2023 travel bucket list: best holidays and places to go

Destination inspiration featuring Meganisi, North Yorkshire and the Gaspé Peninsula

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The small Greek island loved by celebrities

Meganisi island in Greece

Madonna and Rafael Nadal have both spent time on Meganisi

(Image credit: Calin Stan/Shutterstock)

The Greek island of Meganisi has seen plenty of celebrity visitors in recent years, from Madonna to Rafael Nadal – drawn, perhaps, by its "lush", forested hills, beautiful beaches and "crystal-clear" waters. But it remains open to "mere mortals" too, said Greg Dickinson in The Daily Telegraph, unlike neighbouring Skorpios, the privately owned island where Jackie Kennedy and Aristotle Onassis married in 1968. There's not a great deal to see – the island is only four miles wide – but pottering between its many "bays and beach bars" is delightful, as is its hilltop village, Spartochori, with its whitewashed houses and ubiquitous bougainvillea. Fly to nearby Preveza, having rented a villa (Vintage Travel has six on its books), and don't miss the friendly, family-run Stavros taverna on Vathy Bay, one of the island's unusually deep, fjord-like inlets.

A winter break in North Yorkshire

Scarborough in North Yorkshire

Scarborough has two 'huge' sandy beaches  

(Image credit: Aleksandr Vrublevskiy/Shutterstock)

With half as much winter rain as parts of the West Country, the Yorkshire coast is a great place for a "bright, bracing" off-season break, said Liz Boulter in The Guardian. Scarborough makes a good base, with its 12th century castle and two "huge" sandy beaches where you can see the fossilised footprints of giant dinosaurs in the rocks. Fifteen minutes by train to the south lies the lovely old resort town of Filey, and beyond that, Bridlington. (It is "a silent place" in winter, wrote T.E. Lawrence, who was stationed here in 1934, "where cats and landladies' husbands walk silently down the middle of the streets".) In between is the RSPB reserve at Bempton, where the 100-metre cliffs are home to thousands of gannets, as well as razorbills, guillemots and other birds. They are an "astonishing" spectacle – and incredibly noisy too. 

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Canada's beautiful Gaspé Peninsula

Forillon National Park on the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, Canada

Forillon National Park on the eastern tip of the Gaspé Peninsula

(Image credit: Ivan Shmahai/Shutterstock)

Drive eastwards out of Quebec City along the vast estuary of the St Lawrence River, and you'll soon find yourself on the Gaspé Peninsula, a wild hunk of Canada pointing towards the island of Newfoundland and the open Atlantic beyond. It's a place of "exceptional beauty", said Nina Caplan in Travel + Leisure, with its forested hills, sea-cliffs and "salt-scented air". The 565-mile loop around it will take you through pretty fishing villages with wonderful seafood restaurants and microbreweries, and past Reford Gardens (a "botanical paradise" created by a wealthy Ontarian, Elsie Reford, in 1926) and the town of Gaspé, where the maritime explorer Jacques Cartier arrived in 1534 and claimed the land beyond for France. There are also four national parks, home to black bears, lynx, beavers and more, which are known for their excellent hiking, kayaking and whale-watching trips.

Walking in southern Andalusia

Ronda in Andalusia, Spain

 Ronda: 'the city of dreams' 

(Image credit: Madrugada Verde/Shutterstock)

The poet Rainer Maria Rilke called the Spanish town of Ronda – known for its spectacular setting on a deep gorge – "the city of dreams". These days, it is deluged with "day-trippers from the Costa del Sol", said James Stewart in The Sunday Times. But on one of Pura Aventura's Andalusian walking trips, you can visit briefly and then get out into the surrounding countryside, where there are far fewer visitors. It's a region of strange beauty, scarcely changed by the centuries, its "muscular" mountains shining with "fierce bronze light", its air heavy with the scent of wild herbs. Among the highlights of the operator's eight-day itineraries are beautiful white villages such as Montejaque and Grazalema, small hotels with gardens "like a Moorish dream of paradise", and visits to boutique wineries specialising in grape varieties "long lost elsewhere", including corchera, blasco and la melonera. 

A historic beach town in Florida

Pensacola in Florida, US

Pensacola is a near-perfect seaside town

(Image credit: Matt Buikema/Shutterstock)

Founded by the conquistador Tristán de Luna in 1559, Pensacola is the oldest European settlement in the US. It is also a near-perfect seaside town, said Jonathan Thompson in The Times, with vast white-sand beaches, "calm turquoise waters" and "handsome" old streets. For "an excellent twin-destination trip", you might fly into New Orleans, which lies an easy, scenic three-hour drive away (much closer than Miami), and spend a few days there before moving on to Pensacola. This will doubtless remind you of the bigger city – it has the same "raised Creole houses, pocket-sized courtyards and grand cast-iron balconies", together with some "stellar" restaurants and "intriguing" galleries and museums. But it is also a "water-sports heaven", with more than 100 wrecks for divers to explore off its coast, and it hosts "a bevy of annual festivals", including April's Interstate Mullet Toss – a fish-throwing competition and beach party. 

A delightful small city in Romania

Timișoara in Romania

Timișoara is one of Eastern Europe's loveliest small cities

(Image credit: Salomia Oana Irina/Shutterstock)

Located in the far west of Romania – closer to Budapest and Belgrade than to Bucharest – Timișoara is one of Eastern Europe's loveliest small cities, but still "relatively undiscovered" by foreign tourists, said Andy Trincia in The New York Times. Best known for its role in the revolution of 1989, it is rich in colourful baroque and Viennese secession (art nouveau) buildings, all dating from the long period of Austro-Hungarian rule. It's a delightful place to while away a long weekend, with some good restaurants (try Miorita and Vinto for traditional Romanian fare), several "verdant" parks along a willow-lined canal, and a few interesting museums (go soon for the major exhibition of the sculptor Brâncusi's work, which is at the National Museum of Art until 28 January).

The many sides of vibrant Warsaw

Warsaw city centre in Poland

Warsaw: 'buzzy' and rich in culture

(Image credit: Mike Mareen/Getty Images)

Poland's economy has boomed in recent years, and Warsaw has "a quality rare in European capitals these days: excitement about the future". The city is not exactly beautiful, said Orlando Bird in The Daily Telegraph, but it is "buzzy", rich in culture and pleasingly affordable. There's much to see in the Old Town (rebuilt with "stubborn pride" after the Second World War), and the nearby Hotel Bristol ("an art nouveau gem") makes a good base. But don't miss the Soviet side of the city – once grim, now full of life (even the old KGB headquarters has been transformed into a "warren of cafés and bars"). And set aside time for the city's "excellent" museums, including the Museum of Life under Communism ("radiantly kitsch and quietly depressing in equal measure") and the "profoundly moving" Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews. 

