Being doused in sunshine for virtually the whole of the year, boasting a beautiful golden coastline of soft sandy beaches and scattered with vibrant towns and villages bursting with character and life, it’s hardly surprising why the Algarve has long been a popular destination for families seeking sun, fun and a memorable holiday with a difference.
If you’re heading to this popular region of southern Portugal with youngsters in tow this year, check out the following five top things to do with toddlers on the Algarve.
Visit Lagos Zoo
Small children never fail to be enthralled by zoo animals and Lagos Zoo gives youngsters the opportunity to gaze at many fascinating animals, including the Iberian lynx. The whole family can also learn about the zoo’s preservation and reintroduction into nature programme.
Let off steam at Parque Aventura
Parque Aventura has several parks at different locations throughout the Algarve. Children can have fun going through tree courses, high ropes and obstacles at these environmentally friendly adventure parks.
Enjoy a round of golf at the Family Golf Park in Vilamoura
Hours of fun with a golf club and ball awaits the family at the Family Golf Park in Vilamoura. This popular family attraction features a children’s play area, games room, tourist train and much more for a fun and memorable family day out.
Visit the Zoomarine water park
Zoomarine is located on the outskirts of Albufeira and offers a wealth of fun, family entertainment that toddlers will simply adore. One of the key highlights of this water theme park is the Dolphins Emotion Centre, where visitors can enjoy getting up close with dolphins.
Attend the Fiesa Sand Sculptures Festival
Held each year between April and October in Pera, the Fiesa Sand Sculpture Festival is a must-see event for families visiting the Algarve with young children. This annual event showcases incredible sand sculpturing skills, with impressive sand sculptures lit up with music and lighting effects.
If you’ve yet to visit Andalucía’s ‘big three’ cities, you’re certainly in for a treat when you do. By ‘big three’ we mean Granada, Cordoba and Seville, three remarkable Spanish cities, laden in extraordinary Moorish architecture, brimming with zest, traditionalism and vivacity and paradisal for culture vultures, foodies, musicians, shopaholics, historians and more.
Though we have to admit, there’s much more to Andalucía than its big three cities, as interwoven between these legendary cities are hilltop towns, quintessential villages, unique mountain ranges, a stunning coastline and dramatic gorges, all of which can be enjoyed to the maximum during the springtime, when this culturally, geographically and gastronomically-distinct region of Spain really comes alive.
Take a look at why springtime is an exceptionally magical time in Andalucía.
The weather is just right
We can never fully guarantee the weather, not even in the south of Spain. However Andalucía during the months of April, May and June are warming up nicely, without being too hot, meaning it’s the perfect time to explore the many gems the region is home to and take advantage of the blue, cloudless skies and light evenings.
Enjoy the beautiful colours of spring
With its dazzling ‘Pueblos Blancos’ – whitewashed villages – contrasting vividly with the emerald landscape that surrounds them, yet to have taken on the dusting of yellow as the ground becomes scorched under the hot summer sun, scattered in vibrantly-colours poppies, lavender, sunflowers and more, lay like a carpet under the cobalt sky above, the colours of spring exemplifies the unique beauty of this part of Spain.
Witness the many springtime fiestas
Spring is Andalucía is awash with wild and wacky fiestas that enable visitors to become acquainted with ancient customs and traditions that are carried out with serious aplomb by the locals.
Fiestas such as the Cruces de Mayo – Crosses of May – and the Fiestas de los Patios in Cordoba in May, ensure there’s never a dull moment when visiting this magical part of Spain in the springtime
Vintage Travel is thrilled to have added an exquisite villa known as Melia to our portfolio of villas on this beautiful, sun-soaked Greek island.
Melia is located southern Kefalonia, a region marked by rugged landscapes, sandy coves and a laidback, traditional lifestyle.
With one double bedroom, this contemporary, stylish villa, with its crisp clean lines and elegant décor, sleeps two guests, making it the perfect choice for couples yearning a relaxing break in chic accommodation.
Melia has been newly built for 2019 and boasts a fantastic location in one of the most desirable parts of Kefalonia, just 2.2km from the tranquil and laidback village of Spartia.
