There may have been a lot of talk about ‘staycations’ in recent years, but is home really where you want to spend your hard-earned holiday? Will you truly be able to switch off, knowing how easy it would be to just check your emails or just pop into work to see how they’re coping without you? For most of us, genuine relaxation means escaping – and a complete change of scene.
Equally, of course, it’s the only way of guaranteeing the weather. Our UK summer has been mixed at best, but you can easily swap grey, drizzly British skies for the cobalt blue ones of the Med. Not keen on travelling? Most destinations, though they seem a world away, can be reached in just a few hours.
Late summer and early autumn are excellent times of year for European and North African breaks, especially if you are not tied to school holidays and like peace and quiet. Prices come down and it’s less crowded, but everything is still open, and it stays delightfully warm without being unbearably hot – perfect for walking and sightseeing.
If you do have children and missed out on a family break this year, now is the ideal time to start planning for the October half-term.
If you thought you’d left it too late to book for 2012, think again. There are some fantastic bargains to be had on last-minute deals to a range of destinations.
The other piece of good news for Brits is that the current problems in the Eurozone have made the exchange rate with the Euro the most favourable it’s been for nearly two years, with some experts predicting this will continue in the months ahead.
At the same time, the pound has also strengthened against other European currencies, including the Turkish Lira.
One great idea for sheer variety is to consider holidays to Cyprus. The island is the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and packed with ancient sites and antiquities dating from the New Stone Age to the Roman Empire. The capital Nicosia, for example, is bursting at the seams with history. Don’t forget to visit the incredibly well-preserved Venetian walls.
Keen walkers will love the hiking trails in areas such as the Troodos Mountains, while even the most serious pleasure-seekers will be in their element with some superb nightlife, especially in resorts like party capital Ayia Napa on the south coast. And the food here is gorgeous enough to suit the most demanding tastebuds.
Whatever you want from your holiday, Cyprus is likely to be able to provide it. Alternatively, holidays to Turkey also offer outstanding value, endless sunshine, some of the best food you will ever eat, fantastic shopping opportunities, one of the world’s greatest cities in Istanbul, and scenery ranging from white-sand coastline to soaring mountains.
Turkey’s epic history is reflected in its strong architectural heritage and the jaw-dropping ancient ruins which punctuate the country. And, if the beaches, watersports, culture and sightseeing aren’t enough, pull on your walking boots and hike the famous Lycian Way between Fethiye and Antalya.
Finally, holidays to Egypt allow you to immerse yourself in mystery and wonder as you step back in time. This country is home to two of the Ancient World’s Seven Wonders and the iconic Nile. Prepare to be mesmerised by the sights and sounds of Cairo’s streets and souks. Take it all in from a pavement café as you enjoy a glass of traditional mint tea.
Of course you won’t want to miss world-famous, must-see sights like the Pyramids, the Sphinx or the Valley of the Kings. Follow in the Pharaohs’ footsteps as you glide through the green waters of the Nile on a cruise, or explore reefs and shipwrecks from one of the gorgeous Red Sea resorts. Can’t decide between sightseeing and beach breaks? Grab a two-week holiday and do both!
With so much on offer, and some great deals to be had, there’s just one question remaining for your 2012 sunshine break: where will you go?