Map of SalisburyApparently, the 1st of May marks the start of National Bike Month, so where better to take a weekend away than Salisbury, with plenty of popular cycle routes taking you around its various world heritage sites, from the Iron Age settlement at Old Sarum, to Stonehenge – one of the wonders of the world. Spend your days taking in the sights of this quaint city and all that surrounds it on a bike tour, and spend the evenings soaking in the relaxed atmosphere of the centre, with great food and beautiful surroundings. Or ditch the bikes altogether, and simply spend the weekend enjoying the rich history and stunning natural beauty of this ancient market town.

Stay at…

The Pembroke Arms Hotel, which is just a few minutes’ drive from the centre, and was reopened under new management at the start of 2014. It now boasts beautifully furnished rooms and exquisite cuisine at affordable prices. The hotel forms part of the Wilton Estate, and stands directly opposite the impressive Wilton House, home to the Earl and Countess of Pembroke. With its elegantly quirky décor and regal connections one could almost feel transported back to a more stately time – that is, if it weren’t for the flatscreen TVs and music docking stations in every room…

Alternatively, why not rent your own holiday cottage, and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the countryside at your own leisure? With a number of converted barns, city centre flats and cottages to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice, whatever your tastes and budget.

Eat at…

The Charter 1227 Restaurant, right in the heart of the city centre, with views over the traditional market square. This family run restaurant is one of Salisbury’s best (the best, according to tripadvisor reviews!), and is headed up by award winning chef Danny Bozic. Offering delicious and exquisitely presented, creative dishes, Danny’s food is renowned in the area, and Charter 1227 is a firm favourite with the locals. This is a great spot for a romantic evening out, adding a decadent flair to your evening.

Follow up your meal with a drink or two at the Haunch of Venison – one of the city’s most historic pubs, with one of the most historic interiors in the UK. This friendly pub, dating back to 1320, is reportedly haunted by the ghost of a cheating card player, whose mummified hand lies proudly displayed in the ‘House of Lords’ bar. The ‘Horsebox’ was also the alleged meeting place of Churchill and Eisenhower while planning the D-Day landings.

Explore…

The Spiritual Mystery of Stonehenge
Dating back approximately 5000 years ago, the English Heritage site is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK, attracting up to 20,000 visitors for the summer solstice alone. These mystical stones have attracted many theories about their creation and original purpose, from alien landings to sacrificial alters, and whilst no one really knows, there is a strong spirituality that radiates from this ancient circle. For a truly intimate experience, tours of the inner circle are given before and after the site opens to the general public each day, but pre-booking is essential for this.

The Ancient Market Town of Old Sarum
The initial location of the city lies a couple of miles to the North of its current home. This incredible Iron Age hill fort was the original site of the cathedral, and has played home to Romans, Saxons and Normans across its lifetime. The site provides inspiring views across the Wiltshire countryside, and is a great location for a picnic – you can even bring the dogs (although they are not permitted into the centre settlement site). As with all English Heritage sites, Old Sarum is well equipped with signs and friendly staff to share its incredible journey, and it is well worth booking a tour.

The Cathedral with the tallest spire in Britain
This medieval masterpiece is a great day out for those with a passion for history. Construction of the ‘new’ cathedral started in 1220, after scarce water supplies and military disputes forced a move from the former city of Old Sarum, and it is now the resting place of one of only four copies of the Magna Carta, and arguably the best preserved one. It is of course free to come see the chapel and take part in a service, but you can also take a tour of the famous spire for a small fee. The grounds of the cathedral are a reason to visit in themselves, and are a great place for a picnic amongst the sculptures and the impressive exterior of the Cathedral.

Don’t miss…

The Ageas Salisbury Arts Festival on 23rd May – 7th June
Presenting a spectacular array of events from around the globe, this festival draws on a wealth of incredible artists from theatre, dance, film, visual arts, literature and outdoor events, and showcases them in incredible locations. The theme for this year’s festival looks North to the Nordic lands to explore the contrasts between light and dark, city and nature.

The Summer Solstice at Stonehenge on the 21st June
This yearly event marks the longest day of the year, and the progression of summer into winter. Thousands gather every year to watch the sun rise above the stones, and at dawn the Central Alter stone aligns with the Slaughter Stone, Heel Stone and the rising sun. This is also the only time when visitors are allowed up amongst the stones, as it is usually cordoned off for guest to look at from afar.

If you are taking a short trip to Salisbury this Spring or Summer let us know what you get up to at @MapMarketingUK!

Map of AngleseyWith its stunning natural beauty and unspoilt landscapes, Anglesey has always been a popular tourist destination, both for British ‘Staycationers’ and visitors from around the world – particularly in the warmer summer months when the beauty of the island is at its peak. Much of the rugged coastline has been declared as an Area of Outstanding Beauty, and the beaches offer a number of activities. This is a location that demands exploration, and is a great holiday for those who want to get out and find adventure.

