The Best Holiday Homes for Big Family Reunions

Yes, we all do it. Time runs away with us, and before you know it you haven’t seen some of your closest relatives in years. Life is definitely one big excuse for most of us, but perhaps this year it’s time to change that. Get everyone together, but rather than putting all the pressure on one family member to host the entire clan, turn the reunion into a retreat. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most spectacular holiday homes around, so that the only thing you’ll need to concern yourself with is finding a date when all of your nearest and dearest are free.

Sleep in the Mountains at Villa Kalkan. Credit http://www.thebigdomain.com

Villa Kalkan

Wake up to a view of the rugged Taurus Mountains. Admire clear Kalkan Bay waters spilling out into the glorious Med. At Villa Kalkan, there’s a wrap-around balcony perfect for evening cocktails with a view. You’ll also find a swanky pool terrace for lounging on the sunbeds. This five bedroom villa is great for families who crave the sun. Everything about this Turkish build is swoon-worthy. The open-plan living area’s wall-to-wall glass doors unfold onto a large outdoor platform, revealing spellbinding panoramic views of the coast. So, sashay down to the first floor in your finest swimwear, soak in the fizzing Jacuzzi and float in the heavenly infinity pool. Later, cook dinner on the sparkling kitchen island or dine al fresco after making use of the barbecue.  Finally, settle into the huge L-shaped sofa for a comfy night of stargazing.

The indoor swimming pool at Ludbrook Manor. Credit http://kateandtoms.com

Ludbrook Manor

Sandwiched between the wild moors of Dartmoor and the Salcombe Coast, enveloped by a soft patchwork of turtle-green fields, is Ludbrook Manor. This Grade II listed building has features dating back to 1050 AD, and really is everything that holiday dreams are made of. On approach, you’ll see acres of South Hams countryside, some of which is landscaped into a water garden with oriental influences. In addition, there’s a floodlit tennis court, outdoor hot tub and chicken coop. With capacity for up to 24 guests, each suite has an impeccable, distinctive design.

From remarkable, oak four-posters, to luxurious, freestanding baths;  a purple, velvet chaise longue to a room built on top of a glass-covered well (The Well Room), it’s easy to live like royalty here. Roaring marble fireplaces keep you warm, and the extensively stocked kitchen makes it easy to self-cater. The manor is so well-built for guests, that it’s easy not to leave the estate during your stay. In addition to the aforementioned amenities, there is also a table tennis table, grand piano, giant chessboard, swimming pool, music systems and some fairly large televisions.

Sleep like a princess at Chateau Chamborigaud. Credit https://www.oliverstravels.com

Chateau Chamborigaud

For an inspiring retreat, stay in a forest-engulfed fairytale castle. With rapunzel-esque turrets, it’s easy to let down you hair in this gorgeous part of southern France. Those who appreciate the raw wonder of nature will enjoy swimming in the local river or wandering the wilds, but this property is not short of extravagant luxury either. There are countless astonishing features across this 1575 estate; whether you want to relax in a clawfoot bathtub, ascend regal, twisting staircases or admire the dainty, floral wallpaper. Suits of armour line the halls and cavernous stone ceilings echo of the castle’s past.

Come snowfall or sunshine, this chateau looks completely divine. In winter, eat in the candle-lit, formal dining room using crockery from the distressed welsh dresser, and in summer cook outside in the poolside kitchen. Chateau Chamborigaud even has its own vineyards, and there are plenty of picturesque villages around.

Play some pool at Loch View Manor. Credit https://www.holidaycottages.co.uk

Loch View Manor

This mansion does what it says on the tin and so much more. This hillside property does indeed boast views of Loch Striven, on the rural Scottish coast. It also happens to be surrounded by acres of secluded forest. Those families who like an active break will be spoilt for choice, with onsite shooting and fishing, tennis, mountain biking and golf all possible. There are a whole host of natural attractions too, from deep glens to mighty waterfalls. On top of this, there is a billiard room with a bar, and a small, eccentric public house within the grounds.

