Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year and to celebrate the beginning of the festive season, we’re bringing you the “Mercury Holidays’ 12 Destinations Advent Calendar” – every day we’ll be taking a look at a top destination and what makes it the perfect place to visit with family, friends or enjoy a little you time.
So, let’s take a look what’s behind door number 11…
Greece and Madeira Package Holidays
Although situated in different parts of the world, both Greece and Madeira offer tourists gorgeous scenery, a range of culture and plenty of recreational activities. Whether you want to experience the museums, natural parks and beaches of Corfu, or head to Funchal; the capital of Madeira with its stunning Lido, quaint farmers market and vast range of restaurants; these two destinations make for fantastic bases during your package holiday.
Advent Calendar Fact: Greece has over 6,000 islands, approximately 227 are populated.
When holidaying in Greece, there are number islands, towns and cities to visit; however, one of our favourite hotspots is Crete – with a stunning mix of beaches, ancient treats, landscapes and more, this locations’ reputation precedes itself. The Cretan landscape is a fascinating mingling of sun-kissed beaches in the north and impressive canyons paired with cliff-tops in the south. Nestled between the two are charming valleys and villages with snow-dusted mountains watching over those who live below.
For those who enjoy learning about mythology, we highly recommend exploring the Psychro Cave, also know as Diktean Cave. Located in the eastern district of Crete, just outside the village of Psychro, this cave is said to be where the goddess Rhea gave birth to Zeus.
If it wasn’t for its ties to mythology, many tourists would overlook this cave as just one of the three thousand that can be found throughout the island, however, this isn’t the case and visitors flock to this locale in their thousands each year.
Advent Calendar Fact: Considered the king of the gods by Grecians, Zeus as known as the god of the sky, lightning and thunder. Zeus is often depicted with a thunderbolt, eagle, bull or oak.
Continuing with the history theme, Crete’s most famous attractions is the Palace of Knossos, the capital of Minoan Crete, located 3 miles from Iraklio. With impressive ruins and an evocative setting; the incredible palace, courtyards, apartments and vibrant frescoes culminate in a visual feast for a those who visit. When arriving at the complex, there is no designated way to explore, however we recommend visiting the West Court, South Porpylaion, Piano Nobile, Fresco Gallery, Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Central Court. As there is a lot to see, we suggest spending a few hours to explore this incredible attraction.
Advent Calendar Fact: The golden era of the Minoan civilisation was during the bronze age from 2000 B.C. to 1500 B.C. Minoan art and architecture made a significant contribution to Western European civilisation as it is today.
Moving across the Madeira, this island lends itself to incredible views and is known as ‘the floating garden in the Atlantic’. An ideal destination of natural lovers, Madeira has a huge variety of things to see and do such as scuba diving and hiking, plus a plethora of museums and historical sites.
Funchal is the region’s capital and is split into the three distinct areas; the first being the Old Town in the east, the harbour and commercial area and in the west, you’ll find the Lido.
Making your way to the Old Town, visitors can spend the day wandering up and down the charming cobbled streets – be sure to explore historic gems such as the Corpo Santo Chapel, one of the few 15th Century buildings still standing and the city’s oldest street Rua de Santa Maria which is home to local shops and restaurants.
If you’re feeling peckish, then you should definitely check out the Mercado dos Lavradores; teeming with fantastic aromas and vivid colours, this farmers market is a foodie’s dream.
After experiencing a traditional market, why not take a trip to the Madeira Botanical Garden located south of the harbour. Deemed as one of the most beautiful gardens in the region, this estate looks over the city of Funchal and covers over 80,000 square metres of land. The garden is also home to dedicated research and conservation, as well as featuring a Museum of Natural History. For a real treat, we definitely recommend taking a cable car ride to Monte Parish!
Take a look at our range of hotel offerings across Greece and Madeira by clicking the links below.
Greece Fact File:
Geographical size – 131,940 square miles
Population – 10.74 million
Number of Islands – 6,000
Average temperature – November to April 11 degrees, May to October 24 degrees.
Madeira Fact File:
Geographical size – 286 square miles
Population – 243,970
Year Madeira was discovered – 1419
Average temperature – October to May 11 degrees, June to September 18 degrees.
Hotel of The Day:
Just minutes away from the picturesque village of Trianta and overlooking its own private beach sun-deck area, the Electra Palace invites guests to enjoy authentic Greek hospitality. The hotel is just a short transfer from the airport and offers a range of facilities.
Electra Palace is also located within easy reach many bars, shops and restaurants – plus, the architectural wonder of Rhodes City is easily accessible for those that wish to visit.
Hotel of The Day:
A first for Madeira, the Enotel Lido All-Inclusive hotel is a fantastic 5-star option for your holiday. Located on the south of the island and a 30-minute walk from the centre of Funchal, this hotel provides guests with everything they could need. This hotel has an incredible selection of facilities including a swimming pool and children’s pool, a heated indoor pool, 4 restaurants, 3 bars, Spa and lots more.