Jet lag, it seems, holds little fear for the new breed of short breakers, especially those willing to splash out on a flat bed in business class. Hong Kong, set on a dramatic neon-lit harbour, is Asia’s most thrilling city, a culture shock of night markets and dim sum, songbirds and sampans, backstreet temples and bargain shopping.
One of the best things about a Saddle Skedaddle cycling break is that you don’t have to be Chris Hoy to enjoy it. All levels of cyclists are catered for, from gentle weekends in the Cotswolds to full-on mountain-bike marathons through the Welsh mountains. Accommodation is all pre-booked, with the accent on cosy B&Bs with splendiferous breakfasts to get you ready for the off.
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.
If you are interested in the idea of a personal development holiday, Skyros’ weekend breaks are the ideal first step. From a four-star country house on the Isle of Wight to Paris, Venice and Marrakech, combine sightseeing with expert guidance on life coaching and mindfulness to writing, yoga and art with a house party atmosphere.
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.
On the Suffolk Heritage Coast, Aldeburgh is one of Britain’s prettiest seaside towns. The Wentworth Hotel gazes across the shingle beach with an air of solid reassurance. Brightly furnished with antiques, log fires and Russell Flint prints, special touches include binoculars in its sea-facing rooms and a bar menu that occasionally lapses into Swahili.
Take the slow route through some of Europe’s prettiest regions on two wheels for a truly relaxing break. These four-night cycling breaks are all geared to be enjoyed at your own pace, each day finished off in style with a well-earned dinner in a characterful small hotel. Guilt-free indulgence!
Elusive, unpredictable and utterly unique – the Aurora Borealis illuminates the northern skies in winter with impromptu displays of vivid colours rolling across the sky. For the best chance of catching the show, head to Tromso in the north of Norway – surprisingly easy to reach from the UK, and a fascinating place to visit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you’re single, by choice or circumstance, there’s no need to holiday on your own. Travel in company with a singles specialist such as Solos which has a wide choice of fun-packed breaks at home and abroad, all hosted by a tour leader who will ensure everyone mixes and gets the most from their trip.
Boating on the Norfolk Broads has to be one of the most relaxing ways to spend a long weekend, or more. Pottering along at just 5mph is the perfect speed to wind down, relax and take in the National Park scenery, with long stretches of reed marsh and woodland, the banks dotted with picturesque thatched cottages plus the occasional pub for vital victuals.
If New York is the Big Apple, Washington DC is the Big Cheese; a city that oozes power. Dotted with uber-luxurious hotels that welcome the world’s great and good, Washington mixes world-class museums and galleries with a hip drinking scene and restaurants to rival NYC. Easy to explore on foot, it’s a presidentially-perfect city break.
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.
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.
Jersey was once known for cream teas and coach tours. Now a new generation of visitors is discovering its wild unspoilt beaches which are ideal for thrilling activities such as blokarting and sea kayaking. The island also offers excellent seafront hotels and fine dining – not least the stylish Atlantic, with Michelin-starred cuisine, swimming pools and golf.
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 short-break across the Atlantic doesn’t have to mean New York – Montréal is closer, oozes style and combines the atmosphere of a chic French city with the traditional laid-back Canadian feel. Pair serious shopping with outdoor activities; try white-water rafting or jet boating and reward yourself with fabulous French food and lazy afternoons enjoying the cafe culture.
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.
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.
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.
If there’s a city to beat Prague for romance, even in winter, I’ve yet to find it. Cobbled streets lined with medieval mansions converted into firelit cafes and restaurants, soaring churches that host concerts and recitals and gorgeous hotels such as The Augustine, a 13th century monastery, or the luxy Four Seasons, right on the river. Pray for snow, take your woollies and prepare to be loved-up.