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A Guide to Affordable Short Break Destinations

Top Tips

What You Need to Know

  1. Though not a typical beach break destination, Venice's Lido Beach offers a lovely place to pass an afternoon away from the bustle of St.Mark's Square.
  2. If you want to get a really authentic taste of Venice, you could do well to avoid restaurants altogether and instead snack on cicheti in backstreet bars.
  3. The vaporetto offers an affordable if less romantic alternative to gondolas.
  4. If you're planning on going to Ibiza, bear in mind that many of the biggest clubs don't open until mid-June.
  5. When drinking on the island, remember that Spanish measures tend to be more generous.
  6. If you head to Dubrovnik, the old town, which has UNESCO world heritage status, is well worth a visit.
  7. Theatre lovers should time their trip to coincide with the summer festival
  8. A stay in Bodrum will put you within easy visiting distance of two wonders of the ancient world.
  9. It’s also a great location for water sports.
  10. The most popular Ionian island, Corfu has over 30 blue flag beaches.

With the advent of budget air travel it’s now more feasible than ever to go take off for a short trip to any number of foreign destinations without the need to raid your savings or take an extended break from work.

Here we take a look at just what five of the best locations in Europe have to offer those intending a brief visit;

Venice

This floating city is the ultimate destination for a romantic retreat and, as well as the amorous ambience, you’ll find some incredible architecture on show, not least of all at in St.Mark’s Square.

Attractions:

Venice is jammed packed with world famous stunning buildings. The more obvious must sees include;

  • Basilica di San Marco
  • The Bridge of Sighs
  • The Doge’s Palace

If you that doesn’t satisfy you’re hunger for culture treasures, art lovers should definitely make time to visit the Gallerie dell’Accademia which houses masterpieces dating back to the 14 century. Alternatively, those with more modern tastes should head to the Guggenheim Museum to take in the vast collection of works, including famous pieces by the leading names in surrealism and cubism.

The islands in the lagoon are well worth a visit and, if you’d like to relax, though it’s not your typical example of sun, sand and surf, Venice’s Lido beach offers a lovely place to pass an afternoon.

Food and Drink:

As you might expect of a city that’s on the verge of sinking, the Venetians know a thing or two about seafood, Cuttlefish cooked in its own ink being a particularly delicious example of the fare on offer. Risotto is another local specialty not to be missed.

If you want to get a really authentic taste of Venice, you can do well to avoid restaurants altogether and instead try snacking on cicheti (delicious tapas sized dishes) which are served as snacks in the backstreet bars, or bacari.

Be cautious if you’re sampling the local tipple, Veneto Grappa, as it’s not too far from being pure alcohol. Try having a dash of it in a coffee as an after dinner aid to digestion.

Top Tips: Unless you have your heart set on it, it could be an idea to avoid the expense of travelling by Gondola and instead opt for the Vaporetto – essentially a bus for the canals. Of course, you can save even more by walking. If you do buy a transport pass, you’ll also be able to access public lavatories. This may sound like a trivial consideration but at three euros a throw, toilet breaks can quickly add up.

The weather and the crowds can be a bit stifling in the height of summer, so, if possible, aim for spring.

Getting There:

You can get to Venice from airports in major cities throughout the UK, including Manchester, Birmingham and Leicester. Venice is serviced by the bigger airlines but can save by booking flights for your holidays with Monarch and other smaller airlines geared towards budget travel as long as your fine with going no-frills.

Ibiza

Known as the world’s greatest party island, Ibiza is, undoubtedly a Mecca for club goers. However, if you’re looking for something a little more laid back, you can have an amazing time without so much as setting foot on a dance floor.

Attractions:

Amongst the number of world famous clubs pulling in revelers from around the globe some of the best include;

  • Amnesia
  • Space
  • Privelege
  • Eden
  • Pacha

If you want to beat the crowds by going before the summer is in full swing, bear in mind that some of the biggest clubs aren’t open until the end of May and early June, and that some of the biggest nights aren’t put on until after this time.

If you’re keen to avoid the club scene, there are plenty of other ways to spend your evenings, and taking a stroll along the aptly named sunset strip should be among your priorities. When it comes to the day time you could go out exploring either by jeep on an island safari , by bike or trying out a horseback trail (no experience required.)

Those who love the water can indulge in activities such as scuba diving and, if you’re with children, the Aquamar waterpark provides guaranteed family fun. When it comes to beaches the following are all recommended;

  • S’Estanyol
  • Cala Conte
  • Cala Salada
  • Las Salinas
  • Benniras

Food and Drink: You’ll find a range of decent tapas bars around the island. Seafood is of high quality and is well worth sampling. Ibizia is off the coast of Valencia where many would argue the best Paella is made. A seafood paella is therefore, somewhat essential to your trip.

When it comes to drink you won’t struggle to find one, but it pays to remember that Spanish measures area lot of generous than those on offer here in the UK.

Top Tips:

If you’re staggering out of a club at a stupid o’clock in the morning and feel like getting back to your accommodation might be too much hassle, don’t be tempted to sleep on the beach. A police patrol will find you and they won’t be impressed when they do. Bear in mind that taxis are very reasonably priced on the island.

Buy advanced tickets for the busier club nights, especially if you have a distaste for queuing.

If you really do want to avoid the club crowd, simply go in Winter. The clubs are closed and the island is lovely.

