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Top 5 Travel Destinations in United Kingdom This Summer

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Cornwall steam railway

Cornwall Steam Railway, photo taken by J D Mack

This is another article in United Kingdom travel series. It is vacation time again as the summer season is coming very soon. This is also the time when most of the travel and hotel agencies would be coming out with schemes and special offers to attract more tourists. In this article I will also suggest you ways to make your trip cheaper.

Which destination will you chose for your summer holidays?

I have been to London many times during my educational trips. It used to be my base station from where I traveled to most of the parts of the United Kingdom. In this guide I will be covering the full length and breadth of the UK from East to West and from South to North in two separate trips. Try If you are lucky you might get some good deals to grab online that will make your trip even cheaper. I would recommend you to go through Expedia travel vouchers and browse through the coupons and vouchers that suits you well.

Starting from London I will move in the South west direction to a seaside town of Weymouth where I will explore world heritage Jurassic Coast and award winning sandy beach. From Weymouth I will make a turn to North West to another seaside resort town of Woolacombe which is famous for blue flag and premium seaside beach. Continuing the zig zag trend, I will move towards south west to Cornwall where I will have a seaside train ride as well as a ride on the steam train through beautiful landscaped countryside.

1. Weymouth

Weymouth is a beautiful seaside town with its award winning beaches and world heritage sites and picturesque traditional harbour. The place is livelier in summers when the sun is up and sky is clear, the beach sand shines and the water sparkles in the ideal sunny day. The water is crystal clear and the place was chosen for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games for conducting sailing events. There are ample of sports facilities available like kite surfing, wind surfing, diving and sailing. Each area is marked with flags indicating whether it is safe to swim in that area or not.

weymouth beach
Weymouth Beach, photo taken by Elliott Brown

Weymouth beach is perfect for families and couples and offers a lot of other things to do like amusement, rides and snack stands. Arriving at the beach is very easy, large number of buses and shuttle services ply on the road between various holiday resorts and the beach. You may also come by your own vehicle, but finding parking space can be difficult and time consuming.

White sand on the beach is amazingly soft, the beach is clean although you may find cigarette butts. I went to the right end of the beach near the viewing tower and amusement, the sand is even more softer and beautiful. I really enjoyed walking along the esplanade, and I was surprised later as the sun was settled we had a light show. There are variety of snacks available at various snack stands, but if you wish to save money you can bring your own lunch or snacks and have a nice homemade food at the sea shore.

Jurassic Coast
Jurassic Coast, photo taken by Rach2k

Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Coast is another special thing about this place. It is England’s first natural world heritage site. The Jurassic Coast which is an offshore bar consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning the Mesozoic Era, documenting 180 million years of geological history. The oldest rocks along the coast can be found at Exmouth and are as old as 250 million years whereas the youngest are at Studland Bay at around 65 million years old. The site shows excellent examples of landforms, among them is the natural arch at Durdle Door, the cove and limestone folding at Lulworth Cove and the Isle of Portland. Chesil Beach is a tombolo (a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such as a spit or bar).

Moving from Weymouth to Woolacombe takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes on a 170Km long journey. Woolacombe is not one of the well known travel destinations in UK, but it has started receiving tourists recently, most of them stop by to see the Woolacombe bay. Plymouth and Bath have been more popular destinations in the region.

2. Woolacombe

Woolacombe was voted the Best British Beach in the Mail On Sunday and also holds the ‘England for Excellence Gold Award’ for best family resort. Although not much popular, Woolacombe’s profile is as strong as any other popular summer destination. Woolacombe can be best reached by road. The roads are largely very rural and quite narrow which may become very congested during summer as people queue up to get into one of the two large car parks which are situated close to the beach.

Woolacombe Beach
Woolacombe Beach, Photo by Gary Huston

Its three mile long golden sand beach has won both the blue flag and Premier Seaside Beach award. It is voted one of Britain’s best beach and lies between Morte Point and Baggy Point. There are four beach within a five mile walk. And all can be very crowded in the summer making it difficult to find a parking space which is £5 for a whole day.  It would be better to walk to the beach from the beautiful streets enjoying the beautiful view. Try to book a hotel near the beach so that you do not have to walk much. You may be lucky to grab few appropriate deals through travel vouchers and coupons.

I was saddened to hear the news that the beach lost the blue flag status recently in 2012 due to water quality issue. However, it still retains many other awards. You stand at the beach looking at the Atlantic Ocean waves touching your feet, behind you lies the highlands that surrounds you from the rest of the sides, creating a very beautiful scenery.

