Guest Post

Top Five Places to See During a Short Stay in Toronto

Each year Toronto in Canada receives a reported 9.8 million overnight visitors from over 200 different countries. This means that it is an ideal place for a fantastic overnight vacation and it is full of wonderful places to see and visit during a short stay.

There are many places to visit and see but for a short visit, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite and top 5:

1. Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is home to over 5,000 animals and treats its guests to daily tours and talks with animal’s keepers and year-round events. Visitors can look at over 460 species of animals while touring this expansive zoo and see award-winning exhibits of rare animals such as the Gorilla Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and the 10-acre Tundra Trek which is home to arctic animals. For short stays in Toronto, parents and children can enjoy live animal shows and view endangered African penguins from below in the zoo’s new underwater viewing area.

2. CN Tower

Listed as one of the American Society of Civil Engineers “Wonders of the Modern World,” the CN Tower is an ideal place to visit while enjoying a short stay in Toronto. Guests can experience a wonderful dining experience with world-class entertainment while looking out at a complete view of the city of Toronto. Visitors can look out on a glass floored balcony 342 m above the ground and participate in watching a 3D film or motion theater ride.

Photo of Toronto Skyline by SanGatiche on Flickr

3. Centre Island

Only ten minutes outside of busy Toronto, Centre Island is a car free community that offers its guests a place of fun and relaxation in the form of an amusement park and beaches. Visitors to this small lakeside island can experience several delicious restaurants, a thrilling amusement park and a world free of hustling and bustling cars, making this the perfect get-a-way for an overnight vacation.

4. Royal Ontario Museum

A short stay in Toronto is not complete without a visit to Canada’s largest museum, featuring natural history and worldly artifacts. Commonly referred to as ROM, the Royal Ontario Museum has exhibits and galleries featuring dinosaurs, ancient Egypt and live animal shows as well as exhibits about Canada’s first inhabitants and earthly minerals and gems. Travelers can experience Canada in a one-of-a-kind way that will complete any short stay in the “Queen’s City.”

Photo of Royal Ontario Museum by lt_paris on Flickr

5. Hockey Hall of Fame

If you’re a hockey fan, one site you need to visit while in Toronto is the Hockey Hall of Fame. The hall of fame is full of interactive exhibits that educate adults and children on hockey, the National Hockey League and the rules of the game. Guests can be sports broadcasters in a unique experience of calling famous hockey games in the exhibit of Broadcast Pods and visit mock trophy and lockers rooms while reliving famous hockey moments in history. The Hockey Hall of Fame is the best place to finish off a fun stay in Toronto.

Author Bio: Dan Patterson works for CityPASS. Check out the list of attractions in the Toronto CityPASS and you’ll see how using CityPASS will help you save on admission to some of the top attractions in Toronto.

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5 Incredible Places Worth Visiting in England

London has a lot to offer the first time traveller to England, especially in 2012, but there are hundreds of little towns and cities tucked comfortably in and all through England; so beautiful, you might not ever want to leave.

Of course it can depend on the time of year you choose to visit.  The countryside is diverse and dependent on weather, such as the South East England being full of cherry blossoms and daffodils in March. So do a little research for the time of year you choose to visit.

Here are five incredible places we thought were worth mentioning:

1. Bath

It’s funny that every time you ask anyone who has spent extensive time, or even just a few weeks in England, where they think the most beautiful place to visit in England is. Inevitably they come around to mentioning Bath.  It is known as one of the most beautiful historic cities in the world. Maybe it’s the 2,000-year-old pavements surrounding the Roman baths that are fed by natural hot springs, or the West Country or Stonehenge?  The 18th Century architecture, Roman remains and green landscapes couldn’t hurt either. The point is that this place offers everything from history and excitement to pure relaxation and romance.  And according to experts and visitors over the years, it is well worth the trip.

Roman Baths in Bath, England. Sourced by writer.

2. Stratford-upon-Avon

If the 16th century buildings in Stratford-upon-Avon isn’t enough to draw you to this amazing place, perhaps the fact that William Shakespeare was born here just might.  The cottage where he was born can be toured and you can also pay your respects to this literary genius at the Holy Trinity Church, where he and his beloved wife Anne Hathaway were buried (no not the actress). This lovely place offers a market town with over 800 years of history, and a variety of farmers markets, quaint shops, pretty accommodation and restaurants. Be sure to take in a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

3. Isles of Scilly

This is a treasure trove of five islands and many other rocky islets just off Lands End, the South-westerly point of the British Isles.  The climate is mild, the beaches are golden and soft and it is literally a haven of peace and tranquillity loved by most everyone who visits. Marriages can be performed at the historic St. Mary’s and include luxury horse-drawn carriages.  Or why not take a boat trip to one of the uninhabited islands? For the more energetic, rent a bike to tour this beautiful place.

Higher Town bay beach, St. Martins Isles of Scilly. Sourced by writer.

