The London Design Festival comprises of 9 days of design events across the capital, showcasing the design and innovation of the world class creative community in the UK, with over 280 events across 25 design disciplines reflecting the breadth and width of design across London.
The London Design Festival included many Landmark Projects that gave many of the world’s most notable designers and architects the opportunity to produce work for many of London’s most familiar public spaces and bring design to a much wider audience. Trafalgar Square, the Southbank Centre, Covent Garden, St Paul’s Cathedral and the V&A that quite literally brought design out onto the street to celebrate hosting London Design Festival events with an ambitious Timber Wave sculpture that spiralled out from the entrance.
Timber Wave Sculpture in American Red Oak by AL_A and Arup celebrating the London Design Festival at the V&A
Blown Glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly in the Rotunda entrance of the V&A museum
3D Printed Bust of Lady Belhaven with remarkable re-imagined tra la la hat by Miliner Stephen Jones at the V&A
One of the leading design and architecture events taking place during the London Design Festival was 100% Design London in the great Hall of Earls Court that brought together design, interiors, surfaces, materials and futures for professionals with a taste taste for new sources of innnovative design, furniture, lighting, textiles, fabrics and interior fixtures and fittings from around the world.
Rhino Chair at 100% Design London. Part of a family of Animal Chairs that includes an I am the Walrus chair.
Bedroom furnishings and fittings by Fertini with jewel encrusted chair; sadly not real, at 100% design
Corita Rose vivid fabrics with strong imagery for upholstery and furnishings at 100% Design London
Blue sofa with buttons and flowery flamingo cushion on French stand at 100% Design
Wooden floor surface by Mafi. Plastic lenticular surface design by Style Conception at 100% Design
Sculpted wooden desk as seen at 100% Design
Wolf cookers and Sub Zero refrigeration pickup truck with old style livery at 100% Design
triangle of London Design Festival events centred around the old Market in Spitalfield brought us to Origin Contemporary Craft Fair, Tent London and The Tramshed that became a good showcase for work by De La Espada, However, we first visited Designers Block in Clerkenwell.
Performance artists with Mama light by Moon Jung Kim at Designers Block
Helga Matos Weaving display with performance artists weaving around designs at Designers-Block
Minsung Lee from London Met University on her back to back bench at Designers Block Opening Event
Matchstick Chair by Korean graduate at Designers Block, if you want one there may be a 3 month waiting list!
Coracle Chair Design by Benjamin Hubert and Flower Cup chair presented by De La Espada at Tramshed during the LDF
Tent London situated in an old Brewery presents over 200 international exhibitors, showing the latest in contemporary interior products and cutting edge design allowing you to feel the pulse and see some of the latest trends in furniture, lighting, ceramics, textiles, materials and accessories.
Mr Smith a multi-coloured laminated beechwood chair by UK furniture designer and cabinetmaker Anthony Hartley.
Anthony Hartley a Yorkshire based cabinet maker and furniture designer has drawn on all his experience and education in contemporay furniture to create Mr Smith a multi-coloured beechwood laminate chair with a high gloss acrylic finish. Hartley makes each piece by hand from original drawings to finished product so each chair has a unique DNA or customized colour sequence to create a chair inspired by the iconic Paul Smith stripes.
Muffin Pouffe handmade from the finest materials by Matteo Bianchi with a choice of ingredients and fillings
Bike on Bookshelf at Tent. Now where is it that you said you left your bike?
Boeme Sofa at Tent London. Made an ideal spot to relax with a glass of wine and discuss fine fabrics with designer
Boeme design and fine art fabrics at Tent London
Calm textile sculpture by Anna Glasbrook at Tent London
Origin: The Contemporary Craft Fair. Following Origin’s successful integration into the London Design Festival last year it returned to Old Spitalfields Market for the London Design Festival to offer an opportunity to see a diverse range of high quality, original crafts in one location. Showing a range of items from ceramics, furniture, metal work and glass to fashion accessories, jewellery and textiles.
Origin Craft Fair: 1. Jasmin Rowlandson 2. Melanie Bourget 3. BTU 4. Laura Thomas 5. Tsai Yoshikawa 6. Helen Noakes
And So To Bed Caribbean Style Interior Design, winner of best stand design at Decorex 2011
Nicky Haslam showcase bedroom at Decorex 2011
Our favourite lighting display by Serip at Decorex during the London Design Festival
Innovative sculpted table design by Splinter Works
Conran designer furniture store and Bibendum restaurant in the restored Michelin building in Chelsea
Conran’s Bibendum at Michelin House that also featured in the London Restaurant Festival
This must be the giant Egg box 6.0 angle poise lamp hatchery at the Conran shop in Chelsea
Jaguar C-X75 concept car design showcased at Clerkenwell Design Week earlier in 2011
For more information on anything please contact us at Interior Design Help Blog andby Indecus Interior Design and Decoration.
Top 20 Tourist Destinations and Attractions in Washington State
1.Mount Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest. The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest in Washington is an area of exceptional scenic beauty that extends 140 miles along the western slopes of the Cascade mountain Range from the Canada–US border to the northern boundary of Mount Rainier National Park, it also includes two large landmark volcanoes, Mount Baker and Glacier Peak which tower over the adjacent ridges.
Mount Baker is the most significant landmark of the region as it is visible from all the waters and islands of Puget Sound and from the South Eastern part of the region. Mount Baker is a hikers paradise and includes attractions such as Nooksack Falls, Artist Point, Eleven Glaciers and the Mount Baker Ski area.
If you wish to visit or stay and explore the area then you will find plenty of private, self-catering, fully equipped cabins, cottages, condos, chalets and Mount Baker Lodgings and vacation rental accommodation at the gateway to Mount Baker in places like Glacier Springs, Mt Baker Hwy, Mt Baker Rim, Silver Lake, Snowater or Snowline where you can enjoy all the local amenities or just put your feet up after a long day hiking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, backpacking, fishing, canoeing, hunting, exploring, nature trailing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, sledding or enjoying some of the other attractions of staying in the state of Washington near Mount Baker.
2 Snoqualmie Falls
The Snoqualmie Falls is a 268 ft waterfall with a power station on the Snoqualmie River. It is one of Washington’s most scenic attractions and is famous for its appearance in the cult television series Twin Peaks.
The mists rising from the base of the the Snoqualmie waterfall are said to connect Heaven and Earth and where prayers are carried up to the Creator by the great mists that rise from the base of the waterfall.
