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Seven inspiring Mediterranean destinations for your next break

Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik

When deciding where to go for your next short-haul holiday, the same places probably spring to mind.

Yes, you could see Lanzarote - it’s beautiful, laid-back and well worth a visit - but wouldn’t it be nice to try somewhere new this year? Seek some early spring sunshine in a sparkling Mediterranean destination that you’ve yet to really get to know?

Belfast Telegraph Travel, in association with Travel Department has a range of small group holidays across the Mediterranean that promise to unearth some of the region’s best-kept secrets with expert local guides, while still giving you the chance to do your own thing and take it all in at your own pace. Read on for our list of inspiring Mediterranean destinations - a guide on where to go, what to do and how to ‘see more’ on your next holiday.

1. Dubrovnik

George Bernard Shaw famously stated, “Those that seek paradise on earth should seek it in Dubrovnik” and Lord Byron referred to it as the "Pearl of the Adriatic." Dubrovnik boasts stunning architecture, spectacular views, beautiful weather and fantastic food.

The city has a rich history dating back to the 7th century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1979. It's understandable that this part of Adriatic coast is becoming a serious alternative to traditional Mediterranean destinations.

Seven-night tour includes flights, transfers, hotels, excursions and guides.

2. Cannes & the Côte d’Azur

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Since the 19th century, the Côte d'Azur or the French Riviera has been the playground for the rich and famous. It’s home to some of the best-loved Gallic towns and cities, such as Nice, nicknamed Nice la Belle, Antibes, renowned for its Old Town and Grasse, which is regarded by many as the perfume capital of the world

It’s also the perfect gateway to Monaco, the second-smallest independent state in the world. Home to the annual and arguably most prestigious race circuit in Formula One Grand Prix. Monaco attracts many high-rollers from across the world to try their luck in the acclaimed Monte Carlo casino.

Although most famous for the Cannes Film Festival, the South of France has a proven reputation for sun; with an average 2500 hours per year, you can enjoy this destination all year round.

Seven-night tour includes flights, transfers, hotels, excursions and guides.

3. Sicily

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Goethe said that Sicily was “the key to Italy” – and a visit here will quickly prove his point. The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has garnered a reputation for its sweeping volcanic landscapes, beautiful Greek churches, Byzantine mosaics and aubergine-topped pastas. Its year-round mild climate makes it a great destination at any time of the year.

The Etna region produces some of Italy’s best wine thanks to its fertile, volcanic ground, while the fourth century clifftop town of Taormina, with its famous Greek theatre, is a popular spot for sunseekers and history buffs. Thanks to influxes of different nationalities over many centuries, Sicilian food is a real mixed bag and every market is a delight, making the Italian island an ideal spot for foodies.

Seven-night tour includes flights, transfers, hotels, excursions and guides.

4. Greece

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The land where civilisation began holds many gems. In Athens, one of the world’s oldest cities, the big-hitters like the Acropolis, the Pantheon and Delphi need to be experienced in this lifetime. The Byzantine fortress of Mystras, which overlooks ancient Sparta, is a UNESCO world heritage site and should be included in any Greek itinerary. Other places worth seeing include the seaside town of Nafplio, the first capital of modern Greece and one of the most stunning towns in the Peloponnese.

Greece is a country that could easily overwhelm first-time visitors thanks to its sheer volume of historic or archaeological sites and there are so many places to see and experience. It’s a country that needs to be seen at least once in a lifetime and if you’re fortunate enough to return, there’s always something new to take your breath away.

Seven-night tour includes flights, transfers, hotels, sea taxi excursion, three excursions and guides.

5. Malta and Gozo

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It’s hard to believe that places as small as Malta and her little sister Gozo could be packed with so much to see and do but a holiday to these glittering Mediterranean islands appeals to all sorts of tastes. Gozo’s sun-baked streets, ancient citadels and neolithic sites have lured Hollywood location scouts in recent years (Game of Thrones, Troy, Gladiator) and it’s also home to Ggantija Temples at Xaghra – the oldest freestanding structures in the world, dating back to 3600 BC.

Meanwhile, Malta has a wealth of historic gems such as Casa Rocca Piccola, a 16th Century grand palazzo and the UNESCO listed St John’s Cathedral in the capital of Valletta. It’s not all churches and historic charm - Malta has a golden coastline with sandy beaches and warm, clear waters.

Seven-night half-board tour includes flights, transfers, excursions and guides.

6. Dalmatian Coast

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Less well known than the famous cities of Dubrovnik and Split, the pretty seaside town of Šibenik lies on Croatia’s north Dalmatian Coast. The surrounding region is home to beautifully preserved historic towns, sleepy offshore islands and some of Croatia’s most impressive national parks.

A holiday to Croatia delivers an intriguing blend of history and culture along the Adriatic coast. Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries and top sun destinations in Europe. Seven-night tour includes flights, transfers, accommodation, excursions and guides.

7. Montenegro Riviera

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Move over France and Italy - there’s a new Mediterranean Riviera in town. Montenegro ticks a lot of boxes but has surprisingly fewer sun-seekers than its neighbours in Croatia. It has become a magnet for the yachting elite in recent years but it’s still laid-back and creative.

Its cuisine draws upon Italian, Greek and Balkan influences and you can find a konoba restaurant where a bottle of vranac (a type of local wine) won’t set you back more than a fiver. Active travellers will enjoy the water sports and fantastic hiking trails through its dramatic limestone mountains, while history buffs will be love the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kotor and the medieval streets of Budva. Sun-seekers have everything they need, with blue-flag beaches dotted with sun loungers and nearby beachside bars. Seven-night all-inclusive tour with flights, transfers, excursions and guides.

Belfast Telegraph Travel in association with Travel Department are the experts in guided travel, with over 20 years’ experience perfecting tours to many destinations worldwide. Their holidays typically include flights, accommodation, transfers and guided excursions. Their friendly and knowledgeable local guides will accompany you throughout and be on hand to offer local knowledge and insight into your chosen destination.

To plan your next adventure, visit www.belfasttelegraphtravel.co.uk

This content is based on content that originally appeared in Independent.ie

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