Explore the natural beauty of Provence along a range of trails, soaking up the fresh air and discovering sleepy hamlets, ancient priories and lively local markets. There’s nothing too strenuous but it’s a joy to indulge in guilt-free lunches and dinners having burned off the calories.
Planning a trip to Paris should be easy – book the train, find a hotel and hey presto, you’re en vacances. Only it’s rarely that simple – trawling though endless websites to find the lowest prices can feel like hard work. That’s where trivago comes in. It scans over 200 websites to find the best deals – from five-star luxe to a budget Left Bank B&B, with prices from £40 per night.
It wasn’t built in a day, nor can Rome be seen in a weekend – unless you want to charge around like a headless gladiator. Limit your choices by focussing on an area of the city such as the Centro Storico around Piazza Navona with its Renaissance palaces and Baroque fountains. For a retail fix, the stylish Via Condotti is nearby. Stay in Trastevere for a taste of the real Rome.
Lundy, or ‘Puffin Island’, sits in the middle of the Bristol Channel. It’s an escape from the rest of the world with just one pub, a farm, two lighthouses and a year-round population of around 20. You can stay in a cottage, campsite or castle, exclusively available through the Landmark Trust, whose work in restoring and sustaining historic buildings is fantastic.
Away from the peak months of summer, Athens is perfect for a weekend break, particularly since the opening in 2009 of the New Acropolis Museum, £100m worth of dazzling modern architecture crammed with Classical treasures. When it comes to hotels, Athens excels at the contemporary as well as some more traditional grandes dames.
If you’re looking for the ultimate short break, it’s got to be New York. Sip cocktails in the shadow of the Empire State Building, take a stroll through Central Park, soak up the art at MoMA and shop till your credit card drops on the streets of Soho. Trailfinders has a great choice of the best hotels, so all you have to do is pack those cocktail frocks and prepare to party.
Even the approach to this grand Palladian mansion, along a mile-long drive arching through 500 acres of parkland, is outstanding. Just six miles from Bath, Lucknam Park offers an array of activities including walking trails, horse riding, swimming and tennis, plus fine dining and a superb new spa.
English wine is alive, well and very much in the ascendancy according to discerning quaffers, both at home and abroad. In Gloucestershire you can not only visit one of the largest vineyards in the country, the 100 acre Three Choirs, but you can also sleep and dine on site – so there’s no need to limit your testing of their fine pinot noirs and other produce.
Who doesn’t love Cornwall? Gorgeous sandy beaches, picturesque villages and all the pasties you can eat. Make your trip really memorable by booking one of Stay in Cornwall’s cosy log cabins – complete with barbecue area – in favourite spots such as Polperro, Bude and Fowey. The website also has loads of information on all aspects of holidaying in Cornwall.
Spend a day walking the coastal paths of Cornwall and you might wonder why Brits ever bother to travel abroad. The undulating hills, secret sandy coves and soaring cliffs are as fine as you’ll see anywhere. With great local restaurants and superb self-catering cottages, this is paradise on your doorstep.
History, architecture and long, sandy beaches combine to make Sicily the perfect choice for an Italian short break. Choose from a city weekend among the faded grandeur of Palermo, or a chilled-out foodie few days among the trattorias and locandas of Syracuse. Drive up Mount Etna, eat gelati on the promenade in Cefalu and sip cocktails at sunset in pretty Taormina. Bellissima.
Never quite got over your Sex and the City addiction? Still glued to box sets of Boston Legal? Then book an On Location tour and get the insider skinny on bars, cafes, parks and diners in New York or Boston that have featured in both series, along with movies such as When Harry Met Sally, Spiderman and The Town.
If you’re looking for a city break with serious style, Copenhagen is a brilliant choice; picture-perfect cobbled streets mix with contemporary architecture and a bustling waterfront to create a really diverse feel. A wonderfully alfresco city, long seafood-filled lunches can be had by the water or in pavement cafes, before exploring the galleries, boutiques and historic palaces.
Britain’s coastline is dotted with lighthouses. Whilst technology may have rendered many of them obsolete, you can stay in the former lighthouse keepers’ cottages for a coastal break with a real sense of history plus a guarantee of great sea views and bracing walks. From North Yorkshire to Alderney, there’s a superb choice of locations.
Described by Truman Capote as “like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go”, Venice is a city built for show, its sights global icons of art and architecture. Its canals and bridges make it ideal for wandering – and getting lost. Let the magic rather than a map take over. If you’ve never been, you’re in for one of travel’s most romantic treats.
Chic, sleek and inexpressibly stylish, the Swedish capital is the perfect short-break; stroll the picturesque streets of medieval Gamla Stan, picnic in the spectacular gardens of the Royal Palace, or hop on a boat and explore one of the dozens of islands that make up the Stockholm Archipelago. Just make sure to take plenty of krona – it’s also shopping heaven.
If you feel overworked and unfit, give yourself a full service and MOT at a luxury health and fitness retreat. Head to a stunning location from Andalucia to Morocco with an expert team of yoga teachers, personal trainers, nutritionists and massage therapists to tone your body and cleanse your mind.
Few counties offer such a wide choice of holidays as Devon; traditional beach breaks, walking weekends on Dartmoor, surfing on the north coast or just a peaceful week in a farmhouse, surrounded by gorgeous countryside. Stay in Devon has a wonderful choice of accommodation options, and plenty of suggestions for how to get the most from your visit.
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.
Even with only a few days in Istanbul, you can gaze in wonder at the Topkapi Palace and harem, the Blue Mosque, St Sophia, The Grand Bazaar and the spice market. The big decision is whether to stay on the banks of the Bosphorous for a tranquil retreat, or pick a hotel in the thick of it.
Sorrento has been putting out the welcome mat for British travellers since the 18th century. As well as the stunning clifftop location, it’s ideal for hopping across the Bay of Naples to Capri by boat, taking a spectacular drive along the hairpins of the Amalfi coast, jumping on the train to Pompeii or strolling to the crater summit of Vesuvius.
One of the classic ‘see before you die’ destinations, the rose red city of Petra, carved straight out of the sandstone escarpment, ranks alongside the Pyramids as a triumph of ancient architecture. With its scores of temples, palaces, theatre, tombs and a museum, it’s a rewarding destination, even if only for a short stay.
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.
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 in the West Country with Boutique Retreats and they do all the hard work, from booking restaurants to arranging a private chef or deliveries of local produce. All of which leaves little to do but put your feet up and enjoy the peace. Perfect.