5 Reasons To Explore Malta This Winter

5 Reasons To Explore Malta This Winter

Home to Crusaders, Knights Templar and a strategic island fortress between Europe and Asia for centuries, today’s Malta is a beautiful holiday destination. Comprising three islands of Malta, Gozo and Comino, Malta enjoys a Mediterranean climate and some of the clearest water in the region. The island offers great beaches, fabulous cuisine and historical architecture. Here are 7 reasons to explore Malta during colder climes

1 Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum
Located in Paola, in the south east of Malta, this subterranean Neolithic burial site dates back to around 4000BC. Hypogeum means ‘underground’ in Greek and this fascinating mix of halls and burial chambers has been cleverly built into the rock on three levels. A UNESCO Heritage Site, it has beautiful ochre paintings which are the oldest and only prehistoric paintings in Malta. Daily visitor numbers are kept deliberately low to ensure the conservation of this priceless heritage site.

2 The Malta Experience and War Museum (double ticket)
An unmissable 45-minute audio-visual show, the Malta Experience takes audiences through more than 7,000 years of Maltese history through a fabulous sound and vision experience. The purpose-built panoramic auditorium is located on St Elmo Bastions, on the quayside in Valetta. Combine it with a visit to the nearby National War Museum, housed within the fortified walls of Fort St. Elmo. Its superb collection of artefacts illustrate the military history of Malta from the early phases of the Bronze Age to Malta’s EU Accession in 2004. 

3 Marsaxlokk
Marsaxlokk is a traditional Maltese fishing village on the south-east of Malta. In addition to tourism, fishing is still the village’s main source of income and it hosts a Sunday market. The seafood is fresher than fresh here, and you’ll probably find a souvenir or two. The early Phoenicians adventurers first landed in Malta at Marsaxlokk, so in addition to its beauty, the village is a site of great historical importance. 

4 Valetta Waterfront and Fortifications Walk
The waterfront at Valetta is ideal for people watching: grab a coffee, sit back and watch the cruise liners arrive and disembark. There are a number of tourist-oriented bars and restaurants here, as well as retail outlets. The fortifications walk overlooking two harbours is a superb history lesson as well as visually stunning, built by the Knights of Malta after they triumphed over the Ottoman Turks.

5 Mdina Old City and Cathedral
Game of Thrones fans will already recognise medieval Mdina from the first season of the TV series. The city’s mix of Baroque and Norman architecture, narrow medieval streets and impressive palazzos make for an intoxicating experience. Visit the Roman Villa (Domus Romana), the fascinating catacombs, St. Paul’s Grotto and take a look inside St Paul’s Cathedral. Completed in 1702, it has a beautiful interior and the colourful inlaid marble floor tombs are often uncovered. 

6 Day Trip to Gozo
Just a 25-minute scenic ferry ride from her big sister, the tiny island of Gozo is stunning. Limestone buildings against azure blue seas; the walk up to the medieval Citadel is rewarded with a museum, shops and restaurants. Gozo also has a plethora of sandy coves and gorgeous beaches: one of the best is the red-sand Ramla Bay. This idyllic location is overlooked by cliffs and Calypso’s Cave. Some of the best dive sites in the region are in Gozo, while The Kempinski San Lawrenz, a five-star hotel, has a world-renowned spa.

7 St John’s Co-Cathedral
The Knights of Malta’s main church, St John’s is one of the important Baroque buildings in Europe. Don’t be fooled by the military looking austere exterior, the interior is a dazzling array of gold and marble and lustrous paintings. Use the audio guide to give you in-depth information and don’t miss the Oratory which boasts two paintings by the legendary Caravaggio including his largest (and only signed) painting, the Beheading of St John.

5 Reasons To Visit Madeira This Winter

5 Reasons To Visit Madeira This Winter

Madeira is the ideal winter sun destination, located 960km southwest of Lisbon, just off the northwest coast of Africa. Its subtropical climate, botanical gardens, outstanding cuisine and rugged volcanic landscapes and levadas, together with an eclectic nightlife, are an enticing mix for any visitor. Here are five reasons to visit this Madeira this winter.  

