Sunday Express

You little beauties

In search of an unforgetta­ble break? ANDREW EAMES bigs up the world’s little gems offering a huge range of diverse attraction­s




A large proportion of visitors to Malta are attracted by the low prices and high temperatur­es of an island in the southern Mediterran­ean, but that’s only a fraction of the story. Its location, and its superb deepwater port right at the heart of the ancient city has made Malta integral to big moments in history, from the Great Crusades to the Second World War.

Much of downtown Valletta, the capital, is made up of merchant’s houses and the mansions of the crusading Knights of St John, while in the centre of the island there’s everything from Megalithic temples (Hagar Qim) to a former capital, Mdina, known as the Silent City.

It’s no surprise that movie epics such as Gladiator and Troy have been made here. Go: A March week in Malta, with flights, costs as little as £169pp, see broadwaytr­



Not to be confused with much larger Luxembourg, this hilly 62 square mile state is wedged between Austria and Switzerlan­d, where it makes most of its revenue from offshore banking.

But there are other reasons for coming here apart from its status as a tax haven: notably its Alpine landscapes, medieval castles and networks of hiking trails.

Of the latter, the Liechtenst­ein Trail, a new long-distance path launched on the country’s 300th anniversar­y last year, is where you can trek with llamas.and capitalvad­uz has a seriously good modern art collection, too.

Go: Liechtenst­ein is one of 10 countries covered in Trafalgar’s 18-day Traditiona­l Europe itinerary, from £3,795pp. See



There is no mass tourism on Grenada.

This is not the Caribbean of limousines and vulgar displays of wealth.there are, in fact, fewer than 2,000 hotel beds on the island’s 120 square miles, the vast majority in small, personable hideways.

Physically, the island is lush and steep, its hillsides coated with a rainforest of

Blue Mahoe and Austrian pine, the habitat of monkeys, armadillos and Grenadan doves.this land is so fertile, that you’ve

only got to throw a stick for it to turn into a tree. Culturally, too, it is the real deal, with the 100,000 Grenadians leading their lives as their fathers did before them, frequentin­g evangelica­l churches and rum shops in equal measure.

Some of that rum reaches a mind-blistering 138 proof (69 per cent alcohol) – too strong to be allowed on board aircraft.

Go: Seven nights plus flights costs from £1,729pp, see tropicalsk­



This mountainou­s stronghold in the Pyrenees between France and

Spain is something of an outdoor adventure playground all year round. In winter it is a familyfrie­ndly ski destinatio­n and in summer it offers hiking, mountain biking and white water rafting experience­s, as well as Europe’s largest thermal spa – Caldea.

Perhaps the best time to come is late spring, when walking routes through the picturesqu­e Incles Valley meander through wildflower meadows where cattle and horses graze.

If you want something more demanding, the summit of Coma Pedrosa at more than 9,500ft offers great views.along the routes lie “refuges”, traditiona­l mountain huts providing shelter and accommodat­ion to hikers.

Go: A five-day trekking tour of the Coronallac­s, Andorra’s highmounta­in circular route, costs from £1,085pp, flights included. See mountainki­



The oldest republic in the world, with a total population of 26,000, is basically a hill in Italy.and yet it regularly makes its mark in the European Football Championsh­ip, although few fans will be familiar with its exact location near Rimini. Monte Titano (right) is crowned by 14th century castles, its medieval streets lined with luxury tax free boutiques.

Originally the state’s collectabl­e stamps were its major source of revenue but now people come for the shopping.

Mind you, the view from the top is stunning: on one side, down to Rimini and the Adriatic, and on a clear night sometimes the lights of Venice. On the other, the hills of Emilia-romagna. And when Monte Titano’s castellati­ons rise out of the morning mist, it doesn’t seem to belong to the real world at all.

Go: A three-night break with flights costs from £529pp, see travelrepu­



Picture perfect in nearly every way, these low-slung islands in the

Indian Ocean have made a speciality out of barefoot chic.their architect-designed romantic hideways perch on stilts over turquoise waters and shimmer on white sand beaches.

The diversity of the undersea world here is a diver’s delight, while the onshore facilities are a spalover’s paradise.

It’s a place to lose all track of time, and given the quality of what you get, the sheer number of competing properties keeps prices accessible.

Go: Seven nights in the Kurumba

Maldives, plus flights, costs from £1,679 pp, see


(visitsinga­pore. com)

This exotic southeast Asian island state, the drip on the nose of peninsular Malaysia, is one of the youngest and most successful economies in the world, fast overtaking troubled Hong Kong.

It is also a spectacula­r blend of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western cultures.the result is a goodlookin­g hi-tech society that works remarkably well.

And that population blend means that the food is outstandin­g, particular­ly at what are called Hawker Centres, where individual specialist stalls ring general seating, and where you can graze on everything from Penang Laksa to blackbean crab, for very little money.

Go: A 13-day holiday that combines a city break in Singapore with a beach break in Malaysia’s Langkawi costs from £675pp, without flights. See trailfinde­rs. com.



Squeaky clean silver sand, a translucen­t sea, swaying palms and the sun’s warm caress: Barbados is the picture-perfect Caribbean.

The western shore, aka the Platinum Coast, is the place to revel

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 ??  ?? ACT SMALL, THINK BIG: Valletta, capital city of Malta top; Liechtenst­ein’s Alpine views, above; and a food vendor on the unspoilt island of Grenada, right
ACT SMALL, THINK BIG: Valletta, capital city of Malta top; Liechtenst­ein’s Alpine views, above; and a food vendor on the unspoilt island of Grenada, right
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 ??  ?? TAKE A HIKE: Picturesqu­e Pyrenees landscape in Andorra
TAKE A HIKE: Picturesqu­e Pyrenees landscape in Andorra

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