3. Olympic National Park Mountain Range The Olympic National Park contains a vast and diverse wilderness with snow and glacier-capped mountains, scenic routes. old temperate rain forests and over 70 miles of coastline.
4.The Hoh rainforest is one of the finest examples of temperate rainforests in the United States and is one of the park’s most popular destinations. The high levels of rain in the forest during winter adds to the lush green covering of trees, mosses and ferns along trails and adds another dimension to the enchantment of the rainforest. You can also explore over 70 miles of wild coastlin or take a boat trip around the islands..
5. San Juan Islands San Juan Islands is an archipelago in the northwest of Washington State. It offers whale watching with dedicated orca-whale lookouts or boat trips, it also offers kayaking, biking, hiking, dining experiences and cozy lodgings.There are four main islandsSan Juan Island, LopezIsland, ShawIsland and OrcasIsland that is home to Moran State Park’s old-growth forest and Mt. Constitution.
6. Mount Rainier National Park One of the most popular or visited national parks in Washington. Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea levelMount Rainier is the most prominent peak in the Cascade Range. It’s also one of the oldest national parks. Wildflower meadows ring the icy glacier covered volcano while ancient foresst cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes.
7. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
When Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, it reduced the peak by 1,300 feet and leveled much of the surrounding area. A cloud of ash rose 13 miles into the air, almost 150 square miles of forest were destroyed, causing fatal destruction to local communities. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument has since been set aside for both research and recreational purposes.
Climbing and hiking opportunities are available, and it is even possible to climb Mount St. Helens, though permits are required. Visitor centers along Spirit Lake Highway provide insight into the disaster.
Seattle is the largest city in Washington, and is known for its thriving tech industry, vibrant music scene and famed coffee houses. Its landmarks include the futuristic Space Needle, century-old Pike Place Market and Seattle Aquarium. Innovative glass art is displayed at Chihuly Garden & Glass.
Pike Place Market is the standard draw for tourists, but the historic buildings and venerable institutions add diversity. Visitors will likely wish to catch an underground tour near Pioneer Square, or a performance at Benaroya Hall. And back on the waterfront, a sea-level exploration takes you from the Olympic Sculpture Park in the north to the Seattle Aquarium and ferry terminal further south.
8. Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP (Formerly known as the EMP Museum or Experience Music Project ) is a museum dedicated to contemporary pop culture. It was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000. Famous musicians from Seattle include Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, and Pearl Jam. MoPOP now spans music,science fiction, fantasy, horror, fashion, sports, and video games, MoPOP reflects our vision for curating, exploring and supporting the creative works that shape and inspire our lives.
9. The Museum of Flight The Museum of Flight is one of Seattles premier attractions with over 160 air and spacecraft on display along with the original Boeing Aircraft factory flight simulators and dozens of fun, interactive exhibits and family activities. From the world’s oldest fighterplane to the supersonic Concorde, the only full-scale NASA Space Shuttle Trainer and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, you’ll see the flying machines and experience the stories of those who flew them. The unique, 3-acre Aviation Pavillion shows the dramatic development of aircrafts in an open-air gallery with a cafe and children’s play area.A patio area and spectacular views of Mt. Rainer.- 9404 E. Marginal Way South,Seattle, WA 98108.
10. Washington State Capitol Building
At the south end of Puget Sound, The State Capitol building in Olympia with its grand white dome rising 287 feet above the tree-lined street. The bulding was opened in 1928 at a cost of around seven million dollars. Free, guided public tours give the highlights of the building, including the five-ton Tiffany chandelier and permanent sculptures.
11. Tacoma and Museums Tacoma is the 3rd largest city in Washington and sits on the banks of Puget Sound, south of Seattle. It’s known for its many museums including the Museum of Glass that includes works by Dale Chihuly who was born nearby and the Chihuly Bridge of Glass decorated with glass sculptures. The Washington State History Museum, a vast model railroad, The Tacoma Art Museum, Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, the Tacoma Dome and if you like cars there is the LeMay – America’s Car Museum.
12. Port Angeles
The town of Port Angeles lies along the northern shores of the Olympic Peninsula, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The region is known for the huge number of things to do outdoors, such as hiking, biking, golfing, boating, kayaking, fishing, birding, and more. It’s also an access point to Olympic National Park via the road to Hurricane Ridge.
At this high alpine recreation area, hiking trails fan out from the visitor center leading to wildflower meadows in spring.
Back at sea level in Port Angeles, the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center features changing Northwest exhibits in the semi-circular hilltop gallery. On the extensive grounds, visitors will find a museum without walls featuring more than 100 sculptures along rustic trails. The local Clallam County Museum introduces the area through historical exhibits. Port Angeles is also where ferries depart for Victoria, Canada.
13. The Town Of Leavenworth
The town of Leavenworth proudly calls itself the Bavarian Village, celebrating its heritage throughout the year. It’s common to see local residents wearing lederhosen or blowing a morning serenade on an alphorn. The entire town is decorated in an adapted German architectural style, down to the Gothic scripts on the signposts. There are a number of annual festivals, including a holiday lights celebration in December. Ski hills, hiking trails, and rivers in the surrounding area also provide outdoor recreation. To the east, the Wenatchee Valley is famed for its apples and hosts the annual Washington State Apple Blossom Festival.
14. The Coulee Corridor
The Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway lies in the desert region of Washington State. It’s main feature is the Grand Coulee Dam, the “largest hydropower generating facility” in the USA and provides 75% of the Pacific Northwest’s power. The area has stunning scenery, with opportunities to explore areas like the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
15. North Cascades National Park and Highway The North Cascades are one of the most unspoiled tracts of country in the USA. Anglers, hikers, and nature lovers are all well catered for in the national park, A drive through the park is rewarded with fantastic views. Anyone wanting to experience highlights like Ross Lake at close quarters, however, be prepared to don their walking boots.
Mount Shuksan is one of the most picturesque mountains in the North Cascades National Park, near Mount Baker and the Mount Baker Ski Area.
The highway bisects North Cascades National Park and provides one of the most scenic routes in the country . The tree-lined drive starts out near Marblemount and winds up through the old town of Newhalem, passes gushing waterfalls like Gorge Creek Falls, and threads past dams and the reservoirs of Diablo Lake and Ross Lake. The route allows visitors to admire the natural beauty as well as man made attractions like the immense, electricity-producing dams. Tourists can stop at Washington Pass to photograph the jagged peaks of Liberty Bell Mountain and Early Winter Spires, among others. Note that some routes through the mountain are closed in winter months but the road to the Mount Baker Ski Resort is kept open for longer. At the southern tip of North Cascades National Park, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is home to one of the deepest lakes in the United States.
