Category Archives: Destination Guide

Things To Do For Free In Amsterdam

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If you are a thrifty traveller, you’ll love finding free things to do on holiday. Here are some of the best things to do for free in Amsterdam!

Visit the floating flower market on Singel Canal – There are loads of open-air markets around the city, but this is probably the most extraordinary because it is actually floating on the canal!

Take a walking tour – There are free audio tours available to download, or if you can spare a tip book yourself on the Sandemands Free Walking Tours.

Watch some open air theatre – All of Amsterdam’s parks and gardens are free to enter, but head to the Vondlepark at the right time and you could watch a play, performance or even a festival all for free.

Catch a concert – This city is very fond of culture so it should come as no surprise that you can get free entry to a classical or jazz concert somewhere in Amsterdam nearly every day of the week. Check local listings and larger establishments like The National Opera and Ballet, and The Royal Concertgebouw.

Take a river tour – Believe it or not, there is free public transport by boat in Amsterdam. The free ferries are behind Central Station and have three routes crossing the IJ River.

Go to the beach – Even though Amsterdam isn’t on the coast, there are three beaches that can be enjoyed for free. Head to Blijburg, Muiderlaan 1001 Amsterdam if you want to swim too.

Take a tour of the Diamond Factory – There are free tours that share the history of Amsterdam’s reputation as the City of Diamonds, as well as everything you need to know about the sparklers themselves.

Go to Cannabis College – This is a not-for-profit establishment in the city that aims to educate visitors about Cannabis, including the medicinal benefits. Entry is free, but if you want to experience the indoor garden, a paradise of fully-flowering organic cannabis plants, you’ll have to pay a small fee.

UK Spring Break – Countryside or Coast?

Can’t decide how to spend that extended bank holiday weekend? Here are some top spots in the countryside and on the coast to help you make up your mind!

Countryside

Snowdonia Image by diego_torres CC0

Snowdonia National Park

This area is blessed with a hugely varied landscape of valleys and mountains, river gorges, lakes and waterfalls, so you can imagine the wealth of activities that come with this! As well as the usual suite of outdoor activities there are 150 attractions packed in too. Late spring and early summer are the driest times here, so perfect for the spring bank holiday break.

The Lake District

As the home of British mountaineering, and with the highest concentration of outdoor activity centres than anywhere else in the UK, you can be assured that the Lake District will deliver a fabulous slice of outdoor life. The area combines lakes, rivers, fells, woodland and small towns, so you’ll be spoilt for choice deciding what to see and do.

The Cairngorms

This is the largest National Park in the UK, is home to over a quarter of Scotland’s native forest, and the high plateaux are more like the landscape you’d find in Greenland! The Cairngorms is an inspirational place where visitors can connect with nature, but be warned it’s not the place to go if you want to get warm – temperatures are unlikely to rise above 8 °C in May.

New Forest

While these ancient woodlands are a tamer option than mountainous regions, it is still blessed with wonderful wildlife, and lots of opportunities for embracing the great outdoors. Highlights include miles upon miles of cycle tracks and forest footpaths, all of which have cattle and horses wandering freely around. It is the ideal location to set up camp, but if roughing it in a field isn’t your idea of fun, you’ll love the many quintessentially English villages nestled amongst the glades and moors!

Give your getaway an upgrade and hire a car for your journey!

Whether it is a super car, campervan or SUV that you’ve got your sights set on, make sure you get Car Hire Excess Insurance so you are not left with the bill if the vehicle is damaged or stolen.

Coast

Lulworth Cove Image by diego_torres CC0

Sanna

If you are looking for a remote coastal experience, Sanna Bay is a must. There is very little here but white sandy beaches, turquoise seas and spectacular sand dunes. In fact, you’d be mistaken for thinking you are on a tropical beach. Apart from the temperature of course! The drive to Sanna is also extraordinary, a single track road through what has been described as some of Scotland’s oddest scenery – it is in fact the crater of an extinct volcano.

