Category: Beach and sun

Experience Thailand’s Songkran Festival

April sees Thailand in full party mode as they celebrate Songkran, a traditional New Year festival. Celebrated across the country from 13th-15th April, this water festival is a fun experience, with water pistols and buckets out in force. Here’s the best ways to enjoy Songkran and Thailand during April.

Songkran

This water festival is the perfect way to cool off during the heat of April in Thailand. Celebrated across the country, Songkran dates back centuries and focuses on cleansing and new starts. For fun and also symbolically, people will shoot water from water pistols or throw buckets of water over each other. Whatever you do, just accept that for the duration of the festival, you’re likely to get very, very wet!

The festival is a great way to immerse yourself in the Thai culture. When you’re not being drenched in water, visit one of the local monasteries to pray and help cleanse the statues and icons of Buddha. This ritual is believed to bring good luck to those who participate. There are also pageants and parades to enjoy and of course a Thai feast, with street food being readily available to feed the crowds.

Chiang Mai

Located in the north, the city of Chiang Mai has possibly the biggest Songkran festivities. Running for six days, there are many events and rituals to experience in the city. Start with the procession where all the sacred images and statues of Buddha from across the city are put onto floats and paraded through the city. Starting at Nawarat Bridge, the parade winds its way through to the temple Wat Prasing. Many of Chiang Mai’s Songkran celebrations are focused at the temple including the depositing of sand and flowers beside the river. You’ll also be able to enjoy music and dancing and of course, a good soaking!

Once the festivities are over, there is much to see and do in Chiang Mai. There are over 300 temples, including the beautiful Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which sits high in the hilltops. Spend the day exploring here, taking the tram up the mountainside to the temple. From the temple climb upwards to the Bhubing Palace and then further up to the Hmong Village to sample authentic village life. Chiang Mai is also a great place to see some of Thailand’s native animals in their natural habitat and there are many elephant  sanctuaries and farms to visit. I would definitely recommend the Elephant Nature Park where you can get up close to these majestic animals and be inspired by the conservation work the park is doing.

Bangkok

Surprisingly, Bangkok empties somewhat during Songkran as the Thais head back to their native towns to spend the time celebrating with their families. There are festivities through the city such as the Miss Songkran Beauty contest in the Wisutkasat district of Bangkok and the sacred celebrations at Sanam Luang where the Buddha image from the National Museum is taken. Head for Rattanakosin Island to experience the best of Bangkok’s new year celebrations by visiting the 9 sacred temples to witness the merit making rituals.

Thailand’s capital city is filled with attractions and must see sights. Take a cruise along the city’s canals through the Thonburi west bank and witness the floating market in Damnoen Saduak. On firm ground, you should also visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market which is popular tourist destination and the largest market in Thailand. Almost as popular is the famous Khao San Road  where you’ll find stalls, street food, clubs and bars as well as an electric atmosphere. For some culture and a sense of Bangkok’s history, visit the impressive Grand Palace which is still used for royal events to this day. Bangkok is extremely hot in April so I would spend a short amount of time here before heading off to the coast to cool off.

Check out our video from Songkran 2012.

Koh Samui

April is arguably the best time of year to visit Koh Samui if you’re a lover of the sun and hot weather, with temperatures averaging highs of 32 degrees. Sitting on the southern coast, Koh Samui is a large island filled with beautiful beaches which are the main draw for visiting here. For a beach set up for tourists, visit Chaweng and Lamai or alternatively, head for the west coast to find an idyllic sandy haven much quieter than those around the rest of the coast.

Koh Samui is home to many natural wonders such as the Na Muang 2 Waterfall and the iconic Grandmother and Grandfather rocks which you should definitely try to tour with a local to hear the legends behind them.  Other must see attractions here include the mummy at Wat Khunaram, the Big Buddha temple and the Secret Buddha Garden.

Reasons to visit Brazil this April

April is a fantastic time of year to visit the South American country of Brazil. This massive country contains some of the most vibrant and colourful festivals on the planet and April is has its fair share dotted all over this tropical landscape. You’ll find stunning coastline, unique wildlife and friendly people everywhere you go in Brazil.

