Eurovision-inspired holidays

Eurovision-inspired holidays
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Lithuania

Where is it?

Bordering Poland, Belarus and Lativia, it’s about two-and-a-half hours’ flight from London.

Why visit?

One of Europe’s best-kept secrets, this is a stunning country thanks to its Baltic coastline with 60 miles of pure white sand. Inland, it’s home to dense forests, shimmering lakes and thousands of migrating birds. The capital, Vilnius, is a quaint, cobbled town hugely popular with artists and tourists. For a quieter break, try Šventoji, a sleepy seaside fishing village turned family resort on the west coast. Temperatures are similar to the UK, although July is the wettest month.

Don’t miss...

The Hill of Crosses, in the north of the country consists of 100,000 wooden crosses that commemorate those who died in the Lithuanian Revolt of 1831.

What to eat

Try a ‘zeppelin’ (nicknamed for its shape) or cepelinai, a big potato dumpling stuffed with meat or curd cheese.

How to get there

Flights to Vilnius start from around £53 return from London or £219 return from Glasgow. In Vilnius, the Mabre hotel in the old town has a pool and a lovely restaurant. Double rooms are from ¤95. Visit www.mabre.lt

Slovenia

Where is it?

Directly north of Croatia. Fly from London in just over two hours.

Why visit?

Slovenia is one of Europe’s most picturesque destinations, with dramatic mountain ranges, clean lakes and unspoilt beaches. Eco-friendly, its small population treats the country’s natural resources with great respect. The people are very welcoming and the food is good, reflecting a mixture of influences from neighbouring countries. It’s a great place to relax and the capital, Ljubljana, has lots of peaceful riverside walks. The climate is similar to Croatia (below).

Don’t miss

Postojna cave, just over 30 miles away from Ljubljana, is a natural wonder of tunnels, passages and caverns. Explore it on the in-built railway and on foot in a guided tour for ¤22.90. Visit www.postojnska-jama.eu/en

What to eat

Slovenians say ‘love comes through the stomach’. Fall in love with the country by trying bosman (a ceremonial plaited bread), bled cream cakes, or a bottle of local wine.

How to get there

Return flights to Ljubljana from London cost from £78, or Newcastle for £239.

Croatia

Where is it?

Across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, below Slovenia. Flight time depends on which airport you
fly to, but it’s roughly three hours from London.

Why visit?

Croatia’s coastline is made up of more than 1,000 islands, making it a paradise for beach lovers and sailing fanatics. Zlatni Rat in Bol (on the island of Brac) is regarded as its most beautiful shingle beach, perfectly peaceful with a relaxed ethos. Croatia enjoys a typically Mediterranean climate, but is warmer in the south.

Don’t miss

Trogir, known as the museum city, is a Unesco world heritage site, thanks to its palaces, churches and towers – perfect for history lovers. It’s a busy spot which relies on tourism for its economy. For more information on the area, visit www.trogironline.com

What to eat

Fish fans will be right at home, with national treats including brudet – a stew of eel and sea fish – and snacks of salted sardines.

Getting there

Return flights to Dubrovnik start from £148 from London, or £240 from Glasgow. The Hotel Lapad costs from £50 per room per night. Call 00 385 2045 5555, visit www.hotel-lapad.hr

Azerbaijan

Where is it?

Further south-west from Turkey, bordering  Georgia, Russia, Armenia and Iran, Azerbaijan might not sound like an obvious holiday spot, but its capital Baku (right), is well worth a visit. The rest of the country is still developing so it may be best to stick to Baku for now. It’s a six-hour direct flight from London, although most flights involve changing planes in Turkey.

Why visit?

A fusion of Asian and European cultures, Baku is being reinvented as a bustling, cosmopolitan city with designer shops and many skyscrapers – a great alternative for fans of Dubai. It also has Unesco World Heritage status. Summer weather is warm and dry, but not too hot.

Don’t miss

This June (12-28) Baku plays host to the European Games, making it an exciting destination for sports fans. For more information, or to book tickets, visit www.baku2015.com. Make sure to take a taxi trip out to Yanar Dag – an incredible active volcano, 45 minutes outside of the city.

What to eat

Pancakes, locally- grown peaches and sweet, black tea are hard to beat.

How to get there

You will need to acquire a visa at least a month before you travel. Visit www.visaforazerbaijan.org.uk to apply. As it’s a largely Muslim country, make sure to cover up with long sleeves, pashminas or kaftans. Return flights to Baku from London start from £279, or Birmingham from £330. Stay at the Safran Hotel from £42 per room per night. Call 00 99 412 564 0558 or visit www.safranhotel.az/en