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Finola Murtagh

Maldives-Holiday

Our favourite holidays on a budget

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There was once a time where  ‘budget’ felt like a dirty word; but as I’ve got older, ‘budget’ is one of my favourite words in the dictionary! I just don’t see the point in paying above the odds for things when there are cheaper alternatives, and why should holidays be any different? Don’t be mistaken either, a ‘budget’ or ‘value’ holiday doesn’t mean there’s any compromise on quality… just take a look at these incredible hotels below.

 

Greece with Manos

Manos specialise in authentic holidays, including Cyprus, Turkey and as far afield as Goa. But my favourite Manos destination by far is Greece. With lots of quaint little islands, quiet beaches and untouched landscapes, it’s the perfect place to relax and, of course, save those all-important pounds. Manos creates that family-run feeling with a simple Bed & Breakfast or Self Catering option, so your holiday will be more affordable, plus you can save some money by arranging to cook in your apartment or dine out for less locally.

Manos holidays

 

The Canaries

Not only will the Canaries warm you with their sunshine during our winter: they’re also fantastically affordable for families and couples alike. Found around a four-hour flight away, you won’t be left shelling out for more exotic long-haul flights or the mega-luxurious likes of Mexico and Cuba. Instead you’ll find great quality hotels and beautiful beaches without breaking the bank. I’d recommend Mirador del Atlantico in Gran Canaria. I went here with my Mum a couple of years ago and enjoyed a spacious apartment, delicious All Inclusive meals and stunning views from the pool area to the curved, golden bay below. It’s a thumbs-up from me!

Holidays to the Canaries

 

Thrifty Turkey

 

Long-hailed as the value-for-money hotspot, it’s no surprise that Turkey’s made my list for the best budget holidays. Your money just goes further here: more space, more sunbeds and maybe even your own private patch of beach! I’d always recommend going All Inclusive in Turkey too. Again, it’s great value for money, plus the fact that I always want to stay hydrated, especially in the high summer months. For a budget-friendly adult paradise, check out our Sunprime Hotels. There’s a spa, gym and fitness classes in each hotel, with four fab hotels to choose from across Turkey… although I must admit, Sunprime Dogan Side Beach comes out on top for me (there’s just something about all those leafy palm trees and cosy outdoor seating areas!).

Sunprime Hotels

 

So where takes your fancy for a thrifty holiday? Do you have any money saving tips to share? Let me know in the comments below.

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This summer’s top trends

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Are you still on the hunt for this summer’s getaway? Sometimes it’s hard to decide where to go, and it seems that everyone has their own opinions on each and every destination. That’s where our Holiday Report comes in. It gives us a general feeling of what you (our amazing UK holidaymakers) are thinking about where to go. So, let’s take a look at what’s on this summer’s hot list…

 

All Inclusive holidays

As a result of the weak pound, All Inclusive holidays are falling into favour more than ever before. With the price of flights, hotel, food and drink already sorted and paid for before you jet-off, there’s less to worry about in terms of an unsteady exchange rate, as you won’t need as much cash. A staggering 61% of us will go All Inclusive, for peace of mind and bottomless piña coladas, of course. I’ll cheers to that!

All Inclusive holidays

 

Turkey holidays

One trend that’s really stood out this year is the shift towards non-European destinations. Almost half (43%) of holidaymakers said they’d be more likely to travel outside of the EU compared to the last couple of years. And, nearly a whopping half of all of our package holidays are to locations that don’t have the Euro. But, why? A lot of it’s to do with the weakness of the pound against the euro and us wanting more for our money with exchange rates. This is also reflected in the popularity of Turkey… it’s now our second most popular destination!

Turkey holidays

 

North African adventures

The typical family holiday used to revolve around the pool, with many of us not leaving the comfort of the resort. But now, we’re branching out and want the kids to explore the wonders of the world! North African countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco are packed with ancient history, endless activities and dramatic landscapes. So this year, maybe it’s time to swap the swimming pool for souks and the ‘del Sols’ for the desert. Want to find out more? Browse our full Holiday Report below.

Thomas Cook Holiday Report 2019

So, have these top three new trends given you some food for thought? Where would you like to jet off to this year? Let me know in the comments below.

 

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6 reasons to book you summer 2020 holiday now

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Now, I know it might seem like a long time to wait, but now’s the perfect time to book next summer’s holiday. Could you tempt your loved one to plan a romantic break now? Do you want to get your family holiday sorted out in plenty of time? With an amazing range of getaways and some fantastic options to manage your money, that holiday you’re dreaming of could be sorted before you know it.

#1/ Free kids’ places

We all know that family holidays can get expensive, so what better way to save money than booking a holiday that has a free kids’ place? Next year, your kid’s holiday’s on us! You can enjoy everything you’d usually expect, like flights and transfers, plus plenty of fun and games! Find your free kids’ place below.

Find my kid’s free place

 

#2/ Something to look forward to

Family Beach Holidays

Half the excitement of a holiday is definitely the build-up to the big day! Booking in advance means you can get everything sorted in plenty of time!

#3/ I need…

Whether you’re after a serene honeymoon suite or an adjoining room to keep an eye on the kids, you’ll be able to get in there first with any special requests.

#4/ Fly your way

Smaller, regional airports tend to be everyone’s first choice, so take your pick as soon as possible. Less time in the car means you can get into the holiday spirit quickly and you won’t have to worry about the long drive home.

#5/ Pick of the bunch

Best hotels for families

It’s easy to choose your dream holiday destination, but it might feel like you need to compromise on where you stay. When you book early, you’ll be able to pick the perfect hotel without settling for second best.

