Whenever you think of a holiday, you may automatically imagine the sun shining, while relaxing at your favourite beach destination. What you might not realise is that many of the countries that are famous for sun, sea and sand also offer a rich, cultural history that needs to be explored. Why not try swapping the sea for the sights next time you travel?
1) Kos, Greece
Kos is bursting with history around every corner. According to Greek Mythology, it’s the sacred land of Asclepius, the god of healing. Take time for yourself; relax, rejuvenate and visit the Asklepieion, an ancient medical centre, or, stroll through Kos Town and soak up all the ancient remains around you. There are captivating landmarks everywhere you look, including the Archaeological Museum of Kos, Castle of the Knights and the Ancient Agora. Spoiler alert, there are great landscapes to gaze at, especially at the Castle of the Knights, where you’ll find stunning views of the harbour. Making these historical sites the perfect location to take a selfie. Just don’t forget to share them on our Facebook and Twitter pages or by using the hashtag #thomascook.
2) Tulum, Mexico
Tulum’s not only an historical hotspot, perfect for anyone looking to do some sightseeing, but it’s also a beautiful beach destination. Dating back to the 13th-century, the Mayan ruins are one of the best preserved coastal sites in all of Mexico. Located right on the beach, you’ll be able to visit the pyramids and temples while looking out at the tropical waters. If you’re looking for more ruins to explore, you’ll be able to travel 30 miles outside of Tulum town centre, where the Cobá Ruins are available to tour. Whether you’re a family or a couple, you’ll have a fun uncovering the history here.
3) Side, Turkey
Want to see a side of Turkey you’ve never seen before? We all know that Side, the popular beach destination, offers tranquil holidays with modern shores and great places to shop. What you might not know, is that you can transport yourself back in time. Leave the beach towel at your hotel and explore the many historical treasures on offer in the Old Town. No visit would be complete without seeing the Temple of Apollo. This is even believed to be the very place where Roman general Mark Antony met Cleopatra; this temple was supposedly gifted to her as a symbol of his love and devotion. Before running off to pick up your souvenirs, take some time to look around the Side museum and the Roman amphitheatre.
4) Split, Croatia
Split in Croatia offers you the best of both worlds with idyllic coastlines and a fortress-like centre. Dating back to Roman times, this city has everything you would want, from delicious food and the legendary Split Beach Festival to Game of Thrones sightseeing. If you love the show, you’ll recognise the Diocletian's Palace. ‘Throney’ or not, this is one landmark you don’t want to miss out on. This magnificent palace is like a city within a city and you’ll be able to take a tour all year round. If this hasn’t Stark-ed your interest, then there are lots of historical hotspots to see in the Old Town.
5) Paphos, Cyprus
Paphos is a beautiful city, full of ancient mythology and ruins that will add mystery to your beach holiday. Legend has it that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born in Paphos; to this day, you can still visit Aphrodite’s Rock. I know that you’ll be sure to fall in love with the historical sites and coastline. So many adventures await you here; the Tomb of Kings needs to be high on this list; although despite its name, no kings were actually buried here. It’s home to catacombs, which are carved out of solid rock. Can you imagine how long this would’ve taken to make? Paphos will create is memories you’ll always remember.
6) Havana, Cuba
Okay, so maybe Havana isn’t strictly a beach destination… But combined with a visit to Varadero this will give you the opportunity to have the perfect historical beach break. Discover the real gems of the city, especially when exploring the El Morro fortress and lighthouse; this is perched perfectly on the tip of Havana harbour. The history will unfold around you as you wander the passageways and take a moment to focus on the beautiful surroundings. Stop by the Old Square, Christopher Columbus Cemetery and the Plaza de la Cathedral, for more fantastic historical locations to inspire you.
7) Funchal, Portugal
Funchal is the magnificent capital of the Madeira region in Portugal and is a great tourist destination. From the famous yellow Forte São Tiago to the Santa Clara Monastery, there’ll always be plenty of sites to see. One fantastic landmark not to miss is Christ the King statue; it’s also known as the Sacred Heart, in case you hear any locals referring to this. Finish this adventure by relaxing in a traditional Portuguese restaurant with a glass of port (yes, this is drunk all year round) and digest your fantastic holiday.
Where’s the best beach destination you’ve visited with lots of history? Let me know in the comments below.