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Where to go in September - without the peak season crowds and prices

With the kids back at school, September can be the perfect time to enjoy some lovely weather without the peak season crowds and prices.

Europe is great to visit in September, with warm, dry days while the whole of Africa is pretty much in its prime for safari adventures. Southeast Asia is still affected by the monsoon rains however there are plenty of autumn festivals that will tempt you into a visit.

If you want to visit historic cities and spa towns, then we would recommend Europe. September marks the changing of the seasons across Europe, with the summer heat starting to cool off in preparation for autumn. This makes it a great time to explore historic cities and spa towns at a lower price. We would highly recommend Italy, with average temperatures between 19°C to 23°C.

However, if you are looking for a beach destination than you should consider Croatia, as their peak holiday season is now over but it still has its pleasant Mediterranean weather with warm waters and very minimal rainfall. The best beaches are Penatur, Betirino, Spiaza (Susak) and Bačvice (Split). Or you can visit Morocco, which has plenty of coastline for the perfect beach holiday - we would recommend you head to Saidia, Legzira Plage, Asilah, Sidi Kaouki for the best beaches. 

Take advantage of the lower prices without the crowds now!


​San Diego's Coast – a holidaymaker’s paradise with near to perfection temperatures and a relaxed vibe

Most people who visit San Diego stick to the downtown area however you haven’t really seen the real San Diego unless you explore the coastal area.

San Diego has 70 miles of beautiful coastline set in a collection of beaches - each one with its own personality. 

Sailing from Harbor Island
There are a number of options for sailing in San Diego. You can book an intimate sail for 2, an afternoon on the water with a group of friends or even do whale watching – seeing San Diego from a new perspective!

Catch a sunset at Windansea
Windansea is a popular location for surfers however if you are not up for surfing, the beach itself is stunning and if you stay long enough, you will be rewarded with a gorgeous sunset.

Try Tandem Hang Gliding at Torrey Pines Gliderport
Torrey Pines is lucky enough to enjoy flyable weather about 300 days out of the year. You can enjoy a flight over the beautiful Torrey Pines coastal cliffs with a bird’s eye view of the emerald Torrey Pines Golf Course, stunning mansions along the cliffs and miles of dramatic coastline.


Mauritius - the island that has it all

Mauritius will enchant you, uplift your soul and make you feel completely and totally relaxed. The island is a contrast of colours and tastes, perfectly set in its turquoise waters and white beaches. The beauty about Mauritius is that the island has just about everything you need to make your holiday truly unique.

Wildlife tourism in Mauritius has gained popularity over the last few years and it is no wonder as Mauritius has saved more bird species from extinction than any other country, meaning you can see two of the most beautiful birds of the Indian Ocean – the pink pigeon and the Mauritian kestrel. Mauritius is also home to giant tortoises, dolphins, whales and sharks.

If you are more of a beach-body, then you will love Mauritian beaches and with over 160km-worth, you won’t have to travel very hard to find one. In the north of the island, you will find the greatest variety and concentration of beaches, including small coves. Although, the famous long stretches of talcum-white sands are found in the east. The west has golden sand with shallow waters and the best sunsets. Why not spend your holiday beach hopping until you find just the right place for you.

But if you are looking for something a bit more active, especially water related, you really can’t lose as Mauritius offers kitesurfing, paddling, diving, snorkelling, swimming with dolphins and boat excursions to the beautiful islands of the lagoon. On land, you can also decide between hiking, horse-riding or even golfing (yep, they have championship-standard golf courses).

Last but not least, why not top off your day of indulging at a local Mauritian restaurant. The island has just about every type of cuisine and backdrop, from fine-dining restaurants to beachside shacks serving fresh fish. Curries and seafood are staples of the island. Look out for the local delicacies such as Creole fish rougaille (a spicy tomato sauce), daube (beef or chicken stew) and vindaye (deep-fried fish coated in turmeric, ginger, chillies and mustard seeds).


