Much as we all enjoy living in Portsmouth, sometimes it is nice to get away, recharge our batteries and experience new places and to relax ! Choosing that perfect destination that pleases the whole family or even just yourself can be challenging so here are a few ideas to get you thinking ! Going away this summer? Whether you're tied to travelling during the school holidays or have more flexibility, find out where to go and when in 2014.
Easter falls towards the end of April 2014 and the dates mean that, if you book time off between Easter and the May Bank Holiday, you only need to book nine days off work for an extended break of 17 days that involves three Bank Holidays. The weather in the Med is warm in April, but if you want it to be hot you will need to head to Egypt, the Canaries ,the Caribbean or Mexico. Alternatively, destinations such as Goa and the Maldives make great options along with Dubai. As the last days of April approach, the first wave of charter flights to the Greek islands will begin along with seasonal departures to places such as Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Also, the first last-minute deals of summer will start to appear with 'late' prices being marketed up to 12 weeks ahead of the departure date. Cyprus and Malta are great destinations at this time of year for added warmth and it's an ideal time for city breaks in Europe as well. Look out for new flights to the Olympia Coast in Greece, which is now opening up as a new holiday area of the country.
The Med really starts to open up in May and many of the Greek and Turkish resorts see beach bars opening and restaurants preparing for the new season. Spanish and Portuguese resorts are getting ready for the peak in summer and you can generally enjoy great weather, quieter resorts and stunning spring colours across the Med. The Caribbean still enjoys good weather and it's an excellent time of year to visit Florida and other US destinations ahead of the busy domestic holiday season in the summer. The last week of May will be a very busy week for us as half term is the first big getaway week of the summer. If you can, avoid travelling during this week in order to find quieter resorts and better prices. City breaks remain great value and it's not too hot across Europe.
June is one of the best times of the year to go to the Med as the sun is shining and resorts are fully open, yet it feels nice and quiet ahead of the school holidays. If you fancy a break in northern climes, the days are longest in June with almost 24-hour daylight in Iceland, for example, and temperatures reaching the low 20s.
July and August
The school holidays begin in July and the entire Med becomes a holiday playground for people from all over the world. The weather is at its hottest, the sea temperatures are superb and the resorts are fully open to serve the holiday crowds. Spain and the Spanish islands, along with Portugal's Algarve, the Greek islands, the French coastal resorts and Turkey are busy as are the Croatian and Slovenian coasts, Cyprus and Malta. Be wary of the heat in Egypt, Dubai, Morocco and Tunisia at this time of year, though, and bear in mind that it's the start of the hurricane season in the Caribbean and Florida, which runs through until autumn.
In September, the schools go back and prices start to fall once you get past the first week of the month. This is ideal travelling time to find a bargain, with the summer heat cooling and resorts starting to get quiet. Be wary of Greece and Turkey where some areas start to close down ahead of the winter months, though. It's a great time to visit Spain, Italy and Portugal, and city breaks become popular again for many - although European cities can be very busy with a combination of holidaymakers and business travellers getting back to work after summer and school holidays.
For guaranteed sunshine, head to the Canaries, the Red Sea or further afield to the Maldives, Goa or Dubai. Alternatively, opt for the North African destinations of Morocco and Tunisia, city breaks in Europe or North America. Many resorts and hotels in the Med do remain open but the weather can be a risk and some resorts become very quiet. Italy and France in particular see businesses shutting down after the holiday season along with Greece and some Turkish resorts. However, this is the perfect time to bag a bargain flight or hotel from the choice of what's still on offer. With half term in the last week of October for many schools, expect prices to be far higher and with less availability, so avoid this week if you can.
Choosing the right destination for you and your family could result in the best holiday of your life ! If you can't decide where to go on your 2014 family holiday, here are a few ideas !
POPULAR FAMILY DESTINATIONS.