 

Top 5 adventure and wildlife experiences

If you’re tired of the classic flight hotel city-centre kind of holiday, we have the ultimate challenge for you: a new set of adventurous destinations for intrepid, thrill-seeking travellers. Buckle up and challenge yourself with some of the most beautiful and unusual experiences that the world has to offer…

Galapagos Islands

This volcanic archipelago is amongst the most protected and well-known island groups in the Pacific Ocean. A part of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands were at the centre of Charles Darwin’s study and his HMS Beagle voyage. Because the islands host such a variety of endemic species, this is an experience you will remember forever. Enjoy unique bird watching, discover extraordinary reptiles and dive into the crystal clear sea to swim with the dolphins. If you want to see the islands from the ocean, why not recharge your batteries on one of the small boats and yachts that offer accommodation?

Mongolia

Take a walk on the immense frozen Lake Khövsgöl near the Russian border and go wolf spotting in the forests of the north. Lose yourself in the wilderness, amongst the white-tailed gazelle of the Gobi desert, the Argali mountain sheep in the glacial canyons and the Lammergeier vulture in the sandstone cliffs of the south. Then, discover and enjoy cultural jewels of Mongolia such as the horse-sleigh racing and wrestling contests of the important Mongolian Ice Festival. Afterwards, treat yourself to a good night’s sleep in a warm yurt.

Amazon

The Amazon Rainforest is the largest in the world and hosts over a third of all known species of animal and plant. Because of this, it has many fitting nicknames including, ‘the lungs of the world’ and ‘the world’s largest pharmacy.’ You may want to plan your trip around May or June, as these months follow the February-April rainy season—there really is nothing like manoeuvering a canoe through the flooded rainforest! Use the city of Manaus in Brazil as your point of departure and let your jungle experience begin. The Amazon boasts lodges with varying degrees of comfort, adventure and unique wildlife spotting possibilities around every corner, and the chance to gain completely new perspective of the world—one which will surpass your wildest expectations.

India

You can spend 30 years searching for the remarkable and elusive snow leopard without spotting one. Challenge accepted? Because this big cat is as rare and endangered as it is beautiful and extraordinary, less than 2,500 are thought to be reproducing in the wild. However, the Himalayan  mountain range of Asia is a good place to look for them. Five of the best national parks to for leopard spotting are: Hemis, the largest, the Great Himalayan National Park, where the brown bear also resides, Gangotri, Khangchendzonga and Namdapha. In addition, there are many tours on offer giving you the opportunity to see tigers, dholes, wolves, the Asiatic black bear, ibex, musk deer and all the other wildlife that define the very spirit of these regions.

Antarctica

Hours and hours flying south…Buenos Aires to Ushuaia.  This is where your magical, Antarctic trip begins. On arrival, you can inhale a satisfying breath of fresh air—and the great white continent has plenty to fill your lungs with. The best explorers have tackled the South Pole over the centuries, but you don’t need to be as intrepid as them: you can see the albatross without fearing it, cruise and kayak along the icebergs to spot the whales, perch next to penguin colonies, hike on the ice continent and climb the peaks for a breathtaking view. You can even scuba-dive, because if you’re in Antarctica you must, of course, not fear the cold.

 

Top Things To Do In and Around Malatya

Malatya is a grand South-Central Turkish city with half a million inhabitants, a historical human settlement for thousands of years. Expect a dynamic and busy city that will provide you with the experience of everyday life in a Turkish city.

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The Turkish city life

Start your stroll around the city center with a free visit to the Yeni Cami mosque – an architectural jewel of Malatya featuring three minarets. This is the main and most central part of the city. Nearby, you will find The Dried Apricot Bazaar of Malatya (Sire Bazaar) where you can find a huge variety of apricot-based goods ranging from the actual fruit to soap, jam and even skincare products. Because the region of Malatya is quite conservative, there is only one pub in Malatya. But don’t worry, along the canal (Kanalboyu), you’ll find a great assortment of cafes and restaurants. Many restaurants serve shish kebabs with grilled apricot – definitely something you’ll want to try. We also recommend you  enjoy a Turkish coffee along with a hooka (if that’s your sort of thing) at Nostalji Tarihi – a traditional Turkish café.

