Five unmissable European events this autumn

As summer fades and autumn turns the leaves to brown, you would be forgiven for thinking that the rest of Europe would be heading for hibernation. But you’d be mistaken! We’ve rounded up some of the continent’s top events and festivals to look forward to this September and October. As you have a look through the events you’ll agree that one thing is certain – there’s plenty more to look forward to in 2018!

Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany
The world famous Munich Oktoberfest beer festival is happening this year from the 22nd of September. It’s time to put on your lederhosen as you join festival-goers from all around the world in Munich to celebrate Bavarian culture and beer from the original six Munich breweries. It’s been going since 1810 and has grown into the world’s largest Volksfest (a combination of beer festival and travelling funfair) with over 7 million litres of beer – over 12 million pints – being served over the 16 days.

Ticket Price: Beer tents are free to enter, beers cost around £10 a litre and a full meal will set you back 12 pounds.
Dates: 22 September – 7 October 2018

Regata Storica, Venice, Italy
One of Venice’s most important events happens on the first Sunday of September every year: the Regata Storica. It is an event of two parts: first, the historical boat parade made up of colourful 16th century-style boats manned by a crew of traditionally dressed oarsmen, followed by a series of rowing races. The celebrations aren’t limited to the water, with festivities spread throughout the city starting in the day and continuing well into the night.

Ticket Price: Free (there are options to pay for reserved seating).
Dates: 2 September 2018

Cafe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival, Budapest, Hungary
With over 150 events offering design, literature, music and dance; the Cafe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival is one of the highlights of the European contemporary arts calendar. It’s a must-visit for the music concerts (ranging from jazz to classical and crossover), the theatre productions, and the fine-art and design exhibitions.

Ticket Price: Various
Dates: 5 – 21 October 2018

Festival of Lights, Berlin, Germany
One of the largest and most famous light festivals in the world, the Festival of Lights in Berlin is not to be missed. Hosted in the centre of Berlin, the city’s world-famous sights and monuments are transformed. Featuring international artists, you can experience the wonder of light projections, 3D video light displays, and light installations that attract over 650,000 visitors every year.

Ticket Price: Free
Dates: 5 – 14 October 2018

Eurochocolate Festival, Perugia, Italy
Perugia is one of the top cities in Tuscany, Italy, and comes alive from mid-October as the city plays host to the Eurochocolate Festival. The festival celebrates its 25th birthday this year and promises to be better than ever. For ten days the city is nearly unrecognisable as it hosts almost 1 million visitors, the streets smell of chocolate, and every imaginable variety is on display and available for sampling.

Ticket Price: Free
Dates: 19 – 28 October 2018

So whether you’re looking for a new cultural experience, to sample food and drink from a different country, or to immerse yourself in bygone times, there’s a festival for you this autumn.

We’ve showcased our top 5 for September and October, but there is so much more on offer! Many of the festivals that we’ve shown you here are free to enter, but note that most have additional side events that are paid for separately and should be booked in advance. We’re sure you’ll have a great time!

How to visit three European cities in one holiday – on a budget!

We asked seasoned European traveller Lana Nikolajeva to show us how to follow in her footsteps for an exciting trip she’s got planned.

On a budget? In desperate need of a city break and unsure where to go? Not a problem, go to a flight comparison website like SkyScanner, put in the dates you wish to travel, pick “anywhere” as your destination and away you go. [Editor’s note: did you realise you can ask Skyscanner to take you “anywhere”? What an exciting feature!]

This is what I did, and came up with a £45 return trip to Vienna. The only slight issue is that 5 days and 4 nights in Vienna seems to be just a tad too long for me. After a bit more research I discovered that Bratislava is only an hour and a half away from Vienna, and Budapest is only three hours away, heading south-east in both cases. This opened up some possibilities.

Transport
Coaches and trains depart from Vienna city centre and arrive in the city centre of your chosen destination. The departure time is as early as 05:40 in the morning and as late as 11:40 at night. My return coach trip to Bratislava will set me back a grand total of £8.88 per person. As Budapest is a further distance away, the costs of a round trip will be £15.98 per person.

Bratislava
Before booking this trip I didn’t know that much about Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) if I’m honest. But after some intense Google research, I can say that I am really looking forward to visiting the city. It seems to be a perfect combination of urban jungle, historic landmarks and green spaces.