An old railway around the Somme

The 19th century steam railway runs around the Somme

The 19th century steam railway runs around the Somme  

(Image credit: Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme/Facebook)

It does not have any "big sites", but the Bay of Somme is among the loveliest corners of northern France, with its quiet old towns and "vast" landscapes of marshes, dunes, woods and cliffs. You can explore it on the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme, said Lily Radziemski in The New York Times, a 19th century steam railway that runs all the way around it from Cayeux-sur-Mer to Le Crotoy, some 70 miles south of Calais. Having suffered a considerable amount of damage during the brutal Battle of the Somme in 1916, when the British Army made heavy use of the line, it was rebuilt in the 1920s and is now maintained by a non-profit group with a few paid employees aided by scores of volunteers. It is a joy to ride, like a living thing with its "rickety vibrations" and its varied music of whistles and creaks and "clicks and clacks" and "roars and double-thuds". 

A new wilderness in Yorkshire

Guests can stay at Broughton Hall or in one of the cottages

Guests can stay at Broughton Hall or in one of the cottages 

(Image credit: broughtonsanctuary.co.uk)

Stretching across 3,000 acres near the Yorkshire Dales, the Broughton Estate has seen many changes since it was given to the Tempest family in 1097 – but none as "rapidly transformational" as the rewilding begun a few years ago. As a guest at Broughton Hall or in one of the cottages nearby, you can "immerse" yourself in it, said Adam Weymouth in The Guardian, either actively, by helping with planting and monitoring, or – more passively – by wild swimming and "forest bathing". Wildflower meadows have been sown, 350,000 native broadleaf trees planted, and already the estate is looking more like "an ancient landscape", a "mosaic of meadow, forest and scrub" to which butterflies, grasshoppers and more have returned. "To see a hare, or a hen harrier, where there were none a year ago, is a very specific form of therapy." 

A walk along the Ridgeway

The Ridgeway National Trail from Ivinghoe Beacon towards Whipsnade

The Ridgeway National Trail from Ivinghoe Beacon towards Whipsnade 

(Image credit: Kyaw Thiha/Shutterstock )

The Ridgeway National Trail spans 87 miles from Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire to Overton Hill near Avebury in Wiltshire, and celebrates its 50th birthday this year, said Gail Simmons in The Sunday Times. The Ridgeway itself, of course, is far older: travellers (and their animals) have used the path for at least 5,000 years. Rather than tackle the whole thing in one go, one option is to spend "three unhurried days" walking the stretch between Letcombe Regis and Avebury. There are some comfortable places to stay along the way (The Greyhound Inn, for instance, is "cosy"). When you peel off the path and head into Avebury, you'll come across "one of the most complete prehistoric complexes in Europe": in the heart of the village, sarsen stones lie like "scattered sheep" in a circle. "For those sensitive to it, there's an energy here, an awareness of history under your feet." 

Gaudi's underrated birthplace

The city of Reus in Tarragona, Spain

Reus is 'dripping in beautiful buildings'

(Image credit: BearFotos/Shutterstock )

The city of Reus, in the Spanish province of Tarragona, is best known as the birthplace of the architect Antoni Gaudí, said Katja Gaskell in the Daily Mail. "But it's often overlooked by tourists", who head to Barcelona up the coast, to marvel at his Sagrada Família. Yet Reus too "is dripping in beautiful buildings; its narrow paved streets are lined with charming family-run stores dating back hundreds of years, and the food is local, fresh and delicious". A good way to get to know this compact city is to follow the Modernista Route (it's set out in a leaflet you can pick up from the tourist office), which stops at 26 listed buildings. Other attractions include the Gaudí Centre, dedicated to the architect who left when he was 16, the vermouth museum, and an old tailor's shop which is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of the Catalan artist Joan Miró. 

On the hunt for unspoiled Crete

You can hike through gorges all year round in Crete

You can hike through gorges all year round in Crete  

(Image credit: beerkoff/Shutterstock )

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is often thought of "as a place spoiled by over-development", said Gisela Williams in the Financial Times. But that's only really true of the northeast of the island. "Much of the rest, in particular the south coast and the far edges of the island, is still wild and untouched, characterised by a diversity of striking natural landscapes." In winter, you can ski the Lefka Ori mountain range; almost all year long, you can "hike through gorges to hidden coves and swim in turquoise water". In Chania, "the pretty historic port on the northwest coast, with its 16th century, Venetian-era fortified walls, you'll find a flourishing creative scene": ruins have been turned into bars, and traditional crafts are being reinterpreted for contemporary tastes. In sum: it's high time Crete stopped being "misunderstood".

A winter break in Sorrento

Sorrento is a 'charming old-fashioned town' on the Bay of Naples

Sorrento is a 'charming old-fashioned town' on the Bay of Naples  

(Image credit: Serenity-H/Shutterstock)

Keats visited Sorrento in the winter, as did Byron; and for a Mediterranean holiday in the colder months, this "charming old-fashioned town" on the Bay of Naples is still hard to beat, said Matthew Bell in The Times. While the big luxury hotels on the nearby Amalfi coast shut in October, Sorrento's Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria stays open until January (for more affordable stays, try the Palazzo Marziale and the Maison il Conservatorio). Some local swimmers brave the sea through the winteGeorgia r, but you might find a visit to the Museo Correale di Terranova – a private art collection in a Sorrentine palazzo – more congenial, and there are glorious places to visit by boat or car nearby, including Capri and the "incredible" archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 

Trampling grapes in Georgia

Trampling grapes is 'pure pleasure', like 'squelching mud between the toes'

Trampling grapes is 'pure pleasure', like 'squelching mud between the toes' 

(Image credit: Kristin Sohr/Shutterstock )

People have been making wine in Georgia for 8,000 years – longer than anywhere else on Earth – and the industry is booming today. In the "vineyard-laden" Kakheti region, anyone is welcome to join in the Rtveli, or autumn harvest, said Camilla Bell-Davies in the FT. To get involved, contact family-run wineries that have guesthouses (such as the Kviria, in Telavi), or go with a tour operator such as Wild Frontiers. You won't get paid, and the work will leave your back aching and your fingers "stained purple". But you will get to trample the grapes ("pure pleasure, like squelching mud between the toes") and to join in the owners' celebratory feasts, at which the tables groan with barbecued meat, khachapuri (cheesy bread) and bottles of last year's wine. It is downed to cries of "Gaumarjos!", praising the good harvest, and the festivities carry on well into the night. 

