overshadowed by neighbouring holiday heavyweights, like Spain and Italy, until a few years ago Portugal was largely off the international travellers’ radar, however these days the country (namely its hilly capital, Lisbon) is well and truly buzzing.
Fresh from hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in May, the coastal city has hyperbole in spades. Travel + Leisure named it “destination of the year” and Expedia reported demand for the city was up by 40 per cent yearon-year. It’s also cheaper when compared with similar European destinations and is a great jumpingoff point for day trips to Portugal’s other towns.
And as a response to the interest from the cruise industry, Lisbon officially opened its new cruise terminal in November, which means that the number of voyages to its shores are set to rise rapidly.
tens of thousands of other tourists will likely mar the experience.
Instead, bypass the crowds and live out your Venice fantasies at nearby Chioggia, aka “mini-Venice”. Nestled at the southern end of the Venetian Lagoon and occupying several islands and joined by a bridge to the mainland, the seaside town boasts the picturesque canals, bridges and fine architecture that you’ll see in its bigger and more famous counterpart but on a much smaller scale.
for shopping. Voted the best shopping city in Holland three times, it offers retail fiends plenty of opportunities to splash some cash within its photogenic boutiques.
UNESCO World Heritage walk goes across the Pyrenees and into northern Spain, ending at the old Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest where the remains of Saint James are believed to be entombed.
For travellers who don’t have the stamina, or the inclination, to make the trek to the famed religious site on foot, savvy cruise liners are beginning to offer itineraries that include a stop at its closest port, Vilagarcia (also called Vilagarcia de Arousa).
Previously, passengers wanting to visit the site had to travel by coach from neighbouring La Coruna or Vigo, but several liners, including Oceania Cruises, are now offering itineraries calling here and the local government authorities are in the planning stages for a new proposed cruise route to the estuary town.
VOLOS, GREEK ISLANDS,
keen on breaking new ground, the city of Volos is the place to go.
Situated between frenetic Athens and Thessaloniki, the city has been decidedly off the radar, despite being the third largest port in the country. Until now that is.
Steadily popping up more regularly on itineraries with the likes of Princess Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn and Intrepid, the ancient port and mythical home of Jason and the Argonauts has something for everyone. Head downtown for museums, churches, boutiques and al fresco restaurants serving traditional Greek fare; or use it as a jumping off point to explore the surrounding mountains or the unspoiled Sporades islands.