​The best of the Balkans

From Split to Sarajevo, Montenegro to Serbia, we have the best places to visit in the Balkans.

The Balkans have exploded as a tourist destination over the past few years, as it was only a matter of time before people realised that the Balkans was in fact one of Europe’s richest destinations.

The territory - spanning the borders of the Adriatic Sea, the Ionian Sea, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea and the Black Sea, is often overlooked in the European region. The post-war and post-Communist/Socialist territory has become a diamond in its own right.

You could probably spend years, even decades, exploring all there is to see in the Balkans, however below are just a few places you should start with.

Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia’s beloved capital can be described as vibrantly alive. You can find a party pretty much every night of the week, with intricate layers of history to keep your mind and soul captivated. The city’s most significant landmark is the Beogradska Tvrđava, a striking fortress residing at the union of the Danube and Sava rivers.

Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina

East meets west is the best way to describe the feel and mood of the city. The antique stone alleys of Baščaršija give the Old Town a Turkish feel, while directly north and south there are steep valleys covered with red-roofed Bosnia & Herzegovinian houses. In winter, Sarajevo’s mountain resorts - Bjelašnica and Jahorina – offer some of Europe’s greatest skiing opportunities. 

Podgorica, Montenegro

Taking into account that it has undergone 5 name changes, passed through the hands of the Romans, Turks and Austro-Hungarians and twice been completely wiped from maps, it’s no wonder that Podgorica seems to be gripped by an identity crisis. Its streets are a mixture of Ottoman oddments, brutalist blocks and shiny new malls but also excellent galleries, plenty of parks and a vibrant café culture – making it a worthwhile place to visit.

Split, Croatia

There is no other place where you will become as immersed with ancient ruins as you will in Split –obviously assuming that you spend a majority of your time within the confines of the 1600 year-old Diocletian’s Palace. Split has benefited from the new arrival of many restaurants, beautiful hotels and the attractive Mosor Mountain and Krka National Park are close by.


Visiting the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo - what you must pack

If you are visiting the Dominican Republic, you should put the capital, Santo Domingo (La Capital’), on your ‘must see’ list. Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the ‘new world’ and also the largest in the Caribbean. The city is a mix of old-world charm with a modern Latin feel. In addition, its medieval palaces fuse beautifully with its nightlife and shopping. You will also find unspoiled beaches and many hidden gems – like a salsa club set inside a massive underground cave!

WHAT YOU MUST PACK

We can all agree that packing isn’t the most exciting part of any trip – and it is a given that you are going to forget something important, however below is a list of the absolute essentials you will need in order to enjoy Dominican Republic’s capital to the fullest.

Guidebook – reading about the city’s history, culture and general layout can greatly increase your enjoyment. You must take the time to visit the Colonial Zone, which is both an important historical site with a wonderland of Spanish colonial buildings and monuments, as well as a vibrant cultural neighbourhood filled with shops, cafes and restaurants. The pulsing street life, including live music performances and beautiful parks and squares, make the Colonial Zone a prime destination for art and culture.

Hat & Light Clothing – Santo Domingo has a tropical climate with warm and humid weather year round. There are two seasons: one wet (May – November) and one dry (December – April). The Caribbean sun is much hotter than what most visitors are used to and a hat can be a great way to stay cool and avoid sunburn! Also, while shorts and short-sleeves are the tourist uniform of choice, they are not always the best to protect you from the sun. Lengthier, light-weight clothing helps to combat the sun and keep you cooler.

Swimsuit & Sunglasses - even if you haven’t made any plans to stay at the beach, bring a swim suit (or two)! The beaches at Boca Chica and Juan Dolio are close enough that you can just spend a morning or afternoon by the crystal blue Caribbean Sea. The locals head to Boca Chica and Juan Dolio during the weekend but if you go during the week, you will practically have the towns to yourself. Make sure to get yourself some fried fish or seafood while you’re there. You won’t regret it.

