Visiting Ajaccio, Corsica

The main city in Corsica, Ajaccio is a wonderful holiday destination, especially for tourists searching for the perfect combination of beautiful beaches, picturesque harbours and peaceful rivers. Roman remains boasting medieval magic, majestic cathedrals, charming buildings with impressive contemporary architecture, bustling markets and a rich assortment of restaurants and bars are surprisingly in contrast with the mountain range in the background.

Climate

Ajaccio is ready to enchant its visitors with a Mediterranean climate, which tempers the heat and dryness of summer with a cooling breeze. Although winters are quite dry, heavy rainstorms may occur in spring and autumn.

Things to do and see

Casa Bonaparte, the most important tourist attraction in Ajaccio, is a large yet simple residence where Napoleon Bonaparte was born. This residence is now a national museum boasting numerous paintings and objects that once belonged to the French military and political leader and his family. Another attraction is the Gorges de Spelunca, a natural wonder plunging into a foggy green torrent at the confluence of five magnificent rivers: Aïtone, Campi, Onca, Tavulella and Porto. Tourists looking for relaxation and fun will find numerous bars, restaurants, clubs, cinemas and a great casino.

Lodging

Ajaccio makes available a variety of budget accommodation options and excellent boutique hotels, such as Les Mouettes and Bella Vista, set in superb historic buildings with private beaches, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, gardens and terraces embracing splendid panoramic views of the city and Mediterranean Sea.

Transportation

One flight per week takes British tourists from London to Ajaccio in about two hours. To get around the city, travellers can opt for different transportation options, including buses, ferries and rental cars.

AjaccioPicture: Thilo Hilberer

A tale of two cities – eats and laughs in New York and San Francisco

The United States is famous for many things, not least for its food and comedy. Here are just a few of the more popular eateries and stand-up attractions in two of America’s most vibrant and bustling cities.

New York

Fifth Avenue Restaurant & Diner: Whether it’s a quick bite or a full on feast, time is certainly not of the essence when hunger strikes in the Big Apple. Fifth Avenue’s offering is no exception; the best bit about this diner is that it also delivers around the clock 24/7. Renowned for mouth-watering omelettes, the only downside to the Fifth Avenue Diner is knowing which of the wonderful four-egg creations to go for.

Comic Strip: This New York comedy club is best known for being the venue where the greats were discovered; think Eddie Murphy, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. Opened in 1975, the club started out as a multi-talent venue with novelty acts, singers and musicians taking to the stage. Since transforming into an exclusively stand-up venue it has become one of the city’s most popular homes of comedy. Many visitors claim they feel part of comedic history as they sit in the modest, yet charismatic, auditorium.

New York CityPicture: kaysha

San Francisco

Sparky’s Diner: San Francisco’s 24-hour eatery is infamous for both its pizza and ice cream. A plethora of other typical late-night bites are also available, such as burgers and custom milkshakes. Situated near the Castro, many partygoers will head to Sparky’s to soak up the evening’s alcohol intake and the varied and vibrant in-house jukebox is a hit for revellers who don’t want the night to end.

Improv: San Jose’s oldest theatre was built in 1904 and is officially designated a historic landmark. The club is revered for its reasonably priced food and drink and its two level tier set-up. Harry Houdini and Charlie Chaplin frequented the nightspot in the days when vaudeville acts and corporate parties were the main attraction. Today, the venue primarily hosts comedy nights and features popular acts such as Jeff Garcia and the Filipino Kingz.

Cable Car San FranciscoPicture: Peter Hijenhuis

Experience one of the most beautiful cities in Europe – Dubrovnik

One of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Dubrovnik, also called the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, is a real feast for the eye and soul.Located on the coastline of the Adriatic Sea, Dubrovnik is home to numerous historic buildings with stunning sculptural detail, splendid churches, museums set in amazing buildings surrounded with artworks, a surprising café society, and dozens of luxury resorts that have turned the city into an elite holiday destination with first-class service and remarkable hospitality.

Climate

Dubrovnik has a humid, sub-tropical climate, with hot and dry summers and mild, wet winters. Although summer is usually characterised by thunderstorm conditions, the best time to visit Dubrovnik is from May through September.

