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Wowcher Guide To Valencia

valenciaWhilst being bathed in sun almost all year long does make for a pretty good reason on its own to visit Spain’s third city, Valencia’s got plenty more to offer lucky visitors, from a lively city centre to the Mediterranean Sea on its doorstep. Our guide to the city is here to show why a trip to Spain’s sunny coast is a must:

Photo Opportunities
A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of the city, our guide to Valencia unsurprisingly begins at the masterpiece known as La Lonja. Constructed in the 15th century, the Silk Exchange’s late gothic style and sheer magnificence has made it a symbol for what is now regarded as the city’s Golden Age; the striking spiralled columns that dominate the main hall as well as the charming surrounding courtyards and the adjoining Renaissance chapel will no doubt impress. Also built during the 15th century, the Torres de Quart is described by Lonely Planet as ‘Spain’s most magnificent city gate’ – see if you can spot the dents caused by the French cannonballs during the Napoleonic invasion in the 19th century!

A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of the city, La Lonja makes for a must-see.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of the city, La Lonja makes for a must-see.

Restored to its previous glory in 2012, the enchanting Plaza Redonda’s eye-catching design makes it one of the city’s more unique hotspots. From the vantage point of the fountains in the centre of the round square, you’ll be able to catch a lovely view of Santa Catalina’s late baroque bell tower. Keeping on a similar vein, it would be a mistake not to pay a visit to the imposing cathedral on the Plaza de le Virgen. Built in 1238, the cathedral’s 207-step Miguelete bell tower is well worth venturing up for 360-degree city and skyline views. You’ll also be able to snap a few pictures of the two Goya paintings in the Chapel of San Francisco de Borja and a chalice that is claimed to be none other than the Holy Grail.

For easy travel around the city, make sure you pick up a Valencia Tourist Card that entitles users to free entry to public museums and monuments, public transport in zones ABCD and a 50% discount at selected shops and restaurants. That way you should have no trouble making your way between other must-see sites, including the modernist Mercado Central, the Plaza del Carmen and the fantastic Bioparc. More than enough to keep you busy!

Beach Break
Where to start?! Boasting an abundance of Blue Flag beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice for sandy spots to relax and enjoy the sun in Valencia. Stretching over 1000m, La Malvarrosa is considered by many to be the city’s main beach, though the quieter Las Areans just to its south may have something to say about that. Fancy visiting them both? Not an issue – both are located just a short walk from the city centre. You can even take a stroll down the connecting Neptuno Promenade and take them both in on one lovely lazy day by the Mediterranean.

Malvarrosa and Las Arenas beaches make for the perfect spots to soak up the sunshine

La Malvarrosa and Las Areans beaches make for the perfect spots to soak up the sunshine.

Just a 30-minute yellow bus journey away in the beautiful La Albufera National Park on the southern outskirts of the city, the 2.6km untouched sandy stretch known as El Saler beach is well worth the trip. A favourite of locals and tourists alike, the popular beach is regarded by many as the jewel in the crown of Valencia’s coastline, with sun-worshippers conveniently protected from the westerly winds by the surrounding sand dunes and pines. Unlike the previously mentioned beaches, you won’t find any sun loungers or parasols already set up there for you to use, so make sure you come prepared.

Fireworks, Festival and Flames
Valencia is famed for its fireworks, so naturally come festival time you can expect to see a whole host of inventive pyrotechnic displays that’ll last long in the memory. For five days each March the city comes alive for Las Fallas, a typically-Spanish celebration in honour of Saint Joseph. Each night, spectators gather along the Paseo de la Alameda to witness spectacular displays that never fail to light the city up in stunning style. Make your way down on the last night (the Night of Fire) for an incredible 30-minute showing that is the undoubted highlight of the festival (though you will have to get there early to snag a prime viewing position).

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Valencia is famed for its fireworks, so naturally come festival time you can expect to see a whole host of inventive pyrotechnic displays that’ll last long in the memory.

Amongst the important ceremonial events and traditions that take place during the festival, the parading of giant, specially made papier-mâché figures is definitely the most remarkable. Often reaching up to 20ft in height, these impressive models (named after the festival) are later set on fire on the last day at the Cremà (or ‘the burning’), though one is spared and given a place amongst the growing collection at the dedicated Fallas Museum in the city.

