Category Archives: Destinations

Explore the Maori Culture of New Zealand

While no longer the dominant culture of New Zealand, many people still take an avid interest in the Maori way of life and their fascinating way of life. With so many opportunities for you to experience this unique culture, you may be at a loss of where to start, so to help you along your way, here’s a guide on how to explore the Maori culture of New Zealand!

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Maori Kai Festival

The Maori Kai food festival is extremely popular with locals and tourists alike due to showcases of delicious natural and local foods from the Maori culture. Previously, the traditional foods that you can try in these festivals were reserved mainly for Maori functions and events!

With the increasingly popularity and the awareness it raises, the Maoris are more than happy to let everyone experience their way of life, providing the perfect opportunity to ease yourself into the cuisine side of the culture. Furthermore, you’ll also be able to appreciate the traditional clothes and jewellery that will be worn by the Maori locals.

Lonely Planet has described this festival as one of the highlights of the year for people in New Zealand, with it being held around the month of February. Different areas of the country give the festival a different twist, so even if you have done it before and find yourself in a different area, you will have a whole new experience!

Pasifika Festival

This annual festival is a celebration of everything in the Maori culture, from music to food, arts to dancing. It is without a doubt one of the most significant cultural festivals in the South Pacific and helps preserve many of the old practices of the Maori.

The festival generally lasts for around two days and on the first day you will be treated to a concert of Pacific songs, dances and stories. The following day sees the Auckland’s Western Springs Park transformed into 10 villages, one village from every Pacific Island. This is a great opportunity to sample so many different kinds of Maori culture in a couple of days and should not be missed.

Rotorua

The entire area of Rotorua is steeped in Maori culture and history, making it a great place to experience! Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity, and Maori legend states that two fire demons searching for a lost tribe leader are the cause of the heat coming from the Earth. Here, you can explore the geysers, mud pools and steam vents while there are plenty of signs and information points explaining the importance of what you see in the Maori culture.

Te Puia

While many of the Maori cultural festivals give you a taste of the cuisine, none of them can give you cuisine cooked in one of the most ancient Maori methods, the Steambox. The Steambox uses a favourite Maori technique of cooking the food from the hot geysers that spray out from the Earth. You simply choose what you wish to eat for lunch and watch as the Maori chefs cook the food with the heat from the geyser!

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Tenerife’s Top Free Attractions for Families Holiday On A Budget

With hours of sunshine all year round and some of Europe’s best beaches, Tenerife is an ideal destination for holidaymakers. There are also plenty of cheap flights available from all major UK airports, making it perfect for anyone travelling on a budget. They say the best things in life are free, so check out our guide to the best purse-friendly attractions Tenerife has to offer. The whole family will love it!

Beaches

It might sound obvious, but what better place to start than Tenerife’s famous beaches? The island certainly isn’t short of golden sands and clear waters where you can soak up the sun and enjoy a swim. After all, it’s completely free to relax, unwind and top up your tan!

Visit El Drago

Located in a park in the town of Icod de los Vinos, the multi-headed Drago Tree is certainly unusual and is said to be up to 1000 years old. You have to pay to get into the park where this huge knarled tree is, but if you head to the town plaza instead you can get a brilliant view of it completely gratis.

Teide National Park

Exploring on foot is one of the best ways to discover Tenerife, and some of island’s most fantastic views can be found at Teide National Park. Its surreal volcanic landscape really does have to be seen to be believed! Alternatively, enjoy a walk around one of the island’s many promenades and coastal paths where you can enjoy an ice cream, enjoy the breath-taking views and see some of the island’s fascinating flora and fauna.

Surfing

If relaxing on the sand isn’t enough for you, dig out your board and take advantage of Tenerife’s excellent surfing conditions. Forget paying for pricy water parks and head to Playa Jardín in Puerto de la Cruz where you can brave the waves and enjoy all the thrills and spills of the water for free.

Sightseeing

Famous attractions like Siam Park don’t come cheap, so take advantage of Sundays on the island where entry to all of Tenerife’s publicly owned galleries and museums is free. Alternatively, if you’re not over there on a Sunday, try using a service like Cheapflights the online comparison website to save some money on flights for the sightseeing. It’s a great way to combine fun and learning for the whole family.

