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Summer Holiday Hotspots

What to see and do at Monarch's destinations from Manchester

Published on July 15th 2011.

Summer Holiday Hotspots

MONARCH is a major player flying out of Manchester to a host of holiday destinations. Here are Planet Confidential’s top tips for what to see and do when you get there...


Elegant gateway to the more rumbustious Costa Blanca, it’s well worth a stay in its own right. It’s main fiesta, Las Hogueras, at the end of June is a real cracker. For a spectacular view climb to the top of the Castillo de Santa Barbara fortress overlooking Alicante’s long sandy beaches, the best of which is San Juan de Alicante. There are some characterful bars in the old Barrio, but for serious nightlife it’s still best to head north to the inimitable Benidorm.


In this south-eastern corner of Spain lies the only European desert 'Tabernas', where Sergio Leone built the Western Towns, used in his spaghetti westerns with Clint Eastwood. However, in fact the entire province is one huge movie filming location (Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, Indiana Jones, King of the Kings are only a few of the movies filmed here). If you’d prefer to stick to the sand on the coast, visit the volcanic unspoilt 'black' beaches at Cabo de Gata.


Only 11 miles north-east of this popularTurkish resort lies the remains of ancient Perge (Pergai or Pergae, first mentioned in the fourth century B.C.) a Pamphylian city of particular importance in Roman times. It occupies a steep-sided hill on the northwestern edge of the alluvial plain of the AksuÇayi (the ancient Kestros). Like most of the Greek colonies on the west and south coasts of Asia Minor, Perge found itself deprived of one of the main pillars of its existence as its harbour gradually silted up, leading to its final decline in Byzantine times.


The sophisticated Catalan capital is one of the world’s great weekend break cities. Roam the vibrant pedestrian Ramblas, lose yourself in the medieval alleys of the Barri Gotic, make the pilgrimage to Gaudi’s astonishing Sagrada Familia church, still unfinished after 130 years in construction. FC Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium is a different kind of shrine. The city’s a great place to eat. It could be seafood along the seafront that arose from the transforming 1982 Olympics or fantastic tapas – traditional inside the great Boqueria market or ultra-modern at Ferran (El Bulli) Adrian’s new bar Tickets.


This popular destination’s major attraction is its formidable harbour castle, built by the Knights of St John, which now houses a world-class shipwreck museum filled with the relics from several millennia found in inshore waters. Oh, and Bodrum’s nightlife is pretty memorable, too.


This popular destination’s major attraction is its formidable harbour castle, built by the Knights of St John, which now houses a world-class shipwreck museum filled with the relics from several millennia found in inshore waters. Oh, and Bodrum’s nightlife is pretty memorable, too.


Gateway to the Algarve but if you can restrain yourself from marching straight out onto the first green, Faro has much to offer. Overlooking the harbour is the characterful Old City (Centro Historico), where the majority of Faro's most historic buildings are located. The 17th-century Igreja do Carmo Church is one such attraction and is rather unusual, since it actually incorporates the skeletons of more than 1,000 monks within its walls.


Less developed than other Canary Island destinations, Fuerteventura has an allure of its own, especially for beach lovers, snorkellers and deep sea fishing enthusiasts. A surprising treat on an island with such a volcanic landscape is Queso de Majorero, a subtle herby cheese from goats feeding on wild marjoram. Must see: the ornate cathedral in the old inland capital, Betancuria.



You can’t fail to be impressed by your first sight of Gibraltar – a 1,396ft-high boulder sheer on one side, a city of 30,000 folk clinging to the bottom third of the other. And its most famous inhabitants? Its famous Apes. There are 200 of them in five packs living free on the Upper Nature Reserve (£8 entry), munching wild roots and berries while awaiting their latest photo-opportunity. Barbary Apes are in fact a tail-less breed of monkey (Macaca Silvanus), whose natural habitat is in the mountains of Morocco and Algeria. The British imported them in the early 18th century. Legend has it, if they disappear, Britain will lose Gibraltar.