Lulworth Cove

If you are looking for warmth, your best bet for the Spring Bank Holiday Break is to head to the south coast, Dorset in particular. The Jurassic coast is said to have more hours of sunshine and be warmer than anywhere else in the UK. Lulworth Cove, and further down the coast at Durdle Door you will find shelter from cold northerly breezes whilst being blessed with sunny blue skies. This area also has spectacular coastlines, far-flung views, and wonderful beaches where you may find a fossil or two.

Southwold

The mix of sand dunes, marshlands, and sensationally genteel historic town is just gorgeous. Add to that the fact it has it’s own brewery, and you’ll see why Southwold is a go-to for a wonderful long weekend! As well as delightful scenery, first class eateries and up-market shopping opportunities, Southwold also lays claim to having the quirkiest pier in England, a nice nod to the many artists that have been drawn here, and of course reside here.

Swansea Bay

This is billed as the best beach in Wales – a vast sandy stretch of coast hugged by gently sloping hills. From the top of these hills you can see the Pembrokeshire coast, and a wealth of natural wonders. This is a great place to catch some gentle surf, which might be tempting as the temperature is creeping up at this time of year, or relax in natural surroundings – but it will also appeal to those of you who like to be near the hustle and bustle of city life too!

Chocolate Themed Breaks – An Alternative Easter Treat

Why have a chocolate egg when you can have a chocolate holiday! Here are four choice ways to have an eggstra indulgent Easter!

© Image Courtesy of Jade Mountain.

Chocolate Alchemy, Jade Mountain Spa Hotel, St Lucia 

This luxury hotel bathes in the glory of Piti and Gros Piton mountains, floating upon the Caribbean Sea, and rather indulgently is set in an estate where there are over 2000 cocoa trees growing! This makes Jade Mountain the place to go for an ultra indulgent chocolate experience!

In the Chocolate Lab guests can taste and help make the estate’s very own Emerald Estate Chocolate. Chocolate infused activities include sensory tastings, educational estate trips, and truffle making classes. There are also chocolate inspired dishes and cocktails in the resort restaurants and bars – plus chocolate themed spa treatments – the coarseness of ground cocoa makes for the perfect scrub, infusing the skin with natural nutrients and anti-oxidants. The Chocolate Alchemy Package Includes:

  • A chocolate welcome amenity and cocktail
  • Chocolate Lovers’ Breakfast in Bed celebration
  • Chocolate infused 1 hour spa treatment
  • A learning excursion to the resort’s Emerald Cocoa Estate
  • Chocolate Sensory tasting
  • Chocolate making class in Jade Mountain’s chocolate laboratory
  • A chance to create your own fudge and personalized chocolate bar

© Image Courtesy of Jade Mountain.

Chocolate Journey Cruise, Worldwide

Princess Cruises offers indulgent on-board chocolate experiences on all its liners, in partnership with award-winning chocolatier Norman Love. Each ship is different – but chocolate is always a key theme. Some for example do a monster Chocolate Indulgence breakfast buffet, and some boast a chocolate fountain or two. Experiences to entice guests aboard include:

  • Exquisite chocolate desserts
  • Chocolate-flavoured cocktails
  • Wine and chocolate pairing tasting sessions
  • Chocolate-themed spa treatments

 

© Image Courtesy of Cruise Critic

Mövenpick Signature Chocolate Hour, Worldwide

 This Swiss hotel chain is so connected with its heritage that it dedicates one hour in the afternoon to an exquisite chocolate tasting experience!

Mövenpick’s Signature Chocolate Hour takes place in the lobby of all their hotels and resorts around the world. Each day you can discover Mövenpick chocolate variations and homemade creations such as éclairs, brownies, truffles, chocolate fountains and much more!

© Image courtesy of Mövenpick.

