If you’re after a culture-filled getaway this year, look no further than the Bulgarian seaside town of Nessebar. This small but mighty metropolis packs in more than 44 medieval churches, Roman ruins and traditional Bulgarian houses – so its UNESCO credentials are as good as it gets. It’s not just the amazing breadth of sights that’s turning heads, though. Make tracks for the seafront via the cobbled lanes, and you’ll find plenty of seafood eateries, a shingle beach and a beautiful harbour. Plus, Nessebar is just up the road from Sunny Beach, so it’s easy to swap sightseeing in the day for cocktail-fuelled nights.
It’s no surprise that Corfu's old town bagged World Heritage Site status – it dates back to the 5th century. As such, this stunning and bustling capital city is full of historical sights. The most memorable ones are Mon Repos Palace, where the Duke of Edinburgh was born, and St Spyridon Church, which is home to the highest bell tower in town, and the mummified remains of the island’s patron saint. You’ve also got two gigantic Venetian fortresses, which were once used to protect the island against Ottoman sieges. Elsewhere, you’ve got excellent seafood restaurants on tap and chic boutiques for fully-fledged shopping sprees – so it’s the perfect mixture of old meets new.
Dubrovnik’s old town is arguably one of the most beautiful places in Europe. It’s been dubbed the 'pearl of the Adriatic', thanks to its water edge location facing the Mediterranean Sea, so you can expect bright-blue sea views from the peaceful harbour. The old town is a blend of the last remaining Renaissance-style buildings and modern Baroque churches, and there are plenty of boutiques, bars and restaurants for you to explore. It’s the ideal place to visit if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, as well. You’ll get to tick off filming locations like Fort Bokar, the rocky cove of Pile and a clifftop fortress called Lovrijenac. And that’s just for starters.
If Cuban cigars, 1950s American cars and Spanish architecture excite you, look no further than Havana for your next long-haul holiday. This 500-year-old World Heritage Site is one of the most intriguing cities on the planet. Its cobbled streets are lined with pastel-coloured colonial buildings, good-looking plazas and Baroque-style churches, so it’s basically Instagram heaven. On top of that, you’ve also got cool cafés and bohemian bars where you can sip traditional mojitos and people-watch until sunset. It’s the friendly locals that really fill this place with charm, though – they’re said to be the happiest people in the world.
Here’s where you can find out about the best time to visit Cuba.
Cyprus is a tourist’s favourite destination for a number of reasons. Think romantic old harbours, mountain-top villages and glorious beaches. But the star attraction of the sun-kissed island is the 4th-century Tombs of the Kings. You’ll find these mysterious carvings about five minutes’ drive from Paphos’ old harbour, so it’s the ideal way to soak up Cyprian culture when you want to leave the beach towel. This UNESCO-protected necropolis is made up of Doric columns and frescoed walls, which contain underground tombs and chambers that you can explore. But despite the site’s name, no kings were actually buried here. In fact, it got its title from its grand appearance.
If you want to swap Florida’s world-famous theme parks for the wilderness, the Everglades is a great choice. This World Heritage Site is also known as the ‘river of grass’ thanks to the wealth of wetlands, swamps, lakes and grasslands that call it home. The national park is absolutely huge, covering more than 1.5 million acres of South Florida. Did we mention it’s the perfect place to spot crocodiles, too? More than 200,000 of the Jurassic-like reptiles live here, so you’re guaranteed to catch a glimpse of them. On top of that, you may also spot blue herons, panthers, black bears and turtles as you go. Cameras at the ready…
We think the Acropolis of Athens is one of the most breathtaking places to visit in Greece. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1986, and it was the first monument to be added to the list. This ancient capital city is dominated by 5th-century landmarks, including the world-famous Acropolis, which stands 150 meters above sea level – literally watching over the city. It’s also home to the jaw-dropping Parthenon temple, made from gold and ivory. The temple is dedicated to Athena Parthenos, a goddess symbolising the power and status of the town. Not only is this the largest temple in Greece, it’s made almost entirely from marble and took nearly 15 years to complete. If that doesn’t get you excited, we don’t know what will.
