When jetting off on holiday, we often don't think about air quality but perhaps we should!
Why is checking air quality on holiday important? Travel insurer Avanti recently surveyed over 2,000 UK travellers to learn more about their holiday habits concerning air quality. In the survey, over half (58%) of people said they had previously experienced breathing difficulties. For many (34%), their breathing problems were made worse by air pollution and dust allergies. A third (33%) suffered from hay fever while 19% had asthma. And 17% reported experiencing breathing problems due to air pollution. This shows just how important it is to travel with air quality in mind.
So, how is air quality measured? Air quality is measured by looking at the amount of pollutants in the air. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has set Air Quality Guidelines (AQGs) that show safe limits for major air pollutants, like PM2.5. This refers to tiny particles that can be harmful to our health.
The WHO regularly updates its Ambient Air Quality Database, which details the air quality in across 117 countries.
The AQG values have been developed after careful review of scientific evidence on the health impacts of air pollution. At the moment, the WHO recommends that countries should aim for an annual average PM2.5 score of 5 micrograms per cubic metre (5 µg/m3), which is a lot lower than many popular tourist hotspots.
What are the best European cities for air quality? Of the major European cities that they researched, Helsinki in Finland has the cleanest air (at 6µg/m3).
The Nordic regions generally rank highly for air quality. In their research, two Nordic countries– Norway and Finland – were in the top 10, perhaps no surprise given their focus on renewable energy and proactive environmental policies. They make a good choice for holidaymakers worried about air quality.
Krakow, Poland had the highest concentration of PM2.5 in Europe, at 22µg/m3, from the destinations we reviewed. Other popular destinations like Paris, Rome and Istanbul scored quite highly for air pollution too.
Avanti took a closer look at the air quality of their customer’s favourite holiday destinations. Portugal came out on top with the cleanest air among the top destinations visited by our travellers. India’s air quality was the worst of the bunch— over six times higher than Portugal’s. It’s one to watch if you suffer from breathing issues!
Top tips for travelling safelyWhether you want a city break, sunshine in the Mediterranean, or to travel to a far-flung destination, here are Avanti's top tips for planning around air pollution:
Sunday Strolls in Soho
It might be best known for its past, but Soho has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years. It’s musical history will always make it an iconic London destination, but with a host of unique and inspiring independent shops and restaurants having opened over the last few years it’s definitely worth a visit.
Far from the busy tourist trap it’s often mistaken for, steer away from Oxford Street and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find. We certainly were… read on to find out some of our faves discovered on our recent Soho tour with This is Soho.
Where to Eat & Drink
At the Brewer Street site vacated with the departure of Thai restaurant Wild Rice, fuel up with a Ramo Ramen lunch before hitting the shops. The Pandesal Garlic Bread is irresistible, a crunchy, almost caramelised stack baked by their sister brand Panadera Bakery and positively dripping with garlic butter. To be fair it’s worth dropping in for that alone. For a healthier take, the Octopus Kinilaw is a zingy bowl of braised citrus-cured octopus with ginger, tomatoes, peppers, coriander, samphire, coconut milk and chilli. Then tuck in to one of their exceptional ramens; we rate the Oxtail Kare Kare, a rich peanut butter broth with pulled oxtail, Tokyo noodles, nitamago egg, men, peashoots and spring onion, based on a classic Filipino recipe.
Once you’ve exhausted the shops of Berwick Street, this is a great spot to settle in for the evening and tuck in to some great wine and tapas. Cleverly designed to be both convivial enough for enjoying with friends and yet cosy enough for a date night, some of our favourite eats included the Burrata with Blood Orange, Radicchio and Pine Nuts, Duck Breast with Duck Liver Croquetas, Baby Leek and Gratin Potatoes and the Smoked Beetroot Tartare with Avocado Dressing and Whipped Moluengo, washed down with a beautiful white Rioja.
Cutter & Squidge
The doyennes of Soho cakes; we defy you to walk past the window without popping in to try something. We’d recommend either a slice of one of their perfectly frosted layer cakes (watch out for the seasonal specialities) or one of their signature Biskies, like a little cakey cookie sandwich filled with flavoured creams.
A Soho icon, the original Lina Stores on Brewer Street has been open since the 1940s bringing some of the finest Italian ingredients to London. Head to the pasta bar on Greek Street however to enjoy a menu of freshly made dishes like the 30-Egg Yolk Tagliolini with black truffle, butter and parmesan.
The Blue Posts
Soho is brilliant for proper London pubs. Come summer you won’t be able to move for pavement space as the offices of W1 flood on to the streets for a post-work bev. The Blue Posts has the advantage of a decent corner of Broadwick and Berwick Streets, a prime spot for evening people watching.
For a slightly more upmarket cocktail, SOMA comes from the team behind Kricket, serving cocktails with twists inspired by classic Indian dishes.
Where to Shop
There are several great vintage shops in Soho, but Reign has a great reputation for both decent designer pieces and high street names. As always with vintage it’s the luck of the draw what you find when, but we spotted some very tempting aviator jackets, excellent retro sportswear (noted for future fancy dress…) and accessories that have stood the test of time to be back in fashion again.
