As we wave goodbye to the world cup, we also wave goodbye to a union of nations that brings people and cultures together. Not to mention providing us with the absolute unexpected. This tournament saw England last longer than Germany, Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil, underdogs Croatia make it to the final, and title holders Germany knocked out in the group stages. We also saw an all European semi-finals with the final four remaining countries just a short flight away; coincidence, I think not! If the unity and togetherness of the world cup should teach us anything, it’s to get out and explore this big wide world and its many different landscapes and cultures. Why not start with one of the world cup semi-finalists, if their travel opportunities are as good as their footballing abilities, you’re sure not to be disappointed.
An unlikely finalist, and arguably not a deserved one either. However regardless of whether you believed football was coming home or not, it’s hard to deny that England really does have a lot to offer. It’s easy for us to overlook it but when you consider the diversity of travel within England, there really is something for everyone. We have beautiful beaches in the south, the peak district further north and a whole host of bustling and unique cities scattered in between.
You’ll have to pinch yourself and double check you’re still in the UK whilst overlooking Kynance Cove in Cornwall. The crystal blue waters could very easily be mistaken for a cool Caribbean bay. Breathtaking views are not the only gem lying in the south however, surfers from all over flock to our tiny island to take on the waves. Avid surf pros as well as first time body boarders can head to the south of England and enjoy it’s wonderful beaches.
As you head up northwards you could spend months stopping off at each and every city you pass along the way. Of course the usual suspects London, Manchester, Birmingham have more than enough to offer, but if you fancy something a little different my recommendation is Bath. As you stroll down the picturesque streets of Bath, it’s like stepping back in time or onto the set of Downton Abbey. Each and every building adds to the atmospheric feel about the city. The center point of Bath is the magnificent, towering Bath Abbey, dating back to the 7th century. Once you’ve admired the spectacular architecture from the outside, wander on in and learn more about the buildings unique history. The thin cobbled streets of Bath are even more magical if you visit around Christmas time. Wrap up warm and enjoy the city by night so you are able to admire the twinkling lights and festive stalls.
I’m sure you only need to look at your Instagram feed to see that Croatia has completely taken off in the past few years with British tourists; and it’s not hard to see why. You don’t need to be a die-hard Game of Thrones fan to appreciate the true beauty the country holds. Glistening beaches, cheap hostels and even cheaper beer- the ideal holiday destination.
Dubrovnik- probably the most well known of Croatia’s cities, is not to be missed on any trip around the country. It’s positioning on the Adriatic Sea makes it prime location for a summer holiday due to the sunny climate. The most significant tourist spot is the city’s famous Old Town. Stone walls and buildings line the streets to create the ideal setting for a periodic drama. Wander for hours throughout the town and immerse yourself in the cities deep history.
If it’s stunning beach landscapes you’re after, then Croatia is the semifinal destination for you. With many resorts welcoming floods of tourists in peak season, it’s easy to see why. Just a short boat taxi away from the popular resort of Hvar are the Pakleni Islands. Breathtaking is one of the only words that begin to describe the sheer natural beauty these small islands possess. What’s so special about the Pakleni Islands is that they remain relatively untouched and natural, a breath of fresh air amongst Croatia’s busy beaches.
Croatia however, is not short of secluded beaches and stunning islands, this is why many tourists opt for sail tours in order to see as much of the fantastic country as possible. Sail Croatia is a popular encounter for young people desperate to set sail, see the sights and drink an oceans worth of alcohol. Sail Croatia is the ultimate party cruise that combines culture, beaches and lots and lots of liquor. If this sounds like your sort of thing, you can check out the website here. https://www.sail-croatia.com/croatia-cruises/navigator-cruises?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI2uLbiezO3AIVxrHtCh3FDAH8EAAYAiAAEgIhd_D_BwE
Just a short train away across the channel, France is so close you could probably swim there (please don’t try). With travel routes to the country being so easy and accessible, we have no excuse not to visit. I’m sure you’ve read a million articles about Paris and know all about the Eiffel Tower and Mona Lisa, so I’ll spare you the repetition. Of course, Paris is a must visit, especially for art and fashion lovers- but here’s a few other suggestions to consider whilst travelling France.
Normandy in the North bears a similar climate to the UK, so if you’re after a gleaming tan this is probably not for you. However, for those interested in delving into modern history then Normandy is the perfect destination. Walk in the footsteps of World War 2 soldiers as you visit the D-Day landing beaches and see first-hand the remains of landscapes savaged by war. As you head inland you can wander through numerous military cemeteries, each dedicated to a nation whose soldiers fell during the Great War. A truly harrowing experience that displays the sheer scale of the war and the lives it consumed.
The further south you venture through France, the more likely you are to meet with some nice weather. Deep in the South is the quaint town of Carcassonne. Nestled in the French hills, Carcassonne is particularly famous for its medieval citadel and 12th century castle. Whether you’re into history and architecture or not, it makes for a great Instagram!
If luxury travel is more your scene and you spend just as much on your holiday wardrobe as you do the holiday itself, then head to the French Riviera; popular holiday destination of the rich and famous. Saint-Tropez, Cannes and Monaco are amongst those that make up this haven on the southeastern coast. Expect white sand, super yachts and Gucci, lots of Gucci.
Belgium is the perfect destination for a city break. If you only have a few days to spare and are eager to get out of the country, I seriously recommend Belgium. The country is home to a number of picturesque cities and towns, and being such a short flight away, it’s ideal for a quick visit.
The capital of Brussels is extremely popular with tourists. The Grand-Palace, one of the most notable attractions, is definitely worth a visit. You can’t leave Brussels without a snap of the magnificent Grand Palace. Located in the central square, it’s pretty hard to miss.
If you want to avoid the business of the big cities, then Ghent provides you with a far quieter and more relaxed atmosphere. Situated in the northwest of Belgium means that the climate is cool and manageable. Ghent is a port city and lots of the main attractions lay along the river. You can sit and enjoy some traditional Belgian cuisine along the water. Today Ghent is a university town and also a cultural hub meaning a lot of its establishments are catered for students; making Ghent the ideal location for young people.
By Molly Geddes