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Category Archive: Attractions

A travel guide to lesser known attractions in the UK

british-bagpipeMost travellers who plan to visit the United Kingdom for the first time have in mind a dozen or so places or attractions in the UK that they would like to see.

Some very well-known tourist spots are around London, the Big Ben, the Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, etc.

But, if you really want to see and experience the true British culture and hospitality of which the Great Albion is well known, you have to leave London behind and become a traveller not a tourist!

First of all get yourself a standard BritRail GB Pass for 194.00 pounds, which is valid for eight days or if you are on a budget a National Express Brit Xplorer pass for 79.00 pounds which is valid for week.

Either of them will do and they will save you a fortune. Now you can set off and discover some of Britain’s hidden gems.

Barnard castle

Quite often when we talk about famous British castles, the Alnwick castle comes first, obviously the Harry Potter, movie has done a lot to make this magnificent castle the first choices for many travellers. Almost a million visitors went to Alnwick castle last year.

Barnard Castle 2016

However, if you wish to escape the crowds the little-know Barnard castle on the north of England is highly recommended. This 12th-century castle provides an amazing view of the river Tees. On the north east of Barnard castle is the city and county town of Durham, and on the east is the market town of Darlington.

Barnard castle is also the ideal starting point for exploring the Lake District. But before you head to the Lake District, check out the Bowes Museum which is just 15 minutes’ walk to the west of Barnard castle. So what are you waiting for? Add it to your list!

Dunwich Village

Only a few hours away by rail, Dunwich is the ideal destination for a short trip or a long weekend away from London. Dunwich during the Anglo-Saxon period was a major trading centre with a very busy commercial harbour.

Unfortunately the unpredictable weather conditions and ferocious storms that hit the East Anglian coast forced its inhabitants to evacuate the town on a numerous occasions through the centuries.

Due to coastal erosion Dunwich’s population has been forced to relocate and these days less than 200 people live in Dunwich.

Lesser known attractions in the UK - Dunwich heath 2016

Nevertheless, the natural beauty of the coastal lowland heath attracts many, nature enthusiasts, bird watchers and walkers.

If all that walking makes you feel a little peckish, head towards the Coastguard cottages, there you will find a small café that serves tea and freshly ground coffee with a wide selection of delicious homemade cakes.

Next door you will find the Dunwich Heath souvenirs shop to purchase some souvenirs and gifts for the family and friends back home.

the-ship-inn-hotel-dunwich

For a long weekend in Dunwich we highly recommend The Ship Inn Hotel Dunwich a small traditional and cosy guest house just a short drive from Westleton but within a walking distance of Dunwich’s well-known attractions and landmarks.

If you wish to save even more on your accommodation you can check out some cheaper deals with discount codes from Hotels.com

Lansallos Village

Lansallos is a small village and civil parish in south Cornwall that attracts many British holiday makers as it is well known for its stunning beaches.

Lansallos in Cornwall 2016

The Lansallos beach is small natural sandy beach easily accessible to visitors by the footpath next to the St Ildierna’s Church. The longest beach is at Lantic Bay, a beautiful horseshoe shape of beach with a steep climb back up to the coastal footpath.

If you decide to get down to either beach, be aware of the high and low tides in the area so you don’t get caught out. If in doubt ask one of the locals, they will be happy to advise you.

Clevedon Pier

Most people travelling to Britain, are aware of the Blackpool Pier and the Brighton Pier, they are both well photographed and documented in the media, the Clevedon Pier is less well known.

Top attractions in the UK - Clevedon Pier 2016

The Pier located in the town of Clevedon, in Somerset and it was built during the Victorian times as a docking station for the passenger steamer from Devon and Wales.

The Clevedon Pier is 312 meters long and 5 meters wide. The whole structure is designed with metal beams and wooden planks for decking, it stands just 4.30 meters above the sea level.

There are a number of hotels and B&B within a walking distance to the Clevedon Pier, the Highcliffe Hotel Clevedon as well as the The Moon & Sixpence offer comfortable and reasonably priced accommodation. For greater savings on hotels and bed and breakfast deals check out the Dealslands website.

Camley Street Natural Park

Camley street natural park in London Our last suggestion is the Camley street natural park, and there is a good reason why we left it for last. Not because it is inferior to the rest of the attractions but because it is easily accessible by foot. No need for a rail pass or a long distance coach ride.

The Camley street natural park is located in the centre of London just off  the King’s Cross rail station.

So once you are done with the Museums, shopping centres, pubs and cafes, head over to the King Cross station, then just a five minutes’ walk off the station and you will be into an amazing oasis.