#6/ Plenty of time to plan

When you book early you’ll be able to plan in lots of exciting excursions and save up for some special meals out. Get the most out of your time away by coming up with some magical ideas with your other half or little ones.

What are your tips for booking early? Have you already got next year’s holiday sorted? I’d love to hear what’s on your list of things to do.

 

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Celebrating National Piña Colada Day

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It’s my favourite day of the year. No, it’s not my birthday. And no, the weather’s not unseasonably warm for 25 December. It’s actually Piña Colada Day. Although I’ve never shied away from a Pornstar Martini or a Mojito, it’s always the Piña Colada that comes out on top. It just has that way of transporting you from your back garden to a sandy Caribbean shore in a matter of sips. So, today we celebrate the rum, the coconut and the pineapple coming together in this summery concoction. Take a look at my recipe below to toast this cocktail!

2 parts coconut flavoured rum
1 part coconut cream
Pineapple juice (to taste)
Fresh pineapple chunk

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add coconut rum and coconut cream. Fill a cocktail glass of your choice with ice, before shaking and straining into the glass. Top up with your perfect amount of pineapple juice. Garnish with a piece of pineapple, and get summer sipping!

If cocktails are your thing, take a look at our Cook’s Club Hotels. Did you know, each and every hotel has a cocktail menu created by top Berlin mixologist, David Wiedemann? With premium ingredients and branded spirits, you can wave goodbye to those watery holiday mixers of the past. Plus, they’re aesthetically pleasing enough to secure a spot on your Insta feed. I mean, just take a look at these beauties…

So where do you want to be summer sipping? Do our Cook’s Club Hotels hit the spot? Let me know in the comments below!

Cook’s Club Hotels

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Best city breaks for families

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As a couple, you might have strolled Dubrovnik’s ancient streets, enjoyed a candlelit meal in Rome and taken in London’s stunning skyline. But if you’re missing all the culture of a city break because you now have little ones in tow, fear not: these cities are still worth going to with kids. There’s no need to compromise on an amazing holiday just because your lifestyle’s changed. Take a look at my suggestions for family city breaks and I promise you might just reconsider another week around the kids’ pool.

 

London

London City BreaksIf you’ve never been on a city break with tiny tots before, London’s a great place to start. There’s no faffing around with different currencies or worrying about a language barrier, plus you probably already know your way around the London Underground. There’s lots of incredible free things to do here too, so between the price of a train ticket and a few meals out, you’re in for a pretty affordable long weekend. Take kids on a journey through time at the Natural History Museum, entertain them with the sights and sounds of Borough Market or head off for a picnic in Greenwich Park.

Take a look at London and some of our other UK city breaks.

UK city breaks

 

Rome

Rome City BreaksRome has a rep for being notoriously hot and busy, so hit up the city with the Colosseum during its cooler, quieter periods in autumn and spring. Enrol the little ones in the Rome Gladiator School so they can play soldiers for an afternoon, watch a traditional puppet show and help make all their wildest wishes come true at the Trevi Fountain. And when it comes to dinner time, let’s give Italy a pat on the back for its surprisingly kid-friendly food. Fresh, stone-baked pizza? Check. Messy (but delicious!) authentic spag bol? Double check. Generous helpings of world-famous gelato? I’m sold too.

Rome city breaks

 

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik City Breaks If you’re looking for a family city break without compromising on coastline, Dubrovnik’s got your name written all over it. Banje beach is just a short walk from the Old Town, so you can make light work of paddling in the sea and doing lots of sightseeing. A few days is really all you’ll need to get a taste of Croatia’s culture, but there’s no saying you can’t go island hopping, swim in salt lakes and wander through waterfalls too. You’ll be sure to wear the kids out with all that fresh air and fun, so use your spare time to stroll the real King’s Landing from Game of Thrones while they catch some Zs in the buggy.

Dubrovnik city breaks

So there you have it: three very different but equally fantastic options for a family city break. Where’s taken your fancy? Let me know in the comments below.

The post Best city breaks for families appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Payday holidays (and living your best life for less)

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Now that my bank account is looking slightly less sorry for itself, I can’t help but get excited thinking about all the things I could buy. But too often, I end up either on a massive clothes haul or splurging on expensive make-up. If you’re guilty of the same, maybe it’s time to think about ways to better spend your pay packet. Rather than material things that come and go, why not treat yourself to a holiday where you can make amazing memories that’ll last a lifetime (and for much less than you’d think!)

 

Deal appeal

Did you know we have a page completely devoted to deals? It might sound like a trick, or too good to be true, but it really isn’t (promise!) Just choose your budget and we’ll do the rest. You can find holidays below £299: you’ll have an amazing time in the sun and barely a dent in your bank balance. Maybe you’ll choose to go All Inclusive for even better value for money , or maybe you want to stay at one of our hottest hotels? Whether you’re looking for an adults-only escape or a holiday jam-packed with family fun, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Our deals page

 

Trusty Turkey

Whenever anyone asks me which destination is best value for money, I’ll always sing Turkey’s praises. I simply think it’s unmatched in terms of price, space and quality. If you head to the likes of Antalya, expect massive premium resorts with endless activities at an affordable price tag. Or, if big hotels aren’t your bag, make Olu Deniz your port of call with its glimmering Blue Lagoon and restaurant and bar-lined beachfront. The flight to Turkey’s around four hours, which means it’s not too tiresome for families with little ones. Thanks to its handy location, slap bang between Europe and Asia, you can expect great weather pretty much the whole time between April and October.

