[All currently written Where to travel to posts: April / May]
Last month Travelindicator started a new series called "Where to travel to in...". With these posts we aim to provide our readers with a thorough analysis of the best travel destinations for every month of the year across the different continents. To get to our recommendations, we use all data and indicators that we have at our disposal at Travelindicator, including the weather, any special dates and holidays that we may be aware of, the relative crowdedness, budget considerations, activities and so on.
Besides giving you specific travel ideas to work with, we will also give you some generic thoughts on regions to check out and/or avoid in the fifth month of the year. Oh and if you want to store our destinations for easy reference, create itineraries and keep track of the weather and cost of a destination, you should register with us! We will slowly work our way through the year, and as we covered the month of April last time around, this month we will continue our coverage with discussing the best May travel destinations.
The best travel destinations in May
In our last instalment we told you that an old Dutch piece of farmers wisdom says that "in May birds lay their eggs". Indeed, while April is still fairly unpredictable weather-wise, May tends to be solidly on the way to "fairly nice" in northern Europe with temperatures reaching the high teens (just under 70 Fahrenheit) and generally speaking a decent amount of sunny days.
While the north of Europe may still be better visited in June (although spring is perfectly nice most of the time), for the south of Europe this may actually be the best time to visit as it will be warm, but not yet hot.
Budget-wise, our stats show a hike in prices in April and May for most of the smaller and larger cities in Europe, as these are the months that Europeans take their spring holidays. In France those will for instance fall anywhere between mid-April and early May, while the Netherlands is off in early May. In terms of crowds, May should nevertheless be a safe bet. Interestingly, a lot of the beach destinations show lower prices for May, which may make for quite an interesting mix with the solid - no let us rephrase that to remove any amibuity - great weather this time of year.
- We would travel to: Berlin (Germany), Paris (France), Diyarbakir (Turkey), Rome (Italy), Nice (France) or Venice (Italy)
- We would avoid traveling to: Mountainous areas like St. Moritz (Switzerland), Ischgl (Austria), or any skiing destination really because who likes the combination of expensive and cold? The furthest north is best avoided as well, places such as Aarhus (Denmark)
While in April, East Asia and Japan in particular were all about the Cherry blossoms, May does not have many events of significance. It does see the Korean Lantern Festival in Seoul (either late April or early May), Waisak in Yogyakarta with a similar purpose, and the Koh Samui Regatta, but none of these are events you should aim to avoid or especially come out for. Do note that May 1 is a holiday in many countries.
Weather-wise this is actually a better time to visit East Asia, as temperatures in for instance the larger cities of East China reach their mid twenties (high seventies if you think in Fahrenheit) and become warm but not yet consistently unbearably hot. Japan and Korea will be just a bit under that, but absolutely pleasant as well.
Further to the South, places like Phuket in Thailand find themselves in an in-between phase where the monsoon hasn't quite started (though rainfall is somewhat higher), but tourism has quieted down a bit from the start of the year. This may be the best time of year to head out here if you prefer it to be a bit more quiet or are looking for a good deal. The alternative is to head out to Gulf of Thailand islands like Koh Samui, which guarantee both great weather and crowds, while Bali will be busy but not crowded (and not cheap but not expensive!). If there is one place we would recommend you to avoid in its entirety, it would be India, most of which sees scorching hot temperatures this time of year.
Africa and the Middle East
If you head to Africa at this time of year, the south is where it's at - we are specifically talking about countries like South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique. And let's throw in Mauritius for good order. Elsewhere in the continent, East Africa gets a lot of rain while North Africa starts heating up. In terms of crowds, you will be out of the high season in most of Africa while in terms of holidays the May 1 Labour Day is probably the only one to really keep in the back of your mind.
In Central America and the northern parts of South America, this is the ramp up to the rainy season with more rain than in the earlier months of the year (for instance in Dominican Republic rainfall spikes in May). The Caribbean is an overall safe bet and we have had a look at hotel prices, these don't seem to fluctuate much throughout the year in most of destinations there.
This time of year, the central parts of South America see pleasant temperatures even at the higher altitudes of countries like Peru. For cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro this may be the best time to visit, as temperatures hover around the mid twenties Celsius or high seventies Fahrenheit. Meanwhile you may want to avoid the Amazon as it is at the back of its rain reason. Similarly, as you head further south, past cities like Buenos Aires and all the way down to Ushuaia, things start to get pretty chilly. Those parts are best avoided this time of year, although then again it is a slightly cheaper period.
