Yet to be convinced about glamping? Book into Trevella Park, near to the glorious beach at Crantock, and the comfy beds, fluffy duvets and fridges that come with the safari tents should help to convince you. The site itself is pleasingly free of ‘entertainment’ and instead offers nature trails, fishing lakes and a heated outdoor pool.
With direct Eurostar services from London’s St Pancras, you can zip down to the Provencal sun in less then six hours. As well as intrinsic interest – including its 14th century ramparts, medieval Palais des Papes and Le Pont of all ponts – Avignon is also home to some outstanding hotels and superb cuisine.
Why endure the festive season alone when you could enjoy a luxury Christmas or New Year break in the UK with other singles? Exclusively for solo travellers, Friendship Travel’s festive breaks are based in superb hotels with a sociable programme and your own double room with no supplement.
A cottage in Cornwall, what could be more relaxing? Until you have to shop and cook, or find a good place for dinner. Book a luxury bolthole with Boutique Retreats and they do the hard work, from booking restaurants to arranging a private chef or deliveries of local Cornish produce. All of which leaves little to do but put your feet up and enjoy the peace. Perfect.
If Dorset is a county you merely drive through to reach Devon or Cornwall, you’re missing a trick. Its Jurassic Coast offers long sweeping beaches, quaint Lyme Regis, arty Bridport, sleepy rural villages and great foodie pubs. Stay in a cosy cottage, converted barn or cool apartment and join a local expert for a fossil hunt on the beaches of Charmouth and Lyme Regis.
The crucible of the Renaissance, Florence is packed with art and architectural treasures. You can avoid the inevitable crowds by travelling out of season, but if you are tied to busy times at least lower your stress levels by pre-booking timed entry to the Uffizi. The best time to see David is when the doors of the Galleria dell’Accademia open.
Planning a hen weekend but don’t fancy a spa? Got a family party but can’t face charades? This one-stop directory lists activities around the UK – and the companies that provide them – so that you can zing up a get-together with a difference. Weekend thrills, school holidays and party planning just got considerably easier.
Head for the golden beaches of northern France where Pierre & Vacances has a selection of holiday villages in Normandy, Picardy and Brittany. They offer comfortable self-catering accommodation in villas, cottages and apartments, while the on-site restaurant, shop and swimming pools make life easy for everyone.
To discover the real Spain, head to the beautiful northern regions where the beaches are unspoilt, cities such as Bilbao and Santander have the best tapas in the country and there are dozens of wineries to visit. On a short-break driving trip, you can discover all northern Spain has to offer, while staying in charming, small hotels.
Deeply etched into the history of English summer holidays, the Isle of Wight still delivers traditional seaside pleasures along with a host of other activities. Enjoy a walk on the rolling chalk downs, take to the Solent in a sailboat, sample the mouthwatering local produce or set up camp at the isle’s famed music festival.
Viewing whales and dolphins in the wild is an unmissable experience. Not all the locations are exotic – some of the world’s best cetacean-watching sites are here in Europe. These short trips are a great way to meet others who share your passion and see some of nature’s most amazing creatures.
Hitting the sweet spot between old-fashioned style and a contemporary feel can be a tall order, but Pen y Dyffryn, on the Shropshire-Wales border, gets it bang on. Cosy without being chintzy, it is set amidst lush rolling hills and wooded glades. A walk across the hills is the best way to work up an appetite for the spectacular dinners.
The big decision in magical Marrakech is whether to stay in town in a traditional riad, or outside the city walls. I lean towards the tranquility and incandescent night skies of the latter, but it’s tempting to be within a short walk of the souks, snake charmers, acrobats and fortune-tellers of Djemaa el Fna.
Keen to lose a few pounds, or shift into a more healthy way of eating but don’t have the time for a week of bootcamp? Essential Escapes has a great range of short-break wellbeing trips, including a three-night yoga and fitness break in a sumptuous villa at the gorgeous Vilalara Thalassa Resort on the Algarve.
The millennium-old walled city, Byron’s ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’ with its honey-stoned buildings, terracotta roofs and cobbled streets has been fully restored to pearly perfection after its wartime pounding. Built by the Venetians, Dubrovnik gives easy access to a choice of islands just a short ferry hop away.
Reykjavik is a youthful, compact, friendly city set in dramatic countryside and less than three hours’ flying time from the UK. Wander around art galleries and museums, linger in stylish restaurants and cosy coffee bars then take a healing dip in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon. If you have the energy, party the night away at the city’s legendary bars.
Ireland has reinvented itself in recent years; the iconic new Titanic Experience is just one of the big draws in Belfast, while beyond the city there are wonderfully diverse landscapes to discover, from the spectacular Mountains of Morne to the Cork and Kerry coastlines. Take a road trip in style in a classic Mercedes or MGB Roadster.
There’s something wonderfully tranquil about Norfolk – vast skies, unspoilt coastline – just the place for a romantic couple of days a deux. Sumptuous Congham Hall makes the perfect base – pick a treatment or two at the Secret Garden Spa, stroll in the peaceful grounds and treat yourselves to indulgent suppers in the award-winning restaurant.
Take a pre-Christmas trip to Finnish Lapland and see the real Santa on his home turf. Children get a private audience with the bearded one, and there is plenty of time for fun in the snow, with husky sled rides, snowmobile jaunts, tobogganing and ice fishing all included.
Anywhere that has a joint love affair with beer and chocolate has to be a great bet for a short break, and the quirky towns and cities in Belgian Flanders serve up both in abundance. Choose picturesque Bruges – all tranquil canals and cafe-lined squares – or quirky Ghent, with its atmospheric, medieval centre. Or try historic Ypres or little-known Leuven or Mechelen.
With a vibe that sits comfortably between a gastro-pub with rooms and a country town hotel, The Castle at Bishop’s Castle is the perfect bolthole, not least for real ale enthusiasts and dog owners. Explore the pretty town or yomp through the glorious surrounding countryside that straddles South Shropshire’s English and Welsh borders.
It’s easy to overlook the sheer beauty on our own doorstep. Britain’s rich artistic, architectural and musical heritage lends itself perfectly to the style of holiday offered by Martin Randall Travel: small groups of likeminded people led by expert guides. You could tour the seascapes that inspired Turner, visit grand country houses or walk Hadrian’s Wall.
The sub-tropical island of Madeira is a perfect winter sun destination for those that want to do more than fly and flop. Set against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs, mountains and lush valleys, Madeira offers an outstanding choice of hotels, including some beautifully-restored quintas, great local restaurants and 600 miles of marked walking trails.
Remember when flying was fun? Before the days of long queues, endless checks and airports that are more like shopping malls? Book with Flybe and it’s a whole different experience; they fly from small, regional airports that connect to dozens of European destinations, ideal for a stress-free start to your citybreak or week in the sun.