Marco Polo’s Top 5 End of Summer Destinations + GIVEAWAY

The summer holidays may be almost over but there is no reason not to book a quick getaway and return to work or to your studies feeling just that little bit more relaxed. We at Marco Polo have compiled our top 5 end of summer destinations, and to sweeten it up even more, one lucky commenter is going to receive five copies of our Marco Polo Spiral Guides of their choice and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera! 

Photo credit: SarahFunky


Croatia is an immensely popular destination these days, and for good reason! Full of history and beautiful nature (just look at that picture taken at the Krak National Park!) it is definitely worth visiting at least once in your life – though once you have been there, you may find yourself wanting to go back. If you’re thinking of a city trip, your best bet would be either Zagreb or Dubrovnik.

Zagreb, with around a million inhabitants, one in four of the country’s population, is easily Croatia’s biggest city. This is the political, economic and cultural heart of the nation, which makes it easy to forget that it has only been a state capital since 1991. For most of its history, Zagreb has lived in the shadow of Vienna, as a provincial outpost of the Austro-Hungarian empire, or of the former Yugoslav capital Belgrade. Only in the past few years has it rediscovered its confidence as a youthful, vibrant, forward-looking city.

Dubrovnik on the other hand is the jewel in Croatia’s crown – a beautifully restored town, full of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, crowded onto a rocky headland and surrounded by its 15th-century walls. The English poet Lord Byron (1788–1824) quite rightly described the town as the ‘pearl of the Adriatic’.

 Marco Polo Portugal Guide


The Algarve in Portugal has been one of our favourites for a while. Perfect for catching some sunshine and lounging on the beach, or hiking in the  fragrant pine forests of the Ria Formosa National Park in central Algarve.

Central Algarve is a melting pot of contrasting natural landscapes. It’s where the Atlantic meets the hilly hinterland and where long, sandy beaches encounter the labyrinth of canals and islands in the Parque Natural da Ria Formosa. In the centre of the region lies Faro, the capital of the Algarve and the point of arrival for countless holidaymakers. With its crystal-clear light, glittering nightlife, fantastic beaches and fabulous markets, the central Algarve has a wealth of diverse experiences to offer. 

At first glance, Faro can seem pretty confusing to visitors. After all, it’s the largest city in the Algarve and home to 50,000 people (65,000 including the surrounding area). If you come armed with a plan, however, the city will start to grow on you and you’ll quickly find your feet.

Photo credit: Zaprin Geguskov – Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)


 We love Bulgaria, and so do countless other travellers! Fine beaches and austere mountains, unspoilt hilltop villages and lively major towns, effervescent temperament and Mediterranean laissez-faire – all this makes Bulgaria a country of contrasts, a delightful mix of east and west. The travel catalogues are full of sea and beach, in other words the Black Sea coast – a beautiful and important part of the country. But if you stick to the tourists trails, you’ll miss out on what’s really worth seeing.

Mother nature has been very kind to Bulgaria. With its surface area of a little under 43,000 square miles, it’s not a particularly large country (England measures just over 50,000 square miles), but it has to a great extent been richly endowed with diversity and beautiful scenery, with mountains and a coast measuring 378km / 235 miles, and it’s densely wooded with many lakes. In other words, Bulgaria has something for everyone: for beach lovers a holiday by the Black Sea; for skiers the ski runs around Bansko, for hikers and bikers the green peaks of the Rila and Pirin Mountains; and if you’re looking for solitude, you’ll find it by hidden mountain lakes. To all of this add any amount of culture in the world-famous monasteries and the picturesque, beautifully restored villages.


Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

Photo credit: Tim Kelly


It seems to us that almost all of our lists include Amsterdam, but the Dutch capital has a truly special place in our hearts, and the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the city each year would definitely agree.

The old heart of Amsterdam feels like two distinct cities. The more obvious of the pair comprises the sort of brash tourist trappings that you find in any major European city, in this particular case augmented by the unabashed indulgence of the main red-light district, De Wallen. Yet alongside such excess you can find oases of calm and solitude, plus some charming little places to eat, drink and shop.