One of Washington’s largest state parks, Mount Spokane has miles of trails for hikers, bikers and equestrians to enjoy views of Kit Carson, Day Mountain, Mount Spokane or views across the Spokane Valley, the Idaho panhandle or Canada. Look out for giant moose ambling across the trail.
East of the Cascade Mountains, much of Washington State is less populated farmland. The weather is sunnier on this side of the mountains, but the tourist draws are also fewer and farther between. Spokane lies on the border with Idaho, and this major Washington city is a hub of attractions (parks especially) and amenities. A variety of gardens, including the Nishinomiya Japanese Garden, attract visitors to Spokane’s Manito Park.
The flowerbeds are particularly vibrant during summer. Spokane’s venue for the 1974 World’s Fair, Riverfront Park, now boasts a Ferris wheel, a hand-carved carousel made in 1909, and other amusement rides. And for the adventurous, there is skiing on Mount Spokane.
17. Palouse Falls
All visitors to the region should try and see Palouse Falls State waterfall. The Palouse River runs through a narrow cataract and drops 200 feet into a churning bowl and joins a swiftly moving current winding through gorges of basalt, to its southern end at the mighty Snake River.
18. The town of Winthrop Located on the North Cascades Scenic Byway in Washington’s magnificent Methow Valley, Winthrop is a an old wild west town with wood boardwalks and western charm. Winthrop is home to the oldest legal saloon in Washington state. If you are l;ooking for a weekend away then you can stay in a romantic cabin, a charming cottage or an elegant resort.
19. Whatcom Falls Park
Whatcom Falls Park is a 241-acre park in Bellingham, Washington, United States. The falls are on Whatcom Creek, which leads from Lake Whatcom to Bellingham Bay. The park has four sets of waterfalls and several miles of well maintained walking trails.
It’s a departure point for Mount Baker, but the university city of Bellingham is also a draw in its own right. For a quick introduction to this corner of the Pacific Northwest, stroll through Fairhaven Historic District and duck into local art galleries or catch some sun on a restaurant patio. Out of downtown, Western Washington University has amassed an excellent Outdoor Sculpture Collection, its campus dotted with works small and large. Another outdoor attraction is Whatcom Falls Park, with its four sets of falls and numerous walking trails. In the surrounding area, visitors can take scenic drives through the mass fields of Skagit Valley tulips in spring, or follow the twisting, narrow route of Chuckanut Drive year-round.
Washington is a state in the Pacific Northwest with terrain spanning the snow-capped Cascade Mountains to forested islands in Puget Sound. Its largest city, Seattle, is known for its thriving tech industry, vibrant music scene and famed coffeehouses. Its landmarks include the futuristic Space Needle, century-old Pike Place Market and Seattle Aquarium. Innovative glass art is displayed at Chihuly Garden & Glass.
From the Cascade Mountains westward, Western Washington has a mostly marine west coast climate, with mild temperatures and wet winters, autumns and springs, and relatively dry summers. The Cascade Range has several volcanoes, which reach altitudes significantly higher than the rest of the mountains. From north to south, these major volcanoes are Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams. All are active volcanoes. Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in the state, is 50 miles south of the city of Seattle, from which it is prominently visible.
Canada is the second largest country in the world and is renowned for it’s vast natural beauty and awesome untouched landscapes. It is the northern part of North America and extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Canada is made up of ten provinces and three territories, each very different and all very diverse. The vastness of Canada is reflected in its culture which is influenced by a wide range of nationalities and ethnicities that is neither French or British but a fascinating multicultural blend. In Quebec, for example there is a strong French cultural influence that is very distinct from that of English speaking Canada. The country is a mosaic of regional, aboriginal, and ethnic subcultures and although part of the British commonwealth it is technologically and economically closer to the USA.
If you are looking for somewhere to stay or explore then Canada offers you a wide range of vacation rental homes, villas, cabins, ski chalets or apartments for rent at anytime of year. From five bedroom mountainside Chalets in Whistler to vacation rentals in the heart of the city.
Because of its size and diversity it is not possible to summarise in a few words what the whole of the country has to offer visitors. Each region has to be taken separately. So if you are looking for a holiday homes to let in Canada that you can rent direct from owners then this guide may help or inspire you to stay or book a vacation rental from the hundreds we have listed in regions that can sometimes allow you to ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon.
Atlantic Provinces:New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island.
Rugged and sparsely populated, this is a region renowned for its natural beauty, particularly around coastal areas. Its largest city, Halifax, has the world’s second largest natural harbour, a unique maritime heritage and is the centre of a flourishing fishing and shipping industry. The people of the Atlantic Provinces are predominantly of Scottish and Irish descent and with a strong First Nations heritage. This region is well known for the unique accents of its people, a reminder of the Acadian French culture on Canada’s east coast.
Quebec is one of the most unique regions in Canada and North America as the majority of early settlers were French who settled as part of New France, this region is very much culturally and linguistically French-Canadian. Montreal is the second largest French speaking city in the world renowned for its grand classic architecture, its extensive underground shopping malls, cosmopolitan cafe and night life and French influenced cuisine. Montreal vacation rental accommodation can easily be found along with a diverse range of Holiday Home rentals in Quebec. For history and culture Quebec City is jewel of French style, architecture and famed for it’s annual Winter Festivals and activities.
This is Canada’s most populated province, Toronto, its capital, Canada’s largest city. Toronto has many ethnic groups and nationalities from around the world and many still retain their distinct language, customs, and food. As a result of this cultural mosaic, Toronto is home to many ethnic festivals throughout the year. The city is perhaps most famous for the CN Tower, the second tallest free standing structure, at over 500 metres tall, in North America. There is a glass elevator to the top with incredible views, and a glass floor – perhaps not for the faint hearted. There is also a revolving restaurant, which offers spectacular views as the sun sets over the city. There a many vacation rentals in Ontario and Toronto to choose from here.
Further afield there are the Great Lakes and Niagara Falls. Many of the main attractions are within walking distance if you get a hotel that is near the Falls with the rest easily accessible by transit bus. The Falls are illuminated every evening and there are regular firework displays during the week in the summer months.
Alberta is the second westernmost province of Canada. It includes parts of the Canadian Rockies and is most well known for its oil and natural gas and for cattle farming. Calgary, Alberta’s largest city is home to the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo.
