travel

Zante

Zante is well known for its stunning beaches and it’s turtles, and there are plenty of options to discover both on this island. With all but guaranteed sunshine and warm temperatures from May-September, plus loads of gorgeous beaches, this island is an ideal summer getaway.


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Greek

Resort: Alykes

Alykes is a lovely resort on the East coast of Zante with a long sandy beach and plenty of tavernas and bars to keep you occupied in the evenings. The sea isn’t tidal here, so stays at the same level on the beach all day. The water is totally clear and shallow a fair way out so it’s perfect for swimming.

There are plenty of beach bars and tavernas along the shore, offering drinks and ice cream in the day and relaxing evening meals at night. Buca Lounge Bar was a particular favourite – their ice cream selection was the best we found, and they had an extensive cocktail list.

There are plenty of options for trips from the town if you fancy a day out – We did a turtle cruise for €25 each, including a coach transfer to the South of the island and then three hours on a boat. Plenty of time for turtle spotting plus a couple of swim stops in crystal clear bays.


Hotel: Potamitis Studios

We booked the Potamitis Studios through TUI and had an excellent stay. The family run apartments are spotlessly clean, have a lovely pool area with plenty of loungers and there is a weekly Greek night that is not to be missed! They are in a great location, just a 10 minute stroll from the beach and all of the bars/tavernas in Alykes town.

The food at Potamitis is great, and if you choose to you have the option of breakfast, lunch and dinner here. Plus, the pool bar stays open late so you can have a drink after dinner with some of the new friends you’ve made (and trust us, you will – it’s super friendly here!).

Note that air conditioning is an extra €50 when you check in, but that’s quite common with Greece, and it was very much needed in the 34 degree heat!


Restaurants: Fidelio, Fishalida, Anatolikos, Koukounari

There is an impressive selection of tavernas in Alykes, and we were really spoilt for choice on where to eat.

For restaurants right on the beach, head to either Fishalida (excellent fresh fish, although lots of options if you’re not a fish fan too) or Anatolikos. The latter was described to us as ‘like something straight out of Shirley Valentine’ and that was so accurate! Cute chequered table cloths on tables right by the beach. Both have perfect settings for a meal as the sun goes down.

We ate at Koukounaria one evening which had a lovely outdoor terrace and an extensive list of home cooked traditional Greek dishes. Particularly recommend the beef stifado here. It was also recommended to book here as it gets very busy around 8pm.

Fidelio was another favourite, serving lots of Greek dishes with particularly good side salads with most dishes. The local wine here was also very good, and crazily cheap at €7 a litre!

travel

Lisbon

Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, is the perfect place for a weekend city break. Excellent food, plenty of outdoor terraces to soak up the sun and a gorgeous expanse of water at the south of the city, there is plenty to keep you occupied! 


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +1
  • Language: Portuguese

Stay: VIP Executive Éden Aparthotel

We booked the VIP Executive Éden Aparthotel through lastminute.com and loved our stay. One of the key benefits of this hotel was undoubtedly the rooftop swimming pool and terrace, offering panoramic views across Lisbon. There were always sunbeds available, and a bar offering a poolside drinks service.

The beds were comfortable, each room came with air conditioning (very much-needed in the 36 degree heat we experienced in the city!) and daily maid service. Despite the large number of rooms, the hotel never felt crowded.


Do: Walking tour, Time Out Market

Wanting to make the most of our time in the city, we booked a four-hour walking tour of Lisbon through Urban Adventures, which showed us the best of the city through the eyes of a local. Not only did we learn about the history of the city, we also got to sample a variety of local dishes along the way including traditional pastries, port wine, cheese & marmalade. We then finished the trip off with boat trip across the water where we were greeted with a seafood platter and green wine. A highly recommended tour!

The Time Out Market in Lisbon was the original, and a stay in the city isn’t complete without a visit here. There are countless options to choose from, offering food from all over the world. We went to a local dish by chef Marlene Vieiras, and the stand offered specials of the day. Our ‘Wednesday’ dish of Pork belly with clams was delicious!