Turkey holidays

 

City breaks

Now’s the perfect time for a city break. You could be forgiven for thinking city breaks are all about wrapping up warm and wandering around Christmas markets, but in reality there’s so much more to do in summer. Think tapas and red wine on Barcelona’s sunny promenade, tram rides in Lisbon and Monaco’s glamorous marinas. My best friend has just got back from Krakow and it was a staggering 32 degrees; perfect weather for a picnic in Planty Park and strolling the grounds of Wawel Cathedral. Krakow’s also super affordable. A meal, two cocktails and a dessert to share (plus tip!) in Krakow’s Old Town set her and her boyfriend back just £30.

City breaks

 

And, as if I haven’t saved you enough cash with these suggestions, there’s also a Thomas Cook travel money rate sale on until Monday. Click the banner below to discover all the savings you can make…

*Terms and conditions apply: https://thomascookmoney.com/terms-and-conditions/

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Thomas Cook Book Club: Interview with Victoria Hislop

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This summer’s HOTTEST beach read…

Still looking for your summer holiday books? This month we’re speaking to 10-million-copy selling Victoria Hislop about her latest bestseller, Those Who Are Loved. Set against the stunning backdrop of Greece, it’s the perfect book to lose yourself in this summer. It has also spent two weeks at no.1 in the bestseller chart and with 5* reviews across the board. One not to miss from your suitcase this holiday!


What’s the book about?

This powerful new novel from Victoria Hislop (author of The Island) sheds light on the complexity and trauma of Greece’s past and weaves it into the epic tale of an ordinary woman compelled to live an extraordinary life. Let’s find out a bit more…

 

Victoria Hislop meets Thomas Cook! Find out what she has to say…

What inspired you to write Those Who Are Loved? 

About a decade ago, I was taken to see the Temple of Poseidon just south of Athens and from a distance I saw an island – the island of Makronisos – and was intrigued by it.  It turned out to be a former island prison – where communist prisoners were sent after the civil war – and I knew immediately that this would be the focal point of my next novel.  I discovered that women were also sent there, which cemented my resolve to bring this place more into the open with my writing.

 

Why did you choose the German occupation of Greece as the destination for Those Who Are Loved?

The novel covers the period from the 1930s right through the Nazi occupation of Greece (1941-44) and into the civil war (which took place from 1946-49) and beyond, almost to the present day.  This is a very unknown part of modern Greek history and most of my readers have been surprised by the depth of suffering in Greece during that time (particularly 1941-49), and what people had to do in order to survive.  As often happens in my novels, characters are confronted by real decisions and conflict – and many of them are women (who are the least written about people in non-fiction history books).

 

What’s your favourite summer holiday destination?

Crete – I love Crete because, although it is an island, it is like a small country with so much variety and richness of landscape.  It has mountains, plateaux, beaches and clear blue sea!  And the food is fantastic too –fresh ingredients, lots of modern and imaginative cuisine and some really adventurous chefs now.  There are masses of fresh fish but, more importantly for me as a vegetarian, extensive uses of beans and pulses – so I always eat too much!

 

Who has had the biggest influence on you as a writer?

If there is one writer, it has to be Emily Brontë who of course only wrote one novel – but what a hugely influential novel it was!  I first read Wuthering Heights when I was thirteen and it was one of the first adult books I really enjoyed and it marked a break for me from children’s/young adult literature.  Its significance for me was that place, environment and even weather can play a really important role in a story – certainly the houses (Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange) are like characters in the novel.  And this has influenced me a lot – to show how a place influences behaviour and creates atmosphere.

 

Which of your novels have you most enjoyed writing?

I enjoyed writing Those Who Are Loved hugely – mostly because I was learning so much about Greek history as I went along.  This made it an immensely satisfying book to write and I am almost a different person as a result.

 

What’s your favourite book of all time?

One of them is definitely Wuthering Heights (as above), but another is Nutshell by Ian McEwan – it’s a work of genius.

 

What type of books do you like to read on a relaxing beach holiday?

I love to read books that are relevant to the country I am in.  I was on the beach recently in Colombia and the only author that seemed right at that moment was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the time of Cholera – it was set only a few kilometres from where I was lying on the sand and was totally page-turning, too.

 

If you were to write a book based abroad again, where would you choose?

Definitely Greece!  It’s an unending source of inspiration for me.  And I am already planning the next story.

 

What book is currently at the top of your must-read list?

I am a judge for the Sunday Times Young Writers Award (famously won by Sally Rooney a couple of years ago) so I have forty books to read this summer, and they are all at the top of my list!  I am excited to read them all.

The post Thomas Cook Book Club: Interview with Victoria Hislop appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Which bikini should I wear on holiday?

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I go to Ibiza next week, and shopping for holiday bikinis has taken up a surprising amount of time. But what makes it so hard? I think it’s because there are so many different colours and styles to choose from. There’s a lot to think about. Will this bikini look good with a tan? Will it stay in fashion? And how on earth can I avoid those tan lines?  Well, worry no more. Take a look below to find out about which bikini is right for you and where you could be wearing it!

 

Effortless one piece

For cool summer vibes, Cook’s Club is the place to be, so this one piece swimsuit will fit right in. The orange and cream striped design screams summer and the casual nature of a one piece is perfect for effortless beach chic. Pale or peachy shades are the best for bringing out a tan too, so be sure to make a beeline for pastel colours, especially towards the end of your holiday. You could even pair it with a cute denim skirt or a pair of wide leg trousers to take it from day to night!

