Milan; Verona’s lauded romanticism. It really does have something to offer everyone. For the petrol heads of this world, though, there’s no finer time to visit the country than in early September. This is when Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and all the other superstars of Formula One descend upon the town of Monza for the Italian Grand Prix.

Historically a nation of traders, building their wealth by traversing the seven seas, the Dutch are as fond of their food as they are of their rich cultural heritage. Their seafaring golden age of the 17th century not only introduced Europe to a panoply of new spices, but led swathes of migrants to settle in cities like Amsterdam. Whether they were skilled craftsmen, persecuted refugees, or adventurers, all enriched the Dutch capital with their own culinary legacy. This diverse population makes Amsterdam one of Europe’s most varied cities to dine out. The choices on offer span the globe, and range from the traditional low-key eetcafes to renowned Michelin-starred eateries.

If you’re a devotee of sailing, chances are you’re aware of the Fowey Royal Regatta – at least from hearsay if not first-hand experience. Each year, thousands flock to this tranquil port on the Cornish coast to sample a carnival atmosphere. Truthfully, the majestic sight of the yachts themselves is just one element of the festivities in this week-long event. Having risen in prominence to become one of the country’s greatest sailing shindigs, the regatta has transformed through the years into an occasion even those with no sea legs can relish.

There can certainly be no question that Spain is a nation of fine sporting pedigree. Take Barcelona and Real Madrid, arguably two of greatest football teams ever to step onto a pitch – not to mention the country’s dominance of the sport at international level. Even Formula One has its icon in the form of the once all-conquering Fernando Alonso. In May each year, however, Alonso, Iniesta, Ramos et al take a back seat in favour of another home-grown hero. When the Madrid Open sets up shop, Spaniards across the country only have eyes for the mighty Rafael Nadal.

You’ve bathed in rivers of mud at Glastonbury; head-banged until your neck ached at Donington; probably embraced your inner indie child among the feverish Scottish patriots at T in the Park. These are the events that dominate the annual festival calendar, and there’s no doubt such behemoths are well worthy of their place at music’s high table. However, with repetitive line-ups and soaring ticket prices, more and more music diehards are pitching their tents at as-yet, lesser-known events. Enter the nascent Looe Festival. Once you’ve figured out how to pronounce the name of the event, you can look forward to sampling the sounds.

It’s no secret that Cornwall is a county fond of its gastronomy. Fresh fish, award-winning meats, luxury ice creams and freshly-baked specialty bread; whatever tickles the taste bud is celebrated at the annual Cornwall Food & Drinks Festival. The 11th event, in 2014, takes place over the weekend beginning Friday September 26, culminating on Sunday 28. Visitors, as ever, can expect nothing less than the most varied selection of local food and drinks, as well as the typically buoyant community spirit the festival has become famous for. Held in Truro’s Lemon Quay, the trio of food-filled days will also feature cookery demonstrations from some of Britain’s top chefs, in addition to workshops for the little ones in the Funky Food Zone.

Several major tennis tournaments like to claim the title of “the fifth Grand Slam”, perhaps wishing to share the glow that sets in over centre courts in Paris, London, Melbourne and New York. Indian Wells in California is one such tournament, while the year’s final Masters event – also in Paris – certainly regards itself on a par with the big four. If one tournament lifts itself above the others, though, it’s the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, held annually in November at London’s 02 Arena. At times akin to a rock concert, the atmosphere at the 02 truly rocks for one week, as the world’s top eight players compete to grab the final major trophy of the year.

It may not be among tennis’s four hallowed Grand Slam events, but the Paris Masters is nonetheless one of the sport’s blue riband events. The ninth and final ATP Masters 1000 event in the annual calendar, it precedes the ATP World Tour Finals, held across the Channel in London, and offers the world’s best players a chance to claim silverware before the close of the year. Played indoors in the opulent Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy, one of France’s premier sports stadia, the Parisian courts replicate the playing conditions of the World Tour Finals exactly, owing to changes made to the surface in 2012.

Sicily is one of those unique holiday destinations that attracts travellers for no single reason; rather, its multitude of attractions lures a diverse range of tourists to bask in its sunshine. The island’s appeal then, is – quite literally – greater than the sum of its parts. Walkers and hikers, art lovers, beach bums, foodies, devotees of opera and theatre, religious pilgrims: all head for this charming island off the southern coast of Italy. And regardless of your interests, there is a busy calendar of annual events to keep you entertained when you land on Sicilian turf.

