St Petersburg is an ideal holiday destination to enjoy magnificent Russian architecture.  Located near the river Neva, the Russian city exudes timeless charm.  Known as the ‘City of the Tsars’ due to its rich past, St Petersburg offers a range of splendid attractions for tourists.

Attractions

St Petersburg has all the elements for an interesting holiday: grand Russian architecture, great art, a rich history, wonderful cultural traditions and amazing nightlife all combine to give tourists the opportunity to have a wonderful time in the city.  This cultural capital of Russia offers visitors the chance to enjoy musical concerts, operas, ballet performances and a host of other exciting activities.

St Petersburg preserves its rich heritage in a protected manner, which is why the city has only three skyscrapers, all of which are located away from the historical centre of the place.  Among the famous landmarks of St Petersburg are the Winter Palace, the Russian Museum, Peter and Paul Fortress, the Admiralty, the bridges on the Neva, the Museum of Artillery and Saint Isaac’s Cathedral.

Visitor information

St Petersburg is located in the northwest of Russia.  The city is easy to access by aeroplane.  Pulkovo international airport connects the city to other international destinations.  The city’s Moskovsky railway station is a terminal station serving routes to many parts of the country and beyond.

The city of St Petersburg experiences a humid continental climate.  The summers are humid and hot while the winters are wet and cold.  The best time to visit the city is during the summer months of July and August.

Peter and Paul Fortress, St. Petersburgh

Picture: Roger Wollstadt


Switzerland is a beautiful country and one which many people only think of in the skiing season, and it is true that it has wonderful ski towns and villages, but if you want to see the country, summer is the best time to go. Easily accessible by rail, City breaks can be very rewarding and one of the best has to be the Swiss capital Bern.

The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site it has some of the best shopping arcades to be found anywhere and is situated on the loop of the River Aare featuring delightful river side restaurants and cafes. The old town, or more correctly the original medieval section, boasts wonderful fountains, sandstone facades, narrow streets and historic towers which are unique.

Delightful boutiques and many bars of the old town, some of which are located in vaulted cellars, and the small street cafes are a favourite with the locals and of course the tourist population. A spectacular sight is to be seen in the Rose Garden above the Old Town and features no less than 223 variety of rose, 200 irises and 28 differing rhododendron are featured. Whilst there and for a dining experience, visit the Restaurant Rosengarten, you will not be disappointed with either the international cuisine or the spectacular views from the terrace.

As with most Swiss towns public transport is excellent, but to really enjoy the beauty exploration is best done on foot. The city centre has numerous squares and it is here that traditional markets are held weekly, well worth a look. Bern is easy to reach by many means of transport, car, or air but for those preferring rail, you can take advantage of the dense rail network with its direct connections to the major European cities.

Bern is a good base from which you can take advantage of the many excursions through this lovely country.

Bern

Picture: eastside06


Amsterdam at any time is a popular place with many on the main continent of Europe, but for many British citizens it does not seem at have the same appeal. This is a mistake, for Amsterdam is a great place to have a break in the summer months particularly. First time visitors are surprised to find that the city has lots to offer, mall enough to walk or cycle almost anywhere you want, but it is rarely dull.

It has a collection of delightful buildings, canals and charming bridges, along with some top rated museums, not forgetting for the serious music lover, one of the finest orchestras in the world. The canals have to be one of the main attractions and a good way to see these and the city is to hire a pedalo or go on a ride in a glass roofed boat. This way you can see in detail the view of Amsterdam’s historic gabled buildings. Alternatively go on foot, the best section is probably the Jordaan district, to the west of the city centre.

Parks are a fine feature of Amsterdam and the pick is probably Vondelpark opened in 1865, this one alone attracts about ten million visitors a year! In summer here you can see entertainment at the Openluchttheatre, a venue for dramatic performances and live music, in the centre of the park. Amsterdam has its own speaker’s corner too at the Oosterpak with its very own English garden.

The centre and historical part of Amsterdam is Dam Square with buskers and puppet shows and many notable building surrounding the square. The Royal Palace is here too and the 15th century national monument dominates the east part of the square. Just 400 yards away from the Dam you will find solitude at the Begijnhof. This little courtyard is enclosed by old houses and here you can spend a few moments of quiet solitude away from the bustle of the city centre.

Amsterdam is worth a visit at any time of year, but summer really brings out the best in this old city.

Amsterdam

Picture: Moyan_Brenn


When we think of Portugal, naturally the Algarve springs to mind and with very good reason, after all it is a superb place to spend two weeks swimming in clear blue seas and enjoying the delights that the fishermen bring to our restaurant tables. However there is another side to Portugal and spending thirty six hours in fascinating Lisbon will quickly show you this.

