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The Artisan Blog
The two stunning Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores are favourites amongst our Artisan Travel Experts, but with so much in common it can be difficult to tell them apart! That’s why we’ve decided to pit these two fantastic archipelagos against each other, to help you discover the best place for your next getaway.
The idyllic summer months offer the perfect excuse to book a long weekend away, somewhere far beyond the typical staycation. Enjoy super-soft sandy beaches, explore vast volcanic landscapes, experience wildlife encounters, or simply bask in the summer sun; from breathtaking archipelagos to Nordic hot-spots – these destinations are all less than a five-hour flight away from London. So, take a look below at our recommendations to plan that much needed weekend away!
Situated in the mid-Atlantic, remote, volcanic yet full of life sit the nine islands of the Azores.
The archipelago’s islands are divided into three; the Eastern Group (Santa Maria and São Miguel), the Central Group (Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico and Faial) and the Western Group (Corvo and Flores). On first glance, the rocky landmasses all have a similar presence - rugged and green with impressive geological structures, but delve deeper and you’ll find an individual charm on each island.
Nothing beats an island holiday for your summertime getaway, but do you fancy trying something different this year? This summer, step beyond your much-loved European escapes for a new kind of island holiday in one of Portugal’s best-kept secrets; the magnificent Azores archipelago.
If reality television has taught me anything (and I do appreciate this may be something of a stretch) it is that life is all about the journey.
This is something that came back to me during my recent exploration of Croatia’s southern coast and islands. The Adriatic coastline presents travellers with a stunning array of jaw-dropping destinations all within a relatively short distance of one another. Yet the highlight of my trip was not to be found amongst them…
Christmas might be over and the days might be getting colder but don’t worry there is plenty to get excited for in 2019! In fact, if the colder days have got you dreaming of sunnier climbs then here at Artisan Travel, we have some good news as some of our favourite sunny escapes are just around the corner!
Now, although we love all of the destinations in our Mediterranean collection and we would highly recommend a trip to Croatia, Gozo or The Azores, there is one destination that we are especially excited about this year – Madeira! With its winding levadas, luscious green mountains, exceptional coastline and amazing marine life, there is plenty to love about this sub-tropical island. However, rather than giving you a big long list of reasons to start booking your flights we have decided to let the photos do the talking! After all, ‘a picture paints a thousand words’!
When people talk about Croatia it is highly likely that the next sentence is probably going to contain the word ‘Dubrovnik’. Now don’t get me wrong, that isn’t a bad thing. I love Dubrovnik, it is a simply stunning town and it is definitely somewhere that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Croatia for the first time.
However, one place that doesn’t seem to get the same appreciation is Croatia’s second largest city – Split. Split might be the largest city in the region of Dalmatia but don’t think that it is anyway just an industrial-hub not worthy of your time in comparison to all the pretty little seaside towns and islands scattered along the Adriatic Coast.
If you are heading on holiday to Croatia this year the chances are that you have started to compile a list of places that you would love to visit once you are there. My guess would be that there are certain places that are bound to make the list. For example, you have probably included Dubrovnik, the Plitvice Lakes National Park and maybe even the Elaphiti Islands. However, there is one place that I would guess probably doesn’t feature on your list and that’s the Pelješac peninsula or more specifically the town of Ston.
I love Croatia. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been there. The most recent was last summer, the next time is in a couple of weeks, and the first time was my honeymoon.
The honeymoon was way back in 1999 and I’m happy to say that Kate and I are still going strong and still heading for Croatia. This year, we are heading for a stunning island called Korcula - “Cor-chew-lar” - and the staying in the hotel where we spent the first night of our honeymoon.
Usually, when the Artisan team travel to Finnish Lapland we visit during the winter season between the end of November and the beginning of April. However, this year we were given the opportunity to travel to Finland and Norway in the month of May. Lapland in spring provides a very different type of trip to the ones that we offer in the winter months.
The Arctic Circle is generally associated with winter and long, dark nights but I have always found the prospect of the Midnight Sun and the endless summer days to be alluring. It is something which is hard to understand when you come from a world that has both light and dark each day. In fact, this natural phenomenon seems so unnatural to us in the UK that it can divide opinion. I have since returned from the far north of Finland and having just experienced the Midnight Sun for myself I can honestly say that it should be on every bucket list, and don’t worry, the hotels in Finland have excellent blackout blinds!
