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Next month — Sept. 14-16Alicante, Spain: 88.11 pounds round trip

Fly Ryanair and Easyjet from London Stansted to Alicante.

The favorable weather in the bay city of Alicante makes it a year-round vacation destination.

Start with a walk up Benacantil Mountain to Santa Barbara Castle. On the way up, visitors see a mix of Roman ruins, medieval walls and modern streets. Inside the castle is an exhibition of sculptures and portraits as well as the Fireworks Museum, which contains items rescued from annual fire festivals. Visitors can take in a panoramic view of the city and sea from this 16th-century castle.

In the city center, or Rambla district, visitors can walk the palm tree-lined streets, visit ice-cream stalls or try horchata, a local drink made from almonds. Those with more sophisticated appetites should visit the trendy pubs and upscale restaurants along the harbor front.

In the evenings, el barrio, or old town, cafes and bars are full of both English- and Spanish-speaking locals and tourists mingling. This area is also popular for its shops selling exclusive, designer shoes.

Not to be missed is a one-hour boat ride from the marina to Tabarca Island, a protected marine reserve. This no-cars-allowed island is a well-liked destination for sightseeing or just relaxing on the beach. Visitors can delight in fresh fish dishes such as red mullet or caldero, a stewed fish.

If time allows, the Alicante travel guide suggests taking the Lemon Express train to the city of Denia. The two-hour tour winds through mountain tunnels, over bridges and along the coastline.

Three months — Nov. 9-11Madeira, Portugal: 55.98 pounds round trip

Fly Easyjet from London Stansted to Madeira.

A holiday on the island of Madeira should start at one of the local holiday activity companies, where guided tours of the levadas can be arranged. The levadas direct water from the north to the south, cutting through the island and providing excellent hiking routes.

Many of these levadas cross through the Laurissilva Forest, a U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural World Heritage Site, where hikers encounter many different species of birds, plants and fauna. The Madeira Island’s tourism office warns visitors to never try these walks alone.

Madeira offers visitors a whole host of year-round, outdoor activities, including trekking, cycling, climbing and orienteering. For those who prefer water sports, Madeira offers deep sea fishing — with a wealth of tuna to be caught — water skiing, surfing and diving.

For a glimpse into Madeira’s past, visit the Mario Barbeito de Vasconcelos Library-Museum with a collection of maps, prints, rare coins and more related to Christopher Columbus. Inside the Madeira Story Centre, visitors embark on journeys discovering the island’s volcanic origins, trade and strategic location in wartime.

Evenings can be spent at local restaurants enjoying Madeiran wine and other traditional drinks or visiting one or more of the cosmopolitan bars and clubs. The Madeira Casino offers live stage entertainment and a disco.

Airfare prices include estimated taxes and are courtesy of the Web site Prices were verified as of Monday afternoon when Stripes UK went to press. Deals are not guaranteed to be available; restrictions may apply.


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