Heaven on earth hot spots for your best holiday ever

Avoid the crowds and find yourself a holiday bargain
Avoid the crowds and find yourself a holiday bargain
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If you like following your own path rather than trekking thoughtlessly behind the package holiday crowd, then our holiday destination guide will set your heart racing. Discover seven of the best destinations for all of the sun, none of the hassle.

Zaragoza, Spain.

No crowds, but what about the midges?

No crowds, but what about the midges?

If you love the lavishness of a city break but find throngs overwhelming, you’ll adore Zaragoza. Spain’s fifth largest city never sees the same influx of tourists as Madrid or Barcelona, but is their equal in every other way.

Spreading out beside the River Ebro, Zaragoza’s remarkable buildings are a very pleasing mish-mash of Roman, Moorish and medieval influences. The Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar, in the city centre, is bedecked with brightly coloured mosaic domes, breath-taking and cheering in equal measure.

And the food here is some of Spain’s finest – there are thousands of tapas bars boasting local delicacies, while wine bars everywhere offer exemplary and affordable wines from the surrounding Aragon region.

Turin, Italy

Though famed in its own right, most people will consider a jaunt to Florence, Venice, or Rome before they consider Turin. But to do so is to miss out on a spectacularly Baroque Italian city. Bordered by the Alps, with wide avenues and tree-lined boulevards making it eminently walkable, Turin is elegant and stately. Fun fact for the foodies, it may be the birth-place of Nutella but there’s a lot more on offer than just that; populated by scores of art nouveau cafes, it distinguishes itself from many other Italian destinations through its dedication to vegetarian fare, with a tasty choice of meat-free restaurants.

The Azores, Portugal

An untamed archipelago, the Azores is a wild jumble of volcanic outcrops, surrounded by deep blue seas. The landscape is by turns lushly tropical, with rich greenery and pineapple plantations, and smokingly sulphurous – those volcanoes are active, mud lakes bubble away like a witches’ cauldron – while the seas are teaming with dolphins, killer whales and Portuguese man’o’wars.

The pace of life is slow but the Azores is unspoilt, perfect for the intrepid travelling. Although sunshine is often brilliant, a certain level of climactic inconsistency means you’ll need to pack the insect repellent for when it gets inclement. Buy through cashback site Quidco, which who have teamed up with Wilkos and get your essentials completely free* after cashback.

Sunny Scotland

Arguably, not a destination where you can guarantee the good weather, but parts of Scotland have beaches to rival some of the best in the world.

A visit to Luskentyre on the Isle of Harris is spell-binding with it’s wide white sides and blue skies; nature lovers will want to head for Inverness for some dolphin and whale watching, while a trip up the shores of Loch Lomond, over the Rest and Be Thankful and on to Inverary and Oban, with a Calmac trip around the isles, is one for the bucket list. Be warned, the midges are deadly!

Top tip: You can cut the cost of getting to Luskentyre by checking the best deals online. You can get flights from £80 flying from Glasgow to Stornoway with Flybe plus 1% of your order value back in cashback through Quidco.

Menorca, Balearic Islands

The waters lining Menorca’s coast are so vibrantly turquoise you’d swear they had been photo-shopped, were you not drinking them in with your own eyes. Unspoilt sands, idyllic beaches, brilliant sun . . . everything you could ask for in a fantasy beach holiday, without the holiday set that falls upon it’s more popular neighbour Mallorca.

Any water babies will be in heaven: surfing, paddle-boarding, diving, swimming, sailing – Menorca offers it all. Stock up on sunscreen and beach essentials via cashback site Quidco (it’ll be scorching) and make the most of this watersports paradise.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

For those who love their holidays to have a fairytale feel, the panoramic views of Lake Bled will satisfy your desire for a touch of the magical. Nestled in the foothills of the Julian Alps, and surrounded by dense forest, this crystalline lake contains a picturesque island in its centre, dominated on one side by the fabulously-named Bled Castle, a medieval structure towering above a dramatic precipice.

For entertainment, Lake Bled offers hiking, swimming, canyoning, tubing, and of course a host of decadent cafes to relax in. With thermal springs as well, Lake Bled offers all the lushness of an alpine resort, at a fraction of the price.

Gozo, Malta

“Pomskizillious and gromphiberous.” Those were the words Edward Lear used to describe the Gozo coastline, and if that leaves you a little gazumped, he really meant: it looks like paradise, with apricot sands, gleaming pristine seas, and no hordes of sun-worshippers to break the idyll.

Limestone outcrops fringe the island, the most famous an arch called the Azure Window, now known for appearing in Game of Thrones (it’s also a prime spot for cliff-diving). The capital is a fortified citadel called Rabat – a perfect miniature city of golden stoned houses, sleepy cafes and baroque churches.

Wherever you end up this summer it’s best to be prepared before you head off in search of the sun; make sure you’ve stocked up on sunscreen, insect repellent and beach games as part of your essential holiday kit. Buy it online via cashback site Quidco and you earn money back as you spend.

*As an added extra, Quidco are offering Scotsman readers a £13 cashback bonus for signing up and purchasing with Wilkos. That means you could get £13 worth of holiday essentials at no cost once you receive your bonus!

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