Not sure where to start with your holidays plans for 2024? Inspiring Travel’s experts are here to help with their top recommendations for the year ahead.
Take a look at their favourite ideas for a holiday this year. As specialists in creating bespoke experiences, they’ll ensure that whichever one you choose is highly personalised to you.
Go island-hopping in the Caribbean
Island-hopping is the best way to authentically feel ‘in the Caribbean’. Beyond the better-known islands such as Barbados and Antigua, there’s an idyllic world of more secluded havens to be discovered, each with their own unique landscape, history and personality. From swimming the sparkling waters of peaceful Bequia to gliding across the coral encrusted waters of the Tobago Cays, this is how you see the true, undisturbed beauty of the Caribbean.
So, which islands should you combine? It’s good to look for contrasts, so you can have two distinct experiences. Antigua and the British Virgin Islands are good for a mix barefoot luxury and divine seafood. Barbados and St Lucia are wonderful when paired with the Grenadines, where there’s an array of private islands and secluded spots for a romantic escape.
Or, if you really want to take it easy, there’s always a cruise. Opt for a smaller yacht-style ship to reach the smaller islands and allow the best of the Caribbean to come to you.
“I recommend doing most of the hopping around early in the holiday, so you can start off with an adventure and gradually wind down as the days go by. In terms of timings, two weeks is perfect for covering up to three islands”. – Jackie Sampson, Travel Specialist
For more ideas, see Inspiring Travel’s best Caribbean resorts beyond Barbados and Antigua.
Have a gourmet getaway in San Sebastien
Steaming pans of paella, crispy patatas bravas, deep and heady red wines… Spain is nothing short of a fantasy for foodies. Still, it’s sometimes overlooked in favour of other European gastronomic hotspots like Italy and France.
For a fresh helping of authentic Spanish cuisine, head to San Sebastian in Basque Country. This northern region is packed with culinary excellence, where you can dine on the area’s unique gilda pinxto (salty and pickled olives, peppers and anchovies) washed down with a glass of Txokoli, a sparkling dry white wine that’s produced in the region.
Its main draw for oenophiles, though, is its close proximity to the renowned Rioja region, home to the country’s smooth and oaky flagship red wine.
“People too often see Spain just for beach holidays, but there’s so much to the food and culture. You can combine the likes of San Sebastien, Madrid, Seville, Barcelona and the Costa del Sol into a fabulous twin-centre stay.” – Alex Longworth, Travel Specialist
See ancient history in Greece
Greece is peppered with ancient sites and myths from the mainland to the islands.
Perhaps one of the best places for history lovers though, is Athens. While today it’s a thriving modern metropolis, there’s no forgetting that it’s Europe’s historical capital and one of the world’s oldest cities, where Western democracy, art, science and philosophy were born.
On a visit here, you can walk up the sacred rock of the Acropolis to see the Parthenon in all its glory. See wonders in the National Archaeological Museum, marvel at the Panathenaic Stadium and admire the remains of the Temple of Olympian Zeus, which was once a colossal structure.
“Spend a few nights in Athens before heading off to a beach resort to relax. Costa Navarino is just a few hours’ drive from the city and has some of Greece’s most beautiful and unspoilt beaches.” – Sam Morris, Travel Specialist
Discover the Dubai desert
Dubai is known for having its own level of luxury. In the midst of the city, you’ll find Michelin-starred restaurants, private beach clubs and mega malls at every turn. A highlight for many is the Burj Khalifa, which staggers over the skyline as the tallest building in the world.
But, beyond the soaring skyscrapers and bright lights, you’ll find rolling desert dunes – the perfect contrast. Within just a 45-minute drive, you’ll swap the high rises for open horizons, romance and adventure.
While you can head out to the dunes just for the day for a 4×4 safari or dune bashing, a few nights spent here is simply magical. You can glamp out under the stars after an evening spent around a Bendouin-style campfire and a traditional dinner. If you stay at Bab Al Shams, you can try authentic Arabian experiences such as horse riding the desert, camelback trekking, archery and falconry.
“I firmly believe that there’s a version of Dubai for everyone. Families often love the waterparks, beaches and theme parks, but there is another side to discover. You can experience life in the desert, stop by Arabian tea houses and explore historic souks, too.” – Peter Sallis, Travel Specialist
Escape to the Oman mountains
If you’ve already experienced the glamour of Dubai, turn to its older and more authentic sibling, Oman. Here, you can head up to the mountains and discover the real and authentic Arabia.
Oman is rich in history and culture, with a rugged and dusty landscape that’s ripe for exploring. The coast is lined by some irresistible sandy beaches, but turn to the interior and you’ll find the craggy Hajar Mountains, the highest being the monumental Jebel Shams.
While here, be sure to see the staggering Wadi Nakhr, a valley in what is said to be the Grand Canyon of the Middle East. Along the way, you can also stop at Nizwa Souq to browse antique silver jewellery. Stay at Anantara Al Jabal Akhdar and you can dine on your own mountain edge.
