30 years on and we still enjoy creating the most memorable holidays for our customers. We believe it’s the unique, must-see places and must-live travel experiences that turn a great holiday into an unforgettable one. That’s why, to celebrate our 30th Anniversary, we want to share our top 30 travel experiences for every nature roamer, culture lover, snap-happy discoverer and sun worshiper.
1. Craft your own chocolate in St Lucia
Chocolate lover or not, Hotel Chocolat’s St Lucia chocolate making experience is one not to miss. Tour the 140-acre Rabot Estate (St Lucia’s oldest plantation) and admire jaw dropping views of the rainforest canopy and Piton Mountains. Once you’ve picked your cocoa beans, just add a blend of sugar, butter and spices to craft your very own and completely unique chocolate bar.
St Lucia is brimming with exciting experiences, find the best in our ultimate guide blog.
Cocoa beans fresh from the plant
2. Sing ‘the hills are alive’ in the hills of Austria
Discover the story and setting behind the 1965 classic film ‘The Sound of Music’ with a tour of the green hills of Austria. The Von Trapp family are inseparably linked to Salzburg where you’ll find a wide variety of Sound of Music tours: on foot, on bicycle and even by horse drawn carriage. Some with a singing guide some without, but all give a fascinating, one-of-a-kind look at life behind the music…
3. Take a giant leap into the lunar landscapes of Lanzarote
If you can tear yourself away from Lanzarote’s idyllic beaches, the islands fascinating lunar-like landscape is waiting to be explored. Head to Timanfaya National Park and enjoy the colourful scenery of volcanic rocks or descend into the enchanting Los Jameos del Agua caves created by 4000 year old volcanic eruptions. Visit our post for more things to do in Lanzarote.
Timanfaya National Park
4. Cruise around the Croatian Islands
Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once commented that ‘those who seek paradise on Earth should come to Dubrovnik’. Our eight-day island hopping cruises take in crystal clear waters, countless coves and sparkling bays for leisurely swimming and sun worshiping. Sight-seeing highlights include UNESCO listed Dubrovnik, the stunning Mljet national park and the famously beautiful Zlatni Rat beach.
For more Croatian inspiration visit our post Top 5 Most Beautiful Croatian Islands.
Boat leaving island of Mljet
5. Admire Moorish design at Alhambra Palace, Granada
The Alhambra Palace in Granada is the swansong of the Moor’s sophisticated civilisation. Home to sultans, royals and a young Catherine of Aragon, it impresses with its skillful geometric architecture, intricate, thoughtful aesthetics and beautiful ceramics and plasterwork. Walls carved with stunning Arabic calligraphy and pristine gardens with undisturbed pools and gentle fountains, add to the charm and splendour. For more Spanish delights, visit our post Top Historical Sites in Spain.
Alhambra Palace, Granada
6. Feel the festive magic at a Christmas market in Switzerland
You’ll always remember the Christmas you spent in the mountains of Switzerland, laughing over mulled wine as Santa and his sleigh fly overhead. Montreux Noel is a magical, festive experience like no other. Traditional chalets with festive goods and aromatic treats line the shores of Lake Geneva alongside illuminated sculptures and enchanted storytellers. Above the city, accessed by cog railway, is Santa’s Grotto blanketed in snow, and a truly inspiring view; a festive fairy-tale not to be missed.
Inspired? For a festive treat visit our post The Best Christmas Markets in Europe.
Zurich Christmas Market
7. Wind your way though Tuscan countryside in a Fiat 500
To experience the true essence of Italy, drive through its rolling Tuscany hills alongside endless vineyards, then skirt along the coast with the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean Sea to your side. Set your own pace so that you can stop to marvel at the ever changing landscape whenever the mood takes you. Travel in La Dolce Vita style at the wheel of an iconic Fiat 500 or Mini. And as they said in the Italian Job “Just remember this – in this country they drive on the wrong side of the road.”
Val d Orcia, Tuscany
8. Watch ancient wonders glide past on an Egyptian Nile cruise
Drift down the Nile and you can’t help but fall under Egypt’s spell. A Nile cruise offers mystery and intrigue, and lets you discover some of the world’s most captivating historical attractions. Stop off to explore ancient temples, view the inspiration for Agatha Christie’s novel Death on the Nile, and gaze upon a spectacular night sky with a breath-taking array of stars.
Deck of Oberoi Philae
9. Relax in the lavender fields of Monaco
With endless fields of violet shimmering in the sunlight, the Lavender fields of Monaco are a sight to behold. As the calming fragrance drifts through the warm summer air, visitors can watch the lavender being cultivated and talk to those who dedicate their lives to the production and refinement process.
