Ski and Snowboard Destinations – Save, Spend, or Splurge!

The wintersports season is upon us, and if you’re not already covered form head to toe in snow, it’s time to start planning a holiday that’ll get you there. Here are our top tips for where to go whether you are working to a tight budget, have a pot to spend from, or you are planning to splurge on the holiday of a lifetime.

Save: Italy

Opting to ski and snowboard in Italy could make all the difference if you are hoping to stick to a tight budget. Generally speaking ski passes, lifts, and ski schools are cheaper in Italy than they are across the border in France, and the food is often cheaper in the resorts too

Livigno Travel Image

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Livigno, located in the Italian alps is a top budget-friendly destination, and caters for skiers of all abilities. It is home to Italy’s largest snow park and boasts over 100km of off-piste action to enjoy. The biggest draw has to be that it is a total bargain to stay here. The whole place is VAT free, so everything is much cheaper than it is at other resorts, and even at home!

Spend: Switzerland

Switzerland is not known for being a cheap country to visit – the food is pricey, the accommodation is pricey, and believe it or not the ski lift passes are actually some of the most expensive in the world – BUT it is said that you do get your money’s worth when you come here for a ski or snowboarding holiday. For starters, you get the old-timey feel of a ski holiday compared to the cosmopolitan vibe in French resorts, and there is the Magic Pass, a year-long pass that gives access to 19 snowparks, 1375km of slopes, and a couple of glaciers as well as hiking trails, thermal spas, and even a couple of revolving restaurants over 50 ski resorts!

Phew! So where to go?

St Moritz Image

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St Moritz. Although it is a truly luxurious resort, attracting celebrities and billionaires alike – if you book an all-inclusive ski holiday food, drink, lessons and lift passes are all included making it easier to budget for extras that will add to the luxury feel, such as luxurious gourmet restaurants! The slopes are best suited to intermediate to experienced level skiers and snowboarders, but there are nursery slopes where beginners can soak up the scenery while honing their skills.

Splurge: Canada

Admittedly, adding the air fair is what makes a ski holiday to Canada an expensive option compared to the luxuries of the Swiss mountains. Having said that the world-class resorts that can be found here truly offer visitors a trip of a lifetime.

Whistler Canada Ski Image

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Whister – a dream destination for anyone who loves to hit the slopes. Day-passes are costly, and the runs less suitable for those new to skiing and snowboarding. This resort is rightly reserved for those who have put in the hours to hone their skills and looking for some high adrenaline fun. There are in excess of 200 runs over 8000km of skiable terrain with some of the most challenging black diamond runs in the world!

Wherever you end up, make sure you plan ahead to stay safe on the slopes! Check out or recent post Safety on the Slopes for everything you need to know before you going skiing and snowboarding, including getting the right  travel insurance. This should be number 1 on your list!

Skiing and snowboarding are a fun way to spend time in the great outdoors but they are high risk activities – get in touch today for a wintersports travel insurance quote.

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Staying Safe on the Slopes – A Wintersports Safety Guide

Whether you are an experienced skier or snowboarder, a complete newbie, or haven’t been on a slope in years, you need to prep before taking your trip. Here are some tips for making sure your adventure goes smoothly!

Wintersports Image by Flo Maderebner CC0

Image by Flo Maderebner CC0

 Get fit

Whether you’ve been skiing or snowboarding for years, or are just getting into it you need to get fit. Not only to avoid injury, but also to have the stamina to enjoy every moment you can on your trip! Go for exercise routines that help with flexibility and endurance such as:

  • Stretching
  • Core strengthening
  • Running

Pack for the worst weather

It’s essential to wear the right clothes on a ski trip. Think technical fabrics and make sure to layer your clothing – the weather can change quickly at high altitude!

  • Base layer – merino wool for warmth and sweat-wicking.
  • Mid layer – thin fleece activewear
  • Shell layer – waterproof jacket and salopettes with taped seams
  • Accessories – hat, gloves and snood

Prepare for a high altitude environment

The higher you are, the more time it will take for your body to adjust, you may need a couple of days to acclimatise if you are heading to a region that is above 2000 metres.

