The hottest European escapes to spend the holidays

“Vacation is a lifestyle” as The Road Gypsy once said! And as Marilyn Monroe also said: “Some like it Hot.”  So here are three of the hottest hottest places to spend your holidays in Europe, all with a strong natural twist: whether you are walking, climbing, swimmining, diving or just enjoying the heat. From white sand beaches to the hothouses and lush rainforests of botanical gardens, let us try to keep you warm on your next great outdoor, or indoor, holiday.

Wilhelma Zoo & Botanical Garden in Stuttgart, Germany

If you are in search of tropical escapes, visit Wilhelma Zoo & Botanical Garden. This zoo boasts a botanical garden and a rather large aquarium section and is the only zoological-botanical garden in Germany.

The Wilhelma started out as a royal residence in the 19th century, turned into a public botanical garden toward the turn of the century and was expanded into zoological-botanical garden after World War II.

Of special note are the historic buildings shaped in the so called Moorish style, which create a unique backdrop for the exotic plants and animals in the Wilhelma.

The Wilhelma has some 1,200 animals species and some 7,000 varieties of plants, making it one of the most diverse places on earth.

Whilst plant varieties range from delecate orchids to hardy cactus, animals include spider monkeys, elephants, lions, crocodiles, polar bears and zebra to name but a few. Birds are also well represented: with cockatiels, budgerigars, herons and parrots amongst their feathered friends.

Special tours of the zoo are available by prior arrangement and it is easy to reach with a rental car from this link – allowing you to stay for as long as you want – the animal houses are open to 18:45 in the summer, the Amazon and Aquarium till 19:00.

Mljet, Croatia

Want European relaxation with a strong sense of social responsibility? Go to Mljet a beautiful island, surrounded by crystal clear water and listed by Time Magazine as one of the 10 most beautiful in the world and recently visited by Prince Charles.

Hot Holiday Escapes in Europe

Mljet – Image – Flickr Ian Bancroft

This island is famous for the lakes Veliko Jezero and Malo Jezero. There are also hundreds of sandy and pebble beaches around the coast. Many are only accessible by boat, so that you can turn into your cove into your own private beach for the day – enjoying the sun in peace and quiet.

Mljet is rich in underwater life. Scuba diving is available  – no less a person than Jacques Cousteau recommends the area and you too can explore underwater caves and sunken walls.

The island also offers excellent walking and cycling opportunities, therefore spending your holiday in Mljet will give you the chance to relax and unwind. The Mljet National Park covers a third of the island on the western end of the island and is a great place, especially for families, with outstanding swimming and kayaking opportunities and beautiful walking and cycle trails through peaceful pine forests.

Cartagena, Spain

There’s so much more to the city of Cartagena than you’d expect. It is the best place in Spain to escape from the crowds.

First, head to the Priest’s Garden where there are over 700 rare specimens of date palms. There are also 500 other species of plants to admire. For instance, you could find orange, lemon, pomegranate and jujube trees.

If you want a sweeping panoramic view, you can stride up to Castillo de la Concepción. On top of that, Cartagena’s stunning beaches must be seen to be believed. For example, you can go to the Mar Menor, in La Manga Strip. Mar Menor has many glistening beaches where people can swim and snorkel in warm crystal-clear waters. However, if you prefer a family atmosphere, you can go to the Playa De La Azohía. With a bay of wide expanses of golden sands and crystal-clear water, this beach is stunning.

You can snorkel and find numerous services in order to enhance your experience of Cartagena. For snorkelers, this is a unique way to experience undersea life.