Where to warm up this winter

12 March 2018

It’s hard to imagine you’ll be flocking up north for sunshine when the news these past few months has been filled with tales of woe and snowdrifts caused by the “Beast from the East” and similar vicious storms.

But flock you will, as you seek out the warmth of a sun-kissed Venice piazze enjoyed over a Campari Spritz or a leisurely stroll along the Thames in July.

“With a stronger rand and increasingly positive economic outlook, we expect Europe to make a big come-back in 2018 during the European summer. Destinations like Italy and the UK have been firm favourites for some time, but we’re seeing destinations in Eastern Europe and the Iberian Peninsula gain in popularity because of the value for money they offer South African travellers,” says Nicky Potgieter, Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) Leisure Marketing Leader.

With value in mind, Potgieter confirms the Flight Centre group will be placing even greater emphasis on the benefits of guided holidays and touring this ‘winter’.

“Guided holidays are the perfect holiday for South African travellers. Not only do they provide exceptional value with a variety of inclusions like meals, entrance to attractions and access to experiences you would ordinarily not be able to organise yourself, all the details are taken care of on your behalf. So, you can experience an effortless, fun and authentic holiday for much less than what you would pay if you were to organise it yourself,” explains Potgieter.

Trafalgar South Africa MD, Theresa Szejwallo, says the growth in guided holidays among South African travellers has exceeded that seen in other markets. “It’s likely this is because South Africans are extremely value-conscious and it’s important to them to know upfront what their holiday is likely to cost them. Of course, it also helps that we have a rand guarantee in place so that no matter what the rand is doing, South Africans can be assured that their holiday will not be subject to wild foreign exchange fluctuations.”

Szejwallo agrees that Eastern European and Spain and Portugal have become very popular among South Africans, “but we are also seeing growing interest in Russia, possibly because we no longer require a visa to visit, and Greece, which offers exceptional value for money if you do it right and rely on a guided holiday partner to take care of all the details and find you the best deals”. 

Sun-worshippers will delight in these favourite picks for South Africans to experience a European Summer this 2018:


Tread in the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Aristotle and Plato, delving into the history of Ancient Greece. See such highlights as the Parthenon and Delphi, walk the Sacred Way and visit Olympia, but also enjoy some free time to explore the destination on your terms, with breakfasts and some meals included, as well as an encounter with a local family on their olive and wine farm for dinner and traditional dancing.

Eastern Europe

There is a saying that goes, once you’ve spent a summer in Croatia it will ruin your life, because after the fact you will accept nothing less ever again. Croatia joins Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Germany on an Eastern European guided holiday that includes visits to Lake Bled, Zagreb and Auschwitz, among other destinations. A particular highlight of Trafalgar’s Eastern European itinerary is dinner with the Schieszl family during which you’ll hear the story of their winery that once sheltered a Jewish friend who was fleeing Nazi persecution.

Spain, Portugal and Morocco

Think exotic spice markets, warm Mediterranean sunshine and fascinating cultures. Combine Spain, Portugal and Morocco on a guided holiday that includes such highlights as Alhambra Palace, the Medina, Lisbon and Fatima.  Encounter architectural wonders, the rare beauty of Salamanca and the delicious flavours of tapas and Jabugo jamon. Lunch at a local stud farm where Lusitano horses have been reared since the 18th century is one of the tour’s highlights.