In North America, many places in Mexico are at their peak in terms of hot weather, something which may be fine in Mexico City (which doesn't get too hot), but we would advise you to avoid cities like Guadalajara. Meanwhile, most of the US is fine to travel to, with even Anchorage reaching the mid teens (60 Fahrenheit).
- We would travel to: the Caribbean, United States, Canada and central South America
- We would avoid traveling to: Central America, Mexico and southern South America
Winter is nearly here in Australia and New Zealand. While in Australia, northern Queensland and cities like Cairns, Brisbane, Darwin or Perth are fine for traveling to year-round, Melbourne and Hobart are getting quite fresh, while Sydney is just about on the edge. In New Zealand places in South Island like Milford Sound reach about 12 Celsius or 54 Fahreheit. It's your call.
[All currently written Where to travel to posts: April / May]
To be honest, we pretty much tend to travel wherever we can, whenever we are able to. We might book that city trip to Shanghai or New York, that long holiday to New Zealand or that island break to Phuket or Aruba without really considering if the time of year we are heading there is really the best time to go or not.
That means we usually go on our way without giving much consideration to the weather or what a certain place will otherwise be like at a given time of year. Sometimes we get lucky and sometimes this brings us somewhere at the worst possible time of year.
This behavior is mostly born out of necessity. Having a busy 9 to 5 job during the week (OK - let's just be honest here and tell you it's really a 7 to 7 job - not talking about maintaining Travelindicator!) and not having a large amount of holidays nor the freedom to easily take them up, means that it is difficult to really plan our trips very much in advance.
But maybe we should change our approach and get a better idea of where to fly off to when we book the next trip. For that reason we are starting a new series of blog posts titled "Where to travel to in..." where we will recommend what places are best to travel to in each month of the year. We start the series with the first episode, where to travel in April*. Note that if you want to browse through our destinations, create itineraries and keep track of certain destinations (e.g. to know when they are most affordable), you can do so by registering here.
* The time of writing is March and that month is nearest to us. Going forward we will of course cover the entire year!
The best travel destinations in April
I guess there are a few things to consider when planning whether to go somewhere during in April. We have systematically worked through a few hundred travel destinations, mostly considering the weather and relative crowdedness (and therefore affordability) of certain destinations. Let's just say that we wouldn't want to check out the beaches of the Costa del Sol in early August. Luckily, April tends to be off-season for most places anyway.
This is the time of year that spring typically really starts to make it presence felt on the continent. In the Netherlands a piece of old farmer's wisdom goes "March wags its tail, April does what it wants and in May birds lay their eggs". Take that for what it's worth.
The average high to low temperature ranges are 8°C to 18°C in Rome (that's 46°F to 64°F), 5°C to 14°C in Amsterdam (that's 40°F to 56°F) and 12°C to 20°C in Athens (that's 53°F to 68°F). So while the north of Europe is still quite fresh, this may in fact be the best time to head somewhere further to the south - you will have decent weather and definitely beat the crowds!
Our suggestions are: Kos (Greece), Crete (Greece), Lisbon (Portugal) or Barcelona. At this time of year we'd still steer clear from cities further to the north. Avoid traveling to: the North of Europe unless you plan on spending most of your time indoors.
Asia in April. For us that means checking out the sakura (Cherry blossoms) in Japan, though as a general rule you will need to head a bit further north to still get to see them. Japan National Tourism Organisation has an overview of all the viewing spots and their corresponding dates. Looking at the rest of the continent, we think you can pretty much skip India, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, er... entire South-east Asia, as temperatures can go as high as 38°C or 100°F in some places. Yep, the North of Asia is where it's at this time of year.
Our suggestions are: Sendai (Japan, for the Cherry Blossoms), Jeju (South Korea), Seoul (South Korea), Hainan (China) or Chongqing (China). As there are no public holidays of significance in these countries in that period (ignoring Qingming Jie in China), traveling to any of them should be a safe bet. Avoid traveling to: South(-east) Asia.
Africa and the Middle East
This may be one of the best times of year to visit Northern Africa. In fact, we are going to tell you that most of the Maghreb (roughly north-western Africa) is pretty excellent for a visit at this time of year. Think about the temperatures in the southern extremes of Europe that we just mentioned, and just add a few degrees to it. South Africa is cooling down but still quite pleasant.