Fiesta!

Mainland Spain is renowned for its fiestas, and The Canary Islands are no exception! Canarians love a celebration and there are no less than 14 fiesta days celebrated throughout the year. Most shops close on fiesta days, but bars and cafes largely remain open and the main plaza is decorated with colourful bunting and a huge stage ahead of the celebrations. Once the sun goes down, local Canarian bands take to the stage to deliver performances of traditional music and singing, and the atmosphere is electric.

Food and drink flows freely and people descend on the plaza to join in with the fun. Canarians are also renowned for being welcoming and hospitable, so tourists are always heartily encouraged to join in too.

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In focus: Mount Teide

mount teide

Located in the Teide National Park and stretching to 3,718 metres, Tenerife’s highest mountain is something not to be missed when holidaying on the island. The volcano last erupted in 1909, but there is still a lot of excitement to be found surrounding the peak, which has a plethora of activities on offer.

Here is a guide to some of the outdoor pursuits you may wish to undertake on or around the dormant volcano. It is an opportunity not to be missed if you’re taking a trip here.

Take a hike

While there is a cable car in situ on the mountain that can transport you to the top in just eight minutes, many visitors to Mount Teide prefer to make it to the summit under their own steam. For the majority, this means strapping on your walking boots and completing one of the trails up the mountainside.

It is up to you which route you take as there are three main options to choose from: The Rambleta; Pico Vieja; and La Fortaleza, with the final ascent of the volcanic cone called the Telesforo Bravo.

Going with an organised group or planning your route in advance is imperative to ensure you don’t get lost. If you are coming from the coast be aware that you will gain quite a lot of height during the climb and the air will become noticeably thinner. Be sure to carry enough water for your trek and sun cream to protect yourself in the heat of the Tenerife sunshine.

Explore underwater caves

During one of the volcano’s eruptions the lava cooled forming underwater caves and bizarre rock formations. This makes for the perfect place to enjoy a diving expedition with a difference. Don your scuba gear and explore this other-worldly landscape. There are the remnants of sunken ships, as well as stingrays and angel sharks to encounter.

Discover a network of lava tubes

As well as areas filled with water, previous eruptions have also left air pockets as the lava has cooled. These spaces make up one of the most extensive networks of lava tubes found anywhere in the world.

Take the opportunity to wander through this impressive natural phenomenon, which includes the Cueva del Viento, stretching for 17 kilometres. Guided tours are well worth undertaking as they are informative and help you to find your way.

Take to the air

There is nothing quite like the feeling of paragliding over a volcanic landscape with the amazing views stretching out in front of you. A tandem trip is easy to organise and relatively inexpensive. You will not pass over the peak of Mount Teide itself, but will be able to see it as you swoop around the national park.

Visit at night

Mount Teide really is the destination for all times of the day and night as you can sit and look at the stars once the sun has gone down. The Canary Islands are blessed with especially clear skies and the volcano’s position away from big cities means that it is free of light pollution.

It is a magical spot to enjoy some stargazing – a pursuit that many people only ever have the time to indulge in while they are on holiday. You can start the evening with a barbecue just as dusk is falling, as there are plenty of facilities for this throughout the national park, and make a real event of it.

 

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A beach hopper’s guide to Nice

Nice is a well-known seaside destination in the south of France, making it the ideal place to visit if you’re after a bit of relaxation in the sun. While the city itself is home to several stunning beaches, it would be a shame not to explore some other parts of the coastline.

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The easiest way to do this is to hire a car when you arrive, as this will give you plenty of freedom to travel outside Nice should you wish to (check out this websitefor information about car rental). To give you an incentive to explore, we’ve put together a list of some of the top beaches in and around Nice.

One thing to remember about Nice’s beaches is that there are private and public seaside stretches, with the private options generally thought to be the best.

Blue Beach

Our first pick is Nice’s Blue Beach, a private cove that’s got excellent facilities and is renowned for its brilliant restaurant. As well as the high-end eatery that is a must-visit for gastronomes, there is also a volleyball court and a table tennis table, so there’s a lot to keep you from getting bored while you soak up the sun.