Food
Thanks in large part due to the city’s seaside setting, Valencia boasts a rich culinary heritage that leaves visitors absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to finding somewhere to grab a bite to eat. Despite the neighbourhood’s uncertain future, we recommend heading to Valencia’s vibrant old fishermen’s quarter El Cabanyal in the east of the city for the best in authentic Spanish dishes. Amongst the beautifully tiled houses and art-nouveau stylings of the barrio, you’ll find plenty of bars and restaurants offering the freshest fish and tapas – keep an eye out for the imaginatively named El Cabanyal restaurant for what is described as ‘a real taste of Spain’, and the Bodega Casa Montaña in the very same neighbourhood for one of the best tapas bars in the country (booking in advance is recommended).

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Rice is a staple ingredient in the city and the crux of Valencia’s many gourmet specialties, including its most famous food invention paella. Explore the surrounding villages and you’ll find each has its own preference for ingredients and rice mixes, though you won’t have to travel too far from Malvarrosa beach to find the city’s most famed paella hotspots. A favourite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, La Pepica’s walls are plastered with signed pictures of the restaurant’s most famous patrons, though an outdoor table with a view of the sea instead might be more preferable when dining during the summer. One of the restaurant’s many specialities is the authentic version of paella known as the ‘valenciana’, a spectacular dish made with ingredients from the garden rather than from the sea – just click here to read more about the restaurant.

So there you have it – a guide to the must-visit city of Valencia. For the latest breaks dead-set on taking you to Europe’s top destinations, make sure you stay with Wowcher.co.uk.

Weddings With Wowcher!

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Here comes the bride, all dressed in…pink? Okay fine, you don’t have to don a pink Wowcher-themed wedding dress, but at the very least let us ensure that all the stressful wedding planning doesn’t turn you into your ‘something blue’…

‘Which photographer shall we book? What about the colour scheme? Do we need a theme? The food? Drinks? Where do we sit drunk Uncle Geoff? What cake do we buy? What about the frosting flavour, Jeremy? Would somebody please think of the frosting?!’ With so much to think about before a wedding, it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily, you can get two tickets to The Westminster Wedding Show for just £4 with Wowcher! You and your hubby-to-be will be able to wander through the exhibition on Saturday 18th July 2015 and get some fab ideas for the big day. With cakes, music, venues and pretty much anything else you can think of on exhibition, it’s the perfect way to start planning the wedding. There’s even a bridal catwalk showcasing the latest on-trend gowns. That’s the dress sorted then. Now, for the cake…

Here at Wowcher, we’ve never understood why people keep telling us that ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’. Of course, you can! With Wowcher, not only can you get the wedding cake of your dreams, but you’ll also be able to get it for less than half the price by heading to Southport’s very own Vanilla Nova. Here, you can purchase a delicious three or four-tier wedding cake after partaking in a tasting session where you can sample the most delectable, mouth-watering sponges. Vanilla? Lemon? Butterscotch? Coconut? Oh, we don’t know… best try them all!

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Getting hitched can be a very expensive business, with the average wedding costing just over £18k (whoa!), so ensure your big day goes off without a hitch with an amazing three or four-tiered Vanilla Nova wedding cake!

While we’re on the topic of food, let’s think about what else your guests will be able to nibble on after the ‘I Do’s’. Well actually, now that you mention it, Wowcher’s got that one figured out, too. Covering Birmingham, Peterborough, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Stoke-on-Trent, Lincoln, Northampton and Cambridge, LA Weddings and Events can sweeten up your guests with a candy, candy floss or popcorn cart! With a server included in the hire, it’s sure to impress everyone.

Dress? Check. Cake? Check. Candy cart? Check. Photographer? Umm…

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Expert photographer Rach Ashurts’ six-hour wedding photography package includes a pre-wedding day shoot, two prints and a USB full of photos!

Don’t worry! As luck would have it, we’ve sorted the photographer, too. We’ve teamed up with With This Ring Wedding Photography to give all those who are within 40 miles of B1 Birmingham postcodes, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester a little help when it comes to capturing your big day. They’ll cover everything from bridal preparations to the first dance, plus you’ll get up to 300 edited images on CD and two prints of your favourite snap. Alternatively, Rach Ashurst offers those who will have their weddings within 25 miles of Durham city centre a six-hour package, which not only includes cover of the day itself, but also a pre-wedding day photoshoot, two prints and a USB full of photos! Prefer moving pictures? Not a problem, we’ve also joined forces with Quaint Weddings to bring you a full-day wedding videography package, including a 15-minute HD video on DVD for all weddings within a 60-mile radius of SK6 1AA. You can even personalise the video with your choice of song. We’re thinking ‘Baby Got Back’ by Sir Mix-a-Lot. No? Maybe we should just stick to bringing you great deals…

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Boasitng over 20 years’ experience, With This Ring Wedding Photography is the natural choice when you’re looking for the best people to cover your special day.

