Cosmos Holidays Blog Cheap Package Holidays for Summer 2012 with 50yrs experience Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:30:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Join the Mum’s Army Sun, 15 Mar 2015 11:30:39 +0000 This Mother’s Day Cosmos and The Monarch Foundation are joining with our charity partner Just a Drop to launch the Mum’s Army campaign.

Just a Drop is an international water charity which is helping provide clean, safe water in some of the poorest communities around the world. Founded in 1998, the charity has worked on over 150 projects in 31 countries through the construction of wells, boreholes, pipelines and hand pumps in communities.

The Mums Army campaign runs from Mother’s Day 2015 to Mother’s Day 2016 and aims to raise £250,000.

Just a Drop Patron and TV presenter, Alexander Armstrong said: “I am delighted to be spearheading the launch of the Just a Drop Mums Army.  We want to give all mums, wherever they are, the same access to clean safe water that we take for granted.”

JaD Mums Army

Just a Drop Founder Fiona Jeffery OBE was inspired to set up a charity when she became a Mum.  Fiona explains “It was during one particularly frenetic, hot summer day that I realised just how important clean water was to me and my family. How casually we turned on the tap and accepted that there would always be supplies of clean, hot and cold running water in the house. None of us questioned it, or even imagined what it would be like without access to clean water.”

Tragically somewhere in the world a child dies every 20 seconds from using dirty water. It was this single, stark fact that motivated Fiona to help these Mums and families.  Just £1 can deliver clean water to a child for up to 10 years.

For more information on the great work Just a Drop do and the Mums Army campaign, please visit

The Monarch Foundation is the cornerstone of The Monarch Group’s corporate responsibility programme. Its aim is to achieve more effective coordination of the charitable activity that is undertaken by the Group and in the Group’s name, and to make a stronger commitment to a wider range of charities. The Monarch Foundation supports five main causes on which to focus its efforts and to be the defining areas of all charitable engagement carried out in the Group’s name. These causes are disadvantaged families; children and young people; education; environment and sustainability; and injured military service people and their families.


]]> 0
Parga: the Greek resort you’ve never heard of Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:00:58 +0000 While millions every year flock to the likes of Athens and Thessaloniki for a week of sun and ancient culture on mainland Greece, many bypass the small town of Parga on the Ionian coast. Yes, you may have never even heard of it, but trust us when we say that this ancient place in the Epirus region simply oozes charm and elegance. Welcome to Parga: a town you may find yourself coming back to, again and again.

What to see

Undoubtedly, the pride and joy of Parga is the 14th-century Greek Fortress, which is located on the headland between Valtos beach and the town centre. On your way up, you will encounter various old buildings and small shops tucked away in tiny alleyway corners, enabling you to be transported to how this town looked 500 years ago. And what awaits you at the top? Breathtaking views over Parga and the eastern side of the coastline of course!

Another major highlight of the region is Ali Pasha Castle, situated in the nearby village of Anthousa (regular buses connect Parga with Anthousa). While the castle is very much in ruins, it is an idyllic spot for a lovely stroll, while the views from the top stretch all way out to Corfu on a clear day, and may just pip Parga’s fortress to the post. A walk down will take you through tranquil olive groves and orchards, but note that the journey is a few kilometres and not recommended for the non-active bunch – instead, a train service links the top of the hill to Krioneri Beach.

Parga hillsideOther attractions to include on your itinerary are the deserted Byzantine Vlacherna monastery at the far end of Valtos Beach, the charming town centre with its lovely cafes and independent boutiques, and the nearly 100 small churches that are scattered across Parga itself and the hills surrounding it. The great thing about Parga is that it’s still relatively unknown by tourists, making you feel like you are in a genuinely Greek town and you have it all to yourself!

What to eat

You can’t come to Parga and not try out the local fare. Obviously, popular Greek dishes include feta salads, kofta kebabs, hummus and stuffed tomatoes, but it is a honey that is a local speciality – you will often find it drizzled over meats or sold by merchants in front of Krioneri beach.