Here’s where you can find out about our cruise excursion to Athens.
If you’re thinking about visiting Italy this year, make sure you add Pompeii to your must-see list. You’ll find this historic city at the foot of Mount Vesuvius, around 40 minutes’ train ride away from pastel-coloured Sorrento. It was awarded UNESCO status after being destroyed by a mountain all the way back in 79AD, after a volcanic eruption left it all covered in layers of thick ash and smoke. Fast forward 2,000 years, though, and it’s nothing short of spectacular – albeit a bit spooky, too. You can take a stroll through the ancient ruins, where you’ll come across Roman streets that are full to the brim with shops, cafés, amphitheatres and temples for you to explore.
Did you know Mexico’s second most-visited attraction is Chichen Itza? This archaeological site was built by the Mayan people between 750 and 1200 AD, so its UNESCO credentials are as good as it gets. El Castillo definitely takes centre stage, here. It means ‘the castle’ in Spanish, and has 91 steep steps on each of its four sides. What makes it so special, though, is how twice a year, shadows create a serpent-like shape down its north staircase, so it’s really impressive. Elsewhere, you’ve got the Temple of Jaguars and macabre Tzompantli bench, where the heads of sacrificial victims were displayed. Chichen Itza was also recently named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, so it’s one not to be missed when you’re visiting the cactus state.
It’s no secret that Thailand is packed with stunning beaches. You’ll find the most unspoiled and hidden swathes of sand in a cluster of islets known as the Similan Islands . This other-worldly marine park sits in the Andaman Sea, which is just over an hour’s speedboat ride away from Phuket. There are 11 protected islands in total, however only four are open to the public. When you arrive, the diamond-blue waters and snow-coloured sand will literally leave you in awe – so remember to pack your camera. The Similan Islands are world-famous for being one of the top diving spots in the world, and you’ll likely spot triggerfish, barracudas, sharks, and nemo-like school of fish. The brightly-coloured coral reefs are completely unmatched in any other part of Thailand, too. Back on dry land, the most renowned attraction is an oddly-shaped rock formation, called Donald Duck Bay – which resembles the Disney character. Climb to the top of the rocks, and you’ll have bird’s eye views of the entire park, and panoramic views of the other surrounding islands, too. It’s worth noting that the best time to visit the Similan Islands is between the months of November and April, as the Thai government keeps the national park closed for the rest of the year due to the monsoon season.
Here’s where you can find out why Thailand isn’t just for backpackers.
With more than 1,000 mysterious towering islands to its name, it’s no wonder Halong Bay is a UNESCO-protected site. This place is one of the most unforgettable marvels in Vietnam, too. Day trips here will have you exploring forest-flanked coves, relaxing on quiet beaches and canoeing along emerald-tinted waters. Halong Bay was first declared a World Heritage Site back in 1994, and unsurprisingly still takes first place on most holidaymakers’ sightseeing lists in northern Vietnam. More recently, Halong Bay was the filming location, thanks to its ethereal scenery – some of the limestone cliffs reach up to 100 metres. With a peaceful location in the Gulf of Tonkin, it’s the perfect place to escape the concrete cities and the constant sound of buzzing motorbikes. We think the best way to soak up the views is an overnight cruise, where you’ll get to try out squid fishing and snorkel the crystal-clear water for yourself.
TUI SENSIMAR El Dorado Seaside Suites come with hot tubs in every room and a Mexican beach where you can book a couples’ massage.
There’s a pristine beach and traditional Vietnamese cuisine at the Long Beach Resort Phu Quoc.
Just a stone's throw from the Mediterranean Sea, TUI SENSATORI Resort Aphrodite Hills by Atlantica pairs an award-winning spa with a great choice of restaurants.
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