Loading......

Direct Line Holidays

[Report abuse]

Kos Special Offers

Mon, 01 Sep 14 17:04:13 BST

Book one of our exclusive deals to the magical island of Kos!

With almost 300km of coastline featuring crystal clear waters, sandy bays and quiet coves, Kos is a perfect holiday destination. From the bustling capital Kos Town, the party town of Kardamenda with its clubs and bars, to the more traditional and peaceful villages of Kefalos which still retains its Greek traditional charm and character or Psalidi on the east coast with its pretty beach and sprinkling of tavernas.

Exclusive Offers to Kos

Kos has it all, so call one of our friendly travel experts and book one of our exclusive deals now! 

These exclusive offers can only be booked by phone, so call  0800 011 4622 or  020 3368 6017

 
Lambi, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
3* Diamond Apartments
Self Catering
From
£299pp
 
 
Kardamena, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Selected departure dates available
7 nights
4* Akti Beach Club
All Inclusive
From
£399pp
 
 
Kardamena, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
5* Carda Beach
All Inclusive
From
£329pp
 
 
Psalidi, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
5* Kipriotis Panorama Htl
Half Board
From
£329pp
 
 
 
Lambi, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
4* Aeolos Beach
All Inclusive
From
£339pp
 
 
Kardamena, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
4* Mitsis Norida Beach
All Inclusive
From
£359pp
 
 
Aghios Fokas, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
5* Michelangelo Beach
All Inclusive
From
£499pp
 
 
Kardamena, Kos
Exclusive Holiday Deals to Kos
Departing Gatwick
Various departure dates available
7 nights
5* Akti Palace
All Inclusive
From
£499pp
 
 

 

These exclusive offers can only be booked by calling  0800 011 4622 or  020 3368 6017

Prices are correct as of 02/06/14 and are subject to change.

 

Zante

Mon, 19 May 14 19:54:47 BST

Low deposit holidays to Zante

Zante Holidays – An island of two halves

Zante (properly Zakynthos in Greek) is an extremely picturesque island, whose touristic southern and eastern beaches and surrounding fertile plains contrast starkly with the scantily inhabited mountains and wild coasts of the west and north. The capital, Zakynthos Town, provides some cultural highlights, as well as the pick of places to stay and eat.

The resorts are firmly the territory of package holidays, ranging from those aimed more at youngsters to extremely family-friendly destinations. There are also plenty of rooms and villas dotted around the island that can provide quieter getaways to independent travellers.

When to go to Zante

Visiting Zante is pleasant any time, even during the quite mild winters, but you will find very few places stay open outside of the April–October tourist season, apart from in Zakynthos Town. Try to avoid the peak summer season of late July to late August, when both prices and temperatures reach their annual peaks. Easter is a very memorable time to come because of the atmospheric celebrations and the early summer sees the mountains coloured by spring flowers, while the sea is still warm through September and into October. 

The weather in Zante

Zante is blessed with a sunny east Mediterranean climate and so daytime temperatures can climb to 35ºC in July and August and tip 30ºC anytime from April to October. Thankfully, the cooling Maestro winds blowing in from the west bring relief during the hottest months. Summer nights vary between 15–25ºC and rarely dip below 8ºC, even in midwinter.

The Ionian Islands receive more rain than most Greek Islands, especially during the winter, though it is not unheard of for showers to occur even in high summer. However, with up to 13 hours average daily sunshine, you can rely on getting a tan.  

Getting the best deal to Zante

Zante has a vast choice of package deals, many of which can be booked at quite short notice, especially as the recent economic situation has seen supply outstrip demand. Even in the August peak season you might find a surprisingly good deal, although prices will still be at their highest then. Restaurant and bar prices stay fairly constant throughout the season but the economic climate means it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled for special offers at any time.

Look out for our current best deals and last-minute holidays to Zante below. 

Airport and transport need to know

Zante’s airport (ZTH) is the second busiest in the Ionian Islands after Corfu’s, with many flights per day during the summer season. Although only 4km from Zakynthos Town, taxis charge a hefty €10 (£8), so it’s worth considering the 500m walk to pick up a local bus on the main road to Laganas. Taxis direct to your resort will vary from as little as €8 (£6.40) to nearby Kalamaki to €30 (£24) all the way to Alykes.

The island’s bus service, based in Zakynthos Town, leaves something to be desired. There are quite frequent services to Laganas and a reasonable number to Planos/Tsilivi but far less to the Vasilikos Peninsula or Alykes and practically none to the more interesting parts of the north and west, except for Volimes. Fares are all under €2 (£1.60), except to Volimes (€3.40/£2.80)

There are numerous outlets for car rental, such as Eurosky (www.eurosky.gr), though extra care needs to be taken on the winding mountain roads and unmarked coastal bends.

Between April and October, Zakynthos has a daily easyJet service from Gatwick, as well as charter flights from London airports, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Dublin, East Midlands, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle. Scheduled flights via Athens operate year round. 

Laganas, Zante
A selection of top resorts on Zante

Zante shares the same characteristic as its Ionian neighbours in having a stunning west coast, although it has less beaches on that side and they are mostly only accessible by boat. Consequently, all the major resorts are located on the sandier south and east coasts.

Laganas Bay boasts one the longest single stretches of sand in the Ionian Sea, centred upon the hectic resort of Laganas, one of Greece’s top four party resorts for UK youth, loaded with clubs and bars competing for your custom. Nearby Kalamaki is much more low-key and suited for couple and families. The main environmental drawback here is that the bay is an important nesting site for the endangered loggerhead turtle.

The Vasilikos Peninsula, which protrudes southeast from Zakynthos Town, has at its neck the resort of Argasi, which draws a mixture of young and older holidaymakers. It is ideally situated for exploring the rest of the peninsula, which contains some delightful sandy coves, none more so than Gerakas, another major turtle nesting ground.

The east coast to the north of the capital is home to the more family-orientated resorts of Planos/Tsilivi and Alykes, each of which offer a good range of watersports, watering holes and a variety of decent eating options.

Costa del Sol

Mon, 19 May 14 19:25:46 BST

Low deposit holidays to the Costa del Sol

The story goes that the Costa del Sol has been dubbed the California of Europe, but there again, so has the whole of Spain…and Portugal…and Nice in French Provence, although it might be stretching things a bit too far to try and fix the moniker on East Anglia, as Norfolk MP George Freeman did, but to be fair, he was talking about the abundance of technology in the area, not glorious sun and miles of superb beaches to enjoy it on.

Forget all that malarkey about 420 days of sun a year – everywhere in Spain has that other than the far north – but with year-round blue skies there is every reason for Spain’s southern shore to be called the Costa del Sol, the sunshine coast.

Whatever you want from a holiday, the Costa del Sol has it; one-hundred-and-ten mile

s of superb coastline with the warm, gentle waters of the Mediterranean lapping the shore, bling-full up-market resorts and homely coves for family fun, steamy summer temperatures and wonderful winter warmth. It beats East Anglia any day.

So if you are dithering as to whether the Costa del Sol is where you should be spending this year’s holiday, let me tell you why it is.

It’s not just beaches

As if the beautiful coast and enormous choice of beach holidays wasn’t enough, depending where you are on the Costa del Sol, it’s just a hop by ferry to Morocco and the exotic world of ancient souks and higgledy-piggledy alleyways of the hidden world of the Medina, the heart of traditional Moroccan life.

If your pleasure lies in rustic landscapes you are only a short ride from the traditional white villages of Andalucia, perhaps a visit to the sherry bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera, or maybe a day out to the ciudad de la alegria, Seville, the city of happiness.

Plenty of green to stroll around

There’s nowhere on God’s green acre that has as many golf courses in as close a proximity as there is on the Costa del Sol – at least not in Europe there isn’t anyway. From the elite Valderrama, ‘the yardstick by which all other golf courses in Europe are measured’, according to one knowledgeable enthusiast, to excellent standards at local council run courses, there is a course for everyone no-matter how handicapped their handicap or slim their wallet. More than fifty, and growing.

Horses for courses

You want a beach with buzz and a melange of ages and nationalities? Take yourself to La Fontanella in Marbella. A beach favoured by locals with plenty of chiringuitos (beach bars) serving freshly cooked seafood to drool over? Malága’s La Malagueta is just the place for you.

Whether it’s ‘Diva Devine’ on the sands or bucket, spade and sandcastles with the nippers, you’ll find your beach spot to soak up the sun. And there really is a ‘horses for courses’, because for two weekends in August the beach at Sanlucar de Barrameda becomes a racetrack with the full panoply of spectator stands, bookies pitches, paddocks and winners enclosure taking over the sands.

Nerja, Costa del Sol

Peace and quiet

This may seem a bit of a contradiction in terms as far as the Costa del Sol is concerned, but that doesn’t stop it from being true. When most people mention the resorts on the south coast they think of Torremolinos and its tempestuous bars or Porto Banus and the roar of Lamborghinis driven by blondes with wavy tresses and Fort Knox levels of gold dangling from chains, (and that’s just the men), but there are many delightful villages close to the coast where life is so tranquil that you are happy to turn the lights out at ten at night because you’ve had such a wonderfully lethargic day of doing absolutely nothing at all.

When to go

So if it’s so lovely, what’s the best time to go? Now that depends on what you are looking for, doesn’t it?

If you enjoy hot days on the beach or lounging by a pool, then the summer months between June and September will be the best time to visit, although the beaches will be busy.

During July and August the days are hot and dry, with daytime temperatures often scrambling well over 30C, and evening temperatures a lethargy-making 21C (and the height of summer is definitely not the time to be trekking in the mountains).

Spring and autumn are ideal if you like stretching your legs along mountain footpaths, as the days are still warm, an average 22C, with very little rain. Resorts are quieter at this time, although temperatures can reach 25C during April, about the same as the height of summer in the UK – if you are lucky.

If you like blue skies and tucking up in front of an open fire at night, the almost rain-free winter months are perfect; no crowds, no queues, but still with plenty going on. Expect daytime temperatures of 17C during December if you decide to go for Christmas.

But remember, high summer temperatures bring big summer crowds, and the Costa del Sol is just as popular with the Spanish, Germans and French as it is with the British, so if you can possibly take your holidays outside of high season it will definitely be to your advantage.

Getting the best deal

Many people are now choosing to visit the Costa del Sol during the low seasons to take advantage of the reduced prices. Avoiding the busy summer months will bring good discounts on flights and accommodation, and the stable climate means plenty of warm weather.

 

One way to get excellent discounts is to avoid the school holiday periods such as Easter, October, Christmas and the peak summer months, and you can often find a bargain if you book in advance. And don’t forget the ‘all-inclusive’ options, which can be the perfect way to have an economical holiday, especially if you are travelling as a family.