Alberta is very diverse province, encompassing the wild grandeur the Rockies, the flat prairies which seem to stretch forever, to the wilderness of the northern forests. The Alberta Rockies include the world-renowned sites of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. Banff nestled in the mountains is located in Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the winter there is easy access to nearby ski areas. Jasper’s major attraction is the nearby Columbia Icefield with the spectacular Athabasca glacier. Lake Louise is a beautiful mountain lake in the middle of Banff National Park. It is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, and at the far end is a large glacier. Although the lake is quite isolated, it provides a magnificent setting for a luxury resort, the Chateaux Lake Louise.
The province of British Columbia is one of the most beautiful regions in Canada, both for those looking for nature and for those more in tune with city life. At the heart of British Columbia is the city of Vancouver, situated between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently ranked as one of the “best cities to live in” and is one of the most culturally diverse cities in North America and a vacation rentals in British Columbia Canada makes an ideal base to enjoy all it has to offer. It offers a wide variety of attractions from beaches to skiing – it is said of Vancouver that it is a place where one can swim in the morning and ski in the afternoon.
Self catering holiday rental homes and villas in Italy offer the visitor the ideal chance to enjoy the real Italy. A history and culture lover’s paradise with 1000’s of museums, churches and archeological sites dating back to ancient Roman times. Italy also offers beautiful scenery, rolling hills, lakes, fine food, wine, sunshine and beautiful coastlines.
Rome Holiday villa rentals in Rome the capital of Italy offers visitors the chance to enjoy one the most important tourist destinations in the world.
The city of Rome offers an abundance of historical, artistic and archaeological treasures such as the ancient Roman Colloseum and surrounding areas with beautiful views, parks, architecture and museums such as Musei Capitolini, the Vatican Museum, Galleria Borghese and many ancient and modern art exhibitions and events that can be enjoyed at your leisure when staying at a holiday rental in Rome.
Elegant Venetian buildings, villas and palaces abound over the ancient maze of narrow streets, bridges and labyrinth of canals that make up the unique city of Venice.
Tourists naturally flock to Venice to experience the charm, romance and history of Venice. A holiday home or vacation rental in Venice allows you to experience all that this city has to offer at your leisure.
The principal Tuscan city of Florence (Firenze) nestles below the wooded foothills of the Apennine hills, along the banks of the Arno River.
The city of Florence is famous as birthplace of renaissance art and artists that have contributed to the magnificent art, architecture and life of the city such as the work of Botticelli, Michelangelo, Bruneschelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Boccaccio, Alberti, Masaccio, Donatello, Vasari and Fra Angelico.
The city has become an inspiration to countless visitors from around the world and it is also the home to many stylish citizens who have added their own inimitable style and flair to the scenery and cobbled streets and piazzas of Florence. If you are looking for information on holiday homes and villas to rent in Tuscany to explore Florence and surrounding regions then you have come to the right place.
Villa Holidays in Italy
Italy is a beautiful country for a luxurious holiday home or villa rental where you can enjoy all the sensory pleasures available from art, architecture, history, culture, fashion, design, fast cars, slow food, mountains, lakes, countryside, beaches, hot Mediterranean sun and vibrant lifestyles, Italy has it all.
A holiday rental in Rome, Venice or Florence makes an ideal place to find out what has inspired visitors for centuries.
From the Alps and the beautiful lakes in the North through the Tuscan hills down to the smouldering volcano in Sicily Italy is a land that every traveller must visit at least once.
The Island of Sicily
There is a wide variety of holiday rental accommodation in Sicily to choose from that will allow you to tour Sicily and discover one of the oldest wine regions in the Europe. A tour to Sicily is incomplete without savouring an appetizing Sicilian drink! It is fairly difficult to put the beauty of Sicily into words. Spending holidays in Sicily gets much is now much better with world class holiday rental accommodation now available.
The city of Modica on the southern coast has been named a UNESCO Heritage site together with its surroundings. Modica claims to have Italy’s ideal chocolate having been introduced by the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500’s.
On the 23rd of March the city of Vittoria, situated near the southwestern coast presents the Feast of the Foundation, an exhibition of nearby wines.
With an abundance of self catering holiday rentals in France Holiday Villa Rentals offer a luxurious and spacious alternative to cramped hotels and make the ideal accommodation to explore the rich diversity of the various regions with all the comforts of home. We highly recommend booking a private holiday home or villa rentals in France.
Booking a self catering holiday rental home in France allows you to enjoy a much wider range of accommodation in some of the most beautiful rural and interesting residential locations all over France.
Our mini guide to France begins in the Dordogne where we have booked a Holiday Rental Gite in Brantome to explore one of the most beautiful and historic regions in France.
What to do in the Dordogne, Perigord and Aquitaine.
What better way to enjoy France than book a holiday rental gite in The Dordogne, or a holiday rental in Brantome the Venice of Perigord, whilst there you can visit the Benedictine Abbey, the troglodyte caves, the Friday markets, enjoy the river walks, boat trips, canoeing and waterside restaurants beside the mill stream and river Dronne and generally enjoying the mild weather in Brantome. Although there are many hotels in Brantome why not try a vacation rental gite and enjoy the real France in a 250 year old Maison Paysanne and holiday rental gite in Brantome.
Other places to visit nearby are: Bourdeilles, St Jean de Cole, Thiviers, Excideuil, Bergerac, Angouleme, Perigueux, Le Bugue, Riberac, La Mareuil and the Royal Oak British Pub.
Round and about Brantôme in the Dordogne
Brantôme is one of the most beautiful places in the Dordogne, but whilst you are there it is well worth making the effort to visit other places nearby. Some of these there are classified officially as ‘les plus beaux villages de France’, the prettiest villages in France. The closest are Bourdeilles and St-Jean-de-Cole.
A lovely village, 7km from Brantome, it is situated on the river Dronne and boasts a chateau, a moulin (mill), a medieval centre and many panoramic views. In the village there is the 15th century Maison de Seneschal with its lovely steep pointed roofs, also the Moulin Seigneurial which was fortified in the 12th century. Bourdeilles’ church dates back to the 12th century and on one side there is a lovely walk leading up to it with a cobbled path flanked by lawns and simple gardens and attractive stone, medieval houses.
Wandering around the village there are lots of beautiful spots. Down by the river there is an attractive stone bridge which was originally built in the 14th century but rebuilt in the 18th century following severe floods.
Every Sunday morning is market day at the Place de la Halle.
