One in every ten Brits bound for the promise of sun each winter will be in Tenerife, just a four hour flight away and with many more stylish properties than its reputation might suggest. Aside from beaches, don’t miss a trip to the end of the world landscapes of the Las Canadas Teide national park, bang in the middle and dominated by the two mile high, Fuji-like volcano.
It’s amazing to think that only 30 years ago Cambodia was torn apart by civil war and genocide. Today it’s one of Asia’s most exciting destinations, from the jungle-clad temple complex of Angkor to the vibrant capital, Phnom Penh. Throw in sensational food, great hotels and world-class beaches for an unmissable travel experience.
You might think of The Gambia as a cheap winter sun destination on the west coast of Africa. And you’d be at least half right. In fact it’s so much more than that, with superb beaches, charming hotels, friendly people and stunning wildlife – and only six hours flying time from the UK. Best time to visit is November to June.
With the new political entente cordiale between the west and Iran, now is the time to travel to this culturally-rich and friendly country, either independently or on an escorted tour. With 700 years of history, attractions include jewels of Islamic architecture, old bazaars and stunning landscapes.
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.
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.
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.
Cuba is the ideal combination of city and beach, culture and indolence. Spend a few days strolling the streets of Old Havana, visiting cigar factories, drinking mojitos and dancing in salsa bars. Explore the colonial city of Trinidad then kick back on one of the Caribbean’s most beautiful beaches.
The ski chalet is a wonderful British invention. With breakfast, dinner and afternoon tea provided, you get to enjoy your day on the slopes – and pay a lot less than you would staying at a hotel and eating out. Making new friends and dining together is a key part of the chalet experience.
Burma is one of the world’s most fascinating and beautiful destinations, its people gentle, warm and genuinely friendly. Although Burma is ruled by a brutal military dictatorship, the release from house arrest of the democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi makes us believe that now is the right time for tourists to discover this hidden gem.
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.
With its diverse mix of habitats, from the doily of waterways and lagoons of the Okavango Delta to the salt pans of Nxai and the sands of the Kalahari, Botswana is a supreme safari destination. Explore it in an amazing variety of transport: elephant and horseback, mountain and quad bike, dug-out canoe and camel, as well as the more familiar 4WD vehicles.
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.
Most visitors to Malaysia head for the resorts on the west coast but for unspoilt beaches, lush countryside and fascinating local culture we recommend a visit to the quieter east coast of the peninsular. You’ll find jungle treks, authentic fishing villages, rivers and islands to explore and some gorgeous hotels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ecuador offers a potted version of the entire South American continent. Join a tour to take in jungle, Andean peaks, exquisite Spanish colonial architecture, nights in haciendas, Indian markets and Inca ruins, with the added bonus of a guided cruise to the Galapagos, Darwin’s own laboratory.
Some places have that elusive ‘wow’ factor – others don’t. The Seychelles has it in spades. Silky beaches, tropical forests, the super deluxe hotels. Swim with turtles in the morning, spend an afternoon unwinding in the spa then dress for cocktails at sunset. Perfect? You bet.
Renting a boat is one of the most relaxing ways to enjoy the British countryside. Potter along at 5mph amidst the reeds and marshes of the Norfolk Broads, or explore a network of rivers and canals by narrow boat. Wherever you go – for a weekend break or a summer holiday – you are never far from a waterside pub.
Often staged in historic settings, such as the 2,000 year old amphitheatre in Verona where audiences applaud divas from the same seats as they once cheered their favourite gladiators, Italy’s opera season extends far beyond La Scala, with al fresco performances both magical and musically memorable.