Back up holidays are not without risks – the new trend of trip stacking | Travel News | Travel









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‘An explosion of red and gold’: readers’ favourite spots for UK autumn colour | United Kingdom holidays


Winning tip: The Falls of Clyde, South Lanarkshire

Follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Turner to enjoy the power and romanticism of the Falls of Clyde. Spectacular at any time of year, this walk reaches its golden, amber and feuille morte peak in the autumn months, especially after heavy rain. About 30 miles south-east of Glasgow, it’s home to badgers, otters and kingfishers on a trail that begins at the Unesco world heritage site of New Lanark (drop in to the visitor centre to find out all about the millowner and philanthropist Robert Owen) and leads to the 26-metre waterfall Cora Linn. You can have coffee at the Mill Café or stay at the New Lanark Hotel. A sepia and russet dream.
scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk
Michael

Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor

Wistmans Wood
Photograph: David Clapp/Getty Images

Wistman’s Wood is interesting at any time of year – but especially so around dusk on Halloween, when it’s not hard to imagine the Hound of the Baskervilles might be on the loose. It is an ancient forest where time seems to have stood still. Walk around, over and under lichen-covered gnarled tree boughs and huge granite rocks at the 170-hectare national nature reserve, which also has fantastic upland heath and moorland birds –
visitdartmoor.co.uk
Kim

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Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Kinver Edge, Worcestershire/Staffordshire

Autumn sunset views from Kinver Edge
Photograph: Ian Henley/Alamy

Kinver Edge, a National Trust site in south Staffordshire that extends over the Worcestershire border, is particularly stunning in the autumn. A remnant of the Mercian forest, this sandstone ridge is host to trees of all shapes and sizes, with fiery autumn colours in abundance. Follow the trails up to the top and you can see countryside for miles around. If you fancy a different walk, venture into the valley near Nanny’s Rock and see the old rock houses hidden in the trees – home to troglodytes until the 1960s.
nationaltrust.org.uk
Victoria Stevens

Coffin trails, Lake District

Grasmere Lake.
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA

For stunning autumn colours, a ghoulish twist and a dash of poetry, walk the coffin trail from Grasmere to Ambleside in Wordsworth’s Lake District. The walk is just under four miles and includes beautiful native woodland, lakes and two of the poet’s homes. Cumbria’s coffin trails were named for the corpses which had to be carried to the nearest consecrated ground. Large flat stones beside the path are where bearers stopped to take a break. En route, the Old School Room tea shop offers delicious homemade food and the bath buns at the Apple Pie cafe and takeaway would inspire anyone to poetry!
mudandroutes.com
Zoe Gilbert

Hackfall Woods, Yorkshire Dales

Nidderdale
Photograph: Bridget Mellor

Hackfall Woods in Nidderdale is a joy to explore. It was designed as a “wild romantic garden”, by 18th-century landowner and politician William Aislabie. A series of paths traverse the 47-hectare woods, with lovely ruined follies and grottos along the way. The colours in autumn are mesmerising … the view from the Ruin (the banqueting house) terrace feels like you are on top of a rainforest looking over a canopy of rich colours. Springs, cascades and an artificial waterfall operated by a pump make this a magical place.
woodlandtrust.org.uk
Bridget Mellor

The Hermitage, Perthshire

River through autumn colours at the Hermitage near Dunkeld
Photograph: Sara Winter/Alamy

For the most beautiful autumn colours, enjoy a wonderful woodland walk around the Hermitage, Dunkeld. When the leaves turn, this magical area of Perthshire forestry is transformed into a wonderland where you will experience a breathtaking explosion of red and gold among the evergreen. The Douglas firs here are among the tallest trees in the UK. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels and watch salmon leaping up the dam as you enjoy the vibrant autumn scenery. Parking is £3. The picturesque village of Dunkeld, a five-minute drive away, is the perfect place to enjoy a post-walk coffee and cake.
nts.org.uk
Maggie Coll

Friston Forest, South Downs national park

The Cuckmere valley.
The Cuckmere valley. Photograph: Sam Moore/National Trust/PA

