Sun seekers’ sensations!

By Helen Foster

While I love the feel of warm sand between my toes and the sound of the sea washing over me, a beach alone isn’t enough. My shores have to be fringed with interesting shops, iconic landmarks and be within easy reach of places that are oozing with character.

Although I love the perfect sun-soaked beach where I can unfurl my towel and lose myself in the murmuring music of the waves and the pages of a good book, I need that proximity to lots of other interesting places I can explore when the time is right to turn a page of my own holiday story.

The Algarve, Portugal

A highlight of the Algarve, for me, are the golden rock formations rising out of the bluest of seas at Ponta da Piedade. These magnificent limestone pillars and arches have been sculpted by the crashing winter seas and they give this coast, just two miles south of Lagos, a distinctive beauty. This wild headland is more cultivated for tourists than it first appears. Boardwalks and steps weave along the cliff tops and down into the hidden sandy grottos, allowing you to take in the views along the coast, or by looking up from below, dwarfed by the towering cliffs.

With a coast as spectacular as this, a boat tour to view the rock formations and secret beaches from a totally different perspective is a must. The locals who work the boats welcome you aboard with a genuine warmth you’ll find everywhere on the Algarve, while drifting around the rocky arches and outcrops transports you to a surreal watery world; one you will always remember. A bonus is a delightful café and restaurant by the car park at the cliffs where you can get your breath back over a tasty lunch and refreshing drink.

The stunning view from Ponta da Piedade Cliffs in the Algarve

The stunning view from Ponta da Piedade Cliffs in the Algarve

You don’t need to work as hard to enjoy the delights of the intimate Praia de Carvoeiro in the Lagoa region. This small beach is sheltered between two rocky headlands and surrounded by pretty fisherman’s cottages, many of which have been transformed into classy little restaurants and lively bars, ideal retreats from the heat of the midday sun. The sands are picture-perfect golden and the sea here isn’t tidal, so great for families. It is also a really short stroll from some of the best holiday shopping you’ll find anywhere. Carvoeiro’s tree-lined boulevards afford a cooling shade while you meander the elegant boutiques and select your fine dining venue for the evening.

There are so many beaches to choose from on the Algarve. For example, Alvor Beach is the longest stretch of sand with a boardwalk taking strollers through the Ria de Alvor Nature Reserve with ease, while Praia de Benagil benefits from being close to the iconic Benagil Caves. Being every bit as stunning as its sister beaches, it is buzzing with boat trips taking tourists into the caves, and returning with the thrill of the boats being driven at speed from the sea straight up, high onto the sands – it felt very James Bond!

Málaga, Spain

Being a city girl, I don’t like to be too far away from the buzzing hub of civilisation, even on holiday. Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, boasts as many as 20 beaches within easy reach of its city parameter. Playa de La Malagueta, a manmade crescent of yellow sand, is just a 10-minute walk from the lively Promenade of Pablo Ruiz Picasso, which will take you past a host of restaurants, bars, shops and other activities, where you can sample a little Malagueño culture and cuisine as you go.

Malaga's Playa de la Malagueta

Malaga’s Playa de la Malagueta

The 3,000-year-old city port is still evolving today and the Paseo del Muelle Dos, opened in 2011, is a snazzy shopping wonderland and home to Jose Carlos Garcia’s restaurant, the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the city.

If this is too pricey for your holiday budget, there are lots of other eateries to suit all tastes and purses. So much in this beautiful city is free, and the Palmeral de las Sorpresas, or Palm Garden of Surprises is a stunning waterfront promenade with children’s playgrounds and activities, endless gardens housing 420 palm trees and 7,400 tropical plants, water features and more. This sleek new addition to the city’s attractions is very different from the ancient favourites, such as the Moorish Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle with its neighbouring Roman Theatre, but there are few better places to while away the hours as the sun shines or sets.