“One of my favourite holidays is a combination of beach, culture and mountains in Oman. The natural beauty is astounding, and is perfect for hiking if you visit in the cooler months – there are also excellent opportunities for rock climbers”. – Sophie Mitchell, Travel Specialist
Admire Angkor Wat in Southeast Asia
A journey across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is sure to leave you awestruck. From the chaotic cities to the bustling banks of the Mekong River and the stunning UNESCO-listed beaches, every step is steeped in history, culture and spirituality.
Seeing Angkor Wat is a highlight for many. It can get crowded, so careful planning with an expert is invaluable for seeing it at its best. There is more to this site than just the crowning temple though, with a whole complex of smaller temples to explore, so you’ll appreciate a few days to see them all. One of the best experiences is a sunset boat ride on the stillness of the lake, with Angkor Wat illuminated by the fading light.
“The history of Southeast Asia can seem intense, but reading up on it before you go adds a new level of meaning to your journey. The local people are open about sharing their experiences and grateful when visitors want to know more.” – Nicola Brereton, Travel Specialist
Admire the autumn leaves in Japan
People often want to visit Japan to see the cherry blossom. While it is an incredible sight, it’s one of the busiest times and requires serious advance planning, with no certain guarantee of seeing it. Instead of pinning your hopes on it, why not visit in autumn? This season still has equally spectacular natural beauty of blazing foliage, with fewer crowds.
There are plenty of unique experiences beyond Tokyo, too. In Kyoto, you’ll see Fushimi Inari and can meet geishas. In Hiroshima, you can learn the history of the atomic bomb attack and see the famed torii gate. Food lovers should head to Dōtonbori in Osaka to experience a ‘kuidaroe’ – a word that means ‘to ruin yourself with food’!
“If you want to see Mount Fuji, I can select a room for you that has views from your window. During my own trip, I factored in a few extra days for seeing it to account for any bad weather that might limit the view.” – Nick Upperton, Travel Specialist
Encounter the Australian outback
Australia’s nature and landscape is like nothing else in the world. Journey to South Australia and West Australia for a safari adventure across the outback, seeing native animals from whale sharks to quokkas, kangaroos and koalas.
Some highlights you could add to your itinerary include Flinders Range, where you can take in the scorched peaks and look out for the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby in the rugged outback. Kangaroo Island is stunning too; known as ‘Australia’s Galapagos’, it has incredible diverse wildlife. If you want to see marine wonders, be sure to go to Ningaloo Reef. Equally as beautiful as the Great Barrier Reef, Ningaloo is the world’s largest fringing reef.
“Many people think Australia is so big and far away that it’s too difficult to get there for a holiday. It’s actually easier than you might think – I’ve visited countless times over the years, so I know the best tips for making a trip run seamlessly.” – Ellie Dovey, Travel Specialist
For more advice see Ellie’s guide to things to do in Australia.
Cruise around Alaska
Cruising opens a whole new world of travel experiences. Recently, there have been a number of new luxury expedition ship launches, offering journeys into off-the-beaten track regions.
Setting sail to Alaska offers some incredible experiences. You can head onshore to explore Denali National Park to see North America’s tallest mountain, admire the forests from the Alaska Railroad, go whale watching from Juneau and learn about Tlingit culture at Icy Straight Point. You can even combine your cruise with a stop in Canada, perhaps by exploring Vancouver or embarking on a Rocky Mountaineer train journey.
“A cruise holiday isn’t just about your time spent on the ship. Think about the whole journey from start to finish. By adding on pre- and post-cruise stays and experiences, you’ll really make the most of your time.” – Denise Walker, Cruise Travel Specialist
Add some magic to your ski break
Whether you’re a self-proclaimed pro or have never set foot on a run, the slopes themselves are only the start of what makes a skiing holiday so special.
Across Europe’s ski resorts, you can add unique experiences to your stay. In Megève, you can sit down for a fine Savoyard dinner on a secluded mountain-top, while in Zermatt you can soar over the Matterhorn on a scenic helicopter ride. Why not try skijoring in Lake St Moritz, an adrenaline-fuelling activity that involves being pulled by a horse across a frozen lake?
Wherever you go in Europe, you’ll benefit from the short flight times and easy accessibility, making for plenty of time to enjoy the snow. If you really want to test your stamina, why not try the famous Sella Ronda Circuit in the Italian Dolomites, where you can conquer over 1,200km of pistes across 12 resorts in just one day?
“The food scene across Europe’s ski resorts always gets my appetite up! From Verbier’s Gruyere cheese fondue and Austria’s apple strudel to Michelin-starred dining, the dining alone is enough to tempt you!” – Eleanor Ogle, Travel Specialist
To ski further afield, see Inspiring Travel’s best ski resorts in Canada.
See the full Inspiring Travel portfolio for more ideas on where to go for a tailor-made holiday.