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‘Before the summer’ holidays

 ‘Before the summer’ holidays This is the time gardens begin to burst with colour and longer, lighter evenings herald the imminent arrival of summer. If you couldn’t get away for the recent Bank Holidays, it might still be a good idea to dodge the peak summer crowds and head for that spring break you deserve!

This is the perfect season to get outdoors, take a walk and enjoy beautiful scenery. Short or long haul, city break or hikes and adventure… there are so many things you can do in some wonderful places before the real summer sets in. Just remember to pack sun lotion and your hat, as destinations this time of the year can be a lot warmer than at home and don’t get caught out by the time differences depending on where you go!

The TopDog Insurance team considers its picks of the bunch.

El Nido, Philippines

The El Nido islands form part of the province of Palawan, an archipelago of around 1,780 islands and known as the country’s ‘largest ecological frontier’ as well as being protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Located in the western Philippines, it has a colourful history, rich in culture as well as an abundance of natural beauty and marine life. Explore the various beautiful islands and inlets by boat to admire the diverse ecosystems as well as pristine geological formations with limestone cliffs and white sandy beaches! With many tours to choose from, you’ll really want to explore and enjoy the experience. If scuba diving, cliff climbing, cave exploration or visiting waterfalls appeal to you, then El Nido is a great place to head for!

Trinidad and Tobago

The twin island nation of Trinidad and Tobago off the northern edge of South America, and considered part of the Caribbean, makes for a great holiday. Tobago, the northern island, is well known for its ecotourism and with over 90 native animals, more than 600 types of butterflies and around 400 bird species, it’s a nature lovers’ paradise! Take part in nature tours, walk the mountain trails of the 1,500 acre Asa Wright Nature Centre on Trinidad by day and then watch the famous leatherback turtles nest on the Grande Rivière beach just before sunset. These are the largest and oldest sea turtles on Earth and they can grow up to seven feet long! Stay in small fishing villages and enjoy local cuisine like salted shredded codfish with tomatoes and hot peppers (buljol) for an amazing experience!

Riga, Latvia

This Baltic capital is a vibrant and vigorous European city, full of historic architecture, classical music and a collection of art nouveau buildings that’s well worth a visit this year in particular, as it’s one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2014. Its location and heritage make it the perfect place for international cultural events, such as the World Choir Games, to be held in July this year. The city’s charming atmosphere derives from a blend of glitzy nightlife, a thriving restaurant scene and historical elegance from its Old Town to its Hanseatic heritage as a major trading city. Visit the famous Central Market or the cathedral as part of a perfect spring getaway!

Toledo, Spain

Usually included as part of Madrid itineraries, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Toledo exhibits a restful ambiance, ideal for a relaxing break away. The skyline is dominated by the Alcázar (former palace-castle of the Moorish rulers) and the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo (the foremost Roman Catholic cathedral in Spain), which point to the city’s unique status as the ‘City of Three Cultures’ where Christians, Jews and Muslims co-existed. This old capital of Castile (one of the precursor kingdoms of Spain) is best explored on foot as you wind your way through narrow streets, passing tiny shops and interesting architecture on each corner. Indulge in tapas food or tuck into local delicacies of roast meats and sumptuous stews. If you have a sweet tooth, trying one of Spain’s most celebrated desserts, mazapán de Toledo, is a must!

Corsica, France

Whether you are a culture lover, beach enthusiast or a hiker, you will love Corsica. This beautiful French Mediterranean island combines gorgeous shorelines alongside fabulous mountain ranges and a warm climate, making it an ideal destination to visit all year round. Formerly under the rule of the Republic of Genoa, Corsica is a blend of Italian and French flavours with something for everyone. Explore olive groves and cork forests or kayak and sunbathe; take a trip to the Scandola Nature Reserve or sample the local produce such as chestnut bread and certified Corsican honey. Visit the ‘birthplace of Napoleon’ for a great break away!

Wherever your travels take you this May and wherever you are fortunate enough to visit, we at TopDog Insurance are committed to providing you the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away. Safe travels!

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