The Camley street natural park is managed by London Wildlife Trust and is the habitat of a number of different and rear birds, butterflies and bees all spread across two hectares of land.

The park runs alongside the Regent’s canal where you can see narrow boats, ducks, geese and moorhens. There is also a small visitor’s centre with a cafe and toilet facilities.

So if you really want to have memorable holidays in the UK, full of British history and culture then try our five suggestions above.

These suggestions would not be found on the mainstream travel guides but these lesser known attractions in the UK encapsulate the rich British heritage through the centuries, unique, unspoiled and picturesque, the very best of Great Britain.

Athens Sightseeing: A Full Day Tour Of Athens

Akropolis by night

After visiting a number of European countries, all of them start to look pretty much the same right? Fortunately, that doesn’t apply to Athens. Athens is indeed a European country but it feels like it has been ‘spiced’ with many Middle Eastern colours and aromas.

Due to its geographical position, as well as the occupation from the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years, have left Athens with a variety of cultural influences on landmarks and on it’s inhabitants.

Athens Kalimarmaro stadium

Athens besides the many archaeological sites has numerous beautiful seaside places where you can swim in the sea or just drink a cup of Greek coffee (like the locals do) and enjoy the views. Make sure you have more than one day to visit and explore all the hidden gems of the city.

Athens Metro

Best place to start your day tour of Athens is the Metro station of Acropolis. It is advisable to be there early in the morning to have a head start, as more tourists will be visiting later on and it will get crowded. Also you must remember that the Greek sun in the summer is really strong so make sure that you apply sun cream often and always have a bottle of water with you.

Walk the beautiful street of Dionysiou Areopageitou and buy yourself a ticket (20 Euros per person which applies for all the archaeological sites of Athens for 4 days). I could fill in at least ten pages with the facts and the history of Acropolis but this is neither the place nor the time to do so.

Always remember to support the campaign for returning the STOLEN artefacts of Parthenon, which are now located in the British Museum in London back to Greece, where they belong to.

So enjoy the beauty of Acropolis standing for more than 2000 years and wonder around it. Make sure you exit not from the typical exit, but from a downhill exit next to a small wooden kiosk that you will come across as you climb up the stairs. This way you will be able to see more sites and ancient constructions as well as an additional theatre.

Athens Archaeological Museum

Once you exit the site of Acropolis head the opposite way to the new museum of Acropolis, a construction that Greeks are really proud of since it was literally built upon ancient buildings but without causing any destruction to them. You will be able to see parts of them as you move though the Acropolis museum.

Exiting the museum of Acropolis and head left the same road you followed to go to Acropolis. Enjoy the weather and feel free to buy from the street vendors’ traditional artifacts and souvenirs which are actually in much better prices than the shops. Always try to support the local economy which really needs your help, especially these days!!!

Once you meet the first cafeterias’ with their tables outside you can go for a coffee to the roof gardens and admire the views of Acropolis.

Once you catch your breath continue and enter the ancient Agora from the small exit in front of the cafeterias with the same ticket that you bought in Acropolis. There are three must see places there among the many:

• The ancient temple that really looks like Acropolis.
• The old church with the unique pictures that were saved during the occupation from the Ottoman Empire (check out the Saints and Angels that their faces were removed by the occupants).
• The small museum which shows aspects of everyday life in Athens.

Exit the site from the main entrance and you are in Monastiraki area.

Day tour of Athens - Monastiraki

Warning!!!: As all the main tourist attractions around the world, the same rules apply in this area. Keep your bag zippers closed, leave no bags unattended and beware of your personal belongings in general. Pick pocketing is not a very common thing but not a very rare as well. Kindly decline any offers for sunglasses, perfumes or mobile phones since they will be 90 percent end in monkey business.

Monastiraki open flea market where you can shop various stuff

Shop around this area, you can find really good prices in leather and gold or buy some souvenirs for your friends back home. (Make sure you buy a hat for the rest of your vacations in Greece since the Greek sun is very strong. The area is ideal for taking pictures of locals restoring old furniture and buying antiques.

Hungry? I would suggest you head to the restaurant of Savvas with the amazing roof garden. It serves traditional Greek cuisine and the quality of the food is always very good, and of course you can stare (guess what???) Acropolis!

From there you can head to the Athens central meat & fish market called “Varvakios” to take some photos. Avoid it if you don’t have a strong stomach, watching hanged meats and the heavy smells might not be for everyone! The whole area is really popular for buying traditional products.