This traditional Greek village is home to a mini-market, two authentic tavernas near the village square and a further taverna on Spartia Beach.
Adding to Melia’s romantic appeal are the views that stretch from this stylish villa overlooking the beautiful countryside that rolls towards the nearby sea.
As attractive and comfortable as Melia’s interior is with its minimalist décor, chic furnishings and mod-cons including air conditioning, Wi-Fi, satellite TV, a fully-equipped modern kitchen and en-suite shower room, the villa’s exterior is equally as inviting.
With a relaxing sun terrace, a built-in barbecue, a shaded dining terrace and a private swimming pool, Melia is geared towards spending time in the enviable Kefalonia climate and making the most of its beautiful, tranquil setting and stunning vistas that surround the property.
To view photos, find out more information, check availability and book to stay at the fabulous Melia, visit the villa’s webpage here.
Stretching for more than 430km and reaching an elevation of 3,400m, it’s safe to say the Pyrénées is a mighty mountain range that separates the Iberian Peninsula with the rest of Europe.
Hiking trails snake through the entire length of this iconic mountain range, through national parks, scared pilgrimage sites, ski resorts, green valleys, forested mountains and Andorra, a tiny sovereign state in the heart of the mountains.
Every inch of the Pyrénées is worth exploring in both the high-altitude region known as the Hautes-Pyrénées, where many of the ski resorts can be found, and the Pyrénées-Bernaisas region, carpeted in vineyard-covered hills and picturesque villages and castles.
Here’s three exceptionally striking landmarks of the Pyrénées.
Cirque de Gavarnie
The Cirque de Gavarnie is a truly spectacular sight in the heart of Pyrénées. This circular ring of mountain granite walls surround a verdant valley. These spectacular walls were formed by the erosion of glaciers millions of years ago.
A rushing stream descends the valley, interspersed with a series of waterfalls, one of which, the Grande Casade, is the highest waterfall in Europe, standing at 422m tall.
The Cirque de Gavarnie is part of the Parc National des Pyrénées and can be reached along a walking trail from Gavarnie village.
Grotte du Mas d’Azil
Another striking site that lies in the heart of the domineering Pyrénées is the Grotte du Mas d’Azil. This prehistoric cave is carved within the limestone mountains at an elevation of 310m. Running through this vast 50km-wide cave is the Ariège River.
A road runs through the cave and it’s possible to drive right the way through it. Prehistoric drawings have been found in the cave. Guided tours are available involving geological presentations of the different galleries.
Cauterets is a pretty alpine village nestled in the peaks of the Hautes-Pyrénées. One focal point of Cauterets is its thermal spa known as the Bains du Rocher.
During the winter, this alpine village is a popular skiing destination whilst in the summer it is attracts hikers and those with a passion for outdoor activities, being the perfect base to explore the stunning Parc National des Pyrénées.
The tranquil island of Ithaca, off the north-east coast of Kefalonia, is the perfect place for a romantic escape for two. Couples can enjoy romantic evenings and lazy days amidst stunning mountainous scenery and wandering around traditional, historic towns, where time seems to stand still.
If you’re looking for a romantic escape on Ithaca this summer, take a look at these three charming villas.
Alexandra is a two-bedroom stone-clad villa that enjoys a privileged elevated position, nestled on an olive grove-scattered hillside, with far-reaching views of undulating countryside and out to the Ionian Sea.
Two spacious terraces on either side of Alexandra make the most of the villa’s desirable position, boasting fabulous views of the open countryside and sea in the not so far away distance.
This traditionally-designed country home is less than a kilometre for the village of Stavros in the northern Pilikata region of Ithaca.
Another fabulous villa for couples seeking a romantic break on Ithaca is Nereus. This traditional villa has all the mod-cons for a comfortable stay in the heart of a bucolic landscape, including Wi-Fi and air-conditioning.
The town of Vathy, the island’s capital, is just 2.5km from Nereus, which has a selection of bars, tavernas and shops. Couples can idle the day away under the warm Ithaca sunshine on the nearby cove of Kaminia, which is just 1.5km from Nereus.