This delightful jewel is set against the superb Atlantic Ocean and never seems to shake off  delightful manners and traditions. Marvel at the century-old wooden trams and iron funiculars that clatter their way around the city and climb among the seven steep hills over which this city lies. Wander through the past in the Baixa district; here you will see haberdashers and tailors, gaze into the shops of time honoured old herbalists, amongst the ancient baroque streets of an ornate city centre.

Another feature of Lisbon is the climate which you should find neither over hot and it will never be really cold either. August is not a particularly good time to visit Lisbon though as the locals shut down most of the city and head away to the coast; it can be quite humid at this time of year.

Take in the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos which is a monastery that was built commemorate Vasco da Gama’s landing in India, the Gothic chapel is an absolute must here. For a mere €2.50  you can catch the wooden tram which runs every fifteen minutes and delight as it rumbles along through the streets and past churches and castles.

The maritime connection of Portugal is featured in the iconic Torre de Belem which is a gothic tower and stands over the River Tejo continuing to watch over the entrance to the harbour, accessing the tower gives wonderful views of the Atlantic Ocean. There is so much to see with restaurants and food to sample on a thirty six hour trip to Lisbon, you will certainly arrange to return.

Mosteiro dos Jeronimos

Picture: Linnie


Floating markets used to be necessary in locations where the population lived on or near the water. However, as times changed, many have become tourist attractions. Some of the most colourful markets are located in Thailand, notably in Bangkok.

The Taling Chan floating market is close to Bangkok and is only open at the weekend. Fish, fruit and vegetables are sold from boats and visitors can take tours around the local canals. The original floating markets ceased to be a way of life for the Thai people long ago, but the Taling Chan market was opened in 1987, as a tourist attraction.

Damnoen Saduak is the most popular of Bangkok’s floating markets. An hour by bus from Bangkok, travellers are taken to the market in ornately decorated boats. Along with fruit and vegetables, vendors sell souvenirs, coconut pancakes and boat noodles.

Visitors who do not wish to try haggling with the stallholders can still enjoy the atmosphere by taking a guided tour of Taling Chan and Damnoen Saduak markets. Tours also take travellers to the floating markets at Bang Ku Wiang and Tha Kha.


Istanbul is Turkey’s biggest city and has an estimated population of around 15 million. It is also the most popular place for tourists who visit Turkey because of its culture and architecture. Situated on both sides of the Bosphorus, a strait between the Black Sea and the Marmara Sea, Istanbul bridges the gap between Europe and Asia, and it shows in the city’s culture and design.

Travelling around the city can be difficult unless you have a transport map and most train/bus services have various transfers to get to certain places. If your staying for a few days or more it is recommended that you buy a Istanbulkart. This plastic card can be used on busses, trains, metros and local ferries throughout the city and can be refilled when needed.

There are many historic and religious places to visit while in the city, including the Hagia Sophia a Roman built basilica dating back to the 6th century and Sultanahmet Camii aka the Blue Mosque famous for its blue tiled interior and exquisite design.

Other places of interest include the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Art which houses a range of historic carpets, rugs and pottery from civilizations past and Gülhane Park with its spectacular scenery.

Shopaholics will also have fun in Istanbul and one of the must sees is the Grand Bazaar. It has approximately 4400 shops along its walkways where you can find just about anything from spices to handmade Turkish ceramics.

Istanbul is a city of discovery that you’ll have to visit again and again.


Park Guell contains the remnants of a ‘garden city’ designed by the famous Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi.  It is located in Barcelona, Spain.  The park is situated at the top of the hill of El Carmel which affords visitors views of the city and the unfinished Sagrada Familia, which was also designed by Gaudi.  Park Guell takes its name from Count Eusebi Guell who commissioned the design, which was intended as a residential suburb with 60 houses.

The structures and landscaping which can be seen today were constructed between 1900 and 1914.  As time went on, it became obvious that there was little interest in buying the houses, so the park was finally acquired by the city of Barcelona in 1923.

Visitors to the park are treated to streets, paths, seating and buildings which all carry the stamp of Gaudi’s visionary designs.  Gaudi himself lived in one of the houses.  The park features a range of designs and unusual shapes, the most impressive being the serpent-shaped seating area made of thousands of mosaic tiles.  The comfortable shape of the seat is said to be a result of Gaudi ordering a workman to plant his naked bottom in wet plaster.

