Perfect places to rest your soul in the Mediterranean during winter season

Although each of us has its own favourite season, and although Mediterranean countries are considered to be the most important summer destination the Mediterranean region can be also a perfect getaway spot to beat the cold weather blues during the winter season.
Spain.

Spain is a beautiful country that has a lot to offer. If you are looking to spend time in Spain during the autumn, you won’t regret spending time in this beautiful and one of the most climatically diverse country in Europe.
Balearic Islands

The Balearic Islands on the eastern coast of Spain are a popular sunny oasis in the middle of winter.
This popular region of Spain includes Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca, and Formentera and enjoys 300 sunny days a year.
While Ibiza is bait for elite clientele and Formentera for boomers, Mallorca offers contrasting pleasures; both all-inclusive resorts and laidback, nature-oriented getaways. Menorca, a haven for the low-key traveller, entices with its archaeological wonders and a bevvy of postcard-perfect beaches.
Costa Blanca

Costa Blanca (White Coast) sits on the shores of the Mediterranean opposite the Balearic Islands and is particularly popular among British tourists and retired people.
Here are places like Benidorm with sandy beaches and a series of concrete hotels, then Oliva with wonderful beaches, golf resorts, delicious cuisine and a rich cultural heritage and Alicante, as a regional centre and one of the fastest growing cities in Spain.
Costa del Sol

If you want to bathe in the Mediterranean sea in mid-January, Costa del Sol is one of the best winter sunny Mediterranean destinations. Sunlit 320 days a year, the coast stretches 170 km from Granada to the top of the Tarifa, the southernmost European point and is overgrown with high concrete hotels. If you want to avoid large massive hotels complexes and still experience classic Spanish way of life, for example, you can visit the old part of Marbella or in the village of Casares.
Andalusia

The sunniest European continental city, however, is not on Costa del Sol, but in the far east of Andalusia. Almeria, the former host of the Mediterranean Games, is proud of the fantastic 330 sunny days. From olive gardens, awesome landscapes, Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, the famous Costa del Sol to elaborate Moorish palaces and mosques, Andulasia is unlike none other. Other places to place in your itinerary include the steep El Tajo gorge, Nerja caves which houses the world largest stalagmite as well as the architecturally rich cities of Granada, Malaga, Cordoba, and Gibraltar.
Malta

The abundance of cultural sights completely compensates for the inability to swim or lounge in the sun in the winter months. There are not many tourist centres that so successfully combine the cultural heritage with a dynamic nightlife. Between cocktails, you can go to St Paul’s footpaths in the catacombs under Rabat or visit the place where St. John’s Knights defended Christianity at the Holy Elms Fortress. The first step for visitors is the capital and main port of Val.
Gozo Island

Sitting Northwest of the Malta mainland, Gozo littered with sleepy villages it houses some of the most amazing historic structures in the whole of Malta. Apart from this, Gozo also offers a wide selection of wine and food that you can sample in its numerous quirky restaurants.

Littered with various historical sites, Malta is best known for its monuments that display its long history of conquest by Roman, Moors, French, and Britain. One particular island, however, stands out.
Greece.

One of the most famous tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, Greece is undoubtedly a paradise on earth. Apart from the refreshing weather during autumn, Greece has some of the worlds most beautiful islands you must visit:
Crete

This is where almond trees bloom in January, anemones are colourful and citrus grows abundant. The daily temperature on the north side of the island is about 15 degrees °C. It is still warmer on the south coast, which belongs to the North African climate belt. If you come here for culture and tour of the museums, churches and archaeological sites, winter is a great time for a trip to Crete. In fact, only in winter, you don’t have to worry about the crowds when visiting the castle of Knossos with the Labyrinth and the Archaeological Museum in Iraklion. On the island such as Crater and Zakynthos, you may be lucky enough to encounter a beautiful winter time, but these islands are too often affected by winter rains to guarantee a good time.

So full of attractions and history, Crete can be compared to a treasure chest waiting to be uncovered. Visit Crete if you are looking for an explosive mix of adventure, luxury, and cultural experience.
Cyprus

The largest island in the eastern Mediterranean is populated with an average of 300 sunny days a year, and Protaras, a resort on the east coast, rises up to 340 days in the sun at most in Europe. Covered with olive groves, lemon and orange orchards and sandy beaches, Cyprus is open to tourists all year round. There is so much happiness that many cities in winter hold cultural festivals.