10. Catch a sunset in Santorini
Santorini sunsets are spectacular and regarded as some of the finest to be seen anywhere in the world; villages that seem to cascade down hillsides and volcanic cliffs make for a fine backdrop. As the sun starts to sink below the horizon, the white washed houses and blue domed roofs are bathed in the characteristic glow of a Mediterranean evening that will linger long in your mind’s eye.
Top tip: Santorini can draw the crowds. It’s best to try to view a sunset when the cruise ships are not in port.
11. Read ‘The Island’ whilst admiring the island itself
It may not sound glamorous, but once a Leper colony, the mysterious island of Spinalonga was thrown into view with the turbulent love story portrayed by Victoria Hislop in her novel ‘The Island’. Located off the shores of Plaka in Crete, Spinalonga can be simply admired from afar or visited by boat. But, there is no better way to admire the beauty and humbling stories of Spinalonga than from your own private pool at the Blue Palace Resort & Spa, with the book itself in hand…
Superior Bungalow with pool, Blue Palace Resort & Spa
12. Dive in to the underwater sculpture park in Grenada
Dive into the shallow waters off Moliniere Point in Grenada. Combining artistic flair with coral protection, the underwater sculpture park is a fascinating, yet eerie display of figures based on real life individuals who lived in the area. Now teaming with life, you can dive or snorkel your way through the water examining the 68 different and captivating attractions.
13. Admire Venice as it was meant to be seen by Gondola.
Undeniably romantic and irresistibly unique, touring Venice’s canals by Gondola is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the city. Cruise your way past buildings that are more than 1,200 years old, view enchanting architecture and artistic creations, and enjoy what may be a once in a lifetime experience.
14. Stay the night in La Cueva for two in La Gomera
Clifftop hotel Jardin Tecina in La Gomera offers a unique experience La Cueva for Two, a cave just for couples. Located in a natural cave overlooking the ocean and mountains, spend a relaxing evening together, be served with a 3-course gourmet dinner by zipwire, accompanied by the sound of the waves and the sight of twinkling stars.
La Cueva, Jardin Tecina
15. Feel like a Hollywood Star on a water limousine tour of Lake Como
Camera ready, wide lens set, you’re ready to take in the views of stunning lakeside mountains, exquisite villas and idyllic villages as you cruise the Lake Como shoreline by water limousine or traditional ferry. Optional extras include a 3-course dinner, a visit to the picturesque waterfront village of Bellagio, or a private tour around the lake: the lake’s your oyster!
16. Take an authentic Italian cooking class in Puglia
Pasta making in Puglia is perhaps the most quintessential of Italian experiences. Masseria Montenapoleone is a converted rural 17th century farmhouse, where authentic Italian cooking classes hosted by owner Giuliano. Walk in the hotel’s gardens to discover local produce, then learn how to create fresh focaccia and pasta with a crisp glass of wine to match: all amongst the jaw-dropping setting of the Puglian countryside.
Italian food lover? Discover the best traditional Italian food.
17. Spot dolphins and whales in Tenerife
Unique amongst marine mammals for their superior intelligence, cheerful disposition and altruism, dolphins are some the most popular sea animals. Owing to its exceptional location Tenerife, a lush Canary Island we’ve always loved, is blessed with the presence of many visiting dolphins making it the ideal location to spot these adorable mammals.
18. Experience the freedom of Tandem Paragliding in Ölüdeniz
As you gently glide down through the air and towards the beach you’ll realise why tandem paragliding is the only way to truly appreciate the breath-taking beauty of Ölüdeniz. Known as one of the best places in the world to paraglide, the brilliant blue of the sea, the white sand of the beach and the fertile landscape provide an extraordinary treat for the eyes. The nearby Hillside Beach Club is a luxurious base in which to explore this beautiful area of Turkey.
View of oludeniz, Turkey
19. Discover Eden on earth at Plitvice Lakes National Park
It’s difficult to put the beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park into words. Winding footpaths lead the way through 16 crystalline lakes connected by cascading waterfalls. As you meander through the myriad greens and blues, butterflies and colourful flowers paint a pretty picture indeed. Top tip – You can visit all year round, but Autumn can be particularly beautiful with red and rose hues taking centre stage.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
20. Witness an open air opera in Verona
The ancient Roman amphitheatre in Verona delivers outstanding acoustics, and the annual Arena Opera Festival features unique and sensational opera, ballet and concert events. As the sun sets, 15000 audience members will be dazzled by the scale, design and energy of the productions. Next year sees an acclaimed Carmen as well as Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, set in ancient Egypt.
Planning a Verona city break? Visit our post for the top 5 things to do.
Performance of Aida in Verona
21. Step in to JK Rowling’s imagination at Livaria Lello Bookshop
Porto is rumoured to be the inspiration behind JK Rowling’s much-loved Harry Potter series, and Livaria Lello Bookstore is like stepping straight into her imagination. One of the oldest and most beautiful bookstores in the world, its inviting neo-gothic façade leads to an interior of wooden ceilings and walls covered by shelf after shelf of books. In the centre is the rich red spiralling stairway, leading to the first floor where the famous author enjoyed a cup of coffee and the magic began.