Head back to Ermou street (if you don’t know which one it is, simply ask an Athenian. The majority of the Greeks speak English and usually are very helpful with tourists.

Ermou street is the road with all the big brand names stores and you can always buy designer clothes or anything else you might need. Head up towards Syntagma square. On your way visit the small church (Kapnikarea) in the middle of the street.

It is estimated that the church was built some time in the 11th century, perhaps around 1050. As it was common with the early Christian churches, this was built over an ancient Greek pagan temple dedicated to the worship of a goddess, possibly Athena or Demeter. You can walk into it and light a small candle like Orthodox people do.

Efzonas on Syntagma sq in Athens

Reaching Syntagma square you will see the Greek parliament and the national guards called Efzones. They wear their traditional skirt (which has 400 foldings, one for each year of occupation under the Ottoman Empire).

Take some photos and walk until the national Library and Academy. Two amazing buildings built like the ancient Greek ones. Once you are done continue on to the Omonoia street where you need to ask the way to the National Museum which is just five minutes by foot.

The national Archeological museem of AthensThe National Museum even though it is last on the list, it is for me the most important sight of Athens. Make sure you do not miss it. It hosts an amazing collection of masterpieces of art of the ancient Greece.

Statues more than 5000 years old, jewels of the Macedonian family of Alexander, and the famous Machine of Antikythera.

That is a full a day tour of Athens, where you can cover all the main tourist attractions.

If you feel that your feet can still do some extra walk, you can always add one of the following sights to your tour. Plaka, Kallimarmaron, the National Garden, Zapeio, Likavitos and Glyfada area.

But my suggestion is to visit those places another day so you can take your time and enjoy them like they deserve to.

Spyros Skouris profile photoAbout the author

Spyros Skouris the author of the article “A full day tour of Athens” can help you arrange your dream vacations on your visit to Athens in Greece.

He also owns an apartment in Athens which is available to rent on Airbnb.

Destination Yorkshire

Destination Yorkshire: The Shambles

The Shambles

If you’re looking for somewhere to go for that late summer break then Yorkshire could be the place for you. Yes, you did read that right. The largest county in England has been awarded two gongs at the recent World Travel Awards held in Athens, Greece.

Dubbed as ‘the Oscars of the travel industry’, the coveted accolades recognised Yorkshire for being Europe’s Leading Destination, and its tourism agency, ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’, as having Europe’s Leading Marketing Campaign.

This all comes hot on the heels of the county successfully hosting the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in July this year.

Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is yet more evidence that

Yorkshire continues to be the premier European travel destination by winning this prestigious award.

It is a tribute to the 12 months of hard work that has gone into making this year the most successful year of all time for the county.”

In Yorkshire’s case, success certainly seems to have bred more success, as this is the third time the county has won for its marketing campaign, and the second year in a row for being the top destination in Europe.

Destination Yorkshire: Harewood House near Leeds

Harewood House near Leeds

Destination Yorkshire: Must see attractions

So if you’re considering a trip to ‘God’s own county’, here are some things you can do when you get there.

York – The city which gives the county its name was one of the top 20 most visited towns in Britain last year by UK residents, with the Shambles being hailed as the country’s most picturesque street.

Shopping – For those in need of some retail therapy, Meadowhall in Sheffield boasts Europe’s biggest shopping and leisure complex and is visited by over 400,000 people every week.

Seaside – Scarborough has been welcoming families for the past 360 years and is Britain’s oldest seaside resort.

Snow – Winter sports enthusiasts can enjoy the real thing in Castleford’s Xscape. It has over 1,500 tonnes of real snow and the longest indoor slope in the UK at 170 metres.

National Parks – For outdoor types there is plenty on offer to explore as nearly one third of England’s national parkland is found in Yorkshire. (The North York Moors, most of the Yorkshire Dales and part of the Peak District.)

Heritage – Yorkshire is certainly rich in history with over 2,600 nationally important ancient monuments, 800 conservation areas and 116 registered parks and gardens. The county also has two UNESCO World Heritage sites, Studley Royal in North Yorkshire and Saltaire Village in West Yorkshire.

Destination Yorkshire: Scarborough

Scarborough

As we can see there are a wealth of different experiences and activities for you to enjoy whatever type of getaway takes your fancy. There’s also plenty of room to accommodate you if you want to stay overnight or longer, as Yorkshire has over 4,800 hotels, guesthouses, self-catering properties and campsites.

In fact there are enough bed spaces available to sleep the entire population of France over the course of a year.

By Sereena Assih Freelance Writer.