Budapest
Budapest is better known to me, as it has been on my radar for a while. It’s a beautiful historic city filled with spectacular architecture divided by the River Danube. I’ve been told that it’s best to stay there until it’s dark, because when the lights come on and the whole town is illuminated it’s supposed to be quite a sight!

I will also do my best to visit the thermal baths. The Széchenyi Baths are one of the largest left in Europe. The city is split in two by the river, and you can find the baths on the Pest side of the city (east of the river). I know it sounds like a rather intense day, but based on my calculations I should be able to make it! The other option is to stay in Budapest for the night and return to Vienna the next day.

Vienna
Just because I’m not staying in Vienna for the duration of my trip doesn’t mean that there is nothing to see there. All you have to do is type the name of the city into Google and you will be bombarded with absolutely stunning images of palaces, museums, quirky streets and the world famous Vienna State Opera house. My plan is to remain in Vienna on days 1, 3 and 5 of my trip, and the other two days will be spent exploring Budapest and Bratislava.

What to check for
I have to admit that I’ve never done three countries in the same trip before: two was the maximum. But I’m not worried. I checked the timing of the transport, I have a list of my “must-see places”, and the hotel in Vienna is close to the coach station, so I’m not reliant on public transport once I arrive back late.

I don’t tend to plan out every minute of my trip, and I do like to take my time and stroll around the cities soaking up the local atmosphere. I occasionally look at the map to check if any of the places I want to see are nearby, and course-correct as required.

What I do triple check, religiously, is how to get from the airport to the hotel. The rest can be improvised if the occasion calls for it. Sometimes, not having a rigid plan turns a good holiday into a great one!

Milan: shopping, cathedrals, and a spiritual home of motorsport

While Milan may be renowned for first-rate football and being at the forefront of fashion, the city offers its visitors culture and beauty like nowhere else.

A city break gives you enough time to see the stunning sights while feasting on risotto, pizza, and gelato ice-cream, and you could have time to squeeze in some shopping too.

Where to stay
Accommodation in Milan can be expensive, but there are options available for every budget. The heart of the city, close to the stunning Gothic Duomo di Milano Cathedral, is the best area to stay for a city break, because you’ll already be near to the main attractions, so you won’t be wasting time travelling around.

Discovering the sights
The Duomo, a grand cathedral, really is the must-see attraction here. It’s an imposing masterpiece of Gothic architecture, with pink and white marble and a facade that’s adorned with more than a hundred spires and over three thousand statues. It took nearly six centuries to complete the building, but it’s now stunning, both inside and out.

Climb to the top, or take the lift, and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city from the roof terraces.

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is a fine church. The monastery permanently houses Leonardo da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper – one of the world’s most admired and studied pieces of art – which da Vinci painted directly onto a wall there. You’ll need to book a viewing in advance or sign up for a guided city tour to see this famous masterpiece, but it’ll be worth it.

There’s plenty more to explore around Milan that could see your city break jam-packed with visits to galleries to see works by Old Masters, or to museums and churches and even a cemetery tour! Cimitero Monumentale is an enormous cemetery and has an abundance of beautifully decorated tombs, as well as sculptures and architecture that attract many visitors each year.

If you’re visiting Milan during mid to late September, the infamous Milan Fashion Week (Women’s) means you’ll pay a higher price for your accommodation, but there are many public events available that can make your trip even more memorable.

F1 Grand Prix at historic Monza
Also occurring at the beginning of September is the Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix, which is easily reached from Milan as it’s just 12 miles to the north in the city of Monza.

Monza is one of the most famous and historic circuits in all of motor racing: built in 1922 it is the third oldest purpose-built circuit in the world. Every Ferrari fan should visit this incredible race, which has a unique atmosphere of racing passion like nowhere else.

Almost every legendary driver in F1 history has won at Monza, from earlier drivers such as Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Stirling Moss, to Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher, and the current champion Lewis Hamilton.

With Ferrari doing well this year, winning at Monza in 2018 would be the first home victory for the red team since Fernando Alonso in 2010, and would be an amazing experience to remember for the rest of your life.

Shop til you drop!
If high-class shopping is more your thing, then the world-famous Quadrilatero d’Oro (the ‘golden rectangle’) is the place to be. Even if you prefer to window-shop or people-watch, this lovely shopping district is perfect for either, and you can stroll along the cobbled streets pointing out the most famous designer labels in the world.