If all this wedding talk gets you excited, then maybe you’re destined for a career as a wedding planner! There can’t be many things greater than helping a bride and groom-to-be plan one of the most special days of their lives, so why not take an ICOES-accredited wedding planner course with Trendimi? You’ll learn everything from planning the big day, dressing the wedding party, budgeting and even marketing your wedding planner business.

So there you have it! From Bridezilla to blushing bride in one simple blog post. Who ever said that weddings needed to be expensive anyway?

Please note – all deals featured may not be live. 

The Wowcher Guide to Live Entertainment

theatre
From the magical stories and exuberant costumes of a West End musical to epic sing-along anthems from your favourite stars, theatre, music and comedy always make for a brilliantly fun night out. At Wowcher, we’re firm believers in the power of performance to move, to provoke, to illuminate and to purely entertain people of any age and background – and you can regularly find great deals on tickets to some of the most scintillating performances out there. Here, then, is the Wowcher guide to live entertainment…

Theatre
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” – William Shakespeare

A night at the theatre can bring out such a strong range of emotions in an audience – fear, excitement, tension, love, joy, anger, inspiration and more! There are a huge number of ways theatre can be enjoyed, from the latest blockbuster shows (like West End mainstay Thriller Live, the multi award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical at Victoria Palace Theatre and the Tony Ward-nominated musical Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown) to summertime touring productions of old classics in parks up and down the country. Wowcher offers deals on them all. If you’re looking for a super night out, either for cultural value or for sheer entertainment, keep checking Wowcher for great deals on tickets to suit every taste.

Just a few theatre tickets you could have got your hands on!

Just a few theatre tickets you could have got your hands on!

For the complete package, Wowcher offers deals on luxurious overnight stays in London with tickets to some of the most spectacular shows on the West End. With recent deals including musicals such as Jersey Boys, Wicked and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, as well as terrifying play The Woman in Black. For ol’ Bill Shakespeare, we’re all players upon the stage that is our world, but if you’re not in the mood to play a part yourself, then let Wowcher offer you the best tickets to watch the professionals do it for you!

Comedy
Comedy critic Brian Logan recently said that Britain has ”the world’s liveliest comedy scene”. It’s certainly true that British comedy is in rude health with everything from small clubs featuring inventive emerging acts to arena-filling comedy megastars, making UK comedy a multi-million pound industry. Wowcher regularly offers great deals on tickets to some of the UK’s most popular comedy clubs, including Jongleurs, as well as smaller independent clubs like Manchester’s Frog and Bucket. Comedy is about more than good jokes. It has the power to hold a mirror up to society, to reaffirm our sense of humanity and make us believe in the power of humour to make the world a better place. Wowcher offers great ticket deals on comedy nights and clubs so if you’re in need of a life-affirming laugh, just look out for the pink splat!

circus

Roll up! Roll up! The circus is in town!

Circus
Roll up! Roll up! The circus is in town and Wowcher will be there to offer you great value deals on tickets. Wowcher has a long-standing relationship with some of the best touring circus troupes in the UK, such as Billy Smart’s Circus, Circus ZyairRussell’s International Circus, Zippos Circus and even the prestigious Moscow State Circus! If you’re looking for an evening of entertainment combining the best elements of theatre, music and comedy, then a night under the big top is exactly what you need! Keep checking Wowcher for the best deals on circus tickets for the whole family, as these prestigious troupes are regularly on tour across the UK.

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Fancy something little different? Watch Britain’s top pro-wrestling company lay the smackdown at one of 13 UK locations!

Something a little different
None of the above float your boat? Well how about tickets to see Britains’ top pro-wrestling talents lay the smackdown at one of 13 UK locations? On the topic of buff lads in skimpy gear, perhaps an unforgettable night of male entertainment is more up your street? Well you can always count on the Forbidden Nights lads or those oh-so-lovely Dreamboys for a sizzling evening of entertainment!