Things to do and see

Located minutes away from the superb Elaphite, Mliet, and Lokrum islands, Dubrovnik invites tourists to visit its wonders, ranging from virgin landscapes with unique flora and fauna to internationally known churches, monasteries, museums and historic edifices, such as Rector’s Palace and Sponza Palace.

This city also boasts a wide array of superb beaches, public parks and cultural centres offering numerous workshops, exhibitions and concerts. For the most active tourists, Dubrovnik offers vibrant nightlife and a series of day activities, including snorkelling, diving, sailing, and even rock climbing and hiking.

Lodging

Dubrovnik has a wealth of accommodation options, ranging from luxury resorts to budget alternatives. Hotel Excelsior has luxury accommodation, located close to the heart of the Old Town. Villa Dubrovnik, recently renovated to offer modern facilities along with spectacular views over the Old Town and the Adriatic Sea, and Hostel Marker, with private rooms and apartments with kitchenettes, bedrooms, living rooms and private bathrooms, are just a few of the establishments that holidaymakers should try.

Tourists can also find a plethora of restaurants serving Mediterranean and local cuisine, renowned especially for fresh seafood and rakija, a distilled drink made from local fruits.

Transportation

Getting in and around Dubrovnik is quite easy. A regular flight from London to Dubrovnik takes about two and a half hours. Dubrovnik also has a reliable land and sea transportation network, connecting buses with trains and ferries.

DubrovnikPicture: Jon Culver

Travellers guide to Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, the capital city of Finland, is a modern metropolis with its origins in a charming medieval town. Cobblestoned streets with beautiful old buildings and artworks illustrate Helsinki’s exciting history and rich culture.

Climate

Influenced by the Baltic Sea, Helsinki features a humid continental climate that brings long, warm summer days with average temperatures ranging between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.

Things to do and see

Helsinki hosts many festivals throughout the year, including Lux Helsinki, Vappu and Juhannus. To enrich its cultural landscape, the city also offers a variety of theatrical plays, concerts and film festivals. For nature lovers, Helsinki makes available a few surprises in the form of outdoor activities. Both travellers and locals can go to the beach, visit a local farm, choose a boat trip or try one of the trekking routes surrounding the city.

For the tourist looking for relaxation, the city has a few spas with body treatments, saunas and Jacuzzis. Families with children can opt for a great day out at one of the amusement parks. In addition, the city hosts a number of restaurants and bars that will make tourists feel at home.

Lodging

Although quite expensive, accommodation is of a high standard. Several budget hotels are CheapSleep Helsinki, Eurohostel and Summer Hostel Karavaani. Travellers who can afford luxury accommodation are able to find a variety of options, including Radisson Blu Royal, Hotel Haven and Crowne Plaza.

Transportation

The public transportation system, including taxis, trams, buses, metros, trains and ferries, covers all areas of Helsinki. A tourist choosing a direct flight from London can reach this beautiful city within three hours.

HelsinkiPicture: Tuija Aalto

Family days out in Vancouver, British Columbia

Set amid a backdrop of snow covered mountains and impressive rain forests, Vancouver has something for everyone. Whether you want to experience superb restaurants, world-class shopping malls or recreational activities this city has it all. No wonder nearly 9 million tourists flock to the region each year. Here are some of the must see family attractions when visiting Vancouver:

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Originally built in 1889 by Scottish engineer George Mackay, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver. Offering a unique mix of adventure, history and nature the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park now has various walkways and suspension bridges throughout its vast 27 acres of terrain.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, it’s perfectly safe but does sway quite a bit when there are lots of people on it. The admission fee includes the Living Forest exhibits and a history tour of this unique environment.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a short bus ride from the city and is a great day out for the whole family. Admission costs CA$31.95 for Adults, CA$19.95 for 13-16 year olds and CA$12 for 6-12 year olds (children under 6 get in for free) and all of the parks attractions are included.

Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

Constructed in 1986 using only traditional methods, the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is a throwback of old garden tradition which was widely used during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

52 master craftsman and their Canadian counterparts built this impressive Chinese garden within a year using tradition building techniques without the use of nails, screws or glue. All this craftsmanship brings together the harmony of four main elements, water, rock, plants and architecture making it one of the top attractions in the city.

The best way to experience the garden is by taking a guided tour (included in the admission); this 45 minute tour gives you information about the history and significance of each garden element and why they are placed in specific areas. The tours start every half an hour from 10:30am when the garden is open.