De Dam, the main square, is not the most beautiful plaza in Europe, but it serves as a good hub
for exploring the rest of the area. Everything in medieval Amsterdam is a short walk from here. Almost all visitors to Amsterdam find themselves passing through De Dam, as the square at the centre of the city is concisely known. This was where the Amstel River was first dammed in the 13th century (today the river flows via underground pipes into the IJ). The square is central to the city and the country, containing both the Royal Palace and the National Monument. Initially, the unruly architecture may disappoint, as well as the fact that the whole place is decked in overhead power cables for trams. Although De Dam can largely appear as a tourist thoroughfare, it remains at the historical heart of the city.

The most romantic photographs of Amsterdam are taken in the western part of the city – which is also where the real soul of Amsterdam resides. Beautiful waterways and quiet courtyards, the trendiest and most liberal locals and authentic bruin cafés can all be found here. Almost any street you walk along is likely to reveal at least one of the following: a lovely old house embellished with a beautiful tablet or gable; an intriguing shop or café; or a charming canal view.


Ah, the French Riviera. The jetsetter dream and the azure waves of the Mediterranean, who can resist it? After all, the largest resort of the French Riviera, Nice is France’s main tourist centre and the most visited city after Paris. Friendly and informal, Nice radiates a unique atmosphere that is hard to define, although many have tried, labelling it the “Queen of the Riviera”, “Capital of the Côte d’Azur”, “Nizza la Bella”, “The Big Olive” and “Mediterranean Chicago”. “Nice” just doesn’t seem to cover it.

Over the centuries the city has enjoyed a colourful history. Founded by Greeks and settled by
Romans, it thrived in the Middle Ages under
the Counts of Provence who were followed by
the Italian Dukes of Savoy. United with France only as recently as 1860, it still retains a strong
Italianate character and is a seductive mix of the best
of France and Italy, with its own dialect (lenga nissarda) and delicious cuisine. Nice is also blessed with more museums and galleries than any French town outside Paris. Its Mediterranean charm has long provided inspiration to artists, with its pastel-painted buildings and terracotta roofs, cradled by the vine-clad foothills of the Maritime Alps and fringed by a vivid blue sea bathed in magical, incandescent sun- light. Even the palatial hotels, designer boutiques and crowded terrace cafés exude a carefree joie de vivre. No wonder Nice has been voted the city where the French would most like to live. As Sandy Wilson remarked in his musical comedy The Boy Friend (1954): “Other places may be fun, but when all is said and done, it’s so much nicer in Nice.” 


To wave the summer goodbye, Marco Polo is organising a giveaway! We are giving away a set of 5 Marco Polo Spiral Guides and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera to one lucky winner, chosen at random.

How to enter?

Simply share the story of your most memorable summer holiday moment in the comments below. You can earn more win-chances by liking our Facebook page and by following our Twitter and Instagram and by letting us know in your comment that you have done so.

The competition is open from Thursday 24 August 2017 until Friday 1 September 2017 at 12.00 GMT. We will contact the winner personally via email using the email address used to leave the comment so make sure to check that it is spelled correctly!

Good luck! 

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion is open to UK and EU residents aged 18 or over, excluding employees and their immediate families of Marco Polo, its agents or anyone professionally connected with the promotion.
  2. To enter, simply comment on the blog post. Additional win-chances may be acquired by liking the Marco Polo Facebook page and by following the Marco Polo Twitter and Instagram accounts. If the entrant has done any of the mentioned actions, it should be stated in the comment.
  3. This competition will commence on 24 August 2017 and all entries must be received by 12.00 GMT on 1 September 2017. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for any entries that are incomplete, posted late, misdirected, and incorrect, garbled or fail to reach the Promoter by the closing date for any reason. Entries via agents or third parties are invalid.
  4. No purchase necessary, however internet access is required.
  5. The Prizes: 1 x prize winner will receive 5 x Marco Polo Spiral Guides: (£9.99 each) and a Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 camera.
  6. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if a winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The winner will be liable for all costs and expenses not stated relating to claiming or partaking of the prize.
  7. The promoter may substitute the prize for a prize of an equal or greater value if, for any reason the original item is unavailable.
  8. By entering, winners agree that if they win they will participate in any reasonable publicity arranged by The Promoter or its agencies.
  9. By entering the promotion entrants confirm that they have read and agree to be bound by these terms & conditions and by the decisions of the Promoter, which are final in all matters relating to the promotion. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the prize. No correspondence will be entered into.
  10. The Promoter or its agencies accept no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered through acceptance of the prize.
  11. The Promoter or its agencies will not be responsible for the non-inclusion of entries as a result of technical failures or otherwise, including any such failure which is within the control of The Promoter or its agencies. Proof of submission of entry is not proof of receipt of entry.
  12. The Promoter reserves the right at its sole discretion to disqualify any person it finds to be tampering or to have tampered with the operation of the promotion or the Marco Polo website, or to be acting in violation of these terms and conditions.
  13. To the full extent permitted by law the Promoter will not accept liability for any loss, damage, injury or death arising from this promotion beyond its reasonable control.

