Best coastal hikes is best adventure

For sheer excitement, nothing compares to Stromboli. Sicily’s showiest volcanic island has been lighting up the Mediterranean for millennia, spewing out showers of red-hot rock with remarkable regularity since the age of Odysseus.

Set off a couple of hours before sunset for the spectacularly scenic trek (guide required) to Stromboli’s 924m summit. Climbing through a landscape of yellow broom and wild capers, the trail eventually opens onto bare slopes of black volcanic rock, revealing fabulous vistas of Stromboli town, the sparkling sea and the volcanic islet of Strombolicchio below, and a zigzag line of fellow hikers slogging steadily towards the summit above.

Round the last bend and emerge into a surreal panorama of smouldering craters framed by the setting sun. For the next hour you’re treated to full-on views of Stromboli’s pyrotechnics from a perfect vantage point above the craters. The periodic eruptions grow ever brighter against the darkening sky, changing with the waning light from awe-inspiring puffs of grey smoke to fountains of brilliant orange-red, evoking oohs and aahs that mix with the sound of sizzling hot rocks rolling down the mountainside.

Ready for one last moment of magic? Don your headlamp for the descent and begin plunging down Stromboli’s precipitous eastern slope, with the moonlit sea at your feet stretching clear to the twinkling lights of Italy’s mainland.

 

Fossa delle Felci, Salina, Aeolian Islands

Start/End: Valdichiesa | Length: 4km | Duration: three hours | Difficulty: moderate-demanding

The ancient Greeks dubbed this island Didyme (the twins) for its verdant pair of dormant volcanoes. These days Salina remains the Aeolian Islands’ greenest island, dotted with wineries that produce the region’s renowned Malvasia wine. For sweeping views of the vineyards and the surrounding seascape, climb Salina’s highest peak, Fossa delle Felci (962m).

Plane and do some serious firsthand research

Two museums dedicated to the iconic French designer are opening in Paris and Marrakesh.

When a trip involves Marrakesh or Paris, two of my favourite cities, I’m always excited. But add Yves St Laurent to the mix – the man who introduced ‘le tuxedo’ for women and whose influence on the catwalk today is still undeniable – and I’m storming the departure gates. This year two new museums are opening, celebrating the designer’s incredible legacy. His former Paris atelier, which is being refurbished to its former glory, allows visitors the opportunity to get a sense of his work process, while also immersing themselves in the city of haute couture. Or take a trip to Morocco to drink in the electric blue of the designer’s Jardin Majorelle, which he bequeathed to Marrakesh, and where the new museum will display his work. But why not make both pilgrimages? I know I will.

So much of St Petersburg’s allure lies in its wealth of history. But for me, New Holland Island, with its focus on public space and the arts, is a perfect addition to Russia’s cultural capital. The project seems poised to bring a burst of modernity to the historic city, providing a place for locals and travellers to go skating, visit food carts or even see a concert – the perfect way to kick back after a long visit to the Hermitage. Strolling onto the formerly restricted naval island will not only provide an interesting insight into the city’s past, but also a glimpse of its future.

As I’m a devoted follower of Prince’s music, the opening of his Minnesota estate Paisley Park is one of the most exciting new developments in travel for 2017. Fans of the iconic performer will no doubt be aware of the unique spirit and impressive output of His Royal Purpleness, who used the 65,000 square-foot complex as his creative sanctuary. From recording a string of hit records and feature films to the manufacturing of clothing for upcoming tours, everything was done on site either personally or under the watchful eye of the industrious perfectionist. Following his death, Paisley Park has grown to represent sheer creativity and artistic opportunity. The idea of getting a first-hand look at the inner sanctum of one of music’s most enigmatic characters will no doubt excite and inspire many travellers and music fans alike.

The colourful buildings and tall ships lining the sparkling waters

The popular inner city is the heart of Copenhagen, and its most visited neighbourhood. Nyhavn is just one of many major sights in this part of the city, which is also home to the family-friendly Tivoli Gardensamusement park, Strøget, the lively pedestrianised shopping street, and the fabled Little Mermaid statue, which sits right on the edge of the city centre.

This historic area is a fantastic place to explore many of the city’s cobblestone streets, charming squares, and excellent museums. At the royal residence of Amalienborg Slot, visitors can watch the Changing of the Guard and try to get a glimpse of the Queen, while Christiansborg Palace offers a look into the workings of Denmark’s monarchy and government.

Indre By is also a foodie paradise, home to many of the city’s top restaurants, including Michelin-starred AOC and Kokkeriet, the more modest yet fabulous Höst and Uformel, as well as the wonderful market Torvehallerne, packed with vendors selling fresh produce.