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A mandatory visit to Mount Nemrut and Gunpinar Waterfall

Malatya or Meliddu, as the Assyrians once called it, is the perfect base for tourists visiting Mount Nemrut. This natural splendour represents the site of an ancient burial tomb and was declared a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO. There you can admire the temple and tomb of King Antiochus and the beautiful statues that surround it dating from the first century BC. The giant stone heads will make you feel like a visitor in the land of an ancient civilization. Many tourists prefer to visit Mount Nemrut at sunrise or sundown for the breath-taking view that looks as if it’s from another planet.shutterstock_35877253

Another must-see in the Malatya region is the Gunpinar waterfall. You can even enjoy a Turkish coffee and a grilled kebab at the café just by the waterfall. You can’t possibly ask for a better view.  One of the best things about the waterfall is the organic and relaxing sound that the water makes when it hits the rocks. You should take a short hike up to the top of the waterfall to take a look at this natural wonder from above. During summer time, the place is full of locals and tourists enjoying a picnic in the sun to experience the unforgettable view.

For the best experience of Malatya, hire a car with easyCar and visit during the International Arts and Apricot Festival in July. The city will be buzzing with events and markets and you’ll be able to taste some of the best apricots in the world, alongside a wide range of apricot based products.

 

Top Things To Do In and Around San Diego

 

No one gets bored in San Diego. California’s second biggest city is a vibrant spot, offering plenty of attractions and some amazing weather. Whether you come here for work or holidays, we can guarantee that you will enjoy every second of it.

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Culture, urban and nature

San Diego means, great outdoor fun even when you’re visiting its many museums and galleries. Balboa Park offers 15 museums and performing arts venues set in majestic buildings that belong to the Spanish Colonial Revival-style. Balboa Park is America’s largest urban cultural park – take a stroll through its enchanting gardens and you can take a cultural break anytime by walking into one of its museums, ranging from photography to natural history.shutterstock_86694577

Another interesting fact that needs to be mentioned is that Balboa Park is home to the famous Tony Awards, that celebrates the best in Broadway talent.

If you’re tired of all the walking, the best and most affordable places to eat are to be found in Central San Diego. Due to the proximity to the Mexican border and its strong Hispanic heritage, here can be found some of the most delicious Mexican restaurants in California. Our choice would be Las Cuatro Milpas – a small and authentic place where their mouth watering dishes are totally worth the queues.

 

Outdoor fun in San Diego

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San Diego features 70 miles of coastline. Luckily, the beaches are perfect in all the four seasons, making it possible for tourists to enjoy a good swim even in the middle of the winter. Our favorite is Mission Beach, a long and sandy beach close to the best bars and restaurants in the city from which we recommend Canes Bar and Grill, for the food and for the majestic ocean view.

Another amazing beach is the laid-back paradise from La Jolla. This beach is great for surfing so anyone passionate can have a glimpse of the romanticized Californian surfer lifestyle.

The San Diego Zoo is an amazing place to bring the kids, but can be fun for all ages. The zoo is well maintained and has over 4,000 animals representing more than 800 species, which makes it one of the world’s grandest zoos. Both fun and educational, the trip will remind you of how amazing nature is. Get ready to see polar bears, elephants, white rhinos, gorillas and many other rare and wonderful species.

Just a 30 minute drive north of San Diego lies the famous theme park, Legoland. This could be an excellent day out with your family. The kids can see all the lego themes they love, in real life. You’ll be surprised at the endless creative possibilities your kids can explore with even the simplest Lego bricks!

Of course, like most US cities, the best attractions are spread around a big area surrounding the city center. So, the best way to explore San Diego is by car. Why not book your San Diego car hire with easyCar today?

Top Things To Do In and Around Santorini

Santorini is one of the most mesmerizing island of the Cyclades and that kind of place where acting like the most cliché  tourist just makes sense. You could literally stop at any corner and take a photo that can easily end up in a wall calendar. When you get to Santorini it feels like you arrived in a much further land, as this place really has no comparison. For the best experience, it’s recommended to visit the island during spring or early autumn when the weather is less hot and the tourists are less present.

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Fira, Oia and the best sunset in the world

The beautiful town of Fira is the official capital of Santorini and the best place to start your visit. It is said that in Santorini there are “more churches than houses” and Fira is the best place to observe this. On the narrow paved streets, you can find plenty of small orthodox churches painted white and blue (specific to the island) that are worth a visit but also great restaurants, bars, shops and nightlife.

