Friday, December 24, 2010

Best Christmas Holiday Destinations

Welcome to travel guide Europe and our guide to the best holiday destinations to visit in Europe during this wonderful Christmas period. If you have been lucky enough to avoid being grounded by the snow at airports such as Gatwick that have ruined so many peoples holidays this winter – why not pack your bags and set off on a holiday to one of the many great European holiday destinations for winter travel.

Of course, when it comes to choosing the best Christmas holiday destinations in Europe opinion will be divided and there is always going to be differences in choice depending on your interests, age and disposable income.. For example, if your personal cup of tea tends towards a fantastic Christmas party inspired by twinkling Christmas lights, superb local cuisine and part filled music – then the best countries to visit in Europe for a Christmas holiday must surely be found in the UK and France. London and Paris are famous for their seasonal festivities, whist you can also travel to Germany for an authentic outdoor market experience with beers a plenty!

If you can afford to travel to destinations outside Europe, cities such as New York and Florida are brilliant places to visit at Christmas – and of course New York will provide you with all the Christmas shopping opportunities you will ever need! Florida will of course also have some good weather for this time of year if you fancy something a bit different to snow and freezing temperatures!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Best Backpacking Holiday Destinations in Portugal

A Brief Overview of Portugal

Portugal offers one of the warmest climates in Europe and provides the backpacking tourist with a wealth of things to see and do.  Typically, a backpacking vacation implies that you are travelling on a budget or have limited funds.  Not to worry.  There are a number of cheap hotels in Portugal that you can take advantage of.  Additionally, since most international flights land in Lisbon (the capital), there are a number of Lisbon hotels that you can take advantage of as well, although we wouldn’t call all of them cheap.

Backpacking Hot Spots

Although many backpacking tourists prefer to explore the inland regions of the country, it is the beaches and seaside mountains of Portugal that holds the allure for many backpackers.  If your choice is Portugal’s countryside, then you might want to consider one of the following areas:

- Castelo Branco
- Évora
- Douro Valley
- Leiria
- Miranda do Douro
- Viseu

However, if you want to observe the wildlife of the region in its natural state, then you owe it to yourself to backpack and explore the Azores or Madeira Islands.  Additionally, the mainland has nature reserves situated in the Douro Valley, at Peneda-Gerês and at Serra da Estrela.

Gems and Secrets of the Country

For many tourists, the Algarve is the destination of choice with its abundance of natural beauty and some of the most stunning coastlines in Portugal.  Unfortunately, it is gradually becoming overdeveloped and is no longer the hidden gem or secret that it once was.  However, it is still worth exploring because some of the Algarve’s beaches are less visited than others.

Amarante is one of Portugal’s most magnificent little towns and well worth the visit.  It is a lovely city that features some spectacular architecture with beautiful paths and trails to explore along the River Tamega.  Many tourists have commented on how beautiful the architecture and the green streets are as they reflect off the waters of the river.

If you travel to Oporto in the north, you will be at the gateway to another one of the gems and secrets of the country, namely the Douro River Valley.  The most outstanding characteristic of this valley is the vineyards growing along the sloped banks of the river.  The local wineries in the area are complemented by some stunning panoramas of the river.

Events and Cultural Festivals in Portugal

During the summer months, there are numerous fairs that take place especially in the northern regions of the country.  Additionally, there are a number of music festivals that take place that might be of interested to you.  These festivals are typically set in some of the most beautiful countryside and small, quaint villages.

To the north – the two oldest festivals in the region are the Paredes de Coura festival and the Vilar de Mouros festival.

To the south – along the western part of Portugal’s southern coast is the Festival Sudoeste, by far the oldest and most famous of Portugal’s many festivals.