6 MUST-VISIT DESTINATIONS
TO FLY TO FOR FRIENDSHIP DAY
It's International Friendship Day and what better way to celebrate than by booking a last-minute beach or city break with a bunch of your closest mates? We've plucked some of the most popular destinations to visit with friends, so you can explore the flamenco bars of Madrid, browse the flea-markets in Paris and make a splash at surf-friendly beaches in Lagos...
If you’re in the mood to party, head to the historic Barrio de las Letras area in Spain's buzzing capital of Madrid, where you'll find an abundance of lively bars and entertainment. The city comes alive at 10pm, when the smell of fiery tapas bars spill into the street, stylish rooftop bars start to fill up and pretty squares buzz with atmosphere. Chueca, Barrio de Salamanca and Princesa are where to head for cocktail bars and upbeat clubs, while La Latina serves up spectacular flamenco shows and Gran Via and Puerta del Sol's theatre scene is ready for lights, camera and action. If you're a foodie and fancy a typical Spanish dining experience, grab a table at the Mercado De San Miguel, near Plaza Mayor, where you can sip a glass of wine or vermouth and try out local desserts and cheese. Get a real taste of Spain and sign up for Madrid Food Tours, where you'll discover eateries over a hundred-years-old across the famous San Miguel Market and more.
For more on the top sights of Madrid, check out our guide!
Hit the French capital with friends for a trip filled with excellent food, designer boutiques, chic bars and vintage markets. Once you've soaked up the city's must-see sights, take a walk down to the charming market street of Rue des Martyrs, a foodie heaven where you’ll find quaint bakeries, cafes and local cheese shops; or pull up a seat in a Parisian riverside cafe along the Quai Francois-Mauriac, where boats have transformed into quirky bars. Explore beyond the touristy centre and visit they city's lesser-known areas. Bag a bargain at the vibrant weekend flea markets in Porte de Vanves, chill out at the Bibliotheque riverbanks, which boast plenty of alfresco cafes, pizza restaurants and boat bars, or wander the hilly cobbled village of Butte-aux-Cailles for its eclectic street-art and tiny rum bar, Le Merle moqueur.
Fantastic beaches, buzzing nightlife and amazing watersports are what await you on a vacation with friends in Lagos. The Portuguese city is known for its stunning coastline, sandstone cliffs and pretty coves, which include the small, but popular Batata beach and massive Meia Praia Beach, where you can take the surfing and body-boarding challenge. If you're feeling active, try your hand at group surfing lessons on the beach or get together with friends for a kayaking tour of the magical Ponta da Piedade, framed by iconic orange cliffs. Get the flavour for traditional Portuguese cuisine in Adage Tipica A Forja, a reasonable eatery serving up the freshest seafood in town, or try one of the belly-busting burgers in Nah Nah Mah - you won't be dissapointed! When it's time to let your hair down, head to buzzing bars including Joe's Garage, Eddies, 3 Monkey's and more.
NAPA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Free-flowing local wine and conversations with friends is a recipe for happiness, particularly if you’re in California’s Napa Valley. While its Cabernet Season falls between November and April, anytime is a good time to visit this sunny state, including winter. There are over 400 wineries to pick from while you're here, but when you're not swigging on the sweet stuff, spend your time hiking through the 850-acre Skyline Wilderness Park, watching a live show at the historic Uptown Theatre or settling down for a picnic at Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. A great way to see the city is on a kayak along the Napa River, which passes through the heart of Napa, or better still, hop on the Napa Valley Wine Train (composed majorly of restored rail cars), which sweeps you through the wine country, accompanied by a tasty gourmet meal.
There's plenty more to discover beyond the wonderful wineries though, simply browse our city breaks in California for more fun in the sun.
If you fancy a weekend of quirky bars, canal-side coffee shops, vibrant markets and a medley of museums - this atmospheric city certainly won't dissapoint. Spend your days wandering the cobbled streets that line the winding, sun-dappled canals and you'll discover all that this compact destination has to offer by foot or bike. If you want to learn about Amsterdam's rich history, head to the Rijkmuseum, where you'll find the iconic "Amsterdam" lettering out front or go back a little further in time and queue for the famous Ann Frank Huis. Visit the world's only floating flower market, the Bloemenmarkt or head to the quirky Jordaan neighbourhood for brilliant brunch spots (La Oliva Pintxos y Vinos is a tapas-style taste sensation) and stylish bars - try Vesper Bar for its craft cocktails or enjoy a tipple at 't Smalle, a 1786 Dutch gin distillery and tasting house located on a pretty canal-facing stone terrace. While you're here, you can hire a boat or join a canal cruise with companies like Friendship Amsterdam, which takes you past the iconic Seven bridges as you sail the Amstel river, plus you get treated onboard to drinks, including mulled wine and hot chocolate in the winter.
Made famous as the picturesque film-set for hit TV series Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik is all that it promises and more. If you’re planning to travel with friends, there will never be a dull moment in this medieval fortress town, with its vibrant nightlife, buzzing beach clubs and gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea. Stroll the cobbled streets of the charming Old City, a car-free zone dotted with swanky clubs and jazz bars, alongside a selection of great cafes and restaurants to dine in. If cocktails by the coast are your thing, Buza Bar is where to head - a small hole in the city wall that leads you to an atmospheric cliffside bar - or for round-the-clock fun in the sun, EastWest Beach Club on Banje Beach is one of the hippest spots in Croatia. Think tropical cocktails, bamboo beds, resident DJs and even stylish speed boat rides.