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The Isle of Wight is the perfect place to enjoy some peace, quiet and natural beauty. Except perhaps in the summer, when the Isle of Wight Festival draws visitors from all over the world. In 1970, the Festival was the largest rock-music event ever held. It was called Britain's Woodstock and featured Jimi Hendrix and The Who. (Not so much peace or quiet that week.) The island is also known for its world-famous sailing and lovely resorts, where people have been holiday-making since Victorian times.
Southwest of London is Southampton (Soton to the locals), a metropolitan area centered around the port. However, tucked away on the side streets are ancient gems such as the Tudor House, Mottisfont Abbey, and "God's House," a museum located in a tower in the medieval wall. The ultra-modern Sea City Museum celebrates Southampton's seafaring past and the RMS Titanic. Looking for nightlife? Travelers can dance the hours away with bars, clubs, and live music, all accessible by public transportation.
If you need a word to perfectly describe New Forest, “welcoming” would be it. The lowland (i.e. no mountains) park is filled with scenic views and wide trails that beg to be explored as they wind through centuries-old woodlands. Visit Bolderwood, a protected forest and deer sanctuary that was once the hunting grounds of the Norman kings. Fish at Moors Valley before heading skyward for a treetops walk. Prefer the country-house life? Head to Beaulieu, where you can get lost in the Victorian-era at the Palace House before following in the footsteps of medieval monks at the property’s abbey.
Londoners have been traveing to Brighton for beach getaways ever since the railway arrived here in 1841. The pebbled beach, Brighton Pier's amusement arcade and the Royal Pavilion are the main sights, but you'll also find hundreds of pubs and clubs catering to an energetic crowd.
With its Victorian hotels, 19th-century pier, and wide promenade fronting a stretch of quintesentially British shingle beaches; Eastbourne is one of England’s most elegant seaside resorts and within day-trip distance of London.
Known for its restorative wonders, Bath was once the home of Jane Austen. Sure, you could attempt to conjure up this elegant city by reading Pride and Prejudice in your tub, but as Bath has a lot more history than your bathroom (we assume, anyway) you'd be missing out. A stroll through Bath is like visiting an open-air museum, with roughly 5,000 buildings in the city drawing notice for their architectural merit. After your stroll, soak in the natural hot waters of the Thermae Bath Spa, once a favourite of the Celts and Romans.
From Shoreditch’s swaggering style to Camden’s punky vibe and chic Portobello Road, London is many worlds in one. The city’s energy means that no two days are the same. Explore royal or historic sites, tick off landmarks from your bucket list, eat and drink in exclusive Michelin-starred restaurants, enjoy a pint in a traditional pub, or get lost down winding cobbled streets and see what you stumble across – when it comes to London, the possibilities are endless.
The UK’s favourite holiday resort continues to attract millions of visitors. Families and couples, young and old, Blackpool’s unique appeal is that it appeals to everyone. Whether you’re looking for thrills and excitement, family entertainment and historic gems or beautiful gardens and stunning beaches, Blackpool has it all. Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Sandcastle Waterpark, Blackpool Zoo, the Blackpool Tower, the Illuminations and a packed year-round events calendar all add to the charms of this seaside spot.
Highland Perthshire places some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery within easy reach of both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and Pitlochry is the most geared-up base from which to enjoy it. It’s been a bustling mountain resort since the railways arrived in 1863, and these days manages to be both a cozy favourite for tourists who enjoy browsing in its woolen mills and taking in the repertory of plays at its famous Festival Theatre, and a magnet for adrenalin junkies in search of bungee jumping, canyoning, tubing and white water rafting adventures. Visitors of any age will be intrigued by the Pictish carvings on the huge Dunfallandy stone at nearby Ballinluig and, after a bracing mountain walk or visit to the famous salmon ladder, adults can enjoy a warming dram of malt whiskey after a tour at one of the two local distilleries, Edradour and Blair Athol.
Strongly influenced by the tribal culture of the Guanches (the original inhabitants), Tenerife was conquered by the Spanish 500 years ago. It's home to Mount Teide, Spain's tallest peak, and to the popular beach resort of Los Gigantes. Today visitors flock to Loro Park to see tropical birds, to Tenerife Zoo Monkey Park and to Parque Nacional Las Canadas del Teide's volcanic rock formations. Explore by car or with a "bono bus" ticket, which offers reductions on regular prices.
A gorgeous backdrop of pine-clad mountains looms behind the seaside resort of Marmaris in southwest Turkey. Popular as a cruise ship and yacht port and with the British budget holiday crowd, Marmaris offers an abundance of fast food restaurants, the restored castle of Suleyman the Magnificent and an appealing cobblestoned old quarter. Outside the busy town, coves and bays of the Datça Peninsula make lovely daytrip destinations for those travelling by boat.
Belek, a resort town on the Turkish Riviera, is known for very clean, white-sand beaches surrounded by pine forests. History buffs should plan day trips to the Roman ruins at Perge and the Aspendos amphitheater. Or if you’d prefer a round of golf, bring your clubs—there are excellent courses in the area.
Looking for a great beach destination? The Red Sea’s warm water is great for swimming, and there are miles of great beaches in Sharm El Sheikh for working on your tan, but if you’re a diver, look no further. We’re talking enormous schools of fish and tons of excellent dive sites. Sure, it’s easier to get here if you live in Europe, but even if you’re farther afield, it’s worth the trek. (Editor's note: Our list was compiled before political unrest prompted many countries to issue travel warnings for Egypt. If you're currently planning a trip to Egypt, please consider the risks and monitor your government's travel alerts.)
Stunning coral reefs and turquoise waters perfect for windsurfing have made Hurghada, on Egypt's Red Sea Coast, a busy resort town. Within easy reach of the stunning Giftun Islands and the Eastern Arabian Desert, Hurghada has seen enormous amounts of development in the past decade—and yes, it does seem overrun with tourists at times. But it’s a relatively easy beach escape for Europeans, and some of the world's best diving and snorkeling sites are just offshore. Walk or catch a cab to explore the old quarter, El Dahar.
U.S. citizens still need to jump through a few hoops to visit Cuba, but as visitors from around the world know, this island offers some amazing opportunities for cultural exchange. Havana is a mix of old-world architecture and of-the-moment culture. Head out of the capital city to the small town of Trinidad to see more Spanish colonial architecture. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fantastic home base for a visit to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, a pocket of land that formerly served as the centre of Cuba’s sugar industry.