The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

Planning a last minute summer getaway? Here’s where some of our favourite travel bloggers recommend you jet off to…

If you still don’t have plans for the summer, fear not, because you could still bag a cheap last minute deal with travel agents like Thomson Holidays – but time is of the essence so get booking. Here’s a dose of holiday inspiration, helping you to whittle down your options, whether you’re a party animal or history buff, beach goer or culture vulture.

1. Dubrovnik, Croatia

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

So much more than a filming location for Star Wars: Episode VIII and Game of Thrones, where the King’s Landing scenes unfolded and dung was thrown at King Joffrey. Dubrovnik is a UNESCO world heritage site, famed for its seafood, freshly plucked from the Adriatic Sea. From September to October, you can expect sunny skies, warm sea and fewer crowds, so why not catch the cable car up to Mt Srđ for a bird’s eye view of the Baroque churches in the medieval walled city?

Travel blogger Natalie Redman from Up Your Vlog is planning a trip, telling us, “Known for it’s distinctive old town and gorgeous views, this city is fast becoming a popular tourist spot. I think this is also a place I’ve been looking at for mine and Sam’s holiday so keep your eyes peeled for a holiday post to find out where we decided to go!”

2. Budapest, Hungary

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

How about a trip to the Hungarian capital, Budapest? The city’s bursting with neo-graphic and art nouveau architecture, from Roman ruins to the Jewish District. And there’s plenty to keep you entertained, whether you feast on fresh goulash soups and Palinka fruit brandy at The Great Market or catch the river cruise past Parliament, cross the iconic Chain Bridge over the Danube River or watch a fountain light show on Margret Island in the middle of the water.

There’s no better place for a spot of rest and relaxation, enjoy the massages and wellness treatments on offer at the famous thermal baths, such as Szechenyi. Rhian Westbury has visited Budapest twice in September, saying, “There’s plenty to explore in the city, but with so many natural hot springs, you can spend a day relaxing in the warm waters and getting a massage.”

3. Barcelona, Spain

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without one of the oldest cities in the world. Barcelona has it all, from tapas bars and white sand beaches to one of Spain’s most iconic shopping streets, Las Ramblas. Take in the sites, like La Sagrada Família, Park Güell and iconic Gaudí landmarks on a bike tour through the narrow streets or climb hilltop Montjuïc for panoramic views, sculpture gardens and a trip to the castle.

Emily Ray, The Cosy Traveller, couldn’t imagine a better last minute holiday hot spot than Barcelona. “Colourful, world-famous art, delicious food on every corner – and when you get tired of that, just head to the beach! I’ve never visited a city that’s offered so much. It’s great for those who want to sunbathe, for those who want to shop, and for those who want to sightsee.”

4. Ibiza, Spain

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

If your idea of a good time involves a whole lot of sun and partying, Ibiza is your rite of passage this summer. Imagine dancing the nights away with a Pina Colada in hand at Club Pacha, throwing shapes at the Bora Bora parties on Playa D’en Bossa or tucking into Spanish Paella on Sunset Strip in San Antonio. And if you need to recharge, hop across for a mud bath on the neighbouring island, Es Palmador.

Travel blogger Rachel Nicole visited Ibiza a few times, seeing every side of the Spanish island, “From the insane superclubs, incredible sunsets, picturesque beaches and charming capital city, there’s something for everyone…  Aside from pushing myself out of my comfort zone to go parasailing, experiencing the beautiful sunset at Cafe Mambo and seeing David Guetta at Ushuia were highlights of the trip. I do have to admit, it’s quite an expensive island but it’s well worth it!”

5. Naples, Italy

The 5 Best Last Minute Breaks in Europe

Naples boasts three castles and a plethora of world class museums, such as the Museo Archeologico Nazionale showcasing frescoes, sculptures and mosaics from excavations in Pompeii. And it’s also home to the best pizza in the world, so venture down to Naples Harbour and wrap your lips around a slice.

Travel blogger Oana Roua has been to Italy more than 15 times, from Alpine top to volcanic bottom, but it’s Italy’s third largest city that keeps her coming back. She explained, “Love food? Then head down to Napoli and enjoy the city which gave pizza to the world: a stone oven baked dough topped with tomatoes which grow on the volcanic soils at the base of Mount Vesuvius, mozzarella di Bufala Campana, basil and olive oil. So simple but so delicious!”

Cover image of Barcelona copyright Rceluch, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Dubrovnik image copyright Jorge Franganillo, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Budapest image copyright ParisSharing, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Barcelona image copyright Umberto Nicoletti, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Ibiza copyright Michela Simoncini, licensed for use under Creative Commons. Napoli image copyright NWojtowicz, licensed for use under Creative Commons.

How to Get Cheap and Cheerful Thomson Holidays

Pay less for your Thomson Holidays by taking your child for free, haggling with your travel agent or going to the right place at the right time. Here’s how to get yourself a bargain summer break, winter holiday or 2018 Thomson trip…

1. Chose a cheap place to visit

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Surprisingly, it could be cheaper to whisk your family away to Bali than Spain this summer 2017. Thanks to a risky exchange rate, long haul exotic adventures could prove cheaper than a traditional European break. So if you’re serious about saving money, why not trek through jungle, sail around tropical islands or explore Bangkok in Thailand with Thomson Holidays?

2. Go all-inclusive

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Depending on your package, Thomson all-inclusive holidays promise three meals a day, as well as snacks like afternoon tea, soft or alcoholic drinks and all manner of fun. Think volleyball or football and evening entertainment, like stage shows, barbecues and quizzes – leaving you to relax knowing everything’s paid for and also stay on budget.

