21 March 2016 by Anna Staford
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the world’s most stunning and best preserved walled cities with its breathtaking location on the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic. The old town is a no-car zone, so you can walk freeing through the historic streets. During its Golden Age in the 16th century, Dubrovnik had one of the world’s largest merchant naval fleets and its population became rich through their skilled diplomacy and maritime trade. Today visitors can take a walk along the 2km old city wall around the old town perimeter and visit the historic harbour with its seafood cafés, city gates and Onofrio’s Fountain dating back to the 1430’s. Visiting in spring means that you can avoid the peak tourist season in July- Sept, where it can be overcrowded and very hot.
Located in the northwest of Italy, the four key lakes are Lake Maggiore, Lake Lugano, Lake Como and Lake Garda. There are also several smaller lakes and Alpine tarns in this area if you wanted to explore further. Como and Maggiore probably offer the most stunning mountain backdrops. Bellagio, on Lake Como, is one of the most picturesque towns with its oleander and lime tree lined promenade. Lake Maggiore has the Borromean Islands and Stresa with its turn of the 20th century elegance. Visit Bardolino and try the locally grown wine, or Sirmione with its fortress and grotto on Lake Garda. Lake Lugano, the glacial lake shared with Switzerland offers Campoine de Italia – an Italian ‘exclave’ surrounded by Switzerland.
Europe’s major ski resorts all still have excellent snow conditions and plenty of sunshine, with many resorts having fresh snow fall in the last few days - so it’s not too late to head for the slopes this season. The French Alps and Pyrenees have good coverage at all levels and all main pistes are in great shape, as are the Austrian and Swiss Alps. Italy offers excellent conditions across the Italian Alps and the Dolomites with the majority of pistes open. One great advantage of Italy is that the cost of food and accommodation can be significantly less than some of the traditional resorts in France, Austria and Switzerland. Meals on the piste are particularly good value – especially if you are going as a family.
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