Our suggestions are: Rabat (Morocco), Fes (Morocco) and Tunis (Tunesia), Kruger National Park (South Africa). Avoid traveling to: Central Africa
In April, places in the northern parts of the continent are still too cool to truly enjoy (and in the big cities its always high season anyway, making them not really relevant to our list). Head a bit further south however, and you find the places where we think it's at this time of year. In the United States that means some of the more spectacular national parks and southern cities - it's not quite high tourist season but the weather is perfectly agreeable.
The climate in South America is quite different still, but April is not a bad time to travel there either. In places like Brazil, the temperatures have declined from their highs in January/February, but are still totally doable (when are they ever not, anyway?). Of course, for a visit to the Caribbean this is as good a time as any to go, given their pretty stable climate.
Our suggestions are: Miami (United States), Grand Canyon (United States), Yosemite National Park (United States), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Florianopolis (Brazil), Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis. Avoid traveling to: Canada and the Northern US
Not surprisingly, this is as good a time of year as any to visit some South Pacific islands. It is also a good time to visit South Australia or New South Wales and Victoria, with temperatures in Sydney and Melbourne hovering around the low twenties (high seventies in Fahrenheit). In New Zealand, some of the more mountainous and South Island destinations are probably best avoided, but it's not a bad time to head north.
Our suggestions are: Sydney (Australia), Melbourne (Australia), Auckland (New Zealand), Waiheke Island (New Zealand), Bora Bora (French Polynesia), Savaii (Samoa). Avoid traveling to: South Island in New Zealand
Some like their holidays active, others like things slow. There is no shame in going on holiday, kicking back and doing absolutely nothing, yet so often in reality it doesn't quite work out like that. Arrive in a new destination, and most of us will instantly want to head out and explore every nook and cranny. We just can't help ourselves.
We have come up with a few locations that will help you a hand in resolving this conondrum. These destinations feature some of the most spectacular scenery seen anywhere in the world, but there is not much to do other than gawk at it in awe, and kick back...
Too good to be true, yep, that is definitely the tag we would attach to Aitutaki, an island of the Cook Islands in the South Pacific that circles around a shallow lagoon. Besides diving into the crystal clear water, laying on the beach under a palm tree and having a bite or a drink in the bars and restaurants on Aitutaki, there is NOT much to do here at all. Just the way we like it.
The Maldives warrant an obvious inclusion in this list. 1,192 coral islands that offer absolutely NOTHING to do except for the most gorgeous shallow waters full of marine life, beaches and fantastic resorts. Go here and laze your days away.
Good old Saba. This tiny Caribbean volcanic island officially forms part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and pops out of sea like a mountain out of nowhere. It has 2,000 inhabitants and has a single road connecting everything. So tiny, yet such great scenery and no way to easily get off the island. Yep, you'll definitely have to relax here.
This is not the kind of Cambodia you had in mind, trust us. No temples, no Khmer era relics. Koh Rong is more like a Thai island without all the development. Fantastically beautiful, yet no resorts and nothing to see or do other than beaches and jungle. Sounds good, right?/p>
Almost everybody can name you a few "Koh" of Thailand nowadays. But not many have heard of Koh Lipe, and looking at its size that is no surprise. Put it back to a Phuket or Langkawi on the map and you can barely spot it. This car-free island has absolutely nothing to do but long stretches of beach with shallow waters in front of it, and a bit of jungle in the interior. Once you get here, you will not be able to do much else than laying back, having a swim, grabbing a drink or bite to eat. And the next day? Rinse and repeat. Love it.
Maybe we are spoiled. We are running this website out of tropical Singapore, which means year-round warm temperatures at home anyway, but also countless fantastic South-east Asian travel destinations just a weekend trip away. Whether we want to jet off to Bali or Phuket, to Bangkok or Hong Kong, it is often a matter of conveniently flying off on a budget airline after work on a Friday and returning late on a Sunday.
The only downside to this is that we are not the only one doing this! You can fly to Krabi or Nha Trang, but then in many places you will still spend your weekend packed like sardines on a beach, next to your neighbours back home. Long story short, sometimes you want to head off to a place with palm trees and white sand beaches but at the same time get away from the crowds as well. If that's what you are after, we have some suggestions for you (that are not just located in Asia, of course). For even more inspiration just use our Destination Search.
