Top 3 European Winter Travel Destinations

There used to be a time when taking a holiday abroad in wintertime was something that only the  very rich would do – naturally, to go skiing. Nowadays snow sports are a lot cheaper to practice and there are many more winter holiday hotel options out there to ensure that everyone can travel and enjoy their holidays in the winter. The problem now is deciding where to go. We will not be covering destinations where it’s hot in winter – the so called “winter sun” destinations. Instead, we’re focusing exclusively on cold, snowy winter destinations where you can make the most of the cold season.

1. Sweden

Our first impulse was to talk about the whole of Scandinavia, but Sweden really seems to be head and shoulders above all other Scandinavian countries. It’s not that its resorts are better or that the snow is magically more skiable in Sweden, it’s because of its diversity. Sweden is a large country, which means that its southern end is down south enough to have a somewhat mild temperature – which can get pretty hot in Summer, by the way – and it’s northern regions are so close to the North Pole that you can witness the Aurora Borealis. In contrast, Denmark never gets as cold and Finland cannot offer much in terms of beaches, for example. In fact, Denmark cannot even offer much in the way of mountains, since it’s a very flat country. There’s also the advantage that Sweden is a relatively cheap country to stay in, especially compared to other northern European places, so it seems to be a perfect winter destination.

Sweden
Image by maarten49 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/30149154@N08/)

2. The Alps

The reason why the Alps made number 2 on the list is that they are becoming a bit too crowded. We complained when they were too exclusive, of course, but now we keep on complaining. And this is mostly because the parts of the Alps belonging to Italy and France are really letting their quality go down in favor of mass tourism, which we’re sure gives them a lot more money, but it makes us less inclined to want to visit since even when it comes to winter sports holidays ,we still like to feel in peace and to be able to relax.

The Alps
Image by by atsubor (http://www.flickr.com/photos/22152932@N08/)

3. The Pyrenees

The Pyrenees have always been left to play second fiddle to the Alps, but the truth is there is nothing that you can do in the Alps that you can’t do in the Pyrenees. A natural border between France and Spain, it’s a region that seems to unite the two peoples more than it separates them. It’s a matter of pride for locals of both countries to have this range of mountains literally in their backyard and it shows in the way that they keep it. And that means that what was once a great alternative to the Alps now takes precedent to them in the hearts of many people, and not just locals. The close proximity to Portugal and England definitely helps increase the flow of tourists to the area, and that has helped it expand greatly.

The Pyrenees
Image by by jntns (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jntn/)

Holly Adams writes for Coupon Croc, where you can get Thomson discounts for your next holidays.

UK Breaks for Artists

Many artists and aspiring artists yearn to go to France or Italy on a painting holiday. There are some great locations for artists there, particularly if you like painting landscapes, but do not neglect the UK. Artists such as Constable and Turner extolled the virtues of UK landscapes and the light in parts of the UK is actually quite unique. So as an artist where can you go? If you don’t want tuition then go anywhere that inspires you. Whether that is a city centre location, full of life, or a cottage in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, it is quite easy to search online to find locations. Try somewhere new for a couple of days and see what you can create. If you want to have tuition during your break then there are many options available. Here are just a few.

Brambles Art Retreat

A beautiful 17th century house in Devon is the location for these courses. Two tutors are resident, and all levels are welcome – even if you’ve never painted before. It is possible to learn even if you think you have no artistic ability! Day courses, weekend or 5 day residential courses are available depending on your requirements. There are three rooms available here, and when they are full extra guests stay at a local B&B just two minutes away. There is a studio on-site and a large garden.

artcourses.co.uk

This is a directory listing residential art courses in the UK and Ireland. Covering everything from painting to sculpture, pottery and jewellery it is a great resource if you are looking for an art holiday.

Joe Daisy Painting Courses

Based near Reading in Berkshire, these are designed to encourage you to find and develop your inner artist. A variety of courses are available from beginners to advanced levels. All materials are provided. Accommodation is of a high standard, and many art books are available for guests to borrow. With easy transport links, this may be a good choice for you if you are looking for a short course.