  • Stay hydrated
  • Eat light meals that are high in carbohydrates and protein
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and carbonated drinks

Plan ahead for emergencies

Pack extra clothes or food supplies just in case bad weather means you can’t get back to your base. An emergency kit with whistle, torch and first aid supplies is also advisable.

Get travel insurance that will cover the costs of everything from minor injuries requiring medical assistance through to repatriation and even death. An emergency plan is also a good idea. Things to consider include:

  • Know the local emergency number
  • Tell someone where you are heading and what time you expect to return
  • Have a physical map as well as a offline map
  • Decide who will be the person to contact in case of an emergency

Ski Insurance Image

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Get special travel insurance for wintersports

Minor injuries on the slopes are common and major injuries can be financially and emotionally devastating.When looking for the right policy also consider having the right level of cover in case anything happens to your equipment, luggage, or loss of time on the slopes.

  • As well as skiing and snowboarding, our wintersports travel insurance covers a wide range of sports and activities.
  • We offer 24 hour emergency assistance – our multilingual helpline ensures you can access urgent medical treatment from a GP or in hospital. Our Assistance Service can liaise with overseas medical staff and your own doctor so you don’t have to.
  • Our policy covers treatment overseas and repatriation costs to return home after a medical emergency.
  • Whether you’re skiing for just for a few hours or for most of your trip, our winersports travel insurance provides cover for Ski equipment and reimbursement of Ski Pass costs if you cannot ski and  compensation for Piste Closure.

Hire a guide

Guides are there to help you get the most out of your trip and ensure that you have a safe, fun time. They know the terrain like the back of their hand and can point out where to go for the best runs or even find hidden gems on busy weekends. If something goes wrong—and it may they’ll be there with advice and support before it becomes an emergency.

Know the signs of unsafe equipment

Whether you own your own your own ski gear or you plan to hire at a resort, make sure you check everything over before you use it!

  • If the edges of skis or a snowboard are rounded, or if the base is split or cracked it can lead to an accident during your trip, as well as damage other equipment.
  • If you see rust on the bindings or screws that hold them in place don’t use it. Rusting bindings can cause them to come loose and leave you with no way to get back up on your feet.
  • If there is a lot of play in the binding when you move it forward and backward, then it might not tighten up enough when you step onto those gears next time!

Know the mountain rules

Every destination has it’s own mountain code, local customs and laws, be sure to find out what you can and can not do and follow the rules.

It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, when you are on the slopes you need to keep your wits about you and use common sense at every turn. By planning ahead and being prepared for every eventuality you’ll be more likely to have a holiday that will be memorable for all the right reasons!

Get a quick quote for your wintersports travel insurance online or by calling one of our team.

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Trip of a Lifetime – Dream Destinations for 2023

It’s that time again where we take a look at the year ahead and decide which destinations make it onto our travel-tastic bucket list!

Japan

Japan Travel Image

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Whether heading to rural Japan or the futuristic city vibe of Tokyo – this country is a box of cultural and natural delights! Cherry blossoms in the springtime and the vibrant hues of autumn make these seasons the most popular time for a visit. Must-dos while you are here include riding a bullet train, attending a tea ceremony, watching sumo wrestling, visiting a shrine, attend a sushi-making workshop, and climbing one of Japan’s many mountains.

Costa Rica

costa rica travel insurance image

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Lush jungles, sandy beaches, rainforest rambles and incredible wildlife make Costa Rica a top destination for our 2023 bucket list! The saying here is “relax and enjoy the ride” which might be fine while soaking up the sun on a beach or on a gentle hike, but maybe more difficult if you opt for white water rafting or zip-lining! This paradise, also known as the Rich Coast, really does have something for everyone and worthy contender for a trip of a lifetime.