The Chocolate Indulgence Break, Vale Resort, Wales

A complete hands-on experience in chocolate making, combined with a luxury break. The chocolate indulgence break includes:

  • 1 night luxury 4* break
  • Full Welsh breakfast
  • Vale Grill, A la Carte dinner
  • Half a day hands-on course making dipped chocolate & hand rolled truffles
  • Take home 25-30 chocolates
  • Tasting session & recipes
  • Half day in the Vale Spa with 25 minute facial or massage

© Image Courtesy of Vale Resort.

Mothers Day Weekend Getaways – Go On Treat Yourself!

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Whether you are looking to spoil your mum, or you are a mum looking to get away from it all on a Mother’s Day break, here are three sensational destinations to choose from!

MILAN – for the mum who likes to shop

Synonymous with design and fashion, the Italian city of Milan is the place to go on a shopping spree! The top five spots to shop are:

  • Via Montenapoleone – Luxury shopping from world-class designers including Gucci, Prada, and Valentino. It’s also where you’ll find the best of Italy’s leather goods!
  • Corso Venezia – Exclusive, elegant, and surrounded by beautiful gardens, parks and palaces. This is the place to be seen if you are in to fashion.
  • Corso di Porta Ticinese – Alternative brands, unique boutiques, and boasting a very cool hipster vibe. You’ll also find well-known brands like Vans, Levi and Diesel here.
  • Corso Vittorio Emanuele II – High street fashion from the likes of Zara and Mango, plus it’s got one of the biggest department stores in the city, 8 floors of retail therapy heaven!
  • Corso Buenos Aires – Europe’s longest shopping street with the highest concentration of clothing stores. A sure fire guarantee that you’ll shop till you drop.

 

BUDAPEST – for the mum who likes a pamper

The Hungarian capital is brimming with thermal baths, and spas, offering a wide range of pampering opportunities such as mud therapy, massage, facials, and salt cave experiences. Top places to go are:

  • Rudas Thermal Baths and Swimming Pool – A glorious historical building where you can get the most authentic hammam experience. There are 6 baths, all of a different temperature, a steam chamber and a Finnish sauna. Divine!
  • Lukács Bath – An enormous spa space with everything you could wish for under one roof. Outdoor hot pool with mini river, massage services, swimming, and Himalayan salt steam room – all supplied by what is touted to be the best quality thermal spring in the city.
  • Széchenyi Baths – As the largest spa complex in Europe, you know that this place has everything you could possibly want, but one spa in particular comes to attention – the Beer Spa! Here you can soak in the mineral-rich thermal water but blended with natural extracts used to brew beer. While the spa lists many benefits to this spa, the fact it has beer on tap within reach of the tub is a winner.

 

ICELAND – for the mum who likes an adventure

There is just so much for an adrenaline junkie to do in Iceland! Here are some top activities and where you’ll find them:

  • Ice Climbing – Sólheimajökull in South Iceland.
  • Ice Caving – one of the most popular places to explore is on a glacier hike near Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding – Head to Akureyri, Hlíðarfjall, these ski resorts are open for more days in the season.
  • Dog Sledding – Locations vary, but most tour pickups are from Reykjavík.
  • Trekking, Hiking and Mountain Biking – All over Iceland taking in beaches, hot springs, mountains and valleys.
  • Snowmobiling – Tours are mostly at the top of glaciers, so expect awesome views too!
  • Scuba Diving – Silfra Fissure, situated in Þingvellir National Park – one of the top 5 diving sites worldwide!
  • White Water Rafting – Hvíta´ river, south Iceland, Jökulsá Austari in the North East, Vestari Jökulsá in the North West.
  • Paragliding – Birds eye view of Reynisfjara black sand beach, Reynisdrangar basalt stacks, ocean waves, lava rock formations, waterfalls… you get the picture!

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We cover a huge range of activities and sports as standard, and even more can be added to your policy if you need!

 

8 Destinations that DO Live Up To The Hype

Places so pretty they could have been photoshopped, and with enough culture to put you in a Stendhal spin – could these be the best holiday destinations on the planet?