Creative Breaks

Offering a variety of creative breaks around Herefordshire, this not for profit organisation provides links to course providers. Some of the courses include accommodation, but others recommend somewhere to stay. Whichever kind of art, or craft, you are interested in, they are likely to have something to inspire you.

Cornwall Painting Holidays

No list of art holidays would be complete without mentioning Cornwall. The light and scenery in Cornwall has inspired many artists throughout history and continues to do so. These holidays are led by Tim Hall who has exhibited throughout the UK and has received some high profile commissions.

Alex is a writer and journalist. He loves to write about everything from travel to tech, SEO to multimedia to DVD duplication services .

Visit South Africa’s stunning Victoria Falls

South Africa’s an amazing destination for a holiday, thanks to its combination of the scenic Winelands, spectacular national parks and vibrant cities. Personally, I think Victoria Falls should definitely be high on your to-visit list; read on to find out more.

Key facts about Victoria Falls

Before I get carried away with the finer details, let’s take a look at some of the basics – like where the falls are and other key facts. You’ll find Victoria Falls in the town of Livingstone in the west of Zambia, just across from Zimbabwe.

Victoria Falls Zambezi
Victoria Falls Zambezi, South AfricaZest-pk / Foter.com / CC BY

They’re created by the Zambezi River which, by the time it tumbles down this series of basalt gorges, is an impressive 2 km wide – a size that really does have to be seen to be believed. In fact, it’s the sheer magnitude of this natural wonder, teamed with its natural beauty, that has made it such a famous and important site; indeed, it’s the largest sheet of falling water in the world.

The roar of the falls is incredibly impressive – not surprising considering around 546 cubic metres of water cascades every minute. Named after the reigning monarch of England at the time of its discovery by David Livingstone, Victoria Falls is often referred to locally by another name: Mosi-oa-Tunya. Translated, this means ‘the smoke that thunders’ – a wonderfully atmospheric name, don’t you think? And, considering the spray from the falls can be seen from a huge 20 km away, it’s also pretty apt.

Where can I stay?

Given that the falls are in the town of Livingstone, it makes sense to stay there for a day or two to make the most of your trip. Fortunately, Livingstone is home to plenty of gems of its own, including national parks perfect for safari trips and fascinating museums.

As an added bonus, there are some seriously luxurious places to stay in Livingstone, which I think means you can look forward to this leg of your trip being a truly memorable one. Among the top resort options to consider is The Royal Livingstone and the Protea Hotel Livingstone, both of which you book through companies like Wanderforth.

What can I do while I’m there?

While seeing the falls will no doubt be the highlight of your trip, you’re bound to be curious as to what else you can do in Livingstone. Here are a few of things that most appeal to me:

• Going on a cruise on the Zambezi River. To strike a romantic note, pick an evening trip.
• Visiting the Victoria Falls Field Museum. This is a great place to go if you fancy finding out more about the history of the falls, as it tells the story of how they were formed.
• Exploring Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park. You can opt to explore this reserve – which at 66 sq km is fairly small – either in your own car (if you’ve hired one) or as part of a group tour. Giraffes, antelopes, zebra and elephants are among the animals you might be lucky enough to see.
• Taking a dip in the Devil’s Pool. To do this, you need to visit between September and December, when the river’s flow should be at its lowest. You see, this ‘pool’ is perched right on the edge of the falls, which means this is the only time of year you can use it without being tumbling down the gorge with the water! So, as you can probably tell, splashing around here is likely to be something you’ll never forget.

Why La Jolla is California’s Hidden Gem

Known as the Jewel of Southern California, La Jolla is a hidden gem that locals would prefer to keep to themselves. But, with so many great reasons to visit, La Jolla is quickly becoming a must-see vacation spot. With affordable flights to La Jolla from most Western U.S. cities, there’s no reason not to go.

La Jolla California
La Jolla California

A Walkable Village Area

While most of California centers around car culture, La Jolla is a town where people enjoy walking. Mere steps from the Pacific Ocean, La Jolla village is door-to-door designer boutiques and impressive dining. Girard Avenue and Prospect Street is where you will find the greatest variety of shops, ranging from top designers to popular affordable brands. Stop for a snack or meal at one of the several award-winning restaurants and cafes interspersed throughout the village.