The beach is also famous for various sports activities like kite surfing, wind surfing etc. The beach also provides a designated area for dogs. I found a little kid there who was making a sand castle, it was fun to sit with her and help. When the sun had settled down and it was dark, we went up. Walking back to my room, I saw the sand castle intact, and the waves striking the coast even harder. The sound of the waves were louder which can make anyone happy specially me who loves sea and beaches.

Continuing my journey, I am heading to another seaside place Cornwall. The place not only has beautiful sand beach, but also has picturesque landscape and beautiful coastline which can be explored by train. One of the reason of coming here for me was riding in the trains here.

3. Cornwall

Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall passes through some of the most beautiful places, From mesmerizing coastal views to green countryside, clear river crossings to densely wooded valleys and the almost moon like landscape of the Cornish china clay industry.

Cornwall Steam Railway
Cornwall Steam Railway, Photo taken by J D Mack

I felt travelling in this train was very off the beaten tourist path, and I am glad I did, the train passes through beautiful town, small villages, historic mountains and bustling cities, it is a vital link for the locals, but the way it passes through is so stunning that it has gained popularity as a tourist train.

There are six lines of Great Scenic Railways of Devon and Cornwall mainly Maritime Line, Looe Valley Line, Tarka Line, St Ives Bay Line, Atlantic Coast Line, Tamar Valley Line.

Train Fare:
Looe to Plymouth £5.40
Liskeard to Newquay £5.80
Truro to St Ives £6.30
St Austell to Looe £7.60
Falmouth to Plymouth £9.50
Penzance to Plymouth £9.50

These fares are applicable for adults, children between the age of five to fifteen may take ticket for half price, and children under five years can enjoy the ride for free. Also if you take GroupSave option, four people in a group would be able to travel for the price of two adults Off Peak Day Returns on First Great Western trains.

Cornwall also has steam trains running through beautiful countryside. I went to Bodmin which is the prime station and junction of Cornwall’s steam railway. The station was beautifully revamped to give a look of 1950s. The main station building is old by centuries and was constructed by Great Western Railways in 1887. Again there are a number of steam railway lines on different routes which are quite small but good enough to spend time and admire the beauty of Cornwall sitting in the vintage train, a unique experience. Various lines are Launceston Steam Railway, Bodmin & Wenford Railway, Lappa Valley Steam Railway, and World of Model Railways.

Refreshing views, clear sky, warm sun, clear water, soft and warm sand in West England is what makes it a great destination for spending your summer vacation. My trip to western region ends here, returning to London and from their I will move towards north exploring the spectacular Lake District and beaches in the extreme north UK; Durness, Scotland.

4. Lake District

The Lake District is also commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland as there are a number of lakes in the mountainous region. Lying in the North West England, this place is a combination of picturesque forests, lakes and mountains, Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England is also situated here. The place is famous world wide and has its associations with the early nineteenth-century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth and the other Lake Poets.
Lake District UK
Lake District, photo taken by Steve Pyke

Lake Derwent is one of the most visited lake in the Lake District. It is a very picturesque lake surrounded by lots of woodlands and fells sloping down towards the water. I walked around the lake little bit which is an 8 and a half mile long walk and tried my hand at boating. There are many companies ready to provide you the boating experience. There is a pastureland overlooking the lake where the sheep and lambs play. I took some delightful photos of them grazing and at play. It is hard to tell if the lake is more beautiful from the lake level or viewing it from above when hiking in the area. Either way, it’s a treasure and worth visiting.

Once you are there you can have your packed meal, or buy a snack. You may visit the National Trust shop, take a boat trip or hire a row boat. Perhaps the ducks and geese along with the sheep and lambs catch your eye. If you wish to, you can even buy bags of bird food.

Catbells Lakeland Hike is easily reachable from Keswick and is famous for its views over Derwent water. The hike might take nearly two hours up and down and may be even three if you would stop everywhere like me to take photos. To reach up catch the Keswick Launch across to Hawes End and climb up Catbells over Skellwith Bank, there are little steep climbs and easy challenges but the view from the summit is probably one of the best in the Lakeland for so little effort. If you still feel energetic at the summit you can walk further  up on to Maiden Moor and come back down different views. When you come down arrive at Hawes Gate  and walk back to catch the Keswick launch, along the Lakeside.

Moving further north I will enter Scotland, another kingdom in the United Kingdom. Durness  is a village and in the north-west Highlands of Scotland. Famous for its Smoo cave and unspoilt beaches backed by cliffs.