The images above are courtesy of the tourism agency ‘Welcome to Yorkshire’

How to Spend a Great Weekend in Devon

A weekend in Devon - The Valley of Rocks

Devon – The Valley of Rocks

It’s home to some of England’s most beautiful beaches, stunning historical buildings, and most decadent cream teas.

While Devon’s popularity is well known, there’s a lot more to this charming county than the guidebooks will let you in on.

From award-winning beaches to intriguing galleries, read on to learn from the UK travel experts at Coast and Country Hotels about the best way to enjoy a weekend in Devon.

Getting There:

Getting to Devon is easy. Exeter and Plymouth, the county’s two biggest towns, are connected with London by rail. Trains depart from Paddington on the Cornwall line and take approximately 2½ hours to reach Exeter and 3½ hours to reach Plymouth.

Devon is also easy to reach by private car. The M5 terminates in Exeter, making it easy for visitors from Bristol and elsewhere to access the county. North Devon is served by the A30, which also allows visitors to travel onwards to Cornwall.

Finally, Devon is easy to reach from further afield by air. Flights arrive in Exeter International Airport from Paris, Frankfurt, and Amsterdam, as well as several British population centres.

What To Do:

Devon is home to hundreds of amazing attractions, ranging from stunning beaches to historical cathedrals. Below are five famous Devon activities that offer the best of Devon for visitors to this charming county:

1. Exeter Cathedral

Opened in 1400, Exeter Cathedral is a great example of Norman-Gothic architecture in England’s South West. This remarkable building is known for its incredible vaulted ceiling, which is the longest of its type in England.

2. Plymouth Barbican

Plymouth’s historical waterfront district is incredibly picturesque. Largely spared from destruction during the Second World War, the Barbican still looks the same as it did when Plymouth was a 16th century fishing port.

3. Woolacombe Beach

Voted Britain’s Best Beach by the Mail on Sunday, Woolacombe is undoubtedly one of Devon’s best natural attractions. Pack your sunscreen and visit in the afternoon to enjoy a quick swim before watching the sunset.

4. Brook Gallery

Open since 1997, the Brook Gallery has grown into one of Devon’s best known and highly acclaimed art galleries. The gallery is known for its limited edition art prints, all of which are available to purchase.

5. Valley of the Rocks

Famous for its fossils, the Valley of the Rocks is an incredible dry valley formed by a combination of glacial movements and coastal erosion. The valley is a truly stunning sight, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon as the sun is setting.

From coastline to culture, Devon is home to a wonderful range of places to go, things to do, and sights to appreciate. Learn more about weekend break offers from Coast and Country and plan your Devon holiday today.

 

Good news from Greece! Greek tourism is UP!!

Good news from Greece

Greece Infinite Inspiring Amazing

Good news from Greece, after a rough 2012 when tourists, scared off by political and social unrest and images of protests, strike and riots stayed away in droves, 2013 is shaping up to be a rebound year with more than a million more visitors than last year expected.

The good news came from the head of the Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises, Andreas Andreadis, who spoke to the Bank of Greece shareholders’ meeting on Feb. 25.

Andreadis said figures show that the British market is reporting a rise of 20 percent, and the markets of Germany, France and the Scandinavian countries displaying growth of 15 percent.

Developing tourism markets such as Russia, Ukraine, Israel and Turkey are also showing a rise in demand, leading to an increase of more than 20 percent in the number of seats available, he said, according to the newspaper Kathimerini.

Andreadis cautioned though that there are concerns about the markets of Italy, Spain and Bulgaria, as their financial troubles may cut back on visitors traveling from those countries. He said there has been increased interest in maritime and cruise tourism, though incoming conference tourism remains somewhat lackluster because Athens and Thessaloniki are not seen as favorable destinations.

Good news from Greece - Holidays in Santorini

Holidays in Santorini

Domestic tourism isn’t looking good though as Greeks buried under austerity measures are cutting back or giving up on visiting their own land. Last year Greeks spent only 1.5 billion euros ($1.98 billion) in Greece, half of the levels of the pre-economic crisis year of 2008. He said a further decline, although smaller, is expected this year.

Andreadis added that the targets of 17 million foreign tourists and 11 billion euros ($14.4 billion) in revenues from tourism are likely to be attained or even exceeded. Should a few crucial measures be taken, he noted, Greek tourism could in the next two to three years reach up to 20 million visitors, adding some 3 percent to the country’s faltering Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and tens of thousands of new jobs.

The Greek news agency AMNA reported that he also said tourism is  strong supporter of the Greek economy after achieving its targets of attracting 16 million international arrivals and 10 billion euros in tourism receipts last year, although that was less than the previous year and achieved despite the crisis.