Stay at…

There’s so much to choose from when it comes to accommodation in Anglesey, from luxury spas and hotels to camping on the rugged coastline. For a regal experience, Chateau Rhianfa in Beaumaris is an enchanting French-Gothic styled Chateau overlooking the mountains and the Menai Straits, with exquisitely landscaped gardens and its own private beach. The rooms are elegantly furnished with a classic yet contemporary feel, and the restaurant offers sumptuous dishes made from local ingredients – including fine cheeses from the Snowdonia Cheese Company and freshly caught lobster from the Menai Straights.

Alternatively, take advantage of Anglesey’s numerous holiday houses, allowing you your own space. Llanlliana House in Cemaes Bay is set in a private estate, and offers access to a private beach and coastal walks – perfect for wildlife enthusiasts. With only a few minutes’ walk into Cemaes for shops, pubs and local fishing boats to collect fresh shellfish for supper, it’s a great location for those who want nature and local amenities.

Eat at…

The Marram Grass in Penlon, Newborough, is somewhat of a revolution in Anglesey. The island offers a number of great restaurants serving up fresh, local produce, but many are lacking the style that The Marram Grass provides. The young team offers a fresh, friendly atmosphere, and their passion for what they are creating is clear. If you’re looking for a lighter bite, there are also a number of fantastic tea rooms serving local ice creams, homemade nibbles and bara brith, a fruity loaf that is the area’s local speciality. Coffee Cups in Cemaes Bay is a great find, or simply wander down the streets of Beaumaris and take your pick.

Explore…

The scenery along the Coastal Path
This long distance walk is a developing route that covers most of Anglesey’s stunning coastline, passing through coastal heath, farmland, dunes, cliffs and woodland, including a National Nature Reserve (Cemlyn). Highlights are the South Stack Lighthouse, Holyhead Mountain and the Menai Suspension Bridge. This coastal path is great for taking in all the scenery this beautiful island has to offer, and for spotting the wildlife this rugged island is home to, from peregrine falcons and choughs to porpoises and seals.

Your adventurous side with outdoor activities
Anglesey is a true playground for adventure enthusiasts, with a wide range of activities to get your heart rate up. From rock-climbing and coasteering to raft building, sea-kayaking and bush craft, there’s plenty to fill up your week with. There are a number of companies offering classes and trips for any skill level, so there’s no excuse not to jump in.

The depths at Anglesey Sea Zoo
As Wales’ largest marine aquarium, Sea Zoo is a fantastic day out for the whole family. With various zones, and over 150 species of fish there is lots to discover, and plenty of opportunities for children (and big kids) to interact. Outside, there’s crazy golf, gator swamp boats and the Pirates playground to keep the whole family entertained.

Welsh history at Beaumaris Castle
The medieval castle at Beaumaris dates back to 1295, and was the largest of the castles to be built by King Edward I. This concentric castle was built with almost geometric symmetry, and is a real testament to the sophistication of medieval military architecture in Britain. With stunning views, rich history and interesting wall walks, this is a great informative day out. Don’t forget to stop in the village afterwards for Anglesey ice cream and cream teas!

Plas Newydd
This enchanting mansion on the shores of the Menai Straights has been home to the Marquess of Anglesey for generations. As well as the military museum, there is also a Rex Whistler exhibition which includes his famed romantic mural. The grounds are also spectacular, with a spring garden and an Australasian arboretum, amongst other exquisite gardens.

Don’t miss…

The Anglesey Show – 12-13th August 2014
This annual show is a benchmark of the farming calendar, giving farmers the opportunity to show and compete their produce. From dressage and show jumping events to petting zoos and flower displays there’s lots to keep everyone busy, not to mention fantastic local produce to keep you going (and take home with you!). There’s also a great fairground to keep the younger visitors entertained.

With its incredible scenery and fantastic range of activities, it would be easy to spend much longer than a week on the Isle of Anglesey.

Are you planning a trip to North Wales this year? Let us know what you get up to at @MapMarketingUK!

Map of BrightonWith the weather starting to get a little warmer, what could be better than a weekend by the sea? With its stretching beaches, lively culture and bohemian spirit, Brighton is the perfect place to get away from it all and get a true taste of the great British seaside holiday.
Brighton is known for being vibrant and creative, and it’s a great place to soak up some culture – whether you’re into theatre, art or music. It’s also a great destination for foodies, with a number of fantastic restaurants to choose from, and offers a brilliant nightlife for those wanting to party the weekend away.

Stay at…

From self-catering guest houses to luxury hotels, there is a wealth of places to stay in this bustling town, many boasting sea views and within walking distance of all the main attractions. For a real touch of luxury, try Hotel Una, a boutique hotel where every room tells a different story. Decorated with combinations of natural textures and contemporary artwork this atmospheric hotel is sumptuous without being stuffy. In addition to the incredibly well furnished rooms, the hotel also has a fantastic bar serving cocktails, champagne and fine cognac 24/7 to guests. Alternatively, Sea Spray Boutique hotel offers a luxury package at great value. With themed rooms (from Moroccan to Elvis) this is a great location, and its award winning breakfast is complimentary to guests.