The chateau de Bourdeilles is a renowned historical monument. This former seat of a barony will delight history and art lovers. The chateau consists of two castles, built on a rocky terrace overlooking the Dronne, from different periods, one medieval, the other renaissance. The renaissance chateau is richly decorated and includes the “Salon Doré – the golden room, and a furniture collection of the 15th to 19th century. Inside the castle walls there is a garden area laid out in traditional formal French style – avenues of trees, clipped box hedges and neatly laid out grassy areas. Visiting the chateau and the small town around it makes for an excellent day trip.
St Jean de Cole
The small but very picturesque village of St Jean de Cole is 22km from Brantome and is well worth a visit.
It dates from the 11th century and was first settled by monks. It is a charming village with ochre coloured houses, including many half-timbered houses, and lovely tiled roofs which once won the ‘finest roofs in France’ competition. The village square is dominated by the 12th century Château de la Marthonie, which was reconstructed in the 15th century after being ravaged in the 100 Years War. There is a superb Roman-Byzantine church, built in the 11th century. There are restaurants, a hotel, and other shops. You can partake of a delicious lunch in one of the many quaint cafes and restaurants in the square. Every year in May and for the past 20 years, there is a floriale, a floral week-end which attracts many visitors from all over the world. There are works of art, crafts, local products, new floral varieties, rare plants, garden decorations, a …craft gallery, silk trade, painting and potter’s workshops, and exhibitions.
St Jean de Cole is situated on the meandering river Cole, a tributary of the Dronne. Its banks are still edged with trees and are home home to a variety of wild life; herons, crayfish, ducks and moor-hens, and fish of all kinds.
Spanning the river is a fifteenth century Romanesque hump-backed bridge beside a watermill. In the village itself the rue du Fond du Bourg has half-timbered houses reconstructed in the 14th century.
Grotte de Villars
The largest underground network in the Périgord, of which only 13 km have been explored to date. Seepage through the limestone rock has created one of the most beautiful natural settings with impressive calcite, stalactites, and stalagmites. Various chambers have also been hollowed out and at one of these there is a sound and light show where groups of stalactites and stalagmites are illuminated rendering them even more impressive. Prehistoric paintings dating back 17000 years have also been discovered. They are the authentic witness of the art of our ancestors (made long ago). They depict bison and horses covered with a thin layer of calcite that gives them a beautiful blue glaze.
As well as the caves there is a small cafe, a picnic area, a shop and a play area on the site. There is also a video explaining the formation of the caves. The visit to the caves is by guided tour only with an English commentary. Each tour takes about 45minutes.
Grotte de Villars is 14km from Brantome.
Perigueux, 20km from Brantome, is the capital of the Dordogne department and is situated on the Isle river, a tributary of the Dordogne.
It has been in existence since neolithic times, and later became an important Roman centre. The town suffered a great deal in the Middle Ages through the Hundred Years War and then had a ‘rebirth’ and much construction dates from the 16th century. Perigueux continued to be an important centre for the region from the 18th century onwards, Each of these periods has left its mark on the town. From Roman times, there is the Vesone Tower and the remains of an amphitheatre, whilst the Chateau Barrière dates from the early middle ages.
Perigueux also contains an interesting medieval and renaissance centre, with attractive boulevards and streets lined with medieval houses to explore – these are concentrated in the region around the Byzantine style Cathedral Saint Front, which also retains its attractive arched cloisters. Its cluster of domes can be seen all around the city. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a Greek cross ground plan based on St Mark’s cathedral in Venice. It is also the model for the Sacré Coeur church on the top of the hill at Montmartre in Paris.
Saint-Etienne church (once a cathedral) dates largely from the 16th century when it was reconstructed, although parts of the earlier church on the same site can still be seen.
The main sights of Perigueux can be seen on an easy walk around the city centre. One of many attractive spots in Perigueux to sit outside and enjoy a coffee or stop for lunch is the Place de Navarre with its 16th century buildings. Nearby on the Rue Aubergerie is the 15th century fortified Abzac de Ladouze residence and also on the street the Sallegourde building – both homes to wealthy merchants in the 15th century.
There is a daily market for fresh fruit and vegetables on Place du Coderec with its 19th century covered market. Also on the square is the Maison Lapeyre with an overhanging turret and a charming half-timbered house.
Rue Limogeanne is probably the highlight of Perigueux, a lovely street full of interesting buildings with inner courtyards, ornate carvings around windows or doors and full of atmosphere.
Angoulême and Cognac
Although not in the Perigord region, it’s also worth visiting Angoulême in the Charente to see its charming old town, and then beyond it to Cognac, where it is possible to visit some of the brandy producers there.
Angoulême is encircled by boulevards above the old city walls, known as the Remparts, from which fine views may be obtained in all directions. Within the town the streets are often narrow and the “old town” has been preserved, maintained and largely reserved for pedestrians. It has a cobbled restaurant quarter, with several galleries and boutiques. St Peter’s Cathedral dating from the 11th and 12th centuries is in the Romanesque style and has undergone frequent restoration. The hôtel de ville, is a handsome 19th-century structure and incorporates two towers of the château of the Counts of Angoulême. It contains museums of paintings and archaeology.
The Circuit des Remparts motor racing event in Angoulême, with its street circuit around the ramparts is held the Sunday of the mid weekend in September. It is also the world’s largest gathering of pre-war Bugatti race cars usually around 30 cars. British vintage and classic cars are also on show all over the town, most having been driven to the event. The Saturday of the “Remparts” weekend includes a tourist rally (as opposed to a speed event) for classic and sporting cars, around the Cognac area.
Perigord’s gastronomy enjoys a great reputation. The two great stars of Périgord cuisine are foie gras and truffles (truffes), There are also walnuts and chestnuts, wild mushrooms, the little flat discs of goat’s cheese called cabécou and the sweet light bread called fougasse. Wine from Monbazillac and Bergerac is excellent.
Duck is used both for foie gras and for confits de canard. The duck is cooked and preserved in its own fat as confits which can either be eaten on its own or used in the preparation of other dishes such as cassoulet, another regional favourite. Magret de canard, or duck breast fillet, is one of the favourite ways of eating duck and appears on practically every restaurant menu.
Perigueux is just 25 minutes away and worth visiting too, especially if you want to do a big shop at the large supermarket complex Auchan, just 5 minutes away from the town.
To experience the real France we feel you must come and stay and enjoy some of the holiday homes, villas and gites in Dordogne.
