Europe & North Africa

Explore our most popular destinations
  • Austria

    For a country that can be easily driven through in half a day, Austria really has it all – vibrant cities, gorgeous lakes and mountain ranges that afford incredible hikes and top-notch skiing. The country’s extensive public transportation system makes getting to even remote regions a breeze and can be solely relied upon for exploring if needs be. Rent a car to make all of Austria even more accessible, or – if you’re the physically ambitious type – grab a bicycle and travel the nine states on two wheels. You’ll have to visit Vienna, of course, also known as “The City of Dreams”. Renowned for its gorgeous Baroque palaces, the capital city’s legacy is one of both intellectual and artistic pursuits; from Beethoven to Sigmund Freud, many historical greats have called the city home. The vibe is a perfect blend of cosmopolitan glamour and Old World charm, with endless museums and galleries to explore. Once you’ve ticked the Imperial Palace and Belvedere off your list, head for the hills. Specifically, head for Hallstatt: an almost impossibly picturesque 16th-century town set on the western shore of Lake Hallstatt. Ancient salt mines and glacier gardens await you here, in addition to the village itself which is one of Europe’s oldest still-inhabited settlements. If you’re on a wintertime holiday, head to the posh resort town of Kitzbühel for some of the country’s finest skiing. The gorgeous alpine village is also beloved by warm weather hikers, and for good reason: the summit of Kitzbüheler Horn is known for having some of the most mesmerizing views in the Tyrol and can be reached by cable car if you aren’t up for a sweat. History buffs will find heaven around every corner in Austria, but perhaps in Launsdorf most of all where Hochosterwitz Castle is perched high above the valley. Considered the nation’s most important medieval castle, the fortress has stood the test of time; history’s first mention of it dates back to 860 AD, and it remains beautifully preserved in all its glory today.
  • Belgium

    Belgium is a microcosm of everything that can be found on the European continent. You’ll find medieval towns that look like they are straight from the pages of a fairy tale and bustling, hi-tech cities, eye-catching historical palaces and churches, streets with chic bars and hip cafes catering to the very latest trends as well as beautiful landscapes. Belgium’s centuries-old status as a meeting point of European culture guarantees an experience that is at once both diverse and unique.At the crossroads of Europe, Belgium has long been a beacon of European multiculturalism – best exemplified by its two largest cities, Brussels and Antwerp. Start to explore the capital from the Grand Place, arguably one of the continent’s most stunning central squares. From here, Brussels blossoms forth into different districts reflecting a range of diverse cultures and an array of architectural styles from the opulent 17th-century guild houses to the shimmering glass facades of the European Union’s administrative buildings. By contrast, Antwerp is one of the busiest ports in Europe, the centre of the world’s diamond trade, and arguably home to the coolest and hippest Belgians. Cutting-edge artists and designers have hung out here for centuries.If you want to explore further afield, there are other cities that are an easy trip from Brussels. The medieval towns of Ghent and Bruges are dreamy destinations to explore. Ghent is perhaps the country’s best-kept secret and is much beloved by Belgians and visitors alike for its relaxed attitude and lovely, unpretentious architecture. Some of Belgium’s finest museums and art galleries are to be found here too. Bruges is particularly picturesque and its setting is both magical and very romantic. Head to the historic centre and wander along the pretty and much-photographed canals – the most enchanting times are as dusk descends or in the mists of early morning.We would be remiss if we didn’t mention Belgian’s cuisine. Moules-frites (mussels and fries) are a delight, while the famous Belgian waffles are simply divine. Belgians are very proud of their famous chocolate-making tradition, so do make sure you taste some. And the Belgian beer is so good that it was granted Unesco heritage protection as a part of its List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, so don’t leave the country without trying it.
  • Croatia