Close to the coast at Newhaven in East Sussex, the River Cuckmere’s wide meanders and water meadows are a fine sight. Looking up, you’ll see the faded green, yellow and orange leaves of Friston Forest’s beeches. This is a lovely place to walk at this time of year. The paths are covered in brown and gold leaves – particularly colourful in the dappled sunshine of a bright autumn day. With hills that aren’t too strenuous and Narnia-like avenues it is wonderful. Beautiful sea views can be enjoyed nearby on top of the Seven Sisters cliffs and at Beachy Head. A reward afterwards is a visit to the the Tiger Inn in East Dean, where the sticky toffee pudding is beyond question.
woodlandtrust.org.uk
George Gilbert

Witton Woods, Norfolk

Bacton / Witton Wood
Photograph: Loop Images/Alamy

Witton Woods (also known as Bacton Woods to some) in north Norfolk has a great variety of trees – ancient sessile oak, ash, alder and chestnut and recent plantings of pine and wellingtonia – and patches of heather, broom and gorse, which make it lovely to visit in any season. It’s also great for a foraging session if you’re into spotting mushrooms in the autumn. There’s a bronze age burial mound and ancient pot-boiling site, too.
northwalshamguide.co.uk, north-norfolk.gov.uk
Lou

Allen Banks, North Pennines

The river Allen at Staward Gorge
Photograph: Clearview/Alamy

Ten miles west of Hexham, in the North Pennines area of outstanding national beauty, is Allen Banks. From the car park the footpath follows the river to Planky Mill, a good spot for a picnic, and to one of the largest areas of ancient woodland in Northumberland. Bordered by oak, beech, and birch, the gorge is framed in autumn by reds and golds. Below the canopy, the River Allen, which flows into the South Tyne just to the north, sparkles in autumn sunlight and the berries of the Scots fir gleam. Although it’s not a difficult walk, stout shoes are advisable. Allen Banks is a National Trust property: it’s free to walk there but there is a fee for parking unless you are an NT member.
northpennines.org.uk
Bernie Walker

Thorncombe Woods, Dorset

A grove of Beech trees Thorncombe wood.
Photograph: Andrew Wood/Alamy

There’s lovely autumn colour at Thorncombe Woods nature reserve next to Thomas Hardy’s cottage. The 26-hectare ancient woodland has an amazing range of mature trees, from majestic oaks to sweet chestnut, hazel and beech. The beech trees meld into a spectacular blaze of gold and copper in autumn. The woods, through which a well-preserved Roman road runs, eventually give way to Black Heath, which hosts Dartmoor ponies. There is a car park and also an independently run cafe.
dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Anita Hunt



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Pleasant Holidays and Journese Announce Travel Advisor Incentive


WHY IT RATES: It pays to be a travel agent when working with Pleasant Holidays and Journese.—Donald Wood, Breaking News Senior Writer.


Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, today announced an incentive that is a win-win, rewarding current advisors and new alike with bonus TRIP Points. TRIP is the company’s travel reward incentive program where travel advisors earn points redeemable for personal travel with every booking.

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“As we approach the season of thanks, we want to show our appreciation to the loyal advisors who sing our praises. Our Travel Advisor Referral Incentive awards 500 bonus TRIP Points each to travel advisors currently booking with us and to the new travel advisors they refer to begin working with us,” said Jack E. Richards, President and CEO. “In addition, the travel advisor who refers the highest number of qualifying travel advisors with registered bookings will win the Grand Prize: a three-night stay at Planet Hollywood Adult Scene Cancun, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort – Adults Only.”

The incentive is open to travel advisors who currently book with Pleasant Holidays and/or Journese who refer new travel advisors who have not booked with the brands in at least three years, if ever. The incentive bonus TRIP Points reward applies to the first new booking of $1,000 or more made by a newly referred travel advisor Oct. 18, 2021 to Nov. 15, 2021. Vacation package bookings may be for travel anytime to any destination and must be registered at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2021TravelAdvisorReferralBookingIncentive to qualify.

The newly referred travel advisor will receive 500 Bonus TRIP Points for their first qualified booking; the referring travel advisor will receive 500 Bonus TRIP Points for each new travel advisor they refer who makes a qualified booking. One Grand Prize will be awarded by Dec. 31, 2021.

For more information or to make a booking, travel advisors can visit PleasantAgent.com or visit Journese.com. Pleasant Holidays and Journese are members of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and an active member of the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) and participates in the $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program.