1 Funchal
Madeira’s capital city Funchal is located on lush terraces and steep hills, a visually arresting backdrop for this vibrant city. The city’s selection of historical buildings includes sea forts and convents and museums. Funchal has a beautiful harbour to explore; take a walk alongside the boats to São Tiago Fortress. Constructed back in the 1600s, it houses the Contemporary Art Museum. Plant lovers will appreciate the lush tropical gardens while oenophiles will savour the world-famous Madeira wine cellars. The colonial era Cathedral – a mix of Romanesque and Gothic styles is especially beautiful. 

2 Madeira Botanical Garden
Drive about 4km northeast of Funchal to enjoy this invigorating sub-tropical paradise. Madeira’s stunning Botanical Garden boasts rich flora and fauna comprising thousands of indigenous flowers, trees and plants. There’s a manor house here that belonged to the estate’s original owners which is now the Natural History Museum. It has a fascinating display of fossils, minerals and more and you can stop for lunch at the terrace café and enjoy the superb views over Funchal.

3 Walking the Levadas
Madeira’s 16th-canal system, known locally as ‘levadas’, are unmissable. They make walking in the country’s mountainous areas relatively easy. Breathe in the scent of fabulous laurel forests and lush vegetation. Levada dos Tornos between the Palheiro and Funchal municipal botanical gardens is an easy intro levada, while Rabacal, Queimadas, Ribeiro Frio and Kings guarantee lush rainforest and enticing waterfall pools.

4 Teleférico de Funchal (Maderia Cable Car)
For the best views of Funchal and the surrounding countryside, take the cable car up to Monte. The ride is about 15 minutes and leaves from the esplanade near the Zona Velha. You can go as far as the Jardim Botanico or head further to the Jardim Tropical Monte Palace, the cable car’s final stop. The views over Funchal’s rooftops and gardens, as you climb 1,837ft, are superb. In time-honoured tradition, descend the mountain on the official Monte basket cars made of wicker that slide on skis. You don’t have to do any work as two guides will push you from behind! 

5 Mercado dos Lavradores
Visiting Funchal’s markets will be one of the highlights of your stay. Located east of the Sé on Rua Profetas, this fruit, vegetable, flower and fish market is a riot of colour, held in a gorgeous Art Deco hall. The smells of tuna and espada (scabbardfish) will draw fish lovers to the basement, while the first floor is an Aladdin’s Cave of stalls selling local arts and crafts in leatherwork, wicker and pottery. Go early on Friday or Saturday and catch the freshest produce from the region’s farmers.

Five Reasons To Explore Copenhagen

Five Reasons To Explore Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark’s beautiful capital, is located on two coastal islands (Zealand and Amager). And as fans of Scandi-noir thriller The Bridge will already know, Copenhagen is linked to neighbouring Malmo in Sweden by the iconic Öresund Bridge.

As well as its surrounding canal and coastal landscapes, the city has a cool café culture, and a beautiful historic centre to explore. Here are 5 reasons to visit Copenhagen:

1 Tivoli Gardens
The second-oldest amusement park in the world, Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens is located in the centre of the city, near City Hall. Dating from 1843, Tivoli is now bang up to date with a new digital virtual reality experience known as The Demon, where rollercoaster passengers are taken through a Chinese fire-dragon universe. Tivoli has beautiful gardens to stroll in and a selection of great restaurants. You’ll find everything from traditional Danish cuisine to French bistro or Asian food. During the festive season, Tivoli Lake is transformed into a sound and light show and there are spectacular fireworks here on New Year’s Eve.

2 Little Mermaid
Possibly Copenhagen’s most famous attraction, the bronze and granite sculpture of the little mermaid was a gift from Danish brewer Carl Jacobsen to the City of Copenhagen. Created by sculptor Edvard Eriksen, you’ll find her on a rock by the waterside at Langelinje Pier, where she’s been looking out to sea since 1913. Apparently, the artist was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s fairy tale about a mermaid who gives up her life in the sea so she can be with her handsome prince on the land. The model for the sculpture was the sculptor’s wife, Eline Eriksen.