The first destination is an island well off the coast of Brazil in South America called Fernando de Noronha. This is a renowned eco travel destination that might just be one of the most pretty spots to visit in Brazil. But as it is pretty out of the way, the (domestic and foreign) crowds don't seem to have quite discovered it. So go here, enjoy some hiking into the rocky jungle covered interior, or enjoy the water and go swimming, surfing or diving. Take note that accomodation here is basic at best, but then that's the whole point isn't it?
Bohey Dulang is one of the islands the forms part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park in Sabah of Malaysia. You will need to travel to Semporna and spend the night there, then make your way here by boat. The main sight is the volcanic crater that is under water and which you get spectacular views over after you have made the effort of climbing your way up through the thick jungle... Once you find your way down again you can go swimming or snorkeling although you won't find any real beaches. But then again you won't find many people either!
Everybody knows Bora Bora. Nobody knows Moorea (which lies 240 kilometer or 150 miles to its south-east, right next to Tahiti). This island is sometimes described as a more authentic alternative to Bora Bora. There is certainly accomodation here that is far from basic (looking at you Hilton and Intercontinental), but the crowds are by any definition less thick too. The interior is covered with mountains and lush rain forest, while the beaches are nothing less than dreamy.
This place in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is not really a household name. Yet, as sooner or later tourists will start discovering it right? Part of India but with a vibe that is more comparable to Thailand, white sand beaches that are likened to the Maldives and fantastic scenery both around the beaches and inland. Best of all? It is cheaper and much, much quieter. For now.
And finally, back to the Caribbean. Carriacou is an island of the Grenadines island chain that is part of Grenada. Travel to the main island of Grenada and you will have no trouble finding golf courses and luxury resorts, but travel to Carriacou and you will find a quieter and much more back-to-basics kind of place.
Of course, sometimes you go on a beach holiday to do nothing else than to kick back in the sand and salty water, perhaps sip a cocktail or two but generally do absolutely nothing of any use whatsoever with your time. We completely understand the need to switch off.
Having said that however, we reckon there are also times that you want to head to a beach destination yet stimulate your mind as well. Perhaps that is by exploring big cities or small towns with architectural gems, by checking out a museum here or there, exploring castles, palaces, temples or whatever else floats your boat. Allow us to introduce 11 travel destinations (in no particular order) to you that are perfectly fit for those looking to undertake a cultured beach holiday.
The beaches in Cape Town are claimed to be some of the best in the world. The water may not be the warmest here, but beaches like Camps Bay or Clifton with their white sands are exactly how we like them. And the scenery obviously doesn't hurt either. Being the second biggest city in South Africa and having an extensive European heritage ensures that there is enough to see and explore when you're not lazing away on the beach. Main sights include the Castle of Good Hope and St. Georges Cathedral.
Where yo dou even start with a city like Barcelona? 2000 years of history, Gaudi and his Sagrada Família, the old town, on the cultural front you are assured not to be bored here. And the beaches? Well, seeing as that it was named the number one beach city in the world by National Geographic, you're spoilt for choice, really. Pick the busier beaches near the town center or head further out if you prefer things a bit more quiet.
Tulum, pretty as it may be, in fact only has two attractions of quite a narrow scope. On the one hand there is the extremely pretty Mayan fortress ruin of the Castillo perched on top of some rocks next to the sea, and on the other hand there is the turquoise sea and its breathtakingly beautiful beaches. So I guess you're going to have to find a way to combine the two, don't you?
Predictable you say? Fair enough, but Bali simply couldn't be excluded from this list. Think about it, the gorgeous beaches of Kuta, Nusa Dua and Sanur, or the black sand beaches of Lovina up north. And all that in combination with temples, rice paddies, Balinese culture and other fantastic scenery... We think everyone should travel here at least once in their lives. There is almost no better place in the world to combine beaches with cultural explorations.
Salvador lies in between Rio and Recife. If you know how good the beaches in either of those are, you have a pretty good idea of how those in Salvador look. In our review we used the word "mesmerising" to describe them. But it wouldn't be on this list if it didn't have some seriously impressive cultural offerings too. Just head up to the Cidade Alta (old town), pass the neoclassical Palacio Rio Branco Salvador and explore the other sights.
