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Most scenic castles

Alongside beaches, theme parks and museums, castles are one of the most visited attractions by tourists on their holidays. Their majestic structures and fantastic histories make them interesting and compelling for visitors old and young.

Neuschwanstein Castle, in Schwangau, Germany, dates back to 1868 and was commissioned by King Ludwig II. His design was much more complex, since the architect simplified most of it, but you wouldn’t think so to look at it. It holds a claim to fame as the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland.

The sprawling grounds of the Alhambra Palace, near Granada in Spain, will take you at least half a day to explore. It has spectacular views over the surrounding area and is made up of several different buildings with unique Moorish designs.

Scotland is renowned for its collection of castles set upon mountains and overlooking isolated lakes. One of the most famous is Edinburgh Castle which dominates Edinburgh’s skyline majestically on Castle Rock, overlooking the city.

If you’re looking for something more glitzy, the Grand Palace in Bangkok will blow you away. As one of Thailand’s most visited landmarks, visitors can tour the library guarded by mother of pearl doors or the Emerald Buddha temple.

Picture: Kristian Golding

Saving money this summer

Although the temperatures are scorching here in the UK at the moment, it is always nice to get away and unfortunately a week away in the UK can cost more than one abroad. If you’re looking for a cheap deal, then now is the time to keep your eye out for late deals.

Many holiday companies reduce the prices for their package holidays over the summer, for a holiday in the next couple of weeks. It can be a great time to book a holiday because there are some fantastic deals to be had. Using comparison sites, who compile the cheapest prices from a number of tour operators for you is the quickest way to get a good deal.

Package holidays are one of the most affordable options, with many holiday companies competing for business, there are plenty of offers available. With a package holiday your flights, transfers and accommodation is included in the price. Check the windows of your local travel agents for the best daily deal.

Choosing all-inclusive when you go away, also takes the worry out of spending money whilst you’re away. If you want an affordable luxury holiday, then Voyage Belek Golf & Spa Hotel, in the Antalya region of Turkey as a great choice. It offers all-inclusive accommodation so all you meals and drinks are included. The hotel also has its own golf course and spa facilities. You really wouldn’t have to worry about leaving the resort.

Spain also has fantastic choices for last minute holidays, only a couple of hours from the UK you can find great all-inclusive accommodation such as the Pula Suites Hotel in Son Severa, Majorca at great prices for a last minute deal. This all-inclusive hotel again has spa facilities for guests and is situate on the Pula Golf Course. This hotel is only a short distance from the village of Son Severa and close to the popular resort towns of Cala Bona and Cala Millor.

Just make sure you don’t wait till your airport to get your currency, it’s generally the most expensive place to change your money.

Picture: GoGap

Discover Istanbul

Istanbul is a splendid holiday destination where visitors can experience the union of the east and the west.  This beautiful city of minarets is situated on both sides of the Bosphorus strait that exists between the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara.  As the cultural and physical bridge between Europe and Asia, Istanbul has an amazing landscape with various attractions for tourists to explore.

Attractions

Istanbul offers visitors a plethora of rich architectural structures.  Tourists are introduced to many artistic styles by visiting the famous Turkish baths, the grand mosques, the beautiful fortresses, amazing towers and castles, and fascinating palaces and churches.

Among the famous sightseeing destinations of this historic city are the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul Modern Art Museum, Maiden’s Tower, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace, Dolmabahce Palace, Galata Tower, the Blue Mosque, Istanbul Archaeological Museum and Hagia Sophia Cathedral.  Istanbul’s Roman ruins and Ottoman treasures are other famous attractions to visit while holidaying in the city.

Tourists can appreciate a host of unique pursuits during their stay in Istanbul.  Leisurely walks and city tours are among the most popular activities enjoyed by visitors exploring the Turkish city.  They are also sure to enjoy the unique experience of a Turkish bath, while a trip to the Grand Bazar offers a huge choice of irresistible souvenirs.  No trip to the city of Istanbul can be complete without relishing a sumptuous meal consisting of the local delicacies.