After your tour you can visit the exquisite gift shop that sells a unique selection of items from Canada and China including skin care products, original artwork and a selection of books about Chinese culture, food and tea.

Admission costs CA$12 for adults and CA$9 for children, although there is a family ticket available which entitles 2 adults and two children (under 17) entrance to the park for CA$25.

Telus World of Science

An integral part of the Vancouver skyline, the huge silver golf ball shaped structure that is Telus World of Science is a great place for kids of all ages. Featuring an array of permanent interactive exhibits and displays, as well as various special exhibits throughout the year, Telus World of Science offers hour of fun for the whole family.

Experience a range of live science shows, art displays and puzzles & illusions that will made your mind bend.

General admission is CA$22.50 for Adults, CA$18.50 for 13-18 year olds and CA$15.25 for children aged between 3 and 12.

Picture: Dan Dickinson

Cape Town – the jewel of Africa

Undoubtedly one of the jewels on the African continent, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, great restaurants, beaches the craggy table top mountain, not to mention the Waterfront and of course the good weather.

You can visit Cape Town pretty much any time of year. Summer is the most popular, with peak season falling between mid-December and early January, but perhaps the best time would have to be February when the weather is still hot, although not too hot, and it is a time when most of the tourists have gone home and the many attractions are less crowded.

If you are into whale watching, and there are plenty in the southern ocean; the Southern Right Whale migrates around the cape to calve and nurse, a fabulous land based whale watching experience. The timing of this event is July to November, but the early part of this is when it can be very wet, July and August in particular. The beaches are pretty empty in this period and the best deals can be had then, but it will pay to book early for the start of the summer months.

Must places to see for the first time visitor have to be Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for so long, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a trip up Table Mountain, you can hike up if you wish or take the revolving cable car, and a trip down Long Street, which if you have ever been to New Orleans you will think you are back there!

Getting there is through British Airways as well as and Virgin Atlantic, there are other options but these involve a change en-route. The journey time is around 12 hours and because you are flying north to south with only an hour difference in time, you will not suffer jet lag.

There has been a lot of talk about crime in South Africa, but much is untrue and like any large city, crime is an ongoing concern, most of this however is well away from the centre and away from tourist areas. Take the simple pre cautions that you would in any city in the world, don’t flash your wealth; don’t visit no-go zones; don’t walk when there are no other people around; you will be perfectly safe in Cape Town.

Picture: Richard IJzermans

Visit Dublin

Dublin is a holiday destination with an amazing location.  Situated near the east coast of Ireland, the city enjoys a landscape blessed by numerous natural charms.  One of the oldest cities in Europe, Dublin has countless historical attractions to captivate visitors and transform them to a by-gone era of classic architecture and grand monuments.

Attractions

The landscape of Dublin is a wonderful combination of medieval, Georgian and modern architectural styles.  Its monuments and structures are hundreds of years old.  Some of the most famous landmarks of the city include Dublin Castle, the Spire of Dublin, the Mansion House, Christ Church Cathedral and the Poolbeg Towers.

Apart from the architectural wonders, Dublin also offers several other attractions for tourists including grand museums and libraries.  Visitors to the Irish capital can enjoy fine theatrical performances while holidaying in the area, or alternatively head to the botanical gardens or zoo.  Tourists can also enjoy a trip to the beautiful port of Dublin.

The city charms its visitors with its classic bars and stylish restaurants.  Meanwhile, the coastline offers plenty of options for enjoying several kinds of water sports.  Fishing, kayaking, sailing and windsurfing are among the most popular tourist activities on the beach.  The active lifestyle during the day is matched by the vibrant atmosphere of the city at night.

Visitor information

Dublin is located in eastern Ireland.  The easiest way to get to Dublin is by taking a flight to the city’s international airport. The city can also be reached via Dublin port.

Dublin’s climate remains mild throughout the year.  During the summer months, the average temperature reaches about 22 degrees Celsius, whereas in the winter the average temperature drops to around 5 degrees Celsius.  Therefore, the best time to enjoy a holiday in Dublin is during the summer months between May and September.