Other features of Park Guell include an iron gazebo, columns that resemble the trunks of palm trees, and fountains and archways.  There is a grinning dragon draped on the stairs near the entrance, which invites visitors to give it a friendly pat on the head.

Entry to Park Guell is free, and visitors can gain access by bus or underground railway.  There is a small fee to visit a museum which has examples of Gaudi’s art.  The hill on which the park resides is quite steep, and exploring the park entails some uphill hiking.  Even though the park is usually full of tourists, many visitors place it among the best parks in Europe.


Quebec, Canada is full of amazing sights.  There are museums, architectural delights, parks and natural wonders.  Some of the province’s favourite destinations are the gardens.  The creators of the gardens of Quebec are a blend of the best of the English and French horticultural customs and practices. 

An unusual feature of Quebec is the Parc Aquarium in Quebec City.  This garden contains waterfalls, rock gardens and ponds which showcase some of the region’s native flora.  The aquarium has almost 10,000 aquatic creatures including seals, walruses and a polar bear.  Another unusual garden is the Montreal Insectarium which has many collections of live and dead insects on display.

Some of Quebec City’s gardens were originally planted by the owners of splendid private estates.  The Villa Bagatelle has a range of interesting plants on display in an English garden setting.  The Domaine Maizerets is a park which includes a 17th century chateau.  The garden is open all year, with a pool, concerts and a bike path in the summer, and skiing and skating during the winter.

Another garden adorning a family manor is the Mackenzie King Estate in Chelsea, which was the summer home of William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Canadian prime minister in the early 20th century.  The estate covers 231 hectares in the centre of Gatineau Park.

Finally, the Montreal Botanic Garden is amongst the biggest in the world.  The garden features ten greenhouses and 30 themed gardens which include a Japanese Zen Garden, and a Chinese Garden complete with pagodas.  Like many of the gardens of Quebec, Montreal Botanic Garden is an attraction to which many visitors find themselves returning.


A popular alternative to staying in a hotel is to find a bed and breakfast.  With many of the facilities that can be found in hotels available in a reasonably priced B&B, it makes perfect sense to tourists.  In London, this type of accommodation is especially sought after, not least because of the local knowledge B&B owners are renowned for possessing.  B&Bs may not serve evening meals, but London’s vast selection of restaurants featuring every imaginable cuisine from all over the world means that it is not likely the guest will have far to venture in their quest for dinner.  The relaxed atmosphere, characteristic of a bed and breakfast, is one of the many advantages to the visitor.

A great bed and breakfast London offers the tourist is the Jesmond Dene hotel, with rail and Underground links readily accessible at the nearby London St Pancras International railway station for that all-important excursion into the heart of the city.  Groups and families are catered for, with a range of large rooms, as well as apartments.

Once settled in the Jesmond Dene, the visitor can avail him or herself of everything on offer in London.  Theatre fans will love the West End, whilst those interested in history will be delighted to see the Tower of London, St Paul’s Cathedral, and the Houses of Parliament.  There are plenty of attractions for the art lover, too, with galleries such as the Tate Modern and the National Portrait Gallery featuring internationally renowned exhibitions.  Concerts can be enjoyed at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and Ronnie Scott’s, as well as smaller venues across London.  There are plenty of guides available with listings of everything that is happening, so it is highly unlikely that visitors will miss out on their favourite pastime whilst spending some time in London.


Situated in a location that has been the home of eight successive cities, India’s capital Delhi is the epitome of the seemingly constant evolution within the country at large.  It is, in every essence, a buzzing metropolis that acts as a magnet for people from across India and around the world.  It is home to a rapidly expanding population of 13 million people and a marvellous eclectic mix of modern suburbs and ancient temples, tombs, and ruins dating back many centuries.  There are some parts where the remains of entire long-forgotten cities lie amongst houses and thoroughfares built within the last few years. The result is a fascinating environment with enough interest for tourists to spend weeks, or even months, exploring.

As a first location to visit in India, Delhi is an ideal choice.  The city is well accustomed to foreigners, and has hotels across the price range geared to dealing with visitors of all kinds.  It is a truly cosmopolitan location and a haven for experienced travellers from around the globe.  Within the city there is an endless variety of entertainment.  Aside from the abundance of historical locations, Delhi is also home to a host of art treasures, museums, crafts shows and cultural performances that display the country’s many and varied traditions.  The city’s nightlife is a whirlwind of chic cafés, designer bars and thriving clubs.  The national auditoriums provide wonderfully entertaining musicals and dance events, which draw on India’s fabulous classical traditions.  There are also plenty of stylish new cinemas to view the latest films from Bollywood and Hollywood, while the local theatres put on performances in English and Hindi.