Faro's modernist marvels

'Archi-tourists' should stay at The Modernist hotel

'Archi-tourists' should stay at The Modernist hotel 

(Image credit: themodernist.pt)

It's not the prettiest spot in the Algarve, and it's far from "polished", but Faro has considerable appeal – not least as a trove of modernist architecture, said Paul Tierney in The Guardian. The city is home to around 500 mid-century buildings, giving it the highest concentration of them in southern Europe. They're largely the work of a group of Portuguese architects, led by Manuel Gomes da Costa, who made their fortunes in South America and returned home in the early 1950s to breathe new life into this "overlooked" city. Their "South Modern" style has a unique flavour: think of it as a "tropical futurism" that "celebrates the Sun", filtering its light into "shadowy abstraction". "Archi-tourists" should stay at The Modernist hotel, a former office block with appealing interiors. Its owners help organise the Faro Modernist Weekend each November, which features exhibitions, walking tours, dinners and more. 

Croyde: sea and surf in North Devon

Croyde Bay in North Devon

Croyde Bay in North Devon 

(Image credit: Charlesy/Shutterstock)

The seaside village of Croyde made headlines earlier this year when it became part of the UK's first world surfing reserve – 19 miles of North Devon shoreline deemed especially worthy of protection by the surfing organisation Save the Waves. But you don't need to be a surfer to love this "glorious" corner of the West Country, said Annabelle Thorpe in The Observer. Croyde itself is wonderfully unspoiled, thanks in part to the dunes (a site of special scientific interest, or SSSI) that lie between the village and its beach, and there are other "stunning" beaches, such as Woolacombe and Saunton Sands, nearby. There's fabulous hiking to be had on this coast in both directions from Croyde. If you are going en famille, stay at the Old Cider Barn, a spacious holiday let in the village.

Block Island: a quiet island in New England

North Light lighthouse on Block Island

North Light lighthouse on Block Island 

(Image credit: Michael Sean OLeary/Shutterstock)

It's smaller and less well known than Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, to its east, but Block Island is an equally charming corner of maritime New England, said Karen Angel in The New York Times – and it's wilder and less touristy too. "A haven for numerous endangered animals, and anyone else seeking a little solitude", it can be reached by ferry from ports in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the state to which it belongs. Its only town, New Shoreham, is tiny, and beyond it lie nine square miles of rolling countryside, much of which is bisected by beautiful walking trails. There are ticks here, so take precautions – but also look out for rare birds (some 300 avian species can be seen here each year); and be sure to visit the spectacular sea cliffs at Mohegan Bluffs and the "secluded" beach below.

Karlovy Vary: a beautiful Bohemian spa town

Karlovy Vary's 'wedding-cake architecture'

Karlovy Vary's 'wedding-cake architecture' 

(Image credit: Dmitry Steshenko/Shutterstock)

From Mozart and Goethe to Peter the Great and Queen Victoria, "everyone who was anyone" flocked to take the waters in Karlovy Vary, then widely known as Karlsbad, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some people still do today, said Jane Knight in The Daily Telegraph – but this Czech spa town is worth a visit for its beauty alone. "Strung scenically" along the River Teplá amid the forested hills two hours west of Prague, it is well preserved, with a historic centre that is a veritable feast of "wedding-cake architecture". There are some "exquisite" restaurants to be found, and the walking trails that wend their way through the surrounding woods offer fine views across town. You might stay in the "neo-Renaissance" Grandhotel Pupp (which hosts "Hollywood royalty" during the July film festival), but be sure to visit the "brutalist" Thermal Hotel too, for a dip in the "balmy" waters of its "superb" rooftop pool.

Bordighera: a forgotten gem on the Italian Riviera

Bordighera: a charming coastal town

Bordighera: a charming coastal town 

(Image credit: Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock)

Around the turn of the last century, Bordighera was one of the most popular resorts on the Italian Riviera, inhabited by more British expatriates – some 3,000 – than local people. Since then, its fame has dwindled, said Jon Bryant in The Guardian, but its beauty has not. High above the coast, its medieval old town is a "tangle" of narrow streets and "shady" squares, and all around stand the "extravagant" villas built by the British, their gardens "bursting" with exotic plants. It's worth a visit simply to enjoy the sweeping, sandy beach, but there are also some charming cultural sights, including the Museo Bicknell, which houses the collection of an Anglican clergyman, Clarence Bicknell, who abandoned his "tea-party, gossipy" congregation in 1886 to devote his time to botany, archaeology and more. The Villa Garnier has doubles from €94; villagarnier.it 

Kentucky's bourbon trail

Pick up the 'bourbon trail' in Louisville

Pick up the 'bourbon trail' in Louisville 

(Image credit: 4kclips/Shutterstock )

It went out of fashion for a while in the 1970s, but recent years have seen a revival in enthusiasm for bourbon whiskey – and nowhere more than in Kentucky, its historic home. The state now has 95 distilleries, up from 19 in 2009, and many welcome visitors with tours and tastings, said Emily Bingham in Travel + Leisure. Pick up the "bourbon trail" in Louisville – where the Frazier History Museum examines the drink's place in the state's identity – and then head south to the Bardstown distillery, where you can sample bourbon straight from the barrel (this is known locally as "thieving" a taste). Among the other indispensable stops are Heaven Hill, Castle & Key (which has pleasant 19th century gardens laid out by its founder, Colonel E.H. Taylor Jr) and Log Still, whose owners run a good country hotel, Dant Crossing, nearby.

A Hebridean sailing holiday

Eda Frandsen is a strikingly elegant craft

Eda Frandsen is a strikingly elegant craft 

(Image credit: Eda Frandsen Sailing/Facebook)

A traditional gaff cutter built in Denmark in 1938 and restored in the 1990s, Eda Frandsen is a strikingly elegant craft, with her "russet and cream sails and lashings of mahogany and teak". She's "sturdy" too – making her a great match for Scotland's rugged yet "stirringly beautiful" Western Isles, said Duncan Craig in House & Garden. On a week-long voyage through the Inner Hebrides, skipper Mungo Watson and his crew will let you muck in on deck as much or as little as you choose, while chef Stella Stabbins turns out "stellar creations" single-handed in the little galley. There's plenty of time for hiking and swimming (perhaps even around the mouth of Fingal's Cave, on the uninhabited island of Staffa, after the tour boats have left), and wonderful wildlife to spot, including eagles, dolphins and whales. The boat accommodates eight guests, from £1,320pp for six nights; eda-frandsen.co.uk

A seaside village in North Yorkshire

A view across the seaside village Staithes at dusk

This popular tourist spot offers opportunities to hunt fossils and explore the nearby countryside

(Image credit: Darrell Evans / 500px / Getty Images)

Squeezed between towering cliffs and the sea, the little village of Staithes in North Yorkshire is "impossibly pretty" – and winningly unpretentious too, said Simon Ingram in The Sunday Times. With a lifeboat station, a working harbour "stacked with fishing creels", and two "salty" pubs "selling decent food at good prices", it remains "resolutely itself" despite its popularity with tourists. Book a cottage in the lower village, where Captain Cook grew up, go fossil hunting on the "broad and dramatically rocky beach" – great fun for children – and be sure to explore the village's glorious surroundings. Whitby (where Dracula comes ashore in Bram Stoker's novel) is wonderfully atmospheric, the village of Robin Hood's Bay is "exquisite", with a "dinky" museum crammed with dinosaur paraphernalia, and there's wonderful walking along the coast and inland, on the Yorkshire Moors.

