We've been dreaming of far away places, ones we can explore at leisure and bask in gorgeous sunshine in our favourite swimsuits. We've chosen our top 5 holiday destinations that we'd like to explore this summer, looking for places that have more to them than meets the eye - where we can get lost in culture, history and beautiful scenery. If you're heading away this summer then we'll be very jealous, especially if it's a place from our list!
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is ascending in terms of culture, architecture and every other aspect that makes it supremely viable as a top-of-the-range tourist attraction. It's a country with a rich, extensive history, a tale known across the world and many will want to visit for that very reason. Cape Town features some extraordinary beaches as well as some fantastic wine-country opportunities in Stellenbosch and Paarl. Formerly run-down neighbourhoods are beginning to thrive and re-develop and it's an exciting time to visit the city and experience the atmosphere first-hand. From cable-car rides to the top of Table Mountain to surfing the colourful reefs, Cape Town is something of a tourist paradise.
São Tomé and Príncipe
Known simply as São Tomé for efficiency, this island nation doesn't immediately jump out the page as an obvious holiday destination but its location in the Atlantic, off the coast of Africa, combined with its stunning scenery and climate make it a top destination. It's not ideal for everyone, admittedly, but the surf is second-to-none and the beaches are as supreme as you'd expect. Active individuals who want to hit the waves and explore beneath the surface are in luck and there are plenty of fishing- and boating-tours to be enjoyed. São Tomé is known for its coffee as well so any shopping opportunities would be wasted without investment in the superb coffee as well as a bottle of its finest rum.
Bali is somewhere of great beauty and fantastic value, situated as far from home, in both location and culture, as you could possibly want. It features an assortment of stunning islands, mountainous terrain as well as golden-sand beaches, offering a little entertainment for everyone. There are a number of Hindu Temples dotted around Bali, as is the law, and these have proven to be popular attractions, showcasing the unique culture and identity of this small Indonesian hotspot. For something a little different, there are several hot springs in the area as well as the opportunity for a perfect spa-break. A number of treatments are available so why not try the Balinese lulur body scrub or the relaxing creambath massage. There is a broad market in Bali, not just for the luxury seekers, but also for the value-seeking backpacker and family travellers.
Whilst the Greek economy has seen some tough times recently, tourism is still a major industry and part of its income. It's hard to look past some of the Greek Islands, from Santorini and Mykonos. Featuring searing sunshine and white-stained towns in the middle of nowhere, the beauty on display here is unmatched. Each island offers its own unique something-or-other but you're guaranteed on a few set things: the beaches are golden, clean and are a gateway to crystal-clear waters. There are a number of great sites and, indeed, sights, especially in Rhodes and Kos, and for those who fancy a long hike, many of the islands feature great nature trails with scenery that is beyond stunning.
Cancun, the cheekily named Caribbean of Mexico, is an oldie-but-a-goodie, a tourist destination that has been thriving for years and with good reason. The land has been significantly developed into a gigantic tourist resort over the last few decades and it features a range of entertainment venues, from bars to nightclubs, from soaring hotels to exotic beaches. Visitors can snorkel, dive, water-jet, water-ski, hike, explore, swim and repeat; its surrounding areas also offer a unique taste of the Mexican culture and you're able to take a Jeep Safari ride to the Mayan Ruins in the area. Essentially, yes, it is a beach holiday and the beaches on offer are nothing short of spectacular. If you're after a more relaxing beach visit, the beaches opposite Isla Mujeres are ideal as the waves are smaller and the surf is gentler.