20 December 2018
With many of you looking ahead to next year’s summer holidays, we’ve asked our globe-trotting Travel Counsellors to share some of their top choices for 2019, whether you’re planning to enjoy new experiences in Europe or have further-flung destinations in mind.
One of Europe’s most diverse holiday destinations, Croatia is best loved for its sparkling Adriatic coast dotted with charming towns steeped in the history of its many rulers – Romans, Franks, Venetians, Turks and Napoleonic French. One of our favourite spots is Istria, with its coastal towns with red-tiled roofs, delightful inland hill villages and Italian feel (it shares the Istrian Peninsula with Italy) – don’t miss the divine pasta and truffles.
“As anyone who’s ever talked to me about travel knows, Croatia is my favourite place on Earth and I never grow tired of going back there on holiday […] It offers the potential for so many different types of holiday, it’s a shame to only visit there once. Believe me; once you’ve taken your first trip there you’ll be wanting to go back for more!
You could stay for a short city break and explore Dubrovnik or Split; have a winter shopping trip to the markets in Zagreb in the run-up to Christmas; spend time on pristine beaches; chill at laid-back cafes and chic bars; sail between islands or spend a week on a wooden live-aboard boat; have an adventure kayaking and climbing at Omiš or visit National Parks at Plitvice, Mljet and Krka.
Croatia’s got all my perfect ingredients for a great holiday - great fresh seafood, good local wine, crystal-clear sea, reliable warm weather, stunning local architecture steeped in history and friendly welcoming people.”
This archipelago ticks all the right boxes when it comes to sun, sea and surf but is also home to Spain’s largest national park (Tenerife’s Teide), has a compelling volcanic history and is peppered by authentic towns with pretty whitewashed buildings, where time seems to stand still. And each island – the main ones being Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote – has its distinct flavour, meaning there’s always a reason to come back for more.
“I can't recommend Lanzarote and particularly Playa Blanca highly enough - I know we Brits tend to think of it as a great spot for winter sun, but the islands have a relatively stable climate year-round, so even during the summer holidays it is still a great place for a family holiday or a relaxing couples' getaway.”
Having come back into favour in 2018, Turkey lures holiday-makers by virtue of being outside the Eurozone but also because of its gorgeous coastline, its breathtaking historical sites – ranging from classical Greek remains to palaces built by Ottoman sultans – and its fabulous food.
“I have been to Turkey about seven or eight times now. I just love it – the reason being that it doesn't matter where you go in Turkey (it is a large country), each place feels different. I love the hustle and bustle of the markets. I love the bartering for goods […] Food is wonderful, with lots of fish, chicken, fruits, pulses, salads, stuffed peppers, cheeses, local honey, baklava and of course Turkish delight, which you can even have for your breakfast!”
It may not be known as a summer holiday destination, but there are fantastic deals to be had to Thailand in late August and early September. Although it’s mid-monsoon season at this point, the rain comes in short, intense bursts, mainly in the morning, leaving you free to enjoy the beaches without the crowds after lunch.
“Thailand has definitely given us the confidence and enthusiasm to try something new and it is somewhere I would definitely go back to. There are so many different towns and islands where you could stay that you could go back many times and stay in a different place each time. Another great holiday to add to the list!”
Growing in popularity due to its mix of picture-postcard beaches, impressive ancient cities, incredible wildlife and adventurous activities, Sri Lanka is similarly feasible as a summer destination – the southern and eastern coasts do get monsoon rains in summer, but the majority of the country is dry.
“Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, killer surf, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food describe Sri Lanka. This is as brief a description I can give you for now on this amazing destination, one which I certainly feel is hard not to leave a piece of your heart in…”
Summer is also the time to strike a great off-peak deal in many parts of the Caribbean. Though this is hurricane season, the risk of being affected is small, especially if you head for the southern Caribbean: think Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.
“Aruba’s position means it is below the hurricane belt. With an average temperature of 30°C along with little rainfall, it makes for a perfect year-round holiday destination. […] For a small island it packs in a lot. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the beach, there’s snorkelling, diving (Aruba has some good shipwrecks offshore), sailing, fishing, 4x4 tours, to name just a few activities. There’s even a national park to explore.
What makes Aruba unique for me are the stunning white beaches scattered with the divi-divi trees against the backdrop of the sapphire and turquoise water. I couldn’t stop staring out to sea and quite often found myself transfixed for a moment or two!”
To book your holiday in one of these amazing destinations, taking advantage of our 24-hour duty office, contact your Travel Counsellor today.