Sun Lotion – as mentioned, the Caribbean sun is very strong so even if you are used to sun exposure, we recommend that you ensure you are protected. As with most places, Santo Domingo can encounter abnormal weather, such as extended dry or unusually hot periods however generally, the weather is quite consistent with warm sunny days with a scattering of short heavy downpours in-between.

Bag – while a backpack is more convenient, they can sometimes pose as a target for theft. As with any big city, you must take basic safety precautions. A side-strap bag can give you more security – great as a city or beach bag!

Dancing Shoes - from bars to dance clubs and casino’s, San Domingo comes alive at night. You will be sure to find the right place for you, from cozy bars for romantic evenings to popular clubs where you can dance until dawn. And the opportunity to enjoy live music is endless, with bands of all styles performing each night throughout the city. If you want a more authentic experience, you can stop by one of the city’s colmados – small grocery stores which become the neighbourhood watering holes at night, serving local beers and Latin music.

What would you add to your list?


Sweden - when and where to go

At the mere mention of Sweden, your mind may conjure up images of snow-capped peaks, reindeer wandering in vast forests and the one day of 24-hour daylight, however beyond this there is much of Sweden which is unknown.

The largest of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden has enough space for everyone – from the countryside boasting of pine, spruce and birch forests for as far as the eye can see to crystal-clear lakes which are ideal for a summer dip. In addition, Sweden’s south and west coasts are home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe.

When to go

Generally, May to September is the best time to visit Sweden. Summer weather in Sweden is at an a very pleasant average of 23C. By the end of August, the leaves start to change colour and night frosts are not unusual. By November, the ground is usually covered in a soft blanket of snow which lasts until at least the following March.

Where to go

Stockholm, without a shadow of a doubt, is one of the most stunning cities in Europe. The city is built on 14 islands, where the fresh water of Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. A third of the area is made up of water while another third contains parks and woodlands, making it a delighted place to visit.

The grandest city in South Sweden is Gothenburg which boasts of parkland, elegant squares, trams and canals – as well as being the backdrop to Scandinavia’s largest seaport.

You can also travel to Sweden's east coast which borders the Gulf of Bothnia; the entire coastline is dotted with charming towns and villages.


More to Canada than the Niagara Falls

Many tourists do not know that there is so much more to Canada than the Niagara Falls.

However, 2017 marks Canada’s 150th anniversary which makes it a perfect opportunity for you to visit and explore the often unknown splendour and greatness of Canada’s natural beauty.

While the Niagara Falls is, and always will be, the belle of the ball, don’t miss the country’s vast landscape where there are plenty of other sights worth visiting.

Cape Spear is the most easterly point in North America and is home to a beautiful lighthouse. If you stand with your back to the sea, the entire population of North America is to your west. If you face the sea, the next stop east is Ireland.

If you’re an adrenaline junky, then the region of Charlevoix is the place for you. Charlevoix is home to the mountain Le Massif de Charlevoix which looms above the St. Lawrence River with the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Within its borders, you will also find a crater, the 11th largest in the world.

Heaven Tree, a Sitka spruce, is found in the Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. The tree is 11.5 ft (in diameter) and is roughly 800 years old. If you are interested in trees, you should also head over to Meares Island where you will find the Hanging Tree Garden, one of the oldest known red cedars which is estimated to be between 1,500 to 2,000 years old.

And as for water, head to the Skookumchuck Narrows in British Columbia's Sunshine Coast where the water rushes at more than 16 knots, making it one of the fastest flowing tidal currents in the world. Or head to New Brunswick which is home to Fundy’s Old Sow Whirlpool, with a width of 75 meters it is the largest whirlpool in the Western Hemisphere and the second largest in the world. 


Italy, learn how to budget from the locals

The Italians are professionals in knowing how to stretch their euros on holiday. They have the nose for a good bargain and are great at findings things to do and beautiful places to visit – all for either free or low costs! In order to follow suit, we’ve investigated how to visit Italy on a budget.

