Many families are finding that money is tight at the moment and a lot are having to forego summer holidays, however if you have a little bit of spare cash and are looking for some cheap holiday ideas then we have a couple for you.

There are quite a lot of last minute holidays around at the moment and you may find prices could drop further as travel agents lower their prices to entice people if take up is poor for holidays abroad. If you don’t want to book through a travel agent, you can find good deals for hotels and flights separately on the internet for foreign holidays however you must be careful and make sure you book through a reputable company the is ABTA covered.

If flying isn’t your cup of tea then you should have a look at what cruise deals are available, just like other holidays, the cost of cruises will also drop if there is not much take up, plus many cruise lines offer great deals for families and have very cheap accommodation available, even on some of the bigger name ships. Like many foreign holidays if you keep your eye out you should be able to find some cheap cruises, especially online and remember you won’t have to worry about the expensive airport tax either.

Finally if you can’t stretch your budget for foreign holidays you should have a look at places right here in the UK, camping and self catering can be very cheap especially if there is a large number of you to share the costs. Plus if you choose somewhere that has a good selection of free places to visit then you can go away for even cheaper.


With seven beaches to enjoy, Barcelona is an ideal choice for a seaside holiday.  The city has so much else to offer, however, that many visitors go nowhere near the sea.  The airport is only 12 kilometres from the centre, and a low cost train and the A1 Aerobus run regularly throughout the day.  The city also has an underground metro system which is fairly easy to navigate.  Holidaymakers who plan to rely on the metro system can buy a T-1 ticket which is valid for ten rides.

Many visitors to Barcelona say the food is the highlight of the trip.  Tapas Bars are a great choice for dinner, where diners can order a selection of hot and cold snacks to literally fill the table top and share leisurely throughout the evening..  Octopus is a popular Barcelona favourite, as are traditional dishes such as tortilla Española, a Spanish omelette, and patatas bravas, potatoes spiced with paprika in olive oil.  Some of Spain’s best sparkling wines also come from the region.

Barcelona also offers a wide variety of shops for holidaymakers.  The El Born district is made up of fashion boutiques, and Passeig de Gracia and Avinguda Diagonal also contain a number of shops to occupy the day.

One of Barcelona’s most famous buildings is La Sagrada Familia, a stunning building designed by the well known architect Antoni Gaudi.  Work has been ongoing on this building since 1882 and is not due to be completed until approximately 2020.  The Park Guell is one of Gaudi’s outdoor masterpieces and is filled with architectural surprises.  The Picasso museum houses over 3000 works by the artist, and is very popular with tourists.


Floating in the Mediterranean Sea, Ibiza is one of the Spanish Balearic Islands.  Despite being better known throughout the world for its hedonistic party scene, Ibiza is also rich in terms of its natural beauty and its cultural heritage.  To begin to appreciate the latter, Old Town is the best place to start.  A drawbridge allows visitors to enter Dalt Vila, or ‘High Town’, and from there onto the Palza de Vila, which spreads out into an array of cobblestoned streets, lined with gift shops and galleries.  Amazing panoramas of the surrounding region can be obtained from the battlements, which have been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Artefacts dating back to 7BC can be found in the Museo  Arqueològic and the Museo Monografico del Puig de Molins is thought to house the biggest European collection of Punic art.  Other landmarks include the 20th century Homenaje a los Corsarios and the statues of General Vara de Rey and Guillem de Montgrí.

In order to relax before a big night out, boat rides are available in the Marina Botafoch or you can dine on fresh seafood in the district of Sa Penya.  Most people travel here, however, for the party atmosphere Ibiza is so renowned for.  Calle de la Virgen is particularly well known for its lively ambiance.  Partygoers can find some of the biggest club names, including Pacha, Privilege, and Amnesia.  Despite the festive atmosphere, Ibiza retains a relaxed Spanish as well as festive feel and those wishing to scratch below the clubbing surface will not be disappointed.