Staying in popular regions of Greece and the Greek Islands, Crete, Rhodes, Aegean islands, Ionian Islands, Peloponnese, Evia, Corfu, Kos, Santorini, Kefalonia and the Halkidiki penisula.
There are more Islands in Greece than one would ever have time to visit but the largest Island is Crete and there are at least 200 other inhabited islands scattered around the mainland that offer accommodation or holiday homes to let in Greece. The Islands of Greece are grouped into various groups of islands: The Argo-Saronic Islands in the Saronic gulf near Athens, the Cyclades, the North Aegean islands off the west coast of Turkey, the Dodecanese between Crete and Turkey, the Sporades off the coast of Euboea, and the Ionian Islands, to the West in the Ionian Sea, the Peloponnese Peninsula and part of the Attica region that is still considered part of the Ionian Islands.
The Peloponnese, is a large peninsula, located in southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth. Originally a peninsula connected to the rest of the country by the Isthmus of Corinth, it is now cut off from the mainland by the narrow Corinth Canal, spanned by bridges connecting the Peloponnese to mainland Greece.
The Peloponnese possesses many important archaeological sites dating from the Bronze Age through to the Middle Ages. Among the most notable are the ancient city of Corinth where St Paul lived and taught, Epidaurus, an ancient religious and healing centre), now a picturesque seaside village, with one of the most famous of ancient theatres which still stages plays. Monemvasia is a medieval fortress-town, Greece’s Gibraltar. Mycenae is a fortress-town dating from the mycenean period with amazing views across the Argolid to the Saronic Gulfs. Olympia, the site of the Ancient Olympic Games and home to a sacred sanctuary dedicated to Zeus.
The town of Kalamata is famous for its olives but is also a pleasant city with an attractive seafront and stylish new marina. Nafplio is a beautiful seaport town and a good base to explore the surrounding area, such as Epidaurus and Mycenae.
The island of Evia, second largest of the Greek islands is located off the eastern coast of Central Greece. With stunning landscapes and scenery, bringing together mountains, beautiful ravines and forests and the beautiful blue crystal waters of the Aegean Sea, it provides an exciting and interesting holiday villa and vacation rental destinations.
There are many beautiful villages and towns scattered all across this charming island, each offering visitors an insight into both the past and present traditions of this unique and picturesque island. There are many different activities that visitors can enjoy, such as hiking, water sports, horse riding, climbing, mountain biking and many others. For those who simply enjoy the beach and the sea, Evia has some wonderful beaches all around the island. For a day trip, Athens is in easy proximity.
The island of Corfu, known also as Kerkyra, is the northernmost of the Ionian Islands. It is located off the far northwest coast of Greece, east of Italy and southwest of Albania.
Historically Corfu has been controlled by many foreign powers, notably the Venetians and their legacy is visible in the form of castles in strategic locations across the island. Two of these castles enclose its capital, also called Corfu, which is the only city in Greece to be surrounded in such a way. There is much Italianate style architecture with multi-storied buildings on narrow lanes. Corfu Town is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. There was a short period of British rule following the Napoleonic Wars, the legacy of which is cricket and ginger beer.
The north of the island is wider and more mountainous. The coastal areas are well developed with good pebbly beaches. The south of the island is less wide (only a few miles across from west to east) and tends to have sandier beaches.
The Achilleion is a palace about ten kilometres to the south of Corfu town. It was built by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The palace was designed with the mythical hero Achilles as its central theme. Benitses is well worth visiting, it is a very old, traditional fishing village, 12 km south of Corfu Town. The mild climate and the natural beauty of Benitses village has made it very popular with visitors. Messonghi beach has a gentle current, clean water with sand and pebbles and plenty of little fish, it is ideal for children and families.
For the more adventurous, there are day trips to Sarande in Albania which can be combined with an excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint.
Kefalonia or Cephalonia
The island of Kefalonia or Cephalonia as it is also known, is now perhaps best known as the setting for the book and the film ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’, it is the largest of the Ionian Islands in western Greece. It is renowned for its breathtaking natural scenery with lush forests, breathtaking mountains and high cliffs dropping down to an azure sea. Renting a boat and spending the day visiting secluded beaches reachable only in this way is a popular holiday activity. Horse-riding into the mountains, through ruined villages and ancient vineyards, is another. In the remote western corner of the island there are small villages and private beaches where a centuries old monastery can be found. There are also fascinating geological phenomena, vast underground water networks, subterranean lakes and stalactite encrusted caverns.
Kos, one of the islands of the Dodecanese group, is located in the south-eastern Aegean Sea and is just 3 miles from the coast of Turkey. It is famous for its rich vegetation and its temperate climate. The ancient physician Hippocrates is thought to have been born on Kos, and in the centre of the town is the Plane Tree of Hippocrates where the physician is traditionally supposed to have taught. A short distance from Kos Town, at the slopes of a low mount with a view of Turkey, is the ancient complex of Asclepius (known as the god of medicine and healing in ancient Greek religion).
The castle of the Knights of Saint John is situated at the entrance of Kos harbour on what used to be an island in antiquity. There are at least two excellent beaches – Tigaki a sandy beach of the northern coast backed by a verdant valley with crystal clear waters and Agios Theologos with beautiful creeks and rocky coves is ideal for sunbathing and windsurfing. Delicious meals of fresh fish can be had at the local tavernas.
The island of Santorini in the southern Aegean Sea is about 200 km southeast from the Greek mainland. It is the southernmost member of the Cyclades group of islands. Santorini is the remnant of a volcanic caldera with a giant central lagoon surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides. The capital, Fira, clings to the top of the cliff looking down on the lagoon. The town is a marriage of Venetian and Cycladic architecture, whose white cobblestone streets bustle with shops, tavernas, hotels and cafes.
Santorini is famous for dramatic views and stunning sunsets and you can find many holiday rental homes and villas in Oia with beautiful views across the bay. There are also many fantastic beaches such as the beach of Perissa, maybe the best beach in Santorini, and the black pebble beach of Kamari. Outside of the towns can be found beautiful countryside where tradition still survives, cave houses, gardens, vineyards, small family business, and tiny churches. The walk along the caldera from Fira to Oia is spectacular and highly recommended.
Halkidiki is a peninsula in northern Greece, part of the region of Macedonia. The peninsula has three prongs. Kassandra, the westernmost prong of Halkidiki, is the most popular and populated. The easternmost prong is the autonomous Mount Athos region, the spiritual centre of the Greek Orthodox and a living monument to Byzantine culture but which is restricted to visitors.
