- Culture and beauty at the north end of the boot.
- Southern Italy has proven itself as great travel destination, sure, but if you’re not into crowds and beaches, the north should be on your travel list, starting at Alto Adige (also known as South Tyrol). The autonomous region has a local culture that’s a mix of both Austrian and Italian influence, making it an incredibly unique part of the country. And nowhere is this more apparent than the cuisine, be it the Germanic influence of potatoes, root vegetables and pork sausage or the Mediterranean influence of delicate cheese and cured meat (try the speck). Besides eating, Alto Adige is also ideal for the outdoorsy type. Its location in the Dolomites of the Italian Alps makes it an ideal spot to visit year-round — in the winter, ski and snowboard in Madonna di Campiglio; in the summer, go hiking, climbing or cycling through the hills of Alto Adige’s Winemaking region.
If it’s good enough for King Joffrey, it’s good enough for you
About a 15-minute drive from the Old City, there is a restaurant, carved into the side of the cliff, nestled on the eastern flank of a quiet Adriatic bay, where a smiling Croatian man might park his boat a stone’s throw from your table. He will carry in a grip of langoustines, mussels, or a cuttlefish, and your waiter will happily tell you that that’s what’s on today’s menu at Gverovic Osan . That waiter will then point to the lounge chairs situated on the nearby shore, offer you a bottle of local white wine, and tell you to swim and sunbathe for the next hour while the chef cooks your meal. It’s there, floating in the Dalmatian coast’s greenish-blue waters, that any worry of Dubrovnik being overrun by tourists will fade from your mind.
The city’s ideal balance between old-world charm and modern European flare has contributed to a surge in popularity (and Game of Thrones, which is filmed on the city’s iconic, well-preserved medieval City Walls, surely helped), but gems like Gvervic Orsan are still waiting to be discovered. After you’ve exhausted the rich history of Dubrovnik, get on a ferry and visit Hvar or Mljet in the nearby archipelago.
A subtropical archipelago of 181 volcanic islands, Bermuda won the bid to host the 2017:America’s Cup , thanks to near perfect North Atlantic sailing conditions. Beyond wind, the British Overseas Territory, just a two-hour flight from New York City, has 75 miles of pink-sand beaches interspersed with jagged limestone cliffs, many of which are perfect for deep-water soloing and hucking into the Atlantic from the top. Stay at Elbow Beach, a 50-acre hideaway with a private stretch of sand on the southern shore (from $455).
With the 180-mile-long Belize Barrier Reef, this laid-back country has long been a heaven for divers and snorkelers. It just got better with the world’s first lodge-to-lodge paddleboarding trip. On thisguided adventure with island expeditions, through Belize’s 118,000-acre Southwater Caye Marine Reserve , you’ll paddle four to eight miles per day through calm turquoise waters, jumping off to snorkel where spotted eagle rays and barracuda glide in reef areas too shallow for motorboats. You’ll visit with researchers at Smithsonian’s Carrie Bow Caye Field Station to learn about reef biology, stop for a beachside fresh-catch lunch at a Garifuna fishing camp, night-snorkel at Southwater Cut (a deep channel where the coral blooms after dark), and sleep in rustic overwater bungalows on tiny Tobacco Caye and in the seclusion of private Southwater Caye, 12 acres ringed by white sand in the Belize Barrier Reef. $1,829 for six days.
Even the saltiest of divers is intrigued by Funafuti’s outline on Google Maps. A series of nine atolls and thirty three islets, its land is comprised of large collections of reef that rise from the South Pacific and encircle to create its signature, 106 square-mile Te Namo Lagoon.
The largest island, Fongafale, is where you will fly into and spend most of your time. Its slim and sweeping mass varies in width between a quarter-mile to a mere 65 feet, making it ideally suited for exploration by motorcycle . To experience the lands where roads end, a boat is your only option, what with numerous yacht and catamarans available to charter.
The chasms of Tasmania’s Franklin River have a primeval beauty and are now part of a World Heritage Site. This 13-day river rafting adventure, camping wild as you go, takes in rapids like The Churn, Thunderush and The Cauldron. You’ll also see wildlife like platypus, wallabies and quolls.
- £1,950 excluding flights.
Every November a mind-blowing events occurs in Zambia’s Kasanka National Park. Around 10 million fruit bats congregate from across central Africa to feast on forest fruits. Join the Kasanka Bat Safari and see them swooping in from the Congo rainforest, roosting in woodland and, at sunset, blackening the sky as they begin their foragin mission .
Explore the steaming jungle and the waterways of Tortuguero by boat in search of monkeys, toucans and exotic birds before visiting the Sloth Sanctuary and the stars of their own Animal Planet TV show. Then take a night walk in the rainforest or try white water rafting before relaxing in thermal pools in the shadow of the Arenal Volcano. Starts and finishes with some white sand beach-time
16 days, £2,399pp excl flights.
The Blue Eye is a water spring and natural phenomenon occurring near Muzinë in Vlorë County, Albania. A populartourist attraction, the clear blue water of the river bubbles forth from a stunning, more than fifty-metre-deep pool. Divers have descended to fifty metres, but it is still unclear what the actual depth of the karst hole is.
The source stands at an altitude of 152 m and has a discharge rate of 18400 l/s.
The immediate area (180 ha) is a nature reserve and is characterized by oak and sycamore trees. In summer 2004, the source was temporarily dried up.
Turkey’s Dorian Coast will excite anyone with a spirit of adventure. You can charter your own yacht if you’re an experienced sailor or alternatively sail in a flotilla with an experienced skipper and qualify for an RYA Level 2 sailing certificate. Overnight stays vary from modern marinas to remote anchorages in inlets and creeks.
Seven days, (£1,350pp including flights).