Eat til you pop!
Who doesn’t love Italian food? When you’re in Milan, you can also enjoy local cuisine including Milanesa minestrone, polenta or risotto, finished off with a panettone, said to be created by a Milanese nobleman.

You can eat the most wonderful food on your city break and then return home, full of tales to tell and full of delicious food, too!

Exploring the Algarve – From Lagos to Faro

With endless golden sands, secluded coves, and calm, clean waters, it’s no wonder that the Algarve is renowned for its stunning coastline. Located in the southernmost part of Portugal, the region covers over 730 square miles, and is the country’s top holiday destination.

Every year, millions of tourists flock to its sun-drenched beaches. Even better, the enchanting inner towns and villages are also full of charms just waiting to be explored, from mountain ranges to natural springs and archaeological remains.

The Algarve has a Mediterranean climate, so even in winter it’s an ideal European holiday destination. July and August are the hottest months, with temperatures in July reaching reach 33C (91F) and averaging around 24C (75F), while August has the most daily sunshine hours of the year.

If you’re visiting the coast in summer, the sea breeze is a blessing. Outside of the summer months, the Algarve is cooler yet still warm enough to sunbathe; sunshine is pretty much guaranteed here all year round.

There are accommodation options here to suit every budget, from cheap hotels and apartments to luxurious villas and resorts. In the slightly cooler spring or autumn months, it’s more likely that you’ll find better deals and experience fewer crowds too, so why not consider visiting this September or October?

Coast to coast
There are so many beautiful towns and villages to visit in the Algarve, both coastal and inland, although the seaside is more popular with tourists.

Albufeira is the largest resort town and one of the most well-known for holidaymakers. With a lovely beach, plenty of restaurants and attractions, a historic Old Town, and a lively nightlife on the Strip, it has something for all tastes.

Known as the Monaco of Portugal, the purpose-built resort of Vilamoura is somewhat more upmarket, and has its own marina, casino, designer shops and world-class hotels.

For either a day trip or a relaxing holiday, the towns of Faro, Lagos, and Portimao all have their own delights. The regional capital, Faro, has ancient city walls, excellent shopping, and pristine beaches. Lagos has stunning sandstone cliffs, a pretty harbour, and a 17th-century fort. Portimao has its Old Quarter, famous fish restaurants, and a marina.

Swimming, golf, sandcastles, and seafood
From various coastal sites in the region, you can take in the wondrous clifftop views and then head to the beach to swim, snorkel, surf or dive in the warm Atlantic.

If golf is more your scene, then the Algarve is the perfect European destination, as it has a host of championship golf courses and resorts, with the fairways perennially enjoying fair weather.

Every year, the Algarve offers its visitors plenty to see and do, with festivals, events for foodies, and much more. The annual Fiesa International Sand Sculpture Festival (the largest of its kind) takes place between April and October, and the incredible sculptures have to be seen to be believed.

August in the Algarve is for seafood lovers, who can head to Faro’s Festa da Ria Formosa, the Portimao Sardine Festival, and the seafood festival Festival do Marisco de Olhao.

Whether you’re after a holiday with dolphin-watching, cultural and heritage tours, or if you just prefer to eat good food and sunbathe, the Algarve is simply the ideal destination.

A perfect summer holiday in France when travelling on a budget

According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, France is the most visited country in the world, receiving 82.6 million tourists in 2016! Although it can get crowded in summer in the tourist hotspots, there is still plenty to enjoy.

Where to visit 
When it comes to variety, France is hard to compete with. The north is completely different from the south, and the various cities have their own unique identities. Also, the beaches are too great for you to miss out on!

Your holiday in France doesn’t have to cost too much: even the most expensive cities in France like Paris have lots of ways to save money and make your budget go a long way.

We have chosen three of the best places you can visit to have a good time without having to dig too deep into your wallet.

Lille 
Lille is undeniably a cool place, and it is one of the best cities in France for you to relax and have fun. It’s in the very north of France, so not far to travel from the UK. There are no direct flights to Lille, so it’s best to get the Eurostar train.

