You don’t have to be a military history buff to be interested in visiting historic battlefield sites. Over 100 years since the start of the First World War, you can join a small-group tour of memorials and cemeteries, as well as battle sites, accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. It’s a truly moving experience for all ages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Great news from kids’ adventure specialist PGL – their short-breaks mean kids can have a taster couple of days without having to commit to a whole week away. PGL centres offer the chance to try everything from circus skills to dragon-boat racing, all with the glorious freedom of being entirely independent of boring old Mum and Dad.
It may be just a hop across the Channel but in pockets of the Pas de Calais you’ll feel as immersed in the “real” France as if you’d driven half way across the country. Authentic, simple and great value, auberges such as de l’Abbeye and Auberge d’Inxent tick every box, not least for their excellent cooking and low-key charm.
If you’re planning a family gathering to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary, or want to get together with friends for the weekend, consider renting a large house. Some of the grander mansions give you the option of a private chef, so you can ensure everyone is fed and watered without having to fret about shopping, cooking or washing up.
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.
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.
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.
There’s something unique about Cornwall’s Atlantic coast – perhaps it’s the drama, huge waves rolling onto wide sandy beaches. Stay in one of the five-star lodges at Gwel an Mor and you’re just ten minutes from the beautiful beach at Portreath, surrounded by lush countryside. Alongside the lodges there’s a heated pool, restaurant and a full programme of kids’ activities.
Trying to plan the annual golfing break with the boys, but budget proving a problem? Stay at one of these holiday villages for great golf on your doorstep, with comfortable accommodation that won’t break the bank. Some villages – such as Port Bourgenay in the Vendee and Moliets on the Cote d’Argent – have on-site courses.
Looking for something more meaningful from your next break? The National Trust runs hundreds of working holidays where you can chip in with tasks such as herding goats and repairing drystone walls. Starting at just £60, these breaks allow you to meet like-minded people while helping to conserve the countryside.
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.
Drama, beauty and nature on a frankly gobsmacking scale; a trip across Norway delivers all three, along with picturesque villages, easy to navigate cities and some of the best seafood in the world. A highlight – literally – is a trip on the Bergensbanen railway, which climbs 4,000 feet to the Hardangervidda plateau – the highest train route in Europe.
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.
Spa holidays – wouldn’t it be good if they were a bit more, well, indulgent? Give your treatments and therapies a delicious Tuscan twist, staying in a gorgeous, five-star hotel that offers a state-of-the-art spa alongside traditional Italian hospitality plus a Gordon Ramsey restaurant. Who says you can’t have your wrap and eat it?