Wine and walking in Australia

Rows of vines in Clare Valley, Australia

A new 70-mile walking route passes by 24 wine cellars and offers wonderful views across Clare Valley

(Image credit: lkonya / Alamy Stock Photo)

Known for its world-class rieslings, the Clare Valley wine region is a "picturesque pocket of Australia" 90 miles north of Adelaide and peppered with attractive old towns. Explore it by following the Clare Valley Wine and Wilderness Trail, said Teresa Machan in The Daily Telegraph, a new 70-mile path that takes in 24 cellar doors and some "stunning" ridge-top views. The valley's oldest winery, the Jesuit-owned Sevenhill, was founded in 1851 to produce sacramental wine. But more typical of its "small, family-run" vineyards today is Pauletts, which also has a "terrific" restaurant where many dishes feature "bush tucker" such as muntries (a fruit) and saltbush. There are some lovely places to stay along the way, and plenty of wildlife to look out for, including kangaroos, koalas and snakes (wear snake gaiters just in case). See cvwwt.com.au

Exploring Andalucia on horseback

A horse wanders through grassland in the wild in the Donana National Park, near the village El Rocio in Andalucia, Spain

Explore the Doñana National Park on horseback 

(Image credit: imageBROKER.com GmbH & Co. KG / Alamy Stock Photo)

Encompassing the delta of Andalucia's great Guadalquivir River, the Doñana National Park is a 200-square-mile expanse of "wetlands, juniper-carpeted sand dunes, forest and heath" – a wonderful landscape to explore on horseback, said Catherine Buni in Travel + Leisure. On one of Equiberia Riding Holidays' eight-day group trips, guests follow the route of the annual pilgrimage to the town of El Rocío, and continue from there to the Atlantic coast. Accommodation is in "elegant" guesthouses en route. The region "brims" with wildlife, including lynx, wild horses and a vast array of birds, from colourful bee-eaters to imperial eagles. There are daily picnics featuring local specialities (including sherry), and the trip ends with a canter along the vast beach at Mazagón. Trip from €3,300pp; see equiberia.com 

The Copper Canyon by train

El Chepe railway passes through the Copper Canyon

El Chepe railway passes through the Copper Canyon

(Image credit: eskystudio/Shutterstock)

Winding over Mexico's Sierra Madre mountains from the Pacific coast to the city of Chihuahua, the "legendary" El Chepe railway passes through the Copper Canyon, a series of ravines and gorges that rival the Grand Canyon in their beauty and grandeur. It's a glorious journey, said Adrian Bridge in The Daily Telegraph – and there's now a particularly splendid train in which to make it. Launched five years ago, the Chepe Express is "a joy to the eye", with its deep-green and royal-blue carriages, and offers "comfortable" accommodation including a glass-domed observation car in first class. Spend a day or two in Posada Barrancas, to explore the canyon on foot, by horse and via zip wire, and take the train from nearby Divisadero to El Fuerte, the most "dramatic" stretch of track, affording a series of "incredible" views.

Southwell's historic treasures

Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire

Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire

(Image credit: Nahlik/Shutterstock)

It is home to just 7,000 people, but the Nottinghamshire market town of Southwell was an important place in the Middle Ages, and harbours historical riches that belie its diminutive size. Chief among them is its "magnificent" minster, said Neil Clark in the Daily Mail, a huge Romanesque church with an unusually "friendly" air. Sir John Betjeman held that there was no ecclesiastical building more beautiful, and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner dedicated a 1945 monograph to the exquisitely naturalistic gothic carvings of foliage, animals and green men in its octagonal Chapter House. But there's much else to see in Southwell too, including the Saracen's Head – the inn where Charles I spent his last night as a free man – and the Southwell Workhouse, the best-preserved 19th century workhouse in the country.

A family holiday in Austria's lake district

Wolfgangsee lake in Austria

Wolfgangsee lake in Austria 

(Image credit: saiko3p/Shutterstock)

With its soaring peaks and "crystal clear" waters, Austria's lake district – the Salzkammergut – is a delightful place for a multi-generational family summer holiday, said Neil Fisher in The Times. Book a farmstay such as Hauslhof, where the Hinterbergers accommodate guests in several cabins and in a "well laid-out" apartment in their own house. There is plenty of fauna to keep children happy (including miniature ponies and even an occasional fawn), and a garden overlooking a big lake, the Wolfgangsee. Last month, locals in picturesque Hallstatt, nearby, protested against mass tourism (the village is believed to be the model for Arendelle in Disney's "Frozen", a curse that brings 10,000 visitors a day in high season). But there are much quieter lakeside towns to visit, lake beaches where there is good swimming, and no end of lovely hiking trails. See hauslhof.com

A short stay in Burlington

Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont

Burlington is the most populous city in Vermont 

(Image credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock)

"Sitting on Lake Champlain and framed by the Green Mountains and New York's Adirondacks", Burlington – the most populous city in Vermont, with just 45,000 residents – attracts weekend visitors for its beauty, its farm-to-table food and its "progressive sensibility", said Kristina Samulewski in The New York Times. A new crop of bars and restaurants has opened up recently to add to the stallholders at the farmers' market, many of them artisans who "embody Vermont geniality". To work off your lunch, you could walk or cycle along the eight-mile Burlington Greenway, which leads to Waterfront Park, with its wonderful lake views. As well as being home to Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Vermont is famed for its many breweries – more per capita than any other state, it is said – so it makes sense to visit one of them. Just behind Waterfront Park, Foam Brewers has a range of its own beers on sale, and also hosts music events, DJ nights, gigs by local and touring bands, art openings and other events. 

Wallingford: Agatha Christie's tranquil home

The historic market town Wallingford in Oxfordshire

The historic market town Wallingford in Oxfordshire 

(Image credit: Alexey Fedorenko/Shutterstock)

In 1934, Agatha Christie had just caused a sensation with "Murder on the Orient Express" and was in search of somewhere to escape her fame. She found it in Wallingford, a tranquil market town on the Thames in Oxfordshire. The Queen of Crime acquired the five-bedroomed Winterbrook House – and lived "a life of relative anonymity" there for the next 40 years, under her married name of Mallowan. The town, with its cobbled streets and 19th century corn exchange, still has a "quiet gentleness", said Angela Epstein in the Daily Mail. However, it is no longer keeping its famous former resident "under wraps". A corner of the town's museum is devoted to her life, and there are themed walking tours that take in her grave. The River Thames is the other great attraction: there is a little beach along a straight stretch of it just outside the town; there is also an open-air pool by the river. 

