As the new year gets fully underway, it’s nice to plan in holidays for the upcoming months as something to look forward to.
But after a few years of visiting the same places or having similar experiences, it can feel difficult to come up with something new and exciting that will suit all the family and still leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready for real life to start again.
To inspire you to holiday differently this year, here are nine alternative breaks and unusual places to stay for 2019.
A second look at cities
With cheap, short haul flights available year-round, some people have been to Paris, Venice, Berlin and the like many times over, and yet Europe has so many more cities to explore. While you might not immediately be drawn to cold climates for a short city break, Scandinavian destinations such as Reykjavik can offer alternative city breaks full of art and culture, a rich history (drawing on Iceland’s Viking past), and an opportunity to see the Northern Lights.
Take to the treetops
Bring your childhood dream to life and sleep in a treehouse! These aren’t about splinters and spiders and draughty spaces; treehouse hideaways offer luxurious tranquillity in the heart of nature. There are many places that offer treehouse accommodation across the UK, bringing you closer to our beautiful British woodlands, while our European neighbours, such as France and Germany, also have a great selection hidden in their forests.
This one in Sweden’s arctic region is perhaps one of the most unique. Shaped in the form of an Unidentified Flying Object, it comes complete with a treetop sauna and is accessible via an electronically-retractable step ladder – you’re sure to have an other-worldly experience!
Go ‘om’ holiday
It’s easy to end up needing another break after your holiday, especially if you have a long way to travel and your days are jam-packed with activities. What better way to relax and unwind than to go completely zen, and book a yoga or meditation retreat? This sort of alternative getaway is available as anything from a weekend break to a full week and will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to face the world again.
They say a change is as good as a rest, so not every holiday has to be about beaches and sunbeds. Workaway holidays offer a unique experience in sustainable travel and cultural exchange, with ‘Workawayers’ helping their hosts for a few hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. Trips can go from a few days to a few months, and you can offer anything, such as help around the home, childcare, language tuition (no experience necessary) and any other skills you can bring to the table. Experiences vary from beekeeping, fruit picking and jam-making in France, to helping to develop an arts tourism scene in Malta.
A novel way to travel
Turn your favourite book into a travel guide and choose your destination according to your literary loves. You could visit a destination where a favourite novel of yours is set, or perhaps explore the country inhabited by your favourite author. Discover the landscapes of fictitious modern favourites, such as The Miniaturist and The Fault in Our Stars, both set in Amsterdam, or on our own shores Oxford is a literary haven, with many a story set among the dreaming spires. You may have visited Dublin before with it being so close to home, but why not rediscover it through the lens of James Joyce’s Dubliners, and explore what life would have been like in Dublin in the early 20th Century.Let your imagination run wild!
Traverse the tracks
The Orient Express is the obvious and iconic train journey that springs to mind, allowing you to traverse through Europe’s scenery, ending up in Venice, or even as far as Istanbul. However, there are many train journeys besides, that allow you to wind through a country’s cities, towns and countryside to see a full cross-section and really see its heart and spirit. An Interrailing package gives you the freedom to explore the length and breadth of Europe, enjoying all the variety it offers – from the Swiss Alps to the historic landmarks of Athens, and everything in-between.
Learn the lingo
It’s good to have a few basic phrases under your belt when travelling, so that you can at least mind your Ps and Qs. But learning a language can take years of hard study and practice, and isn’t always practical for your next whistle-stop trip. Why not make the lingo an integral part of the experience, and book an immersive language course? Not your typical tourist retreat, by The Iceberg project, offers just that, in a 6-night, 7-day language immersion stay in Tuscany. You’ll get to fully experience your destination, and experience the food, drink and culture like one of the locals.
Take the scenic route
Sometimes, it’s not the destination but the journey that matters. Take a fresh look at European favourites, such as Spain, France or Portugal, by making your way there by car. If you chose Portugal, for example, you’ll have around 1,600 miles of landscape to take in, taking the Channel Tunnel then driving down through Paris to Provence, Bordeaux then Biarritz, before crossing into Spain and exploring San Sebastián or Santiago de Compostella. Just make sure to curate the perfect playlist before you set out.
Explore the Isles
The British Isles are of course made up of multiple islands. And it’s not just the big ones – some estimates suggest there are over 1,000 (although it’s difficult to verify). Redefine the staycation by taking your leave from the mainland and exploring some of these destinations that pepper our own coastline.
From the rugged Isle of Arran in Scotland down to the tidal island of St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, they offer varied experiences, from peace and tranquillity, to rugged rural landscapes to quirky communities. Their scenic and remote charm will help you recharge before going back to reality, just beyond our coastline.