 

Cool crochet

Inject some bohemian spirit into your summer wardrobe with a crochet bikini and cover up. After Coachella this year, I’ve seen tassels and crochet just about everywhere, and this style is the perfect partner for a stay at Casa Cook. Casa Cook Hotels showcase natural materials throughout their rooms as well as rugged furniture, so a pic in this outfit in one of their swim-up rooms is sure to get those Instagram likes rolling in.

 

Classic black bandeau

When it comes to shopping for a classic bikini, the black bandeau can’t be beaten. Why, you ask? For bikinis (and clothes in general) I always reach for darker tones as they’re flattering on everyone and always stay in fashion. And although white bikinis can look great, stains from sticky sun cream can soon see them yellowing. A strapless top is always a winner too. All I want to be left with from holiday is amazing memories, not those pesky tan lines!

 

Tie-dye dream

If you want to bring some of the 90s fashion revival on your holiday, a tie-dye bikini is a stunning (yet subtle) way of doing so. I love a good print and tie-dye is no exception: I’m especially a fan of this pretty blue number above that was worn at one of our SENTIDO Hotels & Resorts. Pair with a cool pair of denim cut offs for a timeless summer look that we’ve seen generations before, but somehow always looks fresh and new.

 

So, what will you be wearing this summer around the pool? Which style most suits you? Let me know in the comments below!

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Want to be at Wimbledon 2019?

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I can’t believe it’s that time of year again. Wimbledon’s on the horizon, which means long, sunny days on the tennis courts for the circuit’s stars, and hopefully long, sunny days on Henman Hill (enjoying strawberries and cream) for some of us! Although I’ve only ever watched it through a screen, I think Wimbledon’s one of my favourite sporting events. There’s just something about all those famous faces, crisp tennis whites and some good old fashioned British pride.

 

If you were thinking about experiencing the live atmosphere one day, you might be surprised to know that there’s still chance to watch the likes of Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic this year. Over at Thomas Cook Sport, there are still plenty of tickets going to catch some of the year’s biggest games. There are all kinds of incredible extras too. At the Courtside restaurant you can enjoy a delicious three-course lunch menu, or a traditional afternoon tea if that’s more up your street. Or there’s the exclusive Champions Room restaurant, boasting the best in service, fine dining and a complimentary bar.

 

Book Wimbledon today

 

Let’s take a look at some key upcoming dates you could grab a seat at!

Qualifying begins 24 June
The Draw 28 June
Pre-event Media Conferences 29 June – 30 June
Order of Play released 30 June
The Championships commences 1 July
Centre Court – Day 1 1 July
Centre Court – Day 2 2 July
Centre Court – Day 3 3 July
Centre Court – Day 4 4 July
Centre Court – Day 5 5 July
Centre Court – Day 6 6 July
Centre Court – Day 7 8 July
Centre Court – Day 8 9 July
Centre Court – Day 9 10 July
Centre Court – Day 10 11 July
Centre Court – Day 11 12 July
Centre Court – Day 12 (Ladies Final) 13 July
Centre Court – Day 13 (Mens Final) 14 July

 

So, do you reckon you could swap cheering from the living room to rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous this year? What’s your favourite thing about Wimbledon? Let me know in the comments below.

The post Want to be at Wimbledon 2019? appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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A weekend away in Reykjavik

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A city break to Reykjavik makes the perfect choice for a weekend away. You’ll lose yourself in landscapes which are totally different to those of home: swap rolling green hills for black volcanic mountains, blue geothermal pools and dramatic glaciers. Here’s my breakdown of how to spend 48hrs here. Wrap up warm, put your exploring hat on and get ready for the trip of a lifetime…

 

Saturday

Firstly, I’d recommend you hop on the earliest flight possible to really make the most of your weekend in Iceland’s capital. You want to ease into your Reykjavik city break in style, so make your first port of call the iconic Blue Lagoon. Here, you can enjoy a host of spa treatments and relax in mineral-rich, milky blue water. Heated by geothermal activity, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a busy morning of travelling.

After a few hours bathing in the open Icelandic air, head to Perlan. You’ll be there within the hour, and this museum’s an amazing way to spend an afternoon; getting  an insight into Iceland’s landscapes without  having to be outside. As the aural activity of the Northern Lights isn’t the strongest in June, take this chance to watch Áróra, the first ever 8K northern lights planetarium show. There’s also an exhibition on glaciers and ice caves, which looks into the impact of global warming too.

Reykjavik

Sunday

After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to delve into Iceland’s more rugged side. Why not take a day trip along the coastline to discover bubbling geysers and towering waterfalls? With a tour guide leading, you can relax and soak up all the sights at your leisure, snapping pics along the way. Or, you could take to the seas for a few hours of whale watching on a luxurious yacht. Complete with sea life talks, you’ll learn all about the deep blue while spotting some of nature’s most incredible creatures.

Or maybe your idea of a good time is sampling some of Iceland’s finest tipples and winding down before you head back to work on Monday? If that’s the case, the Eimverk Distillery is the place for you. Showcasing spirits made from 100% Icelandic barley, it’s traditional in a very different sense! From finding out their behind-the-scenes processes to sampling fragrant gin and whiskey, it’s the perfect way to round-off your trip: plus you can get your hands on some souvenirs to bring home.

Reykjavik City Breaks

So there’s my rough guide to a weekend in Iceland. What do you think of my top picks? Is there anywhere you think I should add to my 48hr itinerary? Let me know in the comments below.