Livaria Lello Bookshop, Porto
22. Follow the Levadas into Madeira’s verdant mountains
Levadas, roughly translating to carriageways, are the extraordinary, centuries-old irrigation systems which bring fresh water down from the mountains to the low-lying communities in Madeira. To follow the pathways that run next to the winding canal-like levadas is to immerse yourself in the beauty and tranquillity of nature. Admire the unspoilt forestry, blossoming flowers and incredible waterfalls found in Laurel Forest. Visit our post for more things to do in Madeira.
23. Sing along to ‘Mamma Mia!’ in Skopelos
Walk in the footsteps of Colin Firth & Meryl Streep in Skopelos, the location for the film Mamma Mia! Visit the church of Agios Ioannis in Kastri where the wedding scene was shot, relax on the pristine Kastani beach, as seen on screen, and sing Our Last Summer whilst admiring the Hollywood quality view from Nisi Glisteri. You can also stay in the hotel chosen by the film stars. The Skopelos Village Suite Hotel is a traditional, home-from-home style family run hotel that’s just a short walk from beautiful Skopelos Town.
Kastani Beach, Skopelos
24. Get home inspiration in the souks of Marrakech
A trip to the souks of Marrakech is certainly a feast for the senses; the smell of spices, the whistles of the snake charmers, and the ancient tales of the Berber storytellers. Winding through its labyrinthine streets you’ll find ornate lanterns, plush rugs and the finest quality leathers for a price that is next to nothing – if you’re willing to haggle. With its bold colours, unique patterns and warming effect, it’s no surprise that Moroccan décor has found its way into many of our homes.
25. Practice your swing at the best golf courses in the world
Top professionals and course architects regard the Algarve as an elite golfing venue. It’s home to a wide variety of formidable championship courses. With more than 300 days of sun each year, the long golf season attracts players of different abilities from around the world. Some of the finest courses can be found in Quinta do Lago and Vilamoura where hotels may have their own courses, academies and PGA coaching. Visit our post for the top Algarve golf courses.
Golf course at Anantara Vilamoura
26. Faraglioni at your feet: take a chairlift to Anacapri’s summit
Glide gently from the picturesque village of Anacapri to the 589m summit of Monte Solaro by cable car. Feel like you’re floating through the lush forestry and be blown away by the panoramic ocean views, before the views at the top take it to another level (no pun intended). Monte Solaro is a panoramic point where you can see everything from the now-tiny boats in Capri’s harbours, the iconic Faraglioni rock formations, the entrance to the Blu Cave, and even further afield across the Sorrentine Peninsula. You will literally feel on top of the world.
27. Star gaze from your own infinity pool at Jade Mountain, St Lucia
There is no more of a ‘pinch-me-moment’ than being perched at the edge of your own private infinity pool gazing upon St Lucia’s enchanting Piton Mountains, surrounded by the lush landscape of the Caribbean with the twinkling stars above. A truly romantic retreat, Jade Mountain, St Lucia, is home to some of the most beautiful hotel suites anywhere in the Caribbean.
28. Camp the night in a traditional Berber tent at Kasbah Tamadot
Perched on the edge of a valley at the foot of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains is Sir Richard Branson’s magical retreat, Kasbah Tamadot. Of the property’s 28 rooms, 10 are traditional Berber tents offering a luxurious experience like no other. Star gaze by night, and in the morning wake to utter peace, fresh mountain air, and stunning valley views in the shadow of the snow-capped mountains beyond.
Bereber Tented Suite, Kasbah Tamadot
29. Stay in a presidential villa
For the ultimate, exclusive, luxurious holiday, nothing quite beats staying in a Presidential Villa. Whether you prefer a spacious two floor villa or a more bijou, boutique affair, the best villas boast private pools just for you, balconies with unforgettable sea views and terraces on which to enjoy private massages and spa treatments. Unrivalled personal service comes from butlers and personal chefs.
Two bedroom presidential suite, Elounda Peninsula
30. Travel in style and luxury aboard the Belmond Simplon-Orient-Express
Treat yourself to a truly decadent adventure. The wonderful way to celebrate any occasion, the Simplon-Orient-Express offers passengers the chance to travel in unparalleled luxury. Exceptional service, lavish furnishings and sublime views over majestic countryside, combine to make your journey an outstanding work of art. The Orient Express can be taken between London and Venice, Verona or Vienna.
This blog was lovingly and collectively put together by a selection of our authors including Jacqui Davies, Jaye Somers, Hazel Hammond and Andrew Farr. If there is an experience you’d love to hear about more, get in touch on freephone 0800 047 1066, we’d love to hear from you.