The Magnificent Mediterranean Turkey

February 2, 2012 at 4:14 AM

The Mediterranean coast of Turkey is known as the Turquoise Coast, and is a 1600km stretch of sun-kissed beaches, steep cliffs, historic cities, bustling market towns and ancient ruins. The region has a rich history and rugged beauty that has made it the top holiday destination in Turkey.

A beach in the Mediterranean Turkey

From the Lycia region in the west to Hatay province in the east, the coastline has so much to offer. The rugged unspoilt beauty, virgin forests, caves, waterfalls and turquoise sea, set against the dramatic backdrop of the Toros Mountains, creates some of the most beautiful scenery in Turkey. With clear waters and great weather this region is ideal for those who enjoy diving, swimming and yachting.

The coastline of southern Turkey is home to vibrant beach resorts where you’ll find luxury Turkish villas, lively bars and plenty of entertainment; but if you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, the area is also home to delightful fishing villages and old market towns. Inland you’ll find the Lake District (Göller Yöresi), with its beautiful lakes and the Yazılı Kanyon National Park. It’s the perfect place to go if you enjoy hiking. The Turkish Mediterranean is divided into five coastal regions: Lycia, Pamphylia, Cilician Mountains, Cilician Plains and Hatay. Each region is unique and worth exploring.

Enjoy the View in Beautiful Lycia

The Lycia region of Mediterranean Turkey is what is known as the Turquoise Coast and the area is just as beautiful as the name suggests. Here pine forests cling to rugged mountains that drop into turquoise water below. The rugged coastline is littered with gulfs and coves and is a popular yachting area.

Here you’ll find busy Marmaris, with its lovely promenade and gorgeous rugged coastline, the resort town of Kemer, and the charming tourist town of Kaş, which is a great base from which to explore the Blue Caves, the Lycian cliff tombs, the neighbouring town of Kalkan, as well as archeological sites such as Demre (Kale), Patara, Xanthos (Kınık), Letoön, Saklıkent and Tlos.

Explore Lively Pamphylia

Some of the most beautiful sandy beaches and clear water along the Mediterranean coast can be found in Pamphylia. The vibrant cities, luxury resorts and wide variety of water sports has made it a hot spot of the Turkish Mediterranean. With plenty of historic sites in the area, it’s also a great destination if you’re a history lover.

It’s here that you’ll find the gem of the Turkish Riviera, Antalya. It’s the largest city on the Turkish Mediterranean coast and makes an excellent base from which to explore Roman ruins, caves and waterfalls. Belek is another vibrant city in Pamphylia that is popular with visitors to the Turkish Mediterranean. The city is surrounded by beautiful pine forests and has five golf courses and an abundance of luxury accommodation. The nearby town of Manavgat offers a quieter alternative to the bustling resort towns. It lies on the banks of the Manavgat River where you’ll find the picturesque Manavgat Waterfalls.

If you’re a history buff the ancient town of Side, famous for its classical ruins and ancient harbour, is definitely the place to be. You won’t want to miss seeing the Great Gate, the Aspendos Theatre, and the Temple of Apollo. Side also has some excellent restaurants, shops and market stalls where you can buy local handicrafts and souvenirs. The historic town of Alanya is also nearby and worth visiting for its great swimming beach, a lively outdoor market and a go-kart track which will be popular with kids.

Relax in the Cilician Mountains and Cilician Plains

For a taste of more rural Turkish life, Cilician Mountains and Cilician Plains are the best place to head. From the towns of Mersin or Anamur you can explore the Biblical city of Tarsus with its cobbled streets, Maiden’s Castle, Heaven and Hell Caves, and the deep canyons of Göksu Valley. Other popular sites include Mamure Castle, the medieval castle in Anamur, and the remains of the ancient city of Anemurium.

Whether you want to spend your holiday exploring archaeological sites, sailing in turquoise water, sunbathing in quiet coves, diving in crystal clear water, or exploring narrow streets and bazaars, the Turkish Mediterranean has something for everybody!