The Mediterranean is a mecca for British holidaymakers and the beauty, especially for those with younger children, is that you don't need to spend hours getting there. Most Spanish resorts and the ever popular Balearic Islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza are no more than two to three hours away by plane, while you can hop over to France by ferry in as little as an hour and a half. Even the Greek islands and the Algarve are accessible in around three hours. For a taste of the high life, head to Cannes or St Tropez on France's southern coast, or Spain's Marbella. If, however, your priority is having lots to do, a bustling resort such as Benidorm on the Costa Blanca or Albufeira in Portugal will probably prove to be suitable. If you are prepared to travel further afield, consider splashing out on a trip to Orlando in Florida, where the many world-renowned theme parks are sure to put a smile on your kids' faces. There are a number of additional flights from Virgin Atlantic and British Airways in 2014 meaning more non-stop departures to Orlando and the rest of the state from the UK.
OTHER POPULAR DESTINATIONS.
For relatively short flight times and exotic charm, it's hard to beat North African destinations such as Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Egypt's Red Sea region, for example, is a family favourite year after year thanks to its long beaches, relatively low prices and world-class watersports. With a wide range of accommodation, reliable summer sun and tasty, cheap local food, Turkey is also increasingly popular as each year goes on. Family-friendly resorts worth a look for your summer trip include Sharm el Sheikh and El Gouna in Egypt, and Marmaris in Turkey.
Being isolated from the rest of the world is one reason island destinations appeal to holidaymakers of all kinds. The good news for parents dreaming of escaping it all is that there are plenty of islands set up for family getaways. Along with the usual islands off the coast of Spain and Greece - including the classic Canary Island destinations of Tenerife, Lanzarote and Gran Canaria - the crystal-clear waters and diverse scenery of the Cape Verde islands have started attracting more and more families of late. Many of the hotels on the islands boast great kids' clubs and activities for all of the family as a result. Other lesser-known islands to bear in mind include Malta, which has a wealth of historical architecture, and Cyprus with its spectacular coastline and sultry climate. Paphos in Cyprus will be a winner with many families. For those happier in lower temperatures, meanwhile, Iceland offers natural hot springs, extreme sports and incredible wildlife. And no visit to the country would be complete without a trip to the colourful capital Reykjavik.
For a holiday with a difference, it is often worth going further afield. The good news is that many long-haul destinations are becoming easier to get to - even with kids. Phuket and Sri Lanka surged in popularity in 2013, and from Sri Lanka it is just a short hop to the romantic island paradise that is the Maldives. The new places opening up for those after a package holiday at the moment are Mauritius and Puerto Vallarta on Mexico's Pacific Coast. Both places offer great value for money, not to mention dreamy beaches and delicious local cuisine. With surprisingly short flights times of around nine hours, the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, St Lucia and Antigua are also well worth a visit. And the Mexican resorts in the Cancun area also cater well for families. There will be more non-stop flights than ever to the region in 2014 as British Airways has upped the capacity on its routes. For families who prefer the cities to the beach, meanwhile, Dubai in the Middle East is accessible in just six hours and offers impressive architecture and shopping opportunities galore - just be aware of the heat, especially in the summer months.
MULTI STOP CRUISES.
If deciding where to go on holiday is proving too much of a headache, why not book a no-hassle cruise that takes in several Mediterranean destinations instead? What could be more exciting for you and the kids than waking up somewhere new each morning? You can sail from Southampton on family-friendly cruises run by either Royal Caribbean or P&O, and there are a variety of itineraries from one to three week holidays in the Med and the Canaries to adventures on the Baltic, which is warmer than you may think in the summer months.
Britain is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches - if not the most beautiful weather - in the world. Cornwall, for example, is home to hundreds of hidden coves and surfing spots, while Bournemouth has an incredible seven miles of golden sand. Or, for fun beside the sea, resorts such as Blackpool and Brighton are sure to hit the spot. In contrast, the Lake District and the Cotswolds are stunning countryside retreats with walking opportunities and pretty towns and villages to explore. With their enormous choice of activities and fantastic facilities, UK holiday parks can also prove a great mix of fun for the kids and relaxation for you whether you want to escape to the countryside or the beach. UK city breaks are a great option for all of the family with fun attractions such as the London Dungeons and free museums and galleries all over the country where you can all learn something new.
A SELECTION OF POPULAR DESTINATIONS TO CONSIDER !
