Our September Top Beach Destinations: Cyprus / Malta / Turkey / Portugal
Cyprus – highlights:
Best beaches: The sandiest beaches are in Ayia Napa but the stretch from Latchi to the Baths of Aphrodite is incredibly beautiful and you can still find private bays to relax in. The water is crystal clear water for snorkeling and swimming.
Off the beaten track: The more adventurous can find unspoilt beaches such as Lara Bay. The monasteries of Cyprus are often overlooked by visitors, but they are full of history. Kykkos in the Troodos, Stavrovouni near Larnaca, and Ayios Neofytos close to Paphos are among the best.
Favourite food: It has to be meze, and lots of it. My personal favourite has to be spanakopita, spinach and feta pie. Nicosia has some really good eateries; it’s not an area that attracts many tourists so the food is authentically Cypriot.
Cultural highlight: Driving around the churches in the Troodos, especially Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis, or St Nicholas of the Roof, an amazing 11th-century Byzantine monastery in a stunning location with excellently preserved frescoes. Nicosia is also a fascinating city: the world’s only divided capital, with great museums and a Venetian inner-walled old town.
Hidden gem: Polis and Latchi are the most unspoilt parts of Cyprus, near the nature reserve of the Akamas.
Ideal afternoon: Head for the hills. The wonderful rural and unspoilt Troodos Mountains make a memorable day trip from the coast. Platres is a lovely mountain resort and the ideal place to sit and enjoy a meal in the pine forest. At the highest point, the peak of Mount Olympus offers fantastic views of the island.
Where to stay: VIP Access Hotels in Cyprus
Malta – Highlights:
Best beaches: Ask anyone in Malta what the most famous beach is and they’ll tell you Comino Beach (aka the Blue Lagoon) in Comino Island. With its azure waters and sandy beach front, it is a haven for weekenders and tourists alike. If you prefer a more secluded beach free of tourists and tourist vendors head north to the island of Gozo. There you can find a number of secret beaches (well, as secret as a beach on such a small island can be), including those in San Blas Bay and Dwejra Bay.
Off the beaten track: If you prefer a more secluded beach free of tourists and tourist vendors head north to the island of Gozo. There you can find a number of secret beaches (well, as secret as a beach on such a small island can be), including those in San Blas Bay and Dwejra Bay.
Cultural highlight: Step back in time more than 4,000 by visiting Malta Mdina or the “Silent City”. This ancient town was home to Maltese nobility and still contains practicing convents and monasteries. Take a walk within the colossal walls of stone and visit the boutique shops, grab a bite at the café overlooking the surrounding country side or just get lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys.
Favourite Food: Whether it’s the Spanish, French, English, Turkish, Arabs or Greeks, many civilizations have had an influence on Maltese cuisine. However, don’t let that statement fool you. Despite it being a gourmet melting pot, Malta has still retained its identity and is proud of their gastronomy. For a great experience in traditional Maltese food, make your way off the beaten path and down an alley to a restaurant called Ta’kris Restaurant in Sliema. There you can submit your senses to the rustic dishes of the island and enjoy a fantastic moussaka and/or (preferably and) the stuffat tal-fenek. A Maltese staple consisting of a braised or stewed rabbit in a red wine gravy.For those looking to satiate their palette with a more refined dish, call ahead and reserve a table at Aziamendi 100. This 3-Michelin Star restaurant will take you around the world as you savor dishes inspired by Spain’s Basque Region and Southern Thailand. And with a 6 course tasting menu starting at only €79 per person, it is arguable the most economical way to declare yourself a globetrotter.
Hidden gem: Tucked away in the Southeast of Malta is the small fishing village of Marsaxlokk. With a population of only 3,500 people, you’ll find yourself immersed in locals as they buy and sell the catch of the day. Hungry? Look no further. Hop into one of many food stands and taste the sea, as they grill you only the freshest of seafood. Make sure you get there early though, as shops close down in the early afternoon.
Ideal afternoon: Café del Mar in St. Paul’s bay is an oasis and offers a great way to beat the heat, while enjoying the views of the sea. Popular during sunset, you can experience it whilst taking a dip in their infinity pool and having a cocktail.