It is said (and proved) that from the cliff top village of Oia you can see one of the most beautiful- if not THE most beautiful sunset in the world. We recommend arriving early otherwise you’ll find yourself surrounded by excited tourists posing for selfies. Take a walk on this lively town’s marble street, paved with souvenir shops, art galleries and jewelry stores.

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You might also want to taste the best seafood on the island. For this, take the stairs down from Oia to Amoudi port where the Greek tavernas compete in their authenticity. We recommend taverna Katina, not only for the variety of fish and seafood but for its proximity to the sea.

 

Don’t forget about the beaches and the volcanic island

To easily reach the most famous beaches of the island, we recommend that you take a sailing trip.  Due to its volcanic rocks, Santorini offers unique beaches. You’ll be able to brag that you that you visited a red, a white and a black beach all in a day. If the weather allows (and it most certainly will as weather in Santorini is warm from May until late September) the boat will stop for a bath in a deep, clear, striking blue water. You’ll also be surprised to discover that the picturesque red beach actually has warm water.

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A visit to the volcanic island Nea Kameni is not to be missed. Another boat trip – but this time shorter – will take you to a place seemingly inspired by a sci-fi film. Besides its interesting structure and rocky texture, the best thing that Nea Kameni has to offer is the breathtaking view. While you walk on solid black lava, you’re able to look at Santorini island from afar, and see it in all its splendor.

 

Hiking from Perissa to Kamari

Not the easiest journey, but one of the most enchanting, a hike from Perissa to Kamari can be a great plan for half a day in Santorini. Not only you will get amazing views but with a slight detour you can visit the old Panaghia church, a small orthodox church built in traditional Santorini style. At the end of the hike, you might want to sunbathe on the unique beach of Kamari, covered with black sand. Or why not enjoy snorkeling in the clear waters of the Aegean sea?

If that wasn’t enough to make you want to visit, you may be interested to know that Santorini stole the hearts of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie who in 2010 actually bought a house on the island. If it’s good enough for Brangelina, it’s good enough for us!

 

Top Things To Do In and Around Cape Town

 

Do you often dream of travelling to a destination that has both idyllic beaches and high green mountains, both picturesque harbors and scenic gardens? In this case, the answer to your dream holiday is probably Cape Town. Luckily for you, Central Cape Town is perhaps the safest African city center, where tourists can take walk and explore without worrying too much about personal safety.

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The city of sapphire beaches and emerald mountains

Reachable by cable car (or by hiking, but only by the brave) Table Mountain makes one of the best views of Cape Town that can possibly be seen. After a well deserved photo stop on the top of the mountain, let’s assume that you are brave enough to hike all the way down. If you chose to do so, you will have the chance to visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, one of the world’s most renowned botanical gardens.

After visiting Table Mountain, don’t miss Cape Town’s beautiful historical harbor. When you get to the Victoria and Alfred waterfront you will be amazed by the multitude of shops and restaurants that simply invite you in. If you’re looking for lunch, we recommend Hildebrand Ristorante where you can enjoy fresh oysters and delicious pasta dishes.

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Cape Town is also famous for its beautiful beaches. We should start with Clifton Beach, a stunning sandy beach, a short drive from the city center. If swimming and sunbathing are top priorities for your visit, we recommend visiting Cape Town sometime between late January and late April. Then, you’ll still be able to enjoy the amazing warm weather and the less crowded beaches.

 

The most cosmopolitan African city

As Cape Town is considered to be a ‘European city in Africa’, its has its own riviera, similar to the French. Camps Bay is frequently called South Africa’s ‘ Saint Tropez’ and if you go there you will understand why. Full of chic terraces and cool restaurants, Camps Bay is a serious competition to its French sister city.

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Let’s now talk about the urban side of Cape Town. This vibrant city is full of art galleries, cafes, restaurants and clubs. A trip to Cape Town is not complete without going to Long Street. If you don’t have the time to visit a nearby vineyard – as Cape Town area is also famous for its wine – just pop by any bar on Long Street so you can taste a big variety of local wines. It’s going to be a long night.