The post A weekend away in Reykjavik appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Maldives-Holiday

A weekend away in Reykjavik

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A city break to Reykjavik makes the perfect choice for a weekend away. You’ll lose yourself in landscapes which are totally different to those of home: swap rolling green hills for black volcanic mountains, blue geothermal pools and dramatic glaciers. Here’s my breakdown of how to spend 48hrs here. Wrap up warm, put your exploring hat on and get ready for the trip of a lifetime…

 

Saturday

Firstly, I’d recommend you hop on the earliest flight possible to really make the most of your weekend in Iceland’s capital. You want to ease into your Reykjavik city break in style, so make your first port of call the iconic Blue Lagoon. Here, you can enjoy a host of spa treatments and relax in mineral-rich, milky blue water. Heated by geothermal activity, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a busy morning of travelling.

After a few hours bathing in the open Icelandic air, head to Perlan. You’ll be there within the hour, and this museum’s an amazing way to spend an afternoon; getting  an insight into Iceland’s landscapes without  having to be outside. As the aural activity of the Northern Lights isn’t the strongest in June, take this chance to watch Áróra, the first ever 8K northern lights planetarium show. There’s also an exhibition on glaciers and ice caves, which looks into the impact of global warming too.

Sunday

After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to delve into Iceland’s more rugged side. Why not take a day trip along the coastline to discover bubbling geysers and towering waterfalls? With a tour guide leading, you can relax and soak up all the sights at your leisure, snapping pics along the way. Or, you could take to the seas for a few hours of whale watching on a luxurious yacht. Complete with sea life talks, you’ll learn all about the deep blue while spotting some of nature’s most incredible creatures.

Or maybe your idea of a good time is sampling some of Iceland’s finest tipples and winding down before you head back to work on Monday? If that’s the case, the Eimverk Distillery is the place for you. Showcasing spirits made from 100% Icelandic barley, it’s traditional in a very different sense! From finding out their behind-the-scenes processes to sampling fragrant gin and whiskey, it’s the perfect way to round-off your trip: plus you can get your hands on some souvenirs to bring home.

Reykjavik City Breaks

So there’s my rough guide to a weekend in Iceland. What do you think of my top picks? Is there anywhere you think I should add to my 48hr itinerary? Let me know in the comments below.

The post A weekend away in Reykjavik appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Maldives-Holiday

A weekend away in Reykjavik

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A city break to Reykjavik makes the perfect choice for a weekend away. You’ll lose yourself in landscapes which are totally different to those of home: swap rolling green hills for black volcanic mountains, blue geothermal pools and dramatic glaciers. Here’s my breakdown of how to spend 48hrs here. Wrap up warm, put your exploring hat on and get ready for the trip of a lifetime…

 

Saturday

Firstly, I’d recommend you hop on the earliest flight possible to really make the most of your weekend in Iceland’s capital. You want to ease into your Reykjavik city break in style, so make your first port of call the iconic Blue Lagoon. Here, you can enjoy a host of spa treatments and relax in mineral-rich, milky blue water. Heated by geothermal activity, it’s the perfect way to unwind after a busy morning of travelling.

After a few hours bathing in the open Icelandic air, head to Perlan. You’ll be there within the hour, and this museum’s an amazing way to spend an afternoon; getting  an insight into Iceland’s landscapes without  having to be outside. As the aural activity of the Northern Lights isn’t the strongest in June, take this chance to watch Áróra, the first ever 8K northern lights planetarium show. There’s also an exhibition on glaciers and ice caves, which looks into the impact of global warming too.

Reykjavik

Sunday

After a good night’s sleep, it’s time to delve into Iceland’s more rugged side. Why not take a day trip along the coastline to discover bubbling geysers and towering waterfalls? With a tour guide leading, you can relax and soak up all the sights at your leisure, snapping pics along the way. Or, you could take to the seas for a few hours of whale watching on a luxurious yacht. Complete with sea life talks, you’ll learn all about the deep blue while spotting some of nature’s most incredible creatures.

Or maybe your idea of a good time is sampling some of Iceland’s finest tipples and winding down before you head back to work on Monday? If that’s the case, the Eimverk Distillery is the place for you. Showcasing spirits made from 100% Icelandic barley, it’s traditional in a very different sense! From finding out their behind-the-scenes processes to sampling fragrant gin and whiskey, it’s the perfect way to round-off your trip: plus you can get your hands on some souvenirs to bring home.

Reykjavik City Breaks

So there’s my rough guide to a weekend in Iceland. What do you think of my top picks? Is there anywhere you think I should add to my 48hr itinerary? Let me know in the comments below.

The post A weekend away in Reykjavik appeared first on Thomas Cook Blog.

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Where is Love Island 2019 filmed and how can you find your own piece of paradise?

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If you haven’t made the cut for this year’s series of Love Island or you’re already happily loved-up, you can still get that tropical holiday vibe without the drama and gossip. This year, just like previous years, Love Island 2019 is filmed on the beautiful island of Majorca. And, I’m sure we’ve all fantasised about entering the doors of that stunning villa, dedicated to a a summer of fun. But if it’s a hotel stay you’re looking for, I’ve got the coolest places along the Majorcan coast, whether you’re with your other half or hoping for a bit of downtime with your best mates. Either way, you can get a taste for that villa life in one of these gems.

Cook’s Club Palma Beach

Best for beach vibes: If you live for weekends spent in cool cocktail bars and at chilled House events, I can guarantee that Cook’s Club Palma Beach will be a bit of you. Last September, I spent a week in the Cook’s Club in Hersonissos and it suited me down to the ground. With vegan treats, mixologist-made cocktails, minimal beats and DJs at night, everything you need for the holiday of a lifetime is in one place. But if you do want to adventure into nearby Palma, swanky rooftop bars and tapas spots by the sea await.