Monaco

Monaco Travel Image

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Rub shoulders with the rich and even richer and taste a slice of the high life. Monaco is blessed with beautiful weather, quaint streets, awesome vistas, amazing places to wine and dine, and even more amazing places to shop. The best bit is that you don’t have to be mega-rich to enjoy your time here. Simply watching the world go by one super car at a time makes a trip here well worth it! A visit to the cave and the oceanarium are a must too!

Bora Bora

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It is like the land that time forgot – relaxed, laid back, and ready for total recuperation. The palm-fringed island sands are white, the sea is a multitude of shades of blue, and the mountainous backdrops are just divine. Bora Bora quite simply is paradise in the south pacific and deserves to be on a trip of a lifetime list! The lagoon is considered one of the most impressive snorkelling spots in the world with coral gardens, manta rays, sea turtles and dolphins.

Kenya

Kenya flamingo travel Image

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Going on safari is at the top of so many wish-lists and Kenya is the perfect place to make the dream come true. It has the finest scenery in South Africa, and is home to elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and flamingos – all you need to do it choose your mode of transport! Walking safaris are popular, jeep tours are the usual option, but you can also get yourself a spot on a flying safari tour aboard a hot air balloon or Cessna aeroplane!

Make sure your trip of a lifetime is memorable for the right reasons – get yourself comprehensive travel insurance! Providing the right cover for you and all the activities you want to do. Get a quick quote online today!

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22 Top Tips For Staying Safe on A Solo Travel Adventure

Travelling alone is a fabulous way to explore the world and make new friends, but it can also be a risky adventure. We certainly don’t want to rain on your parade, but forewarned is forearmed as the saying goes! Here are our top tips for staying safe as a solo traveller.

Solo Travel Image

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Do Your Research

  1. Research your destination’s crime rate, local laws, customs and language.
  2. Stay where there are other people – a hotel, hostel or apartment.
  3. Check accommodation reviews before you book.
  4. Ask what security measures your accommodation in place – such as making sure your room has a lockable door if in shared space.

Be prepared

  1. Learn basic phrases in the local language so you can get help or directions if needed.
  2. Memorise the local emergency number.
  3. Make sure you have an electronic copy of all your documents.
  4. Plan an itinerary and let a friend or family member know.
  5. Set up a service like Find My Friends so someone you trust can see where you are at all times.
  6. Avoid posting too much information about your trip on social media. Especially details like how long you’ll be away for, that you are travelling solo, or your itinerary.
  7. Note down the number of the nearest embassy or consular office in your host country.
  8. Get travel insurance that covers loss, theft, and repatriation.

Get street savvy

  1. Keep your valuables in a safe place at your accommodation.
  2. Carry as little cash as possible and use credit cards where possible.
  3. Avoid showing off expensive gadgets such as phones and cameras
  4. Don’t wear expensive jewellery and accessories.
  5. Don’t wear headphones or look at your phone while walking.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert so you can avoid potentially dangerous situations.
  7. Avoid looking at maps for a long time in a tourist area.
  8. After dark it’s best to go in pairs or groups when possible.
  9. Walk in well-lit areas and avoid shortcuts that are less well lit.
  10. If you are going to a bar or club never leave your drink unattended.

Get travel insurance that meets the unique needs of your trip, whether you plan to hike, snowboard, dive or just relax and take in your surroundings. Contact one of our team on 01892 833338 or get an instant online quote!

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Travel Advice If You Have Cancer

Travelling abroad if you have cancer comes with a whole lot of planning! We’re here to help you discover what you need to consider before you go.

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When NOT to travel if you have cancer

Travelling, and air travel in particular, can be an issue if you have recently had certain treatments or procedures. The advice is to ALWAYS ask for your GP or consultant’s opinion before planning a trip – here are some reasons why your plans could be affected if you have cancer:

  • Weak immune system – Some destinations may pose a greater risk to your health.
  • Low platelets or red blood cells – Some cancer treatments can affect platelet or blood cell count making you at higher risk of bleeding. Stem cell or bone marrow transplants are examples. If your count is very low air travel is not recommended.
  • Recent surgery – Some procedures trap air within the body that can take a while to dissipate. If you fly too soon after certain types of surgery, that air will expand, putting your health at risk.
  • Risk of a blood clot – Being seated for an extended amount of time can increase the risk of a clot.