You’ll find Blue Beach just off the Promenade des Anglais and close to some of the city’s best hotels, such as the Palais de la Mediterranee.

Beaulieu-sur-Mer

Around a 20-minute drive to the east of Nice is the charming seaside town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, which happens to boast some of the most picturesque beaches in the French Riviera.

You don’t need to look hard to find that perfect sweep of sand, either, as the main beach is wonderful. It’s around 1 km long and is made up of a mixture of sand and pebbles. Running along its entire length is a promenade where you can go for a leisurely stroll if you tire of lying in the sun.

Plage de la Mala

Plage de la Mala is in Cap d’Ali, which is roughly 30 minutes to the east of Nice. This is the ideal seaside spot if you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, because the steep steps you have to climb down (and back up again after your day of sunbathing) put many people off.

This secluded cove is well worth the effort to get down to, though, with azure-blue waters lapping gently at the shore and few people to fight over space with. There are private areas on this beach, which are backed by high-end restaurants – perfect if you want to treat yourself to an indulgent meal before heading back up the steps.

Eze bay

Our final pick is the bay in Eze, a delightful perched village that is worth a visit regardless of the quality of its beach. The village itself is located high on a hill overlooking the coast and dates back to the medieval era. At its highest point are the ruins of a 12th century castle – so drive up to the fortified centre and explore before hitting the seaside.

The beach is made up of pebbles but is very picturesque. There’s a private section – known as Anjuna Beach – where the restaurant and sun terrace are decorated to give visitors a taste of India and Bali. Head down on a Sunday and you’ll be treated to live music at the beach club as well.

 

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Spend the Day Underground in Coober Pedy, Australia

Driving into the dry, hot desert stretches of Australia’s Outback, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Coober Pedy was abandoned long ago. However the barren landscape hides a thriving community of over 4,000 permanent residents, who live under the earth’s surface. Coober Pedy was first established in in 1915, shortly after a mother lode of opals was discovered in the area. Prospective opal miners from around the world flocked to town to seek their fortune, establishing this settlement in the sun. The harsh weather conditions caused the locals to drive their living spaces underground, converting old mines into cosy houses.

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Today, tourists visit South Australia’s Cooper Pedy not only to find out more about it opal mining heritage, but also to see what life is like underground. You can stay in an underground hotel, get a bargain on precious gems at the opal jewellery shops, and even enjoy a gourmet meal below the earth’s surface. The following are a few attractions that make this historic town a fascinating place to visit.

Underground Living

You may assume that the dugout homes in Coober Pedy will feel small or claustrophobic, but they rival many of the finest examples of real estate SA in cosmopolitan Adelaide. You can tour some examples of the homes, which feature modern kitchens, walk-in closets, and a warm glow from the red rocks that comprise their walls. Many visitors choose to stay in the Desert Cave Hotel, which offers 4 star accommodations and an on-site opal gallery. There are also underground gift shops, museums, churches, and cafes to keep you busy when the sun is at its brightest outside. The Umoona Mine and Museum contains an underground house, theatre, cultural displays, and Aboriginal interpretive centre to learn more about the region’s history.

Coober Pedy Golf Course

In the evening hours when the temperature drops, locals and visitors alike can enjoy a round of golf with glow in the dark golf balls. There isn’t any grass or trees in the area, so the course uses mounds of sand, oil and diesel pits, and a large sand trap. This makes it a uniquely challenging and bizarre golf course that will test even the most avid golfer’s skill.

Opal Mining

If you want to try your hand at opal mining, you can visit the “noodling” area open to the public in Coober Pedy. There are designated areas that are open for noodling, so be sure to stick to these to avoid a fine. No permit is required if you don’t use a digging device, shovel, or pick. However, if you plan to use digging tools, explosives, or heavy machinery you’ll need the appropriate permit from the Mines and Energy office.

The Breakaways

If you’re looking for an intriguing day trip from Coober Pedy, you might want to venture about a half hour north of town to the Breakaways Reserve. This includes bright and colourful rock hills which were once part of the Stuart Range, but have broken away over time. Be sure to pack plenty of water, as temperatures can soar. However, visitors are rewarded with amazing views of the Outback. The desert changes colours throughout the day depending on the position of the sun, creating a surreal and completely unique impression on viewers.