SOURCE: Pleasant Holidays press release.





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Wined down in California – Holidays at the relaxed West coast | Travel News | Travel


Next morning, we headed north along Highway 1, stopping to marvel at the “town” of Harmony (population 18) and the Piedras Blancas elephant seal rookery, a beach crowded with bus-sized monsters and their offspring.

We then checked into the Cavalier Oceanfront RESORT in San Simeon with its sweeping views over the Pacific. It’s ideally situated for a visit to the top attraction in these parts, the magnificent and opulent, yet eccentric Hearst Castle. Built on a 1,600ft hilltop between 1919 and 1947 by publishing billionaire William Randolph Hearst, it is a staggering monument to unlimited spending power and unrestrained ambition (see below left).

Roaring Twenties and 1930s, Hearst would fly in Hollywood stars and political heavyweights to his private airstrip, then ferry them by car up the steep road he’d had constructed to his own personal Eden. There, guests such as Charlie Chaplin, Clark Gable, the Marx Brothers, Churchill and President Coolidge would dine, watch the latest movies in a private cinema, play tennis, swim in the dazzling pools and admire Hearst’s private zoo.

Now owned by the state, it is one of California’s must-see sights, but San Luis Obispo County. has so much more to offer – just don’t expect anything to happen in a hurry. As the local motto says, life is too beautiful to rush.

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‘Beautiful buildings wherever you look’: Germany’s best towns and villages, by readers | Germany holidays


Winning tip: A ‘film set’ close to the Polish border

We arrived in Görlitz, Germany’s most easterly town, to find it packed with peasants swilling beer from pewter mugs and devouring sausages to a background of drums and pipes. It was the annual medieval festival, and they take the past seriously here. That’s understandable: Görlitz is jammed with arcaded squares, ancient towers and magnificent churches that have bedazzled film-makers from Tarantino to Wes Anderson. We lucked into the building that served as the Grand Budapest Hotel – actually an art nouveau department store. We went to Poland for a beer – the town of Zgorzelec is just over the River Neisse – before returning to Görlitz for carousing, 15th-century style.
David Ellis

Black Forest bathing

Oppenau, Black Forest
Photograph: robertharding/Alamy

We had a great family holiday in the Black Forest near Oppenau. It’s a beautiful old small town but the best thing about it was the huge, public open-air swimming pool, with water slides, grassy picnic areas and a cafe. Best of all when you pay your tourist tax you receive free entry and free train travel around the Black Forest region. This means you can explore the small towns, lakes, forests and waterfalls by train.
Rebecca

Alpine views and a beach, near Munich

Sunset at Ammersee Lake, Herrsching am Ammersee.
Sunset at Ammersee Lake, Herrsching am Ammersee. Photograph: Alamy

Herrsching am Ammersee is a small town at the end of the S-Bahn line from Munich, next to Ammersee, a beautiful 15km-long glacial lake. There are views to the Bavarian Alps over 60km away, a promenade, and beaches where people swim in the summer. A short hike through the woods brings you to Kloster Andechs, a stunning Benedictine abbey on a hill overlooking the lake. The abbey brews its own beer and has a Biergarten where you can sip its brews – some with evocative names: Spezial Hell, Weizenbock and Bergbock Hell – and crunch on a Brezeln (pretzel) or two. If you over-indulge on the “hells”, Nefis, on Seestrasse, does the best Turkish meze and kebabs. Taking the boat to Dießen am Ammersee is also a must, as is hiring a bike to explore the many fairytale Bavarian villages nearby.
Tom

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Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Luther’s legacy, near Berlin

Town hall, period houses and St Mary’s Church, Lutherstadt Wittenberg.
Town hall, period houses and St Mary’s Church, Lutherstadt Wittenberg. Photograph: Alamy

Lutherstadt Wittenberg is a beautiful town less than an hour by train from Berlin. It’s the perfect place for a day trip or overnight stay. For a cheap stay, Wittenberg Youth Hostel (€28.50) is next to where, according to some accounts, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses. It’s a beautiful place, especially if you are a fan of reformation history. The market square is stunning at sunset, and there is a shop where you can by anything in Martin Luther form, including a tiny Lego Luther.
Ellen