Find the best holiday prices available by checking our best deals below or browsing our late deals offers.
Marbella, Costa del Sol

Airport and transport need to know

There are direct flights from the UK to Costa del Sol year round from most city airports with a flight time of approximately three hours. Malaga Airport (AGP) is an international airport that includes a variety of bars, restaurants and cafeterias as well as duty free shopping, car hire and airport hotels. There is a taxi rank at Terminal 3, but you should get a quote for the fare because Malaga taxis aren’t metered.

 

There is a train station at the airport as well as the airport shuttle bus service to Marbella, with a transfer time of 45 minutes. Independently booking a private shuttle can save time and expense - fares for a private transfer are 17 euros (£13) per person to Marbella. Car hire is another economical option and can be booked independently online up to 24 hours prior to arriving.


About the author

Derek Workman has lived in Spain for twelve years, and has written about it extensively. Author of Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca and Small Hotels and Inns of Eastern Spain, the definitive books in English on the Valencian Region, he writes for various in-flight magazines and for the Costa Blanca News.

Top resorts in Costa del Sol

The Costa del Sol is famed for its beautiful beaches, and with over 150km of coastline there is no shortage of space on the soft golden sands. The diversity of the beaches is why this region of Andalusia is so popular; you can choose between quieter family friendly beaches or the livelier resort beaches. Costa del Sol beaches are clean and safe and many have been awarded the coveted European Blue Flag.

Torremolinos is without doubt one of the liveliest resorts much loved by families, couples and groups, especially during the buzzing summer months. Large beaches such as Playamar and Los Alamos are hugely popular during the summer but with six beaches to choose from there should be no problem finding a stretch of sand. Watersports are an option here including water skiing, scuba diving and jet skiing. The aqua park will keep the children entertained and golf is also popular here.

Marbella is known as a glitzy resort favoured by the rich and famous but available to everyone. With 26km of golden sand along the Marbella coastline this is the place to relax on sun loungers and enjoy the scenery at beaches such as Puerto Banus and Buddha Beach. The warm crystal clear waters are perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving or why not charter a private boat from the marina and enjoy a few hours of dolphin spotting.

If you are looking for one of the best beaches to escape the crowds then consider El Canuelo; a long string of hidden coves located near the town of Nerja. El Canuelo is sheltered by cliffs and has managed to avoid commercialisation. The soft sands lapped by the warm waters are the perfect place to simply relax before dipping into the sea waters to swim or snorkel.

Take a look at a selection of our great quality 4 star hotels in the Costa del Sol

Costa Brava

Mon, 19 May 14 16:41:41 BST

Low deposit holidays to the Costa Brava

Costa Brava Holidays - Fun in the sun on the 'Wild Coast' of northeast Spain

Two points about the Costa Brava to clarify:

  • It isn’t the whole the coast line of Cataluña as some people seem to think it is, it’s the hundred mile stretch of golden sands from Blanes, north-west of Barcelona, to Port Bou on the French Border, and
  • Barcelona isn’t on the Costa Brava.

Has clarifying those two points made the slightest bit of difference? I suspect not, but what you can be sure of is that the Costa Brava is a magic-box full of curvaceous coves, photographic pueblos, sandy shores, a sublime gastronomy, wines worthy of Bacchus (but be aware that as well as being the god of wine and winemaking he was also the god of ritual madness), and enough superlatives to fill a dilettante’s dictionary.

If you have ever thought of holidaying on France’s Cote d’Azur, move a few kilometres south to the Costa Brava, because the coastline is the same, the food is equally splendid, and you will shave enough off your holiday spends to splash out on one of Directline Holiday’s excellent weekend breaks.

Something for everyone

The rugged coast is an extraordinary landscape of mountainous terrain and beautiful  sandy beaches, so whatever type of holiday you are looking for, whether it be the family-fun centres of Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar -  the Costa Brava’s two most popular resorts with the Brits for decades for their comfortably-priced hotels, self-catering apartments and all inclusive holidays - or the tiny coves and spectacular bays girded by tumbling green hills, such as Tamariu or Llafranc, where nary a neon light glows in the dark, no mind-numbing music disturbs the night, nor jet ski drone curls your toes while you are lying on the beach.

And on the subject of beaches, you have probably the biggest variety in Spain, from the child-friendly, where kids can splash around to their heart’s content, to coves almost designed by nature for skinny-dipping.

Daliance with Dalí

There can be few people indeed that don’t know that Salvador Dalí figures heavily in the folklore of Figueres, but he wasn’t the only famous artist attracted by the sublime light of the Costa Brava.

Picasso and Chagall were also drawn to the area to capture its luminosity, and Cadaqués has been an artist’s colony for generations, and remains so to this day. You can explore the Dalí triangle - the home he built for his wife and muse, Gala, in Port Lligat; Castell Gala at Púbol, now a museum; and the Dalí Museum at Figueres.

A heaven for history buffs

The towns, villages and countryside of the Costa Brava are layered with the history of millennia; the Greco-Roman ruins of Empuries, the most famous archaeological site in Spain; the sixth-century Iberian settlement of Sant Sebastià de la Guarda; the narrow streets of El Call in Girona, Western Europe’s best preserved Jewish Quarter, where the last synagogue in the city is now a Jewish History Museum; the dozens of villages, such as Begur, that still follow the medieval layout of narrow, winding streets, and the charming city of Girona, with its magnificent 12th-century monastery and 14th-century Cathedral.
Girona, Costa Brava

Communing with nature

If you ever tire – momentarily – from skipping from one delightful beach to another, you can get back to nature at one of the many national parks in the area. Cadi Moixero, Cap de Creus, Montseny, the Emporda Marshes, and Garrotxa Volcanic Area, all have their own unique charm.

If all you want is a casual stroll, coastal walks along winding paths show you the ruggedness of the coastline and the drama of sea and shore, but if you really want to stride out, the Cami de Ronda is a coastal path that meanders the whole of the region. And if you are wintering on the Costa Brava, you aren’t too far from the Catalonia Pyrenees Ski resorts.

Taking care of the inner man – and woman

You can eat well in Spain, very well, but there are few places you will eat better than in the Costa Brava. Even if you are a confirmed meat-and-two-veg sort of person you should still try the superb fish, fresh from the Mediterranean on your doorstep and grilled to perfection. Then you can try the traditional dishes of Cataluña, wonderful roasts that set you dribbling even at just the sight of them, and rich stews so thick the ladle stands upright.

Airport and transport need to know

There are three main airports servicing the Costa Brava -  Gerona, Reus and Barcelona. Gerona is nearest but Barcelona has a much larger selection of destinations. Gerona is a more provincial airport, 12km from the city, with only a small selection of shops and places to eat. Unfortunately, many of the low-cost airlines are only operating summer schedules so you will need to check flights carefully if you intend to visit the Costa Brava from the end of October until March.

Car hire is still reasonably priced in Spain and can often prove more economical, especially for a family, than using a combination of buses and trains to get to your holiday destination. (Estimate around 50€ either way for transfer to the resort by taxi for four people.) And, of course, it gives you the flexibility for touring.

A regular bus service runs from Girona airport into the city, from where you can pick up trains and buses to the resorts. If you fly into Barcelona, the bus or taxi ride into the city will take around half-an-hour to the Estacion de Nord, or forty minutes to the Estacion de Franca, although the trains from here to Girona are faster. There’s also the ‘Barcelona Bus’ that operates between Barcelona Estacion de Nord and Girona airport or town. You can buy a 12€ one-way ticket on the bus.
Tossa del Mar, Costa Brava

When to go

Each season has its own charms. Spring is delightful, just the time for bike rides into the mountains and national parks or forays along country paths. Remember, though that Easter in Spain lasts the whole of the week, Semana Santa, so flights will be more expensive and hotel occupancy higher than for other dates either side of the celebrations.

July and August are, inevitably, busier, with more crowded beaches, fuller hotels, longer queues at restaurants, and tickets for flights getting snapped up earlier. If you are limited by school holidays, or for whatever other reason, make sure you book well in advance. But if you can take your holiday during the ‘shoulder’ months of June and September, you will be rewarded with only moderately cooler weather but with savings and easier access to flights, hotels and services.

While the UK is settling in for winter in October, the Costa Brava is still warm enough for occasional sunbathing and nice long walks. A warm jumper is all you need for evenings during the first couple of weeks of the month. From early November the Spanish will begin to wrap up warmly, although north Europeans can still be seen strolling around in shorts and T-shirts, lulled, perhaps, into a false sense of summer by the startlingly blue skies that rarely turn to grey, even during the winter months.

The weather on the Costa Brava

The northern Costa Brava is an ideal choice if you're looking for a cooler alternative to the intense heat of the southern resorts. The best time to visit is between May and October, when the average summer temperatures hover between 22C - 28C, and there's plenty of sunshine, between 6-9 hours each day.

Daytime temperatures reach 22C-24C in May and June, and rise to 28C during the hottest months of July and August, before dropping down to 24C in September, and night-time temperatures are comfortable, ranging from 13C - 19C throughout the summer months. The region's mild climate and sunny weather also make Costa Brava a popular winter sun for British holiday-makers.

Getting the best deal

Not only will you avoid the crowds if you holiday out of peak season, you will also get much better deals. Don’t overlook the all-inclusive options, because hotels need to keep their rooms full and you can get some exceptional deals if you aren’t tied to school holidays. But even during the higher season, an all-inclusive holiday could mean the difference between a summer-sun holiday or a weekend in a caravan in grey UK. Check the offers below and keep an eye on our late deals page.


About the author

Derek Workman has lived in Spain for twelve years, and has written about it extensively. Author of Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca and Small Hotels and Inns of Eastern Spain, the definitive books in English on the Valencian Region, he writes for various in-flight magazines and for the Costa Blanca News.

 Playa de Lloret, Costa Brava

The best beaches in Costa Brava 

The 160km stretch of dramatic coastline is filled with delightful beaches that line the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean, from award-winning sandy bays to tiny hidden coves. There are a huge number of fantastic Costa Brava beaches to choose from, but here are three of the best in the area.

Best beach for sunbathing - Playa de Pals

The golden sands at Playa de Pals extend for over 3.5km, and boast a backdrop of lush pine forests and picturesque coves at each end. The beach is 40m wide, so there's plenty of room for relaxed sun-worshipping on your lounger or a long uninterrupted nap under the umbrella, with a choice of convenient beach bars for much-needed refreshments just a few steps away. If you do have a burst of energy, Playa de Pals has lots of space for beach games and activities, and offers a variety of water sports. Do be advised, a section of Playa de Pals is 'clothing optional'.

