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.
As well as tropical beaches and top hotels, your memories will be shaped as much by the Balinese countryside. You’ll see emerald rice paddies one minute, immense volcanoes the next. Bali is a spiritual place where daily life embraces ceremony and ritual, temples and stone gods. And Balinese craftsmen are amazing, so take an extra suitcase.
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.
America is amazing but don’t bite off more than you can chew. The six states of New England make up a perfect bite-sized chunk. Packed with history, tradition, pretty villages, fine hotels, great food and natural beauty, they are ideal for self-drive or escorted tours at any time of year.
A luxury villa holiday in France is all about freedom, escaping the overcrowded resorts of the Med and sinking back into your private domain, splashing in your pool, cooking on the barbecue, sipping wine on the terrace. Just decide whether you prefer a rural hideaway or a stylish house close to the sea.
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.
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.
Even if you can only manage a two week holiday, Australia is still well worth considering. You can plan a trip that blends beaches with the outback, rainforests with Aboriginal culture, and vineyards with cosmopolitan cities without having to spend half your time travelling.
Some destinations punch well above their weight. Montenegro is a perfect example, a tiny country with not only 180 miles of Adriatic coast but also a striking interior of mountains, lakes and rivers. There’s plenty for the outdoorsy types, including hiking and mountain biking, plus historic gems from walled towns to Roman villas.
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.
A voyage aboard one of the three Star Clipper ships is a vastly different experience to a conventional cruise. Modelled on historic sailing vessels, they fly great clouds of billowing sails and offer passengers a timeless adventure as they explore the world’s most beautiful oceans and islands.
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.
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.
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.
It’s arguably the most gorgeous island in the Mediterranean, with perfect beaches and an interior dotted with medieval hilltowns, forests and the famous scented maquis. Yet compared to islands such as Mallorca, Corfu and Ibiza, it is curiously overlooked by British visitors. Corsica, in our book, is the Med to perfection, with a thick layer of French polish.
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.
Anguilla is a tiny low-lying Caribbean island that offers a real sense of escape. It’s a coral island, so the beaches are powdery and white, and you can only get there by ferry or a short flight from one of the bigger islands. The hotels and villas are outstanding, and the food is out of this world.
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.
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.
In the unspoilt Greek region of Halkidiki, Sani is one of Europe’s most attractive family resorts set on an eco-reserve of pine forests, jagged cliffs and superb sandy beaches. In addition to a choice of hotels within the resort, there is a marina stuffed with posh yachts, authentic tavernas, a crèche, tennis centre and outdoor cinema.
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.
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.
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.