Many British travellers yearn to visit Paris and the reality of the world’s most romantic city seldom disappoints.  However, day excursions from Paris to outlying areas are well worth the time and the effort in discovering the beauty of France.

Holiday goers may enjoy a day visit to the Loire Valley, listed as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.  Here stand some of the most breathtaking castles in all of France, as well as some of the countryside’s most picturesque towns and villages.  The castles are surrounded by beautifully manicured, formal gardens.  Many of them are open to the public.

A day excursion from Paris is the Normandy coastline where Allied Forces landed on D-Day of World War II.  Visitors can explore craters created by the war bombs and visit memorials to the soldiers who fought here.

Visitors to Paris may enjoy a wine and champagne tour in either Burgundy or the Champagne region.  Guided tours through the vineyards and wineries end in a lovely wine tasting experience.

For those who enjoy historic architecture, a day trip to Mont St. Michel Abbey is an excellent choice.  The Abbey sits perched upon a rocky islet, pounded by the surf.  A majestic fortress full of history, the Abbey is a throwback to medieval times. 

Other destinations that can be easily managed in a day include Chartres, Fountainbleu, Giverny, Versailles, and Disneyland Paris.

The Château de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley in France

The Château de Chenonceau, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley in France

Picture courtesy of NZwombat

 


If you are looking for a holiday where you can visit numerous places of interest, experience different cultures and have your every need taken care of then you should look at taking a cruise holiday. You won’t have all the travel worries that come with making your own travel arrangements and you can get a great personal service, no matter what your needs.

There are really endless possibilities for your cruise holiday, so it can be quite hard to choose just one, let alone which cruise line to go for, so I would suggest doing plenty of research before you go. Online travel companies can offer plenty of information on cruise holidays, such as virginholidaycruises.co.uk who actually specialise in all types of cruise holidays, whether it’s just a cruise holiday, fly and cruise holiday or fly, cruise and stay holiday. Some cruise holidays aim to be more relaxing, so more time will be spent at sea but the cruise ships will have plenty on offer to help keep you relaxed during your trip. Others offer plenty of ports to dock in so you can visit as many places as you can and take in lots of new cultures.

There are cruise lines and holidays that have been specifically tailored for families with plenty of fun and entertainment available, as well as romantic holidays for couples which offer a personal service and also for single travellers which are made to feel part of a family and a larger travel group, so everyone is covered.


Rotterdam

One of the top clubbing destinations in Europe, Rotterdam has long been a favourite with the young party set looking for affordable city breaks.  Some of the oldest and best clubs in town are Off Corso and Outland and with fewer tourists than Amsterdam, you might actually find space to groove on the dance floor.  In summer, the Heineken Fast Forward Dance Parade is a huge street festival that draws hundreds of thousands of revellers.  Nearby Bloemendaal aan Zee is a burgeoning resort town with nice beaches and a more laid back bar scene.  Rotterdam city breaks are sure to appeal to the hard-core partier in you.

Rotterdam

Rotterdam

Picture courtesy of Giorgio Tomassaetti

Andalusia

The quiet village of Vejer de la Frontera sits on a mountainside, nestled between Tarifa and Jerez.  The town has appealed mostly to Spanish locals on weekend breaks, but is starting to experience a growing popularity among foreign travellers.  Vejer is an authentic medieval town, with gorgeous empty beaches, amazing fresh seafood and interesting natives.  Plan a visit to Hotel Casa Cinco, a five-room B&B with an airy, simple sophistication that is perfect for romantic short breaks.