Best beach for activities - Playa de Lloret

Lloret de Mar is the place to be for non-stop activities, entertainment and facilities in Costa Brava, and the youthful vibe of the resort continues along the beach. There's a host of things to do on the fully developed town beach, Playa de Lloret, from soccer and volleyball, to banana boat rides, windsurfing, kite surfing, water skiing, ski rafting, parasailing, scuba-diving, snorkelling and boat trips.

Best beach for isolation - Playa de Tamariu

For a little peace and quiet, head just a few kilometres north of Llafranc to the beach at Tamariu, and enjoy relaxed seclusion on this isolated stretch, which has so far managed to escape the development of other areas. The sheltered south-facing bay offers a wonderfully picturesque setting, with clean sands and sparkling water, and presents a welcome change from the crowded beaches of the livelier resorts.

Costa Blanca

Mon, 19 May 14 16:31:04 BST

Low deposit holidays to the Costa Blanca

Costa Blanca Holidays – Top value resorts on the Spanish Mediterranean

There’s no denying the fact that the Costa Blanca, particularly Benidorm, got some pretty bad press during the late 1970s and early 80s. This was the time of the ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ package holiday, ten days in the sun, all-in for £3.10s. (The name ‘Costa Blanca’ was actually thought up by BEA as a promotional name when they launched their service between London and Valencia in 1957. It cost £38.16s – about the same as it costs now, over sixty years later.)

But the tourism world has come a long, very long, way since then. The strength of the Costa Blanca lies in the fact that it has one of the biggest holiday return rates in Spain, and hotels, tourism authorities, theme parks and have-a-good-time businesses of all kinds are keen to keep it that way, as well as encouraging new visitors to the splendour of the White Coast.

So why should you choose the Costa Blanca for your holiday?

There’s an awful lot more to the Costa Blanca than just golden beaches.

You can have your morning dip in the sparkling Med in the morning and be rambling through mountain passes with the scent of thyme and sage in the air and barely a sound other than the breeze rustling the trees in the afternoon.

Lunch in a tapas bar in a pretty rustic village, dinner at one of the world-class restaurants in Dénia. As far as tourism authorities go the Costa Blanca stretches almost thirty kilometres inland, which allows holiday makers an enormous selection of days out and entertainment.

Life is one big party

The Costa Blanca has an enviable reputation for its nightlife; the bars, clubs, restaurants and discos that act like a magnet to the party crowd. But there is far more than the made-for-tourism party life of just dancing the night away.

When the coastline began to develop as a major tourist draw it attracted people from all over Spain looking for work. Many stayed and brought up families, often forming regional associations to keep the memory and celebrations of their homeland alive. At some time in the year you will be able to experience traditional fiestas from every corner of the country.

Locally, each town will celebrate its own festivals in a unique way; the Moors and Christians in Villajoyosa and the boisterous dawn attack by Barbary pirates; Alicante’s hogueras with its huge papier-mache sculptures going up in flames; Benidorm’s La Barqueta; the giddy parades of Carnaval and the joyful procession of the Cabalgata de los Rayos Magos taking place in almost every town and village. Each town hall and tourist office will have a programme of fiestas for the coming year, and it’s worth a short ride to the see the bigger ones.

Flavours to dine for

As well as bringing their regional fiestas to the Costa Blanca, workers from throughout Spain brought their local cuisine. As the region became more popular it attracted people from around the world, both as holiday makers and those looking for a life in the sun, who, once again, brought their national cuisines with them.

Perhaps apart from some obscure vegetable found only on a Tibetan hillside, you can sample the best gastronomy worldwide, and some of Spain’s top chefs have been drawn to the Costa Blanca for the freshness and diversity of both the local produce and the incredible array of imported foods, brought to satisfy the needs of international restaurateurs.
Costa Blanca, Spain

A world of wine

Alicante and Valencian wines aren’t particularly well known internationally, but if you can draw your eyes away from Rioja on the label you will find some excellent local wines, blessed by the soft sea breezes from the Mediterranean.

One of Spain’s top young winemakers produces prize winners at Bodegas Mendoza, a short drive from Albir, and the brother and sister duo of Armando and Francés Núria create some excellent vintages at their tiny, family-owned Bodega Parcent in the Jalon Valley. These and other bodegas in the area offer regular tastings.

The sporting life

With over two hundred kilometres of shoreline it’s hardly surprising that the Costa Blanca can offer almost any water sport available, from sailing and windsurfing to paragliding and underwater way-marked routes for scuba divers. But the sporting life doesn’t just end at the water’s edge. The sierras that rise behind the coast are a magnet for walkers who either base their holiday on exploring the mountains or make excursions from the beach resorts.

The Sierra Aitana has some of Europe's most testing free-climbing faces, and if you mention the name Costa Blanca to any professional cyclist anywhere in northern Europe, you will probably find he knows the region well, as it’s where many professional teams do their winter training because of the varied terrain.

There are some seriously complex golf courses to test you, but even if you are only vaguely aware which way around a club goes there are still plenty of places you can take a ‘stroll around the green’.

History within easy reach

It will probably surprise you just how many historic monuments and how much beautiful architecture exists in the Costa Blanca, and just how easy it is to get to them. In less than a couple of hours from almost anywhere on the coast you can be in Valencia City, the regional capital, to enjoy the ultra-modernistic City of Arts and Sciences, and the medieval barrio of El Carmen.

And while you are there you must try a paella, as that’s where it was invented, in the rice fields of the Albufera. For a mountain trip you can visit the weird and wonderful museums of the pretty hill-top village of Guadalest, where you enter the old town through a massive entrance hewn through the solid rock. It also has the dubious honour of having the highest cemetery in all of Spain.

For a longer delve into history the can explore the chain of castles that separated Castilla from warring Aragon before the mountainous inland and flat coastal plain became the Land of Valencia. Castles, cathedrals, Modernista mansions (the uniquely Spanish style that crosses over between art nouveau and art deco), with narrow, twisting medieval streets of historic town centres, it’s all there. Funnily enough, dear old Benidorm is said to having some of the best examples of urban architecture of the mid-twentieth century.
Villajoyosa, Costa Blanca

Weather wise

Mid-spring and late autumn are absolutely wonderful in Spain, with clear skies and warm weather, although it can get pretty heated from June to September. Late September and early October heralds the arrival of the gota fria (literally the cold drop) when incredible storms of hailstones, thunder and lighting and torrential rain suddenly appear – and then equally as quickly disappear.

Far from being a bad thing, they are an amazing example of nature at its wildest, and are wonderful to behold. The temperatures may drop during the winter months but the skies are almost always blue and cloud free, with many people spending the winter months away from their cold north-European homes.

And always remember…..

Wherever you are on the Costa Blanca you are never far from pristine golden sand and the lapping waters of the glistening Mediterranean. Of its hundreds of beaches and tiny coves almost forty of them fly the Blue Flag, Europe’s ultimate accolade for safety and cleanliness, and a fair number them also have Spain’s Q for Tourism Quality award.


About the author

Derek Workman has lived in Spain for twelve years, and has written about it extensively. Author of Inland Trips from the Costa Blanca and Small Hotels and Inns of Eastern Spain, the definitive books in English on the Valencian Region, he writes for various in-flight magazines and for the Costa Blanca News.

When to go to the Costa Blanca

July and August is the liveliest time, with lots of fiestas and festivals in the region. Beaches and nightlife are much quieter in June and September. Spring has gorgeous sunny weather and temperatures better suited to walking and touring. Late summer into early autumn has a very laid-back feel and very quiet beaches.

Amazing Benidorm is a genuine year-round resort with lots going on in the winter season. The Jalon Valley area is at its loveliest with cherry and almond trees in blossom in late winter. Coast towns like Javea and Denia are attractive destinations at any time of year.

Getting the best deal

The sheer amount of accommodation means few problems when it comes to finding cheap holidays in Benidorm and thereabouts. Elsewhere we recommend an early search for the best choice of hotels and apartments. Avoiding the school holidays always increases your chance of finding a bargain. We frequently offer savings for early bookers.

You should find great-value holidays to the Costa Blanca in spring and autumn. June and September are often significantly cheaper than peak summer. Late deals offer big savings for those with flexibility. Take a look at our current best deals and subscribe to our email newsletter.

Montgo, Costa Blanca

Airport and transport need to know

Most package holidays to the Costa Blanca fly to Alicante (ALC). Low-cost and charter flights depart from a wide choice of regional UK airports. Valencia (VLC) is a viable alternative for the Denia/Javea region. Murcia airport is reasonably close to southern resorts like Villajoyosa and Playa San Juan.

Alicante is a large modern airport with decent shops and bars. Regular airport buses to Alicante city centre take 20 minutes. There are also direct airport buses to Benidorm and Calpe. Transfers to the popular resorts take an hour or less.

Taxis are metered, easy to find and cheap by UK standards. Buses link resorts along the coast. The TRAM train line connects Alicante with Benidorm and continues on to Denia via Altea and Benissa. Boats ply the coast between Denia and Calpe.

Car hire is essential if travelling independently to the Jalon Valley or mountain villages like Benimaurel. A good coast motorway connects Alicante with Valencia.

A selection of top resorts on the Costa Blanca

The Costa Blanca offers terrific variety and plenty of genuine Spanish character. Resorts like Denia and Altea have established a reputation for quality tourism and fine dining. These are working fishing towns with considerable character. This picturesque region is known for its sparkling coves, relaxed family beaches, scenic coast walks and gorgeous mountain scenery. The southern section from Benidorm to Alicante has more conventional resorts based on long sandy beaches.

Javea is an attractive coast town perfectly placed for the most scenic coastline and the most interesting resorts. Javea is known for its quality hotels and luxury villas with private pools. A series of sandy beaches and unspoilt coves is complemented by a medieval old town and a working fishing harbour. Summer season nightlife is stylish and enjoyably relaxed. Boats ferry visitors to equally attractive neighbours like Denia and Calpe.

Benidorm truly deserves its legendary status. No other resort in Spain offers such extraordinary entertainment. Benidorm caters brilliantly to all age groups with a truly amazing mix of bars, pubs, nightclubs, discos, ballrooms, comedy clubs and cabaret shows. All tremendous fun. Benidorm is easy to get to and prices are remarkably cheap. Playa Levante and Playa Poniente are two of the finest sandy beaches on the entire Costa Blanca. Parents have easy access to top Spanish attractions like Mundomar, Aqualandia and Terra Mitica.