Eating & Drinking

When in Italy, do as the Italians do – they only have one big meal a day so take full advantage of the all-you-can-eat breakfast from your hotel. If you need lunch, consider ordering a panini, small plates or make your own Italian picnic utilising the local shops, this will help you to save money for your dinner.

Where to Stay

For most of us, the idea of haggling over the price of a hotel room seems completely vulgar. However, most Italians make a sport of it. Why not trying to ask for a discount or for some extras to be included? They won’t get offended and you may even get a better deal.

You can also try an agriturismo – one of the many working farms across Italy with rooms or apartments, normally at a fraction of the hotel prices. This type of accommodation can also give you a better insight into the lives of the locals.

Beaches

While you may instinctively head to the more well-known beaches, renting a beach chair or an umbrella can cost you upwards of €20 a day! The locals prefer the head to the more rugged – often free or at least discounted – beaches. Maremma National Park, for example, has sandy beaches with pristine sea, hiking trails, wildlife and much more – and the cost of entry is a fraction of the other more touristy sites. Or you can try some free beaches, like San Fruttuoso which is preferred by the Italians for its family-run restaurants. San Fruttuoso, another free beach, also has a stunning 10th Abbey on its seashore.

In Sardinia, the locals avoid the overpriced beaches near Porto Cervo and instead head to the white sands of national parks like La Maddalena Archipelago.


Slovenia - when and where to go

Slovenia is a charming country to visit, with grand architectural cities and lush countryside which is perfect for skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

When to go

The majority of visitors travel to Slovenia in the summer, as the weather is more dependable as well as the country’s top attractions and numerous festivals being open.

Although, if you prefer to see the country in less of a hustle and bustle, it is still just as pleasant to enjoy the country outside of the peak summer months, with spring and autumn being the preferred off-peak months.

Skiing is best during December – March, with hiking and adventure sports being available between April – September.

Where to go

Slovenia’s modern capital, Ljabljana, is charmingly cluttered with beautiful Baroque and Habsburg buildings.

The Julian Alps provide absolutely stunning mountain scenery with Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj being the most accessible and Soča Valley the most memorable. If you travel further south there are amazing caves – including Postojna and Škocjan.

In the east, there are wine-making regions with Ptuj being Slovenia’s oldest and probably best-preserved town. The city of Maribor is also worth a visit and great as a stopover point to Austria. 


The best places for a spot of romancing

Whether you’re looking for a beautiful beach to share a cocktail on, you want to get lost with each other amongst the hustle and bustle of a city or even just want to enjoy the stillness of nature, these are the best places for a spot of romancing.

Scottish Highlands, UK

The Scottish Highlands are sparsely populated with many mountain ranges dominating the region, making it an oh-so romantic and refreshing backdrop to any retreat, with rugged glens, secluded beaches and dramatic scenery.

Venice, Italy

Venice, located in the northeast of Italy, is a romantic and enchanting city of ancient palaces, turquoise canals and serenading gondoliers. Whether you are falling deeper in love on a moonlit gondola ride or calming your soul at an orchestral symphony, Venice will amaze you with its artistic and romantic flair.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini is unlike any other Greek island. It was created from a volcanic explosion which left the island with volcanic cliffs overlooking a red and black coast. It is stunning against the turquoise Mediterranean.

Iceland

Iceland offers the perfect romantic getaway. The country is ethereal, shrouded in folklore as well as bursting with volcanic activity. Watch the sky blaze with the spectacular Northern Lights or bathe in the mineral hot springs, focusing on nature and wellness with your significant other. 


Festivals, Rain-forests or Skiing - Where to go in February

Thanks to freezing temperatures around the world and the post-holiday melancholy, February can often drag by.

So there isn’t a better time to escape to a brighter and sunnier climate!

The tropics have stunning weather, the Rockie’s have perfectly powered snow and some European countries offer light-in-spirit carnivals.