The Promoter is Marco Polo Travel Publishing, Pinewood, Chineham Business Park, Crockford Lane, Chineham, Basingstoke, RG24 8AL


206 thoughts on “Marco Polo’s Top 5 End of Summer Destinations + GIVEAWAY

  1. Davina Coburn says:

    My most memorable summer holiday moment was when my family and i were at the beach on the last day of our trip to Spain. All day we dug a hole in the beach so big my father was lost from the chest down when he stood in there. We draw a map of all the places we had visited on holiday from where we were so it acted as a treasure map. Do you see where I’m going now? We then got to spent any left over coins in the local gift shop and a tea towel to wrap them in but only if we spoke in Spanish. We then buried them into the ground on the promise when we next returned we would dig them up and see if they’re still ok. When we returned always to my absolute amazement they would be there!! I really believed. My father however revealed later when i was in my 20s that he would dig them up, hide them in the loft until next holiday, bring them back on holiday then on the first night after wed gone to be he’d go and rebury them for us to keep us busy the next day. What commitment into keeping the secret and magic. He said he did get some really dodgy looks late at night digging a massive hole on the beach but just explained by showing the map we drew. I hope that one day when i have children it’s a tradition i will be able to keep up. 🙂

  2. maggie Pitman says:

    My more memorable holiday was a surprise skiing trip to Canada. Never skied before or even thought I wanted to but absolutely loved it

  3. Andrea Horner says:

    The latest summer is always the best summer, now my 3 girls are turning into young ladies the holidays where we can all be together, for the time being, are the best ones. This year was New York to celebrate a 50th, 21st, 18th and Silver Wedding (I know bad planning!). Just the 5 of us making new memories, was very busy and hot though and we felt we needed another holiday after a full on week there.

    FB liked and followed on Insta and Twitter

  4. Roisin Baal says:

    My most memorable summer moment is meeting my 4 week old niece for the first time last summer! I live in England but am originally from Jersey where my family still live, and my sister went into labour early. As a result I wasn’t there for the birth, but having cuddles with her while her brother and sister were with me, my sister and our mum looking so proud, is a moment I will cherish and remember forever 🙂

  5. Paula says:

    Its got to be our first holiday as a family, our twin boys were 14 months old so we just decided to go to towyn. It was their first time at the seaside and they absolutely loved it, From eating the sand, to paddling in the sea and playing football. Also taking them around the arcades on all the little rides and their faces lighting up seeing all the bright lights. The part I enjoyed most was just being able to spend time as a family without all the worries of day to day life. Ill laways remeber our first holiday with a smile on my face 😍

  6. Giuliana Britti says:

    Was lucky enough to tour a part of India (New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Ranthambore National Park) The two most amazing stand out moments of this tour were seeing the magnificent Taj Mahal and watching the elusive Bengal tiger on safari.