Halkididki has rolling hills with lush vegetation, white beaches and a sandy, rocky coastline fringed by pine forests. It is wonderful for those who love mountains and pure air. Paths for mountain biking and walking cut their way through the forests of pine, oak, fir and chestnut trees, with many springs rushing from the mountain sides. There are some unique archaeological sites, including Olynthus Stágeira, the birthplace of Aristotle, Doric sanctuary of Zeus near Kallithea and the small chapel of Agios Panteleimon with very fine murals.
The town of Kallithea, a very cosmopolitan resort with great beaches is 90 km from Thessaloniki, the capital of Greek Macedonia. Ideally situated on the Kassandra peninsula, Kallithea is great base for day trips throughout the entire Halkidiki peninsula.
For more information about visiting or booking a vacation rental in Greece or any of these areas please contact us or browse through our growing list of holiday homes and villas in Greece. The Island of Crete The largest island in Greece it provides some spectacular locations for holiday homes and villas in Crete as the climate makes it an ideal place for renting a holiday home at almost any time of the year. Located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea it is the most populous of the Greek islands. It provides a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece but retains its own local cultural traits such as its own poetry, and music. It has an exquisite 1,000 kilometer-long coastline dotted with numerous coves, bays and peninsulas that offer splendid vistas to drive along especially on the West Coast at sunset and a multitude of soft, sandy beaches along the beautifully blue Mediterranean Sea including the spectacular island of Elafonisos in the South East that one can walk or wade across the pink sand to get to see a truly unique ecological treasure of an island. There are also many beautiful historic towns to see while following the rugged twists and turns of the awe inspiring old roads that traverse it’s mountainous interior or lead you along old road from Kissamos to Elafonisos and up along the high coastal roads to view the sunset dipping down over the bays. It is a place of extreme contrasts going from fertile coastal plains covered in olive groves to snow capped mountains and from busy metropolitan cities to very peaceful hillside homes. Crete is a quite distinct place which is full of vitality, warmth and hospitality. Holiday Home Lets can even offer you a villa rental in Crete with it’s own wine cellar and distillery and open air restaurant for a true taste of authentic Cretian hospitality and cuisine from a local owner and or a villa with pool with panoramic views of the Sea or on a beach side resort.
A holiday home or villa rental in Crete with it’s rich landscape and snow peaked white mountains makes a truly wonderful place to visit both for a Mediterranean beach holiday and as a place to explore the rich history, culture and hospitality on offer.
Crete has a rich mythology mostly connected with the ancient Greek gods but also connected with the Minoan civilization. On mount Ida can be found the birthplace of the god Zeus. Crete was the centre of the Minoan civilization (c. 2700–1420 BC), the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. The ruins of this civilization can be found in the reconstructed palace at Knossos, whose labyrinth is the location where the Minotaur was slain by Theseus.
Crete has a good infrastructure so travelling around the island is relatively easy. This allows for visits to a variety of landscapes in relatively short distances. The island has a number of gorges, such as the famous gorge of Samaria, an amazing but long six hour hike through one of the most impressive places in Europe. In contrast, the southern coast of Rethimnon has beautiful beaches, many accessible only on foot. Ierapetra has the distinction of being the southernmost town facing the African coast and enjoys the best weather in Europe, with a temperature that rarely drops below 12 C all year long. Also well worth a visit is Chania, a delightful port town on the north west coast, with an atmosphere reflecting its Venetian and Turkish past. The old town is centered around the harbour and it’s many restaurants where you can enjoy the beautiful light rippling around the bay or wander around the surrounding maze of alleys and houses that have been standing for many hundreds of years with details from all the different epochs including the Turkish Mosque that dominates the Venetian harbour of Chania. Throughout Crete you can clearly see remnants of Roman and Turkish aqueducts and architecture from long ago occupations.
Crete is famous for its tasty and healthy cuisine. It was the subject of a study that revealed its great health benefits and nutritional value. The population has a low incidence of heart attacks and cancers. This cuisine can be found in most traditional Cretan cafes where traditional music is also likely to be found along with large quantities of tsikoudia or raki, the predominant alcoholic beverage produced and consumed by the locals. But be careful it can be up to 45% proof and will often be given by the host at the end of a meal.
Crete, with a population of approximately 650,000, is not just sun, sea and sand; and of course an excellent infrastructure. Crete is well known for its seas and beaches but it has a very contrasting landscape. No doubt Ierapetra, “the bride of the Libyan sea”, is the sunniest holiday resort in Europe.
Internet Villa Holidays has hundreds of unpublished listings of holiday homes and villas in Crete and Greece so please contact us directly with details about what you are looking for, and where, and we will send you further information.
Thailand is an enchanting country featuring Buddhist temples, exotic fauna and flora, Thai elephants and many beautiful islands and beaches. It has a fascinating history with unique Buddhist culture. Thai food and restaurants are now renowned throughout the world. The people are friendly and welcoming and epitomize Thailand as the ‘land of smiles’. Thailand offers a great variety of attractions. These include diving sites, sandy beaches, hundreds of tropical islands, varied night-life, archaeological sites, museums, hill tribes, exceptional flora and bird life, palaces, a huge amount of Buddhist temples and several World Heritage sites. During your stay you can follow courses popular classes in Thai cooking, Buddhism and even traditional Thai massage.Thailand holiday homes and Villas offer visitors the perfect base to explore all that Thailand in a self catering holiday rental accommodation in most sought after areas.Anyone going to Thailand is likely to first visit Bangkok with its many historical, natural and cultural sights. However it is well worth making the effort to also visit the southern beaches and islands and the north of Thailand which is the main region for trekking and adventure travel with its diverse ethnic minority groups and forested mountains.Bangkok is a tropical metropolis that is also one of the most traveller friendly cities in Asia. It is renowned for its main shopping malls, offering an astounding variety of international and local brands. “Chatuchak Weekend Market” is possibly the largest market in the world, selling everything from household items to live animals. The “Pratunam Market” specializes in fabrics and clothing. The night markets sell items such as T-shirts, handicrafts, counterfeit watches and sunglasses. In the vicinity of Bangkok one can find several visually stunning floating markets. There are exotic orchids and delicious fruit everywhere with bougainvillea and frangipani blooming all over the city. The justifiably famous Thai cuisine is varied and affordable.Most of Bangkok’s sights are concentrated in the “Old City”. There are hundreds of temples, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun being the best known. The Wat Phra Kaew houses the Emerald Buddha, the most sacred Buddha image of Thailand.Ayutthaya is 76 kilometres north of Bangkok and boasts numerous magnificent ruins of temples and palaces. Its proximity to Bangkok make it a popular day-trip destination. Ayutthaya was one of Southeast Asia’s (and probably the world’s) most prosperous cities in the 17th Century and beyond. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kanchanaburi is of interest as the sight of the bridge over the River Kwai, the start of the infamous World War II ‘death railway’ to Burma.