3 Nyhavn
Nyhavn is a beautiful 17th-century waterfront, canal and entertainment district in Copenhagen. Lying between Kongens Nytorv and the harbour front south of the Royal Playhouse, this once-thriving commercial port is now a popular tourist destination, renowned by its restored 18th-century townhouses (many of which were home to well-known artists), live music and eclectic cafes, shops, bars and restaurants. You’ll also see historical wooden ships in the canal. Danish author Hans Christian Anderson once lived in the area, and during the festive season there are market stalls along the cobbled quay.

4 Christiansborg Palace
Formerly the home of the Danish royal family (they moved to Amalien Palace in the 1800s), Christiansborg is located on the island of Slotsholmen. Known as the Borgen, the Palace is now home to the Danish Parliament, while parts of the Palace are used for state events. Built in 1773, this Baroque palace is stunning: head for the Tower Room, the Oval Throne Room, the Velvet Room and the Great Hall with its unique tapestries. Then stop for lunch or a coffee in the Tower restaurant, just below the viewing deck. At 106m it’s the highest tower in Copenhagen and has superb views over the city and canals.

5 Carlsberg Museum
Carlsberg, probably the best beer in the world. Whatever your amber nectar preference, a visit to the Carlsberg Museum is a must for beer lovers. The former Carlsberg Brewery is now a living homage to the art of Danish brewing with daily guided tours from experts, who share the ingredients and processes that create such a world-renowned lager. It’s not all history and great architecture though, visitors are encouraged to join the daily beer tasting sessions. The brewery founder, JC Jacobsen lived next to the brewery and gave workers their own daily beer allowance. You can also do a self-guided tour and there’s a Carlsberg merchandise store.

How To Explore Boston, Massachusetts

How To Explore Boston, Massachusetts

Probably the most famous historic city in America, Boston is proud of its Mayflower Pilgrim roots and its dramatic role as a revolutionary against English colonial rule.

Massachusetts’s capital city on America’s north-eastern seaboard offers visitors an unparalleled historical legacy, timeless colonial architecture, world-class museums and a thriving cultural and gastronomic scene.  And just a hop across the Charles River is Boston’s neighbour Cambridge, home to Harvard University.

Here are 5 best Boston attractions to visit during your next trip.

Boston’s coastal location alone makes it an attractive city to visit, with 37 islands to explore. Take a sail around the famous harbour, see a Boston Red Sox baseball game, follow the Freedom Trail and connect with the city’s revolutionaries, and enjoy the city’s rich cultural legacy and Colonial architecture.

Boston is seafood heaven and has a range of upscale restaurants and luxury hotels. It also boasts world-class museums and galleries. And of course the city is home to Harvard University, making Boston both intellectually and aesthetically inviting.

1 Walk the Freedom Trail 
Discover Boston’s historical legacy with this unique walk along the city’s 17 most popular American Revolution sight-seeing areas. The self-guided 2.5-mile walk begins in America’s oldest park, 50-acre Boston Common, and concludes at Bunker Hill Monument. 

More than 1000 redcoats were based on the Common when the Brits occupied Boston in 1775, and it was the site of anti-Vietnam war rallies in the Sixties. Today the park is a popular recreation area. Other historical sights on the Freedom Trail include patriot Paul Revere’s house and the USS Constitution (the 55-gun frigate that fought the English). Visit the Old Granary Burial Ground (Boston’s oldest cemetery) and Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where revolutionary speeches were given. From ships to meeting houses to burial grounds, the spirit of the American Revolution comes alive on the Freedom Trail. 

2 Best Boston Shopping 
From street markets to luxury labels, Boston shopping has an eclectic range of retail experiences for visitors. Faneuil Hall Marketplace (aka Quincy Market) has been a place to shop – and protest – since 1742 and is a popular destination for tourists and locals. You’ll also find restaurants, bars, independent boutiques and street entertainment here. 

An open-air market worth visiting is Haymarket on Blackstone and North Streets. With more than 100 shops and artisan stalls, it’s the perfect place for souvenirs. Head to Copley Place and the Prudential Center (connected by an indoor bridge) for upscale mall shopping with designer clothes, and visit Back Bay on Newbury Street for more luxury labels. Antiques and collectables are to be found around Beacon Hill. Visit Upstairs Downstairs Antiques on Charles Street for five rooms stacked with an eclectic collection of vintage art, home décor, furniture and more.