So there you have it, the Wowcher guide to live entertainment, for every possible taste. For all the best entertainment deals make sure you stay with Wowcher.co.uk!

Please note – all deals featured may not be live. 

Wowcher’s Guide To Brighton!


Battleground for the Mods and Rockers in the 60s, stomping ground of the legendary Fatboy Slim and Peter Andre, and an infamous playground for Britain’s dirty weekend, Brighton is one of the UK’s most colourful coastal crannies, well worth a visit no matter the time of year. Here, at Wowcher, we’re here to share the filthiest secrets of this outrageously endearing seaside town.

The Coast with the Most
A wintery wonderland in colder months and a slothful sunspot in summer, the coast of Brighton is gemmed with affordable bars, sensational seafood restaurants, penny arcades and of course, piers. Visit the turtles and rays at the world’s oldest Sealife Centre, dine on an oriental barge in the Marina or glug some grog at the pirate ship pub Fortune of War. If you’re brave, get a made-to-order donut or a bag of chips and see how you fare against an army of hungry seagulls. Small but full of life, Brighton’s seafront is a pebbled paradise perfect for families, couples and even stags in drag.


Pier to Pier
Once a town of three piers, now a town of one working pier and a hollowed-out shell of another.Brighton Pier is like the Catherine Zeta-Jones to West Pier’s Michael Douglas. Buzzing with rip-roaring rollercoasters and amusement arcades, the former is teeming with life and a great place to win a cuddly toy for your loved one. West Pier, on the other hand, has been deteriorating since 1975 and is simply a skeleton of its former self – still beautiful though, in a haunting kind of way.

Festivals Galore
As well as an annual supply of candyfloss, Brighton also seems to manage a festival every other weekend. No matter when you go there’s sure to be something going on. Hoards of classic cars can be seen cruising the promenade on weekends, local artists open their homes in May and foodies will be spoilt for choice with several food and drink festivals occurring throughout the year. Our favourite festival has to be Brighton Fringe, England’s largest arts festival. The perfect concoction of cabaret, comedy, classical concerts, club nights, theatre and exhibitions – something for everyone!

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The Royal Pavilion
So it may look like something you find in Sittingbourne’s Model World but this scaled-down Taj Mahal is the reason Hitler didn’t bomb our pretty Brighton boulevards (he wanted it as his headquarters!). Built for the Prince Regent in the 18th Century, The Royal Pavilion is one of the most striking structures in the world and well worth a visit. Marvel at the palatial domes from the gardens or take a trip inside the eccentric head of George IV and admire the Pavilion’s magnificent interior. The beautifully restored tearoom makes an ideal spot for an afternoon scone!

Shopping
Bohemian, hedonistic and cosmopolitan, Brighton’s North Laine is full of independent clothes shops, cosy bars and award-winning restaurants. Whether it’s the freebie-filled food markets or the second-hand stalls on Upper Gardener Street, Brighton is a peruser’s paradise. In Snooper’s Attic, Brighton’s best loved antique bric-a-brac vintage and retro store, you can find everything from old taxidermy to go-go boots. For the more refined shopper, we recommend trawling the twisting alleyways of Brighton’s South Lanes for specialist and designer boutique fashion.

Where There’s a Wheel, There’s a Way
If you’re worried you won’t have a chance to see all of Brighton, go on the city’s newest attraction; the Brighton Wheel, London Eye’s smaller and younger brother. With panoramic views of the town’s famous landmarks and an informative cultural commentary by local hero Steve Coogan, you can rest-assured you won’t miss a thing. Some say that on a clear day you can even see France!

So there you have it, plenty of reasons to plan a weekend trip to Brighton this spring. Loved by Queen Elizabeth II for its £1 shots and mini golf opportunities, Brighton is a treasure trove of things to see and do. No matter what time of year you visit, people will be skating along the esplanade and kayaking round the piers. Just keep an eye out for fantastic deals and your window of opportunity to visit our nation’s favourite seaside town!

The Wowcher Guide to Roaming in Rome

rome
Saturated with fine art, architectural genius and delectable food, it’s easy to see why millions of tourists flock to Rome every year. Based on the banks of the River Tiber, the city was founded in 753 BC according to Roman tradition, with thousands of years of ancient history providing a rich backdrop to the Italian capital. There’s so much to discover in just a short mini break that unlocking the secrets of the city can feel like a challenge. Luckily, Wowcher has the key!