Things you may need to consider when booking your holiday

  • Whether you tire easily – If fatigue is likely to strike you may want to focus on destinations that have manageable terrain and easy access to facilities where you can rest.
  • Will you need a wheelchair or wheelchair access? Many hotels, hostels and even AirBnBs offer wheelchairs and wheelchair access, but did you know there are also loads of travel companies that specialise in accessible holidays all over the world.
  • Whether you can take your medication abroad – Some countries have very strict policies on what can be taken into the country, you will need to make sure that what you need is on the allowed list – more info on taking medicines abroad below!
  • Do any of your medications cause photosensitivity? A wide range of medications make the skin more sensitive to sunlight – find out if you need extra protection form the sun or if you should avoid high UV areas completely.

Health and Travel Insurance if you have cancer

People who have, or have had cancer can find it tricky to get travel insurance, but travel insurance for pre-existing conditions is something we specialise in, including travel insurance for cancer patients. Our aim is to be able to provide the right travel insurance for your needs whether you are on preventative maintenance medication following Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy or Surgery; are currently receiving treatment, or are having check-ups on a ‘watch & wait’ basis.

Travel Insurance for Cancer Patients Image

It is also recommended that you get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), if your EHIC has expired. The GHIC entitles the holder to the same free, or reduced cost, state-provided healthcare as citizens of that country, where medically necessary. Be aware that there may be additional charges that we aren’t used to seeing in the UK, including charges for equipment, supplies, food, medicines. It is not a replacement for Travel Insurance, it complements it.

Airport and airline assistance

Airlines have a medical officer who can help you access anything you need to make your journey easier. Whether this is early boarding, access to a wheelchair or oxygen for the journey. Do be aware that these things need to be arranged well in advance and may also require a “fit to fly” letter form your GP or consultant.

Taking medicines abroad

Firstly, you need to make sure you have enough medication for your stay, secondly you need to make sure that you aren’t in danger of taking a controlled drug into another country.

Just because you have been prescribed a drug here in the UK does not mean that it is a legal prescription drug in another country, and even if it is, the amount you can take in might be controlled. The medicines most likely to be restricted are ones that can cause addiction such as opiates or steroids, or medicines that need to be injected.

Here is a vital check list:

  • Check with your destinations country’s embassy or High Commission for information about controlled medications.
  • Also ask your GP to tell you if any of your medications are restricted in your chosen destination.
  • Plan to take enough medication to last your entire trip, plus a few days in case of delays.
  • Get a GP letter to explain why you are taking medicines, which medicines you are taking and what doses are required.
  • Take a copy of your prescriptions – This will help with issues at border control or security as well as if you lose your medication abroad and need to get more while you are away.

For more information about travel insurance if you have cancer, visit our dedicated page, or contact one of our team on 01892 833338. Also, please visit Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support who have lots of valuable information about travelling overseas if you have cancer.

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European Destinations With A Totally Christmas Vibe

Ready to whisk yourself away to a winter wonderland this December? Well, we’ve rounded up some of the best EU destinations for Christmas vibes that could put Whoville to shame at this time of year!

Christmas Market Image

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Lapland, Finland

Lapland is a magical place to visit at Christmas time. It is home to the northern lights and has tons of winter activities that will keep the whole family entertained. Skiing, snowboarding, dogsledding and husky sledding are easy-to-access activities that will be sure to bring out your inner child! Just remember to get your wintersports travel insurance before you go!

Tallinn, Estonia

This gorgeous medieval city has a huge array of Christmas markets offering handmade gifts, decorations and foods to give as gifts. The festive vibe comes in strong with music-a-plenty from carol singers and street performers, Christmas parades, concerts, theatre performances, and ice skating rinks.