Something for everyone in Jutland

Lokken Beach in north Jutland

Lokken Beach in north Jutland

(Image credit: Lars Meinel/Shutterstock)

Although often overlooked by travellers heading to Copenhagen, the Jutland peninsula is remarkably easy to get to and "offers something for all the family", said David Nikel in Forbes. With its deep Viking roots, the area is a treasure trove for history buffs. And while it may lack the "dramatic scale" of some Nordic beauty spots, it has a fabulously diverse landscape that takes in wild beaches, dense forest and expansive heathlands. In season, there are numerous festivals to enjoy. For culture vultures, there is also the city of Aarhus, with its lively arts scene, or Aalborg, which is one of the oldest towns in Denmark. And for children there is, of course, Legoland.

East African adventure: gorillas, Masai Mara and Zanzibar

A silverback mountain gorilla in Rwanda

A silverback mountain gorilla in Rwanda

(Image credit: Onyx9/Shutterstock)

Go on an East African adventure with Wayfairer Travel's new 11-day "Gorillas, Masai Mara & Zanzibar" package which takes in three jewels of the region: Rwanda's Parc National des Volcans, Kenya's Masai Mara and the coastline of Zanzibar. The undoubted highlight of the trip is a trek up into the Virunga Volcanoes, where guests will spend one magical hour with the last of the mountain gorillas. After the gorilla trek, take a tour of Rwanda's capital city Kigali before flying to Kenya for a classic big five safari in the Masai Mara. Here guests can enjoy game drives, guided walks and authentic cultural experiences. The trip will conclude with relaxation on the beautiful beaches of Zanzibar. From £7,550 per person; wayfairertravel.com

A garden in Northumberland

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland

Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland

(Image credit: English Heritage )

One of England's loveliest Greek-revival buildings, Belsay Hall in Northumberland, has recently been subject of a refurbishment costing £3.4m – a fair chunk of which has gone on restoring its glorious grounds, said Sean Newsom in The Times. In its formal gardens, the landscape designer Dan Pearson has conjured "soft, billowing clouds of colour" that evolve through the spring and summer. More striking still is the celebrated quarry garden, created in the early 19th century. A deep, winding canyon seething with an extraordinary array of subtropical plants (some with leaves "the size of upturned golf umbrellas"), it is like "a glasshouse with the roof blown off" – a magical sight amid the surrounding farmland. Combine your trip with a visit to Cragside, another house with a remarkable garden, set above a gorge. 

Sierra de Guadarrama: hiking with Hemingway

Sierra de Guadarrama in Spain

Sierra de Guadarrama in Spain

(Image credit: JMN/Cover/Getty Images)

The mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama were the site of the fierce Spanish Civil War battles that inspired Hemingway's 1940 novel "For Whom the Bell Tolls". Today, they're a popular escape from Madrid, only 30 miles away, said James Patterson in The Sunday Times – and yet you can still walk for hours here in solitude. On one of The Natural Adventure's self-guided, Hemingway-themed hiking trips, you'll stay at good hotels and enjoy daily luggage transfers as you make your way from the "huge" palace-monastery of El Escorial to the historic city of Segovia. En route you'll pass by various reminders of the war, including the "pharaonic" tomb of General Franco, and the Puente de la Cantina, on which Hemingway is said to have modelled the bridge that his pro-Republican hero, Robert Jordan, plans to destroy. A six-night trip costs from £645pp, excluding flights; thenaturaladventure.com

Lake Mergozzo: Lake Maggiore's little sister

Lake Mergozzo in Italy

(Image credit: Juergen Wackenhut/Shutterstock)

The great mountain lakes of northern Italy (Maggiore, Como, Garda) are among the country's best-known draws. But little Lake Mergozzo – a couple of miles from Maggiore – sees relatively few visitors, and has "an authenticity that will delight even the most seasoned of Italophiles", said Kiki Deere in The Daily Telegraph. Its main town, Mergozzo, is "charming", and nearby is Piccolo Lago, a restaurant with two Michelin stars and a glass dining room commanding "gorgeous" views of the lake. There's hiking and cycling to enjoy in the surrounding mountains (don't miss the hamlet of Montorfano, with its Romanesque church), and some pleasant places to stay, including Casa Castagna 1620, a townhouse with five guest rooms, and Casa della Capra, where the owners offer art workshops, food tours, cycling trips and more.

A lonely walk on Chesil Beach

St Catherine’s chapel overlooking Chesil Beach in Dorset

St Catherine’s chapel overlooking Chesil Beach
(Image credit: Mark Godden/Shutterstock)

An 18-mile “ribbon of wilderness” that stretches along the Dorset coast, Chesil Beach has been immortalised in fiction, from Thomas Hardy’s “The Well-Beloved” to the eponymous Ian McEwan novella. Its loose shingle makes it difficult – indeed, potentially “ankle-shredding” – to walk here. Some think it “monotonous”, too, said Oliver Smith in the FT, but I found the beach “calming”, with its pebbles “raked by wind and tide” like in a Zen garden. Particularly “eerie” is the eight-mile stretch between Portland and Abbotsbury, where a lagoon separates the beach from the mainland, so there’s no way off but to walk on or walk back. It tends to be lonely going, and perhaps made only more haunting by the sight of the abandoned medieval chapel, St Catherine’s, perched on a hill at the Abbotsbury end, like “a lighthouse for souls”. 

Svalbard in the summer

Midnight sun on Longyearbyen waterfront in Svalbard

Midnight sun on Longyearbyen waterfront in Svalbard
(Image credit: Kylie Nicholson/Shutterstock)

In winter, Norway’s Svalbard archipelago is the place to go for husky sledding, snowmobiling and seeing the Northern Lights. In summer, these Arctic islands feel very different, said Anna Murphy in The Times. Delicate wildflowers emerge from the scree beneath their “vast buttressed cliffs”, and the lightness of the nights lends a dreamlike quality to every view. Summer also offers the chance to see polar bears, as the ice pack melts and the animals head onto land to hunt. On the main island, Longyearbyen, the Isfjord Radio Adventure Hotel makes for a stylish but adventurous stay. As well as the bears, there are walruses, Arctic foxes, reindeer and whales to spot. Boat trips afford fabulous views of calving glaciers, and back at the hotel there’s haute cuisine on offer, and a “remarkable” sauna set on rocks beside the ice-cold sea. Original Travel has a six-night trip from £3,295pp, including flights; originaltravel.co.uk

