16 March 2018

Great holiday bargains, no matter the weather

It's a fair bet that when Cliff Richard crooned, 'We're all going on a summer holiday… ,' he didn't have Berlin in mind.

The German capital was probably too cool for Cliff. But it can be a great summer holiday destination if you're not just looking to sip margaritas and soak up the rays.

If you're looking for great value holidays, it can pay not to follow the sun-worshiping holiday crowd. Here's a guide to destinations that are equally chill come hail, shine or fog – and where you might be able to grab yourself a juicy travel bargain.


The classic musical starring Liza Minnelli set in decadent 30s Berlin captured something about the heart of the city. The German capital is creative, joyous and you can easily imagine a modern 'Cabaret' happening here – with a lot more characters sporting hipster beards.

Districts such as Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, where all the bass-heavy sound systems are probably undermining the foundations, still make Berlin one of the world's great nightlife cities. The capital's cooler inhabitants wouldn't be seen on the streets before 10pm – or returning before 6am the next morning.

But Berlin is also a museum city par excellence. The  (This link will open in a new window)Neues Museum (for antiquities), the  (This link will open in a new window)Bauhaus Archives (for design) and the  (This link will open in a new window)Jewish Museum (tracing two millennia of the people's history) are among the most absorbing collections on the planet.

One of the great things about clubbing and museum-going is that you don't need sunny weather to enjoy them. Likewise, thanks to the profusion of budget flights, you can find cheap fares to Berlin year-round.

Brandenburg Gate


People don't come to Dublin for balmy breezes. But they do for the pubs: rich in character and the raucous heart of the city's social life. With more than 1,000 pubs in the Irish capital, bursting with 'craic' (Gaelic for 'good times') and foot-stomping traditional tunes, they're a temptation worth giving into.

There are plenty of other reasons to visit Dublin, none of them relying on blue skies. See the awe-inspiring Book of Kells – a ninth-century painted Biblical manuscript – in  (This link will open in a new window)Trinity College's Old Library or find out everything you ever wanted to know about the city's most famous beverage at the Guinness Storehouse.

Dublin bridge


Iceland is perfect for the great outdoors – just not the sunbaked variety. Due to the collision of temperate Atlantic air and chill Arctic blasts, Iceland's weather, just like its extraordinary landscape, feels constantly in flux.

If you think British weather is changeable, you probably haven't been to Iceland. But you should: despite frequent rain and overcast skies, temperatures are mild enough (around 0°C-12°C through much of the country) to enjoy year-round Iceland's feast for the eyes.

Start, as many visitors do, with the otherworldly hot spring spas such as the Blue Lagoon before trekking across Lord of the Rings-like stretches of territory. Here, waves of frozen lava morph into the sensual blue and white curves of a glacier, all to the roar of some of Europe's mightiest waterfalls.

Iceland might be popular these days but you'll find it cheapest and less crowded in May and September, even if the weather can be at its breeziest.

Reykjavik aerial photo

San Francisco

Gold-rush city, tech-rush city, farmers-market-rush city (it's got the most per capita in the States), San Francisco is a place of dreams, grand plans, insurrection… and plenty of drizzle and fog.

Not that dodgy weather should put you off visiting one of the most exciting places in the States. Start your explorations by crossing that great metropolitan icon, the Golden Gate Bridge – even better if it's shrouded in fog. Go browsing at City Lights Bookstore, a famously radical literary hangout for more than 50 years.

Find more drama on a visit to the former island prison of Alcatraz Prison, once home to America's more fearsome criminals and bootleggers – all stewing behind bars with a view of the metropolis across the water.

A trip next to the vast creative playground that is  (This link will open in a new window)San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, one of several superb galleries in the city, should lift any incarcerated spirits.

Travel to San Francisco from March to May to beat the tourist stampede and rocketing prices.

Golden Gate Bridge


Consider making Melbourne, not the sunnier Sydney to the south, your gateway to Australia. It might have chillier and more tempestuous weather than its popular sibling but it's also rich in all-seasons cultural pursuits. Melbourne is considered one of the most European cities outside of Europe, serving up some of the finest espresso this side of Rome. (Telling fact: Melbourne invented the flat white.)

Join 100,000-strong crowds for matches at Melbourne Cricket Ground, explore amazing Aboriginal and other Australian art at the  (This link will open in a new window)Ian Potter Centre or visit Melbourne Zoo, one of the world's oldest.

Beyond the tourist attractions, Melbourne's appeal lies in soaking up its hybrid Aussie-Continental culture, born from post-war European immigration. Explore brilliant little boutiques tucked away down city-centre alleys, sample perhaps the country's best food scene and marvel at Melburnians' ability to turn a hole in the wall into a top-notch coffee shack.

Go to Melbourne in June or later for the cheapest airfares, best accommodation deals and fewest tourists.

Tram in Melbourne

Wherever you go, you may not be guaranteed fine weather, but if you've got Nationwide's FlexPlus Current Account your travel insurance will be taken care of as part of the package - one less thing to think about!

Other benefits include 3% AER (2.96% gross p.a.) variable in-credit interest on balances up to £2,500, commission-free cash withdrawals abroad, Worldwide Family Mobile Phone Insurance and UK & European Breakdown and Recovery Assistance - all for £13 a month.

As with all insurance, there are some excesses, exclusions and limitations which may apply to the policies, so please read these carefully.

Here's wishing you a fun holiday whatever the weather!

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Nationwide acts as an intermediary for the insurance products provided with the Nationwide FlexPlus Current Account.

FlexPlus Worldwide Family Travel Insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited. Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England & Wales No. 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, registration No. 202810. Calls may be recorded.

FlexPlus Worldwide Family Mobile Phone Insurance has been arranged for Nationwide Building Society by Lifestyle Services Group Limited with a single provider Assurant General Insurance Limited. Assurant General Insurance Limited is registered in England, No. 2341082. Authorised by the Prdudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and hte Prudential Regulation Authority, No. 202735. Lifestyle Services Group Limited is registered in England, No. 5114385. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in respect of insurance mediation activity only, No. 315245. Calls may be recorded.

FlexPlus UK & European Breakdown and Recovery Assistance is underwritten by Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited. Liverpool Victoria Insurance Company Limited, registered in England and Wales Number 3232514 is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority register number 202965. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. Tel: 01202 292 333.

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