While in January, daily temperatures reach 16 degrees °C, in February and early March they reach 20 degrees °C.
In the post-season, you can find accommodation at 50% lower prices than in the summer and for a small budget, you can visit many archaeological sites, hiking, biking or bird watching.
Nicosia

Nicosia is the capital city, a gold mine of culture and history, whose core is surrounded by Venetian walls from the 16th century. Aja Nap, Paralimnija, Protaras and Famagusta on the southeastern coast are places worth to visit and explore.
Restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops provide vitality throughout the 12 months, but the winter atmosphere is much quieter.
Visit Larnaca or the Byzantine Church of Saint Lazarus and the Devon Park at nearby Mazotas.
Italy.

Straddling the Mediterranean is the vast country that is Italy. This nation is predominantly Mediterranean and has a wide array of destinations as well as a wealth of culture to discover. During winter make sure to visit the following places in Italy:
Amalfi Coast

If your destination is Italy, the Amalfi Coast in the southwest is magnetically appealing in the winter months. The season runs from the end of October to the beginning of April, with the exception of Christmas and Easter. Daily temperatures reach 18 degrees °C, but tourists must also prepare for a few rainy days. The Amalfi coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the beauty and uniqueness of the countryside.

This place is marked by an unusual combination of sea and mountain, fishermen and farmers. The rugged mountains of Lattari rise above the shore and steeply float in the sea, creating dramatic clans and cliffs, hidden caves, deep bay and small pebble beaches. Houses, painted with warm pastel tones, accompany the natural slopes of the Lattari Mountains, leaning against one another.
From the terrace surrounded by stone walls, the scorching smell of lemon and vineyards spreads, which blend with salty air provide a unique sensory experience.

If you visit the Amalfi Coast in winter, be sure to climb to the top of the cathedral in Amalfi, visit the villas in Ravello or buy pottery in Vietri Sul Mare, many shops in the coastal areas have a sale from mid-January to mid-February. Or go on one-day excursions to Naples, Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri. After New Year prices in hotels like Olimpica near Salerno and Ville Felice in Amalfi are lower than the summer for 45% to 60%.
Tuscany

This wonderful region of Italy has some of the most scenic landscapes, amazing architecture and unforgettable culture. Visit the cities of Florence, Pisa, Ravenna, and Siena to discover their hidden treasures such as cathedrals, breathtaking architecture and unforgettable memories.
Venice

During the warmer months, Venice is full of tourists from all over the world and you have to wait hours to enter the cathedral of St. Brand. During the autumn and winter, tourists are considerably less, and prices are lower. Without the great crowds of tourist, you can see how life in the city naturally moves through waterways: from postal transportation to funeral.
Sicily

If you interested to explore culture treasure then you must visit Sicily because the cultural sights which will see you here are out of this world. Sicily is filled with arrays of beautiful architectural design with a lot of evocative Norman castles. The autumn is the season of harvest and as this place is most cultivated part of Italy, you will find a stretch of plains with lush herbs where you can just take a nap in some corner with the sunlight gazing from in between the leaves. You can taste the fresh grapes, olive oils, chestnuts, and mushrooms right from the farms
Morrocco.

Beautiful, warm, spicy and enveloping. Morrocco can be one of the autumn favourite Mediterranean destinations to visit. Nestled in North Africa in the Islamic Maghreb, Morocco is a hotbed of culture complete with Arabian, European, and African influences. You don’t have to worry about travel logistics since Morrocan cities such as Marrakech, Casablanca, Fes, Meknes, and Rabat are well connected to Europe via cheap flights. Tourist destinations are also not in short supply.

Don’t miss rolling Atlas mountain ranges, the Sahara desert, pristine beaches at Essaouira, the beautiful blue city of Chefchaouen and hospitality of the local Berber people as well as their succulent cuisine.