Venice, Italy

February is carnival time in Venice which can make it either the best or worst time to go! What seems like a Canaletto painting comes to life every year in Venice with celebrators gathering for 3 weeks of merry-making. The carnival, being held this year from the 11th – 28th of February, ends with the start of Lent, 40 days before Easter, on Shrove Tuesday and it is known for its world famous elaborate masks.

Costa Rica

Costa Rica has lush rainforests and domineering volcanoes sitting side-by-side with vibrant cities, meaning that you really will be spoilt for choice! We recommend trekking through the Tenorio National Park, playing in the Arenal’s waterfalls and then finishing the day in one of San Jose’s delicious restaurants. Prices take a dip in February however the rainforests are still lush and the sandy beaches of Puerto Viejo are somewhat calmer.

Canada

There is nothing quite as alluring as fresh powdery snow. By February, you can take advantage of prime skiing conditions at much more affordable prices. In Alberta, the slopes have the air-like snow that attracts skiers worldwide. If you’re a series skier, we’d recommend heading up to Jackson Hole and Banff in the gorgeous Canadian Rockies. You can even go by snowcat or a helicopter to explore the backcountry or rejuvenate in a natural hot spring. Whatever you enjoy, you can find it in a Canadian snowy holiday. 


​Come summer time, there is no better place to be than in Mykonos

Come summer time, there is no better place to be than in Mykonos.

The locals will tell you to come in June and September if you want to experience the quiet beauty of Mykonos, however if you are looking to party than August is the best month for you.

With crystal-blue water, endless beaches and the dry north wind of the Aegean - these are just a part of the islands charm. Dubbed as the new Ibiza, beaches such as Paradise and Super Paradise are awake all night long.

And no matter how you’re feeling, the rose-gold Mykonian light will make even the most sunburnt, stressed or tired person look beautiful! The locals say that the rose-gold light is due to the Greek legend of the neighbouring island of Delos – the sacred isle on which Apollo and Artemis, and light itself, were born.

If you need a break from partying, Mykonos is the perfect jumping-off point for the nearby island of Delos which is known for its archaeological site. The islands ruins encompass Doric temples, an amphitheatre, mosaic houses and the iconic Terrace of the Lions statues.

We’d highly recommend hiring a speedboat at Kalafatis to go to the lagoon on Delo’s sister island, Rhenia. Rhenia has one of the most beautiful and untouched beaches in the Aegean, with its almost white powdery sand and turquoise waters. 


Morocco - heritage, desert and landscapes

Bordered by 3,500 kilometres of coastline and crossed with numerous mountain ranges, it's no wonder that Morocco is quickly becoming a sought-after tourist destination. 

Morocco has an abundance of important natural and historic assets as well as a richly diverse cultural heritage.

Explore the wonders of Morocco’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Morocco is home to 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these are sites which have been deemed by the UNESCO as outstanding in terms of cultural, scientific or historic importance.

These sites provide a wealth of knowledge by helping to form a world of history which would otherwise remain buried. Below is a collection of Morocco’s stunning heritage sites.

  • Archaeological Site of Volubilis
  • Historic City of Meknes
  • Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou
  • Mazagan
  • The Medina of Essaouira
  • Medina of Fez
  • Medina of Marrakech 
  • Medina of Tetouan

There are a few places on earth which compare to Morocco’s incredible Sahara Desert

Situated on Morocco’s western border, the Sahara Desert is the world's largest desert – spanning an area similar to that of the United States. A desert adventure is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something we would wholeheartedly recommend.

The Erg Chebbi and the Erg Chigaga are the two most famous sand dunes with each offering a completely different experience.

The Erg Chebbi dunes is more accessible with modern hotels located just a 30-minute camel ride away while the Erg Chigaga dunes are more rustic, located around 60km from the nearest road. Both sand dunes offer the opportunity to ride camels and climb the dunes while admiring picture perfect views and sleeping under the stars.