Eat at…

There are so many incredible restaurants in Brighton, that perhaps the best advice it just to wander around the cobbled streets until one of them draws you in. This coastal town is great for fresh seafood, and Fishy Fishy, the relaxed seafood brasserie in the Lanes serving up seasonal, local fish is a great place to start. Or, for those who don’t eat meat, the iconic Terre a Terre serves outstanding dishes with a creative and playful exuberance – this is a venue where vegetarianism is about indulgence, not abstinence.

Explore…

The Seaside and the famous Brighton Pier
It’s worth taking some time out of your weekend to chill out on the beach and enjoy the sunshine. Of course, if there isn’t any sunshine it’s still well worth a visit just to have a stroll along the Victorian Pier, which provides food and drink outlets, the Palace of Fun arcade and fairground attractions. If you’re looking for a more active trip and fancy some water sports, there are also plenty of companies offering sailing, windsurfing and much more.

The Dark Side of Brighton with the Murder and Mayhem Tour
This twisted tour runs every night except Sundays, and takes visitors on a walk around Brighton’s famous landmarks, where they learn the ghost stories and murderous tales of the town, including tales of Jack the Ripper. This tour can last up to two hours, so make sure to take some comfy shoes!

Brighton’s premier live entertainment venue, Komedia
Featuring the best of international and national performers, Komedia presents one of the largest and most diverse entertainment programmes in the UK, from comedy to cabaret. Not only has this venue won Best Comedy Venue in the South an unprecedented 10 times, it also serves up some great freshly prepared food at most of its seated shows.

Under the Sea, at Sea Life Brighton
With over 1,500 creatures and 50 displays, the Brighton Sea Life Centre is a great day out for all the family. Watch giant turtles and sharks swim above you in the underwater tunnel, get up close and personal with the crabs and starfish in the interactive rockpool and play hide and seek with the Giant Octopus. With free talks and feeds run throughout the day at this fun and educational centre that everyone can enjoy.

Don’t Miss…

Brighton Festival on 3rd – 25th of May
This annual festival celebrates music, theatre, dance, circus, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and family events, and takes place every May across a number of venues. In its 48th year, this is Britain’s biggest curated mixed arts festival, and attracts the most innovative artists and companies to its ambitious programme.

Pride Brighton and Hove on 1st – 3rd August 2014
The annual festival returns this year bigger and brighter than ever, celebrating all that’s fabulous about Brighton and Hove. Known for its LGBT community, this is a festival that the city can be proud of, and it’s one that makes a difference, campaigning as it parties. This year the theme is ‘The World’s a Disco’, celebrating music, dance and colour from around the globe, as well as highlighting the plight of the global LGBT communities whose basic rights to live freely are denied.

Combining the best of seaside and city breaks, there’s no better place to for a fun and cultural weekend than Brighton. Planning a trip to the colourful coastal town this year? Let us know what you’ve got planned at @MapMarketingUK!

 

Map of Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye

The beautiful Isle of Skye is one Scotland’s top tourist attractions, and is renowned for its stunning natural beauty, with cliffs, pools and highlands that will take your breath away. The 50 mile island is the largest of the Inner Hebrides, and is filled with a rich history that spans topics from dinosaur fossils to clan warfare and the Jacobite rebellion. The impressive landscape makes it an ideal place for hikers, climbers and wildlife lovers, and the small towns are great for relaxing in the pub afterwards. This is the perfect destination for a calming week away from it all.

Stay at…

There are a number of great accommodation options on the Isle of Skye, whether you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in the scenery and go camping, or simply enjoy it from the comfort of a luxury hotel. Some of the best places to stay however are the B&Bs and guesthouses, which offer quirky and unique views into the island life. Napier Cottage in Isleornsay offers plush contemporary furnishing with a classic Scottish feel, and has panoramic views over the Sound of Sleat to the Knoydart peninsula. A telescope in the garden room allows you to spot dolphins and seals in the water below, while basking in the warmth from a Scandinavian wood-burning stove in the lounge, and the Michelin starred Kinloch Lodge restaurant is just a few minutes’ drive away.  Alternatively spend the night in a bothy or wigwam with The Croft Bunkhouse, which offer sustainable glamping in heated wooden wigwams just a short distance from the incredible Cuillin Mountains.

Eat at…

Twice included in Restaurant Magazines ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’, and one of the New York Times’ Frank Bruni’s Personal Top 5 restaurants in the World, The Three Chimneys in Dunvegan is world renowned for its fantastic menu, authentic provenance, and fresh, seasonal ingredients, and is fronted by the pioneering chef Michael Smith. Open daily for dinners, and for lunches from late March to October, each of the mouth-watering dishes is a reference to Scotland’s rich culinary heritage. Or try the High Tide Restaurant at the Flodigarry Hotel, for a relaxed dining experience combining the best local ingredients from land and sea to create fantastic dishes, served overlooking some breath-taking mountain views.

Explore…

With its stunning scenery and challenging landscapes, the best way to enjoy the Isle of Skye is by exploring the great outdoors. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or exhilaration, there’s no shortage of sights to see on this incredible island.