Architecture and Art
Tourists always congregate at the Vatican City, the smallest independent state in the world and home to some seriously impressive architectural and artistic feats (plus Pope Francis, of course). Whilst marvelling at Michelangelo’s ceiling is a must, there’s much more to see than just the Sistine Chapel. The Vatican Museums showcase tapestries, ceramics, mosaics, Renaissance masterpieces and much more, including the famous frescoes of the Raphael Rooms and a striking tapestry of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. You can also scale the heights of St Peter’s Basilica for views inside the Cupola and out across Rome.

If you fancy heading off the beaten track instead, take a trip to San Clemente. Tucked away on Via Labicana, the 12th century Basilica sits over a 2nd century pagan temple, with its initial foundations dating as far back as the Roman Republic. Visit the lower levels to peel back the layers of Roman history and you’ll be surrounded by the sounds of an ancient aqueduct filtering water from the Tiber, with a fountain of spring water bursting out of the wall. Forget the Trevi Fountain – throw a coin in here and make a wish!

Tip: If you want to beat the queues at the Vatican City, make sure you book tickets online before you go. There are lots of tour guides offering their services outside the gates, but be aware that some of the tours can be quite lengthy if you’re short on time.

The Heart of Rome
A trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Colosseum. Constructed in approximately 70 AD and used for gladiatorial competitions, dramatic public spectacles and grisly executions, the extraordinary arena emanates a sense of grandiose history and forgotten glory. To the east lies the ruins of the Roman Forum, the heart of ancient Roman life and home to the remains of the Temple of Saturn, Temple of Vesta, Arch of Septimius Severus and much more. The Palantine Hill offers a great vantage point for panoramic views of the site – a combined ticket to see it all costs just €12, so buy yourself a selfie stick and get snapping!

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Tip: Nip into the Altare della Patria (the big white building on Piazza Venezia) and take the elevator to the very top. For just €7 each you’ll get 360° views across the entire city, including an amazing view of the Colosseum and beyond.

Escaping the Crowds
If you fancy a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy city centre, take a leisurely walk up the Spanish Steps to visit the landscaped gardens of Villa Borghese. The parkland features a beautiful lake, surrounded by willow trees and presided over by the majestic 18th century Temple of Aesculapius. It’s the perfect spot for an Italian-style picnic (think antipasti and wine) or a romantic boat ride for two. If you’re an art fan, finish your afternoon in the Galleria Borghese and explore the stunning selection of sculptures, paintings and antiquities from the 1st-3rd centuries AD.

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Tip: Segways, bikes and pedal karts are available to hire if you want to explore the park during the summer months. You can also rent roller blades if you’re feeling really flash.

Dining and Nightlife
For a truly magical dining experience with one of the best views in Rome, the rooftop restaurant of Aroma is located directly opposite the Colosseum and boasts a gorgeous vista of the historic monument at night. The restaurant serves a delicious (if slightly pricey) menu of classic Italian dishes with a gourmet twist. If you fancy something a bit more down to earth (literally), there are hundreds of options elsewhere in the city – cross the Tiber to get lost in the maze of cobbled streets and charming piazzas in Trastevere, renowned for its vibrant array of bars, cafés and boutique shops, or wander the backstreets around the Pantheon to find a tucked away trattoria. If you’re hoping to fulfil your lifelong quest for the perfect pizza, you can have a good go at Li Rioni, a classic pizzeria that serves up its dough the traditional way – thin, crispy and topped with plenty of fresh tomato and mozzarella. Delizioso!

Tip: You can’t leave Rome without gobbling down at least one gelato (yes, they will probably stop you at the airport if you don’t). We recommend the creamy treats from Il Gelato Di San Crispino, a local legend that you can find just behind the Trevi Fountain.

Outside Rome
If you’re planning an extended holiday, hop on a train from the central Termini Station in Rome to any number of hidden destinations on the Amalfi Coast. A 2-hour trip will get you as far as Naples, where you can take a scenic boat ride to the beautiful island of Capri. Sip on a glass of wine in La Piazzetta, the bustling square at the heart of island, or ascend the Belvedere Cannone for breath-taking views of the famous faraglioni rock formation. Naples is also an ideal gateway for trips to Sorrento, Positano or Pompeii, the ancient Roman town near the base of Mount Vesuvius. The possibilities are endless!