A day in Coober Pedy is unlike anywhere else on earth, allowing you to experience what life is like below the earth’s surface.

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Exciting Destinations for Family Holidays

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BARCELONA
Barcelona is a popular party destination, but there is a lot for the family to enjoy: from the fantastic beaches lined up with fine family friendly resorts to the wander of Gaudi’s fairytale architecture.

The best place to start your trip is strolling along the mile long colorful Las Ramblas where you will enjoy mingling with the locals as well as other tourists. Enjoy watching fortune tellers, dancers, music and the fine statues as you wander through the magical streets. You may let the young ones experience the magic of fortune telling. There are also numerous restaurants lined up along this street where your family can enjoy a good meal as you explore the bustling surrounding.

There are some exciting parks to relax after a long day exploring the Las Ramblas; the Teatre Grec gardens are not only lush but also inspiring and tranquil.

If you don’t fancy exploring on foot then why not get a ticket for one of Barcelona’s hop on hop off buses? This is a great way to see all the main sites in the city and find out some of the history and background behind it. It’s also a great way to save the children’s tired legs!

If you have not introduced your family to sea food then here you can have a great start. It is immoral to leave Barcelona without sucking on an oyster, and there are numerous restaurants where you can enjoy sea food delicacies.

Don’t forget to treat your kids to some of the finest chocolates in the world!

INDIA
India is fascinating and a spectacular destination for all ages: there is always something for everyone.  Whatever your age, it is guaranteed that you will marvel at the enchanting landscapes, alluring wildlife, rich culture and magnificent architectural grandeur.

Take your family on a wildlife trip and watch your kids get thrilled by the spectacular wildlife as you sink deeper and deeper into the Indian jungles. The Royal Tiger is just one of the rare jungle attractions that can be found in the Kanha National Park and Bandhavgarh National Park.

Kerala is another exciting destination for families; it is also known as ‘gods own country’ and all you need is get there to know why. This fairytale land is blessed with extravagant attractions, dramatic hill stations and the popular backwaters for a tranquil family holiday. Let the family enjoy navigating these glorious waters in a fabulous boat house. Experience the Indian culture up close and candid as you watch closely as the natives continue with their daily activities. There are numerous resorts to stay at in the area, such as the Poovar Island Resort which is a great place to keep the kids entertained when you’re not exploring.

PORTUGAL
Portugal is ideal for that long awaited family holiday: the fine weather, enchanting towns, rich marine heritage, charming fishing villages and the friendly people make it a perfect holiday paradise.

The Algarve is a popular touristic destination: it offers picturesque coastlines, pristine sandy beaches, magnificent resorts and world class golf courses. It has something for everyone and offers an opportunity for family fun.

Madeira Island is an all year round holiday destination with spectacular gardens, rugged coastline, volcanic caves, gorgeous beaches and enchanting cultural experiences. Some of Portugal’s splendid flowers are showcased in the lush gardens. For a tranquil and intimate experience, you can savor a family picnic surrounded by this natural beauty. For a beach experience you can head to the Praia da Jamaica and build some sand castles with the kids on the beautiful sandy beach. Take a walk through Funchal, the islands capital and have some cultural fun, take family photographs in the picturesque squares and enjoy roaming in the charming streets.

 

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Lovely Lanzarote

If you’re considering a holiday to Lanzarote but are concerned it’s all water parks and sun bathing, well think again. Lanzarote is an island rich in history and natural beauty with an awe inspiring volcanic landscape.

Historians have dated habitation on the island back to 1000 BC and since then the island has been through numerous governmental disputes until the treaty of Alcacovas granted authority of the Canary Islands, including Lanzarote, to Spain in 1479.

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In 1982 the Canaries became an autonomous region of Spain and this is celebrated throughout the archipelagos on 30th May each year with a national holiday known as ‘Dia de Canarias’.

The Canary Islands, though part of Spain are actually located near to the northwest African Coast, close to Morocco. Lanzarote is one of the largest of the archipelagos which is perhaps the reason why, along with Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura, it is one of the most popular places for holidaymakers.

The name Lanzarote is said to derive from the name of the Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello who arrived at the island in 1336.