Visitor information

Istanbul is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey.  Istanbul Atatürk airport is the main international airport serving Istanbul and connecting the city to the major towns and cities of the world.  There are two railway stations that connect Istanbul to European and Asian cities.

Istanbul experiences a steamy hot summer and a cold snowy winter, so the best time to take a holiday there is during the months of April to May and September to October.

Picture: Moyan Brenn

Croatia a popular destination

The currency in Croatia is the Kuna and with sales of this currency increasing by over 50% recently reinforces the news that Croatia is becoming an ever increasingly popular destination for British holiday makers. Set to become a member of the European Union in July this year, research into resort costs would suggest that a Croatian holiday still offers better value for money than many other European destinations.

With more and more airlines now flying from Britain to Croatia, Jet2 and EasyJet fly from most regional UK airports, the country is becoming increasingly easy to reach for holiday makers to see the beautiful and dramatic mountains as well as lakes and of course the deep blue seas. Hotels have been upgraded; roads improved and brought very much up to modern standards.

Although the beach lovers will not find the long sandy stretches that they may be used to in Spain or Greece, this is more than made up for by the Adriatic and those hidden coves and pinewoods. The country has been left unspoiled and it displays some well preserved architecture, centuries old of course. We would suggest that the best time to visit Croatia, unless you are tied into school holidays, is the period of May and JuneĀ  and September and October, warm sunshine all attractions open and few crowds. The July and August periods are very hot, resorts busy and hotel prices at their peak.

Where to visit will depend on the length of you holiday, for a single week, stick to one region and take time to explore it. The central Dalmatian area houses the town of Split, listed by UNESCO and most visitors from Britain fly into here. It is a good base for visiting nearby islands by ferry and it is also the main charter base for sailing holidays in Dalmatia.

To the south is Dubrovnik, which is the most popular but also the most expensive too, boasting the highest concentration of five star hotels in its fortified walls. The town is a good base for day-trips into neighbouring Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Picture: Jon Culver

Top Benidorm Hotels

Benidorm is a lively holiday resort on the coast of Spain; it has been a popular destination for a number of years now. There are plenty of hotels in this exciting resort, all centred on this bustling resort.  Below are two of the best, suitable for couples and families.

Villa Venecia Boutique Hotel

The Villa Venecia Boutique Hotel in Benidorm is located at the “Balcon del Mediterraneo”, between Poniente beach and Levante beach, this boutique hotel offers breath-taking sea views. It is the perfect adult’s only hotel for those wish to get away from it all, relax in luxury and peace and quiet.

The hotel offers board basis on; room only, bed and breakfast, half board and full board, there are only 26 rooms in this hotel, which means it has more of an intimate feel to it. The rooms contain double or two single beds safety deposit box, piped music, fridge and satellite television as well as a hairdryer in the bathroom.

The hotel also has a 24 hour reception desk with concierge with currency exchange facilities, staffs are on hand to provide you with any assistance you may need during your stay, such as what to see in the local area, getting around and other useful area guides. The hotel also has a bar/lounge, a restaurant and room service facilities. It is located close to bars and restaurants, if you wish to explore out of the hotel.

Dynastic Hotel

For families, couples ad groups, the Dynastic Hotel is a brilliant choice. It offers an excellent standard of accommodation with great facilities and for convenience it is located at the Rincon De Loix end of Levante, just off the beach and close to restaurants, cafes and bars as well as a number of shops. It is also close to transport links for your convenience.

The Dynastic Hotel has 206 rooms, which all have double, or twin beds, satellite TV, air conditioning, telephone and a safety deposit box. There are also mini bars in the rooms, which come with either a balcony or terrace.

 Board basis for this hotel includes bed and breakfast, half board, full board and all-inclusive. There is a buffet restaurant and piano bar, all inclusive board includes; all you can eat buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner with drinks such as wine, sangria, soft drinks, mineral water and tea included. There are snack and local drinks offered from 10am to midnight.

The hotel offers a 24 hour reception with currency exchange facilities and staff on hand to help you with your needs. There are two swimming pools on the hotel complex, sun terraces and a snack bar. There is also a gym, beauty salon and spa facilities and an entertainment programme, as well as an internet café, and children’s play area.