Banff National Park, Canada

Image by Djwosa CC0

Gorgeous lakes and incredible mountains, every photo looks so good people probably don’t think the place is real. Banff is also home to bears, elk, deer, and bighorn sheep – an idyllic setting that ticks all the big wilderness boxes.

Fjords of Norway

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There are 1,190 drop-dead dramatically gorgeous fjords to visit in West Norway. The region is great for hiking, camping, kayaking, and there is the added benefit of being able to see the Northern lights. 

Table Top Mountain, Cape Town

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To get the best out of a trip here, hike up from the Botanical Gardens (taking some time to enjoy the attraction, it is billed as one of the best gardens in the world), to go past waterfalls and a lake before you walk across Table Mountain itself. Then catch the cable car down.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

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While the Cliffs of Kerry are more rugged and bigger than Moher, at Moher visitors can walk along the side of the cliffs on the trails. The visitor centre is almost as dramatic as the cliffs themselves, and well worth a visit.

Iceland

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Volcanos, glaciers, waterfalls, caves, mountains, rivers, pools and the best aurora borealis – Iceland has it all. While many other top destinations might have a better example of one of these wonders, this is probably the only place you can find them all!

Vienna, Austria

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Incredible architecture, fantastic art, first class food, and oodles of history – plus the people are friendly people and the views are great. Vienna is the place to go if you think you want to go to Paris. Another bonus is that to get there you have to experience the glory of the alps… what a shame!

Milford Sound, New Zealand

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New Zealand is what bucket list dreams are made of! Idyllic picture postcard scenery of an astoundingly huge variety, and geological wonders galore. Here’s a taster: tropical Island beaches, Lord of the Rings mountain ranges, Norwegian-style fjords, and rain forests with cold-weather parrots.

Yosemite National Park, California

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Supersized, epic, and inspiring scenery that is worth experiencing every season! Top tips: Go in winter and you will feel like you have the park to yourself (plus the snow is a magical touch not to be missed), although some trails and roads may be closed. Brave the crowds in the spring to experience the waterfalls, which are absolutely breath taking. To escape the crowds at any time, go along any trail for about a mile and there will be far less people!

Don’t forget your travel insurance! We have single trip, multi-trip and long stay options, plus specialist wintersports insurance for adventurous travel plans! Plus kids go free on family policies!

 

The Best Places To Go For A Hot Holiday At Christmas

If you are feeling the chill setting in, it’s not too late to ditch the Christmas turkey and go on a hot sunny break instead. Here are the top destinations to travel to this December!

Hot!

Cape Town Image by Ganossi CC0

Cape Town

Temperatures average a daily maximum of 19.8 °C with just 15 mm of rain, and an average of 11 hours of sunshine each day. The climate is very much like the Med, so you’ll be in for a treat if you like a good wine, as the place is home to some fantastic vineyards!

Lanzarote

Expect temperatures to reach 21.9 °C during the day with around 6 hours of sunshine. Due to its flat landscape, Lanzarote has lower rainfall rates than the other Canary Islands, so you’ll probably stay nice and dry. The island is well known for lunar-like volcanic landscapes, so if you like holidays that have a touch of surreal, this is the place for you!

Tenerife

This is a popular place for sun seekers during the Christmas period, with temperatures reaching a very pleasant 22.2 °C, during a 6 hour sunshiny day. Note that during winter it is wetter on the north side of the island. While the beaches draw crowds, it is the night sky that is truly impressive here. Teide National Park has been recognised as one of the best star gazing sites on the planet due to its close proximity to the equator and low levels of light pollution!

Hotter!