Where to stay: VIP Access Hotels in Malta
Best beaches: On a journey stretching from the Aegean to the Mediterranean along Turkey’s dramatic 500km coastline, you will encounter hidden coves, ancient sites, rustic villages and sparkling waters; the Cesme Peninsula has long been a favourite of the Istanbul and Izmir elite; the Datca peninsula is known for its almonds and pine coloured mountains which plunge down to the sea; the more accessible but relatively peaceful Bozburun peninsula has quaint villages clinging to its breathtaking coastline.
Off the beaten track: My highlights would have to be the general area and unique rock sites of Cappadocia and if you can also shoehorn in a day trip to Prince’s Islands
Cultural highlights: Istanbul is a buzzing city where east meets west. Some of my highlights include the Blue Mosque – Sultanahmet, the Grand Bazaar, the streets of Kaleici old town in Antalya and the Marmaris Bazaar.
Favourite Food: Yaprak Sarma – wrapped vine leaves with a filling of rice, onion and spices; Dolma – eggplants, peppers, tomatoes or zucchinis stuffed with a mixture of rice and onion with various spices; Taze Fasulye – Green beans cooked with tomato and/or tomato paste and of course onion.
Hidden gem: There are plenty of little gems just outside Istanbul to explore such as the Ottoman capitals of Bursa on the Asian side of the Bosporus and Edirne, a two hour drive towards the Greek border.
Ideal afternoon: People watching from a café in Istanbul and eating ..
Where to stay: VIP Access Hotels in Turkey
Best beaches: Praia da Adraga, Miramar, Porto, Praia do Cabedelo, Praia da Rocha, Lagos, Praia do Castelo these are just some of the amazing beaches with golden sand to explore. The list is endless!
Off the beaten track: Escape the bustle of the city by venturing out to Belem, the monument filled neighborhood built on the sea.
Cultural highlight: Many consider the Schist villages of central Portugal to be one of the country’s most authentic and well-kept images of the past. Standing defiantly on the hillsides of the Serra de Estrella sub-ranges of Lousa and Acor,
Favourite Food: Many of Portugal’s dishes are fish-based due to the country’s situation on the Atlantic. The most famous fish dish is salted cod, bacalhau. Other popular fish include sardines, especially grilled (sardinhas assadas), sea bass, octopus, squid, anchoives and swordfish. Roast suckling pig (leitão assado) is a speciality of Central Portugal. Another popular pork dish is the carne de porco à Alentajana, pork marinated in wine and garnished with clams.
Hidden gem:Botanical Gardens Lisbon
Ideal afternoon: Take a stroll through the Barrio Alto in Lisbon soaking up the sights and atmosphere. Grab a coffee and a pasteis de nata in one of the many picturesque squares. As nights falls, wander the narrow cobblestone streets of the Alfama neighborhood in search of traditional Fado. Simply ask at the door and a stodgy man or matronly woman will briskly escort you before the music begins.
Where to stay: VIP Access Hotels in Portugal
Our September Cultural Calendar of Events:Paris / Barcelona / Munich / Venice
Paris Design Week: Paris becomes a meeting point for designers, architects, artists and design enthusiasts from all over the world during Paris Design Week. The event was intended as an itinerary through the city and each day, the celebration moves from one design district to another, allowing the participants to discover over 150 venues that open their doors on this special occasion.
Festival D’Automne A Paris (1 September 2014 – 31 December 2014): Launched in 1972, the Paris Autumn festival celebrates contemporary art and embraces all forms of artistic expression and has set the standard for art-related events in Paris. With more than 50 events and over 100,000 visitors each year, the festival is an excellent opportunity for emerging artists to showcase their talent.
Where to Stay: VIP Access Hotels in Paris
Barcelona’s biggest annual festival, Festes de la Mercé, celebrates the city’s patron saint, the Virgin de la Mercé is taking place in September. This bustling city becomes even more lively with over 500 activities including a parade of the giants (wooden figures operated by humans), Castellers (human towers) and fireworks for 4 days towards the end of September.
Where to Stay: VIP Access Hotels in Barcelona
If you like beer in barrels, sausages and raucous singing, then the annual Munich Oktoberfest is right for you!
Where to Stay: VIP Access Hotels in Munich
Regata Storica is a 510 year-old tradition and a spectacular sight where a vast fleet of gondolas and other historic craft headed by the ornate Doge’s barge and all loaded with Venetians in brilliant medieval costumes parade race around the canals of this intriguing city.
Where to Stay: VIP Access Hotels in Venice