Take a walk on the wild side…
The Isle of Skye is one of the best UK locations for spotting wildlife, with an abundance of notable species to look out for. The cliffs around Skye are the ideal place to spot Britain’s largest bird of prey, the Sea Eagle, and although once nearly extinct due to persecution from farmers, there are now hundreds soaring around the west coast. The island also houses Britain’s largest population of Red Deer, the largest land mammal in the UK, and a number of incredible sea animals, from dolphins and whales to puffins and otters.

The lochs and seas with a boat trip
Taking a boat from Portree to one of the neighbouring islands is a great way to explore, and provides ample opportunities to spot some whales and dolphins. Or, get even more up close and personal with the wildlife by kayaking on the lochs or the sea. This beautiful scenery was made to be enjoyed from the water.

The rich history of Dunvegan Castle & Gardens
Built on the rocky shores of Loch Dunvegan, this stunning ancestral home of the Chiefs of Clan MacLeod is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. With award winning gardens, and a display of fine art and clan treasures, this historical landmark is well worth a visit to add a touch of culture to your visit.

The magical waters of the Faerie Pools
At the foot of the Black Cuillins, these beautiful crystal clear waters and breath-taking waterfalls attract visitors from across the globe. Those brave enough can go for a wild swim in the enchanting pools (be warned, they are very cold!) or you can simply be satisfied to gaze at their sparkling surface. Bring your camera, as whatever the weather the Faerie Pools guarantee some stunning photographs.

The supernatural Mysticism of The Quiraing
The incredible natural rock formations of The Quiraing make this a must-see for anyone visiting the Isle of Skye, and it is immensely popular with geologists, photographers and walkers. It is a challenging walk and requires a certain level of fitness, but the high level circular walk around this quirky landscape is well worth the effort.

The Isle of Skye truly is fascinating location for nature lovers and foodies alike, and is overflowing with rich history and incredible scenery. If you’re planning a trip there let us know what you get up to at @MapMarketingUK!

Map of ManchesterWhen thinking about Manchester, the world famous football team is often the first thing to spring to mind. The ‘Capital of the North’ however has far more to offer than sports. This friendly cosmopolitan city has a thriving art scene, a fantastic musical heritage (producing The Smiths, Oasis, and many more…) and is increasingly becoming a top destination for foodies.

With a number of attractions, including several well-known art galleries, incredible (often free) museums and some of the best shopping in the country, as well as a number of events happening all year round, there’s no shortage of things to do to fill up a weekend away in Manchester. Add to this the bustling nightlife scene, with cutting edge clubs, proper British pubs and a few secret bars thrown in, and you’re left with a city break that’s not for the faint-hearted.

Stay at…

With over 100 hotels to choose from, there’s accommodation to suit every taste and budget in this vibrant city. For an indulgent weekend away, book into Velvet, a hotel, bar and restaurant in the city centre, with stunning rooms and suites designed to an exceptionally high standard. Velvet offers a number of packages with its rooms, from Bath Butlers and Rose Petal Turndowns for a truly romantic weekend, to Harvey Nichols shopping packages for those looking for a weekend of retail therapy. They also offer reduced room rates and late checkout on Fridays and Saturdays for those indulging in the exciting nightlife that Manchester has to offer. For those on more of a budget, there are plenty of hotels, B&Bs and hostels offering fantastic service at very reasonable prices.

Eat at…

In the past few years Manchester has placed itself firmly on the food map. Simon Rogan’s The French is a firm foodie favourite, showcasing his award-winning dishes made from ingredients grown on the farm at L’enclume (Rogan’s 2 Michelin Star restaurant in Cartmel). Or try Aumbry in Prestwich, a fantastic restaurant for intimate fine dining, with graduates from Heston’s Great British Menu Laurence Tottingham and Mary-Ellen McTague at the helm, both of whom worked at Heston’s The Fat Duck when it was crowned ‘The Best Restaurant in the World’. If you’re looking for something a bit more exotic, try Sapporo Teppanyaki in Castlefield, which boasts incredible sushi, sashimi and Teppanyaki for a theatrical dining experience.

Explore…

The intu Trafford Centre
Described by Manchester’s tourism board as ‘as much of a theme park as it is a shopping centre’, this fantastic shopping location offers over 200 stores from designer to high street, fashion shows, and film premiers in the 20 screen Odeon cinema – not to mention a Sea Life centre and the Legoland Discovery centre. This is not your average shopping centre, and you could easily fill a weekend here alone!

The Rovers Return with a tour of Coronation Street
Take a stroll down the famous cobbles and have a picture at the bar on this behind-the-scenes tour of the set of this famous soap, getting fascinating facts and stories from the studio guides.

The Artzu Gallery in the heart of Spinningfields
Showcasing painting, sculptures and photography from both established and up-and-coming artists, The Artzu Gallery is known for being the most progressive independent Gallery space in Manchester, and stands as a beacon for art-lovers, art-buyers and artists the world over. Featuring works from Michael John Ashcroft, Andrew Hunt and Pip Dickens this is a great place to inject some culture into your weekend.