Eos is named after the Goddess of Dawn. This pretty stone-clad cottage with characterful red shutters is located down a country track, just 1.5km from the island’s capital of Vathy.
With a shaded elevated dining area with a built-in barbecue and pizza oven, Eos is geared up for plenty of al-fresco wining and dining whilst looking out to the rolling countryside that stretches from the beautiful country cottage and out towards the sparkling water of the Ionian Sea.
Dubbed as one of the “most beautiful towns in Lazio,” Civita di Bagnoregio, on the northern side of the Viterbi province, is a truly spectacular town to visit.
The town’s location in itself is tremendous, nestled on the top of a plateau of a volcanic tuff, overlooking the verdant Tiber River valley below.
The roots of this captivating hillside town go back more than 2,500 years to the Etruscans. The Civita – City – was the birthplace of Saint Bonaventure. Bagnoregio is renowned for its incredible architecture which spans many, many years.
Augmenting Civiti di Bagnoregio’s appeal and charm is the fact it can only be accessed by a narrow bridge and because of its isolated position has retained much of its original character, remaining unaltered for years.
Bagnoregio enjoys a steady trickle of tourists, many of which come to experience the town’s annual calendar of unique traditional festivals.
One such festival is the ‘Civita Film Fest’, which takes place every June. Celebrating the role cars and motorcycles play in films, the Civita Film Fest is regarded as a must visit occasion for motor enthusiasts.
Each October tourists flock to Bagnoregio for the annual ‘Festa del Bosco’ – ‘Fest of the Wood.’ The focus of this popular local event is to celebrate local produce, particularly wine, chestnuts, berries, and wild boar.
In 2006, Civiti di Bagnoregio was placed on the World Monuments Fund’s Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites due to the threats of erosion the town faces.
If you’re looking for an Easter with a difference this year for all the family to enjoy, then look no further than France. This culturally-diverse nation clings onto unique traditions and customs all year round and none more so than at Easter.
If you are thinking about heading to the likes of Brittany, the Cote d’Azur or the Dordogne this April, take a look at the following four unmissable Easter traditions the whole family will enjoy in France.
Tuck into the biggest omelette in France
If you’re anywhere near the town of Bessieres in south-western France, don’t miss out on having a slice of the biggest omelette cooked in France on Easter Monday. This huge omelette is made with around 15,000 eggs and attracts thousands of people to witness and be part of this old Easter tradition.
Muse around the Antiques and Art Fair in Provence
If you’re lucky enough to be in Provence this Easter and are a fan of French art and antiques, then make your way to the Isle-sur-la-Sorgue to experience its traditional Easter Antiques and Art Fair.
With concerts, competitions, food and drink, this popular Easter event in Provence is much more than merely market stalls laden with bric-a-bracs.
Experience the Marché des Potiers event on the Cote d’Azur
Get the whole family involved in making some pottery this Easter by heading to the charming seaside town of Bandol on the Cote d’Azur and to the town’s Marché des Potiers event.
This two-day pottery fair provides insight into the making of ceramics, the design of sculptures and more, as the harbourside is lined with more than 70 pottery-selling stalls.
Become acquainted with Brittany’s Scallop Festival
Another unmissable event that takes place in France at Easter is the fabulous Scallop Festival in Brittany. This much-loved festival celebrates the scallop fishing tradition in the towns of Saint-Quay-Portrieux, Erquy and Paimpol, with music, fishing trips and, you guessed it, scallops galore.
If you want to discover authentic Umbria and become acquainted with the traditional way of life in this beautiful region of Italy, then head to the medieval town of Gubbio in the far north-eastern corner of the province on the slopes of Mount Ingino.
This charming Umbrian town is lined with intricate and ancient buildings, all with their own story to tell.
One of the principle sites of Gubbio is its Cathedral. Built in the 12th century, Gubbio’s Cathedral is a sight to behold, boasting a rose-window in the façade, with symbols of the Evangelists at either side. The most striking piece inside the cathedral is a wooden Christ across the altar.
