Where To Go On Holiday Next Year
Mara River Tented Camp, Singita Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa. Photograph courtesy of Singita
The weather is colder, the days are darker and your summer holiday is a distant memory. Remember July, when you were lying on a beach, cocktail in hand? Now that we are back to spending most of our time indoors, those two weeks in Greece feel like a fever dream. Why not channel that dream into some winter escapism – and some early planning – and start thinking about next year’s holiday? Whether you’re looking for a no-distractions relaxing retreat or a culinary pilgrimage, we’ve got you covered.
The relaxing option
Harbour at Cadaques, Costa Brava, Spain. Photograph by Mr Robert Harding/Alamy
A holiday is an opportunity to turn off your emails and relax, usually on a beach, but there are other options. “If I’m looking for a relaxing holiday, it’s either a hiking trip or a beach holiday – and I am always trying to avoid the crowds,” says Ms Rachel Rockowitz, co-founder of Step: Your World, an app for “finding, saving and sharing your favourite places” across the world.
Rockowitz points to the Costa Brava, in northeastern Spain as somewhere that mixes beaches and hot weather with forests and mountains. “We recommend staying at La Bionda hotel in Begur if you want to be in the town or, if you are looking to stay close to the beach, get an Airbnb in Tamariu,” she says. “Our favourite beach restaurant is Toc Al Mar – get the paella. If you want a break from traditional Spanish food, there is a Far Nomo, a beautiful fusion Catalan and Japanese restaurant in a lighthouse with dramatic views up the coast.”
What to pack
The food option
Food Market in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Photograph by Mr Peeter Viisimaa/iStock
Rockowitz is not the only person who lets food play a role in choosing her holiday destination. More and more people are engaging in food tourism. A 2020 study showed that 53 per cent of leisure travellers were now considered food tourists.
“For a food-focused destination, there are things to consider,” says Mr Adam Coghlan, editor of Eater London.“What is the cuisine? What’s informed that cuisine or cuisines historically? Is there a regional specificity to it, be it geographical – sun, sea, mountains – or because of the movement of people over time – immigration, displacement? In other words, what makes it interesting? I want to know what and who the local producers are. What are the things that are driving the food economy in any given place? I suppose these are things that inform how you then look at good local restaurants, cafés and bars.” As well as those considerations, Coghlan encourages some scepticism when it comes to recommendations. “Who is saying it’s good and why are they saying it’s good?” he says. “Always find good sources that you trust in order to inform yourself properly.”
Coghlan recommends Sicily. “What makes it good is three-fold,” he says. “The cuisine of Sicily is regionally diverse. In the northwest you can find spleen sandwiches and panelle on the streets of Palermo. Farther down the west coast, the raw prawns of Castellammare del Golfo, the sardine pasta of Trapani, the wines of Alcamo and Marsala, the chocolate of Modica, the tomatoes of Pachino or the gelato of Noto. It’s richly diverse and delicious in a way that is unique to the island.”
What to pack
The luxury option
Serengeti House Veranda at Singita Serengeti, Tanzania, Africa. Photograph courtesy of Singita
You probably have a good idea of what constitutes luxury – a five-star hotel, an amazing location and extravagant dinners. That’s not the only definition, though. “The new luxury is experience,” says Mr Ed Farrelly, head of travel at Ellidore + Thadeus, a London-based company that organises travel, events, lifestyle concierge and personal shopping. “That could be better experiences with friends, heightened experiences with the natural world, a different experience of service or just a switched-up experience when it comes to partying.”
For Farrelly, there is one region that meets all these criteria. “East Africa is one of the most spectacular regions on Earth and not just because of the wildlife,” he says. “They really know how to put on a party and there’s a backdrop to boot. If you are really wanting something memorable, something blow-out and something that truly counts as quality time with friends, then you can’t go wrong in adding the region to next summer’s bucket list.”
What to pack
The sustainable option
Bonifacio Cliff, Corsica, France. Photograph by Hemis/Alamy
A survey conducted by YouGov earlier this year showed that more than half of global consumers will now look for sustainable travel options for their holidays, but not everyone knows what it means to travel sustainably. “In its simplest form, travelling sustainably means treating destinations and hosts in the way you would like to be treated, respecting and understanding their needs, rather than just grabbing what you can from a place and its people,” says Ms Holly Tuppen, a sustainability expert and author of Sustainable Travel: The Essential Guide To Positive-Impact Adventures.
“Some topics to think about are how you might reduce your carbon emissions by switching flights for overland, whether you can help avoid over-tourism by travelling off season or to places less visited, how you might contribute to the local economy by staying at locally owned, smaller-scale places, or how your travels can contribute to the conservation of nature or uplifting marginalised parts of a society. They sound like big topics to consider when booking a holiday, but a little research and asking the right questions will probably mean you have an infinitely better experience.”
In other words, how you travel, when you go and what you do when you are there are more important than where you’re going if you’re trying to have a sustainable holiday. Tuppen cites a recent family trip. “We headed off on an overland adventure to Corsica,” she says. “We hopped on trains down to the south of France before jumping on the night ferry to Corsica. Travelling off season, in April, meant we avoided crowds and there was still snow on the top of Corsica’s mountains. One day we’d be trekking through snow and the next we’d be sunbathing on deserted beaches. Heaven!”
What to pack
The city option
St. Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland. Photograph by Ms Ruslan Lytvyn/iStock
Switching off completely is not for everyone. Sometimes you even want something a bit more lively. Cities offer a wide range of things to do and see, especially if you are short on time. “When I’m choosing a city, I’m always planning my meals and searching for culinary experiences,” says Rockowitz. “Robyn [Hope Nicholl, Step’s co-founder] is a huge fan of architecture, art and natural wines. When she is exploring cities, she is always on the hunt for good museums and interesting bars.”
Rockowitz has a suggestion for somewhere that covers both bases. “For a city, we absolutely love Krakow in Poland,” she says. “It’s a real hidden gem. Krakow is a small, beautiful city, so it’s manageable for a weekend away and the old city is still intact. We recommend staying in Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter, and our favourite bar is Eszeweria. Check out Paul’s Boutique record store, just around the corner, to pick up some vinyl. If you are into running, we recommend running along the Vistula, the river that goes through Krakow, into the old city.”