The 20’s at The Fitzgerald
The elusive Fitzgerald cocktail bar in the Northern Quarter is one of Manchester’s secret bars, renowned for its flapper bar staff, classic cocktails and 1920’s sounds. If you can find it, it offers live jazz jam sessions, wine and spirit tastings and classic film nights in a vintage atmosphere that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into an old-fashioned speak-easy.

Wartime Britain’s Home Front at Stockport Air Raid Shelters
Opened in 1939, Stockport air raid shelters were the largest purpose built civilian air raid shelters in the country, providing refuge for up to 6500 people. The shelters were authentically reconstructed and re-opened as a visitor attraction in 1996, and the underground network rapidly became one of Stockport’s best loved tourist attractions.

The Best of Manchester’s Nightlife at The Liars Club
The Liars Club is a basement Tiki dive bar and Caribbean rum shop, offering the best of Polynesian flavour in the heart of Manchester. The bar offers a selection of over 100 rums, and has an exotic list of cocktails served, often flaming, in elaborate Tiki vessels.

Manchester can’t be beaten for a lively and exciting weekend away, packed with unexpected adventures and luxury experiences. If you’re planning a trip there this year let us know what’s on your to-do list at @MapMarketingUK!

Map of Cheddar, SomersetHome to Glastonbury, The Wurzels and the best scrumpy cider around, Somerset provides a real taste of the West Country and is the perfect destination for a week’s escape to the country. With its dramatic coastline, epic scenery and quaint villages, it’s an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that will leave you wanting more.

With over 100 visitor attractions, from zoos to festivals, this is a great destination for all the family and there is plenty to keep everyone happy. The serene setting and romantic countryside also make it perfect for a couple’s getaway. Soak up the great outdoors, visit one of the old country estates, or head into Bath for fascinating Roman history and lively nightlife, with trendy bars and great late night venues.

Stay at…

One of the many spa hotels hidden away in the countryside, or traditional B&Bs that offer a taste of country life at an affordable price. There are also a number of converted farmhouses and cottages that are available to rent, for those who like their own space, that give a real sense of rural serenity. Somerset is a great space for camping if the weather is good, and some venues allow you to pitch up in the orchard. If that’s not your thing though, try a city hotel in Bath, or even the historic Castle at Taunton, which offers rooms in the castle itself.

Eat at…

Any number of locations offering up home-grown, freshly prepared local produce. Somerset is famous for its cider, cheddar and Whortleberry jam (unique to the Exmoor area), and maintains its traditions of serving up real, honest food made from locally sourced natural produce. However, don’t be fooled into thinking this equates to unadventurous meals! For exciting food pay a visit to The Pony & Trap, a Michelin starred country pub in Chew Magna – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Run by brother and sister duo Josh and Holly Eggleton, this restaurant combines incredible food with a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. Or, if you’re in Bath head down to Sotto Sotto, a charming Italian restaurant just steps from the Roman Baths, offering incredible dishes, attentive staff and a great venue at surprisingly affordable prices.

Explore…

Cheddar Gorge
Set in breath-taking countryside, the caves of Cheddar Gorge are a fantastic day out for all the family. There are two huge underground caverns to explore, including the incredible Ice Age Stalactite Cavern Gough’s Cave where Britain’s oldest skeleton, ‘Cheddar Man’, was found. There’s also a stunning cliff top walk, and quirky museums to look around. Cheddar Gorge is open most days, from 10.30AM until 5PM (open slightly longer in the peak summer months), and offers some great family discounts.

Wookey Hole
The caves of Wookey Hole are steeped in a rich history. Dating back to the Stone Age, and once inhabited by the Celts of the Iron Age, the caves are now a popular tourist attraction that educate and entertain children and adults alike. There is even a resident Wookey Hole witch, and the most sceptical of adults will soon find themselves enthralled with the caves myths as well as the cave-aged cheese!

Wells Cathedral
Known as being one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in England, Wells welcomes visitors every day of the year to experience the incredible architecture of this holy site, dating back to Saxon times. As well as the captivating Cathedral itself, the grounds are home to the only completely medieval street in England, Vicar’s Close, which was built to house the Vicars Choral – the singing men of the choir. Guide books, leaflets, and tours are available to help explain the vast historical, architectural and spiritual significance of this wonderful cathedral. Entry is free, and visitors are welcome to attend the regular daily services.

Glastonbury
Many people know Glastonbury for its festival, but there’s much more to be seen in this spiritual Somerset town. The Glastonbury Tor is a popular attraction, offering incredible views of the South West countryside in return for a short but steep walk. There are many myths and legends surrounding Glastonbury, and the Tor is said to be the home of Gwyn ap Nudd, the Lord of the Underworld, and a dwelling place for fairy folk. It’s also well worth paying a visit to Glastonbury Abbey, the first Christian sanctuary in Great Britain. Legend has it that King Arthur was buried in the Abbey alongside Guinevere, and that the Abbey was even visited by Saints David and Patrick.

Heading to Somerset for your holidays this year? Let us know your favourite locations and attractions at @MapMarketingUK!

