It goes without saying that Montenegro is the new ‘it’ destination. Its dramatic-looking coastline crams in some of Europe’s best seaside scenery – think rugged mountains, mirror-like lakes, and first-class beaches, to name a few. The town of Budva is a big hit among holidaymakers. It’s also known as the ‘Miami of Montenegro’, due to its line-up of bustling bars and stay-up-late night clubs. On the other end of the scale, you’ll also have easy access to Venetian-style houses, bell towers and shady piazzas, plus lots of cafés and swanky boutiques. Looking for a beach? Head to Sveti Nikola, which is known as ‘Hawaii’ to the locals. This secret seaside is really stunning. The strip of sand sidles up to huge cliffs, and the bright-blue Adriatic Sea acts as your backdrop, so it’s the perfect way to unwind after a day exploring the town.
If it’s your first time to Montenegro, be sure to visit Kotor. Here, you can hike your way to the top of the famous City Walls (a UNESCO-stamped sight) which crawl up the side of the mountains. Once you reach the top, the views are absolutely breathtaking, giving you unobstructed vistas across the fjord. And for when it’s time to wine and dine, there are loads of bars and restaurants to pick from in the old town – Montenegrin wine is a must-try, FYI.
Did you know Puglia claims the longest coastline in mainland Italy? In fact, its northern tip, Gargano, has been renamed the ‘mini-Amalfi Coast’, thanks to the Instagram-worthy cluster of white-washed houses dotted along the cliff’s edge, reminiscent of the Campanian beauty. You’ll find Puglia set in Italy’s sun-bleached heel, where UNESCO-rated sights, like Alberobello aren’t hard to come by. This town is marked by conical-shaped houses (you’ll have seen them on Instagram) which have been around for hundreds of years, so they’re ideal for culture vultures. Those in-the-know mainly come to Puglia for the centuries-old countryside, which is famous for its wealth of vineyards, whitewashed houses, and a whole load of Baroque churches to explore.
Puglia doesn’t fall short in the history department, either. The city of Ugento is home to some of the best ancient treasures, including a 5th-century bronze Zeus statue. Then, there’s Fasano, just inland from the seaside hamlet of Savelletri, where you’ll find pre-Roman churches, palaces and crumbling walls. Puglia’s main calling card has got to be its cuisine, though. Make sure you try out the regional dish, orecchiette. This ear-shaped pasta is served up with broccoli, garlic, fresh tomatoes and ricotta cheese. Delizioso.
If you’ve already visited Dubrovnik, you’ll love Split. It’s Croatia’s second largest city, and is the best place to take in Dalmatia’s authenticity, thanks to the blend of traditional and modern sights. Top of the list here is Diocletian’s Palace, a World Heritage Site and one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments. It’s referred to as the heartbeat of Split, thanks to its buzzing atmosphere, and isn’t what you’d immediately expect when it comes to palaces. In fact, the ancient walls play host to countless restaurants, shops, and bars, so it’s really popular among tourists and locals alike.
The trendy archipelago of Malta is really turning heads – not only has it been voted one of the best places to visit in 2017 by National Geographic, but its beautiful capital city, Valletta, has been awarded the title of European Capital of Culture for 2018, too. This small but mighty town packs in lots of sightseeing, so you’ll need to come prepared with a list of places to tick off. You’ll get to take in Medieval and Baroque-style architecture at almost every corner, as well as amazing museums, palaces and churches, so it’s perfect for history buffs.
Are you a festival lover? If so, then you’ll need to add Valletta’s International Baroque Festival to your list for next year. The celebration runs for two weeks every January, and kicks off on Saturday, 13 January 2018. The event was set up in 2013 to celebrate the picturesque city as the Baroque capital of Europe. During the two-week festivities, many of the stunning Baroque architecture and historical locations host artistic and musical events. Previous years have seen the likes of world-class choirs, like The Sixteen and Tenebrae perform. Elsewhere, you can tick off cultural sights on walking tours, including the National Museum of Fine Arts, St John’s Cathedral Museum and many more.
Here’s where you can find out why Malta is the hottest destination in 2017.
You may have seen Marrakech pop up on your Instagram feed more than just a few times this summer. It’s basically Instagram heaven, thanks to its wealth of authentic riads, beautiful mosques, and bustling market stalls. As Morocco's fourth largest city, there’s lots of exploring to be done here. We think you should visit Marrakech in October 2017 which is when the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech is due to open. The terracotta-bricked museum is nestled in Jardin Majorelle, which is marked by striking cobalt-blue buildings and much-loved cacti plants – so it’s basically a haven for budding photographers.
Elsewhere, you’ve got Jemaa el-Fna which is a top-choice square in Marrakech. This place has been nonstop ever since the plaza was the site of public executions back in AD 1050 – hence its name, which means ‘assembly of the dead’. Days spent here are all about watching snake charmers coaxing cobras out of wicker baskets, and fortune tellers teasing stories out of tourists’ palms – ideal for Mystic Meg fans. And once the sun has set, the square transforms into an open-air restaurant. Grills sizzle with tender strips of lamb and shells bob in vats of hot snail soup.
Looking for a long-haul hidden gem? If you are, look no further than Kerala. This place is south India’s best-kept secret, thanks to the quiet coastlines, traditional networks of backwaters, and tea-covered hills that rival the likes of Goa. It’s also the best place to learn about the Keralan art of kathakali, which is a classical dance marked by male dancers, who wear brightly-coloured makeup, extravagant costumes and face masks. It dates back to the 17th century, and is the most well-known dance drama in India, symbolising Hindi literature. Elsewhere, you’ve got pristine beaches, plus centuries worth of international culture to soak up.
You’ll have endless views of Puglia’s countryside when you stay at the .
This adults-only hotel is right in the heart of Marrakech. It's had a major refurb for 2019, too, so it's in tip-top condition.
The Grand Hotel Excelsior sits right in the heart of Valetta and has its own private beach.
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