Just over an hour’s drive or bus journey from Málaga is Estepona. This exquisitely pretty town nestles behind a stunning beach with its 2.5 miles of wide sands snaking from the port, past the town and beyond. You will find some of the best fresh fish dishes served in the elegant restaurants and traditional chiringuitos along Estepona’s promenade. Often passed over for its glitzier neighbours, you will have a lot more room to spread out on the beaches here, even on the town’s main beach, Playa Rada, which backs onto the promenade.

The Old Quarter here isn’t just a step back in time, it is an explosion of invigorating colour, where the bright white walls of the houses are the perfect canvas for the profusion of coloured planters and cascading blooms which adorn the tiny lanes. The town’s plazas are also completely charming places in which to take some time out to enjoy a tasty Spanish tapas treat sitting on a terrace fringed by orange trees.

Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol and boasts 20 sandy beaches within each reach

The best of both worlds: Malaga is the city capital of the Costa del Sol and boasts 20 sandy beaches within each reach

Crete, Greece

It was a yearning to visit Spinalonga, an island off Elounda in northeastern Crete, that kicked off one of my best holidays ever. Victoria Hislop’s novel, The Island, tells a fictional story of a leper who was sent out to Spinalonga – Europe’s last active leper colony from 1903 to 1957. The lepers have long gone but I was moved to be following in their footsteps through the houses, shopping street and church – all there, as described in the book.

The ferry over to the island takes about 15 minutes from Elounda and costs around €10. The beaches on Elounda are pretty shingle suntraps and not overly populated. Elounda is a busy little town, complete with a picturesque clock tower and some spectacular seafront eateries.

You can’t help but love the way multi-generational families come out to dine together, and how the smallest, noisiest members of the group are made so very welcome by the waiters, waitresses and maître d’s. I don’t think I have ever visited a more child-friendly destination; it was wonderful to see everyone so happy and relaxed as they dined out together.

A boat over to Spinalonga Island costs around €10. Spend the day taking in the the history of these old streets and enjoy the clear blue sea surrounding the island.

A boat over to Spinalonga Island costs around €10. Spend the day taking in the history of the old streets and enjoy the clear blue sea surrounding the island.

Crete is a great place for waterborne exploration. If it is a fabulous, sizzling beach you want, then head for the beautiful seafront town of Ierapetra in southeastern Crete – it is an easy place to drive around – and hop on a ferry to Chrissi Island. Just 25 minutes later you will be in an island paradise of just 17 square miles of the best sand and sea you’ll see anywhere.

The only shade is beneath the grassy parasols by the sun loungers, so take some light cotton cover-up clothes, as well as your sunscreen. Thankfully, there are small beach shacks selling cooling drinks and snacks. Don’t forget that a dip in the azure waters here is a wonderfully refreshing experience.

Back in your rental car, a drive up (and down) into the forgotten rural world of the Lassithi Plateau proves a memorable adventure. The area is famed for windmills and Dikteon Andron, the cave where Zeus was born and for which you will need sturdy shoes to tackle the slippery steps.

The real pleasure is to take your lunch under the shade of the vines at a tiny café – that serves as the village shop, bar, and community centre – with the local farmers. Communicating largely by using mime, you can spend a couple of fun hours ‘talking’ with the laid-back and lovely people who live here, grow the food you are eating, brew the wine you are drinking and are openly amused by your fascination with their ancient tractors and farming tools!

Did I mention the truly breathtaking views? They come as standard in this destination.

Feel the sand beneath your toes at these destinations and relax back at your own self-catering apartment at the end of a fun-filled day with Apartments4you

Your Top 5 destinations in 2018

Suffering from holiday inspiration block? A great way to start planning your 2019 getaway is to discover what was hot on everyone’s list last year!