A weekend in Cincinnati

Cincinnati in Ohio is a ‘deeply American’ city

Cincinnati in Ohio is a ‘deeply American’ city

(Image credit: Agnieszka Gaul/Shutterstock)

Located in the heart of North America and now “super accessible”, thanks to new British Airways flights from Heathrow, Cincinnati makes a good starting point for a road trip. But it’s worth spending a bit of time in this “brawny, historic, sometimes handsome, deeply American” city, said Sean Thomas in the Daily Mail. You could watch a game at the stadiums of the Cincinnati Reds or the Bengals, and try the “infamous” Cincinnati chili (spaghetti with chili, cheddar, chocolate and more) at the Findlay food market. Stay in Over-the-Rhine, a “historic, boozy, gritty yet up-and-coming neighbourhood” with good boutique hotels. And don’t miss the American Sign Museum (“brilliant in a pure Americana-in-neon way”) or the Freedom Centre, a “seriously moving” tribute to the slaves who once fled here from Kentucky. 

The great wilderness of Bhutan

Punakha Dzong in Bhutan

Punakha Dzong in Bhutan
(Image credit: Kashyap Shantanu/Shutterstock)

Travel company The Luminaire has launched a nine-day experience exploring the great wilderness of Bhutan, the Buddhist kingdom in the eastern Himalayas. Guests will be guided through Bhutan’s pristine landscapes by expert environmentalists and participate in the work of the local conservationists preserving the kingdom’s rich biodiversity. Activities include descending into the valley of Punakha to the Mo Chhu (Mother River) to explore it by raft, visiting the Unesco-protected Boudhanath Stupa, and sustainable foraging for wild edible orchards. From £16,990 per person based on two travellers and including all accommodation, activities, transfers and some meals; theluminaire.com

Heavenly views in the Hebrides

Castle Stalker in Scotland

Castle Stalker is set on a tidal islet on Loch Laich, an inlet off Loch Linnhe
(Image credit: ZibiZ Photo/Shutterstock)

There can be few more wonderful spots from which to contemplate the Inner Hebrides than the village of Portnacroish, said Antonia Quirke in The Sunday Times – and now there’s a great new place to stay on the hillside just above it. An “uncluttered” studio made of glass and cedar, Stormhouse South commands “breathtaking” views down Loch Linnhe to Castle Stalker (the island fortress seen at the end of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”), and the isles of Lismore and Mull beyond. It feels “very remote”, but lies within easy reach of Oban and Fort William, and still closer to some decent eateries, including The Old Inn in Appin and The Pierhouse Hotel in Port Appin. Lismore – an “utterly lovely” island with a “bohemian, almost Mediterranean” air – is ten minutes away by ferry. A five-night stay costs from £1,750 for two.

Fort Myers: a historic resort town in Florida

Fort Myers beach in Florida

Fort Myers beach in Florida
(Image credit: Earl Marshall Nicholson/Shutterstock)

Set on Florida’s southwest coast, an hour from Tampa, Fort Myers offers a “refined” taste of the state, said Mark Porter in the Daily Mail, with some fabulous beaches, and “no Mickey Mouse in sight”. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison had neighbouring summerhouses here (now a single museum), and the high street is still “grandly porticoed” today, and home to restaurants such as The Veranda (all “lacquered teak and ceiling fans, fresh seafood and old money”). Stay at the “stylish” Luminary Hotel, and at the ’Tween Waters resort on nearby Captiva, one of a string of sandy barrier islands shadowing the coast. From there, you can go on a cycle tour of the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge (but watch out for alligators), and kayak in Pine Island Sound, where manatees can be seen.

A bear-spotting trip in the Fagaras Mountains, Romania

Brown bears in Romania

Brown bears in Romania
(Image credit: Cristian Zamfir/Shutterstock)

Romania’s Fagaras Mountains are among the best places in Europe to see bears – and sightings are even more likely if you stay in the “stylish” hides run by Foundation Conservation Carpathia, said Mark Stratton in The Daily Telegraph. Bankrolled by a Swiss billionaire, this NGO owns 66,000 acres of the region’s forests, and is working to establish a national park almost ten times larger – roughly the size of the Lake District. The hiking in the area is “glorious”, and there’s “cosy” visitor accommodation including a guesthouse, a glampsite and two hides, one (the four-bed Comisu) overlooking an Alpine meadow, and the other (Bunea, with six beds) set in a forest glade. Bears are regular visitors to both sites, and there’s much other wildlife to spot, including wild boar, wolves, lynx and bison, recently reintroduced to the area. Journeys with Purpose has a four-day guided tour from €2,450pp, excluding flights; journeyswithpurpose.org

Cape May: New Jersey’s seaside jewel

Cape May in New Jersey

Cape May in New Jersey
(Image credit: FotosForTheFuture/Shutterstock)

Known as the “Queen of the Seaside Resorts”, Cape May in New Jersey was the summer playground of presidents in the 19th century, and still makes for a “serene and sophisticated” escape from the nearby cities of Philadelphia and New York, said Cathy Toogood in The Daily Telegraph. The town’s huge, golden beach is the main attraction, but it also has a lively arts scene, wild surroundings and beautifully preserved Victorian architecture (much of it painted in “cheerful shades of cornflower blue, lemon, pink and sage”). Sign up for a historic street tour (the Cape May MAC trolley tour is among the best), ride a “railbike” out along the tracks of the old seashore railroad, past beautiful salt marshes and wildflower meadows, and be sure to take a whale-watching boat tour in Delaware Bay, where sightings are “extremely common”. 

Cycling around Camembert

The French village of Camembert

The French village of Camembert
(Image credit: Josef Sobotka/Shutterstock)

For lovers of cheese and gentle cycling, it’s the perfect trip, said Chris Allsop in The Times – a journey through the “rumpled” heart of Normandy taking in three villages that have lent their names to some of the region’s finest fromage. Hire an e-bike from Locvélo at the Ouistreham-Caen ferry port and head first for Camembert, whose local museum offers tastings. Next comes Livarot, where a tour of Graindorge Fromagerie is not to be missed. And the final stop is Pont l’Évêque – beyond which the pretty seaside towns of Deauville and Honfleur lie within easy reach. The route takes you through “a haze of hamlets overflowing with geranium-filled flower boxes”, and there are other “boutique” producers of cheese (such as La Ferme de l’Instière) and cider (such as Bellou Manor) to visit along the way. See normandie-tourisme.fr and locvelo.fr

The secrets of Orford Ness

The Black Beacon on Orford Ness

The Black Beacon on Orford Ness
(Image credit: Chrislofotos/Shutterstock)

A 12-mile spit of shingle and reed marsh caught between the River Alde and the sea, Orford Ness in Suffolk is a National Trust nature reserve of “stark” and “fragile” beauty. But the hulking remains of concrete buildings across it testify to a darker past, said Simon Ingram in The Sunday Times – as a testing ground for some of the 20th century’s key military technologies, including radar and the atomic bomb. These structures – from the windmill-like Black Beacon to the “sinisterly derelict” Control Room – lend a surreal and unsettling edge to any visit, and there’s an excellent exhibition, “Island of Secrets”, for anyone interested. Still, “shingle, sky and sea” are powerful presences too, and so is resurgent nature, with sea pea and sea campion “enlivening the stones”, and many animals to spot, including hares, otters and a rich array of birds.