    Croatia is one of those destinations that if you haven’t been to, you really should. To start with, the fantastic stretch of coastline along the west of the country, referred to as the Dalmatian Coast, will lure you in with its incredibly blue water and pretty beaches. Then there’s the glamorous mix of fashionable resorts (and some traditional ones), green mountains, the yachting scene, picturesque towns and charming cities. One holiday here is never enough.Croatia is also one of the sunniest places in Europe, and during the summertime it thrives on cultural and music festivals. Dubrovnik is the most popular destination and is easily one of Europe’s most beautiful and romantic cities. The pretty old town brims with historical buildings and churches, ancient city walls offering a vantage point for superb views over the Adriatic Sea, seafront cafes and quality restaurants. It’s easy to go island-hopping from here, so hire a yacht or take a private excursion and enjoy the discovery of quiet bays and unspoilt beaches. Just don’t expect sand, as pebbles are the order of the day.There are more than a thousand islands around Croatia, and those that are inhabited – just 66 – have a draw all of their own. Hvar is the most upmarket, popular with the stylish yacht fraternity and with a sophisticated party vibe and lively beach clubs. If you prefer tranquillity, there are some very secluded coves to enjoy in the south of the island.Looking for a gourmet adventure? Great produce is found across the country, but it’s the Istrian peninsula that has made a name for itself food-wise. There’s an Italian influence, and highlights include great seafood – especially from the star town on the coast, the picturesque fishing port of Rovinj – truffles, wine trails (the wine is very good) and gourmet festivals.For archaeological sites, the first-century Roman amphitheatre in Pula in Istria and the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace in Split – once the home of a Roman emperor and today a great place to seek out little bars and venues to grab a bite – will not disappoint. For natural attractions, drive into the mountains for sweeping views, take a kayak to explore the seascape, or visit Plitvice Lakes or Krka National Park for incredible walks among lakes and waterfalls.
  • Cyprus

    Follow the sun and head to Cyprus where you can catch some rays almost year round and where the holiday season is long—perfect for an early or late summer beach escape. The island is steeped in history that’s been influenced by civilisations including the Mycenaean Greeks and the Byzantines and as legend goes, it’s the birthplace of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. With ruins to back up the story, it’s a history buff’s dream come true. Embrace the delightful mix of traditional and modern, the trendy bars and the stylish marinas, and enjoy the perfect Mediterranean climate.
  • Czech Republic

    The Czech Republic’s exciting history has created a culture that is unique in Europe; it’s a place where East truly meets West. Once the crown jewel of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it languished as part of the communist bloc before its peaceful liberation in 1989. Since then, the country has swiftly become one of the most fashionable destinations in the world, with celebrated architecture, inspiring landscapes and fantastic experiences that are hard to find in one go anywhere else in Europe.The majority of first-time visitors to the Czech Republic will begin their adventure in Prague. The City of a Thousand Spires is one of the most beautiful in the world, where gothic architecture soars above streets ringing with centuries of musical heritage from Mozart to Dvorák, who launched his career here. The city overflows with theatres and music venues. With plenty of sights to see, including the historic and atmospheric Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square, Prague should be the start of any Czech adventure. Prague Castle, the largest castle complex in the world, dominates the heart of the city and is almost a town within a town. You can wander here several times during your city break and discover something new every time among the galleries, museums, chapels and the impressive St Vitus Cathedral.Beyond the capital, the Czech Republic is home to several beautiful and unspoilt national parks. Visit the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, with its sublime sandstone landscapes, and Krkonose National Park, which has the highest mountain range in the country for a true taste of the Czech countryside. And there is plenty more to discover.While exploring the country, you will frequently come across reminders of its storied history. Jaw-dropping castles will appear as if by magic from among the country’s forests, some clinging precariously to hillsides. Many can be visited on excursions from Prague, and there are lots to choose from, but to pick just one it would have to be Hluboká Castle. One of the most visited in the Czech Republic, it sits above a stretch of the Vltava river and is steeped in royal history dating from the 13th century and King Premysl Otakar II. Today, after several additions and renovations, it is a trophy to neo-gothic style with a facade to rival all fairy tales, with truly spellbinding, English-style gardens. Picturesque villages still embrace ancient Bohemian customs and folklore, and locals are more than happy to welcome visitors with tales of their traditions.On top of all of this, there is one thing that the Czech Republic (in our opinion) does better than anywhere else in the world: beer. As craft beers and European boutique breweries are becoming increasingly popular among beer connoisseurs, you should try some while you’re here, guidebook in hand.
  • Denmark

