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The Alentejo region is largely unknown and unspoilt, in comparison to much of the rest of Portugal. If you’re interested in a holiday to the Alentejo region, you can take a look at our Alentejo Holiday Ideas section, or why not read some of the reviews below?
Tantalise your tastebuds at the atmospheric Chianti Grape Festival – Tuscany’s well-known and historical harvest homage set in Impruneta, a tiny village between Florence and the Chianti region. Held on the last Sunday of September, the festival offers wine-tasting (featuring almost 800 wines!), artisan food-sampling, music and dancing. The locals even dress in medieval and traditional costumes. A three-night break in Florence in September costs from £411 pp (two sharing). The price includes return flights (Gatwick) and accommodation with breakfast at the three-star Hotel Paris located in the heart of the city
Each year in August, Stockholm pulsates with an eclectic mix of theatre, dance, music, literature, film and art. Its annual cultural festival sees streets and squares come alive with around 500 different events, including the world’s biggest book table and unusual street art. Admission is 99% free, too. A three-night stay costs from £635 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), private transfers, three nights’ B&B at the contemporary Hotel Hellsten and a Stockholm pass, offering free travel on public transport, sightseeing tours and entry to attractions.
Sunvil Holidays is offering £97 per person savings on a seven-night stay at the modern Panorama Cottages on the Peloponnese, with sea views and an adjacent beach. Restaurants and shops are a ten-minute walk away in pretty Chrani. Price of £579 pp (two sharing) includes flights (Gatwick), transfers and self-catering. Departs 28 August.
Magical and moving, on 13th December thousands of young girls, dressed in white gowns with a crown of electric candles and holding a lit candle, bring light to the darkness of a Swedish winter. ‘Saint Lucia’ leads the procession of maidens, who hand out saffron buns to the crowds as they go. Soak up the festivities in Stockholm, Sweden’s vibrant capital. Prices start from £610 pp (two sharing) including return flights (Heathrow), private transfers, three nights’ B&B at the four-star Hotel Freys and a complimentary Stockholm pass, offering free travel on public transport and entry to local attractions.
Located in the heart of ancient Beja is the impressive Pousada Sao Francisco. Originally built in 1268, this Franciscan monastery has been artfully restored, breathing new life into the spectacular medieval structure that is now a luxury 35-room Pousada. Relax by the tranquil pool, take a turn around the cloister and chapter house, explore Beja Castle and don’t miss the town’s specialty, the Pao de Rala, bread cake made with pumpkin. A seven-night stay costs from £732 pp, including flights (Heathrow), B&B accommodation and car hire.
Try Chef Damien Montecer’s French-Brazilian cuisine at ‘Tereze’ in the beautiful Santa Teresa Hotel, furnished with recycled wood and adorned with local works of art. Or, Chef Ana Castilho’s ‘Aprazivel’, offering an exotic and tropical menu popular with Rio’s elite. Otherwise, feast at the fashionable Fasano Hotel, where Chef Luca Gozzani enhances unique seafood dishes with Italian flavour. The ten-night Brazil itinerary costs from £2,500 pp (two sharing) including ten nights’ B&B, return flights (Heathrow), transfers and excursions.
In the heart of the little known National Park of Cilento, in a valley cultivated with olive trees, Le Favate is a sympathetically restored, 16th century working farm. Goats, pigs and cows are reared here, and olive oil, fruit preserves and red wine are produced on the 50-hectare estate. Couples desperate for peace and paperback time can prop themselves up around the sizeable pool by day and the fireplace (with a glass of the farm’s finest) by night. Travel in September when the summer scorch eases. A seven-night stay in September costs from £571 pp (two sharing) including return flights (Gatwick), B&B and car hire.
Roman Holiday in the Alentejo, Portugal – from £675 pp with Sunvil Discovery See Portugal at its most architecturally diverse this August with a visit to the majestic hilltop town, Castelo de Vide. This town of Roman origin has a medieval Jewish quarter with Portugal’s oldest gothic synagogue, as well as a late 17th century square surrounded with beautiful Baroque buildings – one of which is the charming manor house, Hotel Casa Amarela. Stay in this beautiful family run hotel decorated with antique furniture offering both square and mountain views. A seven-night stay costs from £675 pp, including flights (Heathrow), car hire and B&B.
Sunvil Traveller is offering this staggering saving on a nine night trip including a seven-night fullboard cruise on La Pinta, one of the most luxurious vessels in the Galapagos. Including: two nights (with breakfast) in the 32-room historic Patio Andaluz in Quito; private half-day city tour; private airport transfers; Quito-Galapagos-Guayaquil flights and seven-night fullboard cruise with daily group excursions. Costs from £2,359 pp. For check-in at the Patio Andaluz on 24 August for a cruise departing on 26 August. Pre or post-cruise extensions available. Find out more
Sunvil Holidays offers a seven-night stay at Villa Sophia, with spectacular views across the Messinian Gulf and a short walk to two idyllic beaches, for £547 pp (family of four). Price includes flights (Gatwick), transfers and self-catering. Departs 28 August.
