The top 10 holiday destinations in 2013

Admit it. At least once since Christmas Day you have dreamed about getting away from it all – pictured yourself lazing in the sun on a golden sandy beach with the warm sea just a step away, holding a cool refreshing drink in one hand and a great book in the other.

Well dream no longer, because January is THE time to start getting organised for your 2013 plans. But before you can start to seek out the best deal you’ll need to decide on where you to go.  Here is my round up of 10 destinations that will satisfy families, couples, groups and singles this coming year.

1. The Balearic Islands

The classic Spanish islands of Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza can really offer something for everyone. And don’t forget Formentera just a 30-minute hop from Ibiza by ferry.  They offer value for money, short flying times of just over two hours and accommodation of every style and budget level. So whether you want hip and chic or easy going and kid-friendly you will find something to match.

Majorca – the largest island, with full on all action resorts such as Magalluf, wide sandy family orientated Alcudia or get away from it all coves such as Sa Coma. And no visit is complete without a trip to Palma the capital for the stunning Gothic cathedral and excellent shopping and food.

Menorca – this island is one of the best family destinations in the Med. Gently sloping sand beaches, plenty of self-catering and villa choices and lots of sea food restaurants in resorts such as Son Bou.

Ibiza – with its little sister, Formentera this island packs a punch for both families and fun-seekers. From international clubbing venues such as Pacha and Es Paradis, to the sophistication of Ibiza Town, through to quiet resorts such as Portinatx and family favourites such as Santa Eulalia, you can make your own holiday on this island.

2. Florida, USA

Many will head to Orlando for their first ever holiday in the United States. Drawn by the theme parks of Disney and Universal to name but two, families love to let the kids go wild in this entertainment paradise.

But there are other sides to Florida. Miami offers a superb city break or a base for a longer break including a Caribbean cruise. South Beach is packed with art deco buildings, trendy bars, eateries and clubs.

Or head to the beaches of the Gulf Coast. St Petersburg, Naples and Clearwater offer miles of sandy beaches to counteract the excess of Orlando. And of course the famous Florida Keys string out from the south of the Sunshine State ending at hedonistic Key West.

3. Greece and her islands

Riots, economic disaster, strikes and turmoil. Sounds like a great holiday destination eh? Yet despite the media headlines in 2012, Greece had a record year for arrivals. Why? Put simply, the beach resorts of the Greek islands and mainland saw no problems at all and those who ventured there enjoyed great offers in the hotels, restaurants and bars as the Greeks looked to drive as much in as possible from holidaymakers.

And 2013 will see a huge push from the Greeks to lure even more of us to Athens for city breaks and to the islands for beach holidays. I went to the capital in 2012 and loved it. This year it’s time to hit one of the many islands. With at least 25 to pick from with direct flights from the UK you are spoiled for choice.

4. Turkey

Just over the Aegean Sea from Greece are the beach resorts of Turkey. From Marmaris to Gumbet, Olu Deniz to Side and Kusadasi to Altinkum, take your pick from nearly 50 resort towns.

This destination has to be the king of all-inclusive holidays in the Med with a huge range of hotels offering this cost-conscious holiday solution. And if you don’t fancy lazing around in the hot sun then you can opt for a gulet cruise, sailing along the Turquoise Coast and calling in at various ports and marinas along the way.

Istanbul offers an exotic city break with its skyline of minarets and domes, bazaars chock full of bargains and superb nightlife and high-end shopping.

5. Croatia

The former Yugoslavian state of Croatia is once again back in the limelight as its tourist industry once again takes off with visitors from the UK. Whilst it is not the cheapest of destinations, when you are there it offers something different to much of the Med.

Explore historic Dubrovnik, sail amongst the hundreds of islands of the Dalmatian coast or visit the resort towns along the Istrian Riviera such as Rovinj, Porec and Pula.  Standards are high, much of the accommodation is hotel-based and hiring a car will let you get out and about to see the pine clad coastline and sleepy inland villages.