    Once upon a time, Denmark was a land of Vikings; a nation defined by bloodshed, plundering and warfare. The oldest kingdom in the world has come a long way from its glory past; Denmark is now one of the happiest and most peaceful countries in the world. Biking is a way of life in Denmark, and there’s no better way to experience city life like a local. In fact, 62% of Copenhagen residents commute by way of cycling; the streets are so bike-friendly that it couldn’t be easier to jump on the bandwagon, whether for an hour or a day. While you’re in the City of Spires, visit the National Museum to get lost in a world of history dating back to the Bronze Age. Christiansborg Palace is another must-do – you’ll want to book a tour to explore the fabulously ornate home of the Denmark Supreme Court, Parliament and Prime Minister‘s office. If you want to get into the open air, Thy National Park (the nation’s first) is a gorgeous landscape of wild coast line and rugged nature. Or you could visit the Råbjerg Mile, an enormous migrating coastal dune that has an otherworldly feel. Also worth a dreamy drive is the overwater Oresund Bridge which is Europe's largest and connects Denmark to Sweden. Lego (of all things) was invented in Denmark, in a cheery town called Billund. The inspiration will be obvious from the moment you arrive: rows of brightly colored, geometrically perfect houses line the darling streets. It’s worth a visit for the architecture alone, but Billund is also home to a host of activities that the whole family will enjoy, including (naturally) a tour of the Lego factory or a trip to the world’s very first Lego Land. Beer enthusiasts are in for a treat when visiting Denmark, as Danes both love beer and make it incredibly well. Right outside of Copenhagen is the famous Carlsberg brewery, but there are many smaller ones to explore as well, including one called Ebeltoft Gårdbryggeri which is memorably set in the middle of Mols Bjerge National Park.
  • France

    Who doesn’t adore at least one aspect of France? Take the sophisticated beach resorts on the glitzy Cote d’Azur, the latest inspirational looks hot off the Paris catwalks, gastronomic journeys that never fail to impress, Michelin-starred dining with vintage Champagne or the regional delights of the countryside. What’s not to love? In true French style with a hint of romance, a sense of très chic prevails over any luxury stay here. Ever since Coco Chanel revolutionised the world of fashion, Paris has been dishing out sartorial advice that the savvy shopper can rely on wholeheartedly. Couture or the best in prêt-à-porter, a Cartier watch or a bottle of Dior’s latest scent; you’ll find every imaginable luxury. Oozing glitz and glamour, the ‘city of love’ is great for a romantic weekend in a five-star hotel, cossetted by the pleasures of superb cuisine, French ‘savoir faire’ and sumptuous spa treatments. Seeking to catch some rays? Nice, Cannes and St Tropez all promise sun-kissed sands, inviting blue waters and exclusive beach clubs that beautifully sum up the essence of the South of France. There are quiet moments to be had in old town areas, or party with the in-crowd in VIP club rooms if you prefer, whilst the Cannes Film Festival brings an extra special buzz to the coast. Slow down a few gears and go rural. Take a wine tour in Bordeaux and try mouth-watering full bodied reds, or visit the Dordogne for classic French countryside and dishes created with freshly-hunted truffles. Admire row upon row of lavender, sunflower and poppy fields in Provence that have inspired artists including Cézanne. Or meander sleepy medieval hilltop towns and stand in awe of stunning chateâux with perfectly manicured gardens. Just like a well-deserved glass of a special French vintage, this is a destination with plenty of depth, flavour and colour.
  • Germany