While there’s an interesting history of the island to explore it is perhaps the unique lunar-esque landscape that really deserves some attention.

Volcanic Landscapes

Volcanic eruptions are responsible for shaping the unique geography of the island today and have created the out-of-this-world environments tourists flock to explore. With rugged rock formations and solidified lava streams, it’s like something straight out of a sci-fi film set in outer space.

The famous volcanic eruptions of 1730-1736 are largely responsible for this when they devastated the communities that had developed around the island.

Culture

Beyond the political history and natural beauty, Lanzarote also boasts an impressive cultural climate.

Arguably the most famous artist Lanzarote has produced is César Manrique and his work is proudly celebrated throughout the island with paintings, sculptures and architecture.

Manrique was hugely influential in the development of tourism in Lanzarote, which really started to take off here in the 1960s. With the average temperatures generally staying above 17?C all year round it’s easy to understand why it’s still such a popular choice for holidaymakers.

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Singapore: Tour The City Like a Local This Year

Traveling is always an exciting time, and one of the best places to visit this year is Singapore. Singapore has so many different things to offer in regards to tourists, and there is definitely something here for everyone. Of course, there are those common places that most tourists visit and can get through in a day. Most of that being the couture shopping that Singapore is known for, but thankfully there’s a great selection of alternative attractions to see too! Whether you enjoy cultural sights, shopping, or just some fun and relaxation, you will be sure to find it in wonderful Singapore.

Artwork at the Ritz-Carlton

It is a little crazy to be visiting a hotel, instead of an actual museum, or is it? The artwork at the Ritz-Carlton is one of the greatest collections there is to see of modern and contemporary art, and it is virtually unknown to tourists!

Chinatown Heritage Center

When visiting Singapore, of course there are museums and other places to look into the past of this city, but everyone should make it to the Chinatown Heritage Center. Here, visitors can admire the different 19th and early 20th century scenes that are available to see, and it also introduces you to the culture of the city too! You can even shop there and collect little souvenirs.

Geylang

Located in the former red-light district of Singapore, Geylang has a lot of history to offer. Walking the streets, you will be introduced to the wonderful architecture, as well as experience some of the modern elements of the city too. One of the best things to do ere is try the local food.

The Camden Medical Center

If shopping and couture is your forte, you’ve come to the right place. Being big in fashion and appearance, Singapore has a nice little cosmetic secret. Stop in the Camden Medical Center for some of the latest skin treatments, from expert medial advancements to traditional and herbal medicines.

Haji Lane

Tucked away in the heart of the Muslim quarter, Haji Lane has tons of little secret shops to offer the savvy shopper. Of course, you will find a vast variety of couture shops in popular places, but here, it is really a shopper’s dream come true!

Funan Digitalife Mall

If electronics are what excites you, try the Funan Digitalife Mall. Take advantage of the most hi-tech devices for about 10-20% cheaper than you would at other shops!

The White Rabbit

This restaurant gives you a little history, a lot of beauty, and some really great Euro comfort food. Once a historical church, this building was renovated to be a beautiful restaurant, keeping much of the church’s aesthetic design.

Zouk

The nightlife in Singapore can be compared to that of New York, and a wonderful place to see it is by visiting Zouk. This amazing nightclub will fill your night with loud music, flashing strobes, and tons of dancing. No matter where you party in Singapore however, you’re bound to have an amazing time!

If you thinking of how to get to Singapore or how to get around here are some handy tips. When in Singapore you have several options for getting around including MRT, bus and taxi.

 

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Take a Self Catering St. Ives Holiday

One of the best places to take a holiday in the UK is without a doubt in St. Ives. This beautiful landscape near the Western most edge of the UK offers a wide variety of activities for all walks of life. It has a beautiful coastline that is good for enjoying a beautiful relaxing walk or for the more daring that want to try out the new adventure sport of coasteering. There is so much to do in this friendly town, all the way through to Autumn making it a great option if your looking for cheap holidays in October so the only thing left to do is decide where you want to stay. If you are looking for a self catering St. Ives holiday then there is really only one choice that you have.

st ives

Every destination in the world offers hotels or motels. While these can be a great accommodation, they always tend to get a bit crowded and make people stir crazy. This can be especially true for stays of a week or longer. The same goes for hostels. While these are great for solo travelers or a group of younger kids they are not ideal for a family or a couple trying to get some quiet comfortable quarters. What you can find here, for this holiday, is St. Ives apartments that will be all yours for as long as you need.

