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.
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.
If you love the big outdoors, Chile is the ultimate destination. Climb volcanoes in the Atacama Desert, go hiking in the Lake District, discover Easter Island and experience the majestic fjords and glaciers of Patagonia. With a great choice of stylish hotels, world-class food and wine, Chile is red hot right now.
Head to Iceland where the summer sun barely sets and the collapse of the local currency has sent prices tumbling. Linger in the capital, Reykjavik, for a couple of days then embark on an action-packed road trip taking in volcanic craters, lakes, waterfalls, geysers, black sand beaches and seal and puffin colonies.
It’s one of the most thrilling travel experiences on Earth: hike high into the forests of Rwanda and Uganda for an intimate encounter with mountain gorillas. Combine the trip into the Volcanoes National Park with a visit to Nyungwe Forest National Park, home to chimps and Colobus Monkeys, then kick back on Tanzania’s beaches.
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.
The countries of the Arabian Gulf have successfully reinvented themselves as luxurious winter sun destinations. Turbo-charged Dubai is the best known but for the real Arabia, consider Oman which is steeped in culture and history, or Abu Dhabi, which offers an awe-inspiring desert experience plus shopping and sightseeing.
Renowned for its profusion of wildlife and flora, 80 per cent of which can be found nowhere else on Earth, Madagascar is a nature lover’s dream. The island’s unique evolutionary path has produced elephant birds, giant lemurs and pygmy hippos. It also offers dazzling beaches and clear turquoise waters teeming with marine life.
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.
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.
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.
As well as those familiar Greek island assets of blue seas, delicious swimming, jaunts by boat and long, lazy lunches in waterfront tavernas, Paxos is an island of silvery-leafed olive groves, a legacy of the 14th century Venetian occupation. With no airport – and not even a single traffic light – it’s a perfect place to escape the crowds.
Sure, Arizona oozes the genuine spirit of the wild west, but it’s also home to some of the USA’s most luxurious resorts, vast deserts and canyons, awe-inspiring rock formations, golf courses, spas, fine-dining and ranches. Best explored on a fly-drive or escorted tour, Arizona boasts year-round sunshine too.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 canals by narrow boat. Wherever you go – for a weekend break or a summer holiday – you are never far from a waterside pub.
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.
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.
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.
Two of the Mediterranean’s smallest islands, Malta and Gozo punch well above their weight. Aside from sea and sunshine, vibrant Malta is jam-packed with history from megalithic temples to the Knights of Saint John, its skyline dotted with grand churches and golden walled cities. Gozo, Malta’s little sister, offers tranquillity, rural beauty and top diving.
Tobago is the Caribbean of your imagination. Pristine beaches, children playing cricket, a friendly bar serving cold beer and barbecued shrimp, fishing boats bobbing in the sea. Untroubled by mass tourism, this picturesque island has some excellent hotels and direct flights from the UK.
Summer in Sweden, with its long hours of daylight, is a magical time. The Swedes themselves blossom like meadow flowers, taking time off to enjoy gorgeous beaches, sail away to islands, forage for berries and escape to log cabins in the woods or besides tranquil lakes. Be warned, this fairy tale atmosphere is very infectious. You’ll love it.