The Spanish islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza are all ready and able to deliver the classic summer holiday experience with no drama, no fuss and with maximum enjoyment. Head to Menorca for family-orientated, laid-back breaks on soft sandy beaches; for nightlife in the big resorts or quiet getaways in remote coves, then check out Ibiza; and for all-round holiday value, whatever type of break you want, Majorca has everything from happening party spots to secluded spots in the mountains - plus everything in-between.
2. The Spanish Costas
Whether you want luxury or bargain basement, Spain delivers. In 2013 it hosted more overseas visitors than ever before and its well-developed infrastructure caters successfully for holidaymakers of all types. Whether you opt for Costa Blanca, del Sol, Dorada or Brava - to name the most popular coastal areas - you'll find great value self-catering options, high-end luxury hotels with spas, villas, all-inclusive properties and simple pensions meaning you can tailor your holiday to your budget and needs. Daily flights from many UK airports make this one of the most accessible European countries for us, and Spain is a classic destination for a perfect beach holiday. 3. The Algarve
We love the southern coast of Portugal and have been flocking here for many years - but what attracts us? The friendly welcome from the locals, great food and drink, a huge range of golf course and spa hotels, an abundance of villas and apartments to rent, and some stunning beaches set in coves and lined with dramatic cliffs. From quiet, relaxing seclusion to busy party towns, the coast has something for everyone.
The Sunshine State is one of the most popular destinations for Brits, and families in particular head to the Orlando area for theme parks, shopping and fun in the sun. Couple this with a rest in one of the many beach resorts such as St Petersburg or Clearwater and you have a perfect combination of activity and lounging in the sun. And if you fancy something different, then why not consider a break in exciting Miami or even a stay and cruise to the Caribbean?
Over the last 10 years, the Mediterranean resorts in Turkey have become firm favourites for summer holidays. There's a huge range of holiday choices along the coast from all-inclusive breaks in the many resort style hotels to simple stays in family-run pensions. You can even hop on to a gulet and cruise the beautiful coastline for a week or two.
FIVE ALTERNATIVE DESTINATIONS.
The coastal resort of Agadir and the exotic city of Marrakech are beginning to attract Brits looking for somewhere with an added punch to their normal holiday. Agadir offers a heady mix of French and Moroccan influences and you can expect great food, great watersports and a relaxed family atmosphere. Up the ante in Marrakech by picking a hotel with a pool and choosing between lazing in the sun with views of the Atlas Mountains or heading into the old town to explore the sights and sounds of the Kasbahs.
With new flights on offer to the island, Mauritius is set to be popular with holidaymakers in 2014. This Indian Ocean destination has safe bathing, coral sands and reefs, amazing scenery and lots to see and do. And it completely delivers on the tropical island paradise theme. 3. Croatia
Years ago, we loved visiting Yugoslavia for its bargain prices and great beach destinations. And now we are rediscovering our love of the area with Croatia in particular picking up the most tourists. The Dalmatian Riviera and the many islands offer a huge range of resorts to choose from. Pine-clad hills, a mix of sand and shingle beaches, and a combination of Greek, Italian and Eastern European food along with cultural highlights such as Dubrovnik make for an interesting break.
4. Cape Verde islands
Situated around five and a half hours' flying time south of the UK, there will be no issues with jet lag on what feels like a long-haul holiday. The islands have heavy Portuguese, African and Brazilian influences with hotel-based holidays situated on glorious white-sand beaches. Many are sold as all-inclusive and the weather is sublime year round. These relatively undiscovered and unspoilt islands are great - so check them out now before everyone else does.
5. Costa de la Luz
Set on the Atlantic coast between the Portuguese border and the southern tip of Spain, this area is opening up as direct packages from the UK into Jerez are increasing. Alternatively, create your own break here by booking car hire and flights to and from Malaga Airport. Costa de la Luz is ideal for sun seekers, windsurfers and kite surfers as well as those who love big seas and blue skies. You can visit the nearby sherry capital of the world or take an excursion up to stunning Seville.
All in all,a selection of ideas to suit most people but wherever you decide to go,have a great time !
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An owner of Thebestof Portsmouth, I have lived in Portsmouth and Southsea all my life, so I like to think I have a good idea about what makes us tick. I am passionate about all things Portsmouth and Southsea,...