Cook’s Club Palma Beach

 

BH Mallorca

Best for groups of friends: If you want to take your party experience up a level, head to BH Mallorca for pool parties, club nights and an onsite waterpark. It’s found just 350m from the Magaluf strip for all those long, summer nights with your best friends. There are plenty of places to chill out by the pool and with KISS FM DJs hosting, you’ll be in the holiday mood all day, every day.

BH Mallorca

 

Hotel Astoria Playa

Best for couples: Found the other side of the island in a quieter resort called Alcudia, adults-only Hotel Astoria Playa is the place to be for some one-on-one time with your other half. The minimalist white design gives the hotel a fresh feel, and it’s just a short walk from Alcudia’s stunning Blue Flag beach (anyone would forgive you for thinking you were in the Caribbean!) There are cabanas to chill on by the pool and the historic Old Town right on your doorstep, too.

Hotel Astoria Playa

So which of these hotels would you couple up with? What do you look for in a holiday with your friends or partner? Let me know in the comments below.

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Father’s Day gift inspiration

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It’s that time of year again. Father’s Day is around the corner, and once again I’m left without a clue of what to get him. Although my Dad is easy-going, he deserves to be spoilt once in a while, and as a keen sports fan I’d like to get him more than just a West Ham mug this year! This summer, there are lots of exciting sporting events coming up, so choosing just the one isn’t easy.

There is something that makes it easy, though: a Thomas Cook Gift Card. Simply load up the card with however much cash you’d like, and he can choose from a host of amazing matches and big events. And if there’s any money left over, he can put it towards the next one, and the next…

The only annoying thing is that you can’t guarantee he’ll pick you as his plus one! Get inspired below by this summer’s big sporting days and give your dad a gift to remember.

 

Our top Thomas Cook Sport picks

Cricket crazy: Head to the Thomas Cook Sport Terrace at Old Trafford for a free pint & picnic bag, chilled sofa seating and fantastic vies from the boundary rope.

Summer scrum: Scotland rugby fan? Pick up tickets to the Guinness Six Nations complete with hotel stay. It’s the best way to see the world’s top teams.

Motorsports mad: Choose the VIP Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Experience at Silverstone for an open bar, complimentary canapés, official polo shirt and… oh, the big race!

Dads & darts: For the best night out in the world of sports, make Blackpool your mission to see the 2019 Betfred World Matchplay. Just don’t blame the hangover on us.

An Ace gift: It’s the most iconic sporting event of the summer and this year, you can be courtside at Wimbledon. Soak up the electric atmosphere, watch the stars and enjoy some strawberries and cream.

So, how does that sound? If you’d like to find out more about these breaks and so many others, take a look below.

Explore Thomas Cook Sport

Tempted to pick up a gift for Dad today? Choose one of our Thomas Cook Gift Cards.

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The Cook’s Club music scene

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Music’s on everyone’s mind today with the Eurovision Song Contest tomorrow. But if big ballads and cheesy tunes aren’t your thing, I know somewhere with chilled poolside playlists day and night…

Mojito in hand. Feet dangling in the pool. Cool, summery music, from funky 80s to Techno rhythms. There’s only one place I could be: Cook’s Club. Scattered all across the Med and far beyond to even warmer climes like El Gouna and Gambia, they each have four things in common: a great music scene, incredible cocktails, the best of the world’s street food and stripped-back design.

But today, I’d love to focus on the music. Like any long car journey or night on the town, music makes or breaks an experience, and I don’t see why a week in a hotel would be any different! So let’s take a look at all the tunes you can enjoy at Cook’s Club, from dawn ‘til dusk.

#sunsoundtracks

Playing throughout the day and into golden hour are sun soundtracks. There’s a real mix of music, but each track has the same uplifting, summery feel. And if you have a sore head from the night before, don’t worry! There’s nothing too loud or heavy, it’s just the right amount of atmosphere for catching some sun, snoozing in the shade or enjoying a bit of brunch. Take a listen below and get in the Cook’s Club state of mind!

DJ performances and theme nights

At Cook’s Club, there’s often an event on; Latin nights, R&B parties and BBQ cookouts to name just a few. It varies from hotel to hotel, but there’s something unique to be discovered wherever you go. When the DJ performs, he always gets a feel for the crowd, playing music based on the vibe of the evening and who’s chilling at the bar. The music carries on ‘til midnight, but the early hours of the morning are all yours to explore the nearby nightlife and beach bars.

 

For me, it’s the perfect balance between chilling out and having somewhere with a bit of soul. What makes a perfect holiday for you? Have you got any questions about Cook’s Club? Feel free to ask me in the comments.

 

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All aboard 2019’s best ships

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With seemingly endless dining options, fancy on board features and countless cabin types, it’s a struggle to know where to begin when it comes to choosing a cruise. That’s why I’ve decided to help you find the perfect ship for you. And, if you’ve already sailed the high seas on big names like P&O and Royal Caribbean, you might be surprised to find that this year’s top picks are actually better-kept secrets…

Cabins fit for royalty

Oceania’s Marina offers the ultimate in cabin luxury, so much so, that they’re actually referred to as suites and staterooms. With original artwork, rich wood and an earthy colour palette, you’ll feel like royalty in no time at all. Or maybe you’d like to treat yourself to a stay in an opulent Owner’s Suite, which showcases everything you’d expect from a 5-star hotel. Each has its own bedroom, dining area and so much more, plus they feature iconic furnishings from the Ralph Lauren Home Collection.

Elite entertainment

From the lavish San Remo Casino to the panoramic Pasha Club Disco, MSC Sinfonia has plenty to keep you entertained during your sailing. There’s also the San Carlo Theatre which is home to spectacular Cirque du Soleil-style shows in a lovely setting, with a pretty starlit ceiling and comfortable red and gold seating. It’s also a popular venue for early evening dancing, late-night cabaret singing and magic acts.