Getting There:

Being a highly popular destination there’s a lot of choice out there, so be sure to shop around. Book ahead and you can get a round trip for little over £100.

Dubrovnik

Croatia is still one of those destinations that doesn’t get the attention it deserves, which makes it ideal for a quick break away. Set on the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik, also known as ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic’ is a great place to get some sun, and see some culture without breaking the bank.

Attractions:

The Old Town is probably chief among the attractions of this medieval city, and has been awarded world heritage status by UNESCO. There are stunning examples of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture on offer. You should be sure to see Sponza Palace, Onoforio’s Fountains and walk the ‘Stradun&rsquo.

The following will also demand the attention of culture enthusiasts;

  • The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary
  • The Frasiscan Monastery
  • The Church of St Sebastian
  • Bukovak House
  • The War Limited Museum

Of course, beautiful as these sights are, there’s more to Dubrovnik than its rich heritage. The beaches of Banje (pebble) and Lapad (sand) offer up all sorts of fun activities, from beachball to kayaking and snorkeling. Taking a boat out to Mljet island will land you in the middle of a stunning natural park.

The city also hosts a summer festival showcasing theatre and classical music which runs from mid July to the end of August and, if you’re enthusiastic about such pursuits, you should definitely consider planning your trip to coincide with these dates. Cineafiles, on the other hand may be tempted by the Libertas film festival held the 25th to the 30th of august.

Food and Drink:

Croatian food is fairly similar to other Mediterranean cuisines and has a lot of similarities with Italian tastes. Dalmatian Ham (which, it should be pointed out, is made from pork and not spotted dogs) is something like Parma ham, for example. You’ll find dishes like Polenta on restaurant menus too. The city has its own signature dish – a desert in the crème brulee family called Dubrovaka Rozata.

Top Tips:

For spectacular views of the city be sure to take a trip in the cable car.

You can save money on wine, by taking a bottle to a wine shop, where they’ll sell it to you on tap.

On days you’re planning on visiting churches be sure to take enough clothes with you so you can cover up as necessary (you can’t stroll into a place of worship in beach wear.) In the sea, look out for spiny sea urchins.

Getting There:

Both luxury and budget airlines fly to Dubrovnik Airport, which is about 20km out of the city.

Bodrum

Along the turquoise coast, you’ll find two of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as well as the birthplace of St. Nicolas, better known as Father Christmas. Perhaps even more impressive than the history is the area’s stunning scenery, with volcanic mountains and the prettiest beaches. Bodrum is the perfect location to base yourself in when sampling the delights of the Turkish Riviera.

Attractions:

When it comes to beaches, though there isn’t one in Bodrum itself, there’s plenty nearby, such as the family orientated Bitez beach and Gumbet, which is a little busier but better catered for by restaurants and cafes.

An excursion out to Dalyan is definitely something to put down on the itinerary. You can get there by coach, car or via a boat trip along the coast. Once there, you can take in the spectacular Lycian tombs carved into the cliff face which looms over the Daylan Cayi River. After that, Izutuzu, also known as Turtle Beach, is also accessible by boat and, as well as being a spectacular location in its own right, it also acts as a breeding ground for the magical creatures that lend it its name. It that all gets a bit much, you can always relax in the local mud baths…

If you’re after even more sites of historical interest try;

Water sport enthusiasts will be at home in Bodrum where windsurfing, waterskiing and diving are all highly popular. If you’re visiting with children you may want to treat them to a day at the Dedeman Aqua park.

Food and Drink:

Many restaurants specialize in fresh fish and you’re missing out of you don’t sample a Turkish meze. You can also find beautiful Kebab dishes (a far cry from the UK’s takeaway offerings.) Raki is the regions favourite spirit but watch out, it’s ridiculously strong.

Top Tips:

Though accustomed to tourists and they’re habits, Turkey is still a largely Muslim country and there are certain codes of conduct that it’s only respectful to adhere to in public. For example, whilst a little public affection is OK, it’s better to be a least a little discreet.

Due to water pressure related issues that affect a lot of the Aegean, in Bodrum you don’t flush toilet paper -something to remember.

Getting There:

The range of airlines flying to Bodrum is fairly limited and you may have to travel to an airport if you aren’t based near any of the England’s biggest three cities.

Corfu

Of all the Ionian Islands, Corfu is probably the most popular. With all sorts of historic sites, secluded beaches and plenty of spots for a family day out, Corfu has something for everyone.

Attractions:

Corfu has just about every type of beach you could wish for, from quiet coves to bustling hotspots. Moreover, they are of outstanding quality. Indeed, there are more than 30 that have blue flag status. Some of the best include;

  • Marathia
  • Agia Varvara
  • Longas
  • Molos
  • Kavos
  • Agios Georgios Pagon
  • Myrtiotissa
  • Agios Gordios

Of course, there’s more on offer than just the spectacular beaches. The 16th century fortress in Old Town is worth seeing. The same goes for the nearby Achillion Palace and Vlacherna Monastery.

Food and Drink:

You’ll find all tastes are catered for, but for something authentic you should head out to a Taverna. Boukari Beach seafood taverna has a well deserved reputation.

Top Tips:

It’s not recommended to drink the tap water in Corfu. Mosquitoes and wasps can also pose a problem so it could be prudent to back some repellent.

Getting There:

Corfu is serviced by even the UKs smaller airports. For example, you can fly direct from Doncaster. Return trips in the peak season will cost between £200 - £400.

Further Reading

 

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