3 Explore Beacon Hill 
Walk into history along the charming cobblestone neighbourhood of Beacon Hill. The Federal-style row houses and narrow gas-lit streets are among the most expensive real estate in Boston. Head for the South Slope district between Pickney and Beacon Streets for a time travel back to the Colonial era. This is the city’s most historic neighbourhood where civil rights, the abolition of slavery and freedom from British rule were given voice. Join the Freedom Trail and the Black Heritage trail here. The area is a lively cornucopia of boutique shops, restaurants, old pubs, art galleries and antique shops, especially along Charles Street on the Hill’s western slopes. Say ‘cheers’ at the Bull and Finch pub here – supposedly the inspiration for the TV series of the same name. Beacon Hill’s only remaining private park is the beautiful Louisburg Square, just beyond Charles Street. It has a statue of Christopher Columbus at one end and famous former residents including writers Louisa May Alcott and William Dean Howells.

4 Boston Cruises and HarborWalk
The Boston waterfront is the perfect place to escape the city – morning and evening. This former rundown port area of Boston sprang into life again in the Seventies thanks to an adventurous city council who could see the advantages of creating a mix of residential and commercial space. Fast forward to today and the area is connected by the HarborWalk waterfront area offering a selection of cafes, shops, parks, arts spaces, and the chance to sail around Boston Harbour by ferry, water taxi or a cruise boat. The HarborWalk runs from Charlestown to South Boston – take a stroll from the North End to the Seaport area and visit impressive Institute of Contemporary Art suspended above the water. A replica of the Boston Tea Party Ship is here and offers guided tours.

5 Two Great Boston Museums to Visit 
John F Kennedy Presidential Museum and Library: Arguably the most influential US President of modern times, the life and service of JFK is celebrated here in this museum dedicated to his family and political life. Exhibits also include artefacts that belonged to his wife, Jackie Kennedy, a widely-loved First Lady who was instrumental in giving the White House a much-needed overhaul back in the 60s. 

Isabella Gardener Museum: An unmissable exhibition of art, tapestries, furniture, manuscripts, rare books and more, all beautifully featured in the socialite and philanthropist’s former home – an outstanding three-storey, 15th-century Venetian style palace, only a short walk from the Museum of Fine Art. 

Getting Around Boston
Boston’s Logan International Airport is just 3 miles from the centre of Boston and is served by regular taxis, Uber and Lyft. A more romantic way to get into the city is via water taxi. Three taxi services dock at Logan International Airport: the MBTA Harbor Express, Boston Harbor Cruises and Rowe’s Wharf. Boston has a superb public transport system known at the ‘T’. This  encompasses subway, bus, trams and boats across the Greater Boston area. Subways are colour coded with six lines: Red, Green, Blue, Orange and Silver. Purchase a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket at subway vending machines. If you’re feeling more active, hop on a Bluebike at many locations across the city and see the best of Boston on two wheels.  We recommend buying a Boston CityPASS which gives you discounted admission into many of Boston’s top attractions, including the Skywalk Observatory and Boston Harbor Cruises. 

The Best Time To Visit:
Boston has four distinct seasons – but like most of the world now the weather can be unpredictable. Bring layers, an umbrella and good walking shoes. 

Spring: Blossom on the trees, and some rainy days. Outdoors markets make a welcome reappearance as do the local baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. The Boston Marathon is in April as is the famous Patriot’s Day.
Summer: Boston can be humid in summer, but often the ocean breezes keep the temperatures down. The perfect season to get on a cruise on the harbour. Summer events include Boston Pride Festival in June and there are many festivals and open-air concerts.
Autumn: Fall colours in Boston are stunning. Temperatures are cooler so wear layers. From Oktoberfest, to food festivals and even pumpkin pageants, autumn is a fun time to visit.
Winter: Boston generally gets snow fall in winter. So be prepared if you visit between December and March. First Night Boston is a fabulous New Year’s Eve celebration. 