Picture: Wojtek Gurak

Destination Naples

Naples, one of the most beautiful cities in Italy, is a tourist’s paradise.  Nestled against the backdrop of Mount Vesuvius, the city’s charm is enriched by its location near the mesmerizing Bay of Naples.  The landscape of the city is dotted with historical and cultural monuments.  Tourists are treated to a wide variety of architectural styles such as medieval, baroque and renaissance in the classic structures of
this city.

Attractions

Naples is dominated by medieval castles, grand churches and classical ruins.  Visitors can have a great time exploring the beauty of attractions such as the main square, Piazza del Plebiscito, as well as the National Archaeological Museum, the gothic Naples cathedral and the famous castle Castel Nuovo.  A visit to Naples always leads tourists along the main promenade of Spaccanapoli, the street that divides the old centre of the city, to landmarks such as Santa Chiara church.  Tourists eager to go on a shopping spree can head towards the Via San Gregorio Armeno, a tiny alley renowned for its nativity stores.  Adding charm to the splendour of Naples are the Orto Botanical Gardens and the Funiculare, the city’s famous inclined railways.

Food is one of the most exciting things for visitors to try when in Naples.  After all, it is the birthplace of the world-famous Italian pizza.

Visitor information

Naples is easily accessible by air and rail thanks to Naples airport, also known as Capodichino airport, and the main railway station, Napoli Centrale (which includes the Piazza Garibaldi underground station).

Naples experiences a hot, humid summer and cold winter, so the best time to visit is from April to mid-June.

Picture: Stacey Kizer

Discover Venice

Venice is a beautiful city that stands upon a lagoon surrounded by the Adriatic Sea.  The uniqueness of Venice lies in the fact that it is situated on 118 islands that are separated by canals and are wonderfully linked by bridges.  The unbelievable setting, the stunning architecture and the superior artworks have made Venice one of the most visited holiday destinations in the world.  The grand city, along with its lagoon, is designated a World Heritage Site.

Attractions

Venice is dotted with splendid landmarks such as Saint Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, and Rialto Bridge.  The famous Grand Canal passes through the centre of the city.  Tourists can enjoy a ride on a decorated boat or gondola on the Grand Canal, or take leisurely walks along the banks. The mystic beauty of the city is enhanced on moonlit nights.

Another major attraction is the yearly Venice Carnival, which is celebrated with much energy and enthusiasm.

Visitor information

Venice is situated in the north-eastern part of Italy.  The city can be easily reached by plane, bus and train.  The best way to reach Venice is by taking a train to the Santa Lucia train station in the city.  Venice also has a small airport called Marco Polo Airport.  The main type of public transport in Venice is the vaporetto, or waterbus.  Tourists should be aware that Venice frequently experiences high water in the spring and autumn.

Venice has very warm summers and cool winters.  The average summer temperature is around 23°C, while the average winter temperature is around 2.5°C.

Picture: shapour bahrami

Welcome to Singapore

Singapore, also known as the Lion City, is one of the most beautiful city-states in Asia.  Combining local culture with Indian, Malay and Chinese influences in a modern city, Singapore delivers an amazing holiday destination full of contradictions, with a vast selection of tasty foods, vibrant nightlife and good shopping.

Climate

Here you can experience an equatorial-tropical climate with hot and humid weather throughout the year, and daily rain showers.  Since Singapore does not have clear-cut seasons, you can visit at any time of the year. 

Things to do and see

This city-state, which is divided into 15 districts, offers a plethora of things to do and see.  For instance, you can practice nearly any sport, including scuba diving, surfing, golfing and even snow skiing and ice skating.  Additionally, you will find a rich collection of museums, restaurants, parks, beaches and tourist resorts.  Some landmarks any tourist should visit are the Helix, Merlion Park, Esplanade-Theatres, Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands-Sky Park.
 
Lodging information

Singapore offers a variety of short-term lodging options.  A great feature is that there are no restrictions on non-citizens renting out apartments or villas.  Most holiday lodging alternatives are equipped with everything a tourist needs for a perfect holiday. However, if you prefer luxury amenities, Singapore boasts numerous five-star hotels with pools, spas, fitness facilities and business services.  

Getting there and around

Singapore has excellent connections to all major cities around the world.  A regular flight from London to Singapore takes about 13 hours.  Since this wonderful holiday spot has a reliable terrestrial and marine transport network, getting in and around it should not be a problem.

Picture: Small