Tallinn Christmas Image by step-svetlana CC0

Image by step-svetlana CC0

Brussels, Belgium

This Belgian city is a wonderful place to visit for Christmas. It is well-known for its Christmas markets selling a variety of festive goods from handmade chocolates to handcrafted jewellery. Top tips for where to see some sights while you shop include:

  • Grote Markt: Located in Brussels’s Old Town quarter, which has been hosting this market since 1549! Check out the impressive equestrian statue depicting Philip II – who was the King at the time – on his horse.
  • Place du Jeu de Balle/Grand Place: This is home to Notre Dame du Sablon Church which dates back to 1270.
  • Patershol/Rue des Bouchers: This street starts off at Place Royale, passes St Gudula Cathedral and takes you to Patershol Square, which is full of shops selling traditional Belgian fare like chocolate biscuits filled with whipped cream!

Vienna, Austria

The Christmas markets here are huge attraction for visitors. While you’ll find them all over the city, those in the know say to head to Karlsplatz square and the adjacent streets for some truly festive retail therapy and the market on Graben for baked goods like gingerbread men, as well as handcrafted jewellery and toys from around Europe. There are also daily performances of traditional German carols by choirs and orchestras to watch out for during your stay!

Vienna Christmas Market Image

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Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, and in December becomes a hub for holiday shopping, with more than 40 Christmas markets scattered throughout the capital – many with their own unique attractions such as ice skating rinks. If you’re looking for some more wintersports action, Stockholm is also great place for cross country skiing! There are several trails around town for you to discover.

Strasbourg, France

Strasbourg’s Christmas market is one of the biggest in Europe and has been going on since 1570. It’s an open-air market with more than 500 stalls, selling everything from mulled wine to toys. One of the largest Christmas events is a parade through the streets that includes magical creatures, carollers and dancers, amongst a myriad of festive delights.

If you’re looking for a Christmas holiday to remember for all the right reasons don’t forget your travel insurance! Get in touch for an instant quote before you travel!

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What To Do If You Get Robbed Abroad

If the unthinkable happens on holiday, and your personal belongings get stolen, you need to know what to do and when to do it to ensure you can recover the costs of your lost items, and get back home safe.

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Take a quick inventory so you know what is missing

Before you report the theft you need to know what has been stolen. The things most likely to be targeted are passports, cash, bank cards, and valuable personal items such as jewellery and watches.

Report the theft to local police

To make a claim on your travel insurance and to stand a chance of getting your belongings back, you will need to file the incident with the police within 24 hours. If the language barrier is an issue it may help to contact the British Embassy first. Try and get a few copies of your statement as they will be needed for any claims you make to your travel insurance provider.

What to do if your UK passport has been stolen abroad

  • File a police report within 24 hours
  • Apply for an emergency travel document online
  • Collect your emergency travel document from the Embassy or Consulate before rebooking any flights back home.

Contact the British Embassy

Either the Embassy, High Commissioner or Consulate are able to assist with understanding local laws and legal procedures, and they are also able to assist with providing translators and even English-speaking lawyers.

Cancel bank cards and contact the bank

Freeze any accounts linked to stolen bank cards and contact your bank. It may be possible for the bank to issue a new card to be sent by express delivery to where you are staying abroad, or send emergency cash. If your card has been used since being stolen your bank may refund the money.

Contact your travel insurance provider

Once you have a police statement, you can start your travel insurance claim online. You will need your insurance certificate details, details of the incident, and any supporting documentation to be able to start the claim.

What to do your mobile phone has been stolen abroad

Contact your phone provider so that they can block your device. They may also send you a new SIM by express delivery.

Stay safe – do not try to recover your belongings yourself

Do not arrange to meet anyone who says they have your belongings and is asking to meet up to return them. If you get approached then notify the police immediately.

Get Travel Insurance you can trust.

Our comprehensive travel cover can be tailored to suit your needs and our 24 hour multilingual helpline offers peace of mind when you need it most – no matter where you are in the world.

