If you're looking for beach-vacation bliss, the Bahamas is the place to go.
Scattered like emeralds between Florida and the Caribbean, this Atlantic archipelago comprises more than 3000 subtropical islands and cays, most uninhabited. Lushly subtropical, and fringed with teeming coral reefs and world-famous beaches, these stunning destinations offer as much to divers and hikers as they do to sunseekers in search of banging beachside bars.
Here are the best places to visit in the Bahamas.
Best place for nightlife
Nassau is the unchallenged nightlife capital of the Bahamas. Historically a haven for pirates and smugglers, the city's treasures now attract travelers looking for an incredible night out.
Ground zero for any evening in Nassau is the Fish Fry on Arawak Cay, just west of the center of town. Shacks slinging fried fish, freshly cut conch salad and sky juice (a local favorite drink of gin, green coconut water and condensed milk) mingle with bars booming out reggae and rake-and-scrape (the local sound) from 7pm every evening.
Once your night’s started, head back downtown for rum punch and sandy toes at the clapboard bars of Junkanoo Beach, a Black Beer’d Stout at Pirate Republic microbrewery or even a dress-up-nice cocktail at Sky Bar.
Planning tip: If you want an early kick-off, John Watling’s Distillery – a working rum factory in a gorgeous 18th-century estate – opens at 10am.
Best place for historic architecture
The British history of the Bahamas is most evident in Elbow Cay. The prettiest of the gorgeous Abacos islands, its epicenter is Hope Town, founded by British Loyalists in 1785 and distinguished by bougainvillea, brightly painted cottages and the iconic Elbow Reef Lighthouse.
Its sheltered bay bristling with masts, Hope Town is also a yachting haven. Happily, its car-free streets are blessed with winsome hotels like the Abaco Inn, an exemplar of the pastel clapboard architecture that’s strictly maintained here. Knowledgeable local operators, like Sundried T’s, rent surfboards and guide diving and snorkeling expeditions on surrounding reefs and beaches.
Best place for celebrity spotting
Known as "Briland'' to locals and regular visitors, lovely little Harbour Island is a favorite haunt of celebrities such as George Clooney and Jessica Alba. A short water-taxi ride from parent island Eleuthera, it’s famous for colonial architecture and stunning sandscapes such as Pink Sands Beach, rose-tinted with crushed coral.
Briland is blessed with boutique accommodations like Pink Sands Resort and Runaway Hill, formerly a grand private seafront estate that was built in the 1940s. You’re always just a serene stroll away from fine restaurants like Malcolm 51 and Rock House Restaurant or the sandy floors and
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Long before she entered the tent as the elegantly erudite judge of The Great British Bake Off, Prue Leith was already enjoying a fascinating career: Born in Cape Town, South Africa, she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris before opening a Michelin-starred restaurant in London. Among her many, many roles in the decades since, she has written a dozen cookbooks and nearly as many novels, opened several culinary schools, and sat on the board of British Railways and Orient Express.
In Britain, the Sunday roast is sacrosanct. Gathering together around a beautifully cooked joint of meat, with lashings of gravy, vegetables and billowing Yorkshire puddings, is, for many, the weekend’s social highlight. And where better to do to this than the pub? Not only do you avoid the washing-up but, centuries after the French dubbed Brits les rosbifs, you get to enjoy the roast at its most modern. In recent decades, Britain’s best pub chefs have, by focusing on seasonal ingredients, rare-breed meats and painstaking preparations of roast potatoes or root vegetables, brought a fresh glamour to this Sunday afternoon ritual.
This cheery diner might be located deep in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, but it’s immensely popular, particularly with families. It’s both child- and dog-friendly, and there’s an enormous play area out front. Once you’ve finished snapping photos of the kitsch interiors, sink your teeth into a mushroom Swiss burger or enjoy a refreshing glass of sarsaparilla from the restored 1940s soda fountain.
Hotel Lutetia Paris named hotel of the year, Capella voted leading luxury hotel brand, Japan shines as most popular holiday hotspot and Portrait Milano recognised as best new hotel, while Dubai wins multiple airline and airport accolades.
The ultimate tropical getaway, the Caribbean conjures images of palm-fringed beaches, rum-fueled dancing and lush jungle excursions. Pick any of the 700-odd islands that form an arc between Florida and Venezuela and you’ll get all these things and more.
The best Christmas markets seem to turn back time, transforming areas of cities into timeless wonderlands. In the UK, you’ll find no shortage of opportunities to savour the comforts of the season, with artisanal, themed and traditional Christmas markets popping up across the country from November onwards.
Some destinations are just gorgeous year-round, but when is the best time to go to the Maldives to make the most of the weather in this dream destination? Whether your goal is to relax with perfect sunshine, or you'd ideally like to skip peak season to avoid crowds, planning in advance is important ahead of a trip as big as this.
There’s an affinity between trains and Christmas, but what precisely is the connection? Ghostliness comes into it – the mystique of a train in the wintry night. I think of the misty, hypnotic adaptation of Dickens’s story The Signalman, in 1976, part of the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas strand; or the ghost story in the Christmas number of the Railway magazine (that publication’s only excursion into whimsicality is always worth reading).
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