Benissa makes an atmospheric and relaxing base for an especially scenic stretch of Mediterranean coastline. Narrow streets are home to traditional shops and stylish restaurants. You are well placed for exploring the gorgeous scenery of the Jalon Valley. The town has a reputation for quality dining and has a blissfully calm atmosphere in the evening. Superb walking in the mountains. Classy rural hotels and apartments offer a relaxing alternative to the beach scene but remain close to the most interesting and varied resorts on the Costa Blanca.

Useful links

Take a look at a selection of our good value 4 star family hotels in Benidorm

Malta

Mon, 19 May 14 13:28:44 BST

Low Deposit Holidays to Malta

Malta

The sun streams down putting a warm glow on the creamy limestone carved into baroque curlicues or solidly built into awesome fortifications. Above is the bright blue of the sky, below the sparkling azure of the Mediterranean. It is an average day in Malta.

Malta is an ideal place for a holiday in so many ways. The sun shines for 300+ days of the year in this island nation that lies between Europe and North Africa. The sea that surrounds it is warm enough to swim comfortably from May to October/November and cleaner and clearer than almost anywhere else in the European Mediterranean. There are now six blue flag beaches and Malta is a Mecca for divers. 

It is incredibly easy to get to – under three hours from numerous UK airports – and everyone speaks English. There are no particular problems with health, hygiene, culture or crime. Malta is reasonably priced and has plenty of excellent restaurants (see cuisine in Malta and the country’s 10 best restaurants). What more could you ask?

Some extraordinary sights, perhaps? Malta has plenty of those too. In fact this tiny nation has the greatest density of historic sights of any country in the world. It has several World Heritage Sights including the whole of its charming capital Valletta, built by the Knights of St John (the Knights of Malta) in the 1570s. It is still very much their city of narrow streets overhung with painted wooden galleriji (enclosed balconies), hidden churches and elegant squares.

Malta’s culture goes back a lot further than the sixteenth century however: Malta is the unexpected home to some of the oldest freestanding stone buildings in the world – older even than the Great Pyramids. Built of limestone blocks up to 50 tonnes in weight, these are megalithic buildings up to 2000 years older than Greece’s famous palace at Mycenae. The remains of Malta’s unique temples all have World Heritage Status and several can be visited, across Malta and Gozo.

Little is known about the temple builders except that they were farmers who came from Sicily – visible on a clear day just a day’s sailing from Malta. They were only the first of the Mediterranean’s wanderers, traders and empire builders to land in Malta. Almost every significant power in the Med has realised the value of this island base with its stunning natural harbours – and each has left its mark.

The Phoenicians were here – and their ‘eye of Osiris’ is still painted on Malta’s colourful traditional boats. The Romans centred their rule on Melite (now Mdina) leaving remarkable catacombs around its walls with impressively carved tombs and underground dining tables. 

The Arabs came and gave many of Malta’s towns and villages their names, and strongly affected the language. Medieval rulers have left us the labyrinthine fortified walled towns of Mdina and the Gozo Citadel, as well as the layout of delightful harbourside Birgu (Vittoriosa) which went on to become the first capital of the Christian warrior-monks, the Knights of St John, when they were given Malta (for a nominal rent in Maltese falcons) by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1530.

Holidays to Malta

Following the Great Siege of 1565 in which the Ottoman Turks very nearly took Malta, the Knights constructed their new heavily fortified capital on a defendable peninsula. As times became more peaceful the Knights spent more effort on living well and decorating their city, turning Valletta into a baroque gem. St John’s Co-Cathedral is an unrestrained celebration of this time.

Napoleon put an end to all that and the British helped the Maltese shift him out in turn, leaving Malta in British hands from 1800 until independence in 1964. The incongruous red letter boxes and almost universal understanding of English attest to that, along with a very significant Allied Second World War legacy.

16,000 tons of bombs were dropped on Malta (four times what fell on Dresden) and the islands besieged until they had all but run out of food and fuel. There are several underground WWII shelters to visit – each with its own stock of stories – as well as the Lascaris War Rooms where General Eisenhower commanded the invasion of Sicily.

Malta was crucial to the Allies, serving as base for the Mediterranean fleet disrupting supply lines to N. Africa and in 1942 George VI awarded the entire population the George Cross – the highest civilian honour. The Maltese remain very proud of this medal. There are copies in several museums and the award is celebrated annually in Valletta’s main square. 

So there is no shortage of things to see and do in Malta. And when you have had enough action on the main island, hop on a ferry (just half an hour) over to Gozo. Malta’s little sister island is where the Maltese go for a break. It is calmer, more rural, with unspoilt countryside and sculpted coastal landscape, traditional villages, restaurants with great food and plenty of character, very friendly people and good beaches. It runs, residents like to say, on GMT – Gozo Maybe Time. It is the perfect place to relax.

Now that really is all you could need for an ideal holiday!

About the Author

Juliet Rix is a writer, editor and broadcaster. She is the author of Malta & Gozo, the Bradt Guide (new, fully updated edition, April 2013), the most comprehensive guide to Malta in English. Juliet travels widely and has written for all the national ‘broadsheet’ newspapers as well as various magazines and specialist websites. She has been heard, too, on the BBC and other radio stations. 


View Malta in a larger map

Weather

Malta has hot, dry summers – though rarely scorching as there is usually a coastal breeze – and mild winters, with occasional rain and winds. Even in January the average daily high is in the teens (centigrade).

When to Go

Anytime. There is no closed season in Malta. It all depends what you want. For lying on the beach, summer is naturally best. For sightseeing, spring and autumn are ideal. For walking spring is perfect. And winter is a good time to go on a budget as accommodation and flights are dramatically cheaper.

How to Get There

Malta is less than three hours flying time from the UK and there are flights from all four London airports and many regional ones as well as summer charters. Several low cost airlines fly there so prices are not too bad and in winter they can be positively cheap.

Airport Transfers

Transfers are easy and quick. Nowhere on the main island is much more than an hour’s drive from the airport and Valletta is under 30 minutes. There are direct buses to most resorts and fares are just €2.20. Most buses run at least every half an hour. Here’s the bus timetable. Taxis are readily available and fares from the airport are fixed (see Malta Airport website) or you can always hire a car.

More useful information

Take a look at a selection of our top 5 star luxury hotels in Malta

Corfu

Mon, 19 May 14 13:27:07 BST

Low deposit holidays to Corfu

Corfu Holidays – Golden beaches and glorious countryside

Corfu has been the favourite Greek Island with British visitors since it first dabbled its tours in tourism waters in the 1960’s. The beaches of Corfu are among some of the best in the Greek Islands - over thirty of them have been awarded the European Blue Flag for cleanliness and safety, and while it may be enormously popular for its beaches there is another side to the island just waiting to be discovered - romantic villages, picturesque deserted bays and beautiful green mountainous countryside. A holiday on Corfu is for everyone, from families and couples who want nothing more than a peaceful stretch on the beach or a romantic candle-lit dinner in a local taverna, to night-hawks who don’t get up until the sun goes down and club the night away. For lovers of nature, hundreds of trails criss-cross the island, allowing you to discover the Corfu’s charms, from the mountains and vineyards to hidden villages and unspoilt beaches. 

When to go

If you are looking for total tranquillity, empty beaches, and the appeal of quiet tavernas, May is the time to visit Corfu, decked out in its full spring greenery. It is the earliest time that most visitors arrive, due to the availability of flights. From the beginning of June the island comes alive, with a sudden surge of visitors during the half-term holidays, and as June crosses into July the island begins to buzz. Glorious sunny days make the golden beaches and warm waters a major draw. Mid-July through August are Corfu’s busiest months, and you will probably have to book a table at all but the remotest tavernas. If you are looking for a quiet holiday this is probably the best time to avoid at some of the busier resorts, to escape the children and large parties that dominate during these months.

Weather in Corfu

The holiday season begins in May, when you can expect daytime temperatures of lower- to mid-20’s and rain on at least one day a week. Evenings can be cool, so take a light sweater. By the end of June temperatures will have risen to the mid-thirties, and on the rare day it rains it will be warm rain, an enjoyable novelty for anyone from the UK. July and August can get into the low 40’s during the day, (high humidity may make it feel even hotter), so be very careful, and make sure children have an extra layer of sunscreen and are wearing a sun hat. Night-time temperatures won’t be a lot lower, so you might find it difficult to sleep if you don’t have air-conditioning. As September drifts through October, temperatures settle to the mid-twenties.

Getting the best deal

If you aren’t tied to fixed holiday dates, May and early June will give you the best opportunities for a good deal. The season is just beginning to move from its quiet winter months into the hectic summer. Don’t expect everywhere to be open early in May, although most places will be fully operational by the end of the month. You should also be able to get a well-priced flight at these times, as most of the airlines who service Corfu try to fill their seats. You can find the best deals by visiting our late deals offers.  Book early if you want to pay a low deposit.

Airport and transfer need to know

All flights to Corfu from the UK are seasonal (beginning of May to end of October). Outside these times you will need to go via Athens, which is an expensive option. All the budget airlines, (EasyJet, Ryanair, Jet2 amongst others) and a number of charter companies, fly from a broad selection of UK airports, Thomson Airways having the largest spread of departure airports, nineteen in all.

Tariffs for licensed taxi drivers are regulated by the government, and licensed taxis must display a rate card in the window or on the dashboard. If there is no rate card, proceed with caution and ask for the rate. There is a 1.75 Euro minimum charge, and rural taxis are more expensive for one-way trips. For example, from Corfu airport to Corfu town centre journey takes around 10 minutes and costs 13€ (£10.50). A minimum of 5% tip is expected.

Local bus services are pretty unreliable as far as time-tabling is concerned, and sometimes may simply not turn up at all. There is plenty of moped hire and while this may seem like an excellent way to see the island be very careful as you will not be offered a crash helmet, and mountain roads in particular can pretty rough and uneven.
Paleokastritsa,Corf

Top resorts in Corfu

Here is a selection of some of the top resorts in Corfu; from the best spots for all-night partying, to the ideal resort for peaceful, relaxing break, to the resort most suitable for a family holiday.

Kavos

The number one party holiday destination in Corfu, Kavos is famous for its non-stop nightlife. There are boat parties, foam parties and street parties, with resident DJs competing with one another through sheer volume. By contrast, the beautiful beaches are relatively quiet during the day, as party-goers sleep off the hedonism of the night before. 

Sidari

Popular with holiday makers who want summer sun, Sidari offers beautiful beaches and a lively nightlife. Even though it has a party atmosphere the village has managed to maintain much of its charm and is popular with families who prefer to stay slightly out of the more crowded central area. There is a wealth of entertainment, including quizzes, karaoke, themed evenings and big screen TVs for sports events and films.

