Six alternative holiday destinations for 2018

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Sick of going to the same place? We can help. From breaks in Iceland to a holiday on Lake Bled, here are our picks of places you might not think of

Holidays to the same places each year can get a little repetitive.

Despite the comforting familiarity of seeing the same people and going to your favourite restaurants, it can be exciting to think outside the box and venture somewhere you wouldn’t normally go.

We’ve found some of the best alternative holiday destinations for you to plan your 2018 escape.

Lake Balaton, Hungary

Image: Bergadder (via Pixabay)

If you like: South of France, Lake Como

When? All year round

This freshwater lake is the largest of its kind in central Europe. While being a popular tourist spot for those in the surrounding area, this region is largely unknown to travellers in the UK.

Spanning 50 miles, Lake Balaton is known as the ’Hungarian Sea’ and boasts hiking ranges, volcanic mountains and extreme sports facilities as well as beaches, museums and thermal spas- perfect for every kind of holidaymaker!

With popular resorts dotted around the coastline, Lake Balaton is a great alternative to its more expensive counterparts in northern Italy and southern France.

A popular wine-making region, a visit to the northern town of Badacsonytomaj is highly recommended. For those who have visited the capital Budapest and wantto explore more of what Hungary has to offer, Lake Balaton should be the next destination on your wish list.

Krakow, Poland

Image: RolandSD (via. Pixabay)

If you like: Prague, Czech Republic - Budapest, Hungary

When? Winter

For fans of baroque and gothic architecture, Krakow is a must-see.

This historical Polish city escaped most of the effects of the bombings in WW2, so offers a host of carefully preserved medieval culture.

There is wide range of things to do and see in the area, meaning you could certainly spend longer than a weekend exploring. Auschwitz-Birkenau is situated less than 90 minutes away from the city, should you wish to learn more about modern history.

Alternatively, peruse the Old Town Market Square, St Mary's Basilica and Wawel Castle and then stop off at Wódka Café Bar to sample some of the country’s most famous beverage. Southern Poland particularly comes alive in winter, with the hills of the Tatra Mountains transforming into world-class ski slopes as soon as the snow has fallen.

Bled, Slovenia

Image: roberthumar (via. Pixabay)

If you like: Lake Garda, Italy

When? Summer

To the north of Slovenia’s capital city Ljubljana, Bled is a something out of a fairy-tale. Most commonly known for its adjoining lake, the area is quickly becoming a favourite with tourists from around Europe. With bike rides, hiking tours, boat trips and more, this small area is steeped in history.

The medieval Bled Castle, known as the oldest castle in Slovenia, overlooks the lake and is open to tourists all year round. Bled is a perfect pit-stop if you’re travelling Europe, or is a great place to visit when combined with a trip to the picturesque city of Ljubljana.

Region of Kotor, Montenegro

Image: yakovlevmax0 (via. Pixabay)

If you like: Dubrovnik, Croatia - Souda Bay, Greece

When? Summer

Montenegro has recently seen a surge in tourism, with 2016 figures showing more than 100,000 additional visitors than the previous year.

The region of Kotor is undoubtedly one of the country’s finest offerings; a UNESCO World Heritage Site which encompasses numerous medieval towns, fortifications and a large bay – arguably its most beautiful feature. The Bay of Kotor is utterly breath-taking, with high cliffs looking over clear blue waters and dappled with small waterside villages.

The Old Town is filled with Venetian architecture after the region’s previous rule, and is surrounded by high walls. The area is perfect for any kind of tourist, with hiking trips, boat tours, snorkelling excursions and more.

Like Croatia, Montenegro is continuing to increase in popularity as a holiday destination for UK tourists, and with brand new routes appearing every year, you have no excuse not to see it for yourself!

Iceland

Image: nathan618 (via. Pixabay)

If you like: New Zealand 

When? Autumn/Winter

Iceland has a wealth of natural beauty. Boasting three national parks, 170 geothermal pools and Europe’s most powerful waterfall, you could easily spend two weeks exploring the country’s mainland.

With one 832-mile ring road surrounding the island, it is recommended that you rent a vehicle to make the most out of your trip.

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis are best viewed from September to March, depending on the weather conditions. Reykjavik, the country’s capital, has its own helping of gorgeous architecture and eateries where you can sample the best of Icelandic cuisine. Don’t forget to visit the Blue Lagoon for the full experience.

With landscape often compared to that of New Zealand, Iceland simply must be on your bucket list.

The Azores, Portugal

Image: Tim Ellis (via. Flickr)

If you like: The Caribbean

When? Summer

There is no need to travel out of Europe for your stunning summer fix. This cluster of nine Portuguese islands situated in the mid-Atlantic have not been on the tourist radar previously, but the region has seen a hike in popularity since a number of low-cost airlines have begun offering direct flights from London.

São Miguel, the archipelago’s largest island, has an abundance of sports activities and nature reserves as well as a main town, Ponta Delgada, with bustling shops and eateries. Travelling to the neighbouring islands should be done by ferry, meaning this is not a place for a one-week trip.

With the islands being voted one of the most beautiful in Europe, you will not be disappointed.

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