 

Top Things To Do In and Around Taranto

Perhaps not the most renowned destination for an Italian break, Taranto is the perfect place to go during summer if you want to see a truly authentic city that’s yet to be invaded by tourists.

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Not your average fishing village

Once a rich and flourishing city of the Roman Empire, then transformed into a fishing village after a dispute with Rome, Taranto has accumulated a strong cultural and traditional heritage. The reason it’s called “The City Of Two Seas” is its strap of land that separates the sea, creating two bays: Mar Grande or the commercial port and Mar Piccolo. The two are connected by the Ponte Girevole, “ponte” meaning bridge. The panorama of the old city form the bridge is worth at least a short photographic moment.

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After crossing the bridge, you’ll encounter the medieval city and its beautiful churches, traditional houses and majestic ruins that remind us of what Taranto once was during the Roman Empire. If this intrigues you then you should definitely go to the National Archaeology Museum to see the well preserved collection of figured objects, fine ancient jewelry and ceramics. After the visit, you’ll realise what a glorious and important Mediterranean hub Taranto was.

The Taranto inhabitants are warm people, proud of their rich traditional cuisine. Just take a walk through the fish market of Taranto to get a sneak peek of what the local restaurants are serving up for dinner. Speaking of which, we highly recommend Al Gatto Rosso restaurant which is an old, unpretentious place where the locals go. Try their specialty of pasta with mussels for an unforgettable dinner.

 

Places of unaltered natural beauty

You can’t go to Taranto without going to the beach. This part of the Ionian coastline has a little something for everyone. Although you’ll love Taranto’s local beaches, we recommend going to Marina di Ginosa for a crystal clear water, sandy beaches and green surroundings. Not far from Marina Ginosa, you’ll find Lake of Salinella. Many tourists come here with their cameras to capture moments of unaltered beauty or for bird watching. The presence of the lake created a microsystem that homes a variety of unique bird species.

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In order to be able to move fast around the spectacular region of Taranto, you should rent a car. In this way you can take a day and take the one-hour drive to the baroque city of Lecce. Puglia is a great region to explore and Lecce is an architectural jewel that you must see if you’re around.  For another day of exploration on your list, there should be the village of Alberobello. There you will find districts of trulli, surreal looking buildings that are specific for the village. The story behind them goes back to the 15th Century, when because of tax reasons, the inhabitants built the conical roofs which could be disassembled easily. Another important fact about the village is that in 1996 it became a UNESCO World Heritage.

In short, Taranto is a small, authentic Italian town which will delight you from your first day. Rent a car with easyCar to give you greater flexibility and the chance to visit its beautiful and unique surroundings.

 

Top Things To Do In and Around Calgary

There’s plenty to explore in Calgary. The city is becoming more and more cosmopolitan as a lot of new start-ups are choosing Calgary as their base of operations.

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A young and thriving city

Let’s start by exploring the downtown and then move outwards towards the surrounding areas of Calgary. If it’s your first visit, we suggest going straight to the Calgary Tower for a dazzling view of the city. If you’ve already fallen in love with the spot, we recommend staying for dinner at the tower’s rotating restaurant.

Once you feel you’ve taken in enough of the beautiful view, start your journey by foot in downtown Calgary. The city’s center is relatively compact, making it easy to cover most of the highlights in a single day. The best start can be a walk on Stephan Avenue. Make sure you’re not in a rush as you’ll be tempted to stop by the inviting shops and cafes. After the shopping spree you may want to enjoy some authentic craft beer in one of the most hipster bars that Calgary has to offer- Hop In A Brew.

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If you want to get to know Calgary even better, take a tour of the The Glenbow Museum for an outstanding experience. The art and historical collections provides tourists a more complete view and understanding of Alberta and West Canada’s heritage and history. The museum has a unique approach, showcasing a bit of everything, from ethnology and military history to photography and modern art.

 

Stepping back in time

Going to the Heritage Park Historical Village feels like stepping back in time to the early days of the Wild West. During your walk you’ll notice that the park has four main areas, reflecting distinct historical periods, from the late 1800 until the 1950s. Just as in those times, you will see a hotel, a post office, a police station, stores and bakeries. But the best part of your visit will definitely be the chance to ride in an authentic steam train around the entire park. And when no one’s looking, you can pretend you’re in a cowboy movie- we won’t tell!