If you’re a fan of stage and screen, Viking Sun has a wealth of live performances and cinematic classics. There are unique shows, ranging from folk dancers to cabaret singers. Plus, with two on board movie theatres, you can see Golden Age favourites like Roman Holiday or the first appearances of Hollywood’s biggest starts. Or, if your idea of entertainment is more active, there’s also a walking track, an aquavit terrace and a spa and fitness facility.

Food

The finest dining

From the skyscrapers of Shanghai to the streets of Paris, Oceania Riviera will transport you around the work with its incredible choice of restaurants. Red Ginger serves contemporary interpretations of Asian classics, while Toscana will indulge the taste buds of those who love Italian cuisine. Or there’s Jacques, decorated with heirloom antiques and serving French fair, or the Waves Grill for All-American BBQ favourites.

Windstar’s Wind Spirit boasts The Amphora restaurant, giving you the very best of the Med’s flavours. The sample menu features mouth-watering dishes like Turkish lamb kofta, braised beef moussaka and crisp apple strudel, plus an international cheese trolley for those that have less of a sweet tooth. It’s the perfect place to dine with your loved one, sipping a special glass of bubbly while looking out to sea through the grand picture windows.

 

 

Read more about 2019 cruises in our latest edition of Cruise News.

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Family travel tips and packing list

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Holidays are all about having something to look forward to in the sun, but if there’s something that casts a slight cloud over that experience for me, it’s packing. For days and sometimes weeks beforehand I’m in a panic about making sure I’ve got everything I need (toiletries, bits and bobs and that all important passport), that’s why I thought it’d be great to pull together a holiday packing checklist for families. I’ve included some of my top tips for families going away together too, and I hope this guide gives you some inspiration on how to make those holidays with little ones easier…

 

Click the image below and print out your checklist before you travel.

Another thing worth mentioning if you’re going on holiday with babies or toddlers, are the Bambino Packages which are available at our Sunwing Family Resorts. You can pre-book these before you go. The medium package includes a pushchair, high chair and a Lollo & Bernie towel, while the large package includes all this, a potty, toilet stool, baby bouncer and more!

Worried about packing enough toys or games, or making sure you’ve got Wi-Fi to keep the kids entertained? If you’re on holiday with older children, our SunConnect Resorts have plenty to do, from mini discos and shows to treasure hunts and photo walks. There’s also free Wi-Fi throughout and a Teen Lounge with gaming consoles, so you could possibly leave those iPads or other devices at home.

 

Need some travel tips too…?

Leave in plenty of time

When you’ve got little ones in tow, it’s always a good idea to leave a good 45 mins early for the airport. Not only does this extra time account for any traffic on the way, but it’ll help you manage any mini meltdowns before you fly. Toddler tantrums are never easy work, but at least you won’t be worried about missing your flight.

 

Don’t over-pack

It’s easy to get carried away filling up the cases with all manner of books, toys and games, but if you stay at our kids’ clubs there’ll be plenty to keep little ones entertained, day and night. And instead of worrying about individual clothing items, pack dresses, playsuits and all-in-ones. Invest in a good pair of sandals the little ones can wear barefoot too – don’t teeny tiny socks seem to disappear in no time?

Let me entertain you!

Now’s the time to pull out all the stops when it comes to keeping the kids entertained. Have they had their eye on a new game for their games console, or love a certain TV series? Then why not treat them before you go away? It’s a great way of keeping them busy in airport delays or on long-haul flights.

 

Accept not everything will go perfectly

I think all too often we expect our holidays (and life in general!) to go perfectly. Things might get left at home and plans might change, but take this holiday for exactly what it is; a bit of well-earned time together. Instead of worrying about little details, focus on making memories and taking lots of snaps together.

 

What’s one thing that you couldn’t go without packing? Is there anything on my top tips list that you hadn’t thought about? Let me know in the comments below!

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A holiday with a kids’ club like no other…

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When you’re jetting off with little ones, the chances are you’ll want to make sure they’re kept entertained at a kids’ club. Whether you head there for one or two sessions, or take part in daily activities, it’s a great place for them to make friends and learn new things. But if you think all kids’ clubs are the same, think again.

That’s where Casa Cook Chania comes in. It’s our first family-friendly Casa Cook hotel with a bespoke kids’ club like you’ve never seen before. Let’s take a look at what makes it so special…

 

Fun and activities

Casa Cook Chania has an innovative kids’ club concept that focuses on encouraging little ones to learn and explore in a natural and creative way. Looked after by our kids’ club team, the tailored program offers an inspiring and easy-going experience, so your kids will enjoy their holiday as much as you! From cooking classes to beach activities, there are plenty of options for children to discover some new interests. A separate kids’ pool provides a safe haven for young explorers, plus there’s also indoor and outdoor areas for them to play and chill out. Here are just a few of the activities they could be taking part in during your stay:

DIY soap-making

Mini yoga

Surf lesson with Chania Surf Club

Making musical instruments

Creating colourful mosaics

Friendship bracelet-making

Making traditional Greek olive bread

Crazy science experiments

Greek dancing

Little gardeners

Outdoor cinema

Nature’s scavenger hunt

 

Food and health

The kids’ club kitchen offers a variety of fresh and healthy dishes for children, infused with local Cretan flavours and ingredients. From a range of classics dishes to breakfast favourites including a porridge menu with pick ‘n’ mix toppings, there’s something for every appetite. Delicious juices and freshly-made fruit drinks will keep kids hydrated in the sun too. At break time, there’s healthy snacks including vegetable sticks, fresh fruit and tortilla wraps.