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18 Top Tips to Make Your Money Go Further on Holiday

It’s easy to splash the cash and live in the moment when on holiday. But being thrifty when it comes to spending abroad means you could travel more often or for longer! Check out these top tips to keep your spending sensible and make your money go further on holiday.

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  1. Go all-inclusive – if you book in advance, you can pay in instalments and there’s no spending surprises at your destination.
  1. Go half board or self catering – often a cheaper option and if you shop wisely at local markets and shops you can keep your food costs down.
  1. Set a budget – if you think you can keep to it, allow a set spend for days out, eating out, tasty treats, and souvenirs.
  1. Plan eating out – being tired and hungry is a sure-fire way to think it’s a great idea to head to the nearest restaurant or order a takeout or room service! If you know which days you plan to eat out, you can get food in for the days you are catering for yourself.
  1. Plan your excursions – there is always so much to see and do, so when you get to your destination (or before!) decide what days out are a MUST, and see what budget you have left to do other activities.
  1. Find places to picnic or BBQ – this can be a cheap, easy and fun way to eat out on holiday.
  1. Allocate kids ice-cream money – not only will this help them learn to budget themselves, but it will keep the guilt away while keeping on-budget.
  1. Locate the local markets – local produce, fresh ingredients and usually at a favourable price. A great place to grab food on the go, or to stock up your supplies.
  1. Grab lunch at the local supermarket – you don’t have to eat out every day, and supermarkets are the same the world over. It’s easy to find something light for lunch, and a great way to discover new foods.
  1. Pay in local currency with a Mastercard – the exchange rate is fixed and doesn’t come with any extra charges such as commission.
  1. Travel by bus – a hire car can be great but it isn’t usually a thrifty option. Take the bus to save money and to really soak up your surroundings.
  1. Get car hire excess insurance – if you are going to hire a car, don’t get hit with costly bills for damage to things that aren’t covered by the car hire company insurance. Their own damage liability waiver can be costly with unfavourable terms – we offer surprisingly affordable car hire excess insurance that covers all bases.
  1. Hire bikes – as well as being cheap transport, you can also make bike hire a great day out!
  1. Get out in nature – it is free, good for the soul, and great for your physical and mental health!
  1. Take your own entertainment – whether that is card games, a games console, or some films downloaded to a tablet, it will keep the family entertained without spending more money.
  1. Check your data allowance – you should get a message from your network provider as soon as you enter a new country, check to make sure what is and isn’t included in your allowance and switch off data roaming if you are at all unsure!
  1. Get “kids go free” travel insurance – an easy way to save money whilst still making sure you have the insurance you need.
  1. Don’t get hit with huge medical bills – as well as getting your travel insurance, get your Global Health Insurance Card, it replaces the EHIC, and gets card holders access to treatment at the same cost as a resident of that country.

Find out more about the benefits of a GHIC and why you still need to make sure you have travel insurance too in one of our recent blogs: GHIC is the New EHIC – Health Insurance On Holiday.

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Sacred Sagres – Surf & Sanctuary in the Algarve

If you are looking to unwind, relax, and recharge head to Sagres, a wild and wonderful escape for nature-lovers and outdoor adventurers. Here’s what one solo traveller experienced on her mission to cultivate peace and wellbeing on a retreat in the Algarve.

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Where did you stay in Sagres and why?

I headed to the Memmo Baleeira Hotel, a gorgeous contemporary 4-star spa hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Why? This was to be my home for a week while on a wellness retreat.

What did you do in Sagres?

As soon as I arrived I explored my surroundings. Armed with a cute little map from the hotel I hiked the cliffs,  explored the village, relaxed on the beaches, and soaked up the beautiful views of the ocean. There was plenty of time to explore Sagres, which is set in a Nature Park, between classes and dining with fellow guests on the retreat.

Hit the beaches – There are four easy-to-reach and absolutely glorious golden sandy beaches in Sagres.