6. The Algarve, Portugal

Easy, reassuring, low cost and offering good quality, the Algarve consistently draws Brits in their thousands each year. Sports lovers enjoy the golf and tennis, spa lovers seek out the many hotels offering pampering and families flock to the beach resorts of Praia da Luz.

The Atlantic coastline offers party resorts such as one half of Albufeira as well as sleepy getaways like Olhos D’Agua and Sao Rafael. Restaurants feature freshly caught sea food as their speciality and if you fancy a day out then head into the Monchique Hills for stunning views of the coast and sleepy mountain villages.

7. Thailand

The long haul destination of Thailand continues to offer not only incredible value but also a range of beach holiday styles from quiet and remote to action packed party towns.  And this year, Thomson Holidays launches its new Dreamliner 787 service to the holiday island of Phuket. The Gatwick service starting in November wil offer the only non-stop service from the UK and with its sister brand First Choice we will begin to see all-inclusive options for the first time in this country.

Add in the new Emirates service to Phuket via Dubai, and Brits can access the holiday-friendly south west resorts more easily than ever. Koh Samui, Koh Lak, Koh Phangan and Krabi all offer tropical paradise beaches, visits to temples and snorkelling with exotic fish that can match anything that Phuket itself or the Phi Phi Islands can offer. And don’t forget the food, Thai curries and fresh tropical fruits.

8. Italy

Italy is the country that is blessed with more historic sites than probably any other location in the world offering beaches, culture, cities and ‘food, glorious food’ on its holiday menu.

For beaches head to the stylish Venice Lido, the island of Sardinia or the southern coasts of Calabria and Puglia. Or of course you can sun yourself in the resorts of the Neapolitan Riviera such as Sorrento and Amalfi.

Take a city break to Florence, Pisa, Venice, Milan or Rome to check out art, history and of course shopping and the fabulous restaurants.  La Dolce Vita it sure is.

Of fly into Sicily for incredible views and history or to Tuscany for rolling landscapes packed with ancient villages.

9. Sri Lanka

Tipped as one of the success stories for 2013, Sri Lanka is back on the up. New flights with British Airways enable you to fly direct AND combine the Indian Ocean Island with a holiday in the Maldives.

The beach resorts are ideal for lazing around under the palm trees while planning days out to see tea plantations, huge reclining Buddha’s and temples and elephant orphanages. The Sri Lankans are friendly and hospitable people while value for money in this destination is very good.  In fact a Post Office survey showed it to be one of the cheapest destinations for Brits abroad.

10. North Africa

OK I am cheating a bit here but Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt are all well and truly open for business after political unrest in recent years. All-inclusive holidays are the norm to the beach resorts and all are operating safely, with holidaymakers reporting lots of offers in the resorts to keep costs down. And of course it is rare that the sun does not shine, just make sure you can cope with the heat in the peak months.

The Red Sea holiday resorts of the Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada areas in Egypt are packed with high-end hotels at great prices, all offering snorkelling and diving among the exotic fish and corals. I was only snorkelling in this sea last week and can justify its claims as being one of the best destinations for enjoying the underwater paradise and getting a holiday.

Moroccan resorts of Agadir and the city of Marrakech give you a real mix of Arabia and Africa in one hit and with a flying time less than the Canary Islands. Check out the bazaars for bargains and haggle for a real deal on some truly original home wares.

Tunisia offers sandy beaches and great service along with sophisticated marinas and desert adventures to see film locations such as Star Wars and raiders of the Lost Ark. But for those looking for paradise without spending a fortune then fly to the Tunisian island of Djerba for pure white sands and get away from it all hotels.

So what are you waiting for? Get researching now or check out the many other holiday destinations on offer.

And if you thought you could not afford your dream destination then compare one destination against another with our new holiday vs holiday comparison.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing.

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