There are times when being away for a couple of weeks just isn’t an option, or in fact you might be waiting for a holiday that’s months ahead, and you just need a break in the meantime. With that in mind, the best option for some is time spent somewhere warm and relaxing with plenty to see and do. But where makes for the perfect destination for a long weekend? We thought we’d highlight some of our top holiday destinations, and tips on how to get the most out of a short time visiting them.
A good idea for getting the most out of a long weekend break is to plan ahead. Pick your accommodation based on proximity to all the things you want to see, and don’t try to cram it all in as you probably won’t get to see everything, and not only that, you should be relaxing at some point too (it is a holiday after all).
So pack accordingly and make sure you don’t leave without seeing the things that you really have your heart set on. Here are a few suggestions of what not to miss when taking a long weekend in some of our top holiday destinations.
When visiting the Maltese Islands, it’s probably best to book your hotel on the main island of Malta itself, as from there you have easy access to other destinations nearby such as Malta’s sister island of Gozo.
Where to stay
The capital of Valletta is a great place to start, and there’s plenty to enjoy in this UNESCO World Heritage site (that’s right, it’s teeming with enough history that the entire city has been declared a World Heritage Site.
Sights such as St John’s Cathedral with its breath-taking interior, the hustle and bustle of shopping in the open air market in Merchants’ Street, or a peaceful stroll through the Upper Barrakka Gardens will keep you busy for an entire day of your stay.
No visit to Valletta is complete without a trip to the Grand Harbour. Here you’ll find some spectacular views of the bay, and there are plenty of excellent bars and restaurants that will make for a memorable evening.
A visit to Gozo
One of your days in Malta should be dedicated to visiting the island of Gozo, where you are guaranteed to experience more of the essence of Maltese culture. Everything here is a little bit more peaceful and traditional on than on the main island, and there’s enough to do to have a full day of adventure. Be sure to get the ferry across nice and early, where you’ll catch a glimpse of the beautiful Blue Lagoon, and once you’ve arrived at Mgarr Harbour, catch a bus to the island’s capital of Victoria (Rabat). Fantastic for shopping, culture and history, Victoria has it all. Every day there are huge markets in the main square, and it’s well worth visiting the Cittadel for some spectacular 360 degree views of the entire island.
The Blue Lagoon
The village of Xaghra is worth a visit for some traditional Maltese food and the fascinating Ggantiia Temples, which are amongst the world’s oldest free-standing structures (even preceding Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids). In the evening you can’t beat Xlendi Bay for the perfect end to the day. There are plenty of restaurants that are right on the water’s edge, and there’s nothing like watching the sun set whilst enjoying a delicious meal. The ferries back run well in the small hours as well, so there needn’t be a panic.
Last night in Mdina
Spend your last evening in Malta wandering the streets of the enchanting city of Mdina. Whilst certainly well worth visiting in the daytime in order to take in the history of this ancient fortified city, it’s best to visit in the evening, as the whole place comes alive, and feels especially wonderful. Dine in one of Mdina’s many fine restaurants or cafes to conclude your time well spent in this unique Mediterranean destination.
Madeira offers the perfect get away at any time of year, as it has one of the world’s best climates, and it’s good to know that during the British winter months, it’s summer in Madeira. This oasis in the Atlantic Ocean is just the right size to take in a fair amount if visiting for a long weekend, and there are plenty of wonderful attractions. From Funchal’s bustling avenues, to walks through the stunning Laurissilve forests, the choice to either kick back and relax, or go on an adventure is yours to be had.
A day spent in Funchal will see you getting the most out of a short stay in Madeira. Funchal is perfect for a comfortable stroll, as there are spacious parks to enjoy, and some fascinating history in the form of the 15th century Sé Cathedral. You could also take a cable car from old Funchal to Monte to visit the beautiful botanical gardens and take in the spectacular views.
Attractions not to be missed
Away from Funchal, the must see attractions of Madeira include taking a boat trip to see wildlife such as whales, dolphins, seals and the various birds that have made the cliffs their home. You’ll also visit the island of Porto Santo where the house that Columbus lived in still stands.
If you can brave it, then a visit to the Cabo Girão Skywalk will have you walking out on to a 589 metre high glass platform overlooking the cliffs and shoreline below. This is one of Madeira’s top tourist attractions and the views don’t make it difficult to see why.
Madeira cable cars
Why not head to a traditional Madeiran restaurant like Sabor a Fado in Funchal to take in some Fado singing? This style of singing has its roots in the 19th century, and at Sabor a Fado, you not only get a fantastic traditional meal, you’ll also get to experience Fado being sung by the family that owns and runs the restaurant.
One of the best things about a short stay in Madeira is that the size of the island means that hiring a car to see as much as possible is a valid option. And also, you’re never too far from a beach wherever you are in Madeira, so there will be plenty of opportunity to relax in this idyllic island paradise.
When it comes to the perfect long weekend, North Cyprus really does offer a lot. The endless golden beaches, the beautiful countryside of the Karpaz Peninsula, and the rich history make for plenty to enjoy. North Cyprus is considered to be amongst the last unspoilt holiday destinations in the Mediterranean area, with plenty of sunshine, low prices, relaxation, superb beaches and much more.
Where to stay
You really cannot go wrong with choosing to stay in Kyrenia. Here you’ll find the beautiful harbour lined with restaurants and bars, all looked over by the impressive Kyrenia Castle. Here you can follow in the footsteps of the Greeks, Romans and Venetians that made this place their home throughout history, and the architecture in Kyrenia speaks of these bygone eras.
Must see attractions
Kyrenia Castle is the best place to start, as a tour of this ancient castle will explain the rich history of the harbour. The castle is also home to the Ancient Shipwreck Museum that houses the remains of the oldest trading ship ever to be pulled from the sea floor. Dating back to roughly 300 BC, this well-preserved piece of history is definitely worth seeing for yourself.
For a truly unforgettable experience that occurs between July and September, Alagadi Beach is where each year turtles hatch from their nests and make their way to the sea. You can contact the local conservation groups to arrange taking part in a night-time visit to the hatching sites to maybe catch sight of the them emerging.
One last must-see attraction is the Bellapais Monestary. Here you can get a spectacular view of Kyrenia, and the ancient monastery is a beautiful building that holds a special place in North Cyprus’ architectural history. Visit between May and June to take part in the Bellapais Music Festival. This festival utilises the ambience of the Abbey, which enhances the incredible music that is performed here by classical artists from around the world.
That concludes our tips on getting the most out of a long weekend break. The options above are just a few of the many wonderful places you could choose to visit on a long weekend away, so that you can still get away, even it’s for a short while. Just remember to plan ahead, and you can be sure that you’ll get the most out of wherever you book. So why not get looking now?
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