  7. Jenni says:

    Going to Malta with my family is my most memorable moment on holiday…going across to the next island of Gozo and visiting Dwerja. Also riding the Gozo open top bus 🚌 spending time with my mum and my three year old that day was amazing! 🇲🇹

  8. Louise McGhee says:

    My most memorable holiday moment was meeting a wonderful Milanese taxi driver who saved us from sleeping in Stazione Central in Milan!! We took a trip from Stresa on Lake Maggiore to Cremona, getting the train from Stresa to Milan then Milan to Cremona. Train was an hour late on the return trip, so we missed the last train back to Stresa! Ended up meeting Daniele outside at the taxi rank and he agreed to do a reduced rate to get us back to Stresa. Still friends with Daniele 6 years later and we are planning another holiday to visit him and his family

  9. Gemma says:

    My most memorable summer moment was in 2016 when I looked at the weather forecast to see that ‘one day of summer’ in Ireland and my boyfriend and myself took off work. We set off at 9am to explore the Antrim Coast. We visited the Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Portrush. This was an inexpensive trip that holds plenty of memories for us both and we are hoping to explore more of our own country as well as the world together.

  10. Gemma says:

    My favourite summer memory was in summer 2016 when I looked at the weather forecast for the week and saw that Tuesday was going to be our ‘irish summer’, usually we only get one or two good days. My boyfriend and myself booked off work and set off at 9am to explore the Antrim coast in 25 degree weather. We visited the famous Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge then on to Portrush for dinner. This is definitely a day out neither of use will forget and we hope to explore a lot more of our own country as well as different parts of the world together.

  11. Chris Williams says:

    My favourite summer memory was the Baltic cruise we took this summer in celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. We went to lots of new places and countries and made magical memories especially in St Petersburg which has just beautiful stunning architecture. We like to celebrate special anniversaries somewhere special so we know in years to come exactly where we were on that date. Magical.

  12. marilyn farquharson says:

    I fondly remember a family picnic in botanical gardens in Australia when a kookaburra swooped down and swiped my dad’s sausage from his sandwich! I don’t think I have ever laughed so much in my life! it’s the silly things that make perfect memories!

  13. Alison says:

    Visiting Las Vegas with the family. We weren’t expecting to enjoy it and were just stopping on the way to San Fransisco but had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to visit again!
    Follow on twitter

  14. maria hackett says:

    My most memorable holiday was last week building sand castles with our toddler twins in Sri Lanka! that was our first family holiday and we had an amazing time! can’t wait to go on adventures with my munchkins again

  15. Agnes Gyorgy says:

    My most memorable summer holiday was Asia, we traveled 4 countries in 3 weeks. We have visited the Chinese Great Wall, Angkor Wat, Batu Caves and spent a week in Thailand. While this week rent a motorbike, cuddled with tigers and chilled out on the beach. I wished to stay longer and visit more countries around there. Maybe next time.

    Follow on facebook and instagram.

  16. Jo Young says:

    The first time my 2 daughters saw Cinderella’s Castle in Walt Disney World was simply magical and a memory I hold dear.

  17. Beth Goodyear says:

    My most memorable moment was when i went to new York for my honeymoon it was Feb time and snowing such am amazing city, can’t wait to take my girls one day and take them to central park to.skate it’s a wonderful city.

  18. Kim W says:

    A surprise holiday to Austria and the Swarowski Crystal World tour. Amazing. Following on twitter, instagram and facebook. (under different names below in line where says website). Thank you.

  19. Cat thomas says:

    My most memorable summer holiday moment was traveling Greece with my boyfriend we packed a tent and hit the road. Exploring lots of hidden coves and shipwrecks. I will definitely be going back one day! Have liked on FB & Twitter too. thanks 🙂

  20. Juliet says:

    My most amazing holiday moment by far was throwing coins for luck in the Trevi Fountain, Rome. The city centre is so beautiful and like a entering a history book. I spent a perfect day there seeing one architectural wonder after another. The tradition of the fountain is to throw a coin over your shoulder wishing for your return, and subsequent coins are used to wish for romance. However I had just finished my exams, and so decided instead to use my second wish on hoping I achieved the grades for University! The atmosphere of being surrounded by hundreds of people, all united by throwing coins behind their left shoulder, each with their own dreams was incredible. Not to mention the beauty of the Trevi Fountain itself, with its detailed carvings and clear blue water. I especially admire that the money collected has been donated to fund a supermarket serving the poor. I am very happy to say my dream came true, and a few weeks later I received the results I wanted! And I very much hope that my first coin wish of returning to Rome and the Trevi Fountain will come true one day too… (Facebook page liked + instragram followed)

  21. Rachel Craig says:

    I can remember in Italy we were on the train, spoke no Italian. Family in the same carriage, the children and their mum were singing “Hands, Shoulders,Knees and Toes…” in Italian, we knew by recognising the tune and actions. It was wonderful :- We were all smiling in recognition. Nice experience, as Italians seem such friendly people.