Vejer de la Frontera

Vejer de la Frontera

Picture courtesy of Petrina Hu

Villefranche-sur-Mer

The Cote d’Azur is a popular destination for sunny weekend breaks, but if you are looking for something a little further off the beaten path try the tiny port town of Villefranche-sur-Mer.  Located just four miles east of Nice, the town has its own cosy beach and loads of excellent seafood restaurants.  The local trail connects visitors on short breaks to Nice, Monaco and Menton, so you are never too far from the action.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Picture courtesy of Dragozov

 

 

 


P&O launched their largest cross Channel ferry yesterday at Dover port, their new vessel the Spirit of Britain dwarfed its sister ships when it took to the waters off the Kent coast. Their new passenger ferry is 700 feet long and almost 100 feet wide, and can carry more than 1,000 cars as well as 2,000 passengers. It is also as big as any ferry can get for this route due to port restrictions.

Compare those statistics to its older sister ship the Pride of Calais which is just 500 feet long. 90 feet wide and can hold just 550 cars. The Spirit of Britain cost £157million to build, has three vehicle decks instead of the usual two and has an increase in freight capacity because it can take up to 180 articulated lorries at once, compared to just 85 on the old ship.

Many people believe when construction of the Channel Tunnel was completed it would spell the end of the cross Channel Ferry company P&O because extra competition as well as pressure from increasing cheaper air fares. However with the launch of the Spirit of Britain it shows how resilient this form of transport actually is and popular for many people it still is.

Millions of people still continue to use the service for their holidays to get to and from the continent, as well as thousands of container lorries. One thing that boosts popularity is the fact that prices to cross the Channel remain much lower than in previous decades, currently as little as £30 per person, with the fare for the car included.

A spokesman for the company, Brian Rees, said today: “In the 1990s there were predictions that every ferry service on the south coast would close, but it never happened. There’s a bit of romance about getting on the ferry. It’s part and parcel of your holiday. You can change your money and do a bit of shopping. The tunnel is ruthlessly efficient, but you need to break your journey somewhere anyway and have a bit to eat if you’re driving to most places on the continent. And there’s a whole new market for us at the moment because of the stress and hassle of flying. In contrast, you can load up your car with the kids and their toys, turn up at Dover half an hour before departure, and off you go.”

Speaking about the volume of freight now being transported, Mr Rees added: “The amount of freight has grown enormously over the last 25 years and most of it is going by sea. The volume going by ferry now is phenomenal. It used to be a quarter of our business, now it’s half, in spite of the recession.”

He also found that the way people travel has also changed as well as the size of families which means although its roughly the same amount as in the past the extra space on board for cars was much needed hence the huge increase on the Spirit of Britain.

Mr Rees said: “When the Pride of Calais was built, cars going on board would have contained families of four or five, he said. Now it’s much more often families of two or three, along with lots of single people and couples. It’s vehicle space we need.”

 


If you’re looking for a last minute deal for your summer holiday you will probably be able to find some great deals on the internet, sometimes for last minute holiday deals, booking hotel accommodation, flights and transfer can work out cheaper than a package holiday with holiday companies vying for your custom. If you’re looking for a cheap UK getaway you can find great flights to London, Edinburgh or Belfast, or if you want to find some guaranteed sun look for cheap flights to holiday hot spots such as Spain, Turkey or Greece.

However sometimes though these ‘cheap’ flights are not all they seem, the advertised price doesn’t always include extras such as tax, fuel supplements, baggage charges, booking fee’s charges for a in-flight meal as well as seat selection and a charge for paying by credit card. These charges which most carries add on can double the advertised ticket price, and you could end up paying a lot more than you anticipated if you do not check the small print.

If you do book a DIY holiday where you arrange your flights and accommodation from different suppliers you may not be as protected as you think, if anything happens to your airline and they stop flying it will be up to you to make new travel arrangements and to get home may cost you a lot more than you originally paid. Sometimes you may also have to leave early or stay longer to get a flight home which will also cost you money. If you do book a DIY holiday then you need to make sure that you have travel insurance which covers you in the event of airline insolvency and any indirect loss as a consequence, beware that many policies don’t give this cover, while those that do limit the amount you can claim or have exclusions, so read the small print.

If you do find some great last minute holiday deals make sure you read the small print for your cheap flight offers, and cut-price accommodation to make sure you won’t incur any unexpected charges and importantly take out adequate insurance.