    Germany has changed so much since the infamous fall of the Berlin Wall. Over the past decade or so it has become one of the most hip places in Europe to visit. And nowhere is that change more evident than Berlin itself where luxury hotels, Michelin starred restaurants, former dilapidated buildings now restored to their former glory, and the vibrant air about the city are all testament to how much the town is flourishing. Berlin is laid-back and yet it offers high energy at the same time; it’s a city for the young and young at heart. Creativity and expression thrive here and you’ll be caught up in the verve, whether you’re drawn by the Berlinale film festival or concerts by the Philharmonic orchestra, exclusive nightclubs like Berghain and the pulsating electronic music scene, or the historical buildings and museums. Munich, by contrast, offers a different slice of Germany and is particularly picturesque and pretty. Its Christmas markets, the stunning Munich Residenz which was once the royal palace of the Bavarian monarchs, and the BMW Museum are all highlights. Hamburg and Stuttgart are also worth visiting. And beyond the cosmopolitan cities, Germany’s natural scenery is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The Black Forest is sublime. Picture vast forests, glistening lakes, mountain peaks, gentle rivers, vineyards, restaurants serving home-style regional cuisine, hilltop fairy tale castles and half-timbered farmhouses in villages that look like they were plucked straight from the pages of Hansel & Gretel. Or, discover the wild beauty of the Bavarian National Park, one of Europe’s highest, primeval forests. It’s also where you will find the Freiherr von Poschinger glass factory that has been operating since 1568. So, if you are looking for a bespoke momento of your travels, why not commission a handcrafted set of wine glasses? They will make an impressive talking point at your next dinner party.
  • Greece

    Greece has more than its fair share of archaeological sites and a wonderfully rich tapestry of mythical beasts, mighty gods and legends woven into its history for good measure. Amidst this intriguing patchwork of heritage, Greece attracts holidaymakers in search of golden beaches and sunshine in droves, many who’ve been enjoying the friendly vibe and delightful summertime climate here for almost as long as the ancients! Orthodox Greek churches are dotted everywhere, with blue domes and rooms below that house ornately painted, gilt edged icons. The distinct, heady smell of frankincense wafts throughout the streets. You’ll find town squares with little old ladies dressed all in black putting the world to rights, gentlemen playing backgammon, and priests flicking their worry beads to and fro. Head into the countryside to discover olive groves and vineyards, all to the unmistakable soundtrack of the bells of mountain goats ringing through the air. When it comes to luxury beach holidays, the Greek islands lure with picture perfect scenes of sparkling seas, the traditional, slow-paced lifestyle, and pretty harbours flanked by white-washed buildings. Each has an individual personality and its own reason for you to visit. Mykonos with its cool bar scene and fashionable nightlife; Crete which is the largest island and particularly family-friendly; and achingly romantic Santorini where sunsets over the caldera are simply sublime. Combining more than one of these island gems into one luxury holiday is worth considering for a fantastic island-hopping experience. Halkidiki on the mainland gives the others a run for their money and has the advantage of being explorable far and wide with relative ease. There’s no shortage of seaside tavernas which are always fun. Is there anything better than fresh produce simply arranged? Just-caught calamari with a salad of feta cheese and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil is always tempting. Or try a hearty beef stifado stew or slow roasted lamb kleftiko. Contrary to belief, there’s plenty to tempt veggies too, from vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs to giant beans tossed through a delicious tomato sauce. And if you like the acquired taste of aniseed, there are ouzeries — traditional and those more stylish — across the land, for that refreshing pick me up.
  • Italy

    Art and architecture go hand-in-hand with Italy, as does the ubiquitous, fresh cuisine made with delicious home-grown produce that the Italian climate ensures is in plentiful supply. Add picture-perfect countryside, some of the world’s best wine-producing regions, classic terracotta-hued cities and sophisticated coastal resorts and you will quickly fall under the spell of ‘la dolce vita’.Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, so your thirst for art, antiquities and architecture will be more than quenched. The Uffizi in Florence is a treasure trove of Renaissance masterpieces, whilst Rome is an incredible place to admire iconic monuments including the Baroque Trevi Fountain and buildings such as the imposing Colosseum where you can stand exactly where mighty Roman gladiators once triumphed.If it’s the quintessential Italian romantic break you seek, Venice is rather special with its winding canals, pretty piazzas and narrow streets crammed with eye-catching window displays of gilded Venetian masks and Murano glass. For a special token of your love, the artisan jewellers along the Ponte Vecchio in Florence won’t disappoint and the backdrop has seen many flawless proposals.Lake Como and Garda promise tranquillity, compact elegant towns, evening strolls along the promenade, private boat trips and alfresco lunches beside the water. But for an adrenaline rush, drive along the Amalfi Coast where towns including Sorrento, Positano and Ravello cling dramatically to the cliffs. Or put a Ferrari through its paces in the rolling Tuscany countryside where some of Italy’s finest olive oil, cured meats and Chianti wines are produced. For fresh fish, Portofino on the Ligurian Coast is hard to beat.The islands offer some of Italy’s best beaches and each has a different personality from the party scene of Capri to Sardinia which dole out near-perfect luxury holidays on the Costa Smeralda for both families and those who like upmarket nightlife. Whatever makes up your ideal holiday, Italy has it in abundance.
  • Monaco

