August: Rail Madrid – try the express from Valencia

Where to go, what to do in 2011
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The Independent Travel

The destination

Use the new high-speed Spanish rail link to have a beach and city break. This year's new Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) train links Madrid and Valencia in just an hour-and-a-half. From €120 (£102) return.

The route

One to look out for this month is the intriguing possibility of Ryanair ( flying to Georgia. The airline declined to confirm whether this is the case, but Georgia's minister for economic and sustainable development is insistent that Ryanair will offer flights to Kutaisi, the second city, from Europe in the summer of 2011.

The cultural attraction

The opening of the new Music Hall in Helsinki ( takes place on 31 August followed by two concerts on 1 and 2 September. The programme will not be announced until March, but is bound to include generous helpings of Sibelius. The Music Hall will replace Alvar Aalto's visually stunning – but acoustically dodgy – Finlandia Hall.

The great outdoors

Russia is expected to designate the Russian Arctic National Park this month, in time for travellers to explore as the sea ice melts in late summer. The park will cover much of the Novaya Zemlya archipelago in the Arctic Ocean – home to enormous colonies of birds, walruses and polar bears. tourism-recreation/arctic-russia

The family holiday

Calling all waterbabies. Acorn Family Holidays ( has a new beachside destination for the big school break. Cala Llevado activity camp on the Costa Brava, Spain, has a new water sports centre and offers everything from sailing to kayaking. From £649 per adult, £599 per child.

The adventure

Regent Holidays ( is offering intrepid travellers the chance to visit the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, which was born out of the former Soviet territories of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The new eight-day tour will depart in late August, taking in the highlights of Nagorno-Karabakh and sites in Armenia on the journey to and from Yerevan. From £1,085.

The British day out

The £72m Museum of Liverpool – the largest newly built national museum in more than a century – will open this month on the waterfront ( The museum will focus on social history, highlighting the city's contribution to the world, while also showcasing popular culture.

All prices are per person, based on two sharing, unless otherwise stated. Hotel room prices are per room per night, unless otherwise stated