3. Explore Thomson last minute deals

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Didn’t book nine months in advance? Browse Thomson late deals up to eight weeks before you want to go – the ‘Last Minute Holiday’ filter gives you a choice of summer and winter 2017 deals, last minute long or short haul trips, city or beach breaks. Save £425 per person on a week-long Thomson all-inclusive holiday to Greece, for example.

Call Thomson Holidays before booking, to check the price online is actually still available.

4. Be flexible with your dates and flights

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Searching for your Thomson Holiday online? Tick ‘flexible by +/ -3 days’ to see if you could get the same trip for less. Plus, Thomson Holidays’ Flexible Flying program lets you chose your flights with other airlines – giving you the chance to fly for less mid-week or at a more convenient hour. Use the ‘Flight Insight’ tool on ‘momondo.co.uk’ to compare 150 routes or try to predict the best time to buy your flights on ‘kayak.co.uk’ which tells you whether the cost is likely to go up or down within seven days.

When you book your own flights, Thomson Holidays will take 70% of the cost as your deposit, leaving you to pay just 30% of your flight cost eight weeks later.

5. Take your kid for free

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Book a Thomson Holidays trip for two full-paying adults and your little one could come for free – flying for free, sleeping free in selected hotel rooms, apartments or villas, eating for free on the same board as you and riding the free transfers to and from the airport. Thomson’s free child places sure are generous.

6. Spread the cost of your Thomson Holidays

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Take advantage of Thomson’s Low Deposit Scheme to help you split the cost of your holiday. Pay a partial deposit to secure your holiday and hand over the rest eight weeks later. That’s £75 per person for your short or mid-haul holiday, for example, or £125 per person to book your long-haul trip. And if you decide to cancel your holiday within 14 days, you should get a full refund.

7. Haggle with Thomson Holidays’ travel agents

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Decide the highest price you’re willing to pay for your Thomson Holiday, before calling today. Aim for the biggest discount by asking them to improve the cost per person, not the total cost of your holiday. And if that doesn’t work, ask if there’s a discount for paying the full amount immediately or whether extras like car hire and days out can be included in the price.

You’re more likely to whittle the cost down on long haul trips, because travel agents have to sacrifice their commission to give you a discount. But a slim chance is still worth taking for cheaper Thomson Holidays.

The 8 Unmissable TV Shows of the Summer

From brand new Game of Thrones to an oh-so relateable comedy and an apocalyptic finale. Here’s the best of summer TV 2017…

Tune into Sky or Apple Music, Amazon Prime or Channel 4 to discover your new TV show addiction.

1. Riviera

Spend 10 episodes in the sun-drenched and seductive French Riviera – home to American art collector Georgina. When a bomb blast kills her tycoon husband at a superyacht party, she’s left to deal with his shady connections.

Thriller fans, tune into Riviera from Thursday 15th June on Sky Atlantic.

2. The Crystal Maze

Will you start the fans please! Richard Ayoade is resurrecting 90s game show, The Crystal Maze for Channel 4 this summer. Teams of five will be pitted against each other in ultimate battle of brains and brawns – watch them navigate the Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Future time zones in a maze masterminded by the original designer, James Dillon. To the crystal dome…

Watch The Crystal Maze on Friday 23rd June 2017 at 9pm on Channel 4.  

3. The Leftovers

An apocalyptic event, the ‘Sudden Departure’, killed 2% of the world’s population seven years ago. The anniversary could see rain wipe the world clean and only one man can make it all stop – it’s not the US President, intent on nuclear war. Comedy, horror and flashbacks to a prophecy in 1844 combine in a recipe for summer entertainment – The Leftovers is criminally underrated.

Watch the end of the world as you know it from Tuesday 4th July 2017 on Sky Atlantic.

4. Game of Thrones

Winter, war, wildlings and warriors are coming to Sky Atlantic this summer. Yes, the wait is over at long last – Game of Thrones normally airs in April. It’s anyone’s guess whether Cersi will still be sat on the Iron Throne by the end of episode seven. But if rumours are true, George R R Martin has remained true to notorious form, giving the penultimate series one heck of a cliff hanger.

Watch Game of Thrones at 2am or 9pm on Monday 17th July 2017 on Sky Atlantic.

5. The Tick

Like comic-book heroes that take their destiny, but not themselves too seriously? Catch Amazon’s faithful recreation of The Tick, a giant blue ‘insect’ with enviable antenna and Arthur Everest as his sidekick. Is the man insane? Perhaps, but he could also the hero he imagines himself to be.

Fans of the 90s cartoon simply have to watch Amazon Prime’s The Tick on Friday 25th August 2017 this summer.  

6. Insecure

Need a laugh this summer? Insecure will make you feel good. Follow three Los Angeles locals through the ups and downs of their professional and personal lives. When you last saw her at the end of series one, Rae was sobbing on a sofa, because she didn’t end up with Lawrence – the guy she spent her entire 20s with. Will the love triangle be fixed or are her hopes totally dashed?

Watch Insecure throughout August 2017 on Sky Atlantic.

7. Long Strange Trip

Musos aren’t left out either this summer, because you have the Long Strange Trip to look forward to on Amazon Prime. The six part documentary TV series will get you behind the scenes access into Grateful Dead’s rock’n’roll world, showing you what spurred them on to musical greatness and how they rode the wave of worldwide fame for over 30 years.

Catch the premier of Long Strange Trip on Friday 2nd June 2017 on Amazon Prime.

8. Carpool Karaoke

Apple Music’s first TV series is coming out this summer and it’s a tried and tested hit. Millions have watched superstars belting out their own smash hits, in a car with The Late Late show host James Corden – the Carpool Karaoke segment featured superstars like Adele or Sia, Harry Styles and Katy Perry. Now it’s its own show, with a new celebrity host interviewing the chart-toppers each episode.