Andreadis said that annual investments worth 2.5 billion euros ($3.27 billion) were needed to raise tourism’s contribution to 40 percent of the country’s future economic growth. He said it could be attained stressed that the first 11 significant new investment plans were currently under licensing procedures by Greek authorities.

Meteora Greece

Meteora Greece

Promotion of an ambitious privatization program and the sale or lease of idle tourist real estate assets by banks were also expected to help towards achieving this year, he noted, although the country’s international lenders say the expectations are far below projections.

He said it was critical  to speed up procedures for visa issuing, reducing the 23 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on the restaurant industry to 13 pct and of the VAT on coastal shipping to 13 pct, with the goal of reducing a VAT on tourism to 6.5 pct.

Source: http://greece.greekreporter.com

Cultural Tourism: A never ending quest for history & culture

Everybody likes to be on vacations away from work and we all have our own special little ways of making our holidays more enjoyable and memorable. A holiday is a dream of a life time for many.

Some travellers prefer to be in big holiday resorts with many activities for families, some others prefer holiday resorts with a night life. There are also some who prefer to go solo, beyond the beaten track, find new places on the map and explore new cultures.

Cultural Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing global tourism markets. For many years it was undeveloped and on the sidelines as the main tour operators worldwide, where focusing on the mass market and developed their products accordingly.

In recent years many cultural travellers being unsatisfied with what was on offer have decided to go the opposite way, by using the internet they can now search on-line for places of culture, art, and history and book their flights and accommodation independently away from the main tour operators. They plan their own itinerary and create their own tailor maid holiday activities.

Today we present you five places in the world (some not very well known to many) where a cultural traveller will be hugely satisfied in his quest for history, art, culture.

 

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by a king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum.
The temple was dedicated to the god Vishnu. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It clearly represents one of humankind’s most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements.

 

 

Cultural Tourism

The ancient city of Aptera

Greece – The ancient city of Aptera

The ancient city of Aptera was build by Glaukos, The name Aptera, according to one tradition, derives from Apteron, king of Crete, who is said to have lived in the time of Moses around 1800 BC. Alternative legends claim the city of Aptera took its name following a musical competition between the Muses and the Sirens held in the Temple of the Muses. At the time of the competition the city was renowned as a center for musical expertise.

The ancient city of Aptera walls still standing today 3.480 meters long are reminiscent of the Cyclopean walls of Tiryns and Mycenae. One can also see the remains of a small 1st c. B.C. temple of Demeter, a Roman theatre and the enormous vaulted cisterns of the Roman era.

 

Uqba Mosque Kairouan

Uqba Mosque Kairouan

Tunisia – Mosque of Uqba

The Mosque of Uqba, also known as the Great Mosque of Kairouan is one of the most important mosques in Tunisia, situated in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Kairouan. Built by the Arab general Uqba ibn Nafi from 670 AD at the founding of the city of Kairouan, the mosque is spread over a surface area of 9,000 square meters and it is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world, as well as a model for all later mosques in the Maghreb.

The Great Mosque of Kairouan is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa, its perimeter is almost equal to 405 meters. This vast space contains a hypostyle prayer hall, a huge marble-paved courtyard and a massive square minaret. In addition to its spiritual prestige, the Mosque of Uqba is one of the masterpieces of both architecture and Islamic art.

 

Cultural Tourism

Hatshepsut Temple

Egypt – The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut is the focal point of the Deir el-Bahri complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite of the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes). It was built by architect Senmut at 1490-1460 BC at the order of Queen Hatshepsut, stepmother of pharaoh Thutmose III and the construction of the temple of Hatshepsut took fifteen years. The temple was dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra.

 

 

Cultural Tourism

The Citadel of Herat

Afghanistan – The Citadel of Herat

The Citadel of Herat also known as the Citadel of Alexander, and locally known as Qala Iktyaruddin, it is located in the center of Herat in Afghanistan. It dates back to 330 BC, when Alexander the Great and his army arrived to what is now Afghanistan after the Battle of Gaugamela. Many empires have used it as a headquarters in the last 2,000 years, and was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries.

 

A Photo Guide to the Northern Lights

Have you ever looked into the sky and had the galaxy gaze back?

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are a breathtaking natural phenomena and one of the undoubted highlights of many Iceland holidays. But you’ll want to be careful during your travels: The lights are fleeting and rare, so to make sure you catch them, you’ll want to choose a destination that ensures the greatest chance of success. Click here to read more »