Read More

Some family-friendly destinations in the Mediterranean

Choosing the perfect place for your next family vacation can be tough. You want somewhere that has something for everyone to enjoy and doesn’t break the bank.
For many, a Mediterranean coast is a popular place for families looking for summer fun. The sunny weather, tasty food, beautiful beaches and wealth of attractions draw visitors aplenty.

Here are some recommendations for family-friendly destinations in the Mediterranean.

Formentera, Spain

Formentera is a piece of Mediterranean paradise where you can enjoy the real happiness. It is the smaller and more southerly island of the Pityusic Islands group that belongs to the beautiful Balearic Islands about 6 kilometres (4 mi) south of famous Ibiza in the Mediterranean Sea. The island of Formentera is best known for its ability to develop tourism without harming the environment and is considered to be the last hidden gem of the Spanish Islands.

Corfu, Greece

This Greek Island has more than 200 kilometres of coastline waiting to be explored, which means lots of beach days — either on sand or pebble and shingle beaches. Whether you are looking for idyllic coves, quiet beaches or lively beachfront, the options are limitless. It is best to drive around the island and explore the area. Soon enough you will find the beach location that is just perfect for what you are looking for. Also, you will enjoy exploring the various local markets at different villages and the cosy tavernas in the sleepy hamlets.

Love to lounge by the beach but also interested in history and archaeological finds? On the island of Corfu you’ll find a range of archaeological sites and artifacts that date from the Paleolithic era through the Byzantium.

Menorca, Spain

One of the Balearic Islands is really tiny, but has 120 stunning beaches! The water is crystal clear and perfect for bathing. It is a good destination for young families, thanks to its small resorts and mid-range hotels. The capital, Maó (formerly known as Mahó*), is on the island’s eastern end, perched above one of the world’s great natural harbours. Mahon is the main area for shopping and many of the stores are open late due to their afternoon siesta closure. Fifty kilometres away, at the western extreme is beautiful Ciutadella. Menorca is especially well known for its traditional summer fiestas, which intrigue many visitors.

Rhodes, Greece

The Dodecanes group of islands may not be as popular as the other Greek Island groups but they sure do offer something special that makes them worth visiting.
We can say that some of Dodecanes islands are the answer to any tourist’s dream for a tranquil escape from the crowd.

Rhodes is the largest island in the Dodecanese. It is well-known for the Colossus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, which was sadly demolished. Rhodes has everything from beautiful beaches to a lush, green interior, a capital full of energetic and noisy activity and one of the top sunshine records in Greece. The rock-rose is so productive here that it has been called the ‘Island of Roses’ and whiles the northern coast is renowned for its active vacation resorts the south offers nice beaches and a slower, more simple pace of life.

Paphos, Cyprus

Imagine walking a beach with no sunbeds, no shops, no noise apart from the surf and often nobody else but you! Enjoy the fresh air, the scenery and the forests and keep an eye out for the elusive sheep called Moufflon. Find yourselves a comfortable place on the rocks or lay that blanket on the beach and experience some of the best sunsets in the Mediterranean. Children can enjoy in horse riding, aquarium, and water park, as well as a range of watersports, including banana boats, water skiing, jet skiing, parasailing, diving. Also can experience the adrenalin rush and thrill of driving across some of the wildest countryside in Paphos on own quad bike.

Rethymno, Greece

Another popular destination in Crete that usually entertains a substantial amount of tourists during summer is Rethymno. It offers beaches galore, historical attractions and beautiful architecture. The touristy gimmicks at the beachfront can get overwhelming at times but all you have to do is to explore the Old Town and the nearby villages and you can easily get lost in their charms.
Rethymno boasts of approximately 12 miles of stunning coastline. The endless beach at this picturesque harbour town is perfect for families, with its gently shelving sand and palm-lined promenade. You can spend hours on end basking under the glorious Grecian sun and enjoying the crystalline Mediterranean waters.