Penang offers visitors a colorful mix of colonial and historical sights and neighbourhoods, temples, mosques night markets and great beaches. Batu Feringghi is a picture perfect beach near the capital city of Georgetown, but if you have more time then by all means venture further out as there are some hidden gems here.
Crete may be mostly known for its beaches, but thousands of years ago this was also home of the first European civilization, the Minoans. Plenty of monasteries, picturesque towns and the main sight of the Palace of Knossos are just some examples of what is on offer here. And the beaches? Well, the coastline is dramatic and long so there's something for everyone. Up north you find the more developed spots, whereas if you look south you may find some much more quiet beaches.
Well, if that picture doesn't look inviting then I don't know I am sure what does. Zanbzibar is an island archipelago off Tanzania in East Africa. It is home to 30 beaches that are as perfect as it gets: white sand, palm trees, the deep blue ocean, you get the idea. Culturally, there is the Moorish, Persian, Indian, African and European architecture of Zanzibar City which was pronounced a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
With its Opera House, pretty Sydney Harbour and loads of excellent museums, Sydney is a class city with plenty to see and do. And for the beaches, well... does Bondi, Manly or Bronte really not ring a bell at all? In that case you've been missing out. Surfing is a way of life here.
As we argued in our review, San Diego tends to get overlooked by California's cities further up north, and we think that makes no sense. San Diego is laid back, has great beaches (the very wide and long Mission Beach offers not only a great beach but also plenty of activities and nightlife), and on the cultural front can compete with the best. Of particular interest there is Balboa Park with its 15 museums. Or else go check out the old town or La Jolla.
Of course we realise that it looks a bit odd to have a list of 11, instead of 10 or 15. But well, we had to make sure to include Sintra here. This Portuguese city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to the famous Castle of the Moors which resembles the Great Wall of China and Palácio da Pena. And while it may be situated on a hill amidst the plains, just a few minutes from here you'll be at the beach. And when it comes to those, too, Sintra has quite a bit to offer.
There is something special about spending December in Europe. Wearing thick winter clothes, shuffling around on a German Christmas market spread out across a medieval town center, holding a glass of mulled wine in hand, surrounded by families on their day out... Bright lights and decorations all around. Walking into a fancy shopping mall to get away from the cold and leaving the building an hour later with half of your Christmas shopping already done.
That's a pleasant mental image, isn't it? And around this time of year, you will struggle to find a town anywhere in Europe that does not make an effort to create that extra special Christmas atmosphere. We would not dare to tell you that we have decided which ones are best (how does one decide that anyway), hence we are not calling this the "7 best Christmas destinations" or anything like that, but here are 7 places that we think are worth highlighting. Highlights in most of these places are, of course, the Christmas markets...
The throngs of tourists descending upon Bruges in summer may not realise this, but Bruges is one of those cities that is actually more appealing in winter. An ice rink is set up on the market square, buildings are spectacularly lit up and small Christmas markets dot the center of town. Head for a stroll around the canals after darkness sets in and you will be hard pressed to find a more attractive town anywhere else in Europe.
Okay, so if you know anything about Christmas markets in Germany, the inclusion of Nuremberg is not exactly going to be surprising to you. But for those of you less familiar with it, it just may be. The Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt is huge and the most famous in Germany, pretty much defining the whole concept: the old town gets filled with nearly 200 stands selling everything from Christmas decorations, mulled wine, gingerbread and bratwurst. It's all in perfect harmony with the lovely historic town center.
Český Krumlov is a kind of mini-Prague and a UNESCO world heritage site that is a tourists favorite in summer months. In December it is not exactly empty here, but definitely less crowded. Combined with snow (fingers crossed) in December, the whole town takes on a magical atmosphere. And of course, Český Krumlov too has a Christmas Market. This is one to go purely for the atmosphere. Highly recommended.
With its German cultural background, it is no surprise that the Alsace does Christmas markets exceptionally well. In December, Colmar looks nothing short of a fairy tale. In fact the whole historic town center with its canals and half-timbered houses turns into a Christmas market: châlets all around sell everything from Christmas decorations to pastries and sweets.