    The tiny Principality of Monaco is less than 2 square miles in size and the world’s second smallest country, after The Vatican. It is renowned as being a Mecca for the super-rich and glamorous, but with one of the most famous sporting events – the Monaco Grand Prix – plus shopping, film festivals, legendary restaurants and cultural highlights, the country’s reputation far exceeds its size and is the place to be seen during the summer months.Not unlike the destination itself, the Principality of Monaco’s status is unique as although a sovereign state, it is not a member of the European Union – although it participates in the EU customs territory, so there are no border formalities when crossing from France to Monaco. The euro is also used for its currency and whilst French is the official language, the traditional Monégasque dialect, which every child has to learn at school, is actually a mixture of French and Italian. Contrary to popular belief, Monaco is actually the country, whereas Monte Carlo is one small part within it and the famous Monte Carlo Casino is the main attraction, closely followed by the historic Grimaldi’s Royal Palace which is in the old town, also known as Le Rocher. Other cultural highlights include the opera and the ballet and a visit to the 19th Century Romanesque-Byzantine Cathedrale de Monaco is where Princess Grace was finally laid to rest.Monaco’s Mediterranean climate means that there is never really a bad time to visit, however, with the peak months for tourist being in July and August, the streets and hotels are packed and the temperatures soar. In May, Monaco hosts the Grand Prix, so unless you are a fan of the F1, then this is again, a good time to avoid as you literally cannot move for people. In Spring and Autumn, the weather is still very good, so those wanting a bit more space to move will benefit from travelling at these times.If shopping is more your thing, then Monaco is paradise – but be prepared as this is filled to the brim of designer boutiques. The best are is in the Cercle d’Or district (the Golden Circle) situated around the Place du Casino, with the likes of Chanel, Dior, Yves St-Laurent and Vuitton, plus Prada and Ferragamo, to name but a few.In such a wealthy destination you can expect nothing less than gourmet cuisine from Michelin stars, Tables du Monde and cuisine from around the world – the highlight of the Monaco scene is the Louis XV, by Alain Ducasse at the Hotel de Paris which was the first hotel restaurant to be awarded 3 prized Michelin Stars and which it still retains today, plus Joël Robuchon Monte Carlo at the Hotel Metropole which has 2 stars. In all Monaco has 5 restaurants which hold Michelin stars.
  • Montenegro

    Montenegro has been on the tourist map for a while now, but it remains a bit of a secret. In-the-know luxury travellers go for the sunshine, the natural beauty and the gorgeous beaches along the Adriatic. Once there, they don’t have to share space with the same number of tourists that neighbouring Croatia attracts. Montenegro has been slowly gathering momentum in the luxury stakes since Aman Resorts opened Aman Sveti Stefan in 2009. And with gorgeous medieval towns and sparkling bays, flashy resorts such as Budva and stylish yachting marinas, it’s easy to see why.
  • Morocco

