Summer holidays are upon us. Yay! But, just as many of us were preparing to jet off, it was announced last week that the pound has taken yet another tumble. It slumped to a six-month low against the euro, and hit its lowest rate against the US dollar for 27 months. The timing couldn’t really be worse – but, with the continued uncertainty around Brexit, some experts believe it could fall even further.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. While a summer holiday to America, and many countries in the EU, will now set you back more than anticipated if you booked several months ago, there are several places where the pound will still stretch pretty far. We’ve rounded up our top five – so if you’ve not yet booked this year’s summer holiday, read on.
Argentina has been plagued with economic struggles for years, meaning the value of the peso’s taken a dramatic plunge. The pound is currently returning almost 50% more than it did a year ago, so for every £1,000 exchanged you’ll receive approximately £322 more of the local currency than you’d have got in July last year. So, while a flight to South America may cost more than a hop across the Channel, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck once you arrive in this stunning, and strikingly diverse, country.
Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, increasingly ranks amongst the world’s best cities. Combining European charm with a contemporary Latin flair, BA is a romantic and hedonistic city that seldom sleeps. Journey away from the cities, though, and you’ll discover an incredible natural wonderland. The imposing, arid Andes form the backbone of South America, and Argentina’s Aconcagua is the highest mountain outside Asia. The vast Patagonia region, meanwhile, encompasses many key tourist sites. These include Los Glaciers National Park – home to El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier and Mount Fitz Roy – and the windswept archipelago of Tierra del Fuego. Travel to the northeast of the country and, on the Brazilian border, you’ll find the mighty Iguazu Falls – taller than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls. Alternatively, head to the vineyards around Mendoza to sample some famous Argentinean Malbec.
Turkey is another country whose economic woes have caused its currency to spiral. This makes it a great summer holiday destination for bargain-hungry Brits. Compared to last year, the pound is more than 13% higher against the Turkish lira. So, if you exchange £1,000 you’ll get around an additional £114 back.
Straddling Europe and Asia, across the Bosphorus Strait, the great city of Istanbul is where East meets West. Steeped in history, it’s home to attractions such as the Byzantine church of Haghia Sophia, the Blue Mosque and the Topkapı Palace. If beaches are more your thing, though, head to the resort city of Antalya on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast. Or, on the Aegean Coast, try Marmaris, Kuşadası or Bodrum.
Pre-Brexit you could actually buy more rand for a pound than you can now. But, while it’s not quite as cheap as it once was, South Africa remains a fairly inexpensive place for a summer holiday – and an unbelievably stunning one at that.
The jewel in South Africa’s crown is undoubtedly Cape Town. With an extraordinary setting, at the foot of Table Mountain, Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city that boasts excellent art galleries, a thriving nightlife and a fantastic range of restaurants. And its rugged coastline is studded with white-sand beaches. Popular Boulders Beach is the only place in the world where you can enjoy a close encounter with an African penguin.
While there are enough things to do in Cape Town to keep you occupied for weeks, there’s far more of South Africa that warrants exploration. The incredible Garden Route – which passes through rolling hills, past lagoons and lakes – is a highlight for most visitors. And a South African safari should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list. Head to Kruger National Park – northeast of Johannesburg and Pretoria – and you’ll have a good chance of spotting the infamous Big Five.
In contrast to South Africa, Iceland has always been a very expensive holiday destination. However, the krona has been weakening since October and it appears as though Iceland’s tourist bubble is about to burst. Visitor numbers this year have plunged, although nobody is quite sure why. It may be because of negative reports surrounding ‘overtourism,’ or because those inspired to visit the country in recent years (thanks in no small part to Game of Thrones) have now already done so. Either way, many hotels have responded by cutting their rates, so you should be able to seek out a good summer holiday deal.
It is a truly breathtaking country. The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route that loops 300 kilometres from Reykjavík into the southern uplands and back. Drive it and you’ll encounter natural wonders including Geysir geyser, Gullfoss waterfall and the majestic Thingvellir National Park. Thundering Skógafoss and the glacial lagoon Jökulsárlón are also must-sees. And no visit to Iceland would be complete without a trip to the famous Blue Lagoon, just outside Reykjavik.
As with many places in Asia, Sri Lanka tends to be fairly inexpensive. While no longer the bargain destination it once was, the pound is up three percent compared to last year. Plus you might see cheaper flights in the coming months. The government recently announced it was to reduce airline charges to help boost tourism again following the Easter tragedy.
Sri Lanka’s varied topography ranges from lowland jungles to misty highlands and idyllic beaches. And, despite its modest size, it’s home to an impressive eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You’ll likely land in the capital city Colombo, which has some wonderful colonial architecture, bustling markets and an increasing number of stylish eateries. To really discover Sri Lanka’s rich history and culture, though, you should head to Kandy. This sacred city is famed for Buddhist sites including the Temple of the Tooth. Alternatively, pay a visit to dramatic Sigiriya – a flat-topped mountain that contains the ruins of an ancient civilisation. When you’ve had enough of city living, Sri Lanka’s relaxed national parks make for some great trekking. You might encounter elephants, leopards and water buffaloes, as well as all manner of birds. Or, if you’re something of a water baby, the dive sites are absolutely world-class.