The aptly-called Rainbow Nation offers a spectrum of different experiences including beaches, game reserves, indigenous heritage, cities and handsome winelands, all readily savoured on a single trip. With overnight flights in both directions and no jet lag, South Africa is also remarkably easy.
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.
Brazil offers beach life in the raw: endless stretches of sand, blazing sunshine, a seductive samba soundtrack and a copious supply of caipirinhas. There are chic retreats, trailblazing eco-hotels, rustic fishing villages, turtle sanctuaries and canoe trips through mangrove swamps. The vibe is easy-going and the time difference is just three hours.
When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 it brought tragedy to the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The volcano also served to freeze in time a fascinating period of Roman history. Visit the scene in the company of an expert archaeologist to discover the most complete insight into everyday life in Ancient Rome.
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.
This low-lying, warm-weather Atlantic island is a well-groomed and bloomed world of pastel houses, poster-pretty beaches, umpteen golf courses and, with red pillar boxes and 4 o’clock teas, an unmistakable stamp of Britishness. Safe, dependable, jacket-and-tie respectable Bermuda makes a perfect spring or autumn getaway.
A Caribbean villa holiday has little to do with self-catering. Even the smallest properties have a daily maid who may also do your cooking, while larger houses come with a full brigade of staff to shop, cook, launder and even fix your favourite cocktail. It makes the holiday surprisingly affordable, especially if you avoid the peak season.
Not all the Canaries have been over-developed. On La Palma you’ll find soaring volcanic peaks, wild forests and few other tourists. Its capital Santa Cruz is a cobbled colonial outpost with great charm. The barely known and tiny La Graciosa could pass as a desert island with tranquil beaches and crashing surf.
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.
Few animals are as beautiful and elusive as the Indian tiger. At Bandhavgarh National Park the chances are high of a close encounter, particularly if you stay a few nights and take dawn and dusk safaris in your own private jeep. Combine it with the best bits of Delhi and Agra, including the Taj Mahal.
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.
The complete Caribbean experience on one island. As well as beaches, including one of the best in the Caribbean (Grande Anse), Grenada boasts a towering, rainforested interior and a broad mix of hotels, including the genteel, elegant Calabash where Gary Rhodes’ restaurant will dispel any notions about Caribbean food not being in the premier league.
Ask most people to name an Indonesian island and you’ll probably get Bali, possibly Lombok. But Indonesia is a nation of 17,000 islands, each with its own distinctive show of both nature and culture. In these days of global travel, names like Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Komodo still evoke an enormous sense of adventure.
Spend a day walking the coastal paths of Cornwall and you might wonder why Brits ever travel abroad. The undulating hills, the secret sandy coves, the miles of beach and the soaring cliffs are as fine as you’ll see anywhere. With excellent local restaurants and superb self-catering cottages, this is one of the finest UK holiday destinations.
The Antarctic is the most pristine wilderness region on Earth, offering eye-popping landscapes and heart-melting wildlife encounters – from seals and whales to Emperor Penguins. Explore Antarctica on a small expedition ship or enjoy the luxury of a larger cruise liner with the option to take in the Falkland Islands too.
Many Brits are sniffy about Corfu but never those that have visited the island’s northeast corner. Far removed from mass high-rise tourism, it is a place of tiny unspoilt coves, lush green interiors immortalised by Gerald Durrell, white pebble beaches, friendly tavernas and a choice of villas among the best in the Med.
Draw up a list of all the wonderful reasons for going to Italy – Blue Flag beaches, medieval hill towns, historic palaces, nights at the opera and galleries full of Renaissance masterpieces – and you’ll find them in abundance in Le Marche, the barely-known back garden of Italy, sandwiched between the Apennines and the Adriatic.
Borneo boasts sandy beaches, luscious scenery and luxury hotels, but what distinguishes this huge island from its Asian neighbours is the abundant wildlife. Most famous are the orangutans, easily inspected in Sabah’s Sepilok sanctuary, along with Probiscus monkeys, turtles and exotic birds. For adventure, climb Mount Kinabalu or stay in a village longhouse.
Beijing’s Olympic legacy goes way beyond the Bird’s Nest stadium. Stylish hotels, gleaming new airports and improved road and rail infrastructure mean there has never been a better time to witness the dizzying mix of old and new in the Chinese capital, along with the superstar cities of Shanghai and Xian.
One of the best ways to experience a destination is on foot. A guided cultural walking tour gets you up close and personal – whether you’re exploring the backstreets of Venice, the monasteries of Armenia or the mountain trails of Bhutan. The trick is finding a tour operator that combines imaginative itineraries with expert guides and organises small groups of like-minded travellers.
Forget all you’ve heard about the Costa Brava. The northern, knobbly, genuinely ‘Brava’ – or wild – stretch of coast is as scenic as anywhere on the Med but without coachloads of Brits. The resorts are tiny, the food superb, the walking and cycling trails well defined and, when you fancy a change, the foothills of the Pyrenees beckon.
Grand Cayman is sophisticated, polished and safe – in every sense of the word – with classy hotels, top restaurants and dreamy Seven Mile Beach. There’s also plenty to explore with pristine reefs, stingray encounters, submarine trips, botanical parks and island-hopping excursions to Cayman Brac or Little Cayman. Perfect with or without the kids.
Nowhere in Africa can match Kenya for spectacular scenery and the sheer volume and diversity of its wildlife. The Masai Mara should be on everyone’s list of must-sees, not only during the annual summer migration of millions of wildebeest, but throughout the year to view lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and hundreds of species of birds.
The beauty of Sri Lanka lies in the easy proximity of cultural treasures and world-class beaches. Take a tour of magnificent temples and national parks, stay in boutique hotels then relax on the beach. You’ll find a rich seam of experiences with friendly people, excellent food – and nonstop flights from the UK.