Mellieha

Mellieha is a picturesque town in the northernmost part of the island of Malta on the part of the island where the sea is the deepest inland, making the island almost half-cropped. Because of this, the sea is very quiet so the long sandy beach is a great destination for families and children. The sea is also very shallow, so it is ideal for water enthusiasts and family with kids

It is one of the most attractive tourist resorts in Malta, where is the longest sandy beach on the island. Nearby are rich archaeological sites, a natural reserve of bars and salt marshes, and an ornithological shelter. The most popular attraction in the neighbourhood is Popaye Village. Popeye Village was built as a film set for the production of the 1980 live-action musical feature film Popeye, produced by Paramount Pictures and Walt Disney Productions starring Robin Williams. Today it is open to the public as an open-air museum and family entertainment complex. This is a great place to take your kids to meet world famous cartoon characters.

Mali Lošinj, Croatia

Want to stay in the oasis of peace, surrounded by fragrant and picturesque nature, take a swim in the crystal clear sea and with the dolphins or simply enjoy the excellent gastronomy after all-day biking: Mali Lošinj has to be your choice. Here you can enjoy in fragrances of the island because all the plants that can be found around the island are planted here. From orange, sage, mandarin, mica, lemon, lavender, rosemary. Your little ones will be delighted with the game with a four-legged resident of the garden, a donkey, and you will go home with the best home-made products, such as liqueurs, scented candles, baths, and teas. For sure, Mali Losinj is a fragrant garden of the island of Losinj, full of medicinal plants and natural shade.

Read More

What to see in Cyprus? – 10 things you should not miss

Are you interested in what to see in Cyprus? Which things should you not miss? If you have answered these two questions in the affirmative and you want to read some cool things about this island country, then you are in the right place.

Kyrenia

Kyrenia is a Turkish part of Cyprus and the most vibrant city on the island, which for centuries has been the obsession of a large number of rulers. A place full of colours, historical monuments, and home to some of the best beaches on the whole island.

The whole town is in fact like one big museum, starting from a part of the old harbour to the castle rebuilt by the Venetians over a previous Crusader fortification with the incredible view of the whole city. This castle is one of the oldest castles and one of the most recognizable symbols on the island of Cyprus. Within the walls of the fort, there is a chapel from the 12th century, as well as the Shipwreck Museum.

Kyrenia also has a special museum, located within the church dedicated to Archangel Michael, which also houses the 4th-century tombs, as well as the Aga Cafer Pasha Mosque. There are some souvenir shops and a quiet café in the open court of the castle, with outdoor seating in the shadow of large trees, serving warm meals and beverages. Don’t miss visit four fountains from the 19th century as well as the old Orthodox church.

Despite the fact that the city is located in the Turkish part of the island, do not worry. Kyrenia is one of the safest places in the whole of Cyprus, and the spirit of Turkey combined with the moments of Greece has made it one of the most unusual places you do not want to miss.

Larnaca City

Larnaca is the third largest city in the country with about 65,000 inhabitants, with the second largest airport in the country.

The city is best known for its kilometre-long palm promenade, known as Foinikoudes, which features a stunning sandy beach. At the end of the Foinikoudes promenade is located a fortress from the 14th century, which was once used as a prison. Now is open as a museum.

In the centre of the town is the church of Saint Lazarus from the 9th century, dedicated to Lazarus of Bethany, who, after Jesus raised him from the dead, came to Cyprus where he lived for more than 30 years. Historically, this is the biggest attraction of Larnaca, and the interior of the church is truly incredible.

The Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, located 4 kilometres from the centre of Larnaca, was built at the site of the burial of Umm Haram, which according to the tradition was the nurse of Prophet Muhammad and his wife, Ubada bin al-Samita, his follower.

Right near the mosque is a salt lake, or a flamingos lake. Nearly 10,000 flamingoes inhabit this lake in the period from November to February. It is interesting that during the Middle Ages the lake was used as a salt mine, and that the largest quantities of salt from the island were found in this place.

Larnaca is one of the cheaper cities in Cyprus, and prices are sometimes twice as low as in Aja Navi. The good idea to buy a souvenir is here.

Varosha ghost town

If you are interested in some cultural and historical attractions and sights, skip Varosha, because realistically, you will not find it here. However, this is a very strange place, and in Cyprus, it is known as a ghost town!

