Where to go in summer 2014, Aching to head off to sunnier climes this May? Choose from zip lining in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, tangoing through the cobbled streets of Buenos Aires, or catching some rays in the seaside resort of Dalyan.
Short haul: Dalyan, Turkey
Some people plan their holiday in the hopes of coming back tan and fit; in most cases they simply end up red and a stone heavier. Fortunately, the city of Dalyan, on Turkey’s southwestern coast, boasts its own ‘fountain of youth’, in the form of the Sultaniye Spring, whose high mineral content has led to many claims that a dip in this thermal pool can make you better looking.
Dalyan, a far cry from cosmopolitan Istanbul, is also where you’ll find Iztuzu Beach. Famous for its raw shoreline and native sea turtle population, this undeveloped sand bar on the Aegean Sea is a great spot for beach bums. Follow it up with a trip to Dalyan Market, an open-air bazaar where you can find everything from authentic Turkish eats to leather goods, clothing and fresh produce.
Long haul: Fajardo, Puerto Rico
Located on Puerto Rico’s eastern shoreline, just an hour from bustling San Juan, Fajardo represents a more authentic island culture. If your goal is to avoid the crowds, look no further. Average temperatures in May reach 31°C (88° F), ideal for watersports or just catching some sun.
For snorkelling, El Convento Beach and its translucent waters can’t be beaten, but if it’s a more active day you want, travel by ferry to Icacos Island. This private islet is great for swimming, sailing and horseback riding. Before you leave, visit the bioluminescent bay, one of only a few in the world. The ‘bio bay’ invites daring visitors to venture out by kayak at night, guided only by moonlight, to experience the illuminated waters first-hand.
Short haul: Porto, Portugal
Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2006 (if titles impress you), Porto is Lisbon’s artsy and ambitious younger sister. Make sure to see The Rua Miguel Bombarda and its neighbouring streets, affectionately named the ‘arts block’, after the dozens of artist-owned galleries and exhibition spaces housed in the area. Time it right – during the bimonthly simultaneous openings – and afternoon entrance to these galleries is free.
For a well-deserved drink (or three), take a tour of one of Porto’s massive wine cellars. Taylor’s Port offers guided tours, complete with a mini wine sampling for €5. You’ve got options for the evening too; popular club Hot Five Jazz & Blues pulls in crowds nightly, while RUA serves up authentic tapas with live music as the backdrop.
Long haul: Buenos Aires, Argentina
For art lovers and foodies, Buenos Aires – the ‘Paris of South America’ – is a must-visit. Full of culture, history and restaurants that will make you quit your diet, Argentina’s capital attracts visitors from around the world. You’ll arrive just in time to experience the Aniversario de la Revolución de Mayo, celebrated annually on 25 May, Argentina’s Independence Day. Its arrival is marked by concerts, dancing in the city’s public squares and lots of boozing.
Try Tango, a favourite pastime for locals and visitors, with many dance clubs offering lessons for the less coordinated. For a quieter afternoon, check out the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA), which holds a permanent collection documenting the city’s artistic roots over several centuries.
Short haul: Innsbruck, Austria
For adventurous travellers, who don’t mind slightly cooler weather (average temperatures go down to 6°C (43°F) in the evening), Innsbruck is a great alternative to more frequented Vienna and Salzburg. Nestled in the Austrian Alps, a short 5km (3 miles) from Innsbruck Airport, Innsbruck is a haven for avid skiers, boasting eight major resorts within a one-hour radius of its centre. Since you’ll arrive in the warmer season, the area offers even more outdoor activities, hiking, mountain biking and canyoning being the most popular.
Innsbruck isn’t just about thrills – the Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahnen cable car offers stunning views of the entire Central Inn Valley, as well as the Zillertal and Stubai Alps, and the neighbouring Italian border.
Long haul: Monteverde, Costa Rica
A stark contrast to urbanised San José, Monteverde is Costa Rica at its most unrefined. Tucked inside the tropical cloud forest, this rural town is ideal for explorers. Try zip lining, the area’s most popular attraction, which gives you the chance to skim across the top of the forest canopy, albeit attached only to thin steel cables (they swear it’s safe). A less intimidating alternative, the Selvatura Hanging Bridges and Sky Tram offer a similar experience, just with the added comfort of being able to keep your feet on the ground.
If heights aren’t your thing, walking tours of the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve are available both by day and night, giving nature lovers the chance to view the nearly 2,000 animal and 2,500 plant species up close.