Why go in April?

Weather wise, Brazil’s “summer” runs from December to March and this is when you’ll find many Brazilians explore their country. Tourist destinations can become very busy so if you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle as well as avoid the bloated tourist prices then April is perfect. Catching the tail end of the summer and diminishing crowds gives you the best experience without the hassle. Expect temperatures in the mid 20s but of course this depends which part of Brazil you’re visiting. The north is nearer the equator so you can a expect hotter more humid climate. The south has cooler temperatures and being in the southern hemisphere winter is from June to September. You can find out more weather reports for Brazil here.

Where to go in Brazil?

Rio De Janerio

Such a vast country does of course have many destinations worth checking out but you’ll most likely want to start your exploration in Rio De Janeiro. One of the most iconic cities in the world and with Christ the Redeemer looking down from Sugar Loaf Mountain its one of the most scenic too. Spend a day on Ipanema beach for the traditional Brazilian past-time of people watching as both the men and women here love to show off their sun-tanned bodies. An excursion to the base of the Redeemer statue is a must and if you’re feeling adventurous I can highly recommend the paragliding experience from Pedra Bonita that offers spectacular views you won’t get any other way. You’ll land on Pepino beach and the trip is usually videoed to keep forever.

Sao Paulo

While definitely no where near as attractive architecturally speaking as Rio, Sao Paulo is the beating heart of Brazil’s culture and the place where you’ll really understand what makes Brazilian’s tick. It has more than its fair share of world class restaurants and some great cultural centres worth checking out. I’d recommend a visit to Museu do Ipiranga (Paulista Museum) where you can find out about the rich history of Brazil and understand more of its future too. Its also architecturally speaking one of the prettiest buildings in Brazil!

Salvador

For the ultimate mix of colonial history and colourful Brazilian culture Salvador is a must. One of the most photogenic places in Brazil the old town here is a UNESCO World Heritage site and due to the city’s slave history during colonial times there is a large cosmopolitan feel with some of the country’s most famous musicians discovered here. The best thing to do in Salvador is take a walk. The streets especially in the old town are so colourful you’ll be sure to take a lot of photos. You can also take a guided tour that will teach you all about the rich history here and explain more about the unique culture you’ll only find in Salvador.

Getting to Brazil

There are daily flights from most major airports thanks to TAM Brazil’s biggest airline. Flight time to Rio is around 11 hours 40 minutes from London. You’ll also want to fly domestically to places like Sao Paulo and Salvador so you can maximise your time at each destination. I’d highly recommend 2 or 3 weeks in Brazil and April is a great time to visit. You can beat the crowds and still make the most of this amazing country.

Best time to visit Crete in Greece

The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete has long been a holiday destination of choice for many Europeans. It’s sleep villages and vibrant resorts give this island a wealth of all that you’d want from a sunny holiday. It also boasts some great weather even in the early months of the year. So here’s our guide to why we recommend Crete in April.

Heraklion

You’ll find most of the big resorts and hotels in the bustling Heraklion region. Famed for its vibrant nightlife, restaurants and some of the more popular beaches on the island. Its highly likely you’ll stay at one of the resorts here or even a boutique hotel in Crete. Its a great place to go shopping for some local items and there’s so many great restaurants along the coast here you’ll be spoilt for choice. Hersonissos, Stalis and Malia are the biggest resorts here.

Samaria Gorge

Known for its “World Biosphere Reserve”, Samaria Gorge is the perfect place for those looking for some easy treks, a nature excursion or other outdoor activities. You’ll find it in south-west Crete and its really easy to get to. There’s regular local buses or you can ask about excursions from your resort. The entrance fee is just 5 euros and helps to preserve this national park. Tours from  hotels usually cost around 20 euros.