5. Durness

Durness is famous for Smoo cave, when I reached there I had not expect this cave to be as awesome as it was. It was really easy enough walk down to it as their is a wooden fence to hold on to and steps. There are flood lights which still makes it look great even if the weather isn’t that good. There is a huge cavern and you can imagine living there centuries ago. The second cavern leads to a tremendous waterfall full of cold sprays making it almost impossible to take a photo of it. During rainy season, the caves are wet and  you may find water dripping through the roof at various points.

Durness beach
Durness Beach, photo taken by Lluís Ribes Portillo

Durness beach is  fantastic sandy beach with stunning black rocks embedded in the sand, beautiful bluish green sea and rocky cliffs. The place is very photogenic and can make a day promising! I walked all the way along the length of the beach and then I moved up at the end to a lighthouse from where the view is even more spectacular. The beach accompanied by a waterfall at the edge of the bay makes it even a better place for those who loves natural photography.

Sango bay in Durness made me just take my camera out when I saw rock formations sticking out of the stand. Pristine golden sands with the projectiles of Rock on them gave the experience of being in totally another planet. Huge waves crashing on the shore and on the rocks creating splash of waters formed so many rainbows. I have not seen so many rainbows before all at once. The place is really cold in winters and you may expect the right time to go there only after May, if it is not raining.

Indeed it was such a long tour. I did not complete this journey in one single trip, but in two consecutive summers. I tried to merge my trip into one so that I could help you decide which one or two locations would you like to visit this summer. Coming back to my base location London, I finish the tour of Top 5 Summer Destinations in UK. Let me know which one of the place would you like to go this summer. Subscribe to my updates an follow me on my path.

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Barcelona, the top-3 ‘MICE’ tourism destination of the world

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Barcelona MICE TOurism

Corporative tourism —also known as ‘MICE’ tourism mobilized around 18,000 million euros in 2016 in Spain. According to the Spanish Convention Bureau, the number of events, conventions and meetings in Spain has increased by 16%, while the MICE sector worldwide will grow by more than 5% in the next years. The country ranks 13th worldwide in a market led by China and the US, but Barcelona and Madrid are in the Top 10 of the favorite European cities to organize congresses and events.

What is MICE tourism?

The acronym MICE stands for meetings, incentives, conferencing & exhibitions. It is a niche area of tourism that is focused around the planning and booking of groups for large events, conferences or seminar. A top class MICE event organised to showcase your products, build new client relationships, host a company event or to reward your employees for their hard work is an investment and usually it’s one to remember.

The players in the MICE field include corporate meeting planners, meetings and convention departments of hotels, conference centers or cruise ships, food and beverage managers, logistics firms, private tour operators and transfer companies, incentive houses, professional trade organizations, tourism boards, tourism trade associations, and travel-selling professionals. Destinations often market themselves as MICE locations and bid for events through their convention and visitor bureaus. They might be able to offer subsidies to attract large events because of the increased revenue the visitors provide through their economic impact on the host location.

Barcelona, ​​the best city in Spain to celebrate events and conferences

The good position of Barcelona as a destination of congresses and meetings is increasingly more evident and, recently, the Catalan capital has been placed in third position in the prestigious world ranking drawn up by the ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) to establish which are the most relevant cities and states in MICE tourism (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions), and it is placed ahead of other very important destinations in the sector such as Vienna or London. The Catalan city was hot on the heels of the first two in the ranking —Berlin and Paris — and acts as a pole of attraction to boost the organisation of events all over Catalonia.

The offering to organize events and congresses in the city is wide thanks to the presence of companies such as Eventos Barcelona, an event management agency in Barcelona specializing in artistic and technical production of events for companies, meetings, incentive travels, conventions or gala dinners.

During 2017, Barcelona hosted 2,134 congresses and conventions —10.5% more than in 2016. More than 675,000 delegates participated in these events, and their economic impact in the city is estimated at 1,850€. Throughout 2017, Barcelona obtained the best results since it entered in the MICE tourism industry, increasing its benefits 21% more than the previous year, as reported by the Turisme de Barcelona consortium. The last six months were a little weaker due to the effects of the attack of August 17th and the independence mobilizations of October 1st, but thanks to the entrance of the summer season the city has returned againt to the highest level.