Paleokastritsa

A favourite Greek beauty spot surrounded by olive and citrus fruit orchards is Paleokastritsa. It is said to be one of the most beautiful villages in Corfu. This is a peaceful resort with magnificent scenery and will appeal to anyone looking for quiet and calm. Paleokastritsa is ideal for families who want a laid back holiday with a choice of excellent beaches and good food served in cosy tavernas, but with the opportunity to explore traditional villages and ancient monuments.

Kassiopi

Once a fishing village, Kassiopi has become a major holiday resort on the island of Corfu.  This lively but family-friendly resort is particularly suitable for couples, friends and families with teenagers who want a sun and beach holiday with plenty of things to do in the evenings. The picturesque town centre and harbour area has some very good restaurants offering international cuisine. The harbour is where most of the traditional Greek restaurants can be found. You have a wide choice of beaches around the resort, and plenty of tiny, easily accessible coves.

Useful Links:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Corfu
http://www.justcorfu.co.uk/

Crete

Mon, 19 May 14 13:25:41 BST

Low deposit holidays in Crete
Crete Holidays - Sun, sea, myths and legends

Not all the best things come in small packages. Greece’s biggest island packs one heck of a punch within a huge 650-mile gilt-edged coastline, from long swathes of the sandy stuff sloping into turquoise waters, to dramatic mountain ranges harbouring tiny, timeless villages and a whole host of intriguing myths and legends. Whether you’re looking for vibrant or silent, romantic or rip-roaring and cultural or chilled, Crete has the lot. So for a holiday that combines the best of big island diversity with little isle charm, Crete should be right up your street.

When to go

Crete beckons any time of the year though by far the busiest months are when school’s out in July, August and early September. Having said that, there are also a growing number of island-lovers who are prepared to sacrifice a few degrees for a little more elbow room in the resorts during the winter months. In general the least expensive holidays in Crete can be found in November through May.

The weather in Crete

Crete has one of the best climates in Europe, with the mercury peaking in July and August, dropping a few degrees in May, June and September and remaining warm in April and October. The rest of the year can be chilly (though with plenty of warm days mingled in too), especially in the mountains and the north. The south of the island tends to have the sunniest disposition, with the mountainous interior experiencing frost and snow in the winter. Average temperatures in summer range from 29-30C in the daytime to 23-24C at night.

Getting the best deal

You can get the best deals on package holidays to Crete by avoiding the busy summer school holidays visiting in the shoulder months of June, early July and September when flight prices and accommodation rates tend to be lower. If you’re more interested in sampling the true taste of traditional Crete rather than lazing on the beaches, the winter months are and ideal time to visit and offer the lowest prices. To find the best deals check out the offers below or visit our late deals offers.

Airport and transport need to know

You can fly direct to Crete from many of the main UK hubs as well as from a number of regional airports where prices may be lower such as Bristol, Cardiff and Newcastle. The flight time is around three and a half hours. A number of scheduled airlines also offer indirect flights via Athens.

There are two international airports in Crete - Heraklion (HER) and Chania (CHQ). Heraklion is the biggest and by far the busiest and lies three miles east of its namesake city. If you’re holidaying on the west coast of Crete however, Chania is a better option if available, otherwise you face a transfer of two to three hours. Both airports have taxis available (check prices at the taxi stand) and a public bus service. Car rental agencies are also situated at both (remember to drive on the right!).

A selection of top resorts in Crete

Whether your idea of ideal holidays in Crete is spending long, lazy days on the beach, exploring the narrow lanes of chocolate box villages or bopping till breakfast in open-air nightclubs, there’s a resort for everyone on this diverse island.  Many offer shopping opportunities aplenty in pretty streets lined with sensational bars, restaurants and family-run tavernas. All provide picture postcard beaches, a warm welcome and an ambience unique to Greece’s largest island.

Malia might be known as party central in Crete but it’s not all about the young and trendy populating the neon nightlife venues. This popular resort just east of Heraklion has a less frenetic, more family-friendly side too. Although the new resort boasts one of the island’s best beaches backed by a vibrant strip of restaurants offering food from around the world, old Malia is a traditional village flecked with bursts of bright bougainvillea and retaining the flavour and charm of old Greece.

On the west coast, Chania is all things to all men (and women... and children!). As Crete’s second city you’ll find a treasure chest of Cretan culture with a hotch-potch of influences, particularly Venetian. Away from the sightseeing, the safe, gently sloping sands of spectacular Chania beach are great for families with young children. At night the harbour becomes illuminated with dozens of restaurants and bars offering everything from quick bites to delicious ‘meze’ feasts.

If you want a touch of elegance with your sun, sand and sea, you should set your sights on Rethymnon. In the shadow of an old fortress, romantic Renaissance buildings line a labyrinth of narrow streets in this old Venetian town and harbour. A palm-studded promenade border a glorious sandy beach that stretches for miles and provides long, lazy days of horizontal sun worshipping for chill-seekers or a profusion of watersports opportunities for the more adrenaline-minded.

Rhodes

Mon, 19 May 14 13:02:34 BST

Low Deposit Holidays to Rhodes

Rhodes Holidays – The most popular island in the Aegean Sea

Rhodes is a jewel of an island that once experienced will have you returning year after year. This island features some of the world’s best beaches and you can enjoy lively resort beaches and idyllic peaceful bays. Immerse yourself in the traditional Greek village atmosphere at the tavernas and restaurants in Pastida or step back in time at historic Lindos and Rhodes Town. Rhodes is a favourite with families, couples, and groups of friends who visit for guaranteed summer sunshine and activities such as golf, boat trips, water parks and fun fairs, and of course the watersports at the immense beaches.

There are accommodation options to suit every budget including package holidays to Rhodes, all inclusive hotels and self catering apartments. Rhodes will provide lasting holiday memories whether you are looking to experience the cosmopolitan city life of Rhodes Town, the vibrant nightlife of Faliraki or the idyllic beaches of Lindos.

When to go

Rhodes provides sunshine all year round but May through October will bring the hottest weather and is the most popular holiday period. Thanks to the size and amount of beaches on Rhodes there is never a problem with overcrowding, even during the peak months of July and August. If you want to experience a more relaxed holiday with warm rather than hot weather then consider spring and autumn. The low season months including winter are the best time to receive discounts on flights and accommodation, although school holidays such as Easter and October are usually the exception.

The weather in Rhodes

The climate in Rhodes is one of long hot summers with practically no rainfall and short mild winters. Daytime temperatures in Rhodes will hit 30C and over from June through September but similar temperatures are not uncommon during spring and autumn, although 20C is average. Summer evenings are warm at 22C and humidity levels are low, making for more comfortable holiday weather. Many people take extended winter breaks in Rhodes to enjoy the warm weather, and temperatures will be a maximum 15C with some rainfall.

Getting the best deal

The low season months during spring, autumn and winter will be the time to pick up the best holiday deals to Rhodes. Accommodation and flights come with discounts during these seasons and there will still be plenty of sunshine. Lower prices can be found if you avoid school holiday periods such as Easter, August and October. Great holiday deals in Rhodes are available during the summer if you book in advance or use our late deals offers for last minute holidays.

Take a look below at our best prices on offer and browse our late deals offers.
Symi, Rhodes


Airport and transport need to know

There are direct flights all year round to Rhodes Airport (RHO) from most UK city airports from May to October. Flights outside of the peak season are available but may not be as frequent; flight time is approximately four hours. Rhodes airport provides a bar, restaurant, cafeteria, banks, car hire and metered taxis. Taxi fares will be in euros and booking a return taxi will usually be less expensive than two single journeys.

Independently booking a shuttlebus transfer online is a good option and will be less expensive than a taxi. Frequent buses travel from Rhodes Town across the island but if you wish to explore then car hire is a good option. The main roads are in good condition with driving on the right. Car hire prices in Rhodes start at around 123 euros (£100) per week but shopping around online will ensure the best prices.

A selection of top regions in Rhodes

Rhodes is home to some of the best beaches in Greece and offers immense, lively resort beaches and secluded coves and bays. The north of the island tends to feature more pebble and sand beaches while the south is home to golden and even white sand beaches. Rhodes features the Aegean Sea to the west and the Mediterranean Sea to the east and these sea waters are exceptionally clean and clear. Many of these beautiful beaches have been awarded the European Blue Flag for cleanliness, water purity and the high standard of facilities available.

Consider the beach resort of Faliraki if you are look

ing for a huge 3km golden beach with the widest range of watersports. Faliraki is popular with younger groups who come for the best nightlife on Rhodes and the best beaches on which to relax during the day. Windsurfing, jet skiing, banana boats, boat hire and water skiing are all available at Faliraki and the immense water park is also located here.

The beautiful village of Lindos is one of the most popular locations on Rhodes and features sandy beaches such as Lindos Bay and St Pauls Bay. These beaches are well maintained with shallow sea waters that are ideal for families with small children. Days can be spent on sun loungers under the shade of a parasol and glass bottom trips can be taken to nearby Pefkos.

For beaches that are touch quieter than the lively resort beaches consider the northwest beaches such as Tholos and Ialyssos. These beaches exudes a more peaceful atmosphere and rarely become busy even during the peak summer months. The beaches here are popular with windsurfers and there are few beach bars but not enough to spoil the tranquil ambience.

Gran Canaria

Mon, 19 May 14 12:43:45 BST

Low Deposit Holidays to Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria – the chilled, yet warm, destination you can visit all year round

Nobody could ever accuse Gran Canaria of being two-faced, it’s got more profiles than an identity thief, says Matthew Hirtes.

From valleys low which are as green as Wales to mountains high which wouldn’t look out of place in Asia, Gran Canaria’s so much more than the sum of its famous resorts. 

But what resorts. By day, Playa de Inglés, neighbouring Maspalomas, and Puerto Rico further west offer the chance to acquire a natural, as opposed to fake, tan from January through to December. By night, their buzzing bars and clubs offer you the chance to party like it’s 1999. On repeat.

At just over 600 square kilometres, Gran Canaria’s more or less the same size as London, it’s not as multicultural as the UK’s capital city. However, it’s much more multiclimatic. When snow falls on the peaks of Pozo de las Nieves (Well of the Snows), locals rush to play in it. Whilst less than an hour’s drive away, surfers are enjoying a very different kind of white stuff: the island’s legendary Atlantic surf.

Geographically African, but politically Spanish, Gran Canaria’s located in the Atlantic Ocean. 130 miles from the coast of West Africa. it’s 777 miles to the nearest Spanish port of Cadiz. GC provides the meaty filling in the sandwich with Fuerteventura and Tenerife the not unsubstantial bread.