Into the Harz mountains, Lower Saxony

Goslar Glockenspiel
Goslar Glockenspiel. Photograph: McCanner/Alamy

I recommend Goslar, a Unesco-listed city in an untouched area in the Harz mountains. It’s a beautiful old town with a charming centre. The slate-clad Kaiserringhaus has a glockenspiel (pictured) and automatons that chime regularly each day. The enchanting figures act out scenes from Goslar’s mining past. Parts of the Martkbrunnen fountain date back to the 12th century, adding to the timeless atmosphere of the centre. A great trip from Goslar is to take a scenic ride on the narrow-gauge, steam Brocken railway, an ideal way to see some of the least-known natural landscapes in Germany.
Gerard Gordon

Medieval magic, northern Bavaria

Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
Photograph: Alamy

The fortified hilltop city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is not just a beautiful place to visit but one of Germany’s most significant historical centres. Ringed by a huge defensive wall punctuated by towering city gates, the enclosed warren of narrow streets, lanes and alleyways are a delight to wander. Lush parks and gardens are to be stumbled across among the quintessentially German medieval architecture of half-timbered and brightly painted and decorated buildings. Cafes, restaurants and beer halls abound, as do museums, not least the glittery Christmas Museum, the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum and the Imperial City Museum, celebrating the town’s long and prestigious history.
Graeme Black

Architectural oddity near the North Sea

Bremen readers pic
Photograph: Nigel Gann

Bremen is a fascinating, beautiful small city with ancient streets, a lively Marktplatz, art at the Kunsthalle from such diverse sources as Masolino, Dürer, Monet, Van Gogh, Beckmann, Cage and Paik, and the fine Theater am Goetheplatz. There’s great countryside around, with nature parks, castles and Bremerhaven, where there’s the excellent German Maritime Museum. There are loads of good restaurants outside and in, with sensible Covid restrictions. The Böttcherstraße, which hosts a plethora of arts and crafts shops, is a remarkable piece of interwar architecture, and there’s a hotel right in the middle of it in Atlantis House. The walks along the River Weser are lovely too.
Nigel Gann

Where Bach played the organ, Thüringen

View over the old town of Muhlhausen
Photograph: Alamy

Mühlhausen, in Thüringen in the former GDR, is a small town with a huge history. The young JS Bach was organist here, and you can hear organ music in the church where he worked. Earlier, the theologian Thomas Müntzer, who opposed both the Roman Catholic church and Martin Luther, preached here and was executed outside the city in 1525. The medieval centre is one of the largest in Germany, with beautiful churches and buildings wherever you look. There are lovely old wooden doors, behind one of which is the town hall where a friendly civil servant can lead you to the amazing painted council chamber. The train journey goes through quiet countryside to the sleepy station, far from the bustle of the big cities.
Barbara Forbes

Wonky wonder, Bavaria

the medieval town of Dinkelsbuhl on the romantic road
Photograph: Laura Di Biase/Alamy

Not too far from Nuremberg is the red-roofed medieval town of Dinkelsbühl. A trout-filled river, a city wall reminiscent of Carcassonne, and more taverns than you can shake a schnitzel at. In the middle of July the town is overflowing with lederhosen-wearing young people swilling beer at bunting-bedecked trestle tables in the central square – all as part of the Children’s Festival, which marks the town’s escape from decimation by the Swedish army when the general took pity on the local peasant children. Brightly coloured doors, wonky windows and curious cobbled streets make Dinklesbuhl a fantastic historic stay.
Rosey

Handsome and Hanseatic, Lübeck

Holsten Gate (Holstentor), Lübeck
Holsten Gate (Holstentor), Photograph: Alamy

The moment you walk through Lübeck’s Unesco-listed Holstentor Gate (pictured) you find a city stuffed with treats. As the former capital of the Hanseatic League, it abounds in history and culture, and has the added bonus of being within a few kilometres of wide, sandy beaches. The highlight for me, though, was savouring the tastes and sights of its edible claim to fame: marzipan. After walking down Breite Straße and sampling Niederegger Café’s signature nut tart, I visited the free museum upstairs and saw, among other fascinating exhibits, lifesize, local figures, including novelist Thomas Mann, sculpted from almond paste.
Rod



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Traveling for the holidays? Experts say book before Halloween


ROANOKE, Va. – If you’re taking off the tarmac or hitting the highway, experts say you need to book your holiday trip before Halloween.