Melbourne Image by DroneUAVWorld CC0

Melbourne

The beginning of the summer sees temperatures reaching a toasty 25.5 °C with 8 hours of sunshine each day. It’s one of the driest cities in Oz, but during December the weather can be unpredictable, so at least pack a waterproof poncho. Melbourne is a cultural hub of wonder, so if you like a hipster vibe, damn good coffee and a destination teeming with art and design –this is the hot holiday for you

Cape Verde

Temperatures are dropping here at this time of year, to a much more acceptable average of 26.4 °C! Humidity is high, but the coastal breezes make it more than bearable. The main reason to head to Cape Verde at this time of year is for the beaches. Miles upon miles of golden sands and turquoise seas bordered by lush tropical landscapes.

Hot Hot Hottest!

Barbados Image by PublicDomainPictures CC0

Barbados

It’s hot all year round in Barbados, but in December you can enjoy the searing average temperature of 29.6 °C without the humidity, plus this season brings with it a nice breeze from the north-east trade winds. It does rain quite a bit – 112mm – but showers are short. Barbados is the birthplace of Rum, which goes really well with sun, and fun. If you like your sun, fun, and rum best on a white sandy beach or luxury yacht, then this is definitely the break for you!

Cancun

Could there be such a thing as too hot? Cancun can get very very hot, (reaching an incredible 37.5 °C in May), so December is an ideal time to visit with temperatures at a hot but bearable, 30.4 °C and rainfall at an average of 38 mm. The place is practically paradise with ivory beaches and sun-kissed seas, enticing divers, surfers, swimmers, and snorkelers as well as sun-worshippers.

Don’t forget your travel insurance! Give our sales team a call on UK(+44) 01892 833338, or go online to get a quote.

 

5 Of The Best Places To Spend Halloween

1. Mexico

Image by AndyG CC0

In Mexico, Halloween is for the kids, and greatly overshadowed by the Day of the Dead, which falls on 02nd November. This celebration however is just bursting with colour and excitement, which probably makes it the best destination in the world at this time of the year.

What is Day of the Dead?

Day of the Dead is an annual gathering in Mexico where people come together to celebrate the lives of loved ones who have passed away. Streets are packed with lavishly decorated market stalls selling lavishly decorated goods such as sugar skulls and ornaments for altars, there are parades of people dressed in costumes, with skulls painted on their faces; and amongst all that you’ll also find street vendors selling delicious foods, and altars where revellers can pay their respects.

2. Amsterdam

Image by Chase Elliott Clark CC BY 2.0

The Halloween Festival Amsterdam is a whopping three-day event, so even if you didn’t dress up as a zombie for Halloween, you might well look like one by the end of the festivities! Costume parties, all night horror film marathons, and gory makeup workshops are just some of the major events happening during the festival.

3. New Orleans

Image by Infrogmation CC BY 2.0 CC

They know how to party in New Orleans, and Halloween celebrations are no exception. The New Orleans Halloween Parade is second only to the famed Mardi Gras for dressing up street party fun for all ages. Celebrations are preceded by ghost tours, and visitors can get into the feel of the night by visiting any of the many voodoo shops that can be found in the city for some extra spooky fun!

 

Did you know? New Orleans is regarded as one of the most haunted cities in the whole of the US!

 

4. Barcelona

Image by Leon F. Cabeiro CC BY 2.0

This is another city well known for its party atmosphere! Among the many fiestas that happen throughout the year here you’ll find La Castanyada around Halloween. It is a popular All Saints’ Day festival celebrated throughout Spain, and it translates as chestnut time! As such, amongst the festivities you’ll find plenty of roast chestnuts being served alongside sweet potatoes, almond cakes, and sweet wine!

5. Bratislava

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The Slovakian city of Bratislava has gained a reputation of having the most frightening Halloween celebrations in the world! Pubs, Clubs and bars all get in on the action turning the entire city into one big spooky party. Hotels also offer fright nights for guests, so make sure you book ahead if you want to spend Halloween here.

Avoid the fright of your life…. Get travel insurance!

Finding yourself in a pickle on holiday over a lost passport or stolen wallet is far more frightening than any of these Halloween events! Make sure that you get the cover you need should your holiday not go to plan.