Image via BostonUSA.com

7 Reasons To Charter A Jet To Calgary

7 Reasons To Charter A Jet To Calgary

Calgary, located in Canada’s western province of Alberta, is the perfect winter ski and snowboard destination.
Probably best known for its yearly Stampede rodeo and festival, it’s a cosmopolitan city that owes its wealth to the lucrative oil industry. Calgary boasts great nightlife and café culture, a strong Western heritage, as well as stunning countryside to explore.
Here are 7 reasons to hire a private jet charter to Calgary… 

1 Calgary Stampede
This year’s famous rodeo and Western festival takes place in Calgary between July 6 and 15. Located at Stampede Park, southwest of downtown Calgary, the 6-day festival features musical acts, fireworks, rodeos and horsemanship. The Stampede Rodeo is daily at 1.15pm, culminating in the grand finale on the Sunday afternoon. Tickets for the Calgary Stampede are now available to buy online at www.calgarystampede.com.

2 Skyline Luge
A fun day out for the whole family, the Skyline Luge is the world’s longest luge track. Accessed via chairlift you’ll descend more than 100 metres (328 feet) from the Start Zone and Luge down the 1800 metres (5905 feet) of track to the End Zone. With more than 50 twists and turns (you can go at your own speed) this wheeled gravity ride will be a memory to treasure.  

3 Calgary Tower
For unbeatable views of Calgary and beyond, head for the 525ft Calgary Tower in the city’s downtown district. Take the lift to the top and enjoy 360-degree views of Calgary and beyond to the Rocky Mountains from the observation deck and restaurant. Designed to be wind and earthquake proof, Calgary Tower can sway up to 16.5cm and even withstand winds of up to 161km/hr. 

4 Ski at Banff – Banff, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay
Only a 90-minute drive from Calgary, Banff is the main resort for the ski stations of Banff, Sunshine Village and Mount Norquay. Combine a stay in Calgary with sightseeing before you head for the snowfields. A SkiBig3 Lift Ticket provides free transportation between Banff-Lake Louise and the three ski areas. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

5 Heritage Park Historical Village
Situated on parkland next to Calgary’s Glenmore Reservoir, the Heritage Park Historical Village is a living museum with period shops selling antiques to candy. Focus on Canadian history from the 1860s to the 1950s.

6 Lake Louise
Just a 40-minute drive from Banff on the Trans-Canada Highway, Iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise – in winter enjoy skating on the famous lake – scenery here is out of this world. The area has 4,200 skiable acres and was named Canada’s Best Ski Resort 2017. In summer, there are myriad hiking trails, and you can spot grizzly bears from the gondolas taking you up Whitehorn Mountain. 

7 TELUS Park
Science, tech, biology and computer geeks will love the TELUS Spark Science Museum. Enjoy a host of interactive exhibits, multimedia presentations and educational demonstrations. Calgary’s only Dome Theatre is here and features exciting live planetarium shows and movies.

Amsterdam’s Top 5 Attractions

Amsterdam’s Top 5 Attractions

Discover the top five attractions awaiting you in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is an attractive city break destination at any time of the year, but even more so when winter makes way to spring. Take a guided cycle ride along one of Amsterdam’s 165 canals, visit world-famous museums and breweries, enjoy a canal cruise among the waterways, sit and linger in the ubiquitous coffee shops, and haggle over bargains in one of Amsterdam’s street markets. Here are 5 top Amsterdam attractions to visit today:

1 Visit Amsterdam’s Best Street Markets
Amsterdam street markets are popular meeting places, as well as sources of quality organic food, antiques and collectables, fashion and household goods. Waterlooplein Markt is Amsterdam’s oldest market and open daily except Sundays. Head for this square near the national opera building and rummage for vintage clothing, jewellery, souvenirs, and even secondhand bikes. Flower lovers won’t miss the floating flower market on Singel canal.

Stalls housed in floating ‘barges’ sell fresh-cut flowers and bulbs. The largest outdoor market in Europe is Amsterdam’s Albert Cuyp market located in De Pijp. Over 300 stalls sell anything from organic food to clothing and electronics. Visit the 17th-century Jordaan district for the famous Noordermarkt and savour delicious street food, artisanal bread and souvenirs. There’s an abundance of eco-friendly organic produce at ZuiderMRKT. Choose from 20 specialist stalls at this Amsterdam-Zuid location near the Museumplein.

