Sick of going to the same place? We can help. From a city break in St Petersburg to a cycling tour of Croatia, here are our picks of places you might not think of.
Holidays to the same places each year can get a little repetitive.
Despite the comforting familiarity of seeing the same people and going to your favourite restaurants, it can be exciting to think outside the box and venture somewhere you wouldn’t normally go.
We’ve found some of the best alternative holiday destinations for you to plan your 2019 escape.
Great for: a city break with a difference
For a city break with a difference, St Petersburg is a great bet. With a relatively short flight time of just over three hours from London, and a time difference of two hours from the UK, this Russian city is perfect for a weekend full of culture, art and stunning architecture.
May to September is the perfect time to go, with beautiful weather and the so-called “White Nights” of midsummer when the sun never sets – perfect for staying up all night and enjoying the light during the early hours.
As for what to do, there are lots of options – especially outdoors. New Holland Island is a beautiful green space and the Summer Garden was specially designed for taking a walk and enjoying the good weather. If you feel like taking in a little culture, the Stars of the White Nights Festival runs between May and mid-July, with ballets, operas and concerts of classical music – some outdoors – almost every day.
Great for: lovers of the outdoors
When? All year, but summer for the best weather
Often described as Europe’s best-kept secret, the Faroe Islands are closer to the UK than you probably realise – they’re a short flight away, off the coast of north Scotland in between Iceland and Norway. It’s great for those who want the feeling of isolation without actually being cut off, since you’re unlikely to lose your phone signal while you’re there.
Made up of 18 islands, this dramatic, rocky landscape and steep cliffs hosts thousands of seabirds, making it a popular destination for hikers and bird watchers. Keen birders can take a boat trip to the nesting and breeding grounds of the various birds there, which include puffins and gannets.
The capital, Torshavn, hosts various cultural and musical events over the summer – but if you prefer to stick to natural attractions, spend some time exploring the many waterfalls and beautiful, unspoiled coastlines.
Great for: a chilled beach holiday
Formentera is the smallest of the Balearic Islands, and although it’s just a 30-minute ferry trip from Ibiza, it’s much more laid back and chilled, without the crazy party vibes of the neighbouring island.
Construction is limited, as is the number of hotels, so if you’re looking for a holiday with a focus on unspoilt beaches, gorgeous weather and a relaxed atmosphere, Formentera is the place for you. The water’s crystal clear and the sand white, with traditional Mediterranean whitewashed villages.
If you don’t want to spend all your time relaxing on the beach or by the pool, it’s easy to explore this flat island by bike, and of course the clear water is perfect for snorkelling. If you’d prefer to be on the water rather than in it, sailing is also an option with boat charters.
Great for: a multicultural city break with great food and plenty of sights
When? May for the Eurovision song contest, otherwise all year round
Tel Aviv, the second most populous city in Israel after Jerusalem, is also the host city for this year’s Eurovision song contest. This cosmopolitan city is widely acknowledged as the culinary capital of the Middle East, with plenty of seafood from its Mediterranean coast and fresh produce from nearby farmland.
While many head to Tel Aviv to hit the beaches and rooftop bars during the summer, winter is also a lovely time to visit this trendy, multicultural city. Also known as the ‘Manhattan of the Mediterranean’, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. Visit craft breweries and bistros run by celebrity chefs and walk through the beautiful cobbled alleyways of Old Jaffa, head to Florentin to explore the graffiti or play matkot – tennis – all year round on the beach.
Great for: great views and great food, without all the tourists
If you’re thinking of heading to Santorini for the gorgeous views over blue-roofed buildings and the harbour but have been put off by the sheer volume of tourists, Hydra is a great alternative. This Greek island is two hours by boat from Athens and offers the same delicious food and beautiful coastlines. It’s been compared to St Tropez, and has even kept its unspoilt appeal, largely due to there being no roads on the island. The only way to get around is by boat or donkey, which has stopped it from becoming too built up.
The trendy harbour area is packed with cafes, bars, and shops selling clothes and interior décor. Small, pretty beaches are dotted along the coastline – some are remote while some have a taverna nearby – ideal for relaxing with a cold beer at the end of a long summer’s day.
Great for: a sightseeing holiday with a difference
When? Spring or autumn
Croatia is becoming more and more popular as a beach holiday destination due to its Mediterranean climate and coast on the Adriatic Sea, but have you ever looked at what else this country has to offer?
Croatia is also home to historic, Medieval walled cities – some of which were actually used when filming Game of Thrones, such as Dubrovnik which doubles up as King’s Landing and Split where many of Daenerys’ scenes were filmed. It also has plenty of glorious rolling countryside, which is ideal for exploring on a bicycle.
Throw in some Roman ruins and quaint fishing villages, and you’ve got a perfect sightseeing holiday with a difference, particularly in the pleasant spring or autumn weather.
- Make sure you’re covered when you take your trip with our European Travel Insurance.