Sister Ray & Reckless Records
The vinyl revival of recent years shows no sign of abating and these are two must-visits for any music lover. Pumping out the tunes, both are worth taking the time to browse as you’re sure to unearth some gems. Music is a massive part of Soho’s history, from the Carnaby Street of the swinging 60s to BOWIE, and there’s surely nothing more satisfying that discovering a favourite record on an original vinyl to add to your collection.
The now iconic salon was the pioneer of dip-dyes and kaleidoscopic hair when founded by Alex Brownsell back in 2010 and now the Soho space is also home to its product range. The debut makeup collection is worth a play, while their hair products (including home colourants in a truly delicious palette of rainbow hues) are of a quality to rival any big brand name.
A soho piercing studio with a difference, Sacred Gold brings the luxury fine jewellery experience with ear jewellery curation alongside its menu of piercing services. Elegantly displayed cabinets house delicate pieces studded with semi-precious stones. As someone with 17 piercings, this might just become a favourite new haunt.
Taking up the corner unit of Broadwick and Marshall Streets facing Carnaby, END. has become something of a destination store for menswear. Stocking a wealth of stylish sport and streetwear brands as well as luxury labels, emerging designers and fantastic homewares from the likes of HAY, it houses over 400 brands.
The Swedish shoe brand was founded in 2014 and is fast becoming one of the world’s hottest trainer brands. Hand-crafted in Portugal of the finest Italian leathers, there are some hot styles alongside a new clothing collection. The store is a bastion of chic with some seriously cool design, not to mention a station for breathing life back into battered trainers; take along a pair that have seen better days and their team will work their magic to make them as good as new.
The only place to go when you need new specs, the flagship Soho store houses a custom design station where you can create your perfect pair of glasses or sunnies. With dozens of frame colours and styles to choose from, you might struggle to just choose one pair…
Specialists in raw and prewashed denim jeans, Nudie Jeans was founded in Gothenburg and undoubtedly captures a dose of Swedish cool. Purveyors of not just excellent denim but a fantastic wider clothing collection, what’s more the Soho outpost is home to a repair studio to fix up any jeans that are falling apart and make them as good as new.
*During my visit, I was hosted by the team at This is Soho. All views and opinions are my own. Images courtesy of Laurel Waldron.
Located on the rocky shores of the Baie des Anges, Nice is part of the infamous and luxurious French Riviera. Home to many famous artists and filled with fascinating and breath-taking attractions, it's a fascinating destination with something for everyone to enjoy. Boasting a plethora of fabulous places to see, including the Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse, and the Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice, you won't be short of sights to take in.
If you're in Nice on a whistle-stop tour and don't plan on staying overnight at a hotel, lighten your load and leave your bags in a luggage storage locker for safekeeping. Adventures are always more enjoyable when you're traveling light!
Whether you plan on lounging on the beach, or canvassing the museums and checking out the local attractions, we've highlighted the top must-see attractions in Nice, you don't want to miss.
Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice
The Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate de Nice, or the Nice Cathedral, is a Catholic cathedral built between 1650 and 1685. Located in Vieux Nice, or Old Town, the cathedral’s exterior may not seem that impressive except for the patterned dome. The interior, on the other hand, is spectacular! The lavish interior boasts 10 ornate chapels filled with tapestries, sculptures, and paintings. Sit in one of the chapels and take in the grandeur that surrounds you, it's an experience you won't forget.
Promenade des Anglais
The iconic Promenade des Anglais, is a four-mile promenade built during the 1820s, which runs along the Mediterranean Sea, offering breath-taking views. The promenade goes from the Aéroport Nice Côte d’Azur or the Nice Airport to the Quai des États-Unis.
Rent a bike or rollerblades and spend a few hours taking in the sights, or simply take a stroll or relax in the shade on one of the benches as you watch the world go by.
Villa Musée Masséna
Located just off the Promenade des Anglais, the 19th century Villa Masséna was donated in 1919 to the city of Nice to be a local history museum. The museum is home to several artifacts from the belle époque era.
Stroll through the mansion, which still looks much the way it did when it was donated in 1919, and view several Riviera art pieces and artefacts. Napoleon’s death mask is on display as well as Empress Joséphine’s tiara.
Musée Marc Chagall
You don’t have to be an art buff to truly appreciate the Marc Chagall National Museum, which the renowned painter himself helped design, from the gardens to the stained-glass windows in the concert hall.
Best known for his religion-inspired works, the museum showcases Chagall’s biblical-themed paintings, divided into the Old and New Testament. There are 17 paintings in all, with the most famous being the Resistance, Resurrection, Liberation triptych.
You can wander through the museum on your own or you can sign up for a guided tour and learn even more about the painter and his masterpieces.
Parc de la Colline du Château
When visiting Nice, you will definitely want to make a trip to the historic Parc de la Colline du Château or Castle Hill Park. Bring your camera for social media-worthy photos of the city and ocean below. Your friends will be envious!