Fun in the Sun in Costa Blanca

January 19, 2012 at 9:23 AM

Each year millions of British holidaymakers visit the sunny Costa Blanca in Spain for an unforgettable holiday. Located in the Spanish province of Alicante, the Costa Blanca starts in the north with the delightful towns of Denia and Javea and stretches 200km along the stunning coast to the towns of Guardamar and Torrevieja. Palm fringed beaches, azure water and balmy weather make the Costa Blanca the ideal spot for a relaxing holiday.

It is arguably the most famous stretch of coastline in Spain, where you’ll find vibrant party towns, quaint little Moorish villages, olive and almond groves, and beautiful mountains that lie parallel to the coast. Every part of Costa Blanca has something unique and special, whether you choose a holiday rental in towns of Denia, Moraira, and Javea, or in the bustling cities of Alicante and Benidorm.

Denia, Javea and Moraira

The region around the towns of Denia, Moraira and Javea is one of the best places to be found anywhere along the Alicante coast.

The small town of Moraira is nestled between the mountains and the sea and is perfect place to enjoy traditional Spanish charm. The main beach is El Portet, where you can enjoy a variety of water sports including scuba diving and sailing. When you’ve had enough of basking in the sun there is a bustling market where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables and local crafts, or you can have a traditional seafood dish at one of the many waterfront restaurants.

Denia is the perfect spot for a Costa Blanca holiday rental if you enjoy water sports. The beautiful beaches offer plenty of opportunities for sailing, surfing, scuba diving and deep sea fishing.

If want to be close to the action but still enjoy some peace and quiet, Javea is charming little town that is one of the quieter resorts on the Costa Blanca. There is a blue flag beach, Arenal, where you can stretch out on the sand and enjoy the stunning views, or enjoy a variety of water sports. Take time out to explore the historic town with its narrow streets and visit the bustling weekly market.

Alicante

Alicante is the capital of Costa Blanca. Although the beautiful beaches here are popular with sun worshippers the town if full of character and has a lot more to offer visitors. Start exploring Alicante along the Explanada de España, a beachfront pedestrian pathway that stretches around the harbour and is lined with palm trees, shops, restaurants and cafés. In the heart of the city you’ll find the peaceful Canelejas Park and the impressive Cathedral de San Nicolas. You can party the night away in La Zona or enjoy live music at the pavilion along Paseo de la Explanada. And don’t forget to visit the imposing Castle of Santa Barbara that overlooks the city.

Benidorm

Benidorm is located in the southeastern part of Alicante and has become one of the region’s most popular holiday playgrounds thanks to golden beaches, Aqualandia Water Park, Terra Mitica Theme Park and some world-class golf courses nearby. Visitors can also find a wide variety of vibrant bars and clubs popular with British tourists.

Get Out and About in Alicante

Although the Costa Blanca is most famous for its stunning beaches, some of the region’s most beautiful and fascinating treasures can be seen when you leave the main resort towns.

The Candelabra Caves are 24km north of Alicante and well worth a visit. Take a guided tour of caves and appreciate the spectacular rock formations and the superb acoustics. If you enjoy walking you can take a day trip the Algar waterfalls near Polop, which are a lovely place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy resort towns along the coast.

One of the best ways to get out and about in Alicante is to hire a car. As you drive along the Costa Blanca you’ll soon discover the region is full quaint whitewashed villages and home to picturesque mountains that give you a taste of rural Spain and all its charm. Wherever you travel in Alicante you’re sure to find something to delight you.

The Caribbean’s Best Kept Secret

January 10, 2012 at 6:45 AM

Off the northern coast of Venezuela, in the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, is the beautiful island of Curacao. It’s a paradise for scuba divers and nature lovers, and is the best kept secret in the Caribbean. Hidden coves, colourful towns, beautiful sunsets and the rich cultural heritage make Curacao a great choice if you’re looking for an island holiday destination out of the ordinary.

A cove in Curacao, the Caribbean

Sand, Sea and Sun in the South

The northern coast of the island is rugged and there are strong currents that make it dangerous for swimming and scuba diving. The southern coast, on the other hand, is home to beautiful stretches of sandy beaches that are perfect for sunbathing, snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking or sailing. Beautiful coral reefs lie close off the shore in calm warm water, making the island popular with scuba divers. The hidden coves and inlets on the southern coast are the ideal place to relax with a good book or have a swim in the warm water. Popular beaches include Baya Beach, Blue Bay, Daiibooi, Grote and Kleine Knip, Playa Kalki, Porto Marie Beach and Seaquarium Beach. Stretch out on a deck chair, take a glass-bottom boat ride or swim with dolphins. The only thing you’ll have to worry about here is deciding how to spend your next day.