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Tip: Termini Station also runs international train services to destinations such as Paris, Munich, Geneva, Basel and Vienna if you fancy going even further afield!

However you choose to spend your time in Rome, make sure you take some time to wander the old streets, soak up the relaxed atmosphere and experience the unique character that makes the city so special. After all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do…

Fancy making your way to Rome for a magical escape? Click here to check out the perfect deal for you!

Remember, when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, keep it trained on Wowcher.co.uk for more great deals to Rome and beyond! Please note – all deals featured may not be live! 

The Wowcher Guide to Britain’s Romantic Hotspots

 

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“Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels”
– T.S. Eliot (from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock)

Even the poet T.S. Eliot saw the romantic possibilities in an inexpensive couple’s getaway and that chap knew a thing or two about romance. He understood that passion can blossom in the cheap hotels, the muttering retreats and the half-deserted streets. The thing is, where can you find a brilliant lovers’ haven that is both passionate and affordable? Well, Wowcher is here to guide you through the sensual and passionate landscape of some of Britain’s best romantic break destinations…

Cornwall
The rugged coastlines, picturesque seaside villages and the vast array of golden sandy beaches make Cornwall a popular destination in the UK all year round. If romantic poignancy is your thing, then why not head to Lizard Point, the most southerly place in the UK. Here you can gaze wistfully together out over the ocean, to where the English Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean. Also, for the wilder at heart, Cornwall is home to Penwith Heritage Coast, with plenty of walks, hikes and climbs on offer to suit any level of wanderer. The mild climate of Cornwall also lends the county a Mediterranean air and if you fancy yourself as a champion surfer, head to the warm waters and golden beaches of Porthleven or Constantine.

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The rugged coastlines, picturesque seaside villages and the vast array of golden sandy beaches make Cornwall a must for a romantic break

If you can’t make it to Cornwall, then the coast of Pembrokeshire in South Wales offers equally splendid romantic break potential, with Broad Haven and West Dale amongst the best golden sand beaches in the UK.

The Lake District
Stunningly beautiful views? Check. Rugged landscape and fresh air? Check. Friendly local residents and a quiet, relaxed way of life? Check. The Lake District is one of Britain’s most popular rural tourist destinations for good reason. From Kirkby Lonsdale in the south to Carlisle in the north, by way of Lake Windermere, Penrith and Keswick, the Lake District offers adventurous couples a romantic escape from the pressure cooker of urban life and a chance to spend time together alone in the great outdoors. For those who prefer modern comforts above the adventurous thrill of camping, there are an abundance of friendly family-run B&Bs throughout the Lake District where couples can relax and enjoy the famous warm hospitality of rural North West England.

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Stunningly beautiful views? Check. Rugged landscape and fresh air? Check…

Brighton
Brighton’s own tourist board proudly boasts that it is the UK’s flirtiest city and, whether you are in a relationship or looking for love, there can be no doubt that Brighton is one the UK’s most romantic destinations. Known as the location of many a summer romance and also as one of the world’s most LGBT-friendly places, Brighton offers the chance for a sensual weekend away where loved up couples can go for a romantic stroll along the sea-front or love-seeking singles can enjoy the pulsating experience of one of the City’s many renowned nightclubs.

Stratford-upon-Avon
On the romance front, the beautiful town of Stratford upon Avon has a lot going for it. Not only is it stunningly picturesque and a charming example of provincial English life, it is also the home town of the man from whose imagination the greatest love story in history sprang. William Shakespeare is of course Stratford’s most famous son and so beautiful and romantic is the town that it’s unsurprising it inspired him to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. What’s more, in honour of the great Bard himself, the town is now home to the Royal Shakespeare Company, who run a year-round programme of plays in their recently refurbished theatre, which makes a great venue for a special romantic date. Combine this with a stay in a cosy cottage and indulge in the rustic lifestyle Stratford-upon-Avon has to offer.

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And finally…
If you’re looking for something seriously different for a romantic getaway, beyond the usual couple’s retreat-style weekend, then you can always find somewhere to satisfy your deepest curiosities and urges in the form of a swingers’ hotel break. Back in 2013, we ran a special deal for a break at a swingers’ hotel called The Vanilla Alternative and the ensuing interest almost crashed the site with half a million people logging on to view the unusual and…erm…’adventurous’ offer. It just goes to show that the demand is there!