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Moving further to the scenic beauty of West Canada, a 2-hour drive from Calgary will take you to Johnston Canyon. And you can’t really say you’ve been to Canada unless you enjoy a day hiking to one of its landscapes of natural beauty and wilderness. The scenery will stun you the moment you step out of the car: high mountains topped with white powdery snow, beautiful waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. The hike is easy and can be done by any nature lover. Don’t forget to bring your camera, you’ll want to look at the photos again and again.

 

Things to do Queenstown

Stunningly laid out around Queenstown Bay on Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand’s South Island, Queenstown is a resort town that boasts an incredible variety of activities to suit all, from the high-flying thrill seekers that soar both air and sea, to the hedonistic spa-goers that frequent the area’s many naturals pools. Book your car hire Queenstown with easyCar, and gain the freedom to explore this natural oasis and all its wonders with ease!

 

Getting to Know Queenstown:

Acquaint yourselves with the region’s indigenous airborne residents at the Kiwi Birdlife Centre. The five acre wildlife sanctuary plays host to over thirty species of animal specific to New Zealand, from the renowned Brown Kiwi, who are available for feeding up to four times a day, to the lesser known , but still fascinating forest gecko. All this lies a picturesque 15 minute journey by hire car from the airport along Frankton Arm, the northeastern shore of Lake Wakatipu.

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For a more panoramic introduction to Queenstown’s breathtaking beauty, how about a trip on the Skyline Gondola? The take-off point is only five minutes from Central Queenstown and affords an indescribable 220 degree panoramic view of Coronet’s Peak, one of Queenstown’s most popular ski-fields, the Remarkables Mountain Range, and Lake Wakatipu. Truly some of the best views on offer here, once you reach the Skyline complex at the top of the gondola ride, prepare yourself to journey through the mystique of Maori culture at Kiwi Haka, via music and traditional dance. Come sunfall, it’s also the perfect spot for a gaze into the celestial or a nice meal at the Stratosphere Restaurant, where you will find remarkable foodstuffs from all corners of the globe.  An adrenaline-charged 800m descent awaits via the Luge for those who like to live a little dangerously.

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Adventure Capital of the World:

When you think of New Zealand, skiing certainly wouldn’t be the first activity that comes to mind. However, Queenstown’s mountainous terrain blesses the area with four treeless ski resorts whose world-class facilities would rival even the Franco-Italian alps. 25 minutes from the town centre, Coronet’s Peak prides itself on its 2.1 m of annual snow that fall on pistes intended for all abilities. 20 minutes further lies The Remarkables, with 3.1m of annual snowfall. For the more discerning skier, Cadrona and Treble Cone, an hour’s drive and 90 minutes’ drive by car hire Queenstown respectively, have the longest runs of all the ski zones at 4km each. Furthermore, it features the most advanced yet least crowded runs. All areas come with creche facilities and a comprehensive après-ski, ensuring that the fun doesn’t end when the slopes close.

Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge in itself is quite a sight to behold! Erected in its current highway bridge form in 1963, it stands a vertiginous 43 m above the unspoiled allure of Kawarau river. Yet, what if we told you you could bungy jump off this bridge? In an experience that will take you from petrified to exhilarated, it doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, this unique thrill at the world’s first commercial bungy jump site is available for all those brave enough to take it! Options include tandem jumps, where you can jump with a friend. Remember though, jumping with a mate doesn’t make it any less scary!

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Time to Unwind…

Queenstown isn’t all just go go go! Take a breather from all that excitement at Olsen Hot Pools. Delightfully perched in the mountains, overlooking the unbelievably beautiful Shotover Canyon, treat yourself to a soak in some of the purest waters on Earth. There’s also a sundeck that surrounds the place in a serene charm that makes it that perfect spot for a romantic escape for two! Parking is available.

