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From sun-drenched archipelagos and bustling urban cities to snowcapped mountains and semi-arid deserts, Spain epitomizes geographical diversity. As the meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, this vast country offers some of Europe’s most dramatic landscapes, as well as some of its tastiest cuisine.
Risen from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, Türkiye is a land of cities and countryside, of ancient ruins and contemporary culture. Splash around the mud baths of Dalyan or scramble around the volcanic rock of Goreme. Visiting gorgeous Istanbul, of course, is a no-brainer. Whatever you do, don’t ever, ever skip coffee and desserts: enjoying flowery Turkish Delight and achingly flaky baklava is like a holiday for your taste buds.
Greece is one of those rare places where ancient history is still very much a part of modern life. Visitors are as much drawn to the country’s epic intellectual history as its beauty and charm. Make time for the iconic features of the Acropolis of Athens, which include the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike. Mythology buffs will appreciate Crete, Olympia, Samos, and Naxos for their mythological significance. For a peaceful beach holiday, the island of Santorini is perfect.
Portugal’s Mediterranean charm is most prominent on the golden beaches of the Algarve; in the wilderness of the Azores islands; among the vineyards of Douro Valley; and on the cobbled streets of Lisbon and Porto, where old-world culture meets cosmopolitan bars and restaurants.
The fragrant air of Morocco seems spiked with local spices. Cradled by the dunes of the Sahara, the Kingdom has been inhabited for hundreds of thousands of years. And from the bustling Medina of Marrakech to the mosaic of leather tanning vessels in Fes, Moroccan culture is still steeped in rich tradition. The collection of blue-bottomed boats in Essaouira has become a monochromatic hallmark of the city, while the cafés of Casablanca will invoke your inner Bogie or Bergman.
Croatia has had a turbulent history but is establishing itself as an exciting destination great for all the family. Among other things, you may not be aware that the small Central European country pioneered fountain pens and invented the necktie. Aside from the pub trivia side of things, however, Croatia is a fantastic country steeped in history, and benefiting from the hot summers and mild winters of a Mediterranean climate.
<p>Sardinia has been an overlooked Mediterranean island, as it lies between Italian Sicily and French Corsica. But it is an amazing holiday destination, great for kids, which is packed full of amazing sights and activities, with a great climate. Whether you've chosen to visit Sardinia to check out Phoenician or Roman ruins, or just to soak up some sun and enjoy some excellent Sardinian wines, you're sure to have a great time.</p><p>As a relatively large autonomous island, Sardinia presents a huge range of activities for a family holiday. From the sunbathing perfection of its Mediterranean beaches to the exploration of sites such as Su Nuraxi di Barumini - a building structure dating from the Megalithic period - there is something to interest everybody. About a quarter of the island is designated as either a National Park or other protected reserve territory, so much of the environment is unspoiled and the naturalists in your family can have a great time spotting incredibly rare creatures such as the Sardinian Fox or the Mediterranean Monk Seal. It's definitely a destination for fans of the great outdoors, but with such a diverse amount of wildlife on display, no one can fail to be captivated by the Sardinian landscape. </p>
Attracting visitors from all parts of the world, Majorca is a dreamy island destination in the Mediterranean Sea, just off the southeast coast of Spain. There's something for every taste—beaches and coves, a spectacular mountain range, romantic fishing villages and a rustic countryside dotted with almond and olive groves.
The Algarve's sunny shores offer perfect escapes for all types, from those seeking the hot nightlife of flashy, energetic Lagos to those desiring secluded stays in rambling Sagres. Portugal's most southerly region offers historical attractions in former Moorish capital Silves and fascinating Tavira, great golf, fabulous beaches from Praia da Luz to Armacao de Pera, thermal springs at Caldas de Monchique, and miles of limestone caves and grottoes, cliffs and bays along its rugged coastline.
There's much more to France than Paris—from the fairy-tale châteaux of the Loire Valley to the lavender fields of Provence, and the French Riviera's celebrity-studded beaches. World-famous gastronomy and fine wines provide the perfect complement to the country's alpine views and architectural masterpieces.
If your kids are sick of the same old beach holiday you take every year, consider taking them to Lanzarote. There are great beaches, to be sure, but this UNESCO World Biosphere reserve has unique attractions and activities. We're talking camel rides on volcanoes (at Timanfaya National Park), or eating at a restaurant in a volcanic cave (at Jameos del Agua). Even the most jaded teens will be impressed.
Welcoming, tolerant Gran Canaria offers a little something for everyone. Families flock to the water parks and beaches of Puerto Rico. Those seeking peaceful escape scamper to Mogan's quiet fishing villages. Gay visitors crowd the bars, restaurants and beaches of Playa del Ingles. Urban attractions are on offer in Las Palmas. Three highways open up the island for those with a rental car or a bus schedule. Prime sites to visit include Iglesia de San Juan Bautista de Arucas and Palmalitos zoo park.
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.
Want to make your co-workers insanely jealous? Just casually drop "I’m holiday making in the Maldives this year" into conversation, preferably in the dead of winter. Or better yet, go there without mentioning it to anyone—then send them a "Wish you were here!" postcard.
The sun-drenched Canary Islands lie close to North Africa and have an exotic flavour of their own. Hundreds of volcanoes, rolling sand dunes, rich forests and rugged cliffs dapple these seven Atlantic gems. Catch a ferry to Lanzarote. Ride a camel through volcanic Timanfaya National Park. Take on Tenerife, home of Mount Teide, Spain's tallest peak. Romp Grand Canary's beaches or hike La Gomera's Garajonay National Park. More adventures await on tiny El Hierro, verdant La Palma and peaceful Fuerteventura.
<p>Madeira is a Portuguese island in the Atlantic, west of the Mediterranean. Madeira has many visitors each year, and has some great landscapes, gardens, flowers, and sublime tropical climate. </p><p>Madeira has a number of beaches scattered around its coastline. Among the more notable of these is Calheta which is one of the top resorts in Madeira. This beach has golden sands, crystal clear waters, and a marina. The beach is also good for a variety of water sports such as canoeing and windsurfing. Alternatively, at Lido there is a large and small outdoor seawater swimming pool, which also has direct sea access. Ponta Gorda also has similar outdoor seawater pools. For golf fans Madeira Island also has a few golf courses. At Funchal there is the Palheiro Golf Course, while the Santo da Serra overlooks the bay of Machico. </p>