“We’re seeing a high demand for traffic, lots of searches, lots of flights booking. And since there’s not as much capacity and demand is going up, it’s a bit like musical chairs,” said Brad Boettcher, the director of marketing and air service development at the Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.

With more shots in arms, travel is up.

“There’s still just a lot of pent-up demand of people that haven’t traveled anywhere. As the vaccination rates are up, people are feeling more comfortable,” said Boettcher.

But high demand and limited availability mean prices will soar. Travel website Hopper said prices could jump up to 40% higher if you book after Halloween―add an extra 25% if you book last minute.

Thanksgiving week bookings are 35% higher than the same time pre-pandemic after many people skipped celebrating the holidays with family last year due to COVID-19.

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“Just family coming in for the holidays. Everybody’s vaccinated,” said Yasmeen Adams, whose family lives in Philadelphia. “They’ll probably just drive up.”

Alex Schmid, a German exchange student at Virginia Tech, said his flight plans are set.

“I’m probably going to LA, so California. I already booked flights because they increase every day, the prices,” said Schmid.

Martha Meade with AAA Mid-Atlantic said people need to book rental cars as soon as possible.

“Rental car prices have been enormously high. Sometimes two, three, four, five, six times as high as they were before,” said Meade. “Booking in advance on a car rental is huge and that’s not getting any better anytime soon.”

“If I was going to travel during the holidays, I would go ahead and start booking now,” said Marcie White, who traveled to Roanoke from Mississippi.

Copyright 2021 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.



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‘Book now’: Ford Airport prepares for boost in travel during the holidays


CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The holidays are right around the corner, which means people are starting to book their plane tickets to visit family and friends. Officials with the Gerald R. Ford International Airport say their biggest piece of advice is to book your tickets early.

Stephen Clark, the director of commercial development, says back during the Fourth of July holiday, they saw travel numbers hit pre-pandemic levels and they’re expecting that to happen again.

Clark says it’s also important to check entry rules and restrictions for different states and countries before you travel, as they are everchanging. The airport still has its COVID-19 testing site available on the property to use.

He says they’re continuing to prioritize safety by cleaning regularly, noting that masks will be required when flying until the middle of January at the very earliest.

“Folks want to get out and travel. They can do so safely and they’re going to destinations where they can travel safely so they’re booking earlier, so those good deals aren’t lasting as long,” said Clark. “I think the big piece of advice for folks this holiday season that is looking to travel is book now and be ready to go.”

When it comes to airport staffing shortages, Clark says to be prepared to be patient when traveling as lines will be longer for the time being.

They plan to host a hiring event to combat this in the coming weeks.





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Volcanoes, gelato and canals: Italy’s great small cities chosen by readers | Italy holidays


Winning tip: Happy wanderer in Puglia

A little piece of my soul was left in Polignano a Mare, a beautiful slice of real Italian life in Puglia. Pretty houses perching on clifftops overlooking emerald seas, a labyrinth of streets leading to a stunning old town, delectable gelato and a buzzy atmosphere as locals promenade and music plays, all combine to create a real gem. The contemporary art museum is worth a gander. It is the wandering, however, getting lost in delightful white-washed streets, stumbling across the poetry written on doorways and stairs, finding a clifftop bar beloved by locals, which is the key to enjoying this romantic town.
Vivienne Francis, Kent

Lovely Lucca

Lucca
Photograph: JM_Image_Factory/Getty Images

Lucca is the hidden jewel in the Tuscan crown of Italy, and September is the best time to visit. Just 20 minutes from Pisa, its medieval walls, cobbled streets and shaded squares create a calm, quiet atmosphere. Cars are absent inside the walls, so it’s great to stroll around at any time, and not uncommon to hear Puccini’s music playing from open windows or balconies – Lucca is the composer’s home town. Around mid-September a candlelit procession followed by fireworks and open-air festivities mark the climax of the Holy Cross festival – simply magic.
Yasmin, Cambridge

Venice without the hype

Great water view of Chioggia with vintage cabins and bridgeChioggia, little Venice in Italy
Photograph: LianeM/Getty Images