Stroll through the park and marvel at a refreshing manmade waterfall. Grab a snack or a drink at the café in the park and relax on one of the benches in the shade. You can take a small train to the top of the hill for a fee or ride the free elevator instead of walking.
You absolutely must take the time to visit Vieille Ville or Vieux Nice, also called Old Town by those who are not fluent in French. With its narrow cobblestone streets and pastel buildings, it is an experience you cannot miss. It is the oldest part of Nice.
Visit the shops located in these pastel buildings to find anything from meats and cheeses to Provencal textiles to Nicoise soaps. Be sure to stroll down Cours Saleya, a pedestrian street with its daily market.
Marché aux Fleurs Cours Saleya
Located in the Vieille Ville, this outdoor market in Cours Saleya and is open daily. Don’t miss the chance to experience an authentic outdoor French market with its eclectic mix of fresh-cut flowers, local produce, and handicrafts.
This fun place is a great place to get free samples of traditional French foods. It is open Tuesday through Sunday and then on Monday, the market becomes a flea market of sorts where you can find pretty much everything under the sun!
Monastère de Cimiez
Visit one of the oldest monasteries in southern France. The Monastère de Cimiez was built during the 800s by the Benedictines. Some of the gothic-inspired buildings in this complex were built during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The frescoes you will encounter date back to the 1500s, including several paintings by Brea. Visit the museum that was opened here to learn more about the history of the monastery and then pay a visit to Matisse’s grave.
Make time to explore the exquisite gardens that are believed to be the oldest in Nice. The original gardens were first planted in 1546 by the monks. Now, they have been expanded to include topiaries, flower beds, geometric lawns, and pergolas.
With so many great things to see and do, Nice truly is a magical city that should be on any culture vulture's travel bucket list.
*This post was done in collaboration with luggage storage network Bounce.
With lockdowns currently stricter than ever before, in both the UK and abroad, and the UK’s borders currently closed to international travellers, hopes of jetting away for an international holiday don’t look like they’ll be on our agenda for the foreseeable future.
While I love exploring different countries, over the past year I’ve come to appreciate all of the fabulous places on the UK’s own shores, and I have discovered that there are plenty of gems right on our doorstep.
We are hopeful that in the coming months, restrictions will begin to ease (when it’s safe to do so) and we can once again start planning our next escapes. To help beat the lockdown blues, we’ve partnered with Hotels.com to share our top picks of the cities and places we want to visit as soon as the lockdown lifts
I have been to Manchester on many occasions for work meetings, but I’ve never had the luxury of exploring the city and taking in all it has to offer, so I look forward to enjoying the city as a tourist.
Things to see and do in Manchester
Splash around at this retro-chic swimming pool, which heralds from the 1930s.
Take in some art in the Northern Quarter
Here you’ll find a wealth of fabulous art galleries that are certain to impress the most discerning art lovers.
Tuck into some amazing cuisine at Ancoats
Manchester is becoming a foodie haven, with many impressive restaurants to choose from. From quaint cafes to impressive restaurants, bars and bakeries, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Where to stay in Manchester
While I love staying at luxury hotels (who doesn’t), but now that I have two toddlers, I find apartment stays much better suit our needs as a young family. Here are top three picks:
Renowned for the Beatles and its friendly residents’ with their famous Scouse accents, there is something quite endearing about Liverpool.
Things to see and do in Liverpool
Albert Dock is a vibrant area that boasts some of the most gorgeous buildings in the UK. With loads of bars, restaurants and museums, it’s a hive of activity that’s certain to keep you entertained.
Get your culture vulture on at the Lady Lever Art Gallery
Heralded as one of the finest art galleries in Europe, this gorgeous museum is located in Port Sunlight in Wirral. The collection includes Lever’s personal art collection as well as a large collection of Wedgwood jasperware.
Visit the Museum of Liverpool
The Museum of Liverpool is the world’s first national museum devoted to the history of a regional city, which boasts 6,000 objects, highlighting the city’s heritage.
Go for a stroll along Crosby Beach
Enjoy a leisurely beach walk and take in the views across the sea to Wirral and the North Wales Hills.
As a parent with two animal loving tots, zoos always rate highly on our list of things to do when we visit a city. Rated as the number one zoo in the UK, it has more than 27,000 animals within the 125-acre setting.
Where to stay in Liverpool
Leeds is a buzzing city that has lots of fabulous places to see and things to do. Here are our top picks...
Harewood House and Gardens
This stunning Georgian property is breathtakingly beautiful. The expansive picture-perfect grounds beckon visitors to slow down and while away the hours relaxing in the gardens.
Located along the banks of the River Aire, this medieval Cistercian abbey will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in history. Pop by the visitor centre to learn about the fascinating lives of 12th century monks or explore the family trails if you have energy to burn.
We hope that our city guide has inspired you to plan your next city escape in the hopefully not too distant future.
Where to stay in Leeds
*This post is in collaboration with Hotels.com, however, all views are my own. Before embarking on any travel, please regularly check the Government’s guidelines to ensure that you are aware of any restrictions that are in place, while ensuring that you take any necessary measures to keep yourself and locals safe and healthy.
All hotel images courtesy of Hotels.om.
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