For a holiday a little closer to home Northern Ireland offers many delights and the County Antrim Coastline has a wide of range of attractions for everyone to enjoy no matter what you look for , making the area an ideal destination for a week’s holiday. Northern Ireland is relatively easy to get to from Great Britain, you can hop on a flight to Belfast and all you need is ID like a Driving License so no need for a passport. You can also take a ferry across and it’s also worthwhile to hire a car for the time you’re out there to get around the countryside easily.

County Antrim Coastline

County Antrim Coastline

Picture courtesy of Effervscing Elephant

County Antrim’s top attraction is of course the Giants Causeway the amazing system of hexagonal rock formations on the coastline is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of four natural sights belonging to the UK.

According to legend the Irish giant Finn MacCool lived on the north coast of Ireland over the sea from his Scottish rival Banandonner, both would roar across the water at each other and generally trade insults. The insults then escalated and Finn threw a rock to Scotland, thus challenging Banandonner to a fight, but Banandonner could not swim, so Finn desperate for the fight to go ahead ripped up slabs of volcanic rock and created a causeway between the two countries. However the fight never went ahead after Finn tricked Banandonner into thinking he was a baby when he arrived in Ireland so believing the child to be the offspring of his rival, took fright, convinced that if a mere baby could be so huge, the father must be a figure of epic size. He then fled Ireland ripping up most of the Causeway as he went.

Giants Causeway

Giants Causeway

Picture courtesy of qyphon

However the cause way was actually formed by volcanic explosions deep underground that forced molten basalt up to the surface and formed a plateau of lava which when it  cooled and contracted it coalesced into huge hexagonal basalt columns around 60 million years ago.

Here you can enjoy the natural beauty of the cause way and if you are more adventurous can also challenge yourself to the 162-step hike from the Causeway to the cliff tops along the soaring rock columns exposed in the cliff face. If you have a head for heights you could also visit the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which is nearby, this rickety 80ft-high bridge links the mainland with a tiny island 65 feet off-shore. However if you wish to partake in something more sedate or need a stiff drink after going on the bridge then a visit to the Old Bushmills Distillery will be in order, this is the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery.

Carrick-a-Rede

Carrick-a-Rede

Picture courtesy of williamsdb

There are some great places to stay nearby including the seaside towns of Portrush, Portstewart and Ballycastle and easily accessible by car from Belfast, each town has a great offering of guesthouses, B&B’s and hotels.


The Costa del Sol is one of Europe’s and Spain’s most popular holiday destination for many families, here you can stay in a home away from home in comfort in a tailor made holiday to your specifications. If you have a large family or there is just a couple of people going on holiday then a breakaway staying in a holiday villa in the Costa del Sol may be just what you’re looking for your summer holiday.

Great resorts for families or a break away with friends include: Torremolinos, with its bright lights and great beach, Nerja a traditional white washed slower paced resort and then for those who want to enjoy Brit-style pubs, clubs and restaurants mixed in with typical Spanish eateries then Fuengirola will be the spot for you.

To taste the best of what Spain has to offer you can stay in self catering accommodation, here you can go out and enjoy local delicacies and bring local food back to cook yourself, if you base your self in a self-catering holiday cottage or villa then you will find that you have much more freedom than in a hotel. You can come and go as you please and use your cottage or villa as a base and go off exploring every day, if you want a relaxing day then you can spend the day by the pool as most accommodation come with either your own pool or sharing one with a couple of other families.

You won’t be short of things to do in the Costa del Sol, your spoilt for choice with beaches that line the coast line, small quiet coves, bustling shopping districts and local markets, there is also fantastic theme parks like Tivoli World or idyllic nature reserves up in the Sierras. You will also be able to enjoy lots of sunshine and great temperatures at this time of the year.

 

Beach of Torremolinos

Beach of Torremolinos

Picture courtesy of Gert Mewes