"Marrakech - The Red City is an exotic destination at a short-haul distance."

 

Istanbul

The current European Capital of Culture is this year's hottest city break and the place where East meets West

Best place to eat Dervis Aile Cay Bahçesi has the best tea garden in the city, with views across to the Blue Mosque. Alfresco all-day dining  and comfy sofas for some post-prandial nargileh action - that's bubbly water pipes to you and me.

Best place to stay The cool W Istanbul hotel kick-started the development of the hip Besiktas district. Now, Christian Dior, Paul Smith and Jimmy Choo are there, too.

Must-see The Museum of Innocence, inspired by the eponymous novel by the Turkish Nobel-Prize-winning writer Orhan Pamuk, opens in the Çukurcuma district just in
time for summer.

Must-do To celebrate World Music Day on 21 June, Music Stops is a series of open-air
concerts around the city. The music starts on the Asia side, in the Beyoglu district, before crossing the Bosphorus to the amazingly beautiful Sultanahmet.

Info: wistanbul.com.tr/ en.istanbul2010.org

Copenhagen

Enjoy long Danish summer days, filled with sunshine and good times

Best place to eat The Norrebro Bryghus microbrewery is very Copenhagen: cosy, relaxed and eco-conscious. Sample hearty local fare and pints of Globe Ale, its new carbon dioxide-neutral beer.
Best place to stay The Scandic Palace Hotel has big, stately rooms right in the heart of town.

Must-see The Tivoli blends family-friendly rides and flower-strewn gardens. A ride on the Flying Carpet, named after the story by the city's most famous adopted son, Hans Christian Andersen, is the quintessential experience.

Must-do Hop on board the city's new Segway tour for an insider view of the cool districts and regular stops at the guide's favourite cafés.

Info: visitcopenhagen.com, scandichotels.com, tivoli.dk, segwaytourscph.dk

Marrakech

The Red City is an exotic destination at a short-haul distance. Jamie Oliver was there recently and the city also features in this summer's hot new Sex and the City film

Best place to eat Le Yacout, Marrakech serves up traditional Moroccan fare deep in the labyrinthine Medina. After an aperitif on the rooftop, head downstairs to the cushion-filled salon.

Best place to stay Riad Chi-Chi
is a stylish but homely guesthouse buried deep in the seething heart of the Medina. Drink mint tea on the roof terrace or eat in by candlelight in the central atrium.

Must-see Dusk in Jemaa el Fna, the city's main square, is a heady mix of street entertainers, exotic aromas and makeshift dinner tables. Savour the atmosphere over a freshly-squeezed juice at one of the square's juice stalls.

Must-do Cooking schools are increasingly popular. Try Jnane Tamsna in the Palmeraie district, where a private cookery class is followed by an eat-what-you-cooked lunch; it all
costs a very reasonable £45 per person.

Info: visitmorocco.com, riadchichi.com, jnanetamsna.com

Tenerife

Tenerife is synonymous with beach breaks, but its more dramatic scenery featured in Clash of the Titans

Best place to eat The Bodegas Monje winery serves up traditional recipes in its wine-cellar restaurant, and offers cookery courses and wine tastings.

Best place to stay The Gran Hotel Bahia Del Duque Resort, handyfor South Tenerife Airport, has a spectacular setting - with an ocean-front lawn, sub-tropical gardens and easy access to the beach.

Must-see The phenomenal lunar landscape of Teide National Park is home to Mount Teide, Spain's highest mountain. Catch the cable car to up near the peak - the air may
be thin, but the view is spectacular.

Must-do Southern Tenerife is home to the lush, Thai-themed Siam Park water park. The breathtaking Tower of Power ride will soon sort the men from the boys!

Info: webtenerifeuk.co.uk, bodegasmonje.com, bahia-duque.com, siampark.net/en/

Malta

This tiny country has an unusually high number of historical sites - its Neolithic temples make Stonehenge look like a whippersnapper.

Best place to eat For a taste of local colour, Rubino has no menu, no prices, but great food (with dinner around £22) and an intimate, hidden-gem feel.

Best place to stay The Castille Hotel in Valletta is just a stone's throw from the Upper Barracca Garden, with a superb rooftop restaurant and a frisson of faded glamour.

Must-see The entire capital city, Valletta, is a World Heritage Site. Stroll around the Grand Harbour, marvel at the Baroque opulence of St John's Co-Cathedral and drop into the Museum of Archaeology.

Must-do Join in the action on any Saturday night during summer at the local festa, or street party, with music, food, drink and firework displays.

Info: visitmalta.com

Not keen on the beach?

There are plenty of big sporting events around Europe this summer. Late tickets are available and they're all a short flight from Manchester Airport.

Tour de France

When: 3-25 July

Highlight: The final triumphant parade of the riders down the Champs Elysées that traditionally closes the race. Great Britain's Team Sky is competing.

Fly to: Paris

INFO: letour.fr

20th European Athletic Championships

When: 27 July to 1 August

Highlight: Get in the spirit for the London 2012 Olympics by catching the next-generation stars of track and field.

Fly to: Barcelona

INFO: bcn2010.org

Danish Open

When: 2-8 August Highlight: Featuring tennis' top female players, come along to see blonde bombshell Caroline Wozniacki defend her 2009 title on home turf.

Fly to: Copenhagen

INFO: e-boksdanishopen.dk

F1 Belgian Grand Prix

When: 27-29 August

Highlight: The circuit at Spa- Francorchamps is a true test for Hamilton and Button, renowned for its unpredictable weather.

Fly to: Brussels

INFO: formula1.com

Closer to Home

There are some great places to visit all over Europe but if you're looking for something a bit closer to home try a beach getaway and a nice Hotel. With plenty of small towns and hotels throughout the UK there are some beautiful destinations to get away for the weekend. Try a visit to Newcastle or a  hotel in Llandudno, both coasts have a lot to offer and can be easily accessed by train or car.

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