The archipelago of Madeira is, for the most part, a picture of relaxation – a scenic and enchanting region of Portugal perfectly monikered as the Pearl of the Atlantic. For the month of June though, particularly every Saturday throughout the month, the stunning island capital of Funchal is transformed into a hive of music and colour as the annual Atlantic Festival rolls into town. A unique event that incorporates the Madeira Music Festival, International Fireworks Festival and a series of classical music events at various venues across the city, the tranquillity is temporarily shattered in the nicest possible way.

It’s a simple fact: the world loves a carnival. From the wonders of Mardis Gras in New Orleans to the explosion of colour that is the Rio Carnival, by way of various cities across the globe that attempt to recreate such occasions every year, few events inspire such laughter – few bring people so close together. Outside of “the big two”, as it were, not many places manage this dramatic effect quite so gratifyingly as Madeira. The Portuguese archipelago stages its very own jamboree every February, encapsulating all that is great about its worthy counterparts.

As any of Amsterdam’s proud residents will tell you, their effortlessly cool city is a joy to spend time in. A vibrant hub of culture, not to mention one of Europe’s most picturesque capitals – replete with waterways, bridges and charming old buildings – the Dutch capital attracts a diverse selection of tourists, from festival-goers and sports fanatics to art lovers and beach bums. To ponder the merits of the city’s museums, and the depth of its nightlife, which rivals just about every other European party locale, is to realise one thing: that Amsterdam makes an extremely appealing holiday destination.

Affectionately known as the 'Islands of Eternal Spring' or 'Pearl of the Atlantic', depending on who you talk to, the Madeira archipelago is surely the jewel in Portugal’s glimmering crown. Located closer to the shores of Morocco than the country to which it belongs, the islands are a bonafide Atlantic paradise. Enjoying subtropical climates, mesmerising landscapes and an escape from the tourist furore of the mainland, it’s clear to see why the many events that take place on this modest haven every year are held in such high regard.

Cornwall has established itself – particularly in the last decade or so – as one of Britain’s most popular tourist destinations. Little wonder, given this southwestern paradise’s seamless fusion of rustic English country charm and spectacular coastlines. Ramblers and surfers can find themselves equally at home here, and with climates that more often than not top the rest of the country, it’s easy to feel like you’ve traversed overseas. As if these factors on their own weren’t enough, Cornwall also boasts one of the United Kingdom’s most hectic annual calendars, hosting a range of events that celebrate local and international culture alike.

On April 6 2014, the elite of Formula One will descend upon the Kingdom of Bahrain for the third race of the season’s calendar. This modest island just off the coast of Saudi Arabia has flourished as a host since making its debut back in 2004, establishing itself as a firm favourite among drivers and spectators alike. Understandable, given the typically Middle Eastern soaring climates and natural beauty, not to mention the excitement and unpredictability of a Grand Prix held at the beginning of the campaign.

Nothing says ‘British summer’ quite like the Wimbledon Championships. That’s not because we get to enjoy day after day of blazing heat, though. Instead, for two weeks, we are treated to a full spectrum of British weather, from bright, luteous sunshine to angry, torrential downpours. Thankfully, since the installation of a retractable roof over Centre Court in 2009, those with seats in the world’s most celebrated tennis arena needn’t miss a beat; the action will continue unhindered.

Paris is famous for many things, but it’s fair to say sport is not chief among them. That being said, for two weeks in summer the second tennis Grand Slam of the year takes place in the city: the French Open. Played on the rugged red clay, the tournament comes on the heels of the clay court season, which sees the world’s best vie for supremacy in Masters events including Rome, Monte Carlo and Madrid. It is also the final major clay court event of the season, as the calendar segues into the grass courts; the Aegon International at Queen’s Club opens the day after the French Open final.

It speaks volumes about the popularity of NASCAR that, in the sporting spectrum, it is second only to the much-loved NFL when it comes to US TV ratings. A quintessentially all-American sport, millions tune in and thousands turn out week after week to witness their heroes in action, the action playing out at some 30 different tracks the length and breadth of the country. This adrenaline-fuelled, heart-pounding spectacle has never really taken off to any great extent outside of the States, but as with so many sports, to witness it up close is the only way to fully understand its finer points.