Journey Japan

Japan is historically and culturally rich, with ancient structures and ruins, and it boasts some of the world’s latest cutting edge fashions and designs from its capital, Tokyo.

If you are visiting Japan, you cannot ignore its magnificent castles.  Due to the bombing in the Second World War, just twelve of Japan’s castles remain intact.  Many of the reconstructed castles, however, receive more visitors as museums are often attached to them, housing ancient and significant artefacts.  Tsuyama Castle is so expansive that it was considered to be the best in the nation, and Takeda Castle is famed for its beautiful scenic views over the ruins.

If you visit any botanical gardens, you will often find a designated Japanese garden within.  Famous for their beautifully crafted bridges and zen sand and rock gardens, it is no wonder that a visit to a Japanese garden is often on top of a sightseers list.  These include gardens such as Kairakuen Garden in Mito, Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa, and Korakuen Garden in Okayama, which are the official ‘top three gardens’.  Also a favourite amongst tourists is Ritsurin Park in Takamatsu, which is the largest of the gardens.

Tourists are also attracted to the spiritual sites, such as the Buddhist and Shinto shrines and temples that can be found in any of the cities.  Japan also has some of the world’s most historically significant war sites, such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The Peace Park, Prefectural Peace Museum, Himeyuri Peace Museum and the Peace Memorial Hall are some of the best places to visit to learn about the famously brutal battles that occurred.

With one of the world’s best transportation systems, Japan could not be easier to get around.  While Japan has many transport options, the most popular of these is undoubtedly the train line.

Easy for any tourist to explore, and boasting some of the most beautiful, culturally and historically rich locations, it is no wonder that Japan is such a favoured travel destination.

Picture: t3hWIT

Top five romantic cruise destinations

When planning a holiday for you and your partner, why not consider going on a romantic cruise?   Since all the details are taken care of in the cruise’s itinerary, you will have more free time to spend with your loved one.

Select one of the following romantic cruise destinations for the adventure of a lifetime:

1.    The Caribbean.  With tropical weather all year round, pristine beaches, a turquoise ocean and gorgeous scenery, the Caribbean Islands are perfect for romance.  Depending on the cruise itinerary, you may visit some, or all, of the islands.  On-shore excursions to Jamaica, Barbados and St. Lucia, amongst others, will give you plenty of time to sample the local culture and cuisine.

2.    The Mediterranean.  You can choose either the western or eastern Mediterranean cruises, although both have much to offer.  With different ports of call in various countries, including Italy, Spain and France, you will have your fill of different customs, architecture and mouth-watering cuisine along the way.

3.    French Polynesia.  You will fall in love with the breathtaking beauty of the islands you visit on this cruise.  There are also numerous activities to keep you busy during on-shore excursions including hiking, snorkelling and shopping for trinkets.  Popular islands here include Moorea, Bora Bora and Tahiti.

4.    Hawaii.  This cruise is immensely popular with honeymooners and it is easy to see why.  The Hawaiian Islands consist of sun-drenched beaches, lush tropical greenery and stunning coastal cliffs set against a backdrop of rugged volcanoes.  The best islands to visit are Kauai, Oahu and Maui.

5.    The Greek Islands.  This cruise takes you to different islands all with individual treasures to discover.  Explore the massive forts in Corfu and the Acropolis in Athens then wind down with a relaxing sojourn among the secluded caves and sunny beaches of Zakinthos.  Greece has something for all its visitors.

Picture: hawk684

Enjoy Copenhagen

Copenhagen is a wonderful destination to enjoy a holiday surrounded by a mix of modern and medieval architecture.  The largest city of Denmark, Copenhagen offers visitors a glimpse into its rich and impressive culture.  Tourists can explore the wonderfully designed churches, beautiful ancient buildings, and other attractions of the city.  A unique feature of the city is the absence of skyscrapers.

