Walking is bound to be the prime focus for anyone wanting to enjoy the Lake District, the region that put the great in England’s Great Outdoors. But guests at Gilpin Hotel & Lake House can also indulge in other activities including fishing with a ghillie or golfing with a pro at Windermere Golf Club. Back at base, a spa and superb three AA Rosettes food await.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What do you want from your city break? A shopping spree? The chance to see world-class art? Or maybe nothing more than long, lazy lunches in pavement cafes watching the world go by. The great thing about Madrid is that you can do them all, and whatever your budget there’s a hotel to suit – whether boutique chic or five-star luxury.
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.
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.
Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel might not sound the cosiest place to spend a night, but once you’re wrapped up in a sleeping bag and swathed in reindeer skin your ice-bed will feel deliciously toasty (honestly!). Most guests spend one night in this amazing frozen palace, followed by a night or two in a more conventional hotel room – but it’s a night to always remember.
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.
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.
These days a sense of escape is the ultimate luxury, and DDG offers this in spades. There’s a luxury casita for two, tucked away in the Andalucian hills with its own private terrace and alfresco plunge pool, and a stunning villa with a pool. Spend lazy days in the pretty spa, and watch the spectacular sunsets from your own poolside cabana. Heaven.
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.
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.
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.
Feel like somewhere different for a city break? Germany has some of the most fascinating cities in Europe – there are the flamboyant streets of Berlin, the architectural beauty of Dresden and the art collections of Cologne for starters. From grand palaces to medieval streets, each city its own distinctive character, cuisine and appeal.
Who doesn’t love a road trip? Spend a few days driving along the spectacular coastal roads and mountain highways that link Scotland’s seaside resorts and inland villages, stopping for slap-up seafood lunches, whisky-tastings and bracing walks on gorgeous beaches. Or take a trip by rail on the West Highland Line to the beautiful Isle of Skye.
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.
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.
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.
A city break with kids? If it sounds like a recipe for a high-stress weekend, try Family Twist, which aims to make cities such as Paris as accessible and enjoyable for families as loved-up couples. Every aspect, from child-friendly accommodation to activities such as treasure trails and cookery classes, can be pre-organised, helping to create a family jaunt to remember.
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.
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.