Map of Cambridge

Cambridge is famed for its academic buildings, with Cambridge University named as one of the top 10 in the world. But there is far more to this charming city than libraries and students. The historic streets and quiet winding passages are the perfect place to escape for a long weekend and it is particularly beautiful to visit in the spring and summer months.

Home to several notable museums and art galleries, as well as the beautiful architecture of the college buildings themselves, Cambridge is a great destination for culture. Stop by the one of the many free museums or galleries for a quiet afternoon, or book to see a stand-up comedian from the city’s thriving comedy scene. The night-life also promises variety, from traditional pubs and bustling nightclubs to trendy wine and cocktail bars,  there is something to please most tastes.

Stay at…

Any one of the well-presented and affordable hotels and B&Bs that are close to the city centre, or for a unique taste of academic life walk in the footsteps of Newton, Darwin and Wordsworth with a stay at a college room in Cambridge University itself. The rooms are vacated by students during term holidays and are then made available to members of the public. Ideally located for the city centre, these comfortable rooms come with very reasonable nightly rates, and many include breakfast.

Eat at…

Midsummer House, which is located on the historical grounds of Midsummer Common. It is the only restaurant in the whole of East Anglia to have received 2 Michelin stars and the menu speaks for itself; Roast Cornish cod, Wagyu beef with braised oxtail and sautéed scallops deliver a culinary sensation. Lunchtime taster menus are available Monday to Saturday and are a great way to try the wide choice of dishes. Those on more of a budget can head to Zhonghua Traditional Snacks on Norfolk Street for a brilliant range of Chinese delicacies bursting with flavour for around £5 a dish. The wonton dumplings are always a hit with students and tourists alike.

Explore…

The River Cam with a punting trip
Cambridge is well known for its punting and there are plenty of tours available to take you along the River Cam in the flat-bottomed canoe-like boats. Fixed tours will take you along the Backs of the colleges and under the Bridge of Sighs by St. John’s College, whilst providing lots of interesting stories on the city’s most recognisable landmarks. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous you can also hire a punt for yourself and spend the afternoon floating serenely by (or desperately trying not to fall in the water, as is more often the case!).

Kings College Chapel during Evensong
The chapel is part of Cambridge’s most famed University College, and is a glorious example of late Gothic architecture. Whilst visitors are able to visit at various times each day for a small fee, it is best seen during the magical Evensong choral service, when the chapel choir performs a selection of hymns. Members of the public are welcome to attend free of charge and services usually take place at 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, although it is best to check the service timetable beforehand in case of cancellations.

The art gems in Fitzwilliam Museum
The striking architecture of the Fitzwilliam Museum is almost as impressive as the collections it holds. Hailed as one of the greatest art collections of our nation, the museum and library houses priceless ancient artefacts, painting collections from Italian Renaissance artists, rare coin collections, manuscripts and autograph music from composers including Handel and some of the finest Ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world.

The University Botanic Garden
Opened in 1846, the University Botanic Garden covers over 40 acres of land with a diverse array of plants and shrubs. The Glasshouse Range is worth a visit, comprising of a range of greenhouses used to recreate various climates and environments from around the world, from glacial mountains to tropical rainforests. There’s also plenty of wildlife to spot on the garden trails that take you around the site, and it is especially lovely when the sun is out.

Don’t miss…

The Cambridge Folk Festival on 31st July – 3rd August
One of the longest running folk festivals in Europe, this year the Cambridge Folk Festival is celebrating its 50th year in operation! A marvellous union of all that can widely be defined as folk, the event gathers the best traditional UK and Irish folk singers with a wider range of contemporary performers, the finest American country musicians and blues, roots and jazz artists. The truly unique atmosphere of this event helps to keep the revellers coming back again and again, and this Golden Anniversary year sees headline slots from Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor & Newton Faulkner.

For a historical weekend away in a city with true British heritage you can’t really beat Cambridge.

Planning your own short break to the city this year? Let us know what made it onto your trip itinerary!

Map of lakes in CumbriaSpring is the perfect time to see the incredible English countryside, and there’s nowhere better to witness this sublime natural beauty than in Cumbria. Famous as the home of the Lake District, a national park containing not only the famous lakes but also England’s highest mountains, and steeped in history – both real and literary – it’s no wonder that Cumbria is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK.

With its incredibly diverse range of habitats from coastal marshlands to high mountain peaks, Cumbria has a spectacular amount of wildlife and is one of the best places in England for bird watching. There’s also a fantastic range of outdoor activities for all abilities so whether you’re into hiking, cycling, horse-riding or rock climbing there is something for everyone. Rock climbing can even be experienced at one of the indoor centres if the British weather is unaccommodating.

There are many ways to explore the Lake District, from cruises around the lakes –try the Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston Water, it was the inspiration for Captain Flint’s houseboat in ‘Swallows and Amazons’ –to steam railways through the countryside, both of which are especially great for families with little ones who can’t walk too far.

