Rhodes is one of the most popular Greek islands, and it’s easy to see why. Unravel your towel over ribbons of silky soft sand on the Blue Flag beach at Pefkos, or go hush hush at quieter coves like Kalithea and Kolymbia. If you’re looking for more than just beaches, Rhodes won’t disappoint. Roll back to Trojan times and explore ancient ruins, terracotta-topped churches and twinkly harbours perfect for romantic meals by the waterside. Rhodes Old Town is also great for totting up your list of UNESCO-listed heritage sites. Looking for something more lively? Head to the northern side of the island and be entertained by Faliraki, and Kolymbia’s watersport-filled beaches and buzzing bars. Meanwhile, Corfu’s got a lush green interior, and is an island of two completely different sides. Wander among sleepy seaside towns in Acharavi or party ‘til the sun comes up over in Kavos. Plus, from 2020, you can jet off to the island of Kos. Here, you’ve got more than 100 kilometres of coastline to explore, so you can get involved with watersports, as well as kicking back on the sand.
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If you’re looking to escape the chill of those Northern Irish winds, you’ll love the year-round sun the Canary Islands have on offer. Be swayed by volcanic beaches, sand dune safaris and boutique shopping in Gran Canaria. Or, make time for Tenerife. Its beach resorts and national parks are teeming with wildlife, so keep your eyes open and you’ll be sure to spot something worth shouting about. Falling for Lanzarote is pretty easy, too. Find the Fire Mountains in Timanfaya National Park, or shop for souvenirs in Haria – a town famous for the thousands of palm trees that surround it.
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Hop on a plane at Belfast and you’ll touch down in sunny Spain just over three hours later. And, with 320 days of sunshine a year, you’ll be in with a good chance of catching a tan in Andalucia’s Costa Del Sol. Looking for somewhere tucked away? Sleepy Nerja is perfect for a family holiday. Spend days building sandcastles on sandy beaches, or head to the Balcon de Europa to explore a battle-torn castle. Meanwhile, Marbella — often dubbed the millionaire’s playground — is just down the coast. Stroll around swanky Puerto Banos harbour, and dip in and out of the designer boutiques that dot the waterfront. Costa Dorada, AKA the Golden Coast, is another option worth considering. Whizz down sky-high rollercoasters in Salou and splash about in the waterparks. Like to keep busy? You’ll find two of Spain’s biggest cities, Barcelona and Tarragona, just around the corner.
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Fancy the Balearics? Take your pick from Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza. This cluster of islands is hard to choose between, so here’s a quick rundown. Majorca’s the biggest, with tonnes of restaurants, marinas and beaches. Its capital, pretty-as-a-picture Palma, is packed out with trendy boutiques too. Menorca, on the other hand, runs at a much slower pace. Watch the kids paddle on shallow turquoise beaches, or hop on a boat and spot angelfish in Menorca’s hidden coves. Going without any little ones? Hippy hangout Ibiza is world-famous for its dance spots. Dip into open-air bars in San Antonio, or bulk up on culture in the island's UNESCO-listed Old Town. Es Cana, the island’s laid-back hippie market, is a perfect place to hunt for souvenirs — it's positively twinkling with unique silver jewellery.
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Bulgaria’s been touted as Europe’s rising star, and we predict big things. Get there before the crowds hear about it and stretch out on 18-kilometre-long beaches, dip into natural thermal springs that date way back to the 2nd century and have a nose around UNESCO-listed old towns. Pack your towel for Sunny Beach and expect a huge sandy coastline complemented by more than 600 cafes, restaurants and bars.
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From 2020, you’ll be able to visit Dalaman, in Turkey. Slicing into the country’s south-west coast, the Dalaman area’s appeal begins with its beaches. It’s earned the nickname The Turquoise Coast for its coves, bays and long stretches of sand, all lapped by bright-blue waters. If you fancy a dose of culture, ancient cities like Ephesus are daytripping distance away, and bustling Marmaris is at your fingertips. It’ll take you just over four hours to fly to Dalaman from Belfast International Airport.
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Where do you fancy?
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Plus, have a peek at what kind of food to expect in Spain, find out which Balearic Island is for you, and take a look at the best beaches in Turkey.
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Author: Lucy Perrin
With highly polished interiors and a Blue Flag beachfront location, the TUI SENSATORI Atlantica Dreams Resort and Spa adds a splash of luxury to an under-the-radar corner of Rhodes.
This luxury hotel overlooks the sea with great views of the harbour. A promenade leads into Los Cristianos – roughly 15 minutes’ walk away – and stretches onwards to Playa de las Americas.
Globales Apartamentos Binimar is in the centre of Cala'n Forcat and just a ten-minute drive from Ciutadella, the old capital of Menorca.
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