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10 of the best tapas bars and restaurants in Almería, Spain

10 of the best tapas bars and restaurants in Almería, Spain As Spain’s gastronomic capital for 2019, Almería will be in the spotlight. Here, the author of a new book on Andalucían food picks her favourite places to eat Some find it a bit of a mystery that Almería has been named Spain’s gastronomic capital for 2019. The modest city in the south-eastern corner of the peninsula is often overlooked and draws fewer visitors than the rest of Andalucía. Yet it boasts Europe’s largest Islamic fortress, after Granada’s Alhambra, with 10th-century walls clambering over two rocky hills, peering down over the compact city below. Islamic flavours don’t stop there as, following centuries of connecting Almería’s traders with the Arab…

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10 of the best rural breaks in the UK

10 of the best rural breaks in the UK The UK countryside comes alive in spring and these breaks – everything from seal-spotting to cycling and even wine-tasting – make the most of it The North York Moors come alive in spring, with heather creating a sweet-scented carpet of colour for walkers – and there are plenty of pubs and tearooms for refuelling. Join a three-night walking break with HF Holidays for guided moor and coast hikes from a base at Larpool Hall, Whitby. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the 109-mile Cleveland Way, celebrated with WalkFest, a programme of guided walks and children’s treasure hunts from 24-27 May • Book it From £289 for three nights’…

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10 of the best activity holidays worldwide: readers’ travel tips

10 of the best activity holidays worldwide: readers’ travel tips Kayaking, cycling, running and hiking from the Andes to Iran … Our tipsters aren’t content with a book and deckchair For climbing and scrambling with a twist head to Le Bourg-d’Oisans in the French Alps south-east of Grenoble. Stay in one of the many campsites (Le Château de Rochetaillée is excellent) before finding La Montagne Sports shop in town who will kit you out for €10 per day with everything you need for the area’s seven spectacular via ferrata routes. On another day, head an hour’s drive west to Alpes du Grand Serre and experience the thrill of scrambling, climbing and traversing along rock, over a raging river and…

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10 of the best cognac distillers, tours and tastings, France

10 of the best cognac distillers, tours and tastings, France Exploring Cognac and the Charente region gives an insight into a brandy rich in history – with a barrel full of tastings on offer Cognac is one of France’s most iconic products, yet little of it is consumed at home: 98% is exported. Authentic cognac can only be produced from a specific region but this vast vineyard stretches from the grand town of Cognac itself inland across the Charente region and over to the Atlantic coast. It is a delight to explore, with winemakers, distillers and the famed maisons de négoces (cognac merchants) open for visits. Most people begin in Cognac with one of the multimedia tours (around €20)…

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10 of the best ethical travel companies

10 of the best ethical travel companies One way travellers can make a positive contribution to their destination is by holidaying with a company that puts something back into the local community One of the first carbon-neutral tour operators, Intrepid has invested more than £2.5m into grassroots projects globally and donated 100% of profits from a season of trips to Nepal to help rebuild after the 2015 earthquake. The first company to drop elephant rides from its trips, Intrepid is a leader on child protection, uses local guides and aims to double female tour leader numbers by 2020. On its 15-day Kathmandu to Delhi trip, guests stay at Madi Valley homestay, which it helped set up with WWF (from…

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10 of the best ethical holidays: readers’ travel tips

10 of the best ethical holidays: readers’ travel tips Trips that respect the environment and benefit local people make for particularly enriching breaks, as our picks from Belfast to Costa Rica show I was amazed to discover that it is possible to enjoy the extreme beauty of Ladakh while treading lightly and investing locally. Plastic-free co-operative shops that would be the envy of Brighton and Bristol abound in the capital, Leh. At shops like Dzomsa on Old Fort Road you can fill up your water bottles, scoop bulk fruit, nuts and herbal teas into paper bags and pick up unpackaged, locally made soap and knitted goods – the sun-dried Ladakhi apricots are wonderful. We trekked for eight days through…

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10 great European art anniversaries in 2019

10 great European art anniversaries in 2019 From 100 years of Bauhaus to 500 years since Leonardo’s death, a host of landmark art events and exhibitions open around Europe this year It is 350 years since the death of Rembrandt van Rijn. There is a year-long programme of events in nine Dutch cities, focusing on Rembrandt and the Dutch golden age (listings at holland.com). In Amsterdam, the Rijksmuseum (15 Feb-10 June) will display all of its 22 paintings, 60 drawings and 300 engravings – the biggest Rembrandt collection ever seen in a single exhibition. Later in the year it has a Rembrandt and Velazquez show (11 Oct-19 Jan), while the Rembrandt House Museum has three exhibitions and the City…

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A local’s guide to Palermo, Sicily: 10 top tips

A local’s guide to Palermo, Sicily: 10 top tips It may still be basking in the glow of being Italian Capital of Culture 2018 but the city has been a cultural melting pot since antiquity The Sicilian capital, called the “Kingdom of the sun” by invading Normans in the 12th century, has been a cultural melting pot since Phoenicians and Greeks fought over it in the 5th and 6th centuries BC. Sitting close to where Europe ends and Africa begins, Palermo bears the scars – and echoes the glories – of centuries of domination. Once Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman and ultimately Italian – unified with the mainland only in 1861 – it has a relatively recent “made in Italy”…

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10 great affordable winter sun holidays: readers’ travel tips

10 great affordable winter sun holidays: readers’ travel tips Dodge the British winter, without spending a fortune, with readers’ picks in Spain, including the Canaries, and bargains in north, west and South Africa We escaped to the north-west coast of Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands, for a week before Christmas. With flights from £80, reasonable car hire (£50) and a great Airbnb in Lajares (£30 a night), it was a great week of cycling, surfing, hiking, boat trips to the small island off the north coast and epic sunsets from the lovely fishing village of El Cotillo. Lajares is fun, a lively village with cafes, shops and bike hire and it’s in a national park with a backdrop of…

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10 of the best sustainable hotels in south-east Asia

10 of the best sustainable hotels in south-east Asia In Thailand, Vietnam and across Asia, these eco-lodges and hotels are recycling, composting and reclaiming to reduce their impact on the environment Yes, some of the structures are made form recycled shipping containers. And yes, recycled paper is used as insulation to keep the buildings cool. Inverter air conditioners and LED lights save energy and refillable glass water bottles for guests eliminate the need for plastic, while composted waste keeps the garden green – and the mojitos minty. But what is really remarkable about The Yard (a reference to both the greenery and a play on the Thai word for “relatives”) is its location at the heart of the galleries,…

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