Although the Great British summer holiday is surely as essential to our cultural identity as fish and chips, tea, standing in polite queues, and complaining about things, it took until Victorian times, and the invention of the railway, for the summer retreat to become accessible to anyone other than the wealthy.
The ability to travel far, for cheap, led to families across the UK flocking to seaside resorts in Brighton, Cornwall, Scarborough – anywhere with guest houses, a pier, and a good stick of rock for sale. Soon, the first travel companies began to offer railway tours around the country – and later abroad – for keen holidaymakers.
The average Brits' love of holidays was aided by the first commercial flights in 1914, and changes to the law in 1938 that guaranteed holiday time for all workers. Developments making air travel more accessible continued throughout the 20th century until the launch of low-cost airline RyanAir in 1985 saw flying abroad become truly affordable for all.
Now that jetting off abroad can be as simple – and often cheaper! – than a train to the coast, the world seems so much smaller. We Brits are certainly creatures of habit, and we definitely have the tendency to head for the same corners of our small world every year. If you're in the mood for home comforts and familiar accents while on your holidays, here are the places you're most likely to find other British travellers enjoying them too:
Spain and its islands are an ever-popular choice for British holidaymakers in search of sun, sea and sand. With an average temperature of about 24 or 25 degrees from July to August, and rarely falling outside of the 20s in the summer months, Majorca is a perfect spot for Brits to get some much needed sun on the island's beautiful beaches. We flock there in our millions every year, beaten only by German visitors, who can't get enough of the Majorcan sun either.
But it's not just a sunbathing hotspot – the island has something for everyone, with mountain walks for the adventurous, prehistoric discoveries ancient Roman ruins for those with a keen interest in history, and a notoriously thriving nightlife in spots like Magaluf. And best of all, everything takes place under that beautiful sunshine. Is that rain? No, of course it isn't!
The second – and not the last – Spanish island on our list, the largest of the Canary Islands features many of the same attractions as Majorca. Namely, beautiful sunshine and glorious beaches.
But Tenerife has plenty of charms all its own. The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is one of the largest in the world, and takes place around Easter – so plan your visits carefully depending on whether you're after a relaxing break or a non-stop party!
It's not just beaches, either – Tenerife's scenery is stunning wherever you look, with national parks and mountains crammed into the islands borders. The mountainous peaks make it the highest point in all of Spain – so despite it's stunning sunshine, it's usually a couple of degrees chillier than Majorca – and the island is also home to Mount Teide, one of the world's largest volcanos.
Almost four million Brits head to the island every year – German visitors are a close second this time!
Although many families still choose Paris for a Disney-themed break, Orlando's reputation as the theme park capital of the world mean it's always going to be the dream destination for Brits of all ages. If flights were as affordable as for Spanish breaks, it would surely top every list. With scorching highs of 30 degrees plus from May through to September, it's a real sunshine hotspot – just watch out for those summer thunderstorms.
The attractions of the Sunshine State of Florida's third-largest city should need no introduction – Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, the Kennedy Space Centre and Legoland, as well as more golf and shopping opportunities than you could ever need packed into about a hundred square miles. Over 50 million tourists from around the world visit Orlando every year, and a fair chunk of them are Brits.
Back we go to the Spanish islands – Ibiza, like Majorca, is in the Balearic Islands group, and enjoys similar weather to its larger neighbour. So that's relentless sunshine, then? Absolutely.
Ibiza's reputation is legendary – the world's greatest electronic and dance music producers and DJs call the island's clubs home every summer, with a nightlife that is unrivalled around the globe. If Orlando is the world's theme park capital, then Ibiza is surely the world's clubbing capital – over ten million take a trip to the island every year, many of them heading for the dance floor, and many of them from the UK!
But it's not just clubbers who love Ibiza – the island's beautiful beaches, scenery and history attract plenty of visitors during the daylight hours.
The southernmost tip of Portugal isn't for those who don't function in the heat – the highest temperature ever recorded in the region is a ridiculous 44 degrees, with highs regularly approaching the 30s. In keeping with Brits' typical tastes, sun, sea and sand are dominant themes once again: the region's absolutely stunning Marinha Beach, and its iconic rocky outcroppings, are regular features in TV and film, but are something else entirely when you experience them in person.
The Algarve is a quiet region – except for in summer, when the population more than doubles thanks to an influx of tourists! Expect to find some of Europe's finest golf courses, picturesque traditional Portuguese towns, and beautiful local art and culture to experience and explore. It's no wonder Brits flock to the region year after year.
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