The city has a beautiful Natural History Museum which has one of the world’s best insectariums. There is also the spectacular 17th-century Citadel of Lille. You’ll also get to see the biggest flea market in Europe at the annual Braderie de Lille, and enjoy delicious meals at an affordable price.

Paris
Paris is one of those cities that everyone has to visit once in their lifetime.

It’s possible to spend quality time in Paris without having to pay too much. You can roam around the Montmartre’s Secret Vineyards, have a little picnic under the Eiffel Tower with your loved ones, and dig out cheaper food options in a restaurant such as Chez Le Libanais, for delicious Lebanese shawarma.

Dune of Pilat
This is one of the most remarkable places in Europe. Located in the south-west of France, near Bordeaux, the Dune of Pilat is a large white sandy dune that stretches for miles, with the sea on one side and the lush forest on the other side. It is the tallest sand dune in Europe, and it is a famous tourist destination with more than a million visitors per year. It serves as a perfect place for relaxation and a perfect spot for a day trip.

Packing for a summer holiday in France
Summer in France can sometimes be scorchingly hot, mostly in the afternoons, but it can quickly turn cold later! It’s best to bring items that are light, but also to pack a jacket or a sweater to avoid the sudden drops in temperature. You’ll also find sunglasses handy for those long sunny afternoons.

For women, it’s best not to bring skimpy shorts, because French women don’t really wear them in public. It might work if you plan on going to a resort, but if you don’t, choose something else.

For men, light shirts and jeans are all you really need.

Kos: A lesser-known Greek island that’s well worth exploring

The charming Greek island of Kos will seduce you with its stunning seaside and mountain towns and villages, and its fascinating history stretching back to 366 BC.

It’s ideal if you fancy a sun-kissed beach getaway, with its golden sands and crystal clear waters, but there’s so much more to this gorgeous Dodecanese island that you won’t be able to resist exploring while on holiday here.

There are plenty of accommodation options spread across Kos, whether you want to stay in a budget or luxury hotel, apartment or villa, and many of them are located right by the sea. With 70 miles of coastline, it feels like Kos is a never-ending beach paradise.

Simply sunbathing on one of the clean, award-winning beaches and taking a dip in the clear Aegean Sea makes for a perfect day.

The summer months of July and August are the hottest here, with temperatures reaching 31C (88F), so you may want to bear that in mind if you prefer to visit at a cooler time.

Exploring the island
Kos is predominantly flat and low-lying, so cycling is popular among both locals and tourists, and there are plenty of bicycle rental outlets.

Hiring a car on Kos is easy, and it will give you the freedom to explore to your heart’s content. Kos is a fairly small island, so you can drive from the east side of the island to the west side in less than an hour, and it’s only 20 minutes from north to south, so you can get to see many of the sights quite quickly.

Kos Town is rich with sightseeing opportunities, from the medieval Neratzia Castle to the Ancient Agora ruins and the Tree of Hippocrates. The island is famed for its connections with Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, as he was born here and legend has it that he taught his students underneath the tree.

Further out, you can see the Roman Odeon and mosaics, tour the Venetian Antimachia Castle, take in the panoramic views from the ancient Asklepion, and finish off the day with a fantastic sunset from the beautiful village of Zia.

Many holidaymakers take advantage of the location of Kos to enjoy day trips to nearby islands, such as volcanic Nisyros, and you can even take a boat trip to Bodrum in Turkey, as it’s less than 15 miles away.

Festivals and Feasts
Modern Greek culture in Kos means festivals, religious feasts, and plenty of cultural events, and August is the best month for this. At the beginning of the month, the traditional village of Mastichari hosts its Wine Festival, while the historic fishing town of Kefalos has an Ouzo and Sardine Festival. Mid-August sees the Honey Festival inland in Antimachia.

Towards the end of August, you can join in with the celebrations in Mastichari for the Feast Day of Agios Ioannis (Saint John), which is when pilgrims pay their respect to the saint. Later in the day, locals and visitors alike gather on the beach to party until sundown.

If you’re visiting in July or August, the Hippocrates Festival is a must-do for visitors to Kos. Each year, for two whole months, the festival celebrates Hippocrates with all kinds of entertainment, from theatre and music performances to street dancing and art exhibitions.