While the harbourside has its fair share of fantastic restaurants, there are a few we definitely recommend. Zorba’s is an affordable local venue close to the harbour that specialises in traditional food if you feel brave enough, while Kastro up on the hills caters to a more expensive taste – top-notch service and internationally-renowned food. For somewhere in the middle, Sakis has a Greek-tavern feel near the Venetian Castle gate, while Castello offers international cuisine and a romantic ambiance.

How to get around

As it is small town, you can virtually walk around anywhere – and that is part of Parga’s charm. This town will make you feel like you have just stumbled into a Greek neighbourhood, and with luscious beaches, historical sights, and tasty food, what more could you really ask for from a holiday to Greece?

Parga charm


]]> 0
Succumb to the charm and beauty of Becici Wed, 11 Mar 2015 12:00:00 +0000 The coastal resort of Becici in Montenegro may have been at the bottom of your list of potential holiday destinations, but trust us when we say that you’ll be missing out by skipping this small gem. It’s laid-back ambiance and sandy beaches make it the perfect getaway for fussy families, while its wealth of water sports opportunities mean that it’s not all about lazing around in the sun. Welcome to Becici – an Adriatic paradise where you may just lose your heart.

To talk about Becici without mentioning the nearby old walled town of Budva would be a travesty, because this charming destination is only a 15-minute stroll along the seafront promenade. While Becici boasts modern facilities and a tourist-focused mentality, Budva is one of the oldest settlements in the Balkans, dating as far back as the 4th century BC. Over the years, the town has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, but today, you can still walk around the Venetian-style buildings and 15th-century fort, ramparts and towers sticking out into the sea.

Alternatively, you can walk out of Becici in the other direction and you will reach Rafailovici. This old fishing village may not be jam-packed with tourist hotspots, but its relaxed atmosphere and fantastic seafood eateries enable you to go slightly off the beaten track for a lovely evening away.

For those looking for high-class beaches, Mogren beach is a secluded spot near the Old Town, allowing you to also explore the winding alleyways and cute cafes, shops and restaurants that zigzag round after a morning by the sea. Budva also has some nice sandy shores, but people will head here more for its historical significance, boutiques and town walls.

Becici - bay

If you want to party the night away, you’re also in luck, as Budva is full of bars and nightclubs, especially during the summer peak season. Start the night of at one of the many large open-air bars along the promenade, such as Miami, Rafaello and Renaissance, where you can try out some famous Montenegrin wines and the local grape brandy called rakija.

These bars tend to shut at around 1am, so if you want to continue the party, head to the fantastic clubs here, such as Maine in Budva and Torine in Becici, both of which specialise in folk music.

Once you have exhausted everything the region has to offer, you still won’t fall short of things to do as the two nearby outlying islands are both worthy day trips. Sveti Stefan Island, once used as a defence point for Montenegro against pirate attacks, features picturesque beaches, pine woods, medieval churches and Mediterranean-style buildings. Or escape to Svetu Nikola Island, which offers translucent waters for swimming and a rich wildlife including roe deers, rare plants, rabbits, birdlife and conifers.

Svetu Nikola Island

As you can see, you can have diverse experiences and opportunities in Becici – so what are you waiting for? If you are still toying with potential holiday destinations, book the place you never thought of in the first place: Montenegro!

]]> 0
Leros: top 5 unmissable sights Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:00:00 +0000 Some say Greek goddess Artemis lived here. Others believe it was a hub for pirate activity in the Medieval Age. Whatever truths may actually lie behind such myths, there is no denying that there is something alluring and enchanting about the Greek island of Leros.

With its spectacular orthodox churches, sleepy villages, striking forts and glittering blue coves, you’ll certainly be pushed for time when it comes to squeezing in all the major attractions among all that sunbathing and relaxing. However, you can make your life easier by heading to the best attractions first, then seeing what else you have time for. Here are five to put on your list.

Church of Agia Marina


Standing proudly in the village sharing its name, this beautiful church was built in the 1930s and features two huge bell towers on either side. Built from black carved rocks taken from the uninhabited islet of Levithia and red mosaic rocks from Kryfo bay, this church is located 100 metres from the port. Note that a large religious festival, known locally as panigiri, takes place here every year on July 17th.

