Travel deals: Europe, Dubai, Greece, Spain

Where in the world do you want to go? Every day I receive emails on travel deals from all over the world, so I’ve decided to compile some of them into a regular hit list of the best. Most of them quote Australian dollars but the deals are through companies operating worldwide.

DUBAI: Three-day Taste of Dubai package from Tempo Holidays. From just $A265 per person twin share, the package includes two nights in 4 star Four Points by Sheraton Bur Dubai with daily breakfast, and a City of Merchants tour of Dubai’s highlights including Jumeirah Mosque, old wind-tower houses in Bastakiya, Al Fahidi Fort and the Old Town’s gold and spice souks.

The deal includes return airport/hotel transfers by coach, English speaking guides. The tour avoids the shopping malls, what a bonus! I hauled myself all over Dubai to these spots on my own and they were infinitely more interesting than the mega shopping centres that the city is so famous for. The boats that criss-cross Dubai’s canal all day cost 1 dirham, and I spent a lot of time sightseeing that way, between the new part of the city and the more traditional old quarter. Tempo Holidays at, or

EUROPE: Back-Roads Touring is extending its 7.5 per cent early-bird discount on small group tours through Europe in winter, with six winter itineraries valid for travel between November 2011 and March 2012. Enjoy cheese-making, chocolate tasting, an excursion to St Moritz, a cable car ride to Mount Titlis and Christmas markets on the 7-day Swiss Alpine Explorer from $A2766 per person twin share, a saving of $A224. The tour travels from Geneva to Zurich and includes Montreux, Bern, Lucerne, Davos and Appenzell.

The five-day Winter Palaces and Chateaux of the Loire departs Paris and includes a stay in a French chateaux in Cheverny, wine tasting in the Loire Valley, dinner in a top gourmet restaurant in Chinon and a visit to the grand Chateaux de Chenonceau from $A1609 per person twin share, a saving of $A131.

The four-day Heart of England departs London taking in Oxford, Stratford-upon-Avon, the Cotswolds, Bath, Stonehenge and Windsor Castle from $A1105 per person twin share, a saving of $A90. Catering for travellers aged 50-plus, Back-Roads Touring offers leisurely-paced small group tours of no more than 16 people which travel along country lanes, use boutique accommodation and include most meals and entrance fees.

Top chef Kolja Kleeburg

CHEF CRUISE: Cruise line MSC Cruises has launched a new round of gourmet voyages featuring the creations of some of Europe’s highly acclaimed celebrity chefs. Cooking up a storm will be two-time Michelin Star winner, Spain’s Paco Roncero, the UK’s “celebrity chef” Antony Worrall Thompson and Germany’s highly awarded chef Kolja Kleeburg.

Italy’s equally commended Mauro Uliassi and Frenchman Gilles Epie, awarded a Michelin Star at a youthful 22, will also weave their magic on the cruises. Each will put on demonstrations and tastings of European cuisine on cruises in the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. Cruise ships to host the special gourmet events will be MSC Splendida, MSC Fantasia and MSC Lirica. To complement two of these cruises, MSC Cruises (Australia and New Zealand) has created a 19-night Italian Gourmet Fly/Explore and Cruise package from Australia, priced from $A5359 per person twin share from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, from $A5169pp twin share from Perth.

GREECE: Do you live in the UK and you’re not sure what to do with the children on the half-term holiday? Grab some autumn sun on the beautiful island of Kefalonia in the Ionian Islands off the west coast of Greece. Apartment holidays start from just £399pp based on four sharing a two bedroom apartment or a villa with its own pool from £479pp. Things to do on Kefalonia:  Explore secluded coves and beaches, a visit to the Melisanni Caves or take the fantastic Marine Adventure Snorkelling tour, visit St. Gerassimos Monastery.

SPAIN:  A 7.5 per cent earlybird discount on Topdeck’s new 10-day Spanish Fiesta when booked and paid in full by December 15, 2011. Experience Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo, Valencia and the party paradise of Ibiza from $A1702 per person, a saving of $A138. Highlights include a Flamenco show in Barcelona, a walking tour of the Old Quarter of Valencia and two days to soak up the world famous nightlife and beaches of Ibiza.  Spanish Fiesta is part of Topdeck’s new 2012 Europe hard copy brochure.

Next week – Club Med ski deals in China and the hotel in Bangkok priced $A37 a night. It’s not a cockroach-infested dive, it only opened in 2010 and it’s great!

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