Stay in the heart of this bustling village at the Grande Colonial Hotel. Well suited to the affluent vibe of the village, this hotel features stylish colonial furnishings, fine dining at NINE-TEN restaurant, and attentive concierge service.

Extraordinary Wildlife Sightings

It’s not often that you’re able to get up close and personal with wildlife, like you can in La Jolla. The 6,000 acre La Jolla Ecological Reserve draws divers and snorkelers from all over. Through the crystal clear water, you’re guaranteed to see fish of every imaginable color, lobster, seals, and leopard sharks. Enjoy the scenery without fear; the water in the reserve is just 15 to 30 feet deep.

The La Jolla Children’s Pool, originally designed as a protected and shallow swimming area for kids, is often visited by harbor seals. At any time of year, you can see dozens of seals basking in the sun on the warm sand.

Sunbathing Galore

The La Jolla beaches put the sparkle in this hidden gem. The wide stretches of sand mean never fighting for beach chair space, while the reliable, yet calm, waves make surfing a dream. There are several area beaches to choose from, but La Jolla Shores is best for families and sunbathers.

If you don’t feel like flaunting your bikini at the shore, pull-up a plush lounger at one of the many resort-style hotels with pool areas. La Valencia Hotel offers the best of both worlds. Get bronzed at the stunning outdoor pool or stroll to the beach in 5 minutes.

World-Class Golf

Play where the professionals golf at Torrey Pines. Offering two courses that hug the bluff and feature breathtaking views of the ocean, you’ll have a hard time keeping your eye on your ball. Despite hosting the PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open, both courses are open to the public.

Stay at the golf course at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines. This hotel offers surprisingly luxurious amenities, despite its affordable room rates.

Share this post with others who want to travel! Also, send any additional tips about finding the best deals for La Jolla hotels in the comments below.

Australian Outback Creatures to Look Out For

Australia is an enormous country with a very small population compared to its size. Much of the land that is uninhabited includes long stretches of deserts that spread across most of the states in the country. When travelling through the outback you’ll witness impressive rock formations, a wide range of species of trees and plants and bodies of water you can dive into where numerous kinds of wildlife are bountiful.

Australian Outback Creatures
Australian Outback Creaturesdbking / Foter.com / CC BY

While all of this seems like an explorer’s paradise, there are precautions to take when travelling through the outback and certain animals to avoid.

Crocodiles

Only found in the northern region of Australia, the saltwater crocodiles are the largest living species of reptile in the world and some can weigh up to roughly 1000 kilograms. While they spend a lot of their time in the sea, the saltwater crocodiles are so dangerous because they will also swim into fresh water rivers and swamps that humans may be around.

Well known to attack humans, the crocodiles take numerous lives a year and the males in particular are aggressive to those species, including humans, which venture into its territory and will not hesitate to attack. While one of Australia’s most iconic species, they are also one to be very aware of should you be thinking of going swimming in the outback.

Brown Snake

Australia has such a wide variety of snakes that include 100 venomous species, and you should be wary of any snake you come across. 12 of the 100 venomous snakes in Australia are known to be extremely lethal should one bite you and one of these is the Brown Snake. Found largely in the northern regions, the Brown Snake is known by its brown colouring which covers all of its body.

Living around the rivers, swamps, billabongs and lakes, the Brown Snakes venom is extremely lethal and should you be beaten in the outback by one then immediate medical intervention is vital for you to survive. Be sure to avoid one of these snakes should you come across one while exploring. Be sure to check out flight deals to Australia at cheapflights.com.au.

Australian Outback Deserts

The outback is an enormous part of the country and you can go for days without seeing another person. The vast desert areas can pose a large danger given that the remote towns in the outback are so far apart, meaning if you do get in trouble, then you may have quite a distance to go before you find any assistance.

The deserts can become scorching hot during the summer time, and it’s not unusual for temperatures to rise above 100F, coupled with the fact that the climate itself its extremely dry. Heat stroke and dehydration are the most common afflictions in this environment if not enough water is consumed or accessible, and as such it is incredibly important that travellers through these parts of the country bring a large enough supply with them.

Also to consider due to the fact that you may not see another human being for days in the outback is to bring a very reliable car as mechanical break downs can leave you stranded for days.