Though it’s not the easiest place to go off the beaten path, the abundance of sights, flavours, and experiences in bustling Indre By, combined with its lively atmosphere, makes it a must-see for any visitor.

 

Vesterbro: the happening hotspot

Once the most destitute area of the city, Vesterbro is still Copenhagen’s red-light district, though it’s not quite as seedy as similar areas in Amsterdam or Berlin. The neighbourhood’s vintage shops and summertime street markets give it a local and independent vibe, while the street art here is perhaps the best in the city.

The best new openings tourism object

The newly opened visitor centre at Patrick Pearse’s Cottage lies in the heart of the Gaeltacht area where Irish is still a vibrant, living language in use by the locals. As well as paying tribute to one of the key figures of the country’s revolutionary history, it celebrates the local history and cultural impact of the native language. Set in the middle of an incredible windswept landscape, it’s a chance for visitors to experience an often hidden part of Ireland.

 

Ruta de Cafe, El Salvador

Go back to the source of the world’s favourite pick-me-up by exploring the Coffee Route. El Salvador’s dense coffee forests are opening up to tourism and are full of exciting opportunities for extreme sports, wildlife spotting and a chance to cultivate the beans themselves, all within sight of the countryside’s magnificent hills and mountains.

Get a taste of the future as the world’s first 3D printing restaurant (foodink.io) embarks on a world tour this year after a successful pop-up in London. Combining fine dining with the latest in technology, the results are visually stunning gourmet feasts. If you can’t book in for a full meal, you can visit during the day to taste the snacks and learn how the printers work.

If hiking the Bernese Alps isn’t enough of an adrenaline rush for you, it’s time to tackle Schilthorn Mountain’s new Thrill Walk. You’ll need nerves of steel to cross the tightrope with nothing but a net between you and a drop of nearly 3000 metres, but you’ll be rewarded with priceless views and stunning photos from the observation deck.

Find the sweet taste when you are travelling is so fun

A long-standing heladeria institution in Seville, founded in 1980, Helados Rayas (facebook.com/heladería-rayas) closes down for the colder months – brave the queue from spring to early autumn, and you’ll be rewarded with cream and pine-nuts, dulche de leche and tocino del cielo (crème caramel). Two locations – in Reyes Catolicos near the main shopping area, and close to the contemporary architecture attraction Metropol Parasol and its mushroom-like shades known as the Setas.

 

Freskura for the boho scene

Catering to the hip Alameda crowd, Freskura (freskura.com) offers favourites including pistachio, chocolate (also available lactose-free) and cremino (mascarpone, hazelnut and cacao); in summer fruit concoctions stretch to passion fruit and pear, while home-made ice lollies in lemon, strawberry and orange will quench your thirst. Take a seat on a bench outside to absorb the vibrant atmosphere.

 

Coming up (ice-cream) roses at Amorino

With the highest prices of the city’s heladerias, Amorino (amorino.com/seville), the renowned Italian-owned chain (three branches, one built into the old city wall), needs to prove its quality – no problem there. Feast on delicate lime and basil, nocciola (hazelnut), or tangy Sicilian citrus. The pretty gelato rose, with ‘petals’ in different flavours, is a visual and gustatory delight. Opposite the cathedral, you can rest weary feet thanks to ample seating.

 

Porto Bello on the boulevard

A newcomer on the scene, Porto Bello (portobelloheladeria.com) has around 30 flavours, as well as smoothies and sundaes. Tastes worth sampling include the delectable house combination of mascarpone, caramel and fig, as well as boozy Malaga – cream, vino dulce (sweet Malaga wine) and raisins. Mojito and Sicilian lemon are among the lactose-free options. A big advantage here is the outside terrace with tables on the lively Alameda avenue – perfect for people-watching.

The delicious taste food and drink when travelling

Prime climes mean that wine is the star of the show this time of year with New Zealand, Australia and Argentina beckoning with delicious bevvies aplenty, but we’d be remiss not to mention balmy Singapore and it’s burgeoning Michelin-starred eateries. There’s never been a better time to loosen that waistbelt and indulge…

February is a New Zealand sweet spot. It’s one of the hottest months (20-30°C; 68-86°F), yet Kiwi families have taken the kids back to school. This makes it a good month for popular, weather-sensitive places, such as Abel Tasman National Park – far better to walk, kayak and camp amid the golden sands and forested headlands here when it’s sunny and quieter. While you’re in northern South Island, tag on the Marlborough region too. It’s home to more than 150 wineries, which will be thickening with grapes, before the March-May harvest; utilise February’s good weather to tour between cellar doors by bike. And February is when the Marlborough Food and Wine Festival (in Blenheim) showcases the region’s best produce: cherries, strawberries, apricots; Kaikoura cheese and Cloudy Bay clams; blue cod and green-lipped mussels from the Marlborough Sounds. There’s also good eating at vineyard restaurants and chances to take seafood cruises to catch your own.