    Just a short-haul flight from Europe and yet worlds away, Morocco oozes exoticism and intrigue. Bustling cities hallmarked by Moorish architecture meet the orange sand dunes of the Sahara Desert and gorgeous stretches of sandy beach, with a good sprinkling of quirky characters to encounter along the way. It’s an intoxicating place that’s on every hip traveller’s bucket list. The heady scent of rose-infused oils, spices and tagines stewing in outdoor ovens fills the air. It’s distinctly Moroccan and beckons you to explore. The snake-charmers, storytellers and street food stalls of Djemma El Fna in Marrakech must be experienced to be believed, but the scene can be surveyed from the comfort of a rooftop restaurant with a refreshing glass of mint tea if you prefer. A similar experience can be had in the Imperial City of Fès, which is perhaps a bit more traditional and its cobblestoned medieval streets and historic buildings on every corner will transport you back in time. Or, hire a guide (so that you don’t get lost) and meander the labyrinthine souks to shop for handcrafted leather bags, rugs and slippers that are hard to resist. For a complete contrast, head into the Atlas Mountains where green valleys lead to fascinating Berber villages. Enjoy the welcome cool and sense of pure escapism, the waterfalls and natural springs, the lakes and forest of the elegant ‘spa town’ of Ifrane that has been likened to Switzerland. But, if you’re looking for an adventure, take a guided mule trek, a walk in Toubkal National Park, or a serene hot-air balloon trip complete with a champagne breakfast for spectacular vistas. If you wish to spend some time on the beach, Agadir is a great choice and an exfoliating Moroccan hamman spa treatment is the perfect way to prime your skin for a beautiful tan.
  • Netherlands

    The Netherlands is one of those rare places that actually looks in real life like it does in the postcards. From its windmills and sweeping tulip fields to its enchanting canals and Golden Age architecture, beauty is everywhere you look in the Netherlands; it’s no surprise, then, that its inhabitants are consistently ranked among the happiest in the world. Amsterdam will likely be high on your list of Holland pit stops, and for good reason: its vibrant art scene, gorgeous architecture and latticework of picture-perfect canals make it the country’s most popular destination. Give yourself plenty of time to fall in love with Amsterdam’s narrow streets and cosy coffee shops (it won’t take long), but don’t stop there: Holland only becomes more beautiful the further outward you explore. From Amsterdam, take a scenic bike ride to Zaanse Schans: it’ll only take you about an hour of cycling to reach the colourful windmills and historic houses, even less if you catch one of the buses that leave every fifteen minutes. To travel back in time, head northeast to the star-shaped fortress town of Bourtange. This infinitely magical village dates back to the 16th century and will sweep you off your feet with its red drawbridges, medieval architecture and residents in period dress. Though Holland is marvelous in all seasons, visit in early autumn to avoid the summertime crowds. Better yet, go in late spring to see the iconic tulip blooms in all their glory. Though you’ll find the flowers far and wide across the region, Keukenhof is the most magical spot of all: more than seven million blooms each year speak for themselves. Whenever you visit, you’ll quickly find that Hollanders love a good celebration – and a fine thing that is, as your holiday is bound to coincide with at least a handful of festivities. Springtime brings plenty of flower shows to celebrate the beloved blooms, summer means jazz festivals and canal parades and the winter months come with unforgettable light festivals. The boldest of the bold might consider visiting on New Year’s Day to partake in an ice water swim – or to watch the tradition from dry land.
  • Portugal

    Portugal is one of Europe’s favourite holiday destinations – great weather guaranteed most of the year, with more than 3,000 hours of sunshine. The golden beaches are one of the main reasons to go, and if sunning yourself and having a chilled-out family holiday is your aim, you won’t be disappointed. And, as you may have heard, Portugal has some of the best golf courses in Europe, so if that’s your game you’re in for a treat. With cities brimming with culture, national parks and some rather good wine and seafood, it has a lot going for it.If you don’t long for more than a golden, sandy beach to relax on, you’re in luck. There are more than 800 kilometres of them, and the renowned resorts of Portugal’s Algarve region in the south is where you should be heading. Blessed with sunshine, the season is long and you can enjoy a beach holiday here well into the autumn. The golf courses are superb, and if you like active holidays there’s horse riding, watersports, tennis and boating to enjoy, as well as family-friendly attractions from water parks to boat trips. Alongside the bustling resorts there are quaint fishing villages with delicious culinary offerings – the country is said to have a method for cooking cod for every day of the year. Find a beachside restaurant, take a table by the sea and try the local catch of