Explore the Island

When you can tear yourself away from the beach there are plenty of interesting places to explore on the island. Take a guided tour of the limestone Hato Caves and learn more about the island’s geological history. You can also visit 17 and 18th century plantation houses (land houses). The rugged northern coast of the island is perfect if you’re looking for a more adventurous activity like hiking, mountain biking or trekking. If you don’t want to expend too much energy you can always take a jeep safari or enjoy the peace and quiet of bird watching.

If you are travelling with children you won’t want to miss the Curacao Sea Aquarium. It’s located in the southwest of the island on the beachfront. Here you can feed stingrays and swim with sharks. There is also The Dolphin Academy where you can swim with dolphins if you have a certified diver’s license.

Immerse Yourself in Curacao Culture

The colourful capital town of Willemstad is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the history and culture of Curacao. The capital has a place on UNESCO’s world heritage list thanks to the wide range of historic buildings in and around the city, including the beautiful Dutch architecture you’ll find along the harbour.

The influence of the Spanish, Dutch and French can not only be seen in the architecture but also in the fusion cuisine. Local food is called Kriyoyo and includes traditional dishes like stobá (a fruity stew), Guiambo (soup), kadushi (cactus soup), pastechi (a breakfast of fried pastry with fillings of cheese, tuna or ham), as well as plenty of seafood dishes. Don’t forget to sample some Curacao liqueur that is made from the rinds of a local citrus fruit known as laraha.

So if the urge strikes for a tropical getaway with plenty of sunshine, world-class diving, beautiful beaches, a lively island culture, and great value for money, you can start planning your trip to the beautiful Caribbean island of Curacao.

February Fun in Fuerteventura

January 6, 2012 at 8:54 AM

If you’re looking for a place to recharge after a crazy Christmas and New Year, then a February Fuerteventura holidays may be just what the doctor ordered. The island is the second largest of the Canary Islands, and is located off the Northwest coast of Africa. From the vast expanses of soft white sandy beaches that disappear into turquoise water, to the whitewashed Spanish villages nestled in the dry and barren landscape, Fuerteventura has become a fabulous place to get away from it all.

Coast on Fuerteventura

Soak up the Sun

The main reason tourists come to Fuerteventura is because of the exquisite beaches. The coastline is home to some of the Canary Islands most beautiful beaches, from flat expanses of golden sand, to sheltered coves and beaches where sand rolls off enormous dunes into the turquoise water below.

In the northern part of the island the most popular beaches are centred around the resorts of Corralejo and El Cotillo. The beaches and coves around Corralejo are calm and perfect for swimming, but the resort can get crowded if you go in summer. To the south of the resort of Corralejo lies enormous sand dunes know as Parque Natural de las Dunas de Corralejo. The constant breeze at the beaches around El Cotillo has made them world-famous as elite kite surfing, kite boarding and wind surfing spots.

In the south, between Costa Calma and Morro Jable there are long stretches of beaches with soft white sand and shallow blue water, including stunning blue flag beaches that are ideal for families visiting Fuerteventura with children.

The variety of beaches means that there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy water sports like snorkelling, scuba diving, surfing, kite surfing, sailing and more. If you prefer to keep dry on a Fuerteventura holiday you can read a book while you soak up the sun, or you can take a trip in the glass bottom boat, El Majorero.

Explore Fuerteventura

The interior of the island is not what one would call beautiful. It’s dry, dusty and barren, but the quaint villages, volcanic craters, ravines and dramatic coastal views make the island a fascinating place to explore if it’s your first visit to Fuerteventura.

There are several whitewashed villages that are worth visiting. Antigua, is the oldest village on the island and here you’ll find an 18th century church. Betancuria is the most beautiful village in Fuerteventura and the perfect place to go to sample local cuisine like puchero (a kind of stew), papas arrugadas con mojo verde (potatoes with green garlic sauce), and traditional Spanish tapas. La Oliva has an 18th century church of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria, which houses some paintings by Spanish artist Juan de Miranda. In the capital, Puerto del Rosario, you’ll find a culture centre (Casa de la Cultura), which will give you some insight into the history and traditions of Fuerteventura. Corralejo is the place to be if you want to spend your evenings in lively bars.