We just discussed a town in a French region with a German background (Colmar). Now its time to discuss a town in an Italian region with a German background: Bolzano! Located in South Tyrol, it houses Italy's most famous Christmas market. The mix of Italian and German influences makes this one of the most interesting markets in Europe, and the romantic backdrop of the town with its arcaded streets and a good chance of snow in winter doesn't hurt either. The gastronomic variety is even better than in some of the other markets mentioned here, mixing the northern European and the Mediterranean. Oh, and even without all the Christmas there is plenty to see and do here. Ötzi?
Salzburg is basically the quintessential Christmas destination in Europe. The castle towering over the town and brightly lit, the streets often covered with a blanket of snow and Cathedral Square filled with the yearly Christmas market selling everything from Christmas ornaments to mulled wine, Lebkuchen and caramelised almonds. And if you get bored of strolling the town and market, why not pack your skis and head up the mountain in one of the nearby ski resorts?
Wroclaw is picturesque. During the Christmas season this becomes even more the case. Poland seems more in touch with the religious origins of the festive season than the rest of Europe, which makes it a joyful place to spend some days around Christmas. The Rynek (Main Square) and Swidnicka Street house the Christmas market and an ice rink. At the market you will find the typical type of Christmas market food, but also Polish Christmas decorations and gifts which make for nice souvenirs.
At times we at Travel Indicator like to work our way through our own database to see what kind of suggestions we are actually serving up to our users. Today we looked at the best family-oriented beach destinations by searching for any and all destinations that score at least 60% on both the "family-friendly" and "beach and seaside" attribute.
So what exactly are family-friendly beach getaways? Well, perhaps that is best answered by explaining what we have classified as non-family friendly beach destinations. Party hotspots for the teenage crowds, honeymoon resorts, big cities in underdeveloped countries that happen to have beaches, etcetera. These are definitely not what we want to look at today. What does show up are 92 locations, of which we reckon the following are the best:
It is no secret that the French know how to do beach holidays with the family well in Metropolitan France. That is just one of the many things this French overseas territory has taken from it. What we wrote before: "Nouméa has a chic and cosmopolitan feel to it. That is probably partly to do with its French background as well as how it is situated: it lies in between beautiful bays and is overseen by mountain ranges. Another thing that should come as no surprise is that the restaurants and food here is generally of a high quality."
Auckland in New Zealand may be one of the most versatile cities in the world. As we wrote before: "The city offers a combination of scenic natural playgrounds in all shapes and forms (turquoise waters, beach islands, volcanoes, rainforests..) outside of the city, and multicultural big city sophistication inside of its boundaries. Add a sunny climate added into the mix and this is basically the perfect holiday destination."
Aruba is not your typical Caribbean island as its landscape has some desert like characteristics. That creates some very interesting sights including goats, iguanas and donkeys. At the coast you will find limestone cliffs and white sand beaches. The children can play in the water will mum and dad sip on a cocktail, what's not to like?
Bintan is where Singaporean families head for a quick weekend break away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Most will head to the north side of the island where you have resorts like Club Med catering to your every need. The rest of the island is more back to basics. If you head to one of the resorts, we guarantee your kids will be entertained by the vast amount of activities organised for them.
Mar del Plata is where the residents of Buenos Aires head in summer to spend time with their families at the beach. The Playa Grande is the most family friendly of them all, though be warned that it gets extremely full in summer!
Sometimes, when picking a summer beach destination in Europe, you need to look at where the package deal crowds are going, and then head in exactly the opposite direction. Greek island tend to be quite similar in terms of natural beauty and cultural backdrop, but a beach holiday between mostly Greeks and mostly northern European crowds leads to two different experiences entirely! Skopelos is popular with Greek families, and that says enough. Besides beaches, the island offers pine forests, high cliffs and many churches and monasteries to explore. This is an excellent place to take your family.
If you want to party the night away after hitting the beach, you would be better off heading to a place like Rimini. Viareggio is a more upscale and family-friendly kind of place. The beaches are long and of good quality, and behind them runs the promenade where you and the family can grab a bite to eat or have a drink after a long day of baking in the sun. Next to town lies a forest where you can go biking or hiking.
This is one of our personal favorites and a bit of a hidden treasure (unless you ask coast-bound Dutch and German people in the know!). Domburg lies in the southern Zeeland province of the Netherlands, and at about 2 hours from Schiphol airport. It is a charming old resort town that attracts families, with beaches that must be some of the best in this part of Europe. On a warm summer day, trust us, you wouldn't want to be any other place. As we wrote before: "Expect fine sand, good swimming conditions and clean beaches. The town itself - though very small with about 1500 inhabitants - has good bakeries, café's and restaurants aplenty. (...) Smaller towns around like Oost- and Westkapelle or Veere also offer some interesting sights and places to eat or drink. If you are feeling particularly Dutch, make your way to some of the other towns by bike."