Morocco has some amazingly beautiful landscapes in every corner of the country

  • Aftas is a small and peaceful beach which is accessed via a piste off the Les Amicales area of Mirleft
  • The winding road which leads up to the Dades Gorge is one of the best roads to drive in Morocco
  • Napoleons Hat which looms over Tafraoute in the Souss region
  • Aguelmam Azigza is a beautiful lake in the heart of the Middle Atlas region which is great for swimming and paddling

The top UK hidden treasures in 2017

Looking for a stay-vacation or wanting to visit the UK this year? While you could get lost for days in London, we would also recommend a few of the below hidden treasures which the UK has to offer in 2017.

Hadrian’s Wall, Carlisle

The history of the 80 mile World Heritage Site will be told in a new 6 month exhibition, Hadrian’s Cavalry, which will run from the 8th of April to the 10th of September. The wall, once a vibrant frontier, took 15,000 men over 6 years to build. You can explore baths, turrets and shrines or visit galleries and museums which are going to be made extra exciting by the new exhibition.

Hull, Yorkshire

As the United Kingdom's new city of culture, Hull has plans to showcase itself to the world with visual art, music, festivals and so much more! Hull really is the place to be this year.

Brecon Beacons, South Wales

There will be celebrations throughout the year to mark the Brecon Beacons National Park’s 60th anniversary, including regular art and craft events as well as jazz and food festivals. The park has gardens, castles and caves to explore, as well as 140 miles of rivers and 35 miles of canal.

Teignmouth, Devon

Teignmouth, a picturesque town, has been a popular holiday destination since the Georgian times. The traditional seaside town has, in recent years, also gained the reputation of a foodie hotspot. Great food beside the beach, how can you go wrong?

Edinburgh, Scotland

As the Edinburgh International Festival will be celebrating its 70th birthday, the Scottish celebration of creativity will be even more exciting and busy this year! The festival runs from the 4th – 28th of August, commencing with a grand opening party and ending, in style, with a fireworks show.

Hampshire

The 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death will be marked with many events this year, notably in her home county of Hampshire. In the village of Chawton, where Jane Austen spent the last 8 years of her life, her home is now a museum. In March, the museum will open a new display, encouraging aspiring writers to enter into a short story competition. Nearby the town of Alton will be hosting a Regency Week (from the 17th – 25th of June) with dances, music and talks in Austen's honour. 


Troodos Mountains - the Switzerland of Cyprus

Nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of Cyprus’ because you can see snow in the winter and even ski in January / February, the Troodos Moutains are, in reality, only a peak; however the peak is a real gem. 

Troodos is the largest mountain in Cyprus, located in the centre of the island. The highest peak is Mount Olympus which, at 1,952 meters, hosts the 4 ski slopes which are open in the winter.

In the summer, the Troodos Mountains are also a great escape from the humidity of the coast as well as being remarkably tranquil.

Dotted all over the Troodos are painted churches, many of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. While the outside of the churches may not be particularly remarkable, their wonder becomes apparent once inside as every inch is enveloped with paintings – from haloed saints and kings, scenes from the lives and deaths of martyrs and tales of Jesus. The most dramatic of the churches is Agios Nikolaos, just outside Kakopetria with its vivid and colourful paintings.

The low hills on the southern side of the Troodos mountains are called Commandaria. During the Crusades of the Knights of Templar, they had a base in the region called La Grande Commanderie. The region is also famous for its desert wine which is produced from over-ripe Xinisteri grapes which are picked and then left to shrivel and sweeten in the sun.

If sweet wine isn’t to your liking, there are vineyards and wineries dotted all over the Troodes – as pine and vines grow freely into the mountainsides, adding to the rural charm of the region.

If you get the time, we would also recommend that you hike to the Kalidonia Falls which is the most beautiful hiking trail in the Troodos. It takes roughly 40 minutes (3 km) to reach the falls which have a 15 metres drop into an icy cold pool. It’s a great opportunity to cool your feet from the hike before heading to the Psilo Dendro restaurant which is at the start of the trail – rewarding your tired legs and empty stomach!