We’ve put together the top 5 most visited apartments4you destinations for 2018:

1. Tenerife

Your evergreen favourite is Tenerife. With year round sunshine and amazing beaches it’s a sun worshippers paradise. Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas still remain the most popular spots offering a diverse selection of restaurants, bars and nightclubs. There are lots of activities to keep the family entertained such as climbing Mount Teide with Spain’s tallest peak, Loro Park and Siam Park attracting approximately five million tourist visits to the island each year. No wonder it tops our most visited destination list for 2018!

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CLC The Paradise Club, Torviscas

2. Florida

Florida is famous for its sunny weather and abundance of theme parks – making it one of the most popular family destinations in the world! From Gatorland to Walt Disney World, if there’s a theme park for it you can probably find it in Florida. Florida Keys is home to America’s only living coral reef and it is a really unique adventure to visit. If you are looking for a Florida beach holiday, what better place than Fort Lauderdale beach. The drive from Orlando to Miami is quicker than most think… in only 4 hours you can be in Miami, which is one of the top city destination worldwide. The Art Deco District in South Beach is incomparable with anywhere else with its unique character.

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Summer Bay Orlando By Exploria Resorts, Orlando

3. Costa del Sol

The attractive city of Málaga is the cultural, artistic and historic hub of Spain’s Costa del Sol. Resorts such as Benalmadena, Marbella and Fuengirola are always popular with plenty to offer visitors. The beaches of Málaga and the Costa del Sol are some of the best in the country. Known for its sophisticated vibe, Marbella is a hotspot for those who appreciate the finer things in life. Just the food and fine wines of the area are worth a visit!

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Macdonald Villacana Resort, Costa del Sol

4. Lanzarote

As Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands you are most likely to experience year round sunshine. Its spectacular volcanic landscapes make the island really unique. The moon-like terrain of the Timanfaya National Park, the green lagoon of El Golfo, the mind-blowing architecture of César Manrique architect puts the island on most bucket lists. Puerto del Carmen, Playa Blanca and the Papagayo Beach are the most stunning beaches on the island attracting many sun lovers from around the world with their many bars and restaurants.

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Club Las Calas, Puerto del Carmen

5. Portugal

Portugal is one of the world’s leading tourist destination. No wonder that our customers love it as well! With its long sunny summers and mild winters, long golden coastlines, diverse gastronomy and nice costal resorts it has many things to offer to everybody. Plus with its award winning golf courses it makes it a perfect choice to tee off in 2019!

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Pestana Palm Gardens, Algarve

Where will your next holiday take you?

 

apartments4you have a wide range of self-catering holiday apartments suitable for all of the family. Take a look at the holiday apartments that we have available: www.apartments4you.com

Must visit destinations recommended by our customers

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a summer holiday! If you haven’t booked yours yet, this blog will definitely get you in the holiday planning mood. Here are just some of the most popular destinations that we know our apartments4you customers love to visit. The destinations may sound familiar, but the different ways in which you can holiday there might just surprise you.

Tenerife

El Marques, Tenerife

As familiar as it is warm, there’s no surprise why Tenerife remains a firm favourite with British holidaymakers for both summer and winter getaways. With beaches galore, from golden sands with every amenity in Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos, to the coves filled with black volcanic sand in Playa de la Arena and Puerto de la Cruz, it’s no wonder holidays centre around the beach here. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find that there is so much more to discover. At the island’s heart you’ll find the towering volcano of Mount Teide. Look to the north and discover Tenerife’s capital Santa Cruz, sitting in contrast to the holiday hotspots of the island, this dynamic and sophisticated city is buzzing with life and rich in culture.

 

 

Florida

Silver Lake Resort, Florida

There really is something for everyone in this holiday capital of the world. If it’s a thrill-a-minute family holiday you’re after, Orlando should be at the top of your list, being home to the world’s greatest theme parks. This is just one reason to visit the Sunshine State. If you’re a nature lover, explore the sub-tropical waterways of the Everglades National Park, and if shopping is your hunting ground you won’t be disappointed. Whether it’s a pair of Mickey Mouse ears or that designer handbag at a fraction of the price, shops are aplenty. If soaking up the sun is more your style, then visit the pristine shores of Palm Beach or strut your stuff on the miles and miles of Miami’s white sand. A holiday in Florida is whatever you want it to be, and we’re sure that however you chose to holiday, you’ll be returning again.

