Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot. With 500 miles of beaches, the magnificent baroque city of Lecce and distinctive whitewashed trullo houses, it is one of Europe’s most appealing holiday regions. The food and wine are terrific and nowhere is more than 15 miles from the coast.
There’s a hidden side to the Caribbean, a world away from the glossy travel brochures. Ironically it’s a side that many holidaymakers hanker after – an authentic Caribbean found in the small hotels, b&bs and lodges that are often family-run and overflowing with local bonhomie. Essence of the Caribbean has the inside track.
Tucked away in the south-west corner of Spain, the Costa de la Luz offers superb sandy beaches, pine forests, rolling dunes and fishing villages. If you can drag yourself from your lounger, the sights of Seville are just 90 minutes away by road. Go west and you can hop into Portugal. Or just lie back and watch the terrific sunsets.
The scenic wonders of New Zealand have stolen the show in many Hollywood movies. In real life, the landscapes of the newest country on earth are even more impressive than their on-screen portrayal, populated by a cast of friendly Kiwis, featuring a host of thrilling activities and served with some of the best food and wine on the planet.
Whatever your level of fitness and experience, a walking holiday is the perfect way to explore off the beaten track. Travel with a specialist who will provide well researched route maps, transport your luggage each day and book accommodation in delightful inns and hotels. Calories duly burned, enjoy epic dinners in charming village restaurants.
Abu Dhabi has emerged as one of the world’s most exciting new tourist destinations. Much more than a place for winter sun, it boasts world-class hotels, thrilling attractions on Yas Island, great beaches, designer shopping malls and desert experiences including dune safaris and sand boarding.
One of Sir Rocco Forte’s newest hotels is the Verdura Golf & Spa Resort, set on a gorgeous stretch of Sicilian beach. With rooms designed by Olga Polizzi, a spectacular spa, free kids club and world-class golf courses, you may be tempted to stay put. However, we recommend car hire to explore this fascinating island.
If you believe much of the Med has been ruined by high-rise hotels, head to North Cyprus. Although the main tourist hub of Kyrenia – with its perfect Venetian harbour – fairly bustles, surrounding villages appear stuck in a time warp. Explore hilltop castles, ruined abbeys and the remote beaches of the Karpas Peninsula, amongst the wildest and most beautiful in Europe.
Affordable family holidays need not mean having to sleep under canvas in a field bare of everything but grass. Many continental sites and ‘parcs’ not only provide a choice of mobile homes, lodges and apartments but have a broad range of on-site activities to keep all ages fully occupied and entertained throughout their stay.
The world’s most romantic and evocative train journey begins when your British Pullman glides out of Victoria Station in London. Once across the Channel, you take your private compartment on the sumptuous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, reaching Paris by 9pm, waking in the Swiss Alps then rolling into Venice at around 6pm.
Just four hours from the UK, Lanzarote ranks among the prettiest of the Canary Islands, with low-key resorts, sandy beaches, dramatic volcanic landscapes and a wonderful year-round climate. It’s easy and fun to explore and offers a wide selection of villas with private pools, making it an ideal choice for families, couples and groups of friends.
Crete is one of our favourite islands. Away from the package resorts, it has some stunning villas, boutique hotels and hideaways – as well as mountain villages, hiking trails, archaeological treasures, wild flowers and unspoilt coastlines. The season is long: you can get a tan in March and swim in the sea as late as November.
Namibia is Africa at its most starkly beautiful. Think vast sand dunes, endless deserts and the shipwreck-strewn Skeleton Coast and velvety night skies. You can sleep under the stars or in superb lodges, while in the game parks you can track rhino, leopard and cheetah. Namibia is clean and safe and from the UK there’s no jetlag.
The most awe-inspiring views of the Rockies, the spine of mountains that form the backbone of North America, lie in Canada. More precisely, they lie within a single World Heritage Site that straddles British Columbia and Alberta. Drive yourselves or, for the ultimate in scenic rail journeys, travel from Vancouver aboard the Rocky Mountaineer.
Argentina is one of the world’s great destinations, from the vast fertile plains of the pampas to the magical glaciers, lakes and ice fields of Patagonia. The capital, Buenos Aires, delivers style and pizazz while the countryside provides opportunities to stay at historic estancias, ride horses and drink fine wines at sensible prices.
Dotted off the coast of West Africa, the 10 islands of Cape Verde are as varied and fascinating as they are beautiful. With tropical beaches, lush mountains, year-round sunshine and direct 6-hour flights from the UK, they offer high standards at a fraction of the price of many African destinations.
It’s easy to find glitzy ski resorts where lunch on the slopes costs as much as your weekly grocery bill. More challenging is to find charming Alpine resorts that combine reasonably-priced self-catering accommodation, sensible prices, accessibility and – of course – great skiing.
With its rugged moors and soft voluptuous dales, Yorkshire serves up helpings of English countryside at its most iconic. Add pretty stone hamlets and historic market towns, castles and walking trails, fishing villages and cosy pubs into the pot and you have a county that delivers a multi-course menu of holiday pleasures.
If you want maximum pampering and total relaxation in the Caribbean, it’s hard to beat Sandals, which has luxury all-inclusive resorts on prime beaches in Jamaica, Antigua, St Lucia, Grenada and the Bahamas. Look out for the Caribbean’s first over-the-water suites which open at Sandals Royal Caribbean in January 2017.
Goa is one of the most exciting winter sun destinations – and among the cheapest. A combination of world-class beaches, superb food – including plentiful fresh fish and seafood – and friendly people are the basic ingredients. Add in markets, waterfalls, historical sites and some of the world’s most beautiful sunsets, and you have a clear winner.
The Dalmatian coast of Croatia is dotted with delightful beaches overlooked by mountains and pine forests. Whether you opt for beautifully-restored Dubrovnik, the historic city of Split or one of the island hotspots like Hvar or Brac, throw in good food and friendly people and you have one of Europe’s most underrated destinations.
Both the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Mexico have world-class resorts set on superb beaches with prices significantly lower than in rival holiday destinations. Besides affordable luxury, visitors can tap into a rich seam of culture, from remarkable Mayan archaeological sites and colourful Indian markets to Spanish colonial towns.
Vietnam is a hot winter sun destination, but to get the most out of this fascinating and beautiful country, take a tour, with interludes on the beaches as opposed to full-time loafing. Temples, sampans, hill tribe villages, historic ports and breathtaking mountain scenery contrast with chic boutiques, fancy restaurants and stylish beach hotels.