Namely, after the Turks occupied Northern Cyprus, the local Greek population fled the city for only a few hours, leaving the city completely unleashed. The Turks then lined the entire district with a wire fence, forbidding the return of residents, so Varosha had become the ghost town since 1974. All that was left in 1974 was the same as today, starting from old cars in the streets, to the kitchen utensils and other things.

Mountain Trodos

For most people, the first association in Cyprus would be sea and beach. Logically, right ?! The beach is on every corner, and the number of sunny days exceeds 330 per year.

But what few people know is that the whole central part of the island is a mountain massive named Mount Trodos, whose highest peak Olimp is 1,950 meters in height, with a winter ski centre and vivid villages on the mountain and at its foot. In translation, you can ski while you are in Cyprus. Although there are only 4 tracks, each of them is for different types of skiers, from beginner to advanced. Also, each ski slope has its own ski lift

Just imagine the next scene …

You are at the top of Mount Trodos. Temperature -2 degrees. You’ve been skiing on pure mountain air for hours. But skiing is an exhausting sport, and it is time to rest. Sit in the car and go the path of Paphos. With every new kilometre you cross, the air temperature slightly increases, and the landscapes you pass through are becoming greener.

You arrive in Paphos for two hours, and you go to one of the nearby beaches. The temperature is now 25 degrees high, and the sea is seductive. Warm. Clean. Ideal for swimming.

Where can something like this come true ?!

If you are interested in some cultural and historical attractions and sights, you will find it here. Many of the Byzantine churches and monasteries are on Mount Trodos.

The nine of them, in 1985, UNESCO declared part of their cultural heritage, and when you visit this place, you will know why. Also, visit the Kykkos Monastery nearby. It was founded by Car Alexei I. Komnen, and from the original monastery today only the icon of the Virgin Mary remained, for which it is said to have amazing power.

If you like fast cars, on the roads around Trodos every year is held the Reli Cyprus Competition, as part of the World Rally Championship.

Aja Napa and Protaras

About 20 years ago, a small fishing village. Today, the number one tourist destination of the island, with a large number of luxury hotels, apartments, bars and clubs. This could briefly describe Aja Napa. However, Aja Napa is not just fencing clubs and cafes. Here is probably the best beach on the whole island, Nissi beach.

Nissi beach is filled with tastes of the most demanding. Clean sea and soft sand. Looks almost like you’re in the Caribbean. Need something else?

Cyprus is generally the country with the cleanest beaches in Europe, and 64 of them can boast a blue flag.

The city also has an interesting museum of ships, an old church in the centre of the city, similar to that in Larnaci, as well as the charming ” I love Ayia Napa ” sculpture.

Nicosia

In the ancient world known as Ledra, Nicosia is probably the strangest European capital. The city is divided into two time zones because Turkish part decided to move the clock for one hour ahead, as in Turkey ?! The ability to move from one time zone to another in just a couple of minutes is a special experience.

The most interesting thing about the Greek part is ” Laiki Getonia “, with a large number of shops, cafes, ateliers hidden in the narrow alleys. Most of the old houses have been restored, and within the old town there is also the Ethnographic Museum, St. Jovan’s Cathedral and the grand palace of Arhiepiskop Makarios III, the first and lifelong president of the republic. There is also the Famagusta Gate which was once used to enter the city, where exhibitions, lectures and concerts are held today. Nearby is the largest bank in Cyprus.

In Turkey part, most impressed is Büyük Han, the best-preserved specimen of the caravan architecture, built in 1572 by Lal Mustafa Paša. However, during the years the site suffered major damage and was renovated in 1990. In the yard of Büyük Han, there are several cafés, as well as a large number of workshops where locals produce traditional items and souvenirs.

During the Ottoman period, Han served as a kind of hotel for travellers and traders, and the central part of the facility was once used as a horsemanship and warehouse.

Nicosia is not beautiful in the eyes, but it’s a very weird and complicated city, so looking strange and complicated, it’s ok for a mini-tour.

Limassol and Kurion

The second largest city in Cyprus is also the most modern city in this country and, in the opinion of locals, the best place to live. Limassol is also the most important port on the island and one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean, so it could be said that it is slowly pretending to be the economic centre of the island.

But the city also has a beautiful seafront promenade, plenty of cafes and restaurants, and certainly provides the locals with a pleasant and decent life.