Stay at…

Cumbria offers a wide range of accommodation for any budget, whether you’re looking for cosy lakeside cottages, luxury spa hotels or cheerful B&Bs. There is also a great selection of alternative accommodation within the National Park. Why not try glamping in the forest in traditional but stylish yurts, or hiring a VW Camper for the week?

Eat at…

The Two Michelin Star L’enclume in Cartmel was named ‘Best Restaurant’ in the UK by the Good Food Guide 2014, and is a must-visit for any foodie staying in Cumbria this year. The restaurant, owned by renowned chef Simon Rogan, uses only local ingredients and has its own 15 acre farm growing the fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers that create his exquisite dishes – all of which are picked hours before being served. Set in an idyllic riverside location, L’enclume is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, and you can even stay over in one of their individually designed and furnished rooms.

Map of Hadrians Wall

Explore…

The Lake District
Obviously, the Lake District is at the top of this list, with its fantastic walking opportunities from gentle strolls to scrambling walks along high ridges – look into volunteer guided walks that will take you around the most popular walking trails and give you insider knowledge for free! The west shoreline of Lake Windermere makes a particularly spectacular location for a day-long wander.

Hadrian’s Wall
Stretching seventy-three miles across the north of England, from Newcastle to North West Cumbria, Hadrian’s Wall is the most important Roman monument in Britain. Dating back to the 120’s AD and still standing today, the wall is an incredible reminder of the capabilities of one of the world’s greatest empires.

Hill Top and The World of Beatrix Potter
Both make a great family attraction! Visit the home of the great children’s author and the setting of some of her original tales before becoming part of the tales themselves at the World of Beatrix Potter; an indoor recreation of Potter’s books that immerses visitors in her countryside, allowing children to stop for tea with Mrs Tiggywinkle, and explore Mr McGregor’s garden. The exhibit also gives an insight into the life of the author, how she was inspired by the nature around her and the contribution she made towards its preservation.

Hutton-in-the-Forest
Situated in the North East of the Lake District, Hutton-in-the-Forest is filled with rich history. The historic home of Lord and Lady Inglewood was originally a medieval stronghold, and has been altered and added to over time, making the resulting house a demonstration of architecture from the 17th century to the present day. The spectacular house and gardens are a museum of their past, housing fine collections of antiques belonging to the former inhabitants, which, legend has it include the Green Knight that Sir Gawain visited in the Arthurian Tale.

Don’t miss…

The Great Peter Rabbit Easter Egg Hunt 2014
This yearly event sees 50 handcrafted ceramic eggs hidden across the Lake District. Beginning on the 16th April, the hunt continues until all the eggs are found, and there are some incredible prizes to be won including stays at top Lake District hotels. If you’ll be in the area at the time and would like to enter it is simple; just download an Egg Hunt Map with clues by donating a minimum of £2 to WaterAid and get searching!

Planning your own trip to Cumbria? Let us know what has made it onto your ‘must see’ list!

Tuscany-map

The rolling hills, luscious farmlands and historic towns of Tuscany are usually swarming with tourists and visitors come the peak summer months, so if you can plan a break to the popular Italian region in March for an early spring break then you’d be foolish not to! Generally quite mild in March, with fewer windows of sunshine and highs of 17 degrees, you won’t have much luck if you are hoping to top up your tan but visiting in this quieter month will save you from the increased tourist prices that are incurred at high season.

The most popular towns in this region are Florence, Pisa and Siena, and the main airport for the region is Pisa, less than hour from Florence by train. Easy to explore by car or bus, you’ll also have the opportunity to soak up the sights of the surrounding hillsides with their blooming wild flowers, traditional rustic houses and impressive Renaissance architecture.

What to bring

To ward off any cooler spells lightweight layers would be best and a raincoat just in case the heavens do open. English is spoken in most of the region’s main towns but you may find you struggle slightly in the smaller villages. If you can find the time to learn a few basic Italian phrases they will leave you in good stead for a travelling tour of the area. The best way to experience the beauty and character of the region is to travel by car and vehicle hire will require proof of travel insurance and your driving documents so be sure to pack these.

Stay at…

There are plenty of welcoming hotels and bed and breakfasts in the famous wine region of Chianti, which is ideally located between Florence and Siena making it a great base for visitors to explore the area. You’ll need to decide whether you want to find accommodation in a village or relax in the rustic charms of a countryside abode, but you can find equally remarkable hotels at very affordable rates in both.

Eat…

Favoured for its simplistic but delicious flavours, Tuscan cuisine is not fancy but strong and wholesome. Start off with traditional bruschetta and a main of Italian spring lamb if it is on the menu, or a bowl of traditional Tuscan Pici whole wheat pasta. Locally grown asparagus and fresh artichokes should also be readily available during this season and the popular Tuscan dish of baccalà – salt-dried cod softened in water and cooked with tomatoes and white wine – is sure to delight.

Explore…

Piazza del Campo, Siena
The main pubic space in Siena, the Piazza del Campo is one of the grandest and largest medieval squares in Europe. Once an open marketplace, the square is now a destination for visitors to come and witness the break taking architectural beauty of the buildings that circle it. The square also houses the monumental Fonte Gaia fountain, carved out of white marble in 1419 by famous Sienan sculptor Jacoppo della Quercia.