Gran Canaria

The sheer variety of landscape has led the third biggest of the Canary Islands to be dubbed “a continent in miniature”. An entire holiday spent on the fabulous beaches of Playa de Ingles and Maspalomas (go on a camel trek among the amazing dunes) will send a winter sun-seeker home happy, but it would be a shame not to explore the mountainous interior of the island and get a sense of the island’s traditional way or life. Similarly bustling capital Las Palmas has rich historical legacy to explore. On June 24 a colourful fiesta celebrates the foundation of the city, but the festivals across January and February are equally spectacular.


Still a very special destination for clubbers and sunseekers alike (the groups aren’t mutually exclusive!), Ibiza combines cool and charm in equal measure. The island boasts many quiet corners, particularly in the north, but the visitor honeypot remains Ibiza Town with its walled ancient quarter around the sturdy cathedral. Best nearby beaches are Ses Salines and Es Cavellet, the places to chill if you’ve been up all night at one of the bars or clubs


The most easterly of the Canary islands just 79 miles of the coast of Africa and it shows – with reliable year-round sunshine. Annual rainfall is just 144mm. The black volcanic landscape is often described as lunar, but it still boasts some beautiful white beaches such as Papagayo and the one at Playa Blanca and strict local regulations ban billboards and high-rise buildings (with the exception of the Grand Hotel in capital Arrecife).


St Lazarus Church (ÁyiosLázaros), the city’s most important religious institution, was built in the 9th century A.D. Devoted to St. Lazarus, he is said to have lived in nearby Kition for about 30 years after his resurrection by Christ. It is believed that the church is erected upon the empty grave of the saint, who is actually buried in France. Eight days before Easter, the icon of Saint Lazarus is carried in a procession through the streets of Larnaca.


The island’s capital Palma is one of Spain’s most distinctive cities. When you have had your fill of its architecture test out its abundant nightlife! Call into Puro Hotel for drinks at one of the city's coolest venues. Or if your Cuban heels are twitching, try La Belle Epoque,  a laid-back salsa bar, open until the very early hours. Finish up at the opulent Abaco, a bar like no other, spawning many imitators. Fresh rose petals strew the floors and huge baskets of ripe fruit spill out over the bar...The signature drink is the AbacoEspecialle; whisky, rum, Grand Marnier and mixed fruits…


Check out the seafront fish restaurants after you have visited the striking “shrine” devoted to the  Andalucian city’s favourite son, Picasso. The Museo Picasso has opened in Malaga's old quarter at the foot of Gibralfaro hill, in the shadow of the Moorish castle and Alcazaba fortress and beside a Roman Theatre. Picasso's birthplace is five minutes away. It houses 204 Picasso works in its permanent collection and hosts special exhibitions of his work.


Unfairly labelled as Majorca’s sedater little sister, Menorca is a fabulous destination. Capital Mahon won’t detain you long (unless you linger over the free gin samples at the Xoriguer distillery next to the ferry terminal). Head north through beautiful scenery to the picturesque fishing village of Fornells for its culinary speciality, lobster stew. To reach the unspoilt cove beaches beyond, it’s best to go on foot down greassy tracks. Idyllic.


Drive up to the unspoilt Akamas Peninsula, home to several turtle habitats. In the Lara Bay Marine Reserve, a protected turtle habitat area, the endangered green loggerhead turtles come ashore to lay their eggs. We recommend a fresh sardine or swordfish lunch in the picturesque fishing village of Latchi, which has some of the best fish restaurants Cyprus has to offer.


For safety reasons visitors are no longer allowed to go on tours inside the crater of barely dormant volcano Mt Teide, Spain’s highest peak, which dominates the South of this popular Canary Island. Its beaches are where the bulk of sunseekers head. We’d recommend the lusher if cooler north to get a greater feel of the local culture. A hire car is a good idea but it would be a shame to miss out on some great hiking country. We recommend the Parque Rural de Anaga. A different kind of park is the Lore Parque Zoo, outside Puerto de la Cruz, an animal protection foundation as well as a huge animal park.

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