  22. claire fawkner says:

    My familes trip to San Sebastian! We had the most memorable time – dancing to the jazz festival on the beach

  23. Rachel Heap says:

    A couple of years ago me and my family went to Somerset, it was one of the best family holidays we had and I would love to experience it all again

  24. Colette Melor says:

    Off the beaten track Spain, learning the language as we went along, sampling the local cuisine and bus hopping from town to town!

    Following on Twitter and Instagram.

  25. Kim Featherstone says:

    My most memorable holiday moment is a bad one. My father collapsed in a pool of blood in the bathroom when we on holiday and we could not get to him. I ended up running through the hotel yelling for help. He was in hospital for 13 weeks but I had to leave when the holiday ended so ended up flying whilst he was having surgery.

  26. Emma Hadley says:

    Attending the Wine Festival in Limassol. Cyprus. Always a lively night, where you can sample all the Cypriot wines, taste the many delicacies, and pastries. Not forgetting the crushing of the grapes 🍇 in the barrel whilst dancing 💃 to Cypriot music! Ah, those are the days! Family memories! ❤️

  27. Sarah Gray says:

    My most memorable moment was taking my partner to Egypt for the very first time. I had been before, he had not. First of all, we went snorkelling – there is just nowhere like the Red Sea and it was amazing – so many fish of all colours and sizes. But then, despite my having snorkelled all around the world and never seen a shark, my partner on his first snorkel trip came almost face to face with one, directly beneath us. It was certainly memorable and glad to say we lived to tell the tale.

  28. clare davies says:

    My recent trip to Barcelona! we had a sunset sailing trip, sight seeing and a hot air balloon ride over Catalonia! one of the most amazing experiences!

  29. Hayley graham says:

    The mountains in Romania around Christmas. We visited last year as we never get any snow here it was amazing to get a proper play in the snow with the kids 😍 liked Facebook page and Instagram don’t have Twitter 😘 xx

  30. keystopixels says:

    My most memorable summer moment happened this summer while visiting a friend on their year abroad in South Korea. We were at a bar that was playing a mix of songs when The Macarena came on, which is of course a song that has to be danced to. So I started to dance along to it, including the turning around jumps when I noticed others were watching me and copying. The next sing was “Young, Wild and Free” which doesn’t have a dance but two of the girls who had been following me continued to copy my dancing, thinking there was also a set dance to YW&F. So I ended up leading a club of people in the Macarena dance and started a new Snoop Dog/Whiz Khalifa routine. Considering I was put in the back for the dance routines at my drama club is what makes this forever a brilliant memory of a bizarre night!

  31. Rachel Towers says:

    Camping in Devon this summer. We visited Dawlish which used to be my husband’s childhood favourite summer holiday destination over 40 years ago. We retraced his footsteps, finding the different bed & breakfasts and apartments where his family stayed. We walked along the promenade which is right next to the railway line and even found the spot where he used to go crabbing!! Made new memories while he shared his old ones, we had such a relaxing holiday.

  32. Penny-sue Wolfe says:

    My most memorable holiday moment was our holiday last October where we stayed on a narriwboat for a week! What a lovely relaxing time! So beautiful!! Followed on Instagram (infamy infamy mixed media artist)

  33. Fay stelling says:

    Great giveaway ☀️
    Always wanted a fujifilm… it would’ve caught my memorable moment of feeding a giraffe at a safari park, I’ve never been so close to one.

  34. Grace Bennett says:

    One of my most memorable holiday moments is from when I travelled to Croatia with a few of my friends. It’s so simple but the best part was when we were staying on a tiny island, we rented out bikes and all 6 of us rode around the island discovering so many beautiful spots! Literally every single moment was a picture moment! It was beautiful.. And also funny hearing all of the screams because we aren’t the best bikers and kept swerving into each other!