The Leaning Tower, Pisa
You couldn’t come to Tuscany and not pay a visit to the famous Leaning Tower. Built on soil too weak to withstand its weight, the tower first began to lean once only 3 of the 8 levels had been completed. A recovery attempt took place from 1990-2001 to further stabilise the structure from complete collapse. If you are planning to visit the tower also stop by the rest of the Campo dei Miracoli to admire the unique Italian design of the sacred building.

Villa Reale di Marlia, Lucca
Constructed in the 15th century, the sprawling gardens of this late-renaissance villa have a heavy baroque influence. Notable sights within the grounds include the beautiful Theatre of Water with its cascading fountains and mosaic decoration, and the ornamental Lemon Garden complete with reclining twin giant statues.

To help remember your Tuscan adventure why not record your travel route on your own personalised map to keep a log of where you’ve been!

For even more great travel and map related gifts visit Map Marketing.

backpacking-europe

Europe is a fantastic place to travel to on a budget and there are also plenty of upmarket hostels if you can’t quite bring yourself to stick to low-budget shared dormitory offerings. Below are our top 3 cities to visit for a cultured trip on a shoestring. All three are backpacker friendly, easy to navigate and have plenty of free attractions to visit, plus a good selection of traditional hostels, as well as some more usual ones if you’re feeling a little adventurous!

Berlin

A fascinating city to visit, especially if you have an interest in WWII, Berlin has a great choice of architectural and historical sites of interest. Even if you aren’t too into your history there are some great galleries to visit and free walking tours run each day from a meeting spot next to the Brandenburg Gate. There’s a busy nightlife scene too, with some amazing club locations including an old underground station! The metro is extremely efficient and easy to use and buses and trams also operate in the city making it a breeze to travel in.

Must see
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe –Visitors are free to wander through this haunting architectural memorial dedicated to victims of the holocaust, constructed from over 2,000 concrete slabs
Berliner Dom – The stunning domes of the Berlin Cathedral attract thousands of visitors every year. Even if you don’t want to look inside, the building itself is worth a visit
The Berlin Wall – You can’t visit Berlin and not seek out the remnants of the Berlin Wall. Dedicated tours can give you a full history, but you can just as easily locate the remaining sections on a map

Must eat
Currywurst is a local delicacy and a good option for a cheap evening meal. Pair the chopped sausage meat smothered in ketchup and curry powder with Sauerkraut for a delicious dinner on the go.

Prague

A favourite with stag parties, Prague is a real cultural gem not just a great drinking destination. The city is divided into two parts by the Vltava River – the cobbled hillside of the Old Town houses Prague Castle, whilst the other side has a great selection of shops and bars. You can choose to travel by tram or metro, but it is just as easy to get around on foot – just be wary of pickpockets when out and about. Prague is a particularly good place to visit in spring and summer when the surrounding landscape is sunny and beautifully green.

Must see
The view from Charles Bridge – the main bridge into Old Town, it provides a stunning view along the river and of the majestic rooftops of the old baroque buildings in the Old Town
The Petrin Tower – dubbed the mini Eiffel Tower, the Petrin Tower is at the top of the hill overlooking the Old Town. Catch the hillside Funicular to the top (a novelty in itself) to be rewarded with some breath-taking views of the city
The Astronomical Clock – a hit with tourists, the clock is built into the Prague Town Hall and puts on a charming mechanical display of the apostles each hour which regularly attracts crowds

Must eat
Try the traditional dish of goulash – a hearty stew flavoured with paprika and served with dumplings which is washed down particularly with one of the Czech Republic’s famed selection of beers.

Backpacking-budapest

Budapest

Budapest is a wonderfully varied city with a great array of attractions and very friendly locals, and its famed ‘ruin pubs’ – bars transformed from derelict buildings – have become a popular part of the city’s nightlife. The River Danube runs through the centre of this busy capital and trams are the easiest way to get around, but if the weather is good it’s just as pleasant to walk or cycle. The leafy Margaret Island, with its medieval ruins, also makes a peaceful afternoon get away from the bustle of the town.

Must see
The view from Castle Hill – This does require a fair bit of walking, but the view from the top is worth it and there are plenty of smaller viewpoints to stop at along the way
Stop by the Széchenyi Baths – Don your swimming gear and relax in the historic outdoor City Baths, a regular pastime with locals, and take in the grand surroundings of the largest bathhouse in Budapest
Walk the Fisherman’s Bastion – Partly destroyed during WWII, the now restored Bastion runs along the Buda bank and provides some amazing panoramic views across the Danube and Margaret Island

Must eat
Sample the Hungarian speciality of Dobos cake, a sweet but dry cake that is available in most bakeries and supermarkets. Also try the Apricot Palinka, a traditional Hungarian fruit brandy which makes a warming after dinner drink.

To help you reminisce on your backpacking adventures why not record your favourite European destinations with a personalised European Traveller Map from Map Marketing. It’s the perfect way to remember your favourite holidays!