Chioggia is like Venice without the crowds and the high prices. At the southern end of the Venetian lagoon, it combines views of the snowcapped peaks of the Dolomites on a clear day and the Adriatic from its fine, sandy beach. The pastel-coloured houses create a colourful canvas to its waterways, as the fishing boats chug slowly along, dispensing their catch to local trattories. A medieval clocktower watches over the city and the Museum of Adriatic Zoology showcases the area’s maritime traditions. Sit at a cafe sipping your cappuccino with vistas of calm canals and chatting fishers.
Gonca, Birmingham

Baroque gems in Vigevano

Italy, Lombardy, Vigevano, Ducale Square
Photograph: AGF Srl/Alamy

Just 35km south-west of Milan and easily accessible by road and rail, the town of Vigevano is an architectural gem. Its centre is dominated by the Castello Sforzesco, now a museum which is closely linked to that of Milan: it is connected to the town’s outer fortifications by an amazing and unique 200 metre-long medieval, covered bridge and roadway which allowed horsemen to ride directly from the castle to defend the town. Alongside the castle is the breathtaking 15th-century porticoed Piazza Ducale, enclosed at one end by the baroque cathedral – it is one of the most breathtaking open spaces in Italy.
Ian Statham, Cardiff

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Every week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print. To enter the latest competition visit the readers’ tips homepage

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Artisanal Anghiari

alley in the medieval village Anghiari, Arezzo, Tuscany
Photograph: Getty Images

The vast, 13th-century defensive walls of Anghiari still loom high over the plain of the Valtiberina, location of the decisive Florentine victory over the Milanese in 1440, and celebrated annually by a colourful, viciously contested Palio. Hidden within, a flower-strewn labyrinth of winding alleyways reveals linen looms, artisans’ workshops and boutiques hewn from the bedrock. The Southbank Sinfonia performs in the piazza under the stars each July, and the town revels in seasonal celebrations of Tuscan gastronomy, culminating in the “Chequered Tablecloth”, in which local produce is served at candlelit, communal tables, accompanied by performances of folklore, poetry and song and dance.
Benedict Leonard, London

Roman Christian mosaics in Ravenna

Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry of Ravenna.
Mosaic of the baptism of Jesus, in the Arian Baptistry in Ravenna. Photograph: Michael Honegger/Alamy

Go to Ravenna – it is perfect for a long weekend, and close to Bologna. The imperial capital in the dying days of the Roman empire, it houses the most amazing collection of early Christian mosaics you’ll ever see. The art mostly dates from the fifth and sixth centuries and adorns just a handful of ancient churches in the compact city centre. The imagery is a real shock. There are no crucifixions or other signs of Christ’s suffering, and everywhere you’ll see sheep. Yes, they took the idea of us all being a flock very literally 1,500 years ago.
Chris Wilson, Fife

Sunsets in Sicily

Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset.
Taormina with Mount Etna at sunset. Photograph: Westend61/Getty Images

The city of Taormina in Sicily has it all. It’s perched on a hilltop, therefore boasting amazing views of an active volcano, Mount Etna, while also having beautiful sandy coves, which can be accessed by a steep hike or via cable car. The town’s piazza is one of the best places to watch the sun set in Sicily and a visit to the ancient Greek-Roman theatre is not to be missed– you can even catch a show here today.
Rachel W, Cumbria

Blown away in Sardinia

The Roman amphitheatre of Cagliari
The Roman amphitheatre in Cagliari. Photograph: Luis Leamus/Alamy

Try a short break in Cagliari, a beautiful and bustling port city on the island of Sardinia – . Countless places to eat and drink, all fiercely proud of the local produce. Bombas, a modern burger restaurant, is nestled inside a cave within the stunning medieval city walls. Sightseeing includes La Torre dell’Elefante, an imposing 14th-century limestone tower, the sprawling ruins of the Roman amphitheatre and a host of museums and galleries. We visited not expecting much, but were blown away by what Cagliari had to offer.
Dom S, Accrington

Railway rapture in Genoa

funicular railway Genoa
Photograph: Roberto Lo Savio/Alamy

Genoa is steep, built into the Ligurian cliffs. But if you don’t fancy walking up and down the many staircases, there are a series of delightful funicular railways. The Zecca-Righi funicular gets you from the city centre to the high hills in minutes. But best of all is the cute and weird Ascensore Castello d’Albertis-Montegalletto – a delightful little carriage that trundles you 300 metres into the hillside, before boarding its own lift to leave you high up above the city, overlooking the port and just around the corner from the Museum of World Cultures. Journeys are €0.90.
Thom, London

Friuli had you fooled?