Golf enthusiasts can play a round at the Castillo Golf Club is in Fuerteventura, which also has a bowling alley and cinema. There is another golf course at Campo Golf Calete, where you’ll also find a community swimming pool and leisure centre.

Any time of year is a great time to visit Fuerteventura, but in February you get to enjoy the 25°C days without the crowds. It’s the perfect time to relax. Just remember to take your sunscreen and a good book!

Last Minute Majorca Holidays

December 20, 2011 at 2:06 AM

The largest and most popular of the Balearic Islands, Majorca (Mallorca), lies off the southeast coast of Spain, surrounded by the sparkling blue water of the Mediterranean Sea. The festive holiday vibe, delightful cuisine, welcoming locals and rugged natural beauty have made Majorca holidays a popular choice with holidaymakers.

Boats in Majorca

There are numerous holiday resorts and hotels on the island, but if you want flexibility and some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle of popular hotels, then villas in Majorca may be a better choice. Winter is the ideal time of year to grab a great last minute deal for a Majorca holiday you’ll never forget.

Get to Know Majorca

No matter where you are based in Majorca, there are great cultural coach tours that will take you to some of the islands hidden gems. You can take the vintage train to Soller, which wends its way through orange groves and beautiful rugged Majorcan scenery. Another unforgettable family excursion that you won’t want to miss is to the Caves of Drach, where you can take a boat trip on one of the largest subterranean lakes in the world. There are tour companies that offer cultural tours of the island at very reasonable prices, most of which can be booked online before your trip.

Play on the Beaches of Alcudia

If you want to take advantage of some of Majorca’s best sandy, white beaches, as well as the islands historical attractions, then Alcudia in northern Majorca is the ideal place to be based. The blue-flag beaches around Alcudia Bay are ideal for families with children. There is even a playground at the northern end of Alcudia Beach. You can see Majorca from another time by exploring the old walled town and the Roman ruins of Ciudad Romana, including an impressive amphitheatre. The outdoorsy types can enjoy the rugged scenery while walking or cycling in the mountainous areas behind Alcudia.

Explore Medieval Majorca in Pollensa

Near Alcudia in the north is the attractive little town of Pollensa, which seems a world away from bustling tourist resorts of the south. Explore the narrow, medieval streets or soak up the winter sun on the beaches of Puerto Pollensa. There is an unpretentious atmosphere and the locals are welcoming. You can get a taste of rural Majorca by exploring the almond and olive groves that surround the town, as well as the jagged Tramuntana mountains. Popular activities in Pollensa include climbing 365 steps to the chapel on top of the hill where you can enjoy a wonderful view, taking a 3 to 4 hour hike on the scenic Cami Vell del Far that take hikers to stunning secluded beaches, or windsurfing at Puerto Pollensa. The wide variety of things to do make Pollensa villas the ideal accommodation choice for families and couples alike.

Be Entertained in Magaluf

During the summer months Magaluf is buzzing with young tourists who come for the world-class clubbing. The bars and clubs located on Punta Ballena (“the Strip”) have made Magaluf one of the most popular resort towns in Europe during the summer. However, as summer comes to an end and the young party-goers leave the island, Magaluf has somewhat of a personality change. From November to April the resort town transforms into a relaxing holiday destination for families with young children and middle-aged couples who want to take advantage of the beautiful winter sunshine in Majorca. There is a modern promenade that overlooks a 900m stretch of beach where you can sunbathe on soft white sand, swim in clear blue water, or if you’re feeling more energetic you can enjoy water sports like windsurfing, sailing or water skiing. Other Magaluf attractions include go-kart racing, the Western Water Park, the Pirate Adventure dinner show and the fascinating upside-down House of Katmandu.

With so many delightful towns waiting to be explored, a sparkling coastline and a festive atmosphere, it’s no wonder that holidays in Majorca are so popular. Winter is the perfect time to take a Majorca holiday. The summer crowds have gone and you’re bound to find a great last minute deal.