A famous 14th century tradition, the Palio is a short, sharp and frenzied bareback horse-race around the Piazza del Campo in Siena. Thousands of spectators cram into the middle of this beautiful main square to watch. The next Palio is on 16 August – get there a couple of days before the main event to enjoy the build-up, and to claim a prime spot amid the action on the day. A three-night stay at the four-star Hotel Athena, overlooking the Palio, costs from £621 pp (two sharing) including flights (Gatwick) and car hire.
Perched on the shores of Ecuador’s Anangucocha Lake, the Napo Wildlife Centre eco-resort – boasting 12 deluxe cabins accessible only by boat – is fully owned by the 140-strong Anangu tribe, supporting 27 families. See magnificent macaws flocking to nearby clay licks, spot up to 568 bird species from the canopy tower and get up close to the tiny Golden-mantled Tamarin monkey. A ten-night itinerary taking in four nights at the Napo Wildlife Centre costs from £3,037 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), private transfers and excursions
Part of the Azores, Flores is a diminutive dot in the ocean known as The Atlantic’s Garden. Here is a rambler’s paradise – a rugged landscape strewn with craggy cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, small meadows, lakes and natural swimming pools hewn out of rocks along the seashore. Combine two walking trails here and you’ll walk the entire length of Europe’s western-most coastline. Stay at Aldeia da Cuada, a cluster of cottages that cost from £919 pp in July (two sharing) including direct flights (Gatwick), all transfers and seven nights’ self-catering.
Learn what role certain ingredients have played in Brazilian history and how to cook with them, and become skilled in making caipirinhas and four-course dinners, during a cooking course in Paraty, Brazil. You’ll also see how vegetable manioc, the local staple food, is milled and processed plus visit an island fishery, a local distillery and a working palm plantation. A seven-night Paraty itinerary costs from £2,389 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), transfers, B&B at the Pousada do Sandi, a tour of Paraty and the three-day cooking course.
Spend a week at the Herdade da Malhadinha Nova in rural Portugal, a family-run country house and spa that produces regional award-winning wines and gastronomy. The passionate owners offer an impressive range of experiences on the estate, from cooking courses, horse-riding and geocaching to quad-biking, blind wine tastings and photography. Elegant guestrooms overlook vineyards and the infinity pool is surrounded by lush forest. Prices from £1,175 pp (two sharing) include direct flights (Heathrow), car hire and B&B. Experiences are extra.
In between the toe and heel of Italy – the in-step, so to speak – you'll find the idyllic town of Matera where, on 2 July each year, a beautiful Madonna statue is carried by procession on an ornate wooden cart, guarded by knights on horseback. That’s until villagers smash the celebratory cart into a thousand pieces as fireworks light up the night sky. Hole up in nearby Puglia at the Hotel San Paolo al Covento, where a seven-night stay costs from £1,092 pp (two sharing), including flights (Gatwick), car hire and B&B
For most Swedes, Midsummer (24 June) is the biggest and best party of the year. In a country with dark winters and short summers, celebrating the light and warmth is a must, and the whole country comes alive with lively outdoor celebrations. Stay in Skåne, Sweden’s bucolic south, which boasts 400km of beautiful coastline and glorious sandy beaches, plus plenty of public Midsummer gatherings. A week’s stay in converted farm Karlaby Kro costs from £1,205 pp (two sharing) in June, including flights (Heathrow), car hire and seven nights’ B&B.
Andes explorer since 1971 and independent scholar, Peter Frost is your guide for this one-off programme, specially designed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the scientific discovery of Machu Picchu. Accompanied by specialists in archaeology, history and photography, the tour includes visits to museums in Lima, a private dinner in the Urubamba Sacred Valley, an Andean religious ritual, visits to Machu Picchu and a Cusco tour. The price is from £3,340 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), seven nights’ accommodation, most meals, transfers, tours, entrance fees and some tips.
Brazil from £1,895 pp with Sunvil Traveller Celebrate love and rural life in northeastern Brazil during a trio of lively festivals. 13 June is dedicated to St Anthony, the patron saint of weddings; on 24 June, St John's Day, locals appeal for a good corn harvest; and on 29 June they pray to St Peter, guardian of the clouds. Men don farmers' clothes and women adopt pigtails and paint freckles on their faces. A touring itinerary costs from £1,895 pp (two sharing) including flights (London) seven nights’ B&B (three in Recife, four in Porto de Galinhas) and a private tour of festivals and transfers.