European tourist news and advice....
Trouble in Paradise EXCLUSIVE
An Algarve nature reserve which is home to many rare breeding birds is facing destruction under controversial plans to build a tourist centre and golf complex at the site.
The lake at Salgados near Silves is now at the centre of a major campaign from environmentalists who point out that the Algarve already has plenty of golf resorts. Opponents to the development point out that the Algarve authorities should be investing more effort in promoting ecologically sustainable tourism in the region rather than looking at the short-term.
Opponents of the plans have managed to force the government to order an environmental review on the impact of the development.
To sign a petition to stop the development... click here
Rome Visitors Guide20th November 2016
Rome is one of Europe's most historical cities - the Roman ruins which can be found throughout the city centre offer a backdrop which is unique. Find out more about the "must see" sites to visit in our Rome visitors guide.
Barcelona Travel Guide17th June 2016
For anyone planning a visit to Barcelona, check out our Barcelona travel guide written by Molly Sears Piccavey.
Clean up contract awarded at Portman Bay15th December 2015
After many delays, the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Environment have awarded the contract for the clean up operation at Portman Bay.
Although currently only half of the bay is to be dredged of mining waste products, the contract award is a welcome start to the regeneration of the bay area.
The beach at Portman on Spain's Costa Calida close to Cartagena looks idyllic with its dark-brown sand and surrounding hillside scenery. It is hard to believe but the bay was once declared the most polluted in the Mediterranean as it was used as a legal dumping ground by a local mining company.
Today the area is surrounded by disused mines and mining buildings. Read more about Portman.
Out and About in Cartagena27th March 2015
The Spanish naval port city of Cartagena is only a 20 minute drive from Murcia Airport, and although not widely thought of as a tourist destination, if you are looking for a weekend break has plenty to keep you entertained.
At weekends, the bars and restaurants are thriving with life, and although there are no beaches in the city, the restored ancient Roman amphitheatre in the city centre attracts visitors from throughout Europe.
Get Inspired in Porto31st December 2014
More weekend-break inspiration from Julie Dawn Fox, who checks out the beautiful Portuguese city of Porto.
Autumn Inspiration in Lisbon12th September 2014
If you are looking for a weekend break this Autumn as the weather turns cooler in northern Europe, why not plan a trip to the historic city of Lisbon. The city stays pleasantly mild throughout winter although it can be wet, so take a raincoat.
Julie Dawn Fox gives some ideas of where to go and what to see in the historic city of Lisbon.
Sizzling in Seville29th June 2014
The Andalucian capital city of Seville is renowned for recording the highest temperature ever in Europe. This warm-blooded city is a paradise for sun-seekers, flamenco fanatics (that's the Spanish musicn not to be mistaken for the pink water-loving birds) and tapas tasters.
Cat Gaa is a native of this vibrant city, ad she gives an insight into what to do and where to go in Seville.
Whats the best way to pay during your holiday?11th April 2014
A good way to save money during your holiday is to make sure that you get the best exchange rates and lowest charges when you pay in Euros. Generally it is best to avoid changing money at the airport, and if you want to take Euros in cash there are many excellent deals online.
Credit cards can be a cost effective method of paying, but remember to request payment in Euros not pounds if you are asked by the retailer.
Find out more about the best ways to pay during your holiday.
Costa Tropical - The Spain that time forgot9th January 2014
If you are looking for somewhere a bit different in Spain to the busy resorts of the Costa Blanca and the Costa del Sol, then the coastline of Andalucia to the east of Malaga known as the Costa Tropical may be the ideal location for you.
Costa Tropical as the name suggests has a warm, sub-tropical climate year round, and has sme of the best beaches in southern Spain. Resorts such as Almunecar, Calahonda, La Herradura and Motril are geared towards tourism, but are generally quieter than the popular resorts further to the west such as Fuengirola and Torremolinos.
Find out more about the Costa Tropical.
Discover Valencia8th December 2013
Valencia is one of Spain's most impressive cities in terms of architecture - even the city's main rail station is enough to stop passers-by in their tracks (excuse the pun). The old town district (Barrio del Carmen) is where most of the tourist activity takes place, and here night the narrow streets come alive with all manner of bars and clubs. Earmark Saturday if you want to stay up all night, as many bars and clubs stay open until 6 or 7AM.
Throughout the year temperatures in Valencia are usually 6-10 degrees higher than in the UK, so winter is a great time to visit and catch some winter sunshine.
Find out more in our guide to Valencia
Tenerife - the year round holiday island9th November 2013
The Canary Island of Tenerife truly does have a sub-tropical climate. Located nearly 1000 miles to the south of southern Spain, the weather is warm throughout the year, and for northern Europeans Tenerife is a particularly attractive proposition for a winter holiday.
Find out more in Matthew Hirtes guide to Tenerife
5 Reasons to visit the Algarve20th October 2013
We review a few of the main resorts of the Algarve and weigh up the "pros and cons" of each:-
- Monte Gordo
Read more in the Blue Valley Car Hire guide to the Algarve.