  • Trip plan: Combine activities in Abel Tasman with arty Nelson, Marlborough wine-tasting and whale-watching in Kaikoura.
  • Need to know: The ferry from the North Island docks at Picton, 62 miles (100 km) east of Nelson, 19 miles (30 km) north of Blenheim.
  • Other months: Dec-Feb – warmest, busiest; Mar-May – cooler, foodie, quiet; Jun-Aug – cold, wet; Sep-Nov – warming.

Honeymoons arrangements

Marocco

Arabian exoticism, fragrant spices – and lovely low prices. Morocco’s hard to beat for bargain romance. Marrakesh, Fez and Essaouira offer time-warp medinas chock-full of character and cheap cafes. Eschew your sense of direction to get lost in the maze-like souqs – the shopping possibilities are plentiful, with everything from carpets to babouches to be snapped up. Converted riads (traditional courtyard houses) offer accommodation with oodles of atmosphere; some are pricey but many are astonishingly reasonable, enabling palace-like stays on a pauper’s budget.

 

Portugal

Portugal is liberating. The little anxieties – is that cafe too posh for us? Can we afford another coffee? – don’t exist here. Even in fancier establishments, espressos usually cost less than US$1, beers no more than US$2. You find yourself ordering a second pastel de nata (divine Portuguese custard tart) – well, why not? There are cute casas and converted farmhouses oozing charm for under US$100 a night, too.

 

Indonesia

Numbers are high, costs are low in Indonesia. Rooms might start from a startling-sounding 350,000 rupiah – but that’s only US$25. It’s easy to be a millionaire here, so even budget ’mooners can afford plenty of fun. Obvious-choice Bali has great beaches, boutique stays, culture in Ubud, cracking surf. But Indonesia has 17,000 isles! Consider Lombok and the Gili Islands, culture and volcanoes on Java and jungle adventures on Sumatra.

Are you new cardiff

In the middle of the city centre is Cardiff Castle, a medieval castle encircled by Roman walls. William Burges’ opulent interiors epitomise Victorian Gothic design, and once inside you can marvel at intricate woodcarvings, epic murals, stained glass and rich colours that stretch from wall to ceiling.

Climb to the top of the Norman keep to see views over the entire city. On a clear day you can see its sister castle, Castell Coch, in the distance.

Stretching for nearly a kilometre between the main shopping streets and the castle end of the city, the Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary indoor arcades give Cardiff its nickname, ‘the city of arcades’. Along the winding corridors are independent boutiques, family-run cafes and quirky pop-up spaces, all much more charming than the chain stores in St David’s shopping centre. Browse the vinyl racks at Spillers, the world’s oldest record store, or hug a mug in Coffee Barker (instagram.com/coffeebarker), a coffee shop with cosy nooks and exposed bricks.

Home to Wales’ art, geology and natural history collections, as well as touring exhibitions, the National Museum is educational and vast. It contains the UK’s largest collection of French Impressionist paintings outside of London and works from artists as diverse as Van Gogh and Picasso. The Evolution of Wales charts the story of Wales from the Big Bang up to the 21st century, and features epic dinosaurs.

 

Cross a sea-spanning barrage

Built to regenerate Cardiff’s docklands, the barrage is Europe’s largest waterfront development. It’s essentially an unwalled path for pedestrians and cyclists stretching across the water from Cardiff Bay to Penarth, a nearby seaside town, but it’s a great viewpoint from which to appreciate the scale and history of the city.

Wildlife and nature place for visit

For land-lovers, snow leopards and huge vistas of ice await in India; underwater explorers can swim with whale sharks in the balmy waters of the Philippines; and there’s a special treat for spotters who can bear witness, not only to spectacular birdlife in Japan, but to the spectacle of millions of monarch butterflies taking flight in Mexico.

 

Brrrrrrr! It’s not warm in the Himalayan heights of northwest Indiaright now (days around 21°F; -6°C). But it’s worth braving the cold for a couple of very special experiences. Wildlife fans should head for Hemis National Park, home to a 400-year-old monastery, and one of the few places on the planet where the elusive snow leopard isn’t quite so elusive. During winter mating season – which peaks in February – the high-dwelling big cats descend to the valleys here to find mates, making them easier to spot. Alternatively, trekkers can check out the Chadar. This challenging winter hike starts near Leh, and uses the frozen Zanskar River as its path – walking on this icy meander is the only way to access the highland villages at this time. February is when the ice is at its most stable; the temperature is biting, but the snow-cloaked mountains spectacular.