Myrtle Beach offers a beach holiday in the American way. The beaches are the obvious place to spend time at, but there is also a place called Broadway at the Beach, an enormous entertainment venue where you will find everything ranging from bars, shops, restaurants to water parks. You and your entire family will be entertained here.
For Greek holiday islands, Crete is pretty much what they all aspire to be. Sun, sea and great beaches are a given, but the amount of fantastic nature (steep and rugged mountain areas, gorges and a very diverse flora and fauna plus scenery that includes olive groves and vineyards) and culture on show make this an unforgettable place to take your family. Some days, mum and dad may want to head out to explore an archaeological site, while the kids play in the water at the beach. In the evening you can all meet up for a great meal.
Europe is a continent full of high culture, fantastic scenery and history. From Paris to Rome or from Istanbul to Amsterdam, there is no shortage of amazing metropoles that you will see described to the smallest detail in every single travel guide you could possibly purchase about the continent.
And truth be told, the main historic attractions across the continent do tend to cluster in and around these cities. But to really experience Europe, visiting some small towns simply has to be part of your itinerary as well. Travel Indicator is here to summarise all of these good places for you and make them easily searchable by country so that next time you go on a trip to, say, Germany, you can just use our database to conveniently zoom in on some of those must-see small towns. But for now allow me to summarise 6 of my favourite historic small European towns thus far have covered.
1. Manarola (Italy)
This place is a thing of beauty. You might have seen this village before, depicted on some website or magazine before as an unnamed spectacular village trying to lure you into travelling to Italy. Now you also know where it is - this is Manarola, in Liguria, northern Italy. Although in fact a tiny village, its stunning location and colorful buildings on top of a cliff overlooking the Ligurian Sea, draws many tourists here. The oldest building in town is the San Lorenzo church, dating back to the 14th century. Besides exploring the town, drinking a glass of the famous local wine and enjoying the sights of the city from the harbor, taking a hike to some of the other 'Cinque Terre' towns nearby is definitely a good spend of time. And be sure to take your camera, as you will be shooting hundreds of pictures.
2. Fuessen (Germany)
So technically we're cheating a little bit here. What you are looking at is in fact the immensely picturesque Neuschwanstein Castle that lies very nearby the town of FÃ¼ssen. Besides just the castle(s) nearby, the town itself also has plenty to offer: The medieval Altstadt (old town) of FÃ¼ssen looks like a romantic fairy tale with its colourful faÃ§ade and cobbled streets, great coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants and shops. With its own castle, fountains, and churches it is a good place to explore for half a day or otherwise to use as a base for checking out the rest of the region, which is a great area for hiking, cycling or other active sports.
3. Albi (France)
Albi is a medieval town that lies in the French Midi-Pyrenees region. Situated on the River Tarn and largely built in red brick style so typical to the region, this town became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.
4. Bacharach (Germany)
This town has a tiny population (under 2000), but is quite grandly situated. Overlooking the Rhine river from the hilly terrain that surrounds it in Rheinland-Pfalz here in Germany, this is an absolutely charming city to explore by foot. Main attraction is the Stahleck Castle and city walls as well as the general architecture in the village (think half-timbred style houses).
5. Cesky Krumlov (Czech Republic)
Scenically run through by the Vltava river that can't quite seem to make up it's mind on what direction it wants to flow here, this town is most famous for the old town center and the castle of the same name (don't make us write the name again, please). The old town consists of narrow cobblestone streets that are lined up with Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque buildings and some good places to eat and drink. The Castle dates back to 1240 and is exceptionally large for a town of this size as it is in fact the second largest castle in the country. It offers great views of the historic town center as well as the Baroque castle gardens.
6. Bled (Slovenia)
And finally there is Bled, a Slovenian Alpine city that can boast of fantastic natural surroundings in the form of lakes and mountains. Top it off with churches, castles and a national park next door (Triglav National Park), this is a great place to spend not a few days but an entire holiday, even.
Note that if you wanted to see more small historic towns that we have covered across the world, you can Have a look right here.