 

Do you like the sound of our alternative kids’ club? Or maybe you’d like to learn more about the adults-only side to Casa Cook?

Our Casa Cook Hotels

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Rise of the holiday foodie

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Tastes are changing in the UK. With 3.5m vegans and 20% of Brits eating more vegetarian food compared to five years ago, these habits are bound to affect how people choose their holidays too. I’d say the shift comes down to two major factors: how good your food looks and how good it makes you feel!

 

Looking good

Instagram has everyone on the food blogger bandwagon, and I’m just as guilty. I mean, have you tried to eat an Acai bowl without putting a picture on the ‘gram? I’ve just come back from a month in Australia where they practically live off the stuff, and let me tell you: it’s impossible. We all want to share aesthetically pleasing food that proves we look after ourselves. When’s the last time you saw a photo of fish and chips on your feed?

 

Feeling  good

And when it comes down to walking the walk rather than just posting the pic, we’re a nation that’s cracked down on takeaways and committed to the gym. Instead of a week All Inclusive-grazing and sun lounger-lazing, we’d rather keep these good habits going, with 7 in 10 of us searching for healthy options when we’re considering where to stay.

 

So what’s the answer to holidays with this new-found thirst for well-being? Take a look below.

 

Casa Cook

Casa Cook FoodCasa Cook’s farm-to-table ethos has been a massive success with those that want the freshest food. The hotel in Kos grows its own seasonal fruit and veg, while catches from local fishermen feature on the menu. There’s plenty for vegans and veggies too: mouth-watering homemade hummus, beetroot carpaccio and tempura-fried aubergine. Casa Cook Ibiza’s taken this concept to the next level, with the La Cruz restaurant that showcases beautiful vegan à la carte dishes. And let’s not forget sessions in the yoga shala and treatments in the hammam that means self-care is just a few steps away.

 

Cook’s Club

Cooks Club FoodWant a happy medium between health and hedonism? Cook’s Club is what you’ve been waiting for. With a street-food style Cantina featuring flavours from all over the world, Brits looking to explore international flavours will be spoilt for choice. With vegan specialities and carefully garnished cocktails, it’s hard not to snap the colourful creations for all your Instagram followers to see. And when you’re looking to get active outside of dancing at the nearby beach clubs, head to the fully-equipped gym to work up an appetite again.

Take a peek

 

Would you like to learn more about our holiday habits as Brits, or find some inspiration for your next getaway? Read our report in full.

Thomas Cook Holiday Report

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The best May Bank Holiday city breaks

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We’ve just enjoyed a gloriously sunny long Easter weekend, and I don’t know about you, but I already can’t wait for May Bank Holiday! Plus, it’s the perfect time for a city break. Why, you ask? Well, it’s not quite summer yet, so you’ll still enjoy wandering around those stunning city streets without getting too hot and bothered. And you can see a whole new part of the world in time to be back at work on Tuesday. But best of all? There are two Bank Holidays throughout May, so you can do it twice! Take a look below at my top picks for where to spend those upcoming long weekends.

 

Amsterdam

Amsterdam FoodIf you’ve never been to Amsterdam while the tulips are in bloom, either May Bank Holiday is the perfect opportunity. And, aside from strolling through the green parks and indulging in Dutch waffles, Amsterdam has plenty of events on.  Head to the Rijksmuseum Gardens in late May to see the Louise Bourgeois sculpture exhibition, or start your long weekend early to catch the Amsterdam Pizza Festival on 22 May. Yum!

Paris

Paris Street BandKnown as both the City of Lights and the City of Love, in May, Paris becomes the City of Jazz. If you’re a music lover, the Saint Germain des Prés Jazz Festival fills the streets with the sound of the sax alongside concerts in charming cafés and historic hotspots. Prefer your culture a little more modern? Jet off to Paris on the 25 May to enjoy a weekend at the Printemps Des Rues street art festival. Your Instagram will be the talk of the town.

Take me to Paris

Barcelona

Barcelona FestivalCelebrating its 26th year in Barcelona, Ciutat Flamenco Festival is the place to be between 16 and 31 May. Here, you’ll be able to enjoy passionate performances from the biggest names in the ‘biz. It’s a great way to embrace Barcelona’s culture beyond the buildings, and in your downtime you can stroll down Las Ramblas, dine on paella and sip some vino as the sun goes down. I don’t think there’s anywhere I’d rather be!

Discover Barcelona

Budapest

Budapest ArchitectureIf you’re looking to experience some traditional culture, catch the Budapest Folk Fest between 22 and 25 May. You’ll get an incredible insight into Hungarian folk heritage, with authentic music and dancing. You can even sail down the Danube and take in sights like the Hungarian Parliament Building and Buda Castle while you enjoy performances on board. Round off your visit with a relaxing soak at the Széchenyi Thermal Baths. It’s part of their culture too!

The best of Budapest

Prague

Prague Food & DrinkCalling all foodies: Prague Food Festival kicks off just in time for the second May Bank Holiday. It was meant to be, right? Top restaurant chefs in the Czech Republic will be there sharing their skills, and there’ll be more stalls handing out delicious samples than you can shake a stick at. Looking for a tipple too? The Prague Drinks Wine festival is on the same weekend, with up to 400 wines to try. It sure beats a beer or two down your local pub.

Why Prague?

So where do you fancy exploring on a May Bank Holiday city break? How do you like to spend your long weekends? Let me know in the comments below.

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