The best part of self catering your holiday is that you have complete freedom and autonomy from others. You have your own space and can make it feel like home. The biggest draws of hotels is that you have a staff at you disposal to help with anything you need from dinner recommendations to reservations. At St. Ives they offer a concierge service that can take care of all that for you too. They will even go as far as to stock the refrigerator for you upon arrival so there is no delay in enjoying your vacation.

The views from all of the apartment choices are something to be marveled. There is no feeling like waking up, walking out to your balcony, and seeing one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The way the waves crash into the cliffs is surreal and is a sight that will never get old. You can choose all different types of accommodation that may suit a couple better than a family so make sure you do some research before booking. You can even get a room that comes equipped with a telescope so you can gaze at the stars, up close, on a clear night.

These apartments are luxurious, hassle free, and can be a good fit for any type of group looking for any type of holiday. Don’t wait, scoop up one of these luxury apartments before its too late!

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Faro Beaches & Nightlife

Faro is a lively and charming city, a superb choice of destination if you like to be in the heart of things. As a student and tourist town, it has a fun and vibrant nightlife, but there are many quieter bars and restaurants if you want to take it easy.

Faro is the gateway to the Algarve, the dramatic stretch of southern Portuguese coastline that fronts the wild Atlantic Ocean. At times spectacular and rugged, at others beautifully tranquil, it cannot be argued that the Algarve is not incredibly beautiful. Many visitors do not linger in Faro but head immediately to one of the seaside resorts.

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There is an argument to be made for this approach, especially if you are short on time. But Faro itself makes for a rewarding experience in itself, whether you are simply passing through or have chosen the city as your main destination. Take advantage of car hire to make the most of your time in Faro and get to places further afield.

Faro’s beaches can compete with the best in the Algarve. A series of sandspits, large deposits of sand that project into the sea, provide protection from the Atlantic waves; this makes the waters calm and safe for swimming in.

The beaches are nothing if not diverse. Faro beach itself, near the airport, is a busy and vibrant stretch of golden sand, lined by shops, cafes, bars and hotels. Colourful boats rock in the gentle waves, and there are opportunities for various water sports, including jet-skiing, windsurfing and water-skiing. It’s a great beach for those that like access to great facilities and don’t mind the crowds.

The sand spit island beaches, such as Ilha Deserta, Ilha da Armona and Ilha da Culatra, lie offshore and can be reached only by ferry or water taxi. Ilha Deserta has over six miles of glorious golden sands, so there is plenty of room to find your own spot. It is part of the Ria Formosa National Park, an important wetland site for birds, and amongst them you can see flamingos and terns. There is a restaurant and sunbeds and umbrellas can be hired if you are in the mind for relaxation, or you can follow the nature trail and take a dip in the warm, shallow waters. Ilha Deserta, as its name suggests, is the ideal spot if you are looking for peace and relaxation.

Ilha da Armona, another large, sweeping beach, has superb sand dunes that kids will love, and there are plenty of cafes and facilities, and even a campsite. Ilha da Culatra has a great sandy beach and is one of the few sandspit islands to be permanently populated; there are several cafes and beautiful bougainvillea-clad houses as well as a lighthouse. Unfortunately, ferries do not connect the islands together, but it is possible to travel between them by water taxi.

Spending a day at the beach can be tiring business, and in true Portuguese style you may want to have a lazy siesta before hitting the town. Faro is a superb spot to try out authentic Portuguese cuisine and join in the later revelries. The Rua do Prior and surrounding area is the centre of the action, and there are many clubs and bars here to choose from. Try Havana Club for a Latin vibe or Millennium III and Dux for top DJs and live music.

While the Old Town buzzes with activity at night, the Marina is a great place for a more relaxed meal, a gentle evening stroll or a leisurely drink beside the gently lapping waters. Try out freshly caught seafood and a local wine or dry white port served over ice in traditional style. Just beware of medronho, made from the arbutus fruit – it’s known as fire water for good reason!

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