Travel back to the Stone Age with a visit to Artenara, in Gran Canaria’s Mid-West. At 1,270 metres above sea level, it’s the island’s highest municipality. And the locals have taken advantage of their natural setting, crafting their homes out of caves. Making for a non-cartoon version of the Flintstone’s famous Bedrock.

Gran Canaria, boasting 2,805 hours of sunshine a year, is a great place to ensure your RDA of Vitamin A. It’s also become a spa and wellness destination. Thanks, in no small part, to the number of aloe vera plants growing on the island.

Aloe vera, described as the wonder herb because of its versatility, tends to flourish in the northern coastal areas such as Quintanilla. As well as moisturizing skin, it lowers your blood-sugar level and treats body pains such as backache. Spas even offer aloe-vera wraps as one of their treatments.

Gran Canaria’s climate has long drawn health tourists, drawn to a free open-air spa. That explains its popularity with Northern Europeans fleeing their own bitterly cold summers. And so in Christmas 1957, the first plane load of package tourists arrived on Gran Canaria. A fully-booked TSA flight, departing from Stockholm, landed at Las Palmas Airport. The 54 passengers establishing the island as a charter-flight destination.

Gran Canaria has had its share of famous visitors, perhaps the most well-known travelling at the tail end of the 15th century. For in 1492, as the old school mnemonic relates, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Christopher and his crew departed from the southern Spanish port of Palos (near Huelva) on the 3rd August. 20 days later, in the naval version of a pit stop, they pulled into Las Palmas’ Puerto de la Luz (Port of Light).

Las Palmas, situated in the northeast of Gran Canaria, is the island’s capital. CC’s time on GC was mainly spent haranguing shipwrights in the capital to repair his fleet. He spent his days in Vegueta, Las Palmas’s oldest district. The Casa de Colón, actually the residence of the Spanish Governor of the time who invited Columbus to stay there as a guest, commemorates this occasion. You can learn more about Columbus’ voyage at their museum.

Another celebrity who travelled to Las Palmas, which has since grown into the ninth-biggest city in the whole of the Spain and largest in the Canaries with a population of around 400,000, was the legendary author Agatha Christie. After a miserable week in Tenerife where she complained of the dearth of swimmable beaches, Christie took the ferry to nearby Las Palmas, staying at the city’s flash Hotel Santa Catalina, so beloved of visiting royalty. She raved about LP, labelling it her favourite winter getaway. 
Whitewashed Agaete, now easily reached at the other end of the GC-2 motorway in just over half an hour, was another favourite of Christie’s. Where she no doubt delighted in the fresh fish dishes enjoyed al fresco. Her mealtime guests would have included her 12-year-old daughter Rosalind and secretary Charlotte Fischer. Plus an uninvited one as Spain’s largest mountain Teide, on neighbouring Tenerife, tends to put itself into the picture.


About the author

is a travel writer and author of Going Local in Gran Canaria: How to Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home. He writes about the Canaries and beyond for the likes of The Huffington Post and The Independent. He lives in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria with his wife and three sons. You can follow Matthew on Twitter @matthewhirtes or via his blog at www.matthewhirtes.com.


View Gran Canaria resorts in a larger map

Weather

The Canaries’ third-largest island offers fun in the sun all year round. However, the north tends to be colder, the east cloudier, the south warmer, and the west clearer. Making the south-west one of the most popular destinations with tourists.

When to go

There is no bad time to go to Gran Canaria, although February’s famous Las Palmas Carnaval coincides with the city’s rainy season. In spite of this, Las Palmas is the city with the most favourable climate worldwide. To generalize, families tend to visit in the spring break of Easter as well as for summer holidays. Winter, meanwhile, sees the depopulation of Scandinavia as its residents beat a retreat to warmer climes.

How to get there

Gran Canaria’s popular because it’s easy to get to from the UK. Las Palmas has even been dubbed the short-haul Havana. Several charter airlines offer cheap flights for the four-hour journey from the major UK hubs and regional airports. If you’re after a bargain, you’ll pay less if you visit between November and mid-December as well as March to May. With the exception of Easter which sees the prices rise along with the demand.

Airport transfers

Gran Canaria’s airport, despite having the code LPA, is located halfway between the capital city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the southern resorts of Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas. If you go for the hire-car option, it’s about a 20-minute drive to either. There are also regular Global bus services from the airport to points north and south. Expect to pay up to 30 Euros for a taxi to Las Palmas and, even though the distance covered is roughly similar, up to 40 Euros for one to Playa del Inglés/Maspalomas.

Take a look at our selection of the top 3 resorts in Gran Canaria

Algarve

Mon, 19 May 14 12:01:50 BST

Low Deposits to Algarve

Algarve Holidays – Golden beaches and glorious countryside

The Algarve has been a favourite with British visitors since tourism began in the 1960s, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe. Best known for its beaches and golf holidays, the Algarve has far more to offer than simply sun, sand and a stroll around the green.

The resorts along the coastline of central and western Algarve are family favourites, for the wide range of well-organised family entertainment, while to the east, where the waters are warmed by the Mediterranean, the flatter terrain and accessible beaches are favoured by older visitors. Lagos is where couples, groups and single go to party, while those looking for quiet and culture go inland, to the beautiful country towns of Silves and Monchique, where you will discover the history of Portugal and enjoy peaceful walks through its vast array of flora and fauna.

When to go to the Algarve

Only a three-hour flight from the UK, the Algarve is an extremely popular destination for a long weekend during the cold of a British winter. Golf enthusiasts play year-round, and you can enjoy autumnal country walks when the heat of summer has died down. Summer is officially 21st June to 21st September when, inevitably, beaches are more crowded, queues are longer and there are fewer deals on flights and hotels available. The Algarve is at it most delightful from the tail end of September through to November, when balmy evenings and light breezes mean you can still wear shorts.

Weather in the Algarve

Even during the winter months the temperature can be in the low 20’s in the sun, (although chilly in the evening), occasionally rising to a heady 40º during July and August. Spring sees temperatures of up to 20º in the shade, and, watered by the brief winter rains (around two inches a year on the coastal zone), the western region becomes a riot of colourful flowers in bloom. During the summer months there’s barely a cloud in the sky, with an average of twelve hours of sunshine each day – and you will be grateful for the cooling breeze coming off the Atlantic.

Getting the best deal

There is one golden rule when looking for a good deal – if work and family don’t restrict you to fixed dates then look outside the times when schools are on holiday. Fewer deals are to be had during Easter, the last couple of weeks of July and through August, and at Christmas, when most resorts are busiest. Bear in mind, though, that the Algarve is extremely popular with most European holidaymakers. Their school holidays might be different from those in the UK and can affect hotel occupation, although they won’t affect deals on flights from the UK.

As a year-round destination, the Algarve offers an enormous variety of holiday experiences, so try looking off the beaten track if you want a country retreat or look for all-inclusive deals in the main resorts. These can often be very economical, if you take into account your holiday spends on meals and drinks.

One of your surest ways of finding the best deals is to check those below or keep an eye on our late deals offers.
Algarve, Portugal

Airport and transfer need to know

Faro is the only international airport in the Algarve and most of the main resorts are within one hour’s easy drive.  Almost all the low-cost airlines fly into Faro from a number of regional and London airports. Ryanair, easyJet, Jet2, bmibaby, are all well represented from local airports throughout the UK, with Aer Lingus, Thomson Flights and Monarch all operating flights into the Algarve. http://www.faroairportsguide.com/flights.php

Getting about the Algarve is easy. Comboios de Portugal, the Portugues railway, is fast and efficient. Stations dot the coast from Vila Real de San Antonio to Lagos, but be aware that some of the small stations could be a bit of a hike from your hotel, so you may need to pick up a taxi or local bus.

Eva Bus (http://www.eva-bus.com) is the main bus service of the Algarve with regular services in most resorts and along the coast. Taxis are reasonably priced, and while fare rates should be displayed at taxi ranks and inside the taxis it’s best to check the fare with the driver. Expect to pay a 20% surcharge between 10.00pm and 6.00am and at weekends. Transfer from Faro to Albufeira approximately 35€ (£28), to Lagos 65€ (£53). Best to book.

A selection of top resorts in the Algarve

The Algarve has almost two hundred kilometres of pristine beaches. Seventy-four of them were awarded the Blue Flag in 2011.  Albufeira, with its combination of quaint old town and lively São João district, is one of the most popular resorts in the Algarve. The beaches of the eastern Algarve are basically one long stretch, so there is plenty of room for everyone, even during the height of summer. Albufeira’s two main beaches, the Praia dos Pescadores and Praia do Túnel, both have a good selection of bars and restaurants within easy walking distance. Pescadores, Fishermen’s Beach, is white sand and calm waters with few waves, so it’s good for swimmers and families. The water is usually slightly warmer than beaches to the west.

One of the most luxurious and prestigious resorts in Portugal is Vilamoura, which was specifically built as a leisure destination. The Michelin Guide voted Praia da Marina, Vilamour’s main beach, one of the ten most beautiful beaches in Europe and as one of the 100 most beautiful beaches in the world. If beach lounging is your style, stretch out on the sofas and canopied beds in front of the Tivoli Marina Hotel.

In the western Algarve, Praia de Rocha is one of the longest established resorts in the region, going as far back as the end of the19th century. The beach is enormous, one of the biggest in the Algarve. There is no shortage of water sports to keep you active, or you can take a boat ride around the two enormous rocks, the Two Brothers, that give the beach its name, (Rock Beach). It is also popular with families and kids building sand castles.

Useful Links:

Take a look at a selection of our great quality 4 star hotels in the Algarve

Marrakech

Mon, 19 May 14 11:11:53 BST

Low Deposit Holidays to Marrakech

Visit Morocco’s largest souk and Africa’s busiest square

Marrakech is one of the world’s most fascinating, sensuous and culturally rich cities – its spellbinding charms are certain to leave a lasting impression on you. A holiday here will grant you glimpses of ancient Morocco, allowing you to lose yourself in the medina’s labyrinthine streets and alleyways, to shop for jewellery, cosmetics, spices, slippers and leather goods in Morocco‘s largest souk. You can watch sorcerers, fire-eaters, snake charmers and musicians in world famous Djemaa el Fna - Marrakech’s central square - which is believed to be the busiest in all Africa. Known as the ‘Red City’ because of the deep red local clay used to build the original houses and walls, Marrakech has existed for over a thousand years. 21st century Marrakech is home to modern luxury hotels, as well as boutique hotels, family hotels in converted riads, and budget accommodation. Marrakech is served by Menara Airport (RAK) which is just 3 miles from the city.

