Escape into somewhere warm this winter. There are plenty of places to visit at this time of the year in Europe that offers not only plenty of sunshiny days but also a myriad of exhilarating activities and superb attractions, not to mention gustatory delights! Why suffer the cold of winter when you can gallivant and play in a European destination without busting your pocket? You can choose to travel cheaply with Skiddoo, and still arrive safe and sound and rarin’ to explore and sample what’s on offer at the opposite hemisphere.
Fly me to Greece
Greece seems so far away and out of reach even when you look at it from a map. Actually it is about 15,501 km away if you are from Sydney, and flying there could take 19 hours and 33 minutes. Whew! That’s quite a distance, but it will be well worth it. Greece is glorious in the summer with the sunshine warming up the country generously.
Setting aside the country’s financial worries, Greece is still a hot destination and remains quite a favourite Mediterranean vacation spot, with its fantastic archaeological sites and its incredible beaches and the many things you can do to stay active. There are more museums to visit, more flights available and the prices in the country are incredibly low. The beautifully diverse country is very safe for travellers and the people are friendly. The food is superb and the climate is truly pleasant, too.
Take me to Greece
We’ve mentioned the beaches in Greece. One of the best beaches to explore is Elafonissi Beach, which is in a small island by the same name in Crete. The white sand beach, with areas tinged pink by crushed shells, whose name translates to “deer island” is more like a one-metre deep lagoon with very calm aquamarine-coloured waters due to the small pockets of sand islets. It’s a great destination for individuals and those who travel with their families. It offers plenty of opportunities for beach volleyball and even racquetball and all the time in the world to perfect your tan.
From the beach, you can just cross the shallow water to reach the island, which in itself is already a great adventure. The main attraction here are the Caretta caretta turtles. On its south side is a great beach as well, although there are no amenities available such as umbrellas and sun beds.
Fly me to Turkey
There are many reasons to visit Turkey, a nation that straddles both Europe and Asia. In the summer, there are plenty of things to see and do for free. It’s 14,393 km from Sydney and flight time will take 18 hours and 23 minutes. When you’ve settled, have a visual feast at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul or marvel at the intricateness of the tiles covering the interior of the Blue Mosque. Feast on some of Turkey’s known street food sold by vendors that approach you wherever you are. You can take a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia and gape in awe at the awesome landscape, where eroded soft rocks make such stunning formations. Sample some of the best of Turkish cuisine, where young and modern chefs not only use fresh ingredients but also some of the finest produce from various regions of the country. Likewise have a taste of Turkish tea or çay or order Turkish ice cream, which melts at a very slow pace. Get smooth and glowing skin from a one-of-a-kind spa treatment. Best of all, you can beach-hop in Turkey and enjoy the beauty of İztuzu beach.
Take me to Turkey
The beach, which is located in Dalyan, southwest of Turkey is locally known as Turtle Beach, It stretches for some 4.5 kilometers. İztuzu creates a narrow but natural barrier between the Mediterranean and the Dalyan River fresh water delta. This is the prime breeding location for the loggerhead sea turtle or Caretta caretta, thus there are times when the beach is closed to the public, mainly from 8 PM to 8 AM from May 1 to the end of October, and the reason why no construction is allowed on the beach area. The beautiful beach is covered in white sand and trees along the beach offers shelter from the blazing sun. Umbrellas and lounge chairs are available for rent so you can stay at the beach in comfort. If you are travelling with children, İztuzu Beach is very ideal since the water here is shallow.
Fly me to Sicily
Sicily has a varied and stunning landscape etched by the sea, mountains and volcanoes. The many offshore islands provide plenty of climbing, hiking, diving and swimming opportunities. The air in Sicily is always lemon-scented and its cuisine has been influenced by many cultures making Sicilian food exotic and flavourful, using just a few local ingredients, including various nuts, wild herbs and ricotta, swordfish and tuna, shellfish and citrus fruits. Situated in the middle of the Mediterranean, Sicily had been valuable to ancient cultures from the Phoenicians to the Greeks, a land where, according to legends, Cyclops, Charybdis and Scylla once existed. It has enough architectural and artistic gems to occupy your time, that is, if you are not lured by its beaches.