Archaeological Museum

Peruse this interesting collection housed in a neoclassical building located next to Agia Marina. Visitors can enjoy locally-excavated items from the nearby small islands of Marathi and Arki, historical coins, tomb columns and ancient inscriptions. A particular highlight to look out for is a relief from the Classical period depicting an old man with a walking stick.

Pandeli Castle

Leros 1

If that has not fulfilled your history fix, this strong Medieval fortress overlooking the isle’s capital is sure to take your breath away on first glance. Also known as the Castle of our Lady, this Byzantine foothold was built on top of an ancient acropolis in the 10th century, before it was handed over to the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos. Over the centuries, the castle was used to protect the region against Turkish, German and Italian invaders, and having managed to stand proudly until today, it has now become the icon of Leros. And when you do climb those gruelling 400 steps up, you will be rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of the sea and Leros’s mountainous landscape.

War Museum

Another fascinating educational institution is the Leros War Museum in Lakki. Focusing mostly on World War II, the site tells the story of Leros’s involvement, standing as a gateway to the Mediterranean and being under the Italian fascist regime for 31 years. Having been severely bombed by both the British RAF and German troops, Leros lost many lives to the conflict. The museum, which is located in an old tunnel built by the Italians during the war, boasts guns, uniforms, helmets and a variety of interactive displays sure to entertain the little ones.

Close to the museum is also the War Memorial, commemorating the attack of German bombers on the Greek destroyer Vasilissa Olga during the conflict; a three-day memorial service takes place here at the end of September annually.

The Flour Mill

Leros 2

Within the capital town, you will find a 20th-century flour mill near the port entry. Still fully functioning and contributing to the local economy, this is perhaps one of the quirkiest things you will encounter on the island.


]]> 0
Hiking Ithaca: explore its dramatic scenery Fri, 06 Mar 2015 12:29:28 +0000 Considering that Ithaca‘s climate never falls below the mid-teens at any point of the year, and the isle has an area span of only 120 sq km, it makes this Greek Island a serious contender for your next holiday destination, especially if you are into your hiking.

Considering its small size, you will find that the isle’s stunning scenery changes over very short distances – one minute you will be in a quaint village, another among ancient ruins and then again in towering verdant valleys; at some points you may even enjoy 360-degree views of the sea and surrounding islands.

Across the isle, several marked trails exist, with routes ranging anywhere between five and 13 kilometres. Many of these can be organised through local excursion companies if you’re not too sure what you are doing.

Ithaca Greece 2

The most popular of the lot is Homer’s Walk, an easy 40-minute jaunt from Stavros to Homer’s School. Poet Homer, who lived in the 8th century BC, described Ithaca and its king Odysseus greatly in his epic poems, especially around Odysseus’ return to the isle after the Trojan War. While these tales were an amalgamation of myth and reality, this fascinating route is too dream-like, as you pass through the villages of Exoghi and Platrithas. The track winds through a large plateau, and then slowly takes you to the historic school.

If you want to learn further about Homer’s tale, head to the south of Vathy, where the Fountain of Arethousa is located. It is at this spot where Odysseus’ swineherd Eumaeus brought his pigs to drink. And if it’s not the history you are looking for, the isolated and unspoilt landscape, with breathtaking sea views, are worth the trip alone.

When exploring other parts of Ithaca, try and make time for some of its atmospheric small villages. One of these is Kioni, draped around a lush hillside, it spills down to its harbour. The small bays between Kioni and Frikes, four km away, are ideal for secluded swimming – but sssh, this village may just be one of the island’s best-kept secrets. Another highlight undoubtedly will be Anogi, which once was the island’s capital – the 12th-century church of Agia Panagia here has jaw-dropping Byzantine frescoes and an impressive Venetian bell tower.

For other walking routes, consider getting one of the many ferries from Vathy to the likes of Lefkada or Fiskardo. These unknown islands will make you feel like you’re on an exploration mission!


