Stylecamp's Travel Highlights
I've been fortunate enough to travel to some great destinations over the last year and tick off couple of must-see places off of my bucket list (plus some new ones!). Here's a selection of my personal highlights and recommendations.
1. FISHERMAN'S HOUSES IN BURANO, VENICE - ITALY
Ah, Venice. Without a doubt one of my most favourite destinations to have had the privilege to travel to, visiting Venice feels like a (glamorous) adventure. Stepping off the plane, you reach the city via the streamlined vaporettos (water taxis) and watch for that iconic city line to come into view.
Stylecamp in Venice
I love being surrounded by history and Venice feels like a real timewarp, its Venetian gothic architecture with colourful houses and decorative chiselled facades remaining largely untouched. Everywhere is within easy reach by foot as you seek out the top sights, navigating the narrow streets and crossing over canals, discovering historical churches and hidden piazzas with elaborate stone wells at their centres.
Venetian Gothic architecture in Venice
You can also visit the other historical islands in the lagoon that each played their parts in Venetian history. By far my favourite was the island of Burano, listed as one of the top 10 most colourful places in the world.
Fishermans' houses in Burano
Despite the grey skies and rain showers, Burano remained cheerful. The wet weather brought out the vivid colours of the fishing houses which glistened in the reflection of the gathering pools of water on the pavement.
Reflections in Burano
Legend has it that Its brightly painted fisherman's houses that were painted so fisherman could see the island from a distance while out fishing. Nowadays, I think they say it is so the fisherman can find their houses after visiting the tavernas!
Learn more about Stylecamp's recommendations for things to do in Venicevia my dedicated travel post.
2. BOTANICAL GARDENS, FUNCHAL - MADEIRA
Stylecamp in Madeira
Back in May, we visited the capital Funchal on the leafy island of Madeira, a Portuguese island just off the coast of North Africa. There were lots of things to see and do in this bijou city, with its picturesque colonial architecture and mosaiced stone boulevards littered with the purple petals of fragrant jacaranda trees.
Views around Funchal
Madeira is renowned not only for its sweet wine exports, but also for its extravagant tropical gardens, boasting vast collections of tropical trees, plants, flowers and shrubs from the world over which thrive in its tropical climate.
Monte Palace tropical garden
Take the cable car from town up to the peak, Monte, for exhilarating views across the city and out to sea. At the top you'll find the Monte Palace gardens and the Jardim Botânico where you can wander amongst the lush green trees and vibrant floral borders of these famous clipped gardens.
Monte Palace tropical garden
3. CANALS, BRUGES - BELGIUM
In mid summer we took a weekend break to the so-called 'Venice of the North', the city of Bruges, to sample all the Belgian beers and chocolate it has to offer. Similarly to Venice, the city is centred around a huge canal network connected to the sea, which was integral to the success of the city in its origins as a medieval trade outpost.
A UNESCO world heritage site, it's an incredibly beautiful place to visit for its preserved Gothic architecture, quaint canals and expansive market squares. In fact, the canal corner at Rozenhoedkaai is one of the most photgraphed in Europe for its sense of serenity - though perhaps less so when it's packed with tourists each angling for the same photo!
Canal corner at Rozenhoedkaai (photo by Jean-Christophe Benoist)
The best way to see Bruges is by boat and you can embark on a reasonably priced tour at various points around the city. I would also say it's totally worth getting up early to do your exploring, to see the still canal waters and experience the city at its most serene.
4. LITTLEHAMPTON BEACH, UK
Lying a little closer to home, we took the train from London to the Sussex seaside in Littlehampton, a holiday resort with Victorian origins famed for its pleasure beach arcade and long stretches of wild sand dunes.
A hot sunny day drew us to the sandier West Beach to indulge in the simple pleasures of swimming, sunbathing and beach tennis. The perfect UK beauty spot to watch the world go by, culminating in a good old-fashioned British BBQ!
5. HYDRA - GREECE
In early October we embarked on our first Greek adventure in the central region of Greece, staying on one of the charming Saronic islands, Poros.
Though Poros was wonderful, the opportunity to island hop is a must, and where better for Stylecamp than the Greek equivalent of the French Riviera, the timewarp island of Hydra.
Hydra Port, Greece
It was refreshing to take a break to a completely vehicle-free destination where the only modes of transport are water taxi or the more nomadic donkey. Explore the myriad of stoneclad streets with vibrant bougainvalia, exuberant mariners' houses and quaint fishing villages the island has to offer - not to mention the great food!
Hydra's Mariners' houses
Read more about Stylecamp's travels in the Saronic Islandsin this post
I hope you were inspired by my travel highlights of 2017 and have lots planned for 2018. Next stop for Stylecamp, a vistit to cultural Riga, the art nouveau jewel of Latvia!