Piazza Libertà in Udine.
Piazza Libertà in Udine. Photograph: MassanPH/Getty Images

Italy but not Italy … That’s the feeling that strikes you as you wander the streets of Udine, in the lesser-known region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Sitting in the shadow of the castle, Piazza Libertà is considered to be the most beautiful Venetian square on terra firma, but it’s the people and food that hint towards a more unusual mix of influences. The local language, Friulian, and the hearty dishes of frico, cjarsons and gubana give clues to the city’s mountainous hinterland and its intoxicating Germanic and Slavic influences. Yet as your senses are filled with new sights, tastes and sounds, a glass of bianco from the Collio vineyards reminds you that, well, maybe this is Italy after all.
Steve Bassett, Exeter



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‘Sleepy, leafy and lusciously bucolic’: France’s best towns and villages by readers | France holidays


Winning tip: Saint-Nectaire: picnic paradise, Puy-de-Dôme

I really loved the peacefulness of Saint-Nectaire. The local cheese is enough to put it on any list but it also has woodland trails, grottos, a spa and an 11th-century hilltop church. It’s also a wonderful base for exploring the Puys but you can’t beat taking a picnic (remember the cheese!) to nearby Lac Chambon and enjoying the crystal clear waters surrounded by ancient volcanic hills. We stayed at the family run Hotel Regina (doubles from €65 B&B) where our bathroom was in a turret.
Anthony T

Brouage – a sumptuous citadel south of La Rochelle

The ancient royal harbour of Brouage
Photograph: M@rcel/Alamy

Brouage is a fortified, star-shaped and once-coastal village in the Charente-Maritime region. The old battlements and eight-metre-high walls make for hours of exploring and give far-reaching views over the surrounding salt marshes (the sea is about 3km away nowadays). The pretty village feels somewhat like a Roman encampment; a hollyhock-lined grid of streets holds the quaint church of St Peter and St Paul with a model boat suspended from the ceiling; meanwhile, the quirky Musée du Vélo is a must for bike enthusiasts. A lazy lunch in the leafy garden of La Conserverie is recommended for a bit of shade, followed by plenty more playing at “archers” in the watchtowers atop the citadelle walls.
Anna Kennett

Medieval watery charm, L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Provence

L’Isle-sur-Sorgue
Photograph: BTWImages/Alamy

This is a very pretty little town, 30km or so east of Avignon. Close to other perhaps more famous Luberon hotspots such as Ménerbes, Cavaillon and Gordes, it has its own distinct medieval watery charm because it was constructed on islands amid five arms of the Sorgue River. Wander round the compact centre, stroll along the Waterwheel Circuit (there are about 15 waterwheels around the village), view the stunning baroque church or simply sip a morning coffee or lunchtime pastis at a waterside cafe. Sunday is flea market day, and bartering is the norm.
Paul MacDermott

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Champagne and chocolate, Troyes

Troyes, France
Photograph: Jeanette Teare/Alamy

A little known medieval gem of a city in the Grand-Est, Troyes is full of beautiful half-timbered houses, narrow cobbled alleyways and glorious churches. Once the capital of the Champagne region Troyes is a great place to base yourself while visiting famous Champagne vineyards in the surrounding countryside. In town, one of several great places to sample some fizz is Aux Crieurs de Vins. Cellier Saint Pierre by the cathedral is a good place to buy a few bottles of regional plonk. The much-feted master chocolatier Pascal Caffet sells his exquisite confections in the heart of the ancient city. Look out for excellent restaurants and cafes by the side of the canal which flows through the centre of town and discover sculptures, art galleries and quirky museums. The modern art museum is particularly excellent. It’s all just 90 minutes on the train from Paris Gare de l’Est.
Sally

No petrol but lovely cheese, Bain-de-Bretagne, Brittany

Bertaud mill, Bain-de-Bretagne.
Bertaud mill, Bain-de-Bretagne. Photograph: Phil Wahlbrink/Alamy