  • Praia de Baleeira sits at the base of some steps a couple of minutes walk from the hotel – it is small, quiet, and the perfect spot for watching the sun rise.
  • Praia do Martinhal a little further up on the coast (a 5 minute walk) is much more spacious, has some dunes, a couple of beach bar/restaurants and a lifeguard. Lots of families were here playing in the gentle surf, and it was the gateway to an excellent cliff-top hike along the coast towards Faro.
  • Praia da Mareta takes approx 15 minutes to walk to from the hotel (unless you take the long route round the headland – which is definitely worth it!). It is a great place for surfing and gentle enough for swimming, has a lifeguard, beach chairs with parasols, and a couple of options for sea-view dining. This was my favourite of the beaches in Sagres, sheltered by the cliffs and with plenty of space.
  • Praia do Tonel is THE place to head for some serious surf action. It is smaller than the other beaches, but does have a beach bar for refreshments.
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Filled my cup with yoga and breathwork – Michael Bjiker of Yogalap holds Yoga and Breathwork retreats at the Memmo Baleeira Hotel. There were two gentle, accessible and deeply nourishing sessions a day held in the hotel yoga studio, which had the most memorable sea-views and sunrises. All food was included in our stay, and there was plenty of opportunity to take time for yourself as well as connect with other people on the retreat.

Watched the surfers – when the surf was small, folks were out on their body boards and enjoying the waves; and when the windier weather came in plenty of surfers were out and riding the big ones. The views of surfers at Tonel beach from Fortaliza de Sagres were stunning.

Explored the village – Sagres is small, and has a relaxing low-key vibe. In the village you’ll find plenty of colourful houses, accommodation for those who come to surf, hike and bike, a smattering of shops and a few places to eat and drink.

  • What to eat: The fruit! It tastes of sunshine! Açaí berry smoothie bowls are a big hit here. Pastel de Nata (Portuguese custard tart) are hailed as the best pastries in Portugal, and one I wish I could overcome my gluten intolerance to enjoy – I am told they are AMAZING. Savoury foods in Portugal? It’s all about the seafood and peri peri.
  • Where to eat: Sagres “high street” has a few choices – Dromedario, Agua Salgada, and Pau de Pita are all serving up wholesome treats and have a lovely welcome vibe.
  • What to drink: As I was on a wellness retreat, water was my go-to (bottled not tap – see why in the top tips below!) but really everyone should try a beer called Sagres. Just like everything else about this place the beer is wholesome – made using traditional techniques with no preservatives or additives.
  • Where to shop: There are a few surf shops that stock the usual surf brands, plus Surf Sagres which has customised apparel and local gifts. Ceramica Mo has traditional ceramics and cheap n cheerful beach clothes and accessories. Shaz Boutique was my favourite place to buy a treat – ethically sourced clothes and accessories and a very welcoming vibe!

Learned about the sacred space of Sagres – This village has a very special feel. It is tranquil, calm, it is remote and you feel very close to nature. People come here to surf, to hike, and to get out on their bike, and as Sagres sits in a protected Natural Park you can really take time to connect with your surroundings. Sagres has long been regarded as a special place – its name translates as holy or sacred and at one point it was known as “the end of the world” because no-one knew what could possibly be beyond the vast expanse of ocean.

Sagres chapel Image by IdaT CC0

Image by IdaT CC0

Visited the fortress Fortaleza de Sagres was built in the 15th Century to protect the town from invaders. There isn’t a huge amount to see here, but it is definitely worth the short walk from the village and the 3€ entry for the dramatic views, a chance to enter the chapel, and to experience the Chamber of Sound – an amazing structure that amplifies the sound of the waves in the caves below and even creates a updraft if you stand on the safety grill.

Hiked the headlands – Go in any direction and you will end up in a remote and wonderful wilderness, and always with amazing views.

Indulged in swimming pools and spa treatments – Memmo Baleeira Hotel has a heated outdoor pool with sea views and sun loungers, as well as an indoor pool, sauna, and hammam. Massages and treatments are available but I chose to have a massage from a local lady called Julia who came to the hotel and hands on heart it was the best massage I have ever had!

