If you’re planning on getting out of the U.K. while the 2012 Olympics are in town, don’t worry: you can still enjoy an exciting and relaxing summer. While the rest of the world’s eyes — and thousands of tourists — are focused on London, many other destinations offer the perfect backdrop for memorable summer holidays.
If you don’t want to stray too far from home, drive north to Inverness. Each June, this Scottish town hosts the RockNess Festival, two days of live performances by local and international musicians set on the stunning shores of Loch Ness. Past performers include Blondie, Fatboy Slim, Kasabian, Daft Punk and the Strokes.
Fly off to sunnier climes on a Spanish holiday. The southern town of Bunol is home to the annual La Tomatia festival. On the last Wednesday in August, tomato-happy visitors flock to Bunol, swelling the town’s normal population by about 21,000. At 11 a.m., everyone throws tomatoes at each other for an hour or two, creating a huge, happy mess in the streets. Wear old clothes and prepare to get dirty at this unique event.
For a more adventurous trip, pack your bicycle and head to Provence, France, for a cycling holiday. Mostly rural, Provence stretches from the Antibes to the Alps, so you can choose touring routes based on your biking experience and abilities. Don’t-miss attractions in this sunny region include water sports and scenery on Lac de Ste. Croix, the medieval village at Tourtour and — of course — wine tastings galore.
A holiday in Amsterdam offers historical and cultural attractions. The city’s streets are filled with carved gable stones — many dating from the 1800s -– museums, art galleries and hidden gardens. Among the most striking architectural gems in Amsterdam, the Papegaai or parrot chapel served as a house of worship for clandestine 16th-century Catholics. For a glimpse into the more-recent past, catch a movie at The Movies cinema. First opened in 1912, this theatre is the oldest film venue in the city and still retains its original art deco style.