I discovered Bain-de-Bretagne by accident when running out of fuel while driving south from Rennes to Nantes. A modest town in luscious Brittany countryside, it has bakeries with pain aux raisin so good I diverted for them on my way home. There is an enchanting village square with geraniums and outside tables for eating and relaxing with friends and an ancient church. It is sleepy, leafy and lusciously bucolic. I discovered a crèmerie with cheeses wrapped in wild flowers and a wine shop with great choices and even better advice. There is a tiny night market if you want to cook at home. I dreamed of it often in the bleak 2020/21 winter. I am going back soon.
Tamara

Take the Roman road to Narbonne, Occitanie

Saint-Just Cathedral, Narbonne.
Saint-Just Cathedral, Narbonne. Photograph: John Kellerman/Alamy

We arrived in Narbonne for an afternoon trip from Béziers (just 12 minutes by train) and stayed for three days. Plenty of time then to explore the Palais Vieux, Palais Neuf and the 13-century Cathedrale Saint-Just et Saint-Pasteur. Don’t miss the section of Roman road preserved in the centre of Place de l’Hotel de Ville. Plenty of eating places along Canal de la Robine but our highlight was the bustling Les Halles where we managed to squeeze into an end table at Les Tapas de la Clape for great seafood, wine and coffee. For a place to stay we stumbled across Hotel La Résidence (doubles from €80 B&B) which unexpectedly gave us stunning views of the cathedral. Don’t miss (any) of it.
Michael

High on the ramparts, Montreuil-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais

The historic old fortified ramparts of Montreuil sur Mer, France
Photograph: Ian Shaw/Alamy

The ramparts walk that circles the town of Montreuil-sur-Mer stands out for me, not least because the path is rather close to sheer drops in places, but also for the extensive views over the countryside and the town itself. I also enjoyed wandering the cobbled streets with their charming buildings and exploring the citadel. About an hour’s drive from Calais, there was once a seaport here before the Canche estuary silted up, explaining the “sur-Mer”. Victor Hugo used the town as a setting in Les Misérables – each summer Son et Lumière shows are performed at the citadel, celebrating this link.
Sharon Pinner

Hive of culture, Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, Burgundy

Saint Sauveur en Puisaye
Photograph: Hemis/Alamy

Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye in Burgundy, the birthplace of the writer Colette, is the village I return often, to replenish my energy in the midst of forests and lakes and castles. A colourful market town with diverse artists, galleries, funky bars, theatre, film evenings, music events, courtyard exhibitions, writer’s festival, even a British tea room. History lovers must see Guédelon, a 13th-century chateau construction. Visit La Poeterie, a sculpture garden with concerts and a deer herd. I spend long summers swimming in the Lac du Bourdon, eating Belgian-style chips while the sun set. Two hours from Paris, to quote the estate agents, it’s the place to be.
Florence

I adore Cahors, Occitanie

Pont Valentré.
Pont Valentré. Photograph: Laurent Fox/Getty Images

Nestled in a meander of the Lot river, Cahors lies protected by the limestone cliffs of the causses (bluffs). Medieval half-timbered buildings delight the eye whether wandering by foot or tourist train.A secret garden trail steeped in the area’s folklore begins with a vine garden at the medieval Pont Valentré bridge Seen from land or a boat trip, it is a worthy step on the pilgrimage way to Santiago de Campostela. Eat at the Petite Auberge for hearty local cuisine and local vin rouge and watch out for the exposed staircase beside it.
Clare Burke

Hooray for Auray, Brittany

Pont Neuf and the Port de St Goustan at night, Auray
Photograph: David Noton Photography/Alamy

I found the town of Auray, 100km or so north-west of Nantes, a lovely place to stay and the perfect base to explore the stunning southern coast of Brittany. It truly bustles on Monday market day, with stalls full of local produce cramming the main square. It’s also close to beautiful beaches as well as the neolithic sites around Carnac. The town’s port of Saint-Goustan is picturesque by day and magical at night, when street lamps reflect across the river by the old bridge. We really enjoyed the simple dining in restaurants lining the quayside and cobbled streets – Crêperie La Goustanaise was our favourite – serving delicious, inexpensive galettes (savoury filled crepes) and Breton cider.
Jean Rich



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