Best September City Breaks for Couples

The kids are back at school, and the sun is still shining – the perfect combo for couples looking to take a late summer city break. Here are the top 5 places you’ll want to be and why this September…

Paris

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Would a list like this be complete without it? Not only is the city said to be the epitome of romance, it is a short flight, or even train journey from the UK – which means more time gazing into each other’s eyes on holiday. Plus it is packed with boutique bars, restaurants and cafes – just perfect for indulgent couple time.

Reykjavik

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Sensational scenery, vibrant nightlife, and the city centre has just about everything within walking distance. Three great reasons for couples to take a short break in Reykjavik! Also, temperatures just about to cling on to double figures right until the end of the month, fresh but pleasant.

Amsterdam

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Like Paris, this city is quick to get to, but the atmosphere is certainly more heady! The titillating city centre will bring some added excitement to a romantic weekend, but don’t forget that Amsterdam is blessed by a myriad of beautiful canals and winding cobbled streets, ideal backdrops for a romantic getaway.

Venice

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This Italian city is literally awash with romance. Whether you catch an opera in the opulent La Fenice opera house, take a gondola ride at sunset (please refrain from warbling the words from the Cornetto ad), or just wander the piazzas soaking up the amazing architecture – it’ll be a city break of a lifetime for two.

Marrakech

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Adventure, luxury, a taste of the exotic… and it takes less than 4 hours to get there from the UK – no wonder this Moroccan city has made our list! It’s also a super-toasty temperature in September, around 35 °C. The dose of late summer sunshine is guaranteed to keep your romantic intentions topped up as well as your tan!

Fly Me To The Moon

While space tourism is coming on in great leaps, the reality of jetting off to the moon is not going to be a reality for a fair few years. You can however, take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia, Turkey, where the lunar landscape ticks “other worldly” boxes, like nowhere else on our planet!

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What’s so special about Cappadocia?

Quite simply, it is a geological oddity that will blow your mind. Undulating landscapes punctuated by sharp volcanic peaks, and the locals were true troglodytes, living in homes carved from the soft volcanic rock. It is a unique place to visit that should be on every globetrotting bucket list.

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Make sure you get a birds eye view

Booking a flight in a hot air balloon is a must when you visit. While most of the attractions in Cappadocia are underground, the view from above is unmissable. Think pseudo-psychedelic volcanic landscapes, fairy chimneys, and sensuous folding valleys. Balloon rides usually set off around sunrise, which means you get to see the whole spectacular landscape bathed in the most beautiful light.

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Stay in a (posh) cave

Would you believe there is such a thing as a 5 Star Cave? The cave hotels in the area are restored troglodyte dwellings that have been given a luxurious contemporary re-vamp, often with reclaimed stone, iron and wood. You can expect wi-fi, spa baths, and TVs. Wondering why Cappadocia’s residents choose to live in caves? The volcanic rock in the area is soft, so easy to excavate, and is an excellent insulation material, keeping the rooms at a perfectly pleasant 17 – 20 degrees all year round.

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Go To Göreme Open-Air Museum

The finest examples of rock-cut churches and colorful fresh-as-the-day-they-were-done frescos from the 10th, 11th and 12th Centuries draw everyone who visits Cappadocia to Göreme Open-Air Museum. It is a wonderful chance to experience the stunning landscape and the unique architecture of the chapel clusters up close.

Image by Hans CC0

 

Don’t forget your travel insurance!

Recreational hot air balloon rides are covered automatically on our travel insurance policies, so you’ll be covered for that as well as lost or stolen luggage, passports, or holiday money, cancelled flights, medical assistance, repatriation…. Just give us a call on 01892 833338 or get a quote online.

 

Please note: Policies, terms, and conditions may change. All information published in this blog pertaining to travel insurance from worldwideinsure.com is only deemed valid at the time of publication.