A culinary journey through the fjords of Norway

Fjords in west Norway

Fjords in west Norway
(Image credit: pelorusx.com)

Experiential travel company Pelorus has launched “A Taste for Adventure”, a foodie journey through the fjords of west Norway created in partnership with luxury travel operator 62°NORD and culinary experience company SKANDL. The five-day package features masterclasses led by chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants, accommodation at 62°NORD properties Union Øye or Storfjord Hotel, immersive dining experiences and activities including Nordic fishing, foraging, and food preparation techniques. Available from March to November, “A Taste of Adventure” starts from £100,000 for a group of six guests travelling for five days. This includes all experiences, accommodation at Union Øye or Storfjord Hotel, logistics planning, domestic transport, and dining experiences. International flights are not included. pelorusx.com

Wildlife spotting in Mull

Tobermory is the main town on the Isle of Mull

Tobermory is the main town on the Isle of Mull
(Image credit: Apostolis Giontzis/Shutterstock)

Mull, the second-largest of the Inner Hebrides, is “less afflicted by coach-tour logjams” than Skye and has “whopping wildlife”, said Paul Bloomfield in The Daily Telegraph. “Massive golden and white-tailed eagles, wingspans topping two metres, soar above glens grazed by magnificent red deer”; “minke breach waves to the west, joined by bottlenose dolphins and harbour porpoises”. “Somewhat smaller but no less charismatic are the otters and seabirds around Mull’s coast and offshore islands”, particularly Staffa, which is famed for the extraordinary polygonal basalt pipes of Fingal’s Cave. Between taking all this in, you could visit the “venerable” Tobermory Distillery, or “savour a dram in the Mishnish, the legendary live-music pub”. There is “real local spirit”, and Tobermory – familiar to viewers of the children’s BBC TV show “Balamory” – has the kind of “rainbow-hued harbour for which postcards were invented”. 

Madeira’s year-round charms

Camara de Lobos on Madeira island

Camara de Lobos on Madeira island
(Image credit: Serenity-H/Shutterstock)

“Madeira has a subtropical climate and boasts year-round sunshine,” said Daniel Lavelle in The Guardian, so “there’s never a bad time to visit”. The island is the emerged top of a dormant volcano, and its fertile soils have produced a lush landscape. There is an abundance of trails, caves, beaches and taverns to explore; and outside Funchal, the capital, “it’s all reasonably priced”. Nearly every bar serves drinks with a hearty portion of “pickled lupin beans, monkey nuts, and occasionally chicken wings and salted fish”, which means you “could probably eat a day’s fill here for the cost of a pint in the West End”. There are, of course, piña coladas and sun loungers for those who want them, but the island has far more to offer than that: “in fact, it has a little something for everyone”.

A road trip in northern Spain

Cabo Vilan lighthouse on the ‘Coast of Death’ in Spain

Cabo Vilan lighthouse on the ‘Coast of Death’ in Spain
(Image credit: Migel/Shutterstock)

“As monikers go,” said Sarah Gordon in The Times, “the Coast of Death isn’t the most welcoming, which is a shame, because there are few stretches in Spain that offer such pristine beauty.” On this serrated coastline in the north of the country, thousands of ships have been wrecked, and fishermen still battle rough seas to provide kitchens with octopus, barnacles and scallops. And yet the Costa da Morte also has “quiet beaches of powdery white sand, sleepy villages, rustic restaurants and a clutch of new boutique hotels”. The best way to explore it is to take a road trip: start at the village of Buño, once a centre in the region’s pottery trade, then “wend your way along coastal roads, dipping into empty beaches such as Soesto or stopping at dramatic lookout points including Punta da Barca”. You may even find that the Coast of Death is remarkably “full of life-affirming experiences”.

Glorious moorland in Yorkshire

Heather covers the North York Moors in Yorkshire

Heather covers Yorkshire in a ‘hallucinogenic haze of pinks and purples’
(Image credit: Helen Hotson/Shutterstock)

“Yorkshire’s ‘God’s Own Country’ boastfulness can be annoying, but when it comes to moorland heather, there’s no contest,” said Helen Pickles in The Daily Telegraph. From August until September, it coats the North York Moors in a “hallucinogenic haze of pinks and purples”. You can see it from the roadside, or enjoy it in a more immersive way on foot. Several walks start from Rosedale Abbey, including a circular walk via Lastingham, where the Norman church, St Mary’s, has a “splendidly preserved crypt”. A more ambitious walk is the 109-mile Cleveland Way, which “encircles much of the moors” and starts in Helmsley. There’s wildlife to see too, and “as it’s Yorkshire” there’s always a reviving pint or cup of tea not far away.

Exploring Stockholm’s archipelago

Stockholm’s archipelago spans more than 650 square miles

Stockholm’s archipelago spans more than 650 square miles
(Image credit: Valkird/Shutterstock )

Stockholm’s archipelago is “astounding”, said Ingrid K. Williams in The New York Times. “Shaped like a fan spreading out from the capital into the Baltic Sea, this watery region spans over 650 square miles”, and comprises somewhere between 24,000 and 30,000 islands and islets. These are rarely visited by foreign tourists, but for Swedes they are “a quintessential summer destination”. Many islands are accessible by ferry, bus or car, “but the vast majority can be reached only by motorboat or sailboat, which one can rent with or without a skipper”. A recommended stop is Svartsö, which has a good, seasonal restaurant, and glamping options (you’ll need to reserve a tent well in advance). “With so many islands, so many things to do and see”, the hard part of visiting the archipelago is often just deciding how to spend your time.