4. Salisbury

Home to the famous Stonehenge, Salisbury has a history dating over 5,000 years. In this amazing and versatile city, nestled in southern England’s heartland, there’s something for everyone. Some other great places to visit are the Salisbury Cathedral, a number of amazing stately homes and beautiful gardens, and numerous farm parks and award winning museums. Some places in Salisbury date back to the 13th century and some of these places are now restaurants and pubs.  There is a lot of shopping on offer including street markets and shopping malls and the walking and biking opportunities in the area are superb.

5. York

Since York is one of the world’s oldest cities and was in existence during medieval times, there’s plenty of history and beautiful architecture to see here. You might catch a Viking ghost in a historic castle tour or perhaps you’d prefer to visit the biggest Gothic medieval cathedral north of the Alps. There are several museums, the Jarvis Viking Centre, which is full of history, as well as jewellery, and sea fossils.  William the Conqueror built Clifford’s Tower in 1069 and if you climb to the top you’ll get some fantastic panoramic views so be sure to take a trip here!

York Minster

Author Bio: Kristy Alexander is an avid traveller, writer for HotelClub and history buff. She enjoys the thrills of a new adventure and the culture she is able to enrich her children with. Be sure to check out hotels in York with HotelClub for some great options on you next trip.

Categories: Guest Post, UK | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Visitor’s Guide to Lampedusa Island, Italy

Lampedusa Island is a unique and fascinating destination. Although the small island is technically part of Sicily and therefore Italy, it is actually closer to the African nation of Tunisia than it is to Sicily or the Italian mainland. This location actually provides visitors with a more exotic vacation. Experience the ease of European travel with the warm temperatures and ideal climate of North Africa. Despite the lack of crowded tourism attractions, Lampedusa Island is a stunning location that is perfect for travellers who want to get off the beaten path and enjoy empty beaches and incredible scenery.

Read on for a visitor’s guide to the dining, accommodations and attractions of Lampedusa Island.

Travel in and Around Lampedusa Island

Despite the fact that the island is a mere twelve kilometres by three kilometres in size, there is a surprisingly modern airport on Lampedusa Island. There are daily flights to the island from Sicily as well as relatively frequent flights from other major Italian cities. An alternative and truly unique way to arrive on the island is to take a ferry from Porto Empedocle, Sicily. It is even possible to take your car from Sicily on the ferry to Lampedusa. Once on the island, private transport is helpful but certainly not necessary. Mopeds are popular with tourists as an affordable way to get around quickly and efficiently. Buses around the island are affordable and charge just €.60 for each trip.

Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Top Area Attractions

The unique ecosystem of the island means that many visitors are excited to explore nature on Lampedusa Island. There is no better place to learn about the great outdoors and find hiking maps and local guides than at the Riserva Naturale Orientata. This office is staffed with knowledgeable locals interested in protecting the wildlife of the island as well as sharing the beauty with travellers. Many travelers come to Lampedusa to relax on the incredible beaches. None is so popular as Spiaggia dei conigli, or Rabbit’s Beach. Giant cliffs surround the bay and shelter the white sandy shore and bright blue waters from wind. Just next to Rabbit’s Beach is Rabbit’s Island. This is a nesting area for loggerhead sea turtles and a unique place to explore. One of the best options for sightseeing around the entire island is to take a four hour boat tour that circumvents all of Lampedusa. Expect to pay upwards of €40 per person for this kind of tour

Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Dining on the Island

The dining landscape is very different in the summer than it is from the winter. In the summer there are half a dozen Italian restaurants as well as a few smaller pizzerias and cafes. In the winter, however, with fewer tourists on the island many of the dining establishments close temporarily. Some of the year round dining options include L’Angolo del Mare, offering fresh seafood and delicious homemade pastas, and Salumeria Enoteca Portu ‘Ntoni, known around the island as the best place for locals to grab a freshly made lunch or panini.

Accommodation Options

Although Lampedusa Island is not large in size, the number of summer tourists means that there are ample accommodation options. Several boutique and chain hotels operate and often offer beachfront property. Those interested in more luxurious holiday ideas might want to explore the idea of Italian villas. The villas on Lampedusa Island are typically much more affordable than the same size and style of villa on Italy’s mainland. Keep in mind that winter rentals can be half the price of summer rentals.

Lampedusa Island is an incredible Italian destination that offers scenery, wildlife, beaches and a unique atmosphere found nowhere else on Earth.

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5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Venice

The beautiful Italian city of Venice is regarded by many to be the most romantic destination on Earth. Incredible architecture and history creates a world as if from a fairytale; whether you are riding on a gondola with a loved one or dining on gelato in one of the remarkable public squares in the heart of the city. Maybe it is the water surrounding the city, perhaps the fountains said to bring partners closer or perhaps simply because it is a popular destination for couples, but there is no denying that there is romance in the air of Venice.

Here are five of the many reasons you will fall in love with the city of Venice.

1. The Lagoon Locale

There is no denying that the cuisine, people, architecture and history contribute to making the city of Venice a romantic and wonderful destination. However, the lagoon location is what makes the destination truly remarkable. Getting around the city can be achieved by a number of unique transportation methods such as a private gondola, a bustling water taxi filled with locals or even vaporetti, large boats known as water buses in Venice. This makes something as ordinary as getting to work or finding your hotel an adventure that won’t soon be forgotten.