  35. Lucy says:

    My most memorable holiday moment was 2 years ago in Thailand. I visited with my fiancé and one of the days we spent at an Elephant Sanctuary in Kanchanaburi. We were able to feed, wash and interact with the rescued elephants. We both thought it was such an amazing and memorable day and would love to return with our son one day!

    Amazing prize, your guides are always amazing and I’ve been wanting one of these cameras for a while. I’ve followed on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Thank you for a fab opportunity!! X

  36. Cat thomson says:

    My most memorable holiday moment was getting to the end of the Inca Trail in 2011 and watching the sunrise over Machu Picchu. The 5am walk was absolutely worth it to see the incredible view rising up ahead of you! It set my taste for adventure ablaze!

  37. Vivienne Chung-Penney says:

    One of my most memorable holiday moment was taking my boyfriend (we have been together for over 5 years and been trying hard to save but being a school teacher, holiday flights aren’t cheap!!) ) back to Hong Kong in April. I have not seen both of my grandmothers and many family members for 8 years so it was a really special moment to be home. Also showing him all the places I have grown up in, my old schools, special restaurants and theme park, etc. And most important, I have found out he has asked my parents permission to marry me!!! Finger cross he will be proposing soon 🙂

  38. eva maganja says:

    Most memorable holiday i spent in Tunisia. For last 6 years we came back every year. It was amazing experience. My favorite memory is form tip when we went to Sahara with camels.

  39. Anna Maria Tuckett says:

    We got up at dawn to travel 40 km to the famous farmer’s market in Sarlat, in the Perigord region of France. It was a wonderful day, sunny, but not too hot. We arrived just as the town was waking up, and the stall holders were setting up the stalls, so we had time for a stroll in the beautiful town centre. When we returned to the market, we were greeted by the colourful cornucopia of the finest produce on the planet – even in France, this region is considered particularly blessed. We tasted and bought wonderful cheeses, tomatoes, bread, pastries. It was the most perfect day.
    I followed on FB, Instagram and Twitter

  40. Alice says:

    My most memorable summer was 2 years ago. Me and my partner went interrailing around Europe for just over 3 weeks, and visited 12 cities. We stayed in spare rooms mostly that we found on airbnb, and even stayed on a tiny canal boat in Amsterdam for 2 nights! We met the most amazing people, ate the most amazing food and saw the most amazing sights. My favourite memory was at the end of our trip, we were typically exhausted, and we sat on the grass outside the Eiffel Tower, drank wine, talked about everything we’d done that month, and watched the sun go down. The tower lit up for us in the dark and it was perfect! It was our first adventure together and we can’t wait for our next in Vietnam this year!

  41. Lindsey Clark says:

    Most memorable holiday was when I travelled solo around Germany. I saw everything at my own pace, without having to compromise and went to places I might not have if I’d been with a friend who may have wanted to go in a different direction. Eating breakfast by Lake Constance in Linda, with the morning mist rising to show both Switzerland and Austria in sight was a defining moment that I’d done the right thing. I’m following on Twitter @LindseyClark20, Instagram @lindseyclatk9005 and have also left a comment on Facebook. Thanks for the chance it’s appreciated.

  42. samantha buntain says:

    My most memorable moment is when we where on our family holiday and my little boy was in the pool with me and he was learning to swim it was the best moment of my life so far, a memory for a life time x

  43. Laura Beale says:

    I haven’t been on holiday since I was about 9 but I will always remember when my dad hired a bike out for the day in Corfu. He took me out on the back of it and we went miles away sight seeing. We stopped to eat at this one place and my dad thought he’d broke the bike and we stood there for ages wondering how the hell we were going to get back…. until my dad suddenly remember the bike had a kick start 😂 Fool… still tease him now.

  44. risabuzatova says:

    Mother Nature has been very kind to Bulgaria indeed. So much variation (mountains, lakes, Black Sea beaches, ancient forests, marshes, and more) in such a relatively small geographical area. The country should be on everyone’s list, though I’m kind of glad it isn’t.

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