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Overseas holidays

Spain top of tourist destination list

Spanish attractions have dominated a list of Europe’s top landmarks.

At the top of the Travellers' Choice 2013 rankings is Cordoba’s Great Cathedral and Mosque. The attraction is a World Heritage Site littered with impressive Renaissance and Moorish architecture. The Alcazar of Seville, which is Europe’s oldest royal palace still in use also makes the top ten, as does Granada’s 9th Century fortified palace, the Alhambra. Completing Spanish representation in the top ten is the 13th-century Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Gaudi’s stunning modern cathedral in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia, was 12th.

Italy had three landmarks in the top ten, including St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome. Angus Struthers, spokesman for TripAdvisor, which compiled the rankings, commented: “These awards honour the world's best attractions as decided by those who matter most: travellers themselves. Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, said "To inspire travelers setting out on summer trips, TripAdvisor has named the top attractions across the globe based on the valuable feedback from millions worldwide.

"Honoring more than 1,200 winners, these remarkable sights offer enriching and entertaining experiences for travelers of all ages." Spain is one of the most accessible countries in Europe, with flights to all major destinations from a number of British airports, including Luton, Gatwick, Stanstead and Heathrow in London.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Festival fans book flights to Hungary

Festival fans will be booking flights from London and other south-east airports this summer along with their tickets to one of Hungary's most iconic music dates. Blur, Dizzee Rascal and Nick Cave have all been booked to play at this year's 21st Sziget Festival (August 5-12), staged on an island in the heart of the Danube in Budapest.

The city's Budapest Airport has plenty of reliable transport links with shuttle bus transfers to most parts of the metropolis near wherever you may be staying. It is anticipated that about 380,000 people will travel to Obuda Island - now been renamed the Island of Freedom - in the capital of Budapest. The festival, which includes a cultural programme of arts, sculptures and light shows as well as live music, will this year see an added attraction. A huge Ferris wheel has been placed in Budapest's Erzsebet Square since June 7.

It is better known as the Sziget Eye, stands at 65 metres tall (213ft) and will be taken to the island in August ahead of the festival. Other fresh features for this year's festival include a beach, allowing people to swim in the Danube, and the Cirque du Sziget venue, hosting circus performers.

Copyright Press Association 2013

Reggae festival is perfect escape

Should the summer take a turn for the worse, Brits might want to consider soothing their rain-battered souls with a week of blissed-out Jamaican sun and sounds. Billed as “the greatest reggae show on earth,” Reggae Sumfest 2013 takes place in Jamaica’s idyllic Montego Bay from July 21 to 27. Headliners at the festival are set to include Damian ‘Jr Gong’ Marley, R&B singer Miguel, Beres Hammond, I-Octane and Barrington Levy.

This year’s festival is kicking off on July 21 with the Beach Party, and will also feature a Dancehall Night and two International Nights. First held in 1993, Reggae Sumfest has attracted some of the world’s most prestigious performers, including Usher, R Kelly, Ne-Yo, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Akon, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lionel Richie, Sean Paul and Shaggy.

Montego Bay is the fourth largest city in Jamaica and a popular tourist destination thanks to its picturesque low mountains, turquoise blue seas and stunning sandy beaches. With duty free shopping available on the city’s “hip strip”, Montego Bay is a perfect destination for all, including water sports enthusiasts, sun worshippers and reggae lovers alike, with flights available from Heathrow and Stansted. “I am really pleased with the line-up this year,” Johnny Gourzong, executive director of Summerfest Productions, said. “Barrington Levy, who we don’t see a lot of, is back on the Sumfest stage and I am really looking forward to that.”

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Summer of rap and rock in Bulgaria

Bulgaria has long been known for its sensational sunny Black Sea beaches and great value mountain ski resorts. And this summer the music scene will add to the excitement with a series of events around the country. They promise something for everyone with a diverse mix of local and global acts including rock, electronica and hip-hop. Gangsta rapper Rick Ross will open the 359 Hip-Hop Festival at the International Fair Ground in Plovdiv on June 20.

The following night features some of the biggest names in Bulgarian hip-hop including headliners 100 Kila. Skateboarding competitions and a graffiti workshop are among other attractions at the three-day event which reaches a climax on June 22 with Bad Girls Night, headlined by Ciara. Electronic music fest Solar Summer 2013 runs at Cacao Beach, Sunny Beach, from July 26 to August 24.

For those who prefer their music heavier, Joe Lynn Turner, best known for his work with Rainbow, is the special guest at the first Varna Rock Festival at the Lokomotiv Stadium on June 27, 28 and 29. The festival is part of the Black Sea city’s bid to be named European Capital of Culture 2019. Events continue the following month with Sofia Rocks 2013 on July 2 and Spirit of Burgas on July 27 and 28. German heavy metal legends Rammstein top the bill at the fourth annual Sofia Rocks at Vassil Levski stadium.

Copyright © Press Association 2013

Tourists transfer affections to football

Holidaymakers are getting ready to transfer their affections to football next year - as the countdown to the 2014 Brazil World Cup begins. Wednesday (June 12) marked the event being exactly one year away, and Hotels.com report a surge in booking interest. Holidaymakers flying from South-East England airports are starting to register an interest to ensure that they don't miss out.

Searches for hotels in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro overall have grown by 32% and 36% respectively over the first part of this year, say Hotels.com. It also reports that all of Brazil’s World Cup venue cities have seen double or triple-digit increases this year in the volume of searches. Salvador heads this list with searches jumping by 126%, while Fortaleza has seen interest rise by 108% and Curitiba searches have risen by 82%.

Latest figures announced by the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism show that interest in the country is rising, with 155,548 Brits making the trip last year – a leap of 4% on the previous year. Overall, the country attracted 5.4 million travellers last year – a 4.5% increase on 2011. Hotels.com's Alison Couper said: “It’s great to see interest is building in Brazil ahead of next year’s World Cup.”

Copyright © Press Association 2013