Wonderful food
All kinds of palates are catered for in Kos, but for traditional cuisine, you’ll find a multitude of tavernas serving meat, fish, and vegetable dishes. Being an island, there’s a fantastic selection of fresh seafood, of course, and what better way to finish off a beach or sightseeing day than with delicious food?

Leeuwarden: A less crowded alternative to Amsterdam

Many people will think of Amsterdam when they hear of the Netherlands. If you’ve been to Amsterdam, you’ll know how beautiful it is, and also how crowded it can be. Every year millions of tourists visit Amsterdam; however, other Dutch cities are competing to attract some of these tourists. You will hear names like Rotterdam, Utrecht and Den Haag (The Hague), but few will mention a little gem in the north of the country: Leeuwarden.

Where is Leeuwarden?
Situated about 20 miles from the north-western coast of the Netherlands lies Leeuwarden, the capital of the province of Friesland and European Capital of Culture 2018, boasting over 600 monuments, several museums, and the house of artist M.C. Escher.

The city has a rich history dating back to the 9th century. Leeuwarden was granted city rights in 1435, and you can still find quite a few buildings dating from that time in the city centre.

The Oldehove
This askew tower was the result of a rivalry with the capital of the neighbouring province, Groningen. The goal was to build a higher church tower than Groningen’s, but what the Liwwadders (as the people of Leeuwarden are called) didn’t know was that the construction site was on the edge of one of the three terps (mounds) that made up the city before the area silted up in the 1300s.

During construction, the church tower began leaning sideways and the builders tried to compensate for it, but at a height of around 127 feet they simply stopped building!  Since then, the unfinished tower has become a symbol of the city.

From the top of the Oldehove you can enjoy a beautiful outlook over the city. Until the 31st October the tower is open to visitors every day of the week from 1pm to 5pm. The admission fee is 3.50 euros (about 3 pounds).

Shopping and culture
From the Oldehove you can go for a stroll through the Kleine Kerkstraat where you can find many small stores selling regional products, especially cheeses and meats, as well as Frisian treats.

The province of Friesland has a strong cultural identity that differs from the rest of the Netherlands, and outside of the cities you will not hear Dutch spoken often, as the native language here is Frisian.

Compared to Amsterdam, the city centre of Leeuwarden is smaller and less crowded. You will find many shops, and lots of these are small and run by the owners. And, like in lots of Dutch cities, you will see a large number of cafes located alongside the main canal running through the city centre.

Architecture
If you prefer beautiful medieval buildings, take a detour down the Grote Kerkstraat. This street leads to the Protestant church, called Grote Kerk. This was of special importance to the Dutch royal family, which is reflected in the architecture and decoration. Besides the Grote Kerk there is the Catholic Sint-Bonifatiuskerk, which is also worth a visit with its beautiful leaded windows. The whole of the city centre has many beautiful buildings to discover.

How to get to Leeuwarden
The nearest airport is Amsterdam, from which you can go by train directly to Leeuwarden. You can find hotels all over the city: most are located near the main railway station, and from there everything is within walking distance. The climate is mild, with average high temperatures around 20C to 25C (68F to 77F) during the summer months.

The beautiful beaches of Lefkada, a Greek island to cherish

Lefkada is a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, famed for its endless golden beaches and pure emerald waters. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing holiday suitable for families and couples, but also for young people who love the beach life.

The daily temperature during summer is 20C to 26C (68F to 79F),  perfect for any activity: tanning, swimming, sightseeing or yachting.

Besides being a great holiday retreat, the windy coasts and sunny skies create the ideal weather for kiting and boating.

Accommodation
One big advantage is that Lefkada is one of the few islands you can get to by car from mainland Greece, and you’ll need a car because the beaches are located outside of the towns. There are many hotels and apartments throughout the towns, and in the neighbouring villages, offering tourists accommodation at a very affordable price.

Depending on your budget, you can find rooms for a price as low as 25 euros per night in private motels in the villages, or as high as 500 euros per night in the luxurious hotels located along the coastline.

Although most of the hotels are in the cities of Lefkas and Nydri, the beaches are only a 15-minute drive away. However, it can be better to find accommodation in the villages between the towns and the beaches to save on time, since most of the best beaches are in the unpopulated south of the island, whereas the towns are north-east.

Beaches
The coastline of Lefkada is rich in natural splendour, with picturesque beaches and high rocky coasts. One of those beaches is Porto Katsiki, often thought of as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, which attracts millions of tourists throughout the year.