2 Visit Amsterdam’s Breweries
The tradition of brewing in Holland began during the Middle Ages when every monastery created its own beer. Amsterdam is no exception being home to Amstel and Heineken. Craft beers and beer cafés are popular here, as are visits to Amsterdam’s breweries. The Heineken brewery transformed its premises into an interactive museum (the Heineken Experience) in 1991.

Learn about beer-making and sample a glass or two of ‘probably the best lager in the world.’  on the self-guided tour. A young pretender to Amsterdam’s brewing crown is the Oedipus Brewing company. From its snug taproom in the north of Amsterdam it serves 12 varieties of beer. You can’t miss the Brouwerij het IJ brewery windmill standing sentinel over its beer garden. Savour the Natte Dubble and Zatte Trippel, before making your way to the unique Brouwerij de Prael in the Red Light District.

3 Explore Amsterdam’s Canal District
Amsterdam’s 17th-century canal district around the city’s Binnenstad remains the city’s life blood and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The waterways between the Singel and Prinsengracht canals contain beautiful mansions built by wealthy merchants during the Dutch Golden Age. The best way to appreciate the canals is on an Amsterdam canal cruise. Take in the stunning architecture, iconic bridges like the Magere Brug, beautiful churches, and world-renowned sites.

Amsterdam has three main canals: The Herengracht (Gentlemen’s Canal) is regarded as the most prestigious and the Mayor of Amsterdam lives here at number 502. The Keizersgracht (Emperor’s Canal) – named after Maximillian of Austria – lies in the middle of the main canals and is the widest in Amsterdam. Prinsengracht (Prince’s Canal) is the longest canal, named after the Prince of Orange. Anne Frank House is here, as is the famous Noordermarkt.

4 Tour Amsterdam by bike
Amsterdam is just as famous for its love of two-wheeled transportation as its canals. Offering bikers of all abilities 250 miles of dedicated cycle lanes, Amsterdam is bicycle heaven. The special bike lanes, known as fietspaden, are marked in red and you’ll find them on the right-hand side of the streets. There’s usually a pictograph of a bike indicating it’s safe to cycle. Amsterdamers do not ride on the pavement, so stick to the roads.

The city’s biggest bike park is by the Ibis Hotel at Central Station. Around 2,500 bikes are parked here daily so make sure yours is easy to identify. The best way to see Amsterdam is with a guided bike tour along a 12km route, taking in many of the city’s sites such as the Museumsplein, Vondelpark, the Red Light district and Anne Frank House.

5 Visit Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum
Artistic genius Van Gogh sadly never received the credit due to him during his lifetime, but the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam surely makes up for it. It has the largest collection of Van Gogh artwork in the world including his famous Sunflowers, as well as over 500 drawings, more than 200 paintings and 700 letters. From 1 March until 26 May this year the museum is hosting a special Hockney-Van Gogh: The Joy of Nature exhibition that explores the parallels between these two outstanding artists – indeed Hockney has often acknowledged the influence of Van Gogh on his own work. Many of Hockney’s much-loved Yorkshire landscapes will be on show. The Van Gogh Museum holds regular art workshops for children and every Friday remains open until 9pm with an invited selection of DJs and musicians to celebrate the space with visitors. 

Getting Around
Whether you arrive in Amsterdam via international Schipol airport or by road or train, the city is a superb transport hub and getting around is easy. There is a good network of taxis, buses, trams, metro, ferries and bike routes. Buy an I Amsterdam City Card for unlimited free use of local public transport for periods of 24, 48 , 72, 96 or 120 hours. In addition, the I Amsterdam City Card provides free entry into more than 60 of Amsterdam’s museums and attractions – plus a free 1-hour canal cruise. Visit www.iamsterdam.com for details. And download the GVB Amsterdam travel app (available on Google Play or iTunes). 

Plan the adventure via www.iamsterdam.com

Written by Gina Baksa