]]> 0
Dalaman: an escape to true relaxation Wed, 04 Mar 2015 12:00:21 +0000 If your idea of a holiday is truly escaping from all the worries of daily life and completely relaxing by basking in the sun, then Dalaman, Turkey, may just be the destination for you. Think thermal spas, consider mud baths, imagine white-sand beaches, picture lazy rivers – you are sure to come back home with invigorated muscles, smooth joints and let’s not forget that all-important tan.

If you are building an itinerary around purely relaxing and no sightseeing (which Dalaman has tonnes of by the way), here are our top five picks.


Sultaniye Thermal Spa

Dalaman 1

Situated in nearby Sultaniye, this thermal spa is the focal point of many excursions leaving Dalaman. Its waters, which reach as hot as 42 degrees C, contain chloride, hydrogen sulphide, bromide and sodium, all of which have differing benefits to skin, muscles and general wellbeing. The waters here are particularly beneficial for those with heart ailments, nervous complaints, arthritis, bronchitis or kidney problems, but we say that no one really needs an excuse for some old fashioned pampering.


Mudbaths of Dalyan

Dalaman 2

One of the region’s top attractions is the mudbaths of Dalyan, often combined with the Sultaniye spa as a packaged trip. Coat yourself in the mineral-rich mud pools and then allow it to form a crisp coating on your skin in the sun. Finish off by bathing in the sulphur-rich baths, and what you end up with is skin soft as a baby’s, so you’ll be touching your face all day.


Atlantis Waterpark

Dalaman 3

If the kids are starting to get fidgety, take them to this family-friendly attraction in Marmaris. With a wealth of thrilling slides, childrens’ pools, a wave pool, mini golf course and even a bowling alley, the Atlantis Waterpark offers plenty of ways to burn off a little energy. While this may not seem truly idyllic, let the kids run off as you unwind on the aptly named lazy river or just work on your tan on one of the hundred sun loungers. Bliss.




With Turkey boasting over 200 Blue Flag beaches, you can be guaranteed top quality here. In Dalaman, highlights include the stunning and secluded Sarigerme, and Iztuzu beach in Dalynon. The latter is home to loggerhead turtles, and while it is extremely popular with locals, it is so big that it never seems crowded.


Cruising around

Dalaman 5

If you want to see some sights while you relax, just hop on one of the many ferry services that run daily in the region. Experience the spectacular Sarsala Cove, with its clear blue waters – a great stopping-off point for diving and snorkelling. Or enjoy the smaller but equally beautiful Ekincik cove in between seafood lunches and tanning. What more could you really ask for?



]]> 0
Spain: the must-do destination for festival fanatics Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:00:45 +0000 Music fans rejoice. We are only a few months away from the music festival season, and while we continue to speculate who’s going to headline Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage or what controversial antics will take place at Leeds/Reading in 2015, you may want to try some of the best events that Europe has to offer. And when it comes to roaring music festivals, you don’t get much better than the ones on mainland Spain – here are a few of our favourites.


Primavera Sound

Primavera Sound

When: May 28th – 30th

Where: Barcelona

This indie extravaganza always boasts a stellar line-up, with previous acts including Arcade Fire, Blur and The Cure – and this year is set to not disappoint. Already announced are classic rockers The Replacements, Patti Smith and the always popular Black Keys, and with legendary five-piece The Strokes headlining, it is sure to be nothing short of spectacular.

The festival will take place in Barcelona’s Parc del Forum, and if you are in the city early, there is even a free inaugural concert on May 27th.


Sonar Festival

Sonar festival

When: June 18th – 20th

Where: Barcelona

For those who like their electronica, this weekend event brings together some of the best DJs in the world. The unique thing about Sonar is that the programme is divided into activities carried out during the day, such as exhibitions, showcases and concerts, all in the name of finding new talent, and leading names partying the night away. The festival takes place in a series of iconic venues across the city, such as the main Auditori and the Cosmocaixa.

Whether it is new media art or all the big names you know and love, such as Skrillex and The Chemical Brothers, Sonar is the fest for you.