 

 

Portugal

Macdonald Monchique Resort and Spa

Warm, welcoming and exuding traditional charm there are many good reasons why picture-perfect Portugal remains a firm favourite, embracing beach goers, culture lovers and sports enthusiasts alike. With a coastline as expansive as Portugal’s, there is no shortage of beaches for you to check out on your travels. If you’re more of an explorer, walks across the golden clifftops and boat trips to secluded caves with magnificent rock formations are a must. Look beyond the shores of Portugal and you’ll uncover fascinating histories and vibrant cultures. Portugal’s distinctive food and wine captures the charisma and traditional soul of the country. To top it off, it has a pleasant year-round climate, so your invite to holiday in Portugal will always be open.

 

 

Lanzarote

Diamond Club Maritima, Lanzarote

With sandy beaches, volcanic landscapes and quirky architecture, Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands’ biggest hitters. Local artist and sculptor César Manrique’s work has enhanced the island’s natural beauty, with his sculptures and architecture waiting to be discovered across the island. Make Timanfaya National Park your first port of call. The moon-like landscape here is made up of around 100 volcanic craters known as the Fire Mountains – pour water into one of the boreholes and it’s vapourised in seconds. On the east coast, Jameos del Agua and the Madeira Botanical Garden offer more examples of Manrique’s fascinating use of the island’s natural resources. Jameos del Agua hosts concerts in an auditorium cut into the volcanic lava. For the beach lovers, they can enjoy the 30 kilometres of sand that melts into the ultra-calm sea.

 

 

These are just some of our most popular destinations. With access to one of the largest collections of self-catering holiday apartments across the world- there’s something to suit everyone’s 2018 summer plans. To view all of our holiday apartments available this summer visit: https://www.apartments4you.com/home

Is self-catering the new all-inclusive?

Imagine waking up in a gorgeous destination, sun beaming through the windows and a breath-taking feeling of tranquillity, only to realise you were woken by an alarm that you had to set in order to make it to breakfast… not your idea of relaxing?

Whether you are an early bird or a snoozer, self-catering holiday apartments allow you the freedom to eat when you are ready, not when the hotel is ready. Don’t fancy the same breakfast buffet you always have? Head out, explore, live like a local and find a traditional café, starting your day with fresh pastries and coffee, after all this is your holiday!

Self-catering allows you the opportunity to experience the culture of the destination you are in. Why travel away from home and continue to follow your day to day routine? You have the opportunity to explore somewhere new, indulge in local cuisine, embrace the culture and be your own travel guide.

Golden Sands Island Residence Club, Malta

Well equipped with the necessities that we are accustomed to in day to day life, a self-catering apartment provides that second home experience. The apartments are often separated, giving the bedroom, living room and kitchen some privacy and a homely feeling. Whether you’re holidaying with family or friends, apartments act as the ideal base to relax, having the space to just lounge and laze about in between great holiday adventures out and about with the luxury of returning to a comfy apartment to enjoy many an alfresco meal together on the balcony in the warmth of the setting sun. There’s no pressure to dress up and dine out each and every night – and when you do, you have the funds to make sure that it is an extra special dining experience to remember.

Self-catering holidays really are what you make it, they are a chance to experience everything your destination has to offer as well as ensuring a high level of comfort and personalisation – opt for a change next time you are booking and experience the world of self-catering for yourself!

Choose from over 4,000 resorts in 100 destination worldwide including Canary Islands, Spain, Florida and Portugal. Take a look at the holiday apartments that we have available: https://www.apartments4you.com/ 

Pearly Grey Ocean Club, Tenerife

Calypso Cay, Orlando