Booking the summer holiday can be a bit of a minefield. If you’re uninspired by the same-old (and crowded) beach resorts of Spain, Greece and Portugal, then a holiday to somewhere a bit more exotic or interesting may sound appealing.
Choosing somewhere that’s a bit more exciting can be difficult however, especially if the location isn’t exactly on the beaten track.
To try and make things a bit easier for your next holiday, we’ve put together a few ideas for some more, well, alternative. Don’t worry though, we’ve only selected locations that are pretty safe, and you won’t need to spend fortunes getting to some of them.
Russia may be worth a visit, despite current tensions. We may be trading insults and accusations and booting diplomats out of the country at the moment, but that doesn’t totally rule out a trip to what is a fascinating country, and you’ll actually be safer in Russia than in many countries, even within the EU. With daily flights to Moscow and no restrictions on travel visas for the time being, exploring this vast country isn’t too difficult in all honesty.
For a city break with a twist, St Petersburg is a great option. Possibly the least-Russian major city, the massive selection of museums and historic sites, including the incredible hermitage, make for an exciting escape that is only a few hours flight from London. Moscow is also a great city to explore, but not as tourist friendly as St. Petersburg.
If the idea of plodding around a Russian city doesn’t sound appealing, then Sochi might be a better option. The Black Sea resort is famous for hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014, and both winter and summer trips are recommended; the temperature can get up to the high 30s in July and August, and there are miles of sandy beaches, which have been visited by Russians for years.
Monaco is the hotspot of exclusive parties. The principality that lies on France’s Southern coast isn’t exactly a hot tourist spot, but the French Riviera and resorts like Cannes and St. Tropez will certainly be in your travel agent’s brochures. Instead of lying on the beach though, why not do something a little different?
Monaco is of course home to the world famous Casino de Monte Carlo, one of the oldest and grandest in the world, the 19th century architecture ensures it attracts those with a taste for old-fashioned delicacies. The theme is popular with those who do not want to simply forget previous eras. The same can be said of players at nostalgia-packed gambling websites like 777 online casino – where the design of the website is consistent with a theme from 1950s America. Another factor that helps the Casino de Monte Carlo stand out is the ties that the royal family of Monaco have with it. They often host exclusive parties, and if this isn’t enough to convince you that it’s a true gem, then nothing is.
By visiting the Casino de Monte Carlo you’ll avoid the usual crowd of casino revellers whose trips usually consist of a week in Vegas. In fact, a visit to Monaco is actually entirely possible to do on a shoestring budget. With low cost flights to Nice and plenty of tourist hotels and even hostels near the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean, you can spend the money you’d have spent on a long-haul in the casino instead.
Oman for its beaches and clear blue waters. While the vast majority of travelers to this part of the world will probably be heading to the glitz and glamour of the UAE and Qatar, take a total left turn and try Oman instead. This ancient country has a similar client and even history, but you’ll find less of the gaudy hotels and swathes of cash that both Qatar and the UAE have plenty of. As well as having mile upon mile of enchanting desert, Oman is famous for its beach resorts, complete with palm trees and clear blue waters. If you get sick of sunbathing (and you probably will, with summer temperatures regularly topping 40 degrees), then the capital city of Muscat is well worth exploring, with gold souks and amazing local cuisine at every turn.
Manchester is a hotbed of culture.
Wait, this is a list about exotic places and summer sun right? Well, you can technically get everything needed with a stay in Manchester.
The new second city of the UK is something of a hotbed of culture, and the city has been through several ongoing revamps that have transformed the rotten old industrial districts into some of the coolest spots in the UK. From the very hip Northern Quarter to the bars and clubs of Deansgate, there’s absolutely tons to see and do. From a shopping trip to the Trafford Centre to a day at the National Football Museum, a full week can easily be filled in with stuff to see and do.
So what about the relaxing bit? Well, you’re never guaranteed sunshine in the country’s wettest city, but Park District, the Lake District, and the Irish Sea coast are all short drives away. A picnic at lake Windermere or a game of cricket on the beach near Southport are both very holiday-ish activities, and you could even stay further out of town if the city center hotels are a bit pricey.
Sarajevo After you’ve looked this one up on Google Maps, you’ll realise that the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina isn’t that far away at all, and trust us, is a world away from the European countries that surround it.
With a blend of cultures including remnants of the Ottoman Empire, Sarajevo is an incredible mish-mash of architecture, cuisines and people. The city also has a dark past, and remnants of the terrible Bosnian War can still be seen on the scarred buildings and walkways of the city. Once you’ve explored this fascinating and totally different city, then a trip south to the city of Mostar and its famous bridge are definitely worth a visit. Mostar is within spitting distance of familiar ground, with the Croatian city of Dubrovnik a short drive away. This incredible walled city has featured recently in Game of Thrones, so fans of the show can tie a trip into their Bosnian Holiday.
Hopefully these ideas will stop you from going with the easy 2-weeks-in-Majorca option, and hopefully will inspire the boat to be pushed out (or in, if you opt for a week in Manchester). Just make sure you’re prepared to live without the typical holiday things like cocktails, swimming pools and all-inclusive meals in certain places.