Other beaches like Egremni, Kathisma, and Kavalikefta are renowned for their picture-perfect and breathtaking scenery, with endless golden sand and emerald water.

All the beaches are accessible by car and have their own parking, so renting a car is ideal if you want to visit as many beaches as possible. There are also daily boat cruises you can go on for 25 euros that go around the island and stop at famous tourist locations, beaches, and neighbouring villages.

Sightseeing
Lefkada isn’t all about the beaches. There are many other recreational and historical spots you can go to that will offer you a unique Greek experience. From ancient churches to mountain tops, there is something for everyone’s taste.

One place worth visiting is the Nydri Waterfalls, which you can get to by walking through a green forest, perfect for people who love outdoor hikes and activities.

Like any other place in Greece, the island plays host to many historical sites. The Castle of Santa Maura, a medieval castle located at the entrance of the town, is the go-to place for history-lovers. There are also many caves that were used by the Greeks throughout history, including their use as secret hideaways in wartime to hide submarines.

There are many churches and monasteries across the island, some a few centuries old. These are a great place to meet the locals and find out something more about the island and its history.

Food
Seafood restaurants, tavernas, fusion restaurants, gelaterias, bars: like any other tourist location, the local cities offer a variety of food you can choose from.

The best food is the local food. So, when you visit Lefkada make sure to order yourself a Greek salad, olives, souvlaki, or fish specialities. Then you can experience the true authentic flavours for yourself.

Halkidiki: The best-kept secret in Greece

We asked Greek writer Emmanouil Sakalidis for his tips on where to go in Greece. Here are his top tips:

Halkidiki is a region located in northern Greece, that brings together all the best parts of a Greek island: lovely beaches, luxury resorts, interesting cultural heritage, and classic Greek culinary delights.

Things to know about Halkidiki
Halkidiki is a popular destination made up of three large peninsulas. The peninsula of Kassandra, mostly famous for its beaches and the local taverns and restaurants; the peninsula of Sithonia, the ideal place for travellers who want to try boating, hiking or diving; and the Mount Athos peninsula, with its many monasteries – only men are permitted to visit this territory.

Halkidiki has 340 miles of coastline and contains 72 beaches with the blue flag certification.

The climate of Halkidiki is ideal for beach holidays. During summer, the temperature ranges between 25C to 35C (77F to 95F), while in May, the weather is even more pleasant, with temperatures no more than 25C (77F).

Things to do in Halkidiki
As you’ll find in every part of Greece, Halkidiki has many historical and archaeological sites. The best places to visit here are the world-famous cave of Petralona, the folklore museums of Arnea, Athitos and Nikiti, the Krouna tower and the tower of Prosforios.

If you are a nature lover, Halkidiki is the perfect place for you. With more than a thousand beaches with crystal-clear water, this region offers you plenty of activities like swimming, sunbathing, kayaking, diving or boating. There are also 17 cycling routes and 20 hiking routes to help you explore the natural environment.

If you love ancient Greek history, there is a hiking root that explores Stagira, the birthplace of Aristotle, the greatest Greek philosopher.

The Festival of Kassandra is a well-known festival that takes place on the peninsula of Kassandra, between July and late August. During this time, you can enjoy theatrical shows, folk music and dance, Greek food, and many traditional events. It has hosted world-famous artists such as Ray Charles and BB King, as well as many Greek musicians.

A day trip to Mount Athos is another extraordinary activity that you can do in Halkidiki. Mount Athos, known as the ‘Holy Mountain’, is the capital of Greek-Orthodox Christianity and consists of 20 monasteries, hundreds of hermitages, and more that 2,000 monks! Following the protocol of the state, women are not permitted into this territory. Although women are not permitted to enter Mount Athos, all visitors can admire the magnificent landscapes and the breath-taking monasteries from the small traditional boats that depart daily from Ouranoupoli, a small village that is the last settlement before Mount Athos.

What to eat in Halkidiki
Halkidiki offers you an amazing Mediterranean food experience. As it has plenty of high-quality ingredients, the culinary tradition of this region is unique. Honey, wine, sweets, pastries, herbs, table olives, extra virgin olive oil, and many different kinds of cheeses are only some of the local and pure ingredients that you can taste. You can also enjoy the fresh fish and seafood at the local restaurants and taverns.