When: July 16th – 19th

Where: Benicassim

If you are holidaying at Costa Dorada, you may want to incorporate this world-famous festival in your itinerary. What can be said about it that hasn’t already been said? This four-day extravaganza takes place on the eastern coast between Valencia and Barcelona, and it draws in thousands from all over the planet. This year’s line-up features Bastille, classical-dance troupe Clean Bandit, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, and headliners Florence and the Machine, Portishead and The Prodigy.

In terms of musical tastes, there is sure to be something here for everyone, and with nightclubs roaring on until the wee hours of the morning and tasty food shacks all on crisp-white beaches, what more could you really ask for?

]]> 0
India in March: Holi set to take Goa by storm Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:00:44 +0000 You’ve not seen colour until you’ve experience Holi. A three-day festival centered around the full moon in March, Holi is celebrated all over the world, but nothing comes close to the spectacle witnessed in India itself. But what exactly is it and why should Goa be your next must-visit destination this March?


What is Holi?

Probably the most boisterous and riotous of all Hindu festivals, it signifies the end of winter and the coming in of spring, being marked on the day after March’s full moon. It is believed that festivities around Holi have dated as far back as the 3rd century BC. Celebrating all things rejuvenation, rebirth and harmonious renewal, Holi also pays homage to the death of Hindu mythological legend Pootna – the demon of winter and darkness who nearly killed Lord Krishna when he was a small child.

However, what Holi is really known for is its explosion of technicolour. Each colour represents a way in which we can overcome linguistic barriers and show our true feelings: green for compassion, yellow for optimism and Mother Earth, red for energy and security, blue for loyalty and trust, and pink for love and compassion.


How is it celebrated?

Holi India 2

Proceedings usually kick off the night before the full moon, as locals get together to light bonfires on all the dried twigs and leaves of winter – as the fire roars on, all evil is destroyed. On the next day, people of all ages and castes come outside and drench each other with colour water, as brightly-coloured powers, known as gulal, transform cities into glowing clouds of reds and greens.

Just about anyone in sight on the roads is doused in colour, all while sweets are shared out, live music is performed and everyone struts their best dance moves. As the afternoon hits, families will retreat to their homes for an observed period of silence, and the evening is brought alive with neighbourhood visits of good wishes.


Why Goa?

Holi India 3

In Goa, Holi is part of the wider spring festival of Shigmo, where you can enjoy troupe performances, cultural dramas, parades and performances. For the biggest and best parades and celebrations, head to Panaji, Mapusa, Margao and Vasco de Gama. Along the beach restaurants, you will find waiters covered in powdered paint, musicians circling around local houses, and priests making offerings at the always-popular temples. Trust us when we say it is truly a sight to behold.

Furthermore, apart from October, March is the perfect time to visit Goa, purely because you get essentially no rain during the month, and averages hover around the late 20s, creating idyllic conditions.

While Holi is most vividly celebrated in northern India and Nepal, the Goans sure know how to represent the south – and with the chance to relax in paradise-esque beaches and enjoy tasty Keralan cuisine in between all those water fights, what more could you ask for?

]]> 0
Our top 8 free things to do in Tenerife Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:00:44 +0000 Holidays can be a pricey time for families, but trust us when we say that they’re certainly worth it for that priceless rest and relaxation. One destination where you will find that your money goes much further is Tenerife, purely because of its wealth of free attractions and things to do. Whether it is bathing in rock pools or checking out some of the region’s best galleries and museums, here are our top eight free things to get stuck into on this charming isle.

Sunday sightseeing


Many don’t know this but all of the publicly-owned galleries and museums in Tenerife are free to enter on Sunday. Not only are they fun and interactive for the whole family but it allows your little ones to learn further about this island’s fascinating history.


Hike volcanoes


To say that Teide National Park is astounding is a huge understatement. With its rugged hillsides, mythical landscapes, and the gem in its crown Mount Teide, which at 3,718m is the highest peak in Spain, you’re not short of things to see here. Walking around here is not recommended for those who aren’t usually active, but there’s something satisfying about enjoying nature’s treasures without forking out.