So if you’re looking for a memorable couple’s retreat, or perhaps even something a little different to your traditional countryside break for 2, then keep on opening those emails from Wowcher.co.uk…

Wowcher Discovers the Best of Buda and Pest…

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Set astride the Danube River, the city of Budapest is home to history, culture and an abundance of Camembert. Rich with opportunity, the city (and the Camembert!) ooze potential for new experience. From the stunning panoramic views visible from Buda Castle hill to the colourful bars and natural hot spas that bubble down below, visitors from all walks of life will find something to tickle their fancy in the Hungarian capital. Wowcher never settles for anything less than the best, which is why we’re bringing you the top spots of brilliant Budapest…

A little history…
Relatively short-lived as the city we now know, Budapest was born in 1873 from the unification of its older and wiser parents, Buda and Pest. Both dating back over 2000 years and host to battle, siege and recovery, the districts are separated by the Danube and each celebrate their own customs and history. Nowadays, travelling across the river by tram, metro or bus couldn’t be easier for tourists looking to take in attractions from all areas of the city. Whether it’s the lively bars and restaurants of Southern Pest or the grand Parliament buildings and rolling hills of Buda that competes for your attention, we reckon the only real winner is the lucky visitor to fascinating Budapest…

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Offering the best views in the Budapest, the grand castle makes for a must-visit

Top spots…
For a view to rival all others, it’s all about the Buda Castle. Set atop the hillside and easily accessible by cable car or foot (we chose the first option), the historic Palace looks out over the city, river and bridges. Offering a panoramic view that certainly paints a pretty picture, you’ll need no filters to capture the sprawling cityscape and impress any number of Instagram followers. Whilst onsite, don’t pass up the chance to embrace Budapest’s rich history at the National Hungarian Museum, based within Buda Castle. Other notable city attractions include the triumphant Heroes’ Square, the Jewish Quarter and Dohany Street Synagogue, not to mention St Stephen’s Basilica where the breath-taking interior is only rivalled by the views from the top tower…

Boasting both indoor and outdoor spas, the city’s many baths offer a unique place to relax and unwind.

Boasting both indoor and outdoor spas, the city’s many baths offer a unique place to relax and unwind

Something different…
Thanks to the natural hot springs which bubble under Budapest, the city is the proud owner of more medicinal and thermal spas than any other city in the world. How’s that for a fun fact? Boasting both indoor and outdoor spas, the city’s many baths offer a unique place to relax and unwind. We took a trip to the famous Szechenyi Baths where we braved the 3 degree temperatures and hurried to the delightful waters of the huge 38 degree outdoor pool. Including both a whirlpool and natural Jacuzzi function, the sensation of sitting back and admiring the unique ‘wedding-cake’ structure of the spa building through the rising steam was one that was truly unlike any other. Our tub at home certainly can’t top that!

Budapest offers a plethora of dining experiences to suit every palette

Filling the void…
A long day exploring the city will certainly work up your appetite – which isn’t a problem as Budapest offers a plethora of dining experiences to suit every palette. Whether it’s traditional Hungarian cuisine (think hearty meats and stews) served in authentic eateries, or the world cuisine now readily available in cafes and restaurants throughout the city, there’s plenty to fill you up. After enjoying savoury pancakes and traditionally prepared meat on the first night of our stay, we became distracted by the tasty Turkish and Thai restaurants near our apartment for the remainder of the trip – not to mention the tasty breaded camembert served with blackcurrant dip served in all Hungarian McDonalds. With a glass of wine and pint of beer totalling the equivalent of £1 in many local bars, the merriment in Budapest is second-to-none. Want to feel it for yourself? Click here to get booking your trip…

Wowcher’s Ways to Win Hearts in Paris


Some sceptics have questioned whether Paris is the City of Love, but when in 2014 part of the Pont des Arts bridge collapsed under the weight of thousands of ‘love-locks’ left by smitten sightseers, the city’s reputation as a love nest was only cemented. From hand-in-hand strolls along the Seine to admiring the city skyline from Sacré-Cœur, Paris exudes amour – and who are we to deny its romance? To ensure your trip isn’t ruined by a fatal bridge flop, we suggest you twitterpated tourists steer clear of weighing down the Pont des Arts any further with your tokens of everlasting affection. Instead, follow our step-by-step guide to charming your chéri or chérie.