Art, architecture, history and buzzing street culture

A holiday in Marrakech is almost certain to include leisurely exploration of the medina or old city with its wonderful mediaeval architecture. Visitors won’t fail to be impressed by the outstanding mosque at the heart of Marrakech - the Koutoubia Mosque - with its 203ft tall minaret dominating the city’s skyline. Other sites to enjoy include the brightly decorated Saadian tombs which date from 1557, the Mellah, which was once the largest Jewish quarter in Morocco, and the maze-like souk area with its tiny shops and vast community of busy craftsmen. There are several museums in Marrakech including the Dar Si Said Museum, the Marrakech Museum and the Islamic Art Museum at the Majorelle Garden.

Views of the High Atlas beyond the city

Marrakech offers more than a taste of bustling Moroccan city life. Your stay here should include a trip or two into the surrounding landscape to appreciate the stunning, snow-capped mountain range of the High Atlas, just 30 km south of Marrakech. If you are staying in Marrakech for more than a few days, try to visit the peaceful valley of Ourika, a green oasis of streams and waterfalls, where locals go to escape the city heat. From Marrakech it is also easy to visit Essaouira, the beach haven of Agadir, and the historic city of Taroudant.

Marrakech all inclusive holidays

The all inclusive holiday concept has become more common in Moroccan destinations in recent years. Marrakech boasts plenty of eye-catching hotel accommodation, combining good service, modern holiday facilities and traditional architectural styles. This amazingly exotic destination now offers the kind of village-style resort hotels you might expect to find in resorts like Agadir or more established beach resorts in Spain and Portugal. Most of these hotels are located on the city outskirts or in the New City. For a memorable luxury holiday, choose an all inclusive holiday in a Marrakech luxury hotel. Expect to find sumptuous spa facilities, classy restaurants, fantastic pools, exotic gardens and very attractive prices.

Marrakech weather

Marrakech enjoys sunny weather all-year round, with hot summers and mild winters. With a sub-Saharan climate, the summers can experience very extreme temperatures, with day and night temperatures varying considerably. The city sees distinct seasonal changes, with the average annual temperature being 18C.

Malta and Gozo

Mon, 19 May 14 10:52:15 BST

Holidays to Malta

The Maltese Islands – Soak up sun, sea, sightseeing and total relaxation.

The Maltese Islands provide a wonderful mix of sun and sea with scintillating historical sights and perfect relaxation. The main island is a place for activity and history with sun, sea, clubs and 7000 years of human history. Here you can see the some of the oldest stone buildings in the world as well as the elaborate Baroque legacy of the ‘Knights of Malta'. Malta’s smaller neighbours, Gozo and Comino, meanwhile take you right away from it all. They are the places to relax and enjoy some of the best swimming, snorkelling and diving in Europe. And the islands are only separated by a pleasant boat ride of less than 30 mins, so you can easily visit them all!

When to go

Summer is the time for sun and sea and when the coastal resorts really come alive; it is also busiest and most expensive. Malta is a year-round destination. Only tiny Comino closes for the winter and there are great deals to be had on Malta and Gozo outside the peak summer months. Spring and autumn are lovely for walking, especially on Gozo, and if you are looking to sightsee rather than swim, winter can be very pleasant too and by far the cheapest time for a Maltese Island holiday.

Weather in the Maltese Islands

Summers are hot and dry across the Maltese Islands, with temperatures regularly rising above 30ºC in July and August. Autumns are warm and sea temperatures stay good for swimming well into October and even November, although it can get windy.  Spring is fresher but still has temperatures regularly into the twenties and tends to be drier than the autumn. Even in January you can expect around five hours a day of sunshine and average daily highs of 15ºC.

Getting the best deal

The best deals to the Maltese islands tend to be found outside the peak summer months and particularly in the winter (except Christmas and New Year) when you can get a real bargain. If you want to travel in summer though, don’t despair, good prices can be found at this time too. If you can travel soon, check out our special late offers here.

Travel preparations for a holiday to the Maltese Islands  

One of the joys of a Maltese Island holiday is how easy it is! Here are a few useful things to know: 

  • The Maltese Islands have their own language but almost everyone speaks English
  • The currency is the Euro
  • Prices are mostly similar to or lower than UK prices
  • There are no special health issues. Just take an EHIC card  for free treatment
  • Flights to Malta take only three hours and depart from all over the UK
  • The time difference is one hour ahead of the UK

Sharm el Sheikh

Fri, 16 May 14 13:28:26 BST

Low Deposit Holidays to Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh Holidays – Incredible scuba diving, lively nightlife and fascinating cultural trips

Formerly a small fishing community of just over 100 Bedouins, Sharm el Sheikh has since grown into a tourism behemoth and one of the most popular travel destinations in the Arab world. The resort stretches for 35km along the Red Sea Coast, with a National marine Park at either end. The vast majority of accommodation in Sharm el Sheikh is offered on an all-inclusive basis, however those looking for budget accommodation will find self-catering accommodation in Shark’s Bay and the Hadaba area.

The resort has a lively, boisterous clubbing area in Naama Bay; full of bars, nightclubs, restaurants and cafes, while the Old Town provides an authentic Egyptian shopping experience with its souks, bazaars and markets. Long golden sandy beaches are found all along the city’s coastline.

One of the main draws to Sharm is the scuba diving. Some of the best dive sites in the world are found here, including Sharks Reef, Yolanda Reef, the Ras Mohamed Marine Park and Tiran Island. Combine this with jeep safaris into the desert, Bedouin feasts under the stars, camel riding, quad biking, trips to Cairo and Luxor, excursions to the impressive St. Catherine’s Monastery and a visit to Mt Sinai and you’ve got all you need for an action packed holiday.

This is a fantastic choice for exploring Egyptian culture, vibrant nightlife and a whole host of holiday activities.

When to go

For nightlife, sunbathing on the beach and enjoying activities such as camel riding and quad biking, October-April are the best time to visit Sharm. The climate over this period sees comfortable temperatures of 20-30C and plenty of sunshine. Christmas/New Year and Easter, as well as November and April are considered the ‘high season’ points, with the resort getting very busy and prices generally rising.

For those looking to scuba dive, May-September is the best time to come as there are more fish around and better water visibility. This is the hottest period, with temperatures often reaching over 40C, but has the benefit of cheaper holiday prices.

Those looking to visit in March and April should be aware that the resort can get very windy over this time, due to the strong Khamsin wind that blows in off the desert. 

The weather in Sharm el Sheikh

You can visit Sharm el Sheikh at any time of year. While the area has two distinct seasons – summer and winter – the winter period is as hot as a UK summer, if not hotter, and is arguably the best time to go. Winter is from October-April and sees temperatures of between 21-30C on average, with between 8-10 hours sunshine a day. The summer period is between May-September and can get incredibly hot, with average temperatures between 32-35C on average, and highs of 40C and above. Sea temperatures are warmest in July and August.

Getting the best deal

To get the best deal on Sharm el Sheikh holidays, you should be sure to book as early as possible. This is particularly true if you plan to visit over the peak times of Christmas/New Year, Easter, April or November. The best priced rooms in the most popular hotels will sell out fast, with Naama Bay and Sharks’ Bay especially popular. Try to avoid travelling over notoriously expensive periods such as the UK half term school holidays.

For cheaper budget accommodation, you’re most likely to find something in the Hadaba or Shark’s Bay districts. Otherwise, the majority of people will take all-inclusive holiday in Sharm el Sheikh. Despite the slightly higher initial cost, this can actually work out very cost effective as all meals and drinks are paid for upfront. Find the best prices we have to offer by looking at the deals.  For early birds, paying a low deposit at time of booking makes any holiday much more affordable.

Airport and transport need to know

As one of Egypt’s prime tourist destinations, and one that has been pretty much purpose built for mass-tourism, it’s perhaps no surprise that the resort has its own large, modern airport. The Sharm el Sheikh International Airport (SSH) is an attractive building that has been designed to look like a billowing Bedouin tent. You’ll find two terminals here, with a third under construction due to be completed by the end of 2012. The majority of UK flights will fly into the main Terminal 1. A wide selection of duty-free and luxury goods shops, bars and restaurants service the Arrivals and Departures halls, and you’ll also find cash points and currency exchange facilities.

Flight time from the UK to the airport is around 5 hours, depending on your departure airport. You can fly from virtually anywhere in the UK, including all the main London airports, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh, as well as smaller regional hubs such as Cardiff and Bournemouth.

Most people will have a transfer arranged for them by their hotel from the airport. If not, the majority of resorts in Sharm are very easily accessible from the airport, with journey times taking no longer than 25 minutes. The exception is Dahab, which is located further down the coast outside of Sharm city, and takes around an hour to reach in a taxi.

Taxis wait outside the Arrivals halls and operate on a fixed price basis. You should always agree the price before you get in, agree which currency you’ll pay in, and make sure you’re paying for the vehicle, not per person. Some taxi drivers will try to charge you triple the usual amount to get from the airport to your resort, assuming that you’re a ‘green’ tourist. You should pay around 25LE to get in to the centre of Sharm el Sheikh, and maybe 5LE or so more to get to more southerly resorts such as Hadaba. It won’t take more than 20 minutes to get anywhere in Sharm city proper.

You can also catch a minibus into town. Minibuses are small and blue and can be caught from the Peace Road outside the airport. It costs around 10LE and you’ll need the right change or thereabouts, as they won’t give change for large notes. Female travellers should dress modestly to avoid unwanted attention, as these buses are the favoured mode of transport for locals.

Another option for airport transport is to arrange private car hire for the duration of your holiday, with the vehicle picked up when you arrive. Companies such as Europcar will provide this service. It will cost around £250 a week depending on the model and size of the car.


View Sharm el Sheikh in a larger map

The best beaches in Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh has 35km of long, golden sandy beaches that are lapped by the waters of the warm Red Sea. There is a beach for everyone here, whether you’re after peace and seclusion, watersports or a lively beach bar scene.

Naama Bay is the largest, liveliest and most touristy beach in the area. Here you’ll find a pristine stretch of coast that is divided into public areas and private areas owned by the beach front hotels. You’re welcome to go on either, but hotels may charge you a small fee for using their sunbeds. There’s a long, attractive promenade behind the beach that is lined with hotels, bars, nightclubs, cafes and restaurants. Naama Bay can get very busy and has an energetic buzz about it, especially over the peak season. You’ll find a good selection of watersports, including banana boats, jet skis and kayaks.

For some of the best snorkelling in the area, consider visiting the Ras um Sid beach in the Hadaba area to the south. This is a quieter beach with its own jetty that takes you out over the spectacular coral reef. Don your snorkel and you’ll see myriad brightly coloured fish, manta rays, whale sharks and turtles. Scuba diving trips leave regularly for the Ras Mohamed Marine Park from here.

