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Favourite Travel Experiences of the Month #28 – September 2013

Well August went too quickly!

Fortunately we were blessed with some fine weather and consequent sun tans that will no doubt fade in the next few months. Although September can be unpredictable in the UK, there are plenty of destinations across Europe and further afield where sun is still guaranteed. In this month’s Favourite Travel Experiences of the Month we feature articles from across Europe including a Southern Italian paradise and alternative theme parks in Scandinavia. European’s of course often venture beyond the  boundaries of the continent, we look at Europeans in the USA, 20 North American hiking trails and 10 natural swimming pools from around the globe.

There is also a photography theme to this months post with one of National Geographic’s Photos of the Day in Kazakhstan and travel photography tips from the BBC.

Finally, we conclude with our holiday of the month; Hangzhou in China. See why Chinese tourists have been flocking there for decades.

Porto SelvaggioPhoto courtesy of Yellow.Cat.

1. Porto Selvaggio, Italy is the last destination in The Telegraph’s hidden seaside destination series. They have arguably saved the best until last with this Italian paradise located on the ‘heel’ of the boot that Italy resembles. Described as the Cornwall of Italy, it is a stunning natural park free from mass tourism allowing you to truly absorb the natural beauty.

2. Canada is second only to Russia in terms of land mass size, so it’s hardly surprising that there is a lot of hidden gems to explore. Reader’s Digest asked their readers to submit their favourite obscure destinations and compiled them into 13 stunning Canadian places you never knew existed.

3. Spain is notorious for trouncing the UK with its hours of sunshine. Therefore instead of hoping for an Indian summer in the UK, head to a budget beach hotel on the Costa Brava or Costa Dorada this autumn.

4. It has been 50 years since Martin Luther King’s famous speech in August 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in DC. The Independent traveled to his hometown of Atlanta, GA to see how much has changed. They provide a fascinating read and guide to Luther King’s home city taking in Atlanta’s cultural highlights and top places to visit.

5. We all know the appeal of Six Flag’s or Disneyland, but there are some fascinating substitutes to the mainstream parks as Lonely Planet shows in Eight alternative theme parks from around the world. From as far apart as Finland and Singapore, there is a terrific geographical range.

To Sua Ocean TrenchPhoto courtesy of Dave Lonsdale.

6. Our favourite ‘top 10’ list we have seen this month has to be 10 natural swimming pools, compiled by Trip Advisor. They are all stunning in their own right, unfortunately we have only made it to one of the list so far; Blue Lagoon, Iceland. However the other 9 are certainly on our must-visit list, from Samoa to Laos, we are going to have to cover a lot of miles to get to them all!

7.  European’s in the states; see which American cities have been favoured by European visitors this summer.

8. North America has some of the finest terrain, outstanding landscapes and accompanying facilities for hiking, worldwide. National Geographic give their top 20 hikes from across the states, even suggesting the best time of year to go. Utah, Texas, Colorado are just a few of the states covered.

9. For all those budding travel photographers, BBC Travel offers some top travel photography  tips as part of their Road Less Travelled video series.

10. The Baiterek Monument in Kazakhstan was the subject of a National Geographic photo of the day recently, it looks spectacular!

Holiday of the Month – Hangzhou, China

Hangzhou has long been a popular destination with Chinese tourists and is a strong economic power in the Zhejiang province, visiting the city it is easy to see why. It is surrounded in natural beauty; the mountains in the west, the coastal bay to the east and the Qiantang River which flows through the southern part of the city. The finest example of its natural aesthetics must surely be the West Lake which provides the centre piece of the city and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Hangzhou is just an hour south of Shanghai via train, which provides international connections making Hangzhou easily accessible to the international traveler. This also assists with keeping Hangzhou an economic power as it has been for over 1,000 years, exporting goods across the globe. This gives the city a modern spin, amongst the temples and pagodas you can find a strong Western influence in the nightlife and shopping districts. The best sights however are away from the city centre, with Temples dating back over 800 years, elegant pagodas such as Baochu Pagoda, and the Xixi National Wetland Park the only preserved wetlands in China and home to an abundance of wildlife.

Hangzhou TemplePhoto courtesy of Dale Ellerm.

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