From the city’s attractions, the Byzantine Fortress, built in the XII century, is particularly interesting. It is interesting that the famous King Richard of “The Heart of Lions” here married Berengari from Navarre and made it England’s Queen of England in 1191. Today there is a Medieval Museum here.

A few kilometres from Limassol, there is another crucible fortress, known as the Kolosi castle, which has in fact renewed the fortress of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.

It is a place where once knights grow grapes and sugar cane here, and they also established their Commandery, whereby the famous Scorpio sweet wine ” Commandaria ” (Commandaria) got its name.

Half an hour drive from the city centre, there is a fantastic ancient Kurion town. Situated on a cliff on the coast, the view over the sea and the surrounding places combined with the amount of history here will make Kurion quickly become one of your favourite places in Cyprus.

All this place is like an open-air museum, and what you should not miss is the ancient amphitheatre and Eustolius House, where there are several well-preserved mosaics.

Cape Greco

Cape Greco is definitely something you should not miss. This protected nature park is between Aja Nape and Protaras, and according to the sculpture legend, it was once the home of a mythical monster. The incredible turquoise water, shapes of various shapes and hands on the heart perhaps the best view you ever see will make you instantly fall in love this little oasis of peace.

Paphos

Paphos is simply the most perfect place in Cyprus with the greatest number of attractions. Suffice it to say that the entire city was put under the protection of UNESCO. Also, from all places in Cyprus, Paphos has the best climate. Winters are moderate and mild, and summer is not too hot.

Although it is smaller than Nicosia and Limassol, Paphos has made great progress in recent years, and today it is one of the most attractive cities in the island. Starting from the shining Kato Pafos archaeological park, where there is the Tomb of Kings and a large number of incredible mosaics, St. Paul’s Church, a medieval fortress and the Archaeological Museum, Paphos is for sure the most complete city on the whole island.

The city contains many catacomb sites dating back to the early Christian period. The most famous is Saint Solomoni Church, originally a Christian catacomb retaining some of its 12th-century frescoes. A sacred tree at the entrance is believed to cure the ailments of those who hang a personal offering on its branches and many people, both locals and visitors, do so even today.

A few miles outside the city, the rock of Aphrodite (Petra tou Romiou, “Stone of the Greek”) emerges from the sea. According to legend, Aphrodite rose from the waves in this strikingly beautiful spot. The Greek name, Petra tou Romiou is associated with the legendary frontier-guard of Byzantine times, Digenis Acritas, who kept the marauding Saracens at bay. It is said that to repel one attack he heaved a large rock (Petra), at his enemy.

If you like animals, do not miss a visit to Lari Beach, where you can see the turtles that lay eggs during the fall of May.

Paphos is also popular for its festivals and annual events. The Cyprus Open Studios is an annual event that affords the visitor the opportunity to interact with individual artists and artisans, who live and work in Cyprus, in their own studios.

In addition to Open Studios Cyprus, there are a number of privately owned galleries and exhibition spaces. Many religious festivals such as the Agia Paraskevi Traditional Fair, Paphos Aphrodite Festival and the Green Monday, along with popular festivals like Paphos wine festival, Beer Festival, Paradise Jazz Festival, Ancient Greek Drama, Anthestiria or Flower Festival symbolizes the rich legacy of the city.

Delicious traditional dishes

The Cypriot cuisine due to its Greek, Turkish and Middle Eastern influences offers some unique dishes and culinary experiences. Synonymous with Cypriot cuisine is the ‘meze’ – a variety of small dishes that combine to create a feast, and a good starting point to become acquainted with the local dishes, such as moreish dips, braised, stewed and clay-cooked meats; local, freshly caught fish; pulses and legumes in various sauces; speciality cheeses and delicatessen cuts, all authentically prepared.

In addition to the dishes, do not forget to try the sweet dessert wine Commandaria, which goes great with hard cheeses. Strong drinks such as Cypriot brandy, Zivania, Ouzo are definitely worth tasting. Popular for its local wines, Paphos has a number of wineries, including SODAP and Sterna Winery. Visitors are always welcome at these venues to sample the local wines they have on offer.

Read More