‘Bleisure’and gastronomy, the key to success in MICE tourism

‘Bleisure’ is the buzzword in corporate tourism. Its name mixes the B of business with the word pleasure —that is, combining business trips with pleasure tourism. Therefore, many events are organized in local destinations and non-conventional spaces. The salons and conventional spaces lose importance against of unusual spaces, which are also more profitable because visitors can enjoy a wider leisure offer (such as spas, cursos de coctelería, showcookings) and team building activities, combining both work and fun in an entertaining and relevant way.

Nowadays, congresses and events want to offer a more friendly, funnier face than the pompous and rigid meetings of yesteryear. The idea is to personalize the experience of a congress with the emotional connection of each assistant thanks to the flexible and dynamic spaces. This emotional connection is achieved by taking care of the details, which is valued above all in the younger generations. Interactive and collaborative activities, non-traditional speakers and sessions with a spirit of commitment rather than instructive are the booming formats.

Gastronomy is another distinguishing factor for MICE events’ success. The youngest attendants to these events –mostly workers under 40 appreciate that the culinary proposals of the events include healthy alternatives, fresh food, fruits and foods that provide energy, instead of unnecessary huge meals full of empty calories. Also, mixing the gastronomic experiences and technology is very helpful. Incorporating innovative cuisine techniques and exotic foods with creative, very ‘instagramable’ preparations, are all a synonym of success. Once again, new technologies provide another guideline on how to succeed in these events.

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Discover natural wonders found nowhere else in the world with a Galapagos Island cruise

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Galapagos Island cruise

If the Galapagos Islands are not on your bucket list yet, then they should be. This unique and beautiful place is home to amazing creatures and scenery you will not find anywhere else on the planet.

And there is really only one way to truly experience the wonder of it all – from the sea. Only that way can you discover all there is to fall in love with.

Experience a real island paradise

Situated around 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, this magnificent archipelago of 19 islands, and many more small islets, is also known as the Enchanted Islands. And for good reason.

Each island is unique and beautiful in it’s own way, whether it has stunning white sandy beaches or dark, forbidding and barren volcanic rocks. Add this to the sapphire blue waters surrounding them, and the abundance of wildlife, and this is something that every visitor will remember for the rest of their lives.

There is nothing else like it, and Galapagos island cruises are just the thing to see it all in it’s full glory, where travellers can enjoy the majesty, the sounds of nature and experience the intimacy of such a special location, with a specialist guide and every need catered for.

It is best to travel at night, making the most of the epic night sky as you have never seen it before, and using the day time to explore the different islands and what they have to offer.

Get up close and personal with nature

The Galapagos Islands themselves, and the surrounded marine reserve, are a perfect melting pot of marine species. Ideally located at the confluence of three ocean currents, with islands created through ongoing volcanic activity, it has allowed flora and fauna to develop in such a way that is simply unique to this area.

It has been called a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ due to the species thriving there. So much so, that when Charles Darwin arrived on his ship The Beagle, the things he saw later led to his development of the theory of evolution.

Add all of this to the extreme isolation of the islands, and a lack of natural predators, the wildlife has little fear of inquisitive visitors and are just as likely to observe you as you are them.

Playful sea lions and gigantic and majestic sea tortoises allow humans to get up close is a way you will not find anywhere else. If you have not booked your visit yet, what are you waiting for, a Galapagos cruises last minute trip is one you will never regret.

Check out each island and it’s amazing uniqueness

Each island has its own features and persona.  Take for example Santa Cruz island, which hosts the largest city, Ayora. Here you can visit the Darwin centre and see where the turtles and iguanas come to breed.

Then there is Isabela island – the largest in the archipelago. Formed from five volcanoes, and still active, reaching as high as 1,700 feet, this island is a landscape  of petrified lava, and home to flocks of flamingos and giant tortoises.

Fernandina island is also an active volcano, but you are able to set foot on the island at Punta Espinosa to see many thousands of marine black iguanas warming themselves on the rocks in the sunshine, and red crabs moving about the rock.

Then on the islands with beaches, such as Rabida Island, you get the rare chance to see sea lions in their own habitat, playing with their young, and relaxing.

And this is only a tiny fraction of the things you can see in this beautiful place. Description does not do it justice, it has to be seen and felt to truly appreciate this inspirational location.

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When is the Best Time to Vacation in the French Riviera?

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While many people are happy to go on vacation at a particular time of the year, there are some locations where the weather is so hot tourists are advised to stay away during the summer season. Other locations are too cold during the winter months, whereas some offer visitors the very best at that time of year. So if you’re determined to trawl through some french riviera vacation rentals lists so you can stay in this lovely part of the world, how do you know you’ll be visiting this location at the best time of the year? It’s easy, just read on for more information:

One of the very best times to visit the beautiful French Riviera is at any time. That’s right, there is no specific month that offers you so much more than any other month. Every season and every month within each of the seasons offers something wonderful. Of course, the range of activities that are on offer from month to month will vary with the seasons, but there is always a lot to do in this part of the world.