(The) LO(u)V(r)E
Take away the U and the R and Louvre spells love – coincidence? We think not. Since the château opened its doors as a museum in 1793, it’s been full of loved-up couples fighting to impress each other with their grasp of the art within. From Greek sculptures to Egyptian antiquities, the Louvre’s collection spans from about 7000 BC until 1848. No trip to the Louvre would be complete without laying eyes on the enigmatic Mona Lisa, so usher your lover to the museum’s most visited masterpiece and astonish them with a few facts you’ve practised in advance (for example, the Leonardo da Vinci painting was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 by an Italian criminal, returned only in 1913. FACT). Our top tip of all? Regardless of their gender, tell your treasure their smile is more mysterious than lady Lisa’s could ever be, while you peruse the painting.


Smothering Heights
Paris is teeming with sweeping ooh la la-worthy views, and there’s no better way to smother your sweetheart than to tell them they’re The One atop one of the city’s many viewpoints. Why not express your torrent of affection over a ride in the Funiculaire du Montmartre, or if you prefer the panting, sporadic approach, as you ascend the 1665 steps of the Eiffel Tower? Our favourite spot from which to contemplate the city with a loved one is alongside the grotesque gargoyles of Notre-Dame Cathedral. You’ll look utterly ravishing stood next to the surly sculptures as you gaze 115 feet down at Jean-Paul-II square, with beautiful views of the rippling River Seine.

Satisfying l’estomac
For a city frequented by canoodling, kissing couples, a fair amount of onion goes into the haute cuisine for which Paris is celebrated. Could this sweet pungency be traced to that certain je ne sais quoi that makes the French so irresistible? We’re not entirely convinced, but you mustn’t leave without trying classic French starter soupe à l’oignon, a buttery broth of silky onions topped with bubbling cheese. If that doesn’t get your senses stirred, slurp up another French favourite instead: oysters. The delicious aphrodisiacal dish is rich in zinc, thought to trigger sexual potency. Casanova allegedly ate 50 oysters a day to fuel his seduction of a trail of virgin nuns. Need we say more?


Literary Love
If the real love of your life is literature, then grab your unsuspecting sweetie and follow in the wining and dining footsteps of writers that once graced the streets of Paris. Head to the Left Bank (southern bank of the Seine) to see the literary haunts of expat writers Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, along with remnants of the explosive jazz age. The Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood lines the Left Bank and was the core of the existentialist movement during the 1940s and 1950s, ruled by Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Seated in the legendary Le Café de Flore from breakfast until dinner, the philosophers would draw crowds of intellectuals. Today the café is a tourist trap, where a croissant will cost you nearly the price of a checked-in bag on a Ryanair flight. But if your literary love is strong enough, you’ll shell out to soak up the artistic atmosphere of Le Café de Flore, leaving your luggage’s fate to the lobby boy you’ve affectionately named Pierre.

However you spend your stay in the City of Love, the most romantic gesture of all is to book a surprise trip to Paris for your lucky beloved. Make sure you look out for deals on Wow Go!

Fancy heading there yourself? You could win a 4* Valentine’s weekend in Paris for two including return flights by just clicking here!

The Wowcher Guide To Beautiful Cape Verde

capeverde4
Somewhere between the shores of Africa and the beaches of Brazil lies an arrow-shaped archipelago. You’ve reached Cape Verde, a mirage of windswept wonders and soulful serenades off the coast of Senegal. Geographically speaking, Cape Verde keeps its own company. A former Portuguese colony, many are surprised to know this unspoilt paradise lies just six hours from the UK. Here’s our pick of things to do and places to see during your stay…

Music
From lively lyrics to melancholy melodies, music is the essence of life in Cape Verde. Salsa, bossa nova and coladeira are all celebrated and much-loved favourites. You can enjoy the sounds of the island in the bars, in the cafés and on the sidewalks – it enlivens every corner. And while year-round serenades are to be expected, there’s no time quite like festival season to experience it best. We recommend the renowned Sao Vicente Carnival. An African take on the Brazilian carnival, the street parades begin on 17th February. Visiting in summer? Fear not. The Baía das Gatas Music Festival will see you partying under the August full moon. A midsummer night’s dream indeed… Read more