If you fancy some time away from the hustle and bustle and crowds, spend a day at the beautiful Nosrani Bay. This is one of the least developed beach in Sharm, with less beach bars and hotels and long, golden sands stretching into the distance. This beach is very popular with kite surfers and windsurfers due to the strong winds here.

Take a look at a selection of our upmarket family hotels in Sharm El Sheikh

Turkey

Wed, 14 May 14 19:07:33 BST

Low Deposit Holidays to Turkey

Holidays to Turkey – Fabulous weather, stunning beaches

Where to begin? Why is Turkey incredible? The simple answer – probably because it is incredibly complicated, the original mystery wrapped in a puzzle inside an enigma and so on and on. Each layer is fascinating and beautiful and alluring and indescribably different from the last. You can keep coming back here again and again, year after year, and not even begin to scratch the surface of what this extraordinary country has to offer.

A few basic facts to kick things off. Turkey has 7,200 kms (4,474 miles) of coastline (this includes the Black Sea and the Bosphorus as well as the Aegaean and Mediterranean), which offers a vast range of choice when it comes to holiday resorts. Over two-thirds of the country’s 80 million people live within 30 kms (18 miles) of the coast. Two of the country’s main cities, Izmir, on the western Aegaean coast, and Antalya, on the southern Mediterranean coast, are also two of the biggest summer sun destinations.

With so much space, Turkey’s coastline offers an infinite variety of choice to holidaymakers – white powdery sand or pebble beaches; tiny hidden coves tucked into the cliffs and accessible only by boat or busy beaches with sunbeds for hire, lifeguards, watersports and drinks on tap; shallow lagoons where children can splash about in safety or wide windy bays perfect for wind-surfing and other watersports. Do you like open scenery and long stretches of sand?

Head for the Aegaean coast or the eastern Mediterranean resorts such as Belek, Side or Alanya. Or do you prefer the drama of the mountains? Along the western Mediterranean coast, from Bodrum to Antalya, the mountains plunge straight into the sea. There are still plenty of beaches but they are generally smaller, spaced out along winding clifftop roads while hotels and resorts climb the hills behind.

There’s also seemingly unlimited choice when it comes to the resorts themselves. There are self-catering apartments, small pensions and boutique hotels, huge all-inclusive resorts and luxurious 5-star lodges.

Do you want to chill out with a good book on the beach or by the pool? Do you want a load of additional activities from tennis to yoga classes or massage on tap?

Do you want the convenience of a kids club while you hit the shops or do you want to hire a car and take your children exploring the ruins of the ancient world?

Do you prefer the ease of all-inclusive hotels, the adventure of finding a harbourfront meyhane (Turkish tavern) and exploring some of traditional cuisine or do you want to party the night away in a busy Bar Street or heaving outdoor club?

Hopefully the other articles in these pages – on Beaches, Resorts, Sightseeing and Things to Do – will help give you some ideas about which destinations around the coast will best suit you.

There really is something for everyone and everywhere you will find crystal clear blue seas, the warmth of the sun and a warm and welcoming smile.

 “Ho?geldiniz” – “Welcome”. You’ll see it and hear it everywhere.
The Turks are hugely proud of their country and love nothing more than to welcome visitors. In some ways, they remind me of the British. Like us, they think of themselves as a monoculture but are in reality a mongrel nation. Unlike us, they are not at all self-deprecating. They are more than happy to proclaim that Turkey is the best country in the world at absolutely everything, and don’t have much of a sense of humour when it comes to matters Turkish, so careful with the jokes.

Holidays to Turkey

Turkey covers a huge area and really is the divide between Europe and Asia. As a result, throughout history, it has not only been home to numerous native tribes but invaders from the Greeks to the Celts, Persians, Romans, Mongols, and the Turks themselves who have arrived over the centuries creating a true cultural melting pot.

Faces vary from the hawk-like bone-structure of the Kurds to the aquiline noses of the Greeks and the almost Chinese features of the Mongols. There are dark-haired, fair-haired and ginger Turks. At the fall of the Ottoman empire, the great national leader, Ataturk, was looking for a way to unite the people and decided that the Selcuk Turks, who had ruled in the 12th century, had been the best role models, so arbitrarily declared all the motley crew across the country were Turks – and so they have been ever since.

These days about 99% of the population are Muslim. Islam is generally a pretty laidback affair in Turkey. Many Turks drink alcohol and in the western resorts, you will see local women wearing tops with spaghetti straps as skimpy as those of the tourists. But you will see also quite a few women in headscarves – more than there used to be – it’s become fashionable and they are often real designer statements, tied creatively.

If, occasionally, you see a woman in full hijab – chances are she’s an Arab visitor. However, some wear them because of true religious belief and almost Turks are believers, however casual. At the moment, there’s a tussle going on between the western-looking middle classes and the religious right wing who are trying to drag the country slowly towards a less secular, more Islamic viewpoint. In this, as in everything else, Turkey stands firmly on the crossroads between East and West.

Its geography has also left the country with the most extraordinary historical and cultural legacy. Since the time of Abraham (just one of many Biblical figures who came from Turkey), this country has been home to great civilisations and empires – the Hittites, the Persian Empire, ancient Greece, the Roman province of Asia Minor, the Byzantine Empire, the Selcuks, the Ottomans, the Armenians, the Mongols.
Mark Anthony met and married Cleopatra here. This was the route of Alexander the Great’s conquest, the Silk Road, and the Crusades. The Genoese moved in to run the Empire for the Ottomans and the Italians and French arrived briefly and unsuccessfully after WWI to try and carve themselves an empire.

There are ruined cities, great castles, magnificent mosques and hans (inns) and hamams (bath houses). Turkey even gave us tulips, Turkish Delight, kebabs and Father Christmas. What more can you ask?


 

About the author

is an award-winning freelance travel writer and editor who also teaches English as a foreign language. A former editor of Traveller magazine, she has worked in print, on line, on radio and written and edited over 100 guidebooks. She first visited Turkey over 25 years ago and fell in love with the country. She has since created many guidebooks to Turkey for publishers including the AA, Insight, Berlitz, Globetrotter and Dorling Kindersley.

When to go

Turkey’s six month-long season, running from May to October, means there’s a broad choice of times to visit. It tends to be busiest during the school summer break and it’s fairly busy in June too, because of the fabulous late spring weather. May and September are quieter, and the season dies down around mid-October. Weather-wise, some areas get very hot indeed during July and August, with high humidity to match, ideal for real heat-lovers and beach fans but perhaps best avoided if you’re here for the culture and prefer your life a little cooler.

The weather in Turkey

Turkey is split into seven regions, each with a unique climate. On the coast it’s almost always absolutely gorgeous in the summer, with 13-14 hours of reliable sunshine a day and temperatures topping 30-34C during the daytime in June, July and August, 19-22C at night. The Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean coastal resorts enjoy lovely long, hot summers and mild, damp winters.  Bear in mind that July and August can get very humid as well as extremely hot.

Getting the best deal

If you want cheap deals and package holidays to Turkey, travel outside the school holidays. Easter and half term are busier than term time too, and higher demand drives prices up. It’s quieter outside the school holidays with more couples than families in smaller resorts and more clubbers than kids in the party resorts. Want to know more? Explore our regional, city and resort pages, enjoy our travel blog or take a look at our best current deals.

Airport and transfer need to know

There are five regional airports around the coast – Izmir airport, halfway down the Aegaean coast in the west, is best for resorts such as Kusadasi and Altinkum, although Bodrum is also feasible for these. Bodrum airport is actually near the town of Mugla, about 40 mins–1 hr’s drive from Bodrum (and up to 1.5 hrs from some of the more remote resorts on the Bodrum peninsula).

Bodrum is just about suitable for Marmaris, Icmeler and the Datça Peninsula but most of those holidaying here fly into Dalaman airport, which also serves Fethiye, Olu Deniz, Hisaronu, Dalyan, Kalkan and Kas. The airport at Antalya airport is about 20 kms (12 miles) east of the city centre, on the same side as Lara Beach and Belek, which are only a few minutes’ away. It takes long to get around the edge to resorts such as Kemer, in the west. Finally, some distance off to the east, Alanya airport is the newest and smallest of the resort airports, 30 mins’ drive out of town.

There are no regular buses or trains but there are Havas airport buses into the town centres, taxis and plenty of companies along the coast specializing in minibus airport transfers. These are easy to set up before travelling. Cost will depend entirely on the distance.

Taxis are not hugely expensive for short trips at around 3TL per km with a minimum fare of 3TL but the fare can mount up fast if heading out of town – and drivers can ‘forget’ to use the meter. Check that it’s on the meter before getting in or agree a set fare for the journey or excursion in advance (particularly if you need collecting again later).

 

Take a look at a selection of our top 4 star family hotels in Turkey

Self catering in Turkey

Many people choose an all-inclusive option when holidaying in Turkey, and while it’s true that you can get some great all-inclusive deals here, there is also something to be said for self-catering.

You can find some incredibly cheap self-catering apartments and villas along the Turquoise Coast in some of the most popular holiday regions such as Bodrum, Antalya and Dalaman. Have a look at our Late Deals Calendar for the cheapest prices we’re offering over the next few months.

Option to self-cater also gives a degree of flexibility you don’t get with half or full board accommodation – you can cook in when you feel like it or eat out at local restuarants, it’s up to you.

Food in local supermarkets is far cheaper than that found in the UK, and you’ll find all manner of wonderful, delicious ingredients. Be sure to visit an authentic Turkish butchers for your meat, a harbourside fish market for fish and the local street market for vegetables and other ingredients.

Travel preparation for a holiday to Turkey

A bit of planning can make all the difference! Here are a few handy tips to help you make the most of your precious break. 

  • Turkey is in the East European Time Zone, and it’s two hours ahead of Britain
  • The average flight time from the UK is 4 hours
  • Turkey’s currency is Lire
  • The official language is Turkish although many people speak English, especially in the resorts
  • The average price of a meal out in Turkey is around 20 Lire, around £6
  • British citizens need a visa. You buy a three month tourist visa at the airport before you get to Passport Control, for £10
  • Depending on the situation when you travel, you may need a course or booster against hepatitis A, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis B and rabies. See your GP or travel clinic 8 weeks in advance to be on the safe side. Travel vaccinations are not all free, it depends what you need, so expect to pay
  • The FCO occasionally release travel advisory warnings for Turkey. Check the latest on the Foreign Travel Advice website.
  • For official Turkey tourist information click here - Go Turkey
  • Book early and make your holiday more affordable by paying only a low deposit amount at time of booking


View Turkey in a larger map