The French Riviera in:

January

In January, the temperatures tend to be as low as 8° Celsius, meaning you’re unlikely to be able to sun yourself on the beach. However, this time of year is great for anyone who loves to head to the ski slopes and brush up on their skills. This means if you’re an avid ski-fan, you should think about heading to the French Riviera in January.

At this time of year, you’re unlikely to see much nightlife, however, if you insist on partying you should think about heading to Monaco as the International Circus Festival takes place and is not to be missed!

February

Fête du Citron French riviera

Fête du Citron – Image by Leona Lorraine flickr/[email protected]

During the month of February, temperatures tend to be around 9° Celsius, just slightly warmer than the previous month. This is also when the tourist season starts, meaning many hotels will open their doors once more after a bit of a break. February happens to be the month when the Carnival of Nice and the Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) takes place.

March

In March, temperatures rise a few degrees, and you can expect to see them rise to 11° Celsius. While it might not be warm enough to head to the beach and swim in the sea, if you’re a lover of all-things skiing, this is the best time of year to visit. You may also want to head to this part of the world in March as the Paris-Nice bicycle race takes place, as does the Festin des Cougourdons, which is worth seeing. So book your villa and enjoy the start of spring.

April

Temperatures in April can be as high as 12° Celsius, making it feel a little more like spring. Although you may be tempted to visit the French Riviera at this time of year, you should be aware that the area does get pretty busy during the Easter holidays. If you insist on coming here in April, you may want to pay a visit to the Honey Festival that takes place on the last Sunday in the month in Mouans-Sartoux.

May

In May, the average temperature is around 16° Celsius, making it one of the better months to visit this part of the world. You may want to be aware that in May there are quite a few national holidays which means traffic tends to get quite busy. May is also the month when the Formula 1 Grand Prix is held in Monte Carlo, so you may want to avoid Monte Carlo during May if you’re not a fan of racing. However, if you love film festivals then you’re in for a real treat as the Cannes Film Festival takes place during this month. If you want to do a spot of movie star spotting, Cannes is the place to be.

June

With temperatures as high as 20° Celsius, the first signs of summer are seen. Beaches in the French Riviera start to get a little busier as the sea’s temperature rises, and the sun beats down quite strongly. This could be a really good month for you to book your villa as the French aren’t officially on their summer vacation just yet.

July

In July, the average temperature is around 23° Celsius, and the whole of the French Riviera seems to be partying. The Nice Jazz Festival takes places in July, as does the Cannes Nuits Musicales du Suquet. In fact, there are quite a few musical events taking place this month. One festival that you simply cannot miss is the International Festival of Fireworks which is located in Monaco.

August

During the month of August, you can expect temperatures of 23° Celsius, even though it can feel quite a bit warmer. There is a national holiday on the 15th of August, but once that’s over and done with you should expect the area to be less crowded. This means you’ll have plenty of room to sun yourself on the beaches, and you may even want to head to Les Nuits du Sud in Vence, a fantastic music festival.

September

September is the month when temperatures start to fall. During this month, you should expect to see an average temperature of 21° Celsius. The good news is it’s still beach weather, despite it not feeling quite as warm. Head to Cannes if you get the chance so you can visit the Boat and Yacht Show. You may also want to find out when the Journees du Patrimoine takes place as national and local monuments are open to members of the public during one weekend this month.

October

In October, temperatures can be as low as 16° Celsius, and this month can be quite wet, but this isn’t always the case. The good news is there are some excellent festivals taking place in October, such as the boat race in Saint Tropez, and a fair in Vence.

November

During the month of November, you should see temperatures reaching just 12° Celsius, which means the beaches are usually pretty quiet. However, the local bars and nightclubs tend to be very busy, and the International Dance Festival takes place in Cannes, making everyone want to go out and dance a little more. If you’re in Monaco on the 19th, you may want to stick around for the celebrations as this day is Monaco National Day.

December

With temperatures as low as 10° Celsius, many locals hotels start to close for the Christmas holidays. The good news is that visitors to the area have the chance to enjoy local Christmas markets, buying souvenirs and presents to take home.

As you can see, the French Riviera is the ideal place to visit any time of the year, so make sure you book a place to stay during your chosen month and get ready to have a great time in this stunning part of the world.

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