Stuck for somewhere to go this summer? Below are four of the top destinations for summer 2015…
Famous for volcanoes, gangsters and ice cream in a bun, Sicily has something for everyone. It has some historically important cities that can be combined with beach breaks, archaeological exploration and other activities. Head to the turquoise waters of Mondello for swimming and sunbathing, or some of the dozen-plus offshore islands for diving and hiking. Climb Mount Etna, the highest and most active volcano in Europe. Walk around the capital, Palermo, a fascinating city which has been invaded repeatedly over the centuries leaving behind an architecturally jumbled landscape. Visit La Vucciria, the famously tangled street market, and the Capuchin Catacombs, a collection of 8,000 embalmed bodies. Spoil yourself with a stay at upmarket Taormina, its best attraction is the Greek amphitheatre, from which the most impressive scenery in Sicily can be seen.
Cuba is a unique country frozen in time. A former Spanish colony liberally coloured with French, African, American, Jamaican, and indigenous Taíno influences, there’s no denying the breadth of its historical heritage. Cuba’s capital, Havana, is one of the best preserved colonial cities in the Caribbean and the centre is full of museums, galleries and architectural gems. Try rolling your own cigar at the Real Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás factory. Visit Santa Clara, the monument, museum and mausoleum of Ché Guevara; the Museo Emilio Bacardí, which contains the rum magnate’s collection of antiques and fine art, and Trinidad, founded in 1514, the jewel in Cuba’s crown, where locals ride horses down cobbled streets lined with pretty pastel houses. Sunbathe and dive at Cayo Coco beach and head to Varadero for vibrant nightlife. Some of the best food, and often an illegal lobster or two, is found in paladares (small, private restaurants). Swill it all down with some Cuban coffee or rum.
This country’s beauty has been overshadowed by political unrest and economic collapse over the last few decades, but today, the government is finally stable, the overinflated Zimbabwean dollar is gone, and the prices are low. The Victoria Falls are without a doubt one of the world’s most magnificent natural spectacles and every viewpoint reveals something new. Zimbabwe also offers some of the best wildlife parks in southern Africa. From the forested mountains of the eastern highlands to the sun-washed grasslands of Hwange National Park, from the hot Mopani Forest to the shores of Lake Kariba, more than 11 per cent of Zimbabwe’s land has been set aside as parks and wildlife estates. Away from the safari parks, the UNESCO World Heritage site of the granite landform Matobo Hills is well worth a visit, as is the charm of colonial cities such as Harare.
Costa Rica is the ultimate Central American destination. All trails seem to lead to waterfalls, misty crater lakes or jungle-fringed, deserted beaches. Hike through the rainforests, kayak down white-water rapids, zipline through the jungle, surf on world-class waves or just flop on a white sand beach. National parks allow visitors to glimpse the seething life of the tropical rainforest, simmering volcanoes and cloud forests. Visit the capital, San Jose, and stroll down the streets, wondering at its mishmash of architectural styles, national museums and excellent cafes.