Ask anyone about the world's most famous festivals, and certain names are sure to come up time and again. The Rio de Janeiro Carnival. The New Orleans Mardi Gras. One that may have slid under the radar, however, is Las Fallas. Every spring, the already mesmeric Catalan city of Valencia truly bursts into life for five days with the mother of all fiestas. It is of course the celebration of St Joseph, and locals transform the region into a sea of colour, pyrotechnics and gigantic puppets. A true sensory overload, this is an experience not to be missed when it comes around next year.

The name doesn’t quickly conjure the same jubilant images of, say, Independence Day in America. You may not have even heard of it. But on the 14th of July, this French celebration sparks the mother of all parties not only in its homeland, but all over the world. The day is held to commemorate the iconic storming of the oppressive Bastille prison in 1789, an event considered in French history to be an important and symbolic milestone in the uprising against the monarchy. And whilst still taken as a chance to pay tribute to their ancestors, these days a carnival atmosphere is the order of the day!

The 2014 Super Bowl is to be the first held on Groundhog Day; very appropriate, don’t you think? Many a diehard fan would love to relive the pageantry and excitement of the biggest game in American sports ad infinitum! Super Bowl XLVIII will take place on February 2, its venue the hallowed turf of the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey – home to the New York Giants and New York Jets. Of course, we don’t yet know which two teams will be locking horns in early February; but if you’re an NFL fan, I’m sure you’ll have an opinion.

 

Summer Holidays

Scotland, in summer, has so much more to offer than sunshine. While the clouds will often clear and the temperature can shoot into the 20s, visitors warm to the place not purely because of its climate. It's the country’s history, the beauty of its landscape and the welcoming disposition of its denizens that make Scotland an attractive summer holiday destination. If you are interested in the weather though, it’ll please you to know that summer days here are very long: you’ll often be able to enjoy extended twilights thanks to the country’s high altitude, and in some of the northernmost parts of Scotland, never experience complete darkness. Areas like Lerwick in Shetland experience four more hours of daylight than London at the same time.

Sicily might well be a small island, but given its cultural legacy – not to mention its cuisine, nature reserves and national parks – it should definitely be classified as a heavyweight of Italian tourism. While you can certainly find many lovely beaches on the island, sunbathers are spoiled for choice when it comes to filling the rest of their time: there are myriad ancient Greek and Roman sites to explore; the famous, smouldering volcano of Mount Etna to marvel at; alluring Baroque churches in which to soak up the silence. From port to port, Sicily gives visitors the chance to satiate the imagination’s longings.

The Lake District is easily among the United Kingdom’s most visually breathtaking areas. Awe-inspiring landscapes of mountainous fells, glistening waters and charming rural sensibilities abound at every turn, attracting droves of tourists all year round. Alluring as this area is, in the summertime the vast majority more often than not opt to travel further afield in search of the more traditional beach holiday. The beauty of the region, however, is that its gratifying location, within reach of the north west coast, means that the two don’t necessarily need to be mutually exclusive.

In recent years, North Africa in general has seen something of a resurgence when it comes to tourism. With a culture a world away from their European neighbours, tourists flock to experience the cultural diversity and tropical climates offered by the likes of Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. The latter is a virtually within touching distance of Spain, but could scarcely be more different as a summer holiday destination. Morocco can be so easily dismissed as an "unfashionable" choice, but the truth is that there is plenty to keep even the most tentative visitor entertained!

It hasn’t been a bad summer. In 2013, we’ve had – say it quietly – actual sun. Alas, British convention dictates that any heatwave is destined to be nothing more than a flash in the pan, so the time is still right to escape the pressures of home and jet off to pastures new. Given that the weather here has been for the most part agreeable to date, why not shun the usual tourist clichés of Mediterranean getaways and try somewhere a little different? Specifically, why not consider spending your summer in Germany?

January Cottage Holiday Ideas

There’s something undeniably enchanting about spending your holiday in a cottage. In part, it may be the traditional nature of such a property; or indeed the tranquillity that seems to go hand-in-hand with it. And that’s to say nothing of the beautiful surroundings you can expect. 