Things to do Singapore

Singapore in recent years has enjoyed a regeneration that has transformed it into a macrocosm of the island’s diverse population. One side of the island, you’re in China, another area, you’re in India and on the way back you can see the skyscrapers and theme parks that define metropolitan America. Gone are the days of Singapore, the stale sojourn on the way to more exciting destinations like Australia, and here comes Singapore, the tourist destination. Book your car hire Singapore with easyCar and manoeuvre the intricate system of bridges connecting the manmade floating structures that adjoining this island state, thus enabling you to discover everything this cosmopolitan hub has to offer.

Outdoor Spaces:

Possibly one of Singapore’s most famous attractions with 1.7 million visitors annually, it would be remiss of us not to mention Singapore Zoo. Built in 1973, at a cost of $9 million, these 69 lush acres of land that abut Singapore’s Upper Seletar Reservoir, house over 2800 animals of over 315 species in naturalistic open exhibits. For an experience of a lifetime, delight in a buffet breakfast with the orang-utans, or high-five a sloth as it suspends itself from the trees it calls home!  Let the kids tire themselves out at Rainforest Kidzworld, equipped with slides, swings plus farmyard animals fixing for some affection and a feed.

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When the sun goes down, neighbouring Singapore Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal zoo, allows for a comprehensive understanding of tropical wildlife thanks to the humid rainforest the attraction finds itself in. The animals, which include Indian rhinoceroses and giant zebra, are lit in a way that is bright enough for us humans to see, but resembles moonlight, so as not to disturb them. All can be explored via walking or tram trails; there’s no better or more comfortable way to engage with this adventitious environment!

A Voyage Around the World:

Car Hire Singapore - Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple

Archetypal of Singapore’s potpourri of cultures, the Little India district is an explosion of colours and scents; the area’s existence pays tribute to the Indian and Sri Lankan immigrants that helped build Singapore. On the must-see list is Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, an homage to Hindu goddess Kali, destroyer of negative forces. Wonderfully ornate both outside and in, it is bound to be a positive episode in your Singapore getaway. A short 20 minute drive away lies another temple, this time in Chinatown: Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.  Erected in 2002, in the Tang dynasty style, it is said to house a relic of the Buddha’s tooth, which can be seen on the fourth floor. After being reacquainted with your spiritual side why not go on a shopping spree in Chinatown?

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Hollywood comes to Singapore in the form of Universal Studios Singapore, half an hour’s drive from the airport, the first of its kind in South East Asia. Throw caution to the wind, and enjoy a series of rides, rollercoasters and exhibitions pertaining to some of Universal’s most famous films (Shrek and Madagascar are our highlights).

Things to do in Melbourne

 

Melbourne: the sleek, chic and cosmopolitan capital of Victoria. While that may be true, Australia’s cultural hub doesn’t fail to acknowledge its history nor the unique natural environment it finds itself in. Book your car hire Melbourne with easyCar.com and maximise your experience of this magnificent city and everything it has to offer.

Melbourne by air

What better way to begin your trip to Melbourne than by getting to grips with the entire city at once? The Eureka Skydeck is the highest observation point in Melbourne, at an impressive 297m high, and was completed in 2006. Tourists are propelled to the 88th floor in 38 seconds by the lift and can enjoy a variety of experiences: the ‘walk experience’ allows the wannabe daredevils (who have too much sense) to walk a green screen as if they were actually tightrope walking at that height, as French aerialist Phillip Petit did at the Twin Towers in 1974 for 90 minutes! We advise doing this in early evening for one of the most unforgettable sunsets you will ever have the chance to behold. To get up close and personal with the city by air, why not try Hot Air Ballooning? Melbourne is one of the few cities that allows this incredible adventure to happen right above its skyline.  

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A culture through the ages

Whilst Melbourne’s skyline changes from day to day, there are still some splendid examples of older architecture. St Paul’s Cathedral was designed by celebrated English architect William Butterfield in a gothic revival style and completed by local architect Joseph Reed in 1891 owing to a series of disputes over the church’s direction. Sublimely ornate both inside and out, this building’s beauty transcends religious belief. That’s not to say, however, that Melbourne is stuck in the past. The laneways that have now become characteristic of Melbourne are a canvas for the city’s numerous street artists. Our top pick, Flinders Court, is just adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral, which amongst other works, has an enchanting portrait of Audrey Hepburn whose intricacies have to be seen to be believed. To us, it is a most fascinating amalgamation of old and new.