Gubbio’s Palazzo Ducale is another must-see sight of this captivating town. Built from 1470, the Palace, with a stunning inner courtyard, is reminiscent of the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino.
For a Roman history fix, make a visit to Gubbio’s Roman Theatre part of your itinerary. This open-air theatre was built in the 1st century BC using square blocks of local limestone. With a 70-metre diameter cavea, this ancient Roman Theatre could house up to 6,000 spectators.
Many a colourful, unique and memorable festival is held in Gubbio throughout the year. One especially popular event is the Corsa dei Ceri, which is held each year on May 15 to mark Saint Ubaldo Day.
This traditional festival involves three teams running through hordes of cheering supporters up the mountain from the town’s main square to the basilica of St. Ubaldo, each carrying a statue of their designated saint.
After a day sightseeing, witnessing the town’s unique customs and traditions or simply wondering around Gubbio’s ancient streets, there’s plenty of bustling restaurants to chose from to enjoy authentic and tasty Umbrian food, washed down with some equally delicious locally-made wine.
Crescia, a type of salted flat bread, is often served with meals, being the perfect accompaniment to sample the local cured meat.
With the sun soaring overhead, the temperatures warming up nicely and colourful festivals taking place in almost every city, town and village, Easter is a wonderful time to be on the Algarve.
At Eastertime, fairs are put on across the region, where you can sample gastronomic delights unique to the region, such as almonds covered in chocolate or sugar and traditional ‘folares’, sweet or savoury Easter bread topped with a hardboiled egg still in its shell.
In the traditional Algarve town of Tavira, an annual Triumphal Procession takes place on Palm Sunday. The colourful procession starts at the church and makes its way through the streets, parading past throngs of onlookers, until it eventually finishes back at the church.
Holy Week is celebrated with deep Catholic significance across the whole of the Algarve. Religious ceremonies are re-enacted, including the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday, the ascension to Heaven on Holy Saturday and the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The Festas das Tochas Floridas – Flower Torches – is celebrated each Easter Sunday in the town of Sao Bras de Alportel. The streets of this characterful town are carpeted in flowers and petals displayed in intricate patterns.
The region’s bustling city of Faro is an enchanting place to be at Easter when the Carnation Revolution is celebrated every year. On April 25, 1974, the peaceful revolution marked Portugal’s liberation from a 40-year dictatorship.
This emotional festival involves locals singing Grandola Vila Morena, the song originally sung by the leftist folk singer Zeco Afonso.
With such vibrant, traditional, unique and meaningful events, carnivals and festivals held across the whole of the region, Easter is the perfect time to experience the Algarve at its most authentic, traditional and enchanting.
Bordered by Florence in the north and Siena in the south, Chianti is a region of Tuscany of exceptional beauty. The region combines a paradisiacal landscape of green forests, ancient olive groves, and picturesque villages, interspersed with a network of trails that snake their way through this idyllic setting.
Meandering along the trails of Chianti by foot, horseback or bike, is the perfect way to become acquainted with the best this simply stunning region of Tuscany offers.
Stumble across vineyards offering unmissable wine-tasting events
It’s safe to say Chianti is the most famous wine region of Italy. Much of Chianti’s beautiful trails are lined with row upon row of vineyards and for Italian wine enthusiasts, it might be tempting to call in at one of the many wineries the region is home to, to sample the local wine.
Have your camera at the ready
Whether you consider yourself a photographer or not, enjoy sharing pictures of your holiday experiences on social media, or prefer to keep them for close family and friends’ eyes only, Chianti’s trails offer unmissable photo opportunities, particularly in the springtime when poppies, lilies and sunflowers dot the fields, bringing a colourful contrast to the emerald fields and valleys and the cobalt sky above.
Call in at one of Chianti’s historic towns
Chianti, like the whole of Tuscany, is scattered with characterful, ancient and traditional towns where time seemed to stand still.
It won’t be too long until you reach such a town or village when exploring the region’s network of trails.
Historic settlements like Castellina, Greve and Montefioralle, are fantastic places to experience a traditional way of life in this beguiling part of Italy, not to mention enjoy a leisurely lunch in a traditional Chianti restaurant.