What do you look for in a summer holiday? For some, the usual conventions will do. You know what I’m talking about: glorious, sun-kissed beaches, vibrant nightlife and enough activities to entertain all involved. For others, the criteria is more particular; but for those in search of fascinating mythological legacy, historical sites and an almost unrivalled natural beauty, Greece must be considered among the greatest spots in the world for a getaway. Those who keep up-to-date with current affairs will know the country’s economy hasn’t been without its problems in recent years, but this hasn’t hindered the tourism industry.

The tide gently lapping at your toes; a paperback in one hand and an ice-cold beverage in the other; the sun, blistering and bright, working its magic on your tan. Well, perhaps you can discount that last part – nonetheless, the usual conventions of a beach holiday can easily be enjoyed without leaving the British Isles. The West Country is a perfect example of this, combining a distinctly English charm with seaside sensibilities and some truly spectacular scenery. With a spot of luck, the temperatures of Spain and France may even venture north for the duration of your stay, contributing towards a truly unforgettable holiday experience.

 

Autumn Holidays

While many of us lament the passing of summer, it is worth turning our attention instead to the perks thrown up by autumn’s arrival. The sun dissipates, the wind strengthens, and crisp brown leaves unhook from the trees, but the transformation doesn’t stop there: regional harvests in the production of wine, olives, pomegranates, wild berries and all manner of seasonal produce - not to mention flowers – in turn provide no end of opportunities to get out and explore the natural scenery. Autumn is a time for feasts and festivals, whether you chose to spend the season in the UK or further afield.

Booking up for a holiday in the summer months can be frustrating. Flight rates are at a premium, hotels are full to capacity, and finding a spot on the beach is more of a hindrance than should be allowed on a relaxing break. Not that these factors usually get in the way of an enjoyable trip, of course: but why be restricted to jetting off between the months of June and August? This year, hold off for a short while and look forward to an unforgettable autumn holiday.

Everyone loves a food festival. Come on, what’s not to love? Dining to your heart’s content, usually on the finest food of an area, directly from the source - and all in a jovial environment! Then there’s the adventure - exploring the larger surrounding area from whence the grub came, combining your twin passions of travel and cuisine. These are just a few features that make visiting such an event worthwhile, and across Europe there’s no shortage of options. The finest of these are held in the autumn months, ideally poised after the peak holiday season has dissipated and before the snowy onset of Christmas.

 

Winter Holidays

Just five? Of course, it’s impossible to select only five Tuscan paintings. The region is stuffed with art and architecture spanning the history of Western art.

 

Short Breaks

Along the volcanic coast of Campania, barely hidden behind the sleeping giant of Vesuvius, lies one of the oldest cities in the world. In its rich 2,800-year history, Naples has developed from an ancient Greek cultural centre to a modern Mediterranean metropolis – while gifting the world pizza along the way! The city’s colourful past, under the aegis of various rulers and combined with its resilient rebuilding efforts following World War II, means it can amaze even the most seasoned traveller. As far as variety in architecture, cuisine and nightlife goes, the city could scarcely serve a wider spectrum.

What do you look for in a short break? Well, first of all, let’s define what a short break entails. More often than not, this will be a long weekend - three or four days within which you hope to cram as much as possible into your small window. To make the most of your time, it is always a prudent idea to visit somewhere that offers plenty of activities and attractions, and although it may not be at the forefront of most holidaymakers’ minds, Lisbon undoubtedly fits into this category.

Not so long ago, Scotland proudly declared itself to be “the greatest small country in the world”. This slogan has since adorned airport walls, postcards and any number of artefacts found in your typical tourist gift shop. A bold statement you may think, but for anyone who has explored this beautiful and diverse country, it’s not much of a stretch to accept this as fact. From the convivial bustle of the cities to the breathtaking natural beauty of the Highlands, there is enough diversity to please any short term traveller.

Sooner or later, we each experience the desire to get away from it all: even when we’re not sure if there’s anything to get away from! But 'getting away', of course, doesn’t necessarily mean jetting off to tropical climates; sometimes all it means is spending a long weekend somewhere relaxing. Luckily, this can be done without even leaving the comfort of the United Kingdom's very own shores. And a cheap weekend break in the UK can even fit the bill when you really do require a beach; just make sure to check the weather forecast well in advance!

 

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