Relaxing Getaways around Europe

Alix M Campbell

Senior Contributor

Full-blown travelling after countless restrictions and lockdowns can feel a bit daunting. If you want to go on a trip but overcrowded places are way too overwhelming for the time being, consider this. You could evaluate your needs and plan your holiday around one or two activities you like to focus on like cooking, reading or hiking.

Spend a week on a wine estate in Sicily

Are you passionate about food and always dreamt of taking a cooking class? Do you love wine and want to learn everything about it? Or do you just enjoy a good drop while indulging in a beautiful meal? Whatever your motivation is, the 1,200-acre Casa Vecchie wine estate in Sicily has got you covered.

This working farm and wine estate in the village of Vallelunga near Palermo is where cookbook author Anna Tasca Lanza has been teaching her hands-on culinary classes for over 15 years. Students discover traditional techniques and cook with ingredients that grow on the property. You can go on tailored food excursions or join workshops with known chefs from all around the globe.

As a guest you’ll stay in one of the converted farmhouses surrounded by olive and fruit trees providing for a stunning setting of your food-centered holiday.

Spend a week in Ayrshire, Scotland

If you’re planning to get away from it all, this is the place to go. An Edwardian vision the Trump Turnberry commands a dramatic setting on the Ayrshire coastline with the building’s grand white and terra-cotta facade completing the postcard-worth scene. After a day on the golf course or indulging in the spa, why not prepare to settle in for a cosy evening with your favourite reads. 

The gastronomy scene at the hotel benefits from its proximity to the water, and many of the culinary offerings highlight the bounty of local fishermen and nearby farms. 1906, which is named afer the year of the hotel’s opening, is the signature restaurant and serves beautifully prepared traditional dishes. The Grand Tea Lounge & Bar is an extravagant spot for afternoon tea with spellbinding views of the water, as is the richly decorated King of Scots which is set practically on top of the waves.

Spend a week in a secluded, traditional house in Iceland

The remoteness and natural diversity of Iceland attracts many visitors who are looking for a quiet and secluded place. Staying at Torfhús Retreat, you’ll get exactly that and more. Located at the centre of the Golden Circle, you find yourself between the capital of Reykjavik and various natural attractions in the countryside like towering glaciers, thundering waterfalls, and bubbling geysers.

It will take you just over three hours to drive the Golden Circle, but you can also take it slower and discover your surroundings by foot, knowing that your eco-luxury retreat is waiting for you with all the amenities you need.

Carefully crafted from reclaimed wood, turf and local stone, the guesthouses blend authentic Icelandic style with modern design elements, and they run entirely on sustainable energy. Repurposed elements like an old fishing boat used as a sofa set the tone of this environmentally conscious accommodation.

Looking out at snow-capped mountains and glaciers, the basalt stone hot pool of the retreat is pure bliss after a long day of experiencing Iceland’s incredible nature.

Spend a week at a picturesque beach in Portugal

If you’re craving to be near the ocean without having to deal with overly crowded beaches, the village of Carrapateira on the Western Algarve is a great pick. Located in the heart of the natural park of Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina you can watch the mighty Atlantic clash with the towering golden and red cliffs of the area. There are several beaches at your doorstep when staying at Hortas do Rio, a relaxed mix of a country house and hotel about three hours south of Lisbon.

Fill your days with long walks at the local beaches of Bordeira and Amado, take a surf lesson if you’re keen to ride some waves or enjoy a romantic sunset horseback ride along the beach.

Coming back to your accommodation from your adventure by the ocean, there’s nothing left but to sit back and take in the design that was crafted in harmony with the simplicity of its surroundings of vines, vegetable gardens, grazing animals and the river.

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