Eating out in Halkidiki is cheaper than in the UK. On average, you will pay around £12-15 per person for a full meal.

Where to stay
The Greeks are very hospitable people, and the roots of Greek hospitality are even older than Parthenon. Halkidiki offers a big selection of affordable apartments, luxury resorts, cosy hotels or villas.

How to get to Halkidiki
The closest airport to Halkidiki is Thessaloniki. You can get direct flights on easyJet, Ryanair, or British Airways. From there, you can rent a car, take a taxi or a bus, and you can reach the destination of your choice in less than half an hour.

So come to Halkidiki this year: a voyage of true discovery awaits!

Budapest: The Paris of the East, and why it deserves the title

Budapest is often dubbed the Paris of the East, mainly for its spectacular architecture and its rich culture that puts good music, food, and wine at its centre. Fortunately, it’s far cheaper to visit than Paris, making it a popular destination for travellers.

Budapest is made from the joining of two former cities, the hilly Buda on the west side of the Danube, and the much flatter Pest on the east.

Sightseeing
The city is known for its architectural landmarks. There are a lot, so it’s good to plan ahead if you want to fit everything in!

The Hungarian Parliament Building is a must-see. The building is breathtaking, and you can’t help but feel insignificant standing next to it. Tours in English, to view the inside, take place daily and cost around £11.

Other popular attractions well worth checking out are the Citadel and its Liberty Monument, Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, Heroes Square, and St. Stephen’s Basilica. And yes, it’s absolutely worthwhile to head up the tower of the Basilica. That gorgeous 360 degree view of the city is priceless!

Activities
If you are looking for a bit more structure and guidance during your trip, you will see many of these sights on a Budapest Free Walking Tour. It’s in English and the friendly tour guides are walking information stands who will give you some insights into Hungarian history, tips for travelling in Budapest, and even a mini language course with all the basics like ‘Cheers’, ‘Thanks’, and ‘Hello’.

If you’re not up for much walking, try the sightseeing cruise up the Danube. The best time to go on a cruise is after dark, when the whole promenade, including the Parliament Building, is lit up.

It would be a crime to leave Budapest without having tried out one of its famous thermal baths. The most popular baths are Széchenyi Baths and the Géllert Baths, which are a great spot for relaxing.

Food
After all that exploring you’re guaranteed to have worked up an appetite, so make sure to fill up on some of Budapest’s best cuisine. You’ll find everything here, from traditional Hungarian dishes to food from all over the world. If you’re craving something sweet, you’ll find pretty cafes, doughnut shops, and ice cream parlours around every corner.

Make sure to try the Lángos and Goulash at the Central Market Hall. You should also try the Chimney Cake and rose-shaped ice cream at Gelarto Rosa.

Editor’s note: A highlight from my own visit to Budapest was Central Cafe, a beautiful Art Nouveau traditional and historic cafe where writers used to hang out. There’s a large array of tempting cakes in a large glass stand; order the classic Hungarian Esterházy torte!

The Jewish Quarter is a great spot for restaurants that serve great food and offer great service at an affordable price. Many of them, for example, Mazel Tov, also have outdoor gardens so you can enjoy the sunshine while gobbling down your food.

Ruin bars – a unique experience
For a fun and bizarre experience that you won’t get anywhere else, visit some of Budapest’s famous ruin bars. These popular bars are unique to Budapest, and are built into abandoned and dilapidated buildings! The furniture and decor are usually eclectic and crazy. Do a bit of internet research to find a ruin bar near you.

Beyond the city break
Taking a quick break from the city is easy in Budapest. You can explore the hills that surround the capital, as they are only a stones-throw away. The Elizabeth Lookout Tower is a popular destination with a stunning panoramic view of all of Budapest and its surroundings.

Craving a beach day? Fear not. The stunning Lupa Beach is only an hour from Budapest, and with its white sand beaches, palm trees and beach bars you get the best of both worlds.

The best time to visit is always now!
Budapest has something for everyone so what better time to pack up your bags and decide for yourself whether it truly is the Paris of the East, than now?

With summer fast approaching, the average temperature will be between 21C (70F) and 27C (80F). There are also plenty of great hotels and Airbnb’s on offer in the city, suitable for whatever your budget may be.