Take me to Sicily
Speaking of beaches, one of the most beautiful is Cala Rossa, which is located in Favignana, out there at the Aegadian Islands. The largest of the Aegadian Islands, it is popular for tuna fishing but more recently has been one a favourite among Sicilian beachgoers.
Cala Rossa is a beach that presumably got its name for its historic and tragic past, as a site of the Punic Wars where many Phoenicians lost their lives, their blood colouring the water. Cala Rossa means Red Cove, and actually named after the red clay found on the beach. Otherwise, Cala Rossa is the most beautiful cove in the island where several flat rocks are available for sunbathers tired of immersing in its crystal clear, turquoise-blue water. Getting to Cala Rossa though is a bit of a challenge because you need to take a long walk down a hill. Therefore it is not suitable for young children, pregnant ladies and the elderly. It is a small beach but well worth the effort to reach it.
Fly me to Portugal
Portugal is located on the Iberian Peninsula along with Spain. The country has a rich cultural heritage as evidenced by its cobblestone villages and its medieval castles. Its history is marked by the presence of Christians, Moors, Visigoths, Romans and Celts. Portugal has several UNESCO World Heritage sites, beautifully preserved medieval towns, idyllic landscapes and other curiosities, such as the unexplained megaliths at the outskirts of Évora or the stone carvings in Vila Nova de Foz Côa that were already 20,000 years old. Portugal’s a place for food lovers, for people who enjoy festivals and fairs or touring the countryside on foot. Its beaches are covered with golden sand, which are alluring to most beachcombers.
Praia Dona Ana, Lagos
Take me to Portugal
Portugal is surrounded by the sea and therefore several beaches are found in the country, with some of the best located in Algarve. The most picturesque in the region is the beach of Praia da Dona Ana. It is a small cove embraced and sheltered by stunning and tall cliffs with colourful strata. Its golden sand is caressed by waves from the crystal clear sea. Praia Dona Ana is a great all-around beach, accessible only from a long flight of steps, where parasols and deck chairs are available for rent. You can purchase refreshments down at the beach although the selection is limited. If you want better varieties, you have to go up the cliff. Despite the limited access, Dona Ana beach is very busy during weekends. Remarkably, the water at Dona Ana is very cold even during the peak of summer, so be prepared for it. Its shallow water makes it a fun place to snorkel but still deep enough for people to swim. A lifeguard supervises the beach, which is great.
Fly me to Spain
There’s almost eternal sunshine in Spain, a country that is naturally warm, even pulsating hot, due to the passion of its people. There is a barrage of things to see in this European destination, which is the home of flamenco and bull fighting. Spain had a very glorious past and its castles and monuments are testaments to that. You can find several churches, magnificent architecture, a lively art scene, gorgeous natural scenery and mouth-watering cuisine. See the Moorish palaces in Granada, the intriguing architectural masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi, the huge mosque (Mezquita) in Cordoba, the priceless works of art at the Prado and Guggenheim Museum, among others, and the ultra-large complex of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, formerly the residence of kings, which includes a museum, library, mausoleum, royal palace church and monastery. With innumerable attractions, it will take a long time for you to fully discover Spain, not to mention that you might be side-tracked by its wonderful beaches.
Cala Comte, Ibiza Town
Take me to Spain
One of the things that will catch your attention when you reach Cala Comte is its shallow water that is both turquoise and clear blue in colour. The sea currents that constantly flow in the area cause the water to be that way. The beach offers great views of several small islands near the coastline of Ibiza. Two sandy stretches make up the beach, one backed by sand dunes. A rocky coastline backs up the other. Naturists on the other hand use a smaller cove located at the far end of the beach and down some steps carved into the rocks. Cala Comte is a safe beach for all ages, and could be very busy during the peak season. It could get very crowded because the sandy spot is miniscule. It is also a great place to watch the sun setting down for the night, which gives people such a great way to end the day.