  • Trip plan: Fly to Leh. Hemis is 6 miles (10 km) south, where guided treks in the Tarbuns Valley may yield leopards. The Chadar hike starts in Chilling, 40 miles (65 km) from Leh, and takes six days.
  • Need to know: Leh is at 11,483ft (3500m) so stay well-hydrated to help altitude acclimatisation.
  • Other months: Nov-Mar – cold, snowy (Jan-Feb: Chadar possible); Apr-May & Oct – quiet, cool; Jun-Sep – best for regular trekking.

Best and amazing adventure to visit

The Arctic Circle sparkles at this time of year. The landscape is buried in snow and lakes are frozen. Polar night (the period of 24-hour darkness) is over, and the sun puts in ever-longer appearances. And the magical Northern Lights are quite likely to dance: according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the best time to look for aurora is February to March and September to October. This is also a great time for everyone – young, old, families, couples – to get into the great outdoors. Though still chilly, temperatures start to rise this month, and wilderness lodges offer full programs of activities: husky-sledding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing… All guaranteed to warm you up. If all else fails, a visit to a traditional Finnish sauna should do the trick.

  • Trip plan: Rovaniemi and Ivalo airports offer access to Finland’s north. Spend four or more nights at a wilderness lodge to maximise chances of seeing aurora, and to pack in plenty of snowy fun.
  • Need to know: Many lodges offer ‘aurora alerts’ – a wake-up call if the lights emerge.
  • Other months: Dec-Apr – snow activities (Sep-Apr: aurora); May-Aug – long days, warmest; Sep-Nov – brief autumn, cooling.

 

Head for the hot slopes and hot springs of Wyoming, USA

When snow cloaks the cowboy state, special things happen. Skiers and boarders will love the Teton Mountains resort of Jackson Hole, nicknamed ‘The Big One’ on account of its steep, squeaky-bum terrain and great powder (driest and deepest January to February). There are some baby slopes, but this is best for intermediates and pros. Après-ski is lively too. Then, further north, quite different thrills await in Yellowstone National Park. Heaving in summer, Yellowstone empties in winter. Park roads close, and the only ways to explore are via snowcoach, snowmobile, cross-country skis or snowshoes. Geysers and hot springs steam in the icy air, and animals congregate at the thermal areas for warmth. Also, grey wolves stand out against the snow-blanketed landscapes, and their tracks are more easily followed – take a guided trip in the Lamar Valley for the chance of a sighting.

  • Trip plan: Jackson Hole keeps experienced powderhounds busy for weeks (nearby Snow King resort is better for beginners). It’s a scenic drive north to Yellowstone; free ranger-led tours still run in winter, or book a wildlife or snow-sports package.
  • Need to know: Jackson Hole Airport is 7 miles (12 km) north of Jackson, 56 miles (90 km) south of Yellowstone’s south gate.
  • Other months: Nov-Mar – skiing, Yellowstone winter; Apr-May & Sep-Oct – mild, uncrowded; Jun-Aug – hot, busy.

The ultimate romantic honeymoon for getaway

This chunk of France, afloat in the Mediterranean, deserves its monicker: L’île de Beauté. The rumpled, maquis-cloaked interior – where you can easily forget the world – tumbles to perfect golden crescents, some touristy, some seemingly unfound. There’s wildness if you want it (the hiking is some of Europe’s best), but also fine food and indulgent retreats, not least Domaine de Murtoli (murtoli.com) – possibly the continent’s most romantic hideaway.

Why pick one island when you can have 30? That’s about how many specks of wonderful white sand make up this Indian Ocean archipelago. Among them is Ibo, home to the 16th-century Portuguese trading settlement of Ilha de Moçambique – a must-see. After a dose of culture here, sail between the islands – remote Vamizi, luxe Quilalea – stopping off on nameless cayes for lobster barbecues en route.

Huahine, a 40-minute flight from Tahiti, is Polynesia at its most sublime (and that’s quite a feat). Slopes of tropical abundance sink into eye-searingly blue lagoons; there’s culture aplenty, including the highest density of marae (temples) in the territory; and opportunities abound for snorkelling, horse riding, surfing or doing nothing at all.

This tiny speck of pines on Ontario’s Kawawaymog Lake can only be reached by canoe, and is ideal for two. There’s a cosy cabin with a second-floor deck and outdoor dining table ideally placed for sunset; a floating sauna bobs in the shallows. Other than that, it’s you and the wilderness.