Pattaya is a seaside resort on the eastern coast of Thailand, about 150 km southeast of Bangkok. It is mostly known for its go-go bars, but efforts have been made to provide more family-friendly attractions and activities.
Phuket is Thailand’s largest island 862 kilometres south of Bangkok. It is in the on the west facing the Andaman Sea. At one time the island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China. In recent times, tourism has transformed the island into Thailand’s wealthiest province. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, yachting, jet-skiing and para-sailing are the most popular activities on the island. Other activities include free-diving, windsurfing, kite surfing, wake boarding and deep sea fishing.
Koh Samui is an island of great natural beauty and variety. The palm fringed shoreline and coconut and fruit cultivation of the coastal lowlands rise to a central granite massive, the slopes of which are cloaked in virgin rain forest.
Chiang Mai, the northern capital of Thailand, is located more than 700km northwest of Bangkok. Surrounded by mountains with legendary, mystical attributes, it is a quaint, moated and walled city with more than 300 temples making the old city centre visually striking. As well as being culturally rich and diverse, Chiang Mai has fantastic handicraft shopping, delicious food and proximity to many natural treasures.
Portugal holiday info and destination guide
Portugal is situated in south-western Europe, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south and sharing the Iberian peninsula with Spain to the north and east. The Azores and Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean are also a part of Portugal. The climate is Mediterranean and it is one of the warmest European countries. In mainland Portugal, yearly temperature averages are about 15°C (55°F) in the north and 18°C (64°F) in the south.
Portugal has lately seen a an increase in popularity as a tourist destination and also a significant increase in prosperity.
It has everything to offer the visitor, a rich, unique culture, lively cities and beautiful countryside with outstanding landscape diversity. It is possible to travel from green mountains in the North, covered with vines and all varieties of trees to rocky mountains, with spectacular slopes and falls in the Central Portugal, to a near-desert landscape in the Alentejo region and finally to the glamorous beach holidaysdestination of the Algarve – and all this in a single day. For those who like to combine their holiday with leisure and sport, Portugal is a golfing haven with an excellent golfing infrastructure. Fourteen of Portugal’s courses are rated in the top 100 best in Europe.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal, its contemporary culture is alive and thriving, making it one of the most ‘happening’ places in Europe today.
Stretching along the northern bank of the river Tejo and perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Lisbon is a city that uses water as a defining element where as the land rises away from the water, steep streets and stairways form the old tangled neighbourhoods or give way to squares and green parks. It is an enchanting city with its white bleached limestone buildings, intimate alleyways and an easy going charm mixed with a nostalgia reflected in the traditional music of the fado performed in cafes and small night clubs in the old quarter of the city, the Alfama district. Still bearing signs of a long ago Moorish presence in the city, the buildings are very close to each other with irregular streets, winding alleys and the azulejo-covered crumbling walls of ancient buildings. It is a great place in which to wanderaround.
For people watching the Rossio, the main square in Lisbon, and the equivalent of London’s Trafalgar Square is the meeting place for locals and a great way to experience the lively city life of Lisbon.
Other ‘must-sees’ in any visit to Lisbon are the Belem Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery, the Monument to the Discoveries and the Cristo Rei, which is similar to the Christ statue in Rio de Janeiro, standing over 100 meters tall on the opposite bank of the Tejo from downtown Lisbon.
Further afield but within an easy day trip from Lisbon is Estoril. Here you will find a coastline with fabulous beaches interspersed with impressive cliffs overlooking the Atlantic. It used to be the playground of European royalty and this glamorous past is reflected in its many gardens, villas and palaces. Estoril is renowned nowadays for its fresh fish and seafood restaurants, the Estoril Spa, renowned for its regenerative therapies, the Casino Estoril, the largest in Europe, and its golf courses where it is considered one of the top destinations.
Porto is the second largest city, the capital of the historic region of northern Portugal. Porto is above all renowned for the production of port wine but it is also a busy industrial and commercial centre. It has a semi-Mediterranean climate, but it can be cooler than other cities with this climate because it is strongly affected by the Atlantic Ocean. The city is built along hills that overlook the Douro river estuary. It has a historical centre whose buildings are granite and monumental unlike other major Portuguese cities which tend towards the baroque. It has UNESCO World Heritage status.
Coimbra is a small university city full of interesting places. The medieval centre of Coimbra is wonderful for just wandering around in and getting lost there is a pleasure. It is unusual in still having a number of independent bookshops, boutiques, toyshops, galleries, antique shops, restaurants and interesting museums.
Evora is the largest city in the central Alentejo region. It has a magnificent cathedral and cloisters and its historic centre also has UNESCO World Heritage listing.
The Algarve is the southernmost region of Portugal, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It has stunning coastlines, wonderful beaches and excellent golf courses. The water along its coastline tends to be warmer and calmer than the water along the west coast. In winter, it is a beautiful, peaceful corner of southern Europe with plenty of sun bleaching its white-washed towns with their Iberian and Moorish-influenced architecture. Faro is the regional capital and is a popular destination. There is an impressive beach party and night life but many visitors might prefer to use Faro as a base to explore the more
remote areas of the Algarve in the off-season. Albufeira, once a small fishing village, has now developed into being a very touristic area but it does have lovely beaches, a very good climate, and many restaurants, bars and pubs. Algarve holiday homes and villas can be found near some of the most popular beaches and may offer access to some of the finest golf courses in the region.
Madeira is 310 miles from the African coast and 620 miles from the European continent. It is known worldwide as the island of eternal spring, or the Garden Island. It has a mild if rather wet climate throughout the year. Funchal, the island’s capital is home to resorts, gorgeous panoramas and lots of local colour. ‘Must-sees’ with any visit to Madeira are the levadas, an impressive system of aqueducts started in the 15th century to bring water from the mountains to farmlands, Cabo Girão, one of the world’s highest ocean cliffs, the magnificent gardens of the Jardim do Monte Palace and the Jardim Orquídea orchid gardens, for which Madeira is justly renowned.
A holiday home or villa in Madeira would be the perfect base for a holiday on the Portuguese island of Madeira.