What did you love (and not love)

I loved the peace, the fresh air, the birds, the wind, the sunrises, the sun sets, the people I met, the beaches, the swimming, the food… I think I loved everything! Açaí berry smoothie bowls, my wonderful massage, the way the light dances on the sea and the cliffs, and the amazing moments with the group will forever be in my heart.

I guess anyone looking for a party vibe or vibrant night-life would probably not love the remoteness of this wild haven.

Image by 43kcreative CC0

Top tips for visiting Sagres

Fly into Faro and get a taxi transfer. The transfer took 1 hour 20 minutes and cost around 120€. There is the option to take a train and then a bus to get to Sagres, which works out a lot cheaper, but will take longer.

Buy bottled water! The water is safe to drink in Portugal but… well, I’d like to say it’s an acquired taste but I’m not sure it is – it seems like everyone drinks bottled water here!

Take good outdoor clothing! The weather here is very weathery. It can be very windy, it can be hot and sunny, if rain is coming it comes down hard and then just as suddenly makes way for clear blue skies. The hikes require good trainers or walking boots. For maximum enjoyment take clothes that stand up to all the elements and a decent daypack.

Would you go again?

In a heartbeat! I went solo this time, and it felt super safe to do so, but I really want to soak it all up again and next time with my family. Sagres is super kid-friendly and a great place to go if you like outdoor adventures, good food, and nice people.

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Posted in Destination Guide, Travel Tips | Comments Off on Sacred Sagres – Surf & Sanctuary in the Algarve

Halloween Holiday Ideas for Fiction Fans

Fancy a trip away that will put a shiver down your spine? We’ve picked 5 of the spookiest places to go for fiction fans at Halloween!

Mexico Day of the Dead Holiday Image

Image by darvinsantos CC0

Mexico

Day of the Dead is a huge time of celebration in Mexico, and an event that sets the scene in Macario, a supernatural thriller. It was originally written in 1950 by B. Traven, and was made into a highly acclaimed film in the 1960s. Day of the Dead is a holiday to celebrate life and death and welcomes back the souls of the deceased for a party that runs from 31st October through to 02nd November. Put it on on your bucket list if you haven’t already!

 

by MMZ84 CC0

Image by MMZ84 CC0

Romania

Brașov in Transylvania, Romania is home to the real Dracula’s Castle. This medieval monument – actually called Bran Castle is where the lead character in the book Dracula, a 1897 gothic horror written by Bram Stoker is said to have lived.  The castle accepts visitors all year round, but there is a special sleepover for fans who want to spend the night at Halloween!

 

Whitby Abbey Image

Image by TimHill CC0

England

Sticking with the Dracula theme, we’d like to give Whitby Abbey a mention. Bram Stoker visited this English seaside town in 1890 and the place provided him with the perfect atmospheric backdrop to his novel. The book references the Abbey and attracts thousands of visitors each year convinced that Dracula was real and in search of his resting place.

 

House of Seven Gables Image

Image by 12019

USA

America is home of horror movies, and there are many, many places film fans and book lovers could visit in search of some spooky action at Halloween, so we went for original and old – which isn’t actually that far back in US history. Cue Salem, Massachusetts, and in particular the House of Seven Gables – the house is real and became the setting for in a novel, and film adaptations, of the same name. Supernatural goings on, witchcraft, and the Salem witch trials are all part of yet another gothic horror from the 1800s!

 

Overlook Hotel Image

Image by Mike Goad

Colorado, USA

You’ll recognise this one right away – it is the Stanley Hotel aka the Overlook from cult horror The Shining – produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, based on the novel by Stephen King. The hotel is located in Estes Park, Colorado and still has a maze! Great news is that each year the hotel throws a massive Halloween party in the ballroom for fans, and bemused guests alike!

 

Avoid a fright on your next holiday… get your travel insurance!

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Posted in Destination Guide, Travel Tips | Comments Off on Halloween Holiday Ideas for Fiction Fans