As part of our commitment to responsible tourism, we are always trying to make sure that all our holidays are as good for the environment and the local people as they are for you our clients!
We were therefore absolutely delighted (but not really surprised) to hear that one of our favourite destinations, the island of Gozo has won a prize for being the most sustainable destination in the Mediterranean!
Cold, dreary weather, post-festive season torpor, and back-to-work blues; welcome to the joys of January. How do we recommend you cure your mood?
Start planning your 2018 adventures of course!
We have a vast variety of bucket list holidays all around the world, skilfully designed by our Travel Experts with you in mind. We'll take you from the wilds of Finland to the sun-drenched island of Gozo; the fjords of Iceland and Norway to the volcanic paradise of the Azores.
At this time of year, the sun does not set in Northern Norway. Whilst slightly disorientating at first, I soon came to really enjoy the never-ending days and the opportunities this opened. In this time of the Midnight Sun, Norwegians sleep less – they fish, they kayak, they BBQ, they island hop – more daylight means more time to enjoy the splendours of the land and socialise until the early hours.
At around 11.30pm the sun dips toward, but never quite reaches, the horizon. The Norwegian fjords and mountains are bathed in a pinkish golden glow and the scenery looks all the more idyllic, exuding a sense of warmth and serenity. As strange as it sounds, one of my favourite things to do was to simply sit on the water’s edge and enjoy the colours of the light.
One of the key highlights of the trip was the chance to spend time on the island of Senja. Having listened to colleagues rave about it for years, it was a place I was eager to see. I can confirm that it does indeed live up to the hype.
It didn’t really occur to me until afterwards, but to see a whale in the wild is truly a magnificent experience.
We were lucky enough to see four sperm whales up close off the coast of Norway (although, as Daniele our guide pointed out to us, your eyes play tricks with you at sea and what feels like 20 metres away is more like 80) and it makes you feel overwhelmingly humbled to witness an animal that has swum in our oceans for more than 5 million years.
The adjective ‘beautiful’ is banned in our office so I have had to delve into my thesaurus to accurately describe what I thought of Norway on my recent stay. Glorious, splendid, gorgeous, lovely and stunning are a good way to start, but perhaps most accurately, my overall thoughts on the parts of Norway we explored were that they were so easy on the eye that it was almost laughable.
The Alentejo Coast is not the Algarve nor does it pretend to be.
This long overlooked stretch of dramatic cliffs, villages of white walled houses and sandy beaches is where the more discerning Lisbonite now chooses to take their holidays and who I am to argue.
In their search for a more secluded and authentic experience the Portuguese are finally making the most of what is right on their doorstep. My own experience on the Alentejo Coast began in Milfontes just two hours from Lisbon. It is the perfect size with a great selection of restaurants – where else do you get the opportunity to eat a delicious seafood stew while watching the owner's pet octopus reach out of his tank to high-five the customers.
As my grandma always used to say "to be on the move is good for your body and soul".
That is probably why I've always been a person who likes to leave the car in the garage and go for a walk.
There is nothing better after a long day at work or when you just want to escape daily life.
After I started working for The Artisan Travel Company, I had the opportunity to do this wonderful self-guided walking trip and as I really like walking and hiking this was the perfect trip for me. For safety reasons you are not allowed to do it by yourself, so I just had to convince my colleague Jono that walking can be great fun!
When we arrived at Ajaccio Airport our taxi driver brought us to our hotel, which was the perfect starting point to explore the city. It is only a couple of yards away from the beach, nice restaurants and the port. After checking into our rooms we had a wander around the city and a meet and greet with our local experts. They gave us a lot of tips for our walks and provided us with useful maps and route notes. We then finished off our day with a delicious dinner in a restaurant near to the port.
I had been to Gozo once before several years ago with my family and my two favourite things about this island destination were the food and the wonderful climate! I jumped at the opportunity to go back to Gozo but this time it would be a very different type of holiday.
I was set to join a short break focused entirely on improving my overall health and well being... (So probably much less pasta, pizza and ice cream than during my last holiday!).
I met the small group the first night after we had the chance to check into the beautiful Bella Vista Farmhouses. There were all kinds of people in my group of varying age, physical ability and also trepidation of what the week ahead would hold.