Eat: Meson Andaluz, Restaurant Mili, Gelados Santini

For a cheap but incredible international meal, head uphill to Restaurant Mili, a local Bangladeshi restaurant that has won a Tripadvisor certificate of excellence, and for good reason. The fish was incredibly fresh and the special chicken curry was authentic and cooked to order so spice levels can be personalised. The meal was finished with a complimentary shot of cherry liquor – local to the area – which rounded the meal off perfectly. It’s also essential that I mention their house wine is €5 a litre here, and no, that is not a typo!

The candlelit steps leading down to Meson Andaluz instantly create a magical feel, and although there is more often than not a long wait for a table, you are seated amongst the storm lamps and given a drinks menu, encouraged to order a drink and soak up the atmosphere until a seat is available. The food here was divine – particular nod to the seafood paella – and the service excellent. It was a little more expensive than the rest of the places we ate, but worth every penny, or euro as it may be!

If it’s sunny and hot, you’ll most likely want an ice cream at some point on your trip, and if that’s the case, make sure you don’t pass by Gelados Santini. There’s a huge variety of flavours and toppings, and its open until midnight every night!


Drink: Topo Chiado, Lost In Esplanada, Rooftop @ VIP Executive Éden Aparthotel

For an afternoon beer in the sunshine, head to Topo Chiado – a gorgeous terrace in the middle of the city centre that is perfect for kicking back with a sangria and people watching. The views over the city from here are amazing, and there are sun loungers on the floor below the bar if you want to really soak up some sun.

Lost In Esplanada is the perfect bar to go to for sweeping views and a great sunset. It’s a fairly steep climb to get there, but once you’re up, you find yourself transported to a magical garden of swinging chairs, candles and fairy lights. Reservations are recommended if you want a table outside.

The rooftop at VIP Executive Éden Aparthotel is a hidden gem; you can’t see it from the street but it’s open to the public, not just guests, and a short ride in the hotels lift will bring you out to an expansive roof terrace complete with bar and swimming pool. Drink prices are very reasonable too!

travel

Crete

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete has many areas popular with holidaymakers, offering everything from sleepy mountain villages to coastal resorts with fine sand beaches. The best bit? Endless blue skies and temperatures that sit around 30 degrees all summer! 


  • Currency: Euro
  • Local time: GMT +2
  • Language: Greek

Resort: Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos is one of the most popular resorts in Crete, and with good reason. The focus of this picturesque town is undoubtably the lake, which is lined with tavernas and bars with people spilling out onto the pavements, happily soaking up the afternoon sun.


Hotel: Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay

The Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay is a 5* hotel offering one of the best All Inclusive deals in the area.

The food here was excellent, and well above usual standards of an all inclusive. I stayed for a week and never ate the same meal twice! Breakfast is served buffet style, and can get quite busy, but it’s so lovely to be able to take your food out onto the terrace and eat overlooking the sea. Lunch options are plentiful, ranging from snacks at the poolside bar, a daily buffet in the main restaurant or an a la carte menu at Elia restaurant (I particularly recommend the salads here!). Dinner is again offered buffet style, but each guest also gets a visit to each of the a la carte restaurants on site (one Greek, one Italian) during their stay.

As expected of an all inclusive, drinks are available pretty much any time, and the cocktail list here is extensive. There is a lovely rooftop bar offering gorgeous views of the bay and I highly recommend leaving some time before dinner to stop by here and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine. As for after dinner, head down to the beach, where the bar stays open late and often offers evening entertainment too.


Restaurants: Patriko

Even if you’re staying at an all inclusive, sometimes you want to venture out of resort and try the local restaurants. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from in Agios Nikolaos, most situated by the water, although there are also several within easy walking distance of Mirabello Beach.

Located a pleasant 15 minute stroll from Mirabello Beach is Patriko, and I cannot recommend the food here highly enough. We went for a mixed souvlaki skewer, which was served with pitta break, tzatsiki and fries, and the quality and taste was exceptional.

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