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This city is wild!

Located 4km north of the city centre, Melbourne Zoo, modelled on the UK’s very own London Zoo, is Australia’s oldest, dating back to 1870, and occupies a 55 acre site bestowed by the city ’s administration. The zoo’s residents are often divided by their climate: the African zone houses gorillas, lions and pigmy hippos, the Aussie bush features koalas and kangaroos and the Asian zone presents orang-utans, elephants and tigers. However, if you fancy peeping the local wildlife in their natural habitat, we recommend Healesville Sanctuary, an hour’s drive from the city centre. Alternatively, you could take your car hire Melbourne 2 hours through the state of Victoria for a day trip to Phillip Island, where Happy Feet manifests itself in real life; you can marvel at thousands of fairy penguins journeying to shore every evening in what is known as the ‘Penguin Parade’. Where else would you ever be able to witness such a special moment?

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Rent a car with easyCar in Bali and experience first hand the Ubud Rice Fields.

Things to do in Bali

Sacred pilgrimage site, cultural treasure trove and natural oasis, the reason Bali emerged as a tourist destination in the 1980s is crystal clear. Rent a car with easyCar and avoid the hassle of haggling with local taxi services or the discomfort of cramped local minibuses. Take full advantage of what this blissful Indonesian island has to offer.

Theme Park Fun

Bali forms part of the Coral Triangle, one of the most aquatically biodiverse areas in the world. Discover this marine life, and their terrestrial friends, at Bali Safari & Marine Park. Enjoy 60 species from 3 different regions (Indonesia, India and Africa) roaming free in naturalistic surroundings from the comfort and the safety of the safari bus. Hit up the waterpark fun-zone perfect for kids, or Ganesha Park, introduced by an imposing 30ft statue of Hindu god Ganesha, which serves also as an entrance to Bali Theatre. Here, the island’s strong cultural traditions are available for all to see via folklore, dance, and art. After this, interact with land’s largest mammal and other African creatures at the Elephant Back Safari. All this lies just 40 minutes’ drive from capital Denpasar, Bali’s capital.

Rent a car with easyCar and meet an orangutan like this one at Bali Safari & Marine Park

Striking Temples

Bali is a mainstay of Indonesia’s Hindu population, and as such, there are is a plethora of temples waiting to be discovered. Paying homage to the sea god Baruna, Tanah Lot is arguably Bali’s most popular cultural destination and is a picturesque hour’s drive from the beaches of Kuta. The marriage of the sapphire blue waters of the Indian Ocean and the crimson gleam that envelops the the temple’s rocky formations at sunset evokes a feeling of mystery and exoticness that you would be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

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Situated on the Southwestern peninsula, an hour in the other direction from Kuta, and overlooking the Indian Ocean, the clifftop Uluwatu Temple is another worth visiting. Fire kecak dances at sunset are performed at the adjacent amphitheatre and the small forest that abuts it is home to hundreds of monkeys, said to guard the place from malevolent forces. We cannot think of a better way to acquaint yourself with the spirituality that guides the way Bali’s locals live.

The Heavenly Outdoors

A 2 hour escape by rental car up the eastern shore from the touristy zones of southern Bali, experience a way of life that seems to us unimaginable. The vast expanses of rice fields characteristic of the Tabanan region really is a sight to behold. Roll up your sleeves and get stuck in planting seeds and transplanting shoots for an experience that really makes you appreciate how much work goes into producing our food! The reward for your labour? A Balinese bath and massage to relax you to your core!

Rent a car with easyCar in Bali and experience first hand the Ubud Rice Fields.

What is a trip to Bali without visiting the beach? Kuta beach, whilst beautiful and totally surfable, is plagued with a sizeable number of tourists. For that true paradise ambience, stay somewhat off the beaten track and drive to Nyang Nyang Beach. Picture this: a horizon of unspoiled sands of a brilliant white, bisected by the aquamarine of the ocean. Located just to the right of Uluwatu Temple, treat yourself to your own corner of bliss. Keep it on the down low though; we don’t want it getting out!