In the saddle in Kyrgyzstan

Horse riding in Kurumduk valley, Naryn province, Kyrgyzstan

Horse riding in Kurumduk valley, Naryn province, Kyrgyzstan
(Image credit: imageBROKER.com/Alamy Stock Photo)

With its “Heidi-esque” mountain scape and its hospitable – and horse-centric – nomadic culture, Kyrgyzstan is a joy to explore in the saddle, said Sarah Siese in House & Garden. On one of Alexandra Tolstoy’s 11-day riding tours, guests sleep in “spacious” tents and eat “appealing” food (such as pumpkin dumplings and fresh river trout) prepared by a local mother-and-daughter team. The tour starts in the capital, Bishkek, where there are trips to the Osh Bazaar (“a jamboree of delicious colours, textures and smells”) and the National Museum of Fine Arts. The riding starts a day’s journey away in the Sary-Chelek Nature Reserve, a “charmed” region in the Tian Shan mountains. There’s much cantering through meadows of wild flowers, and a bit of crossing of “waist-high rivers”, and jagged passes. Equally wonderful are the meals shared with local people in their yurts, and don’t miss the chance to watch a game of ulak tartysh – a polo-style contest with a headless goat carcass for a ball. From $5,700pp, excluding flights; alexandratolstoytravel.com

Unplugged ‘digital detox’ escape in north Wales

‘Marley’ cabin in north Wales

‘Marley’ cabin in north Wales
(Image credit: Unplugged)

If you feel that it’s time to put down the mobile, log off social media and embrace all things nature, then maybe a “digital detox” is in order? Unplugged, which provides digital detox cabins, has recently unveiled “Marley”, its first cabin in Wales and 18th in its portfolio. Located in the Dee Valley area of outstanding natural beauty, Marley is “sustainably built, runs on solar power and is fitted with panoramic windows”, said the Manchester Evening News. This allows guests to “wake naturally, swap blue light for starlight, and enjoy north Wales’s luscious, rolling green hills”. Visitors staying at the “off-grid retreat” have the option to “lock their phones in a lockbox” for the duration of their stay and swap them for an “old school” Nokia mobile, with games like “Snake” included. There’s also an “instant camera with film and a physical map to explore the area’s scenic surroundings”. Minimum of three nights start from £390 per cabin; unplugged.rest

Balloon safari across the Serengeti

See the Serengeti’s iconic wildlife from a hot air balloon

See the Serengeti’s iconic wildlife from a hot air balloon
(Image credit: Paul Joynson-Hicks/Aardvark Safaris)

Aardvark Safaris, in partnership with Serengeti Balloon Safaris and Wayo Africa Fly Camps, is offering its first ever balloon safari across the stunning Serengeti National Park from 1-7 November 2023. Starting and finishing in Arusha, this safari adventure “takes to the skies each day to traverse the Serengeti”, said TravelMole, and includes four nights fly-camping in “star cocoon tents”. Each morning, guests will be flown by hot air balloon to a new wilderness spot from where they can explore and discover the area with both walking safaris and traditional wildlife drives. Highlights include panoramic views while flying up to 2,000ft above the Serengeti and close-up wildlife encounters while flying at grass level. Available through Aardvark Safaris from £7,995 per person, based on two sharing, the price includes all transfers, four nights full-board fly-camping, two nights b&b at Rivertrees Inn Arusha, four extended balloon flights, guided walking and 4x4 safaris, all drinks on safari, guided activities in Arusha, and return internal flights from Arusha to Serengeti. aardvarksafaris.com

Touring hidden Vietnam

Motorbike tours with Vintage Rides in Vietnam

(Image credit: vintagerides.travel)

A motorbike tour with Vintage Rides is an “exhilarating” way to explore the “vast” landscapes and remote villages of northern Vietnam, said Charlie Thomas in the FT. A strong sense of “camaraderie” always develops on this operator’s 12-day group trips, and the welcome from local people is invariably warm and enthusiastic. Within an hour of leaving the busy capital, Hanoi, you’re in the deep countryside, often riding narrow, unpaved tracks unsuited to larger vehicles. Some of the accommodation is spartan, but food is superb, including plenty of “incredibly fresh and spicy” bowls of pho. And the scenery is wonderfully varied, with “jagged mountains” giving way here and there to emerald plains where farmers in their nón lá conical hats work the rice paddies surrounded by dizzyingly strange towers of karst limestone. The trip costs from €3,430pp; vintagerides.travel

A poetry cure in Shropshire

The Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire

The Poetry Pharmacy in Bishop’s Castle
(Image credit: visitshropshire.co.uk)

Set in the hills of Shropshire, the “bohemian” market town of Bishop’s Castle is a delightful place, with its vertiginous streets of multicoloured houses and fine cafés. So too is its Poetry Pharmacy, said Ian Belcher in The Sunday Times – a former ironmonger’s shop where the writer Deborah Alma (the resident “pharmacist”) prescribes poems, from John Donne to Seamus Heaney and beyond, to help people banish the blues. There’s a café downstairs where the “terrible puns” (cups of T.S. Eliot, slices of Philip Parkin) might make you smile, and a consulting room with a chaise longue from which customers share their happiest memories with Alma, who then tailors her recommendations accordingly. The “cosy” Castle Hotel has a one-night Poetry Package from £299 for two, including consultations; thecastlehotelbishopscastle.co.uk

Lakeside safari in Zimbabwe

Fothergill safari camp in Zimbabwe

Fothergill safari camp in Zimbabwe
(Image credit: fothergill.travel)

Created 70 years ago by the damming of the Zambezi, Lake Kariba is the world’s largest artificial reservoir – but though man-made, its surroundings are wonderfully wild. On its southern shore, in Zimbabwe, a new safari camp, Fothergill, has given the area its first luxury accommodation, said Lisa Grainger in The Times. Occupying a 20,000-acre private concession abutting the Matusadona National Park, it has a good chef, “friendly, knowledgeable” guides, and “spacious” tents with private decks. A “wildlife paradise” in the 1970s, Matusadona was ravaged by poaching, but is recovering fast under the stewardship of the NGO African Parks. There is lion, elephant and much other big game to see, and the avian life, from “iridescent” sunbirds to the lake’s “iconic” fish eagles, is spectacular. Mavros Safaris has 10 nights from £6,300pp, including domestic flights; mavrossafaris.com

Glamping in the wilds of Utah

A view over Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

Adventurers and stargazers will enjoy glamping in the Bryce Canyon National Park
(Image credit: Kiyoshi Tanno / Getty Images)

Known for its immense sandstone chasms and the hoodoos (cathedral-like rock spires) that tower within them, Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park is a paradise for adventurers, says Samantha Falewée in Travel + Leisure. Go to hike, bike, climb and more, and consider staying at Under Canvas Bryce Canyon, a new glamping retreat set on a 700-acre site nearby. It has safari-style tents with king-size beds and “full en-suite” bathrooms, and “outdoor rec” areas where people sip almond-milk lattes around campfires. Staff are a helpful source of information on local adventure tour operators, including Western Canyons Trailrides (for excellent horseriding trips) and Zion Guide Hub, which offers activities such as canyoneering – an experience liable to leave you with “a childlike sense of elation”.

Family trip to Gothenburg