Almeria - Home of the Spaghetti Western5th October 2013
Almeria Airport in south eastern Spain is located in the heart of the driest region of the country. The arid climate results in much of the interior region being classified as desert, and this is why it was chosen as the location for the Sergio Leone trilogy of spaghetti westerns starring Clint Eastwood.
Located around 30km to the north of Almeria, the village which was used for much of the filming was built by Sergio Leone. Subsequently the set was purchased by locals and is now called the Oasys Theme Park or "Mini Hollywood", and is a great place to take the family.
Spanish Car Hire Companies Fined for Price Fixing9th August 2013
Some of Spain's largest vehicle rental companies have been hit with massive fines for their part in a price fixing cartel. The eastern coast of Spain including the Costa Brava, Majorca and Valencia were all affected.
The fines were imposed by the Spanish National Competitions Commission , with the largest fine going to rental giants Goldcar who had an enormous 15 million € penalty imposed.
Football Holidays in Spain24th July 2013
If you are a football fanatic, a holiday combining sun, sea and soccer may be just the ticket. We have suggested a football-packed holiday in Spain, with an itinerary taking in 3 of La Liga's premium clubs - Barcelona, Real Madrid and Valencia.
Read more about football holidays in Spain.
Portugal eclipses Spain for value for money holidays10th July 2013
Back in the late 1980's and 1990's Portugal was considered to be one of the lowest price holiday destinations is Europe. The key factor in Portugal's low prices was the Portuguese Escudo which was a weak currency allowing excellent conversion rates for northern European holiday visitors.
The introduction of the Euro in 1999 changed the face of the Portuguese economy, and virtually overnight prices soared in Portugal. Cut to 2013, and the economic dip in Portugal has resulted in hotels, restaurants and resorts slashing their prices in order to remain competitive to tourists. A recent study showed that Albufeira in Portugal is the best value for money holiday destination in Europe, ahead of the Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol and other holiday destinations in Spain.
Bodrum - Is it safe to travel?16th June 2013
Visitors to the Turkish resort of Bodrum are being been advised that the recent anti-government demonstrations should not be a major cause for concern for tourists. The demonstrations were held away from the resort areas in the centre of Bodrum, and have now largely dissipated.
The protests were sparked by demonstrations in Istanbul, where government plans to redevelop Taksim Gezi Park have not been well received. The park is one of very few green areas left in Istanbul and is a popular recreational area for local people. The park is scheduled to be demolished and replaced with a shopping centre.
Algarve road takes a toll on visitor numbers20th May 2013
Portuguese authorities have stumbled upon an unintentional method for easing congestion on the formerly busy A22 motorway which connects the Algarve to Spain. The solution is in many ways the cause of the problem - the A22 has now become a toll road. The toll was introduced as a way of increasing tourist revenue, but critics argue that the measure is having the reverse affect by driving tourists away. More on this story
Corvera Airport in Murcia - What's the Hold Up?21st April 2013
With the busy holiday season rapidly approaching, Spanish authorities responsible for Murcia's state of the art new airport at Corvera are reporting that it is unlikely that the airport will be opening in the foreseeable future.
Contractual and financial complications are being cited as the major factors behind the delayed opening of the new airport.
Corvera airport is destined to replace Murcia San Javier Airport which operates as both a commercial and military airport. The airport at San Javier has limited facilities and is often stretched to capacity at times of peak passenger arrivals in summer.
Some may question the viability and logic of building an airport within an hour's drive of Alicante Airport. Additionally, Murcia Airport to the south is a better location than Corvera for tourists visiting Torrevieja and other popular Costa Calida seaside resorts to the south such as Mazarron and the La Manga Resort.
One of the main driving forces behind the construction of Corvera airport was the new Paramount Theme Park due for opening in 2015 near to Murcia. However, as of April 2013, work had not commenced on the Paramount project. More on this story
Soaring Jet Fuel Prices lead to Lufthansa Strike21st March 2013
Over 500 Lufthansa flights have been cancelled today following a mass walkout of staff seeking pay rises. The company had been trying to enforce pay freezes in order to keep ticket prices down as jet fuel prices soar. More on this story
Don't forget your EHIC26th January 2013
If you are travelling to Europe this year it is essential that you take a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). If you have a medical problem abroad which requires hospital treatment and you do not have a valid EHIC card you will be charged for your hospital treatment, and in countries like Spain and Portugal this can end up being very expensive.
Don't forget to check the expiry date on your EHIC card as usually they are issued for a 3 to 5 year period. EHIC information (UK only)
Algarve Hit By Tornado17th November 2012
An area in the western Algarve has been hit by a tornado. 8 people were injured as high winds battered the Algarve coastline yesterday. The tornado struck Silves and Lagoa overturning cars, damaging buildings and uprooting trees. Read more
Locals Protest Against Salgados Development Plans EXCLUSIVE21st October 2012
Around 250 people gathered in Salgados in the western Algarve yesterday to protest against the controversial proposal to build a golf resort on the site of a local nature reserve. A petition against the development now has over 17,000 signatures.
The proposed golf development in Salgados echoes a development in north-east Scotland, where American tycoon Donald Trump recently won a battle to build a golf course on an area of protected coastline. When planning permission for the golf course was refused, the Scottish Government overturned the decision.