Discover Masca


Talking of stunning panoramas, the prehistoric Masca really is a sight to behold. Located in the ancient Teno mountains, this spot is most beautiful as the sun sets, but whenever you choose to come, the narrow mountain roads and snaking descents really make you feel like you’ve entered an Indiana Jones movie.


Thrills at a water park


Playa Jardin in Puerto de la Cruz allows you to brave the waves of the Atlantic, giving you an adrenaline rush at the same time. Make sure your timing is right or you may find yourself bowled over.


Bathe in rock pools


If all of that sounds a bit too hectic for you, head to the rock pools at Garachico. Their story began in 1706, when the town’s harbour was filled with destructive molten rivers after a volcanic eruption. Over time, these volcanic pools formed, and with some of them featuring subtropical fish and others being shallow enough for toddlers to waddle in, these are ideal for a chilled afternoon.


See the ancient Drago tree


Some say it has stood for 5,000 years. Others suggest 650. Most agree on around the 1,000-year mark. However old it actually is, the Millenium Drago Tree in Icod de los Vinos really is spectacular, especially if you believe that it was sprouted from the blood of slain dragons.


Free gigs and concerts


As part of regional fiestas patronales, there are many free concerts and festivals involving local bands and obscure international groups. Past acts to have played include Echo and the Bunnymen at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of La Laguna and Robert Cray at the Santa Blues festival.




And talking of festivals, we cannot avoid this loud and brash event. Running throughout February or March in Santa Cruz, you can expect parties, parades, fiestas and local celebrations all running throughout the night until the wee hours of the morning. Make sure you dress up!

]]> 0
Top 5 secret tips to avoid the crowds in Rome Mon, 23 Feb 2015 11:35:19 +0000 Rome is archaic, stunning, emotive….the list goes on. Around each corner, you’ll stumble upon a Roman ruin, winding cobbled alleyways get you lost into a labyrinth of independent boutiques, and none of that is even mentioning the world-class attractions: the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Vatican City – again, we could go on and on.

However, if you are heading on a city break during the peak seasons, like any major city in the world, expect to share it with a mass of other curious travellers. But if you follow these handy tips, not only will you avoid the lengthy queues but you may often feel like you have the entire city to yourself. You won’t find any of these in the guidebooks, but sssh, it’s a secret!

Head to the forum!

Cosmos Rome 1

If you are looking to tick off the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and the mighty Colosseum in one day (as they are all close together), you’ll want to get a multi-pass ticket for all three of them. If you head to the Colosseum first, you may experience a two-hour queue, but skip it by going to the Roman Forum and buying your tickets – we only waited 15 minutes there!

Go online for the Vatican

Cosmos Rome 2

You’ll be wondering ‘what were they thinking?’ as you walk past the mile-long queue outside of the Vatican museums. You can not only purchase your tickets for the museum online before your trip, but even have an allocated time slot. All you then have to do is turn up at the door at that time, and get let in straight away. Just try and not be smug about it.

Online only

Cosmos Rome 3

And talking of booking tickets online, some attractions in the city only give you access that way. For example, the fantastic Villa Borghese (if it is one museum you are going to visit in Rome, make it this one!), there are only a few spaces available for those who turn up at the door, and with it being such a popular attraction, it is practically a lottery. Go on the official website, book a time slot, and just rock up with the ticket.

Pick a right time

Cosmos Rome 4

Don’t be cliched with your itineraries. Of course if you turn up at the Colosseum at 12pm or at St Peter’s Basilica at nine in the morning, the queues are going to be lengthy. Either get there extremely early to beat the rush or you will find that the lines in Vatican City will start to die down after 3pm. Take some time out and relax in a cafe, it beats waiting in an endless line.

Take paths less explored

Cosmos Rome 5

The ultimate way to avoid the tourists is to go to places they won’t even consider. Are you ready to explore the creepy catacombs underground at the Capuchin church? Want to try some offal in the Quinto Quarto neighbourhood that specialises in it? Or why not take a day trip to the beach, which is only 20 km away?







]]> 0