2. The Bridges

It might seem strange to list something as ordinary as bridges on this list, but that is simply because the bridges in Venice are far from ordinary. The Ponte di Rialto, or Rialto Bridge, was built over eight hundred years ago and remains an iconic symbol of the city to this day. The Zattere Bridge over the Giudecca Canal is another popular bridge that offers beautiful views over the city. It is on this bridge that some of the most incredible pictures are taken of Venice, not to mention the fact that a large number of marriage proposals take place on the bridge each year.

Source: Wikimedia

3. The Dining Experience

There can be nothing more romantic that dining on exquisite Italian cuisine on a restaurant terrace just feet from the Venetian canals. Lights from the restaurants and street lamps illuminate the seating area to create a truly intimate setting for your loved one. Sip on a glass of local red wine as you dine on some of the regional specialties in Venice. The city is known in particular for the dish of local cuttlefish in black ink served over a rich corn polenta.

4. Amazing Architecture

Many writers and artists who describe Venice mention the way the light is reflected in the city. The medieval architecture is a variety of colours in some places and when the light hits the structures in the morning it is an entirely different scene from the evening sunset. Some of the most amazing architecture to explore includes the Palazzo Ducale, the Torre dell’Orologio, the Basilica di San Marco and the San Giacomo di Rialto, a church built in the fifth century. Simply strolling around Venice on foot allows you to see all these incredible structures and more.

Source: Wikimedia

5. Affordable Accommodation Options

Perhaps the only downside to the beautiful city of Venice is that it can be expensive at times. Unfortunately, accommodation costs are often the largest part of a vacation budget. While the hotels may be expensive, Venice apartments can be a far more cost-effective alternative that saves travellers money. A self catering holiday means that you rent a home or an apartment in Venice and enjoy a fully equipped kitchen for your own use. Buy fresh local foods from the Rialto Market or the i Tre Mercanti and prepare classic Italian meals for a portion of the price of restaurant meals three times per day.

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Top Family Friendly Beaches in Ibiza

Renowned for its electric and non-stop night life, Ibiza may not be the first destination that springs to mind for a family holiday. But who said Ibiza isn’t family friendly? Only 45km and 25km wide, surrounded by warm waters, sandy beaches and beautiful landscapes, with plenty of fun to be had, there is definitely more to this beautiful Balearic Island than clubs and booze. If you do your research, there are a great number of family friendly resorts, beaches and activities to choose from.

So if you’re heading to Ibiza for your family holiday this year, here’s a helpful rundown of the top family friendly beaches to visit using car hire Ibiza to get you started.

Cala Nova

Found on a beautifully rural part of the island near to Es Cana resort, Cala Nova boasts a long wide curve of sandy beach. The crystal clear water remains shallow quite a way out across the golden floor, meaning its perfect for the kids to paddle in. Parasols are an added benefit, meaning that you can keep the kids in the shade when that Balearic sun starts to beat just down a little too hard. It also benefits from the presence of lifeguards and nearby restaurants to keep hungry tums satisfied.

Playa Den Bossa

This is one of the best known beaches on the island and despite being busy it’s a really fun beach on which to spend the day. The large expanse of sand is great for ball games and the waters are shallow meaning its safe for young children. Enjoy the great views of Ibiza’s Old Town and head to one of the many beach bars and cafes for a delicious lunch. The only thing to remember is that there is limited shade so make sure you are prepared and take some cover ups.


Talamanca boasts a calm and sandy, gently shelved beach and located in a sea inlet, it is protected from winds. At 50m off shore, the depth of the water is only 1.5m which should reassure families with children. The clear waters also make for great snorkelling for older children and there are pedalos available for hire if you fancy a fun activity after lunch at one of the restaurants on the promenade.

Cala Conta

Stunning views of the turquoise waters and nearby islands make Cala Conta one of the best beaches on the island for adults. The shallow waters lapping on the shores also make it an ideal playground for children. There’s no natural shade but the abundance of loungers and parasols will surely do the job, and with toilets, showers and lifeguards on hand you’ve surely got everything you need.  At the end of the day, be sure to nab a table at one of the beach side restaurants and take in views of the fantastic sunset.

Cala Lena

Cala Lena boasts not only a beautiful curving beach that is gently sloped and backed by pine trees, but good water sports facilities for older children and adults to enjoy too. If you happen to get bored of the beach, be sure to explore the nearby market or take a wander in the landscaped gardens and woodland to cool off.

You can’t really go far wrong in your search for a family friendly beach in Ibiza as long as you stay away from the large cities and towns. This guide is sure to help create wonderful memories of your family beach holiday in Ibiza.

Author Bio: Kerri Ware is a travel blogger and writes for Economy Car Hire, a car hire broker offering great deals for car hire across Europe and beyond. Follow them on Twitter @economycarhire.

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