Attractions

Copenhagen offers a peaceful sojourn in a green environment.  The city and its nearby areas are surrounded by three beautiful beaches.  Tourists visiting Copenhagen can enjoy beautiful parks, museums, concert halls, opera houses, theatres, and ballets.  The city has a lively and exciting nightlife. Copenhagen also has two of the world’s oldest amusement parks, which are a major attraction for tourists.

Among the many sightseeing options that the city offers are attractions such as the Tivoli Gardens, Amalienborg Palace, the Round Tower, Copenhagen Zoo, the National Museum of Denmark, Rosenborg Castle, and the Church of Our Lady.  The city also has several attractions for children, such as the Experimentarium.

Visitor information

Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of Zealand.  The easiest way to reach the city is to take a flight to Copenhagen’s Kastrup airport.  The city’s railway network is extensive and trains leave at regular intervals to various destinations.

Copenhagen has a humid continental climate.  The summers are long and warm in the city, and the average maximum temperature is about 21°C.  The winters are cold and the average minimum temperature falls to -3°C.

The best time to visit Copenhagen is from May to September.

Picture: JamesZ_Flickr

Holidaying in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city of Brazil, famous for its beaches, the statue of Christ Redeemer overlooking the city and Rio Carnival.  From historical and cultural tours to hiking trails and more adventurous rock climbs and rafting excursions, the city has many facets that make it an attractive destination for tourists.

Popular tourist attractions

Christ the Redeemer statue, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, is located at the peak of the Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park.  A widespread image in popular culture, the statue is an icon for Rio de Janeiro and Brazil.

The famed Rio Carnival, which takes place annually before the advent of Lent, attracts locals and foreigners alike en masse.  Samba schools parade in the Sambadrome, an exhibition space, along to their own theme and song for the year.  Tourists are allowed to participate at a cost.

Copacabana, a neighbourhood in Rio, is known mostly for its 4km stretch of beach, covering the area between Posto Dois and Posto Seis.  The beach is a popular attraction during its annual New Year’s Eve celebrations, with hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs found along its promenade. 

Rio experiences a tropical savannah climate with average annual temperature ranges from a minimum of 21 °C to a maximum of 27 °C.

Getting to and around Rio de Janeiro

Tourist can fly direct to Rio and land at Galeão-Antônio Carlos Jobim International Airport; the airport is about 20km away from the city.  Travelling around the city can be done via taxi, car, bus or subway.

Picture: Alcindo Correa Filho

Luxury Summer Holiday Deals

Getting away for the summer is important to many people, especially considering how bad out English summers tend to be. There is any number of bargain basement deals, but what if you like a bit more refinement in your life; can you still get that whilst been on a budget? Well yes you can there are a number of tip top destinations where you will find yourself in the lap of luxury, without having to splash the cash.

Spain is a destination people would consider as a cheap and cheerful holiday destination, rather than a luxury holiday, unless you take a city break to Barcelona or Madrid. However there are a number of luxurious destinations where travellers visit if they want to live the high life. Ibiza, doesn’t just attract young kids, looking for some fun, celebrities also head there over the summer to enjoy the live performances of the world famous DJ’s in many of the clubs. Five star hotels are dotted across the island from the main towns of San Antonio and Play D’en Bossa to Santa Eulalia.

The Turkish Rivera is a beautiful area of the Turkish coastline, skirting the Mediterranean and Aegean coastline, with amazing scenery and a wonderful amount of history and fantastic culture, ready to explore. There are a number of luxurious resorts as well in this region such as Belek. This town has everything you need, sea, sun, sand and sight-seeing. There are also a number of luxury five star hotels here to such as the Calista Luxury Resort and Voyage Belek Hotel with a number of affordable deals to be found.

If Belek resort isn’t for you, or Turkey how about a luxury holiday in Marrakech? A bustling city in Morocco, Marrakech, has such a wide variety of things to see and do, you won’t know where to start. From bustling markets and bazaars to natural spa’s and Turkish baths. There is a glut of fantastic cafes and tavernas as well as plenty of food stalls to enjoy. For luxury hotels it has to be Sirayane Boutique Hotel & Spa or the Angsana Riad Blanc Hotel.

Picture: Jacob Johan