Fun for the family

Crete is a great destinations for families and all the big resorts are well prepared for children. Many have family friendly pools and the large beaches offer a great space to let you kids run around. There’s also a couple of fantastic aqua parks here filled with pools, fountains, tubes and other entertainment to entertain the kids. The best is probably the Acqua Plus Water Park in Hersonissos. Easy to get to and costs 24 euros per person.

Traditional Greek towns

For something a little more laid back and Greek style head to the towns of Chania and Rethymnon. Chania has an abundance of pretty Greek architecture and if you’re looking to buy something local as a souvenir this is probably he best place on the island. It’s market is filled with trinkets and locally crafted objects. Rethymnon still retains its rustic and historic looks. The Venetian fortress here is well worth exploring and a walk through the town’s avenues and streets is a great way to unwind and get some exercise. You’ll find a few quieter hotels and guesthouses here away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas. 

Weather in Crete in April

April is a great time of year to visit as it’s generally a little quieter this time of year than the peak around july and august. Temperatures are usually in the low 20C with peaks around 25C and lows around 17C. While sunshine isn’t guaranteed all day every day you’re more than likely going to have a healthy number of days with sunshine and warm enough temperatures to sunbathe too. These comfortable temperatures lend themselves to exploring more of the island and getting some decent exercise too.

Easter family holidays. What to watch out for.

Easter is a time for a family get together and family getaways too. The extended weekend makes it a great time to take some time off without taking too many days off work too. It’s long been a time for short breaks in cities and a time to catch some early sunshine before the peak time summer months.

Travel advice

Travelling with family is a very different proposition to travelling with a friend or family member. There’s a lot more to consider at every stage of your holiday. For instance its best to book as early as possible to give you the widest range of options on accommodation, resorts, location, etc. The closer you leave it to the dates you want to go, the less options you’ll have if you have your heart set on one particular destination.

When booking flights pay close attention to the times they depart and arrive. If you’re taking young children with you then you may find that flights that are very late or very early will cause the most upset to them. Afternoon flights and mid morning flights are best.

Consider booking an all inclusive family holiday so that you have a lot less things to worry about when you arrive. Your entire family can enjoy the resort and its facilities without worrying about the costs of eating, drinking and activities (if they are included).

Research is a must when travelling with a family. No matter what age your kids you’ll want to know they’re catered for. Does your destination of choice have enough things to entertain both the kids and the parents? If anything happens what are the emergency services like, hospitals and means of returning home if there is a problem?

If your kids are old enough, involve them in the research process so you can gauge the kind of activities and tourist attractions they might be interested in. I personally love science museums and in my experience kids love them too. Every major city seems to have one these days so if you’re looking for a city break they’re a great way to see more of the city and keep the kids happy. While beach holidays are more about the resort than the country or town you’re in, it’s still worth escaping the tourist traps for at least a day and finding other activities.

Festivals and Events

One important thing to think about is what festivals and Easter events are happening in the place you’re thinking of going to. Easter is an important time especially in European countries with many major cities hosting special religious events. These can be quite a tourist attraction so if you feel your children would also enjoy the event its worth researching where is the best place for you to watch it. Equally festivals and events can be overcrowded and sometimes overly energetic situations to take young children in to. If you’re looking to take the family away on a city break and want to avoid crowds its worth checking to see if there are any events on that you may wish to avoid.

Transport

Depending on the type of trip you’re taking you need to be aware of what transport you can use while you’re there. Hiring a car is often the best way to get around especially when you have kids to  look after. Almost every hotel can help you arrange a hire car if you want one but you’ll often save money by booking online before you arrive.  Make sure they can supply car seats if you need them and if you have to drive on the opposite side of the road to what you’re used to, take extra care as it can take some getting used to.

If you plan to use public transport I recommend getting a tourist card that offers discounts over 24 hours, 48 hours or 72. You’ll be able to see a lot more in a shorter space of time and make the most of your kid’s energy before they start to complain of tired legs. Tourist cards usually cover entrance fees to museums too as well as subways and some overground trains as well.

Be prepared

Wherever you decide to go make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality. There are lots of ways to make the trip easier for you and your children. Involve your kids in the booking process too and you’ll stand a much better chance of every member of the family having a great time!

A guide to the real Ibiza island in Spain

Ibiza is notoriously known as the party capital of Europe, with millions of revellers every year heading for the island to enjoy the nightlife. However, there is so much more to the island than having a good time and with tourist season peaking from May through until October, April offers the perfect opportunity to discover the true Ibiza.

Ibiza Island

Situated off Spain’s Eastern coast, Ibiza is one of the largest of the Balearic Islands. Its location within the Mediterranean Sea provides it with a beautiful climate, with temperatures during April reaching average highs of 19C (66F) though they have been known to climb to 23C . Sunshine usually lasts for at least 8 hours daily though be warned there is a risk of showers during April, as with any European destination. Accommodation in Ibiza is rather varied, with hotels, resorts, apartments and villas all readily available. Packages have become increasingly cheaper thanks to low-cost airlines flying direct into Ibiza Airport.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Ibiza during Easter, then you should definitely head for Ibiza Town to watch the celebrations including processions featuring elaborately displayed floats. Other celebrations during the month include Festa Sant Fransesc on April 2nd and St. George’s Day on April 23rd.

Beachlife

April provides a great opportunity to enjoy Ibiza’s beautiful beaches in the peace and tranquility they provide outside of the tourist boom. Beaches such as Las Salinas and Cala Compte are always popular to visit, but there are many other options if you want to enjoy something particularly special from your beach break.

Visit Benirràs Bay close to sunset as it is truly one of the best places on the island for a magical sunset experience. Here you’ll find ‘God’s Finger’, a monolithic island which provides a spectacular backdrop for the sunset. For an idyllic day away from it all, I would definitely recommend visiting the beaches at Cala Llentrisca and Cala Llarga. Not only is the sand golden and the sea beautifully clean and clear, but you can choose between relaxing on the beach or exploring the waters. Both beaches are wonderfully untouched by tourism providing the perfect chance to relax.

Ibiza Activities

Ibiza’s coastline provides some great opportunities to enjoy the surrounding sea, with diving, snorkelling, sailing and surfing all available to try your hand at. Cala Nova is particularly popular for surfers whilst you can dive both natural habitats and wrecks off the Ibizan coast. It’s not all about the coast though as inland Ibiza also offers great activities to enjoy, including horse riding and treks through the northern part of the island.  Alternatively, take a driving tour of the island or exercise your lungs by taking a trip around by mountain bike.

Historical Ibiza

There can only be one place to start if you’re looking for the historic side to the island and that’s in the heart of Ibiza Town. Here you’ll find the historic port, the beautiful Inglesia de Sant Rafel and the impressive Ibiza Castle. Just outside of the town, you’ll find Sa Caleta which has a true historic gem to explore. Here you’ll find the ruins of a Phoenician Settlement which dates back to 654BC.

Cultural Ibiza

To truly delve into Ibizan culture, I would recommend heading away from the main island and taking a trip West. Here you’ll find the small island of Es Verde and Atlantis which sits opposite it. Both are caught up in famous myths and legends which mysteriously tie the two together. Many people believe that the uninhabited Es Verde is the site of the mythical Atlantis, was discussed in Homer’s Odyssey and is believed to be home to a giant. Ibiza’s actual Atlantis is quite a trek to get to but well worth it once you do. Here you’ll find a series of carvings plain to see in the rocks that surround the beach, with faces and dragons looking out at you.

Explore St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean

For a long time the thought of a Caribbean holiday meant either flying to Jamaica or Barbados for a week and lounging in the sun at a beach side resort. While this does sound pretty awesome there’s a lot more to the Caribbean worth exploring, St Vincent & The Grenadines is a country high on our list. Here’s why…

Beautiful islands to explore

With 32 islands to explore in St. Vincent & The Grenadines there’s  so much more here than just a beach holiday. The lush green tropical landscapes are just aching to be explored and there’s many ways to get about in this island nation. On the main island of St. Vincent there’s a hive of activity all over the island, from the bustling airport to the capital city of Kingstown. There are some great resorts here including the semi-private Young Island Resort just 200 metres from the main island. A short boat ride away and you’ll be checking in to your own private cottage, swinging in a huge private hammock and even taking a dip in your very own plunge pool.

Aside from the main island of St Vincent the most popular island to visit is Bequia (pronounced Bekway). Just an hour by local ferry to the south of the main island, its easy and cheap to get to. You can also fly there in just 10 minutes from various scheduled and chartered planes. Bequia has a small population of just 4500 but is big on Caribbean culture and heritage. Dubbed “The real Caribbean” its much less developed than its main island neighbour and you’ll get a much more relaxed and quiet experience here. There’s some wonderful hotels and resorts here to suit all tastes too. From the resort style complex of the Bequia Beach Hotel, with its wide range of cottages, rooms and villas, to the Boutique styling of the Sugar Reef Hotel with its beach front rooms and its plantation house rooms with stunning unbroken views of the surroundings.

While you’re there it’s worth taking a day trip or two around the island to meet some of the locals and sample some of the local food too. There’s no shortage of sea food here and the Lobster dishes are especially good. The turtle sanctuary is an interesting excursion and situation near the Sugar Reef too.

Trekking and snorkelling

If sitting on a beach or lounging by the pool bores you then you’ll find lots of great activities to get stuck in to here. No visit to St. Vincent would be complete without a trek up La Soufrière Volcano. Situated in the north of the main island its not only a challenge to reach the top but offers great views of the island on your way up. Be warned this trek is not for the feint hearted and requires a fair amount of fitness. Having said that you can trek at whatever speed you like, I was able to reach the top in 2 hours 30 minutes but I’ve heard its possible in an hour if you’re really fit and a leisurely 4 hours if you’re not. Either way when you get to the top the views inside the volcanic crater are immense. Having laid dorment since the early 1900s there’s lush vegetation and a few steaming vents of sulphur too. You’re guaranteed to see hawks and lizards along the way as well as some beautiful flowers and trees including bamboo forests.

If trekking really isn’t your thing then snorkelling sure will be. While St. Vincent is a mostly volcanic island there are still some amazing coral reefs worth exploring. None more impressive than the Tobago Cays, situated a few miles from Union Island near the private island resort of Palm Island. Admist the tiny beach islands is a shallow patch of water just a couple of meters deep, home to some beautiful and very colourful coral. Day trips from Palm Island  are the perfect way to explore them and you’re sure to meet some of the local wildlife too. As you drift around the coral you’re sure to see turtles, trumpet fish, lobsters and all manner of colourful fish. The shallow waters make snorkelling very easy even for beginners, just be sure to apply the sun cream in generous quantities as the equatorial midday sun is a lot stronger than you think.

Great weather in April

Speaking of sunshine, St Vincent & The Grenadines is not only blessed with beautiful tropical weather it also escapes the wrath of hurricanes that barrel their way through the Caribbean each year. While the tropical rains are a common occurrence throughout most of the year April is actually the driest month. Your days will be filled with sunshine and the occasional fluffy clouds to  give you a break now and again. Temperatures hover around 29C (84F) with fairly low humidity so while the days are hot its never too uncomfortable. Pack your sunglasses, sun cream and flip flops!

More information on St Vincent & The Grenadines

For the latest information on “SVG” head on over to the official Facebook page of Discover SVG, you can also follow them on twitter @DiscoverSVG.

This post was created during the SVG Live Liming Week, a blog trip project to explore the very best of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The best ideas for Mauritius holidays

Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is a small island with a big reputation for its paradisiacal setting and weather, festivals, religions and cultures. The cultural harmony and contrasts are especially impressive in a world where people usually seem to be at each other’s throats, and here you’ll find Catholic churches, Islamic mosques, Indian temples and Chinese Pagodas happily rubbing shoulders with one another. The island seems to have an enchanted, protective aura about it. In April the weather is still pleasantly humid and warm and there is only the occasional shower, and one of the highlights of the season is the colourful Ugadi Festival which sees in the Telegu New Year.

Ugadi Festival

The Hindu New Year gets off to a vibrant start on Mauritius with the exuberant Ugadi Festival on April 11th, when people take ritual purification showers and decorate their houses with rangolis and mango leaves. They prepare traditional meals such as Bevu Bella and the climax of the day takes place in hindu temples across the island when Panchanga Sravanam is celebrated. There are also various associated events and market stalls are set up for the tasting of traditional cuisines.

Museums, beaches and waterfalls

Mauritius is famed the world over for being an island paradise rich in natural beauties. The beaches are exceptionally fine stretches of white sand, as you’d expect, but there are numerous hidden treasures as well. Head out to Grand Baie Beach, which as well as being great for strolling and chilling out at the Veranda Hotel also has lots of local boats that you can rent to take a trip around the island and explore its coves and more secluded spots.

The National History Museum is always worth a visit. It’s situated close to Mahebourg town centre and played a prominent role in the local action of the Napoleonic naval wars, when both the French and British commanders of the battling fleets ended up here for treatment after an engagement. It contains loads of wartime memorabilia such as cannons, grape-shot and a pile of wine bottles from one of the British ships.

Tamarin Falls

You can take a local guide out of Henrietta to find these exquisitely beautiful series of waterfalls and take a swim in the lagoon at their base. They’re located close to the Tamarin Falls Reservoir and are a bit of a climb to reach, but well worth the effort. From Henrietta head for Curepipe and then walk uphill for just over a mile.

Blue Penny Museum

It’s probably fair to say that most visitors to Mauritius are not stamp collectors. The name comes from the Mauritian one and two-penny stamps, which are a cause celebre in the stamp world, the mere mention of which is guaranteed to get the heart of any dedicated philatelist fairly pumping with excitement. But you’ll be pleased to learn that there’s more to this museum than its impressive stamp collections, fine as these may be. There are also many great exhibits about the island and its eventful history, colonisation and settlement. It’s the best museum in Port Louis and is overflowing with antique maps, engravings and photographs from various periods.

  • Address: Caudan Waterfront, Port Louis
  • Opening times: Mon-Sat 10.00-5.00
  • Tickets:  150 MR adults
  • Website: bluepennymuseum.com

5 Best holiday destinations in March

Timing is one of the most important aspects in ensuring that you truly get the most out of your overseas adventure, so it pays to do a bit of research before you leave. Picking the right season not only gives you the chance to see your destination at its best, but also allows you to pack accordingly. Here are 5 of the best travel destinations for a March holiday.

United States of America

Spring is starting up in March throughout the USA, making it the perfect time to travel. From the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, there’s something for every style of traveller. Take a cycling tour through the scenic Oregon Coast, check out the relaxed living in Hawaii or take a famous American road trip to make sure you see the most from this unique and diverse destination.

Southern Europe

The warming effects of spring see Southern Europe awaken from its cold winter slumber. While still not too hot, the increasing warmth and length of days make March a great time to spend discovering the best that Southern Europe has to offer. The temperature is perfect to get outdoors and explore for the adventurous traveller, with everywhere from the Cote D’Azur to Sicily starting to feel the sure signs of spring.

Africa

Always wanted to experience the magic of Africa, but been deterred by the heat? March is the perfect time to discover this land of wild beauty and spectacular safaris. With the dry season keeping away most of the rain and the tail end of summer giving way to the cooler change of autumn, this is a great opportunity to see Africa without sweltering in the heat. North and East Africa are the best to visit during this time for perfect climate conditions. If you fancy climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. There’s also the stunning annual migration of wildebeest and zebra across Kenya from late March. Well worth checking out at least once in your life.

Australia

March is the perfect time to explore Australia. As autumn sets in, the scorching hot days and wild summer storms give way to clear skies and a cool breeze. With such perfect weather and ideal temperatures, you can start to explore everything that this stunning continent has to offer. The sun is still warm enough to encourage a swim on golden beaches or a stunning snorkelling session on the reef. Take a food and wine trail through Tasmania, explore the Snowy Mountains via horseback or discover the wealth of arts and shopping in any of the capital cities.

Caribbean

What could be better than relaxing on the sands of a pristine beach with the tropical breeze rustling the trees and a seemingly endless expanse of glittering water. The Caribbean is a top spot to travel to in March, however be careful to avoid the price spike and rush of tourists during the Easter holidays. For dive enthusiasts, the Cayman Islands are an absolute must-see, while Barbados offers the very finest in dining and boutique accommodation. Of course Jamaica is a popular stop, with many travellers including it on their travel bucket list.

These are some of the best travel destinations that you can visit for a memorable March holiday. Make your holiday one you’ll never forget by experiencing these spectacular travel locations at their very finest.

A British Seaside holiday in Brighton

Whitsun, born from the Christian celebration of Pentecost was traditionally the first holiday of the summer and in the Victorian and Edwardian era, a time for day trips to the seaside. In the 21st Century Whitsun is still observed with a bank holiday where thousands flock to one of the most famous and successful of the UK seaside towns. Here’s our guide to Brighton and why June is a great time to visit.

History of Brighton

Once a sleepy East Sussex fishing village Brighton’s fortunes changed when the son of George III, Prince Regent and later George IV decided to make the town his home. The towns popularity increased dramatically overnight and there began a massive transformation as many of the towns Regency crescents and squares were built. The extravagant iconic Royal Pavilion also created by John Nash. By the end of Queen Victoria’s reign the town complete with its Palace Pier was a seaside favourite. Today Brighton has all the seaside traditions on its famous front with all the fun of the fair, paired with the beauty of its regency buildings and the vibrancy of a modern city with shopping and entertainments to match.

Brighton Pier

The 1,722 ft long Brighton Pier was completed in 1899 and has been a top attraction ever since, constantly reinvented for the modern visitor and has all you would expect, from fish and chips and other food outlets to bars, fun fair rides and arcades. Admission to the pier is free and it’s open all year round except Christmas day. The gates open at 10am in the summer and 11am in winter. You can’t miss the Pier when you drive along the coast with the giant Ferris Wheel nearby.

The Royal Pavilion

The Pavilion is testament to George IV’s love of flamboyant oriental design and his desire to surround himself with important people he wished to impress. The  sumptuous Music Room where he indulged his guests with concerts and operas and the Banqueting Room where he served lavish feasts, show the richness of the interior he would have enjoyed with gilt, Chinoiserie, Regency silver and dragons and birds of paradise in the draperies and furnishings, all lit by quite superb chandeliers. The royal apartments are less opulent but beautifully decorated and furnished as they would have been not only in the regency period but later when Queen Victoria used the pavilion. The Great KItchen built to enable the grand banquets with the latest innovations is also on show. The Pavilion is found on the A23 north of the pier on the left hand side of the road.

Brighton Beach

The  pebble beach has a Blue Flag award and is great to relax on with the pier in the background. But the bathing huts of the Edwardian era have been replaced by a sophisticated beach sports area, galleries and shops in the lower promenade and cafe’s and restaurants all along the front. You can hire a beach bike or head to Brighton Marina or Hove Lagoon to take part in water sports such as windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and wake boarding. There are dog friendly areas of beach all year round and free sand play areas for children.

Shopping

If its retail therapy you are after you wont be disappointed. Just behind the beach front hotels lie The Lanes, some of the oldest alleyways in Brighton packed with antique and jewellery shops, tiny boutiques and pretty cafe’s. North Laine in near Brighton station is full of the coolest retro and ethnic chic in town with locally made jewellery and ornaments, vintage and young designer clothes and exotic oriental silks and muslins. Churchill square is a modern shopping mall with 90 favourite stores, while if you are watching your pennies you can head to the outlet village at Brighton Marina to hunt for bargains. Along with the traditional shopping area of Kemptown with its mixture of old traditional shops and new quirky gems there is probably very little you can’t find in Brighton shops.

Events in Brighton in June

As summer is hotting up the festival and event season picks up too. As you’d expect from this bohemian city you’ll find an eclectic mix of events. There’s the Mad Hatter’s Tease Party, a burlesque cabaret show and fancy dress party. You’ll also find famous pop acts like Jessy J and comedians  too including Eddie Izzard. For fund days out there’s the London to Brighton Mini run which ends at Brighton Pier with a big exhibition and demonstrations.

Holiday in an alternative Egyptian resort

Situated on the north Egyptian border, Taba is full of beautiful scenery and ancient splendour. With the Middle East on one side and Africa on the other, the town is also lined by the waters of the Gulf of Aqaba and benefits from soft golden sands.

Not well-known as a holiday destination, Taba enjoys a quieter existence than other Egyptian resorts such as Sharm El Sheikh and Luxor. This means you will escape the crowds while still enjoying a great location for exploring more of this spectacular country.

The best time to visit Egypt is outside of the summer months, as the hot arid desert climate can be too much for tourists. Between the months of October and May are suggested so a visit in April would be perfect. You can expect lows of 18˚C, to highs of 30˚C with an average temperature of 24˚C, so feel free to pack your skimpy beachwear.

Taba also boasts a 70 kilometre stretch of coastline from Taba town to Nuweiba and is considered one of the best beaches of the Red Sea. With bays, coves, lagoons and an island in the vicinity, it is a slice of paradise.

With April not being part of the peak season for Egypt, you will be able to find a great deal on your getaway.

Pharaoh’s Island

Just a 30-minute ferry ride from the town, is the island of Pharaoh which attracts many divers because of the spectacular coral reef and marine life surrounding it, including the Picasso Trigger Fish. And when you tire of the warm and inviting turquoise waters you can head inland to visit the impressive 12th century fortress named Castle of Salah ad-Din. The island was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2003 and is a great way to spend half a day on your trip.

Jerusalem

High in the history and religion stakes is the day-trip to the city of Jerusalem. Dating back 4,000 years it is crammed with churches, temples and mosques and while in Taba you can book yourself on a fantastic day out packed with sights to see. Starting out early you will drive to Israel, through the Negev Desert with a stop off to the lowest place on Earth – The Dead Sea. Here you can float in the waters packed with minerals after you cover yourself in the mud, said to have therapeutic powers. The next stop is Jerusalem where you will see:

  • The breath-taking views at the Mount of Olives
  • The Church of Sepulchre (built where Christ was crucified and buried)
  • The Wailing Wall and Dome of the Rock
  • Follow in the footsteps of Christ as he carried his cross along the Via Dolorosa
  • The haunting garden of Gethsemane
  • The Last Supper Room at Mount Zion
  • Prices equate to £109 for adults and £69 for children aged 2-11
  • Discover more about Jerusalem here

Seascope Adventure

If squeezing yourself into a diving suit doesn’t sound up your street, there is a way to see the spectacular marine life of Taba without a drop of water on you. The Seascope Adventure is a glass-sided boat with a very deep hull where you can enjoy the colourful fish of the area from the comfort of your seat. Three metres under the surface, you are transported in amongst the colourful creatures including eels, rays, clownfish, catfish and starfish to name but a few. The experience lasts about an hour and a half and is a must-do if you aren’t planning on diving or snorkelling.

A Night in the Sinai Desert

Taba town is backed by the Sinai Mountains and while here you can travel into the desert to enjoy an authentic day and evening there. Leaving behind civilisation you will drive into the sun-streaked mountains and dunes to see the arid landscape first-hand. You will be treated to a traditional Bedouin dinner in a magnificent tent enjoying the hospitality of the tribespeople. Then you will receive expert guidance as you observe and photograph the heavens. With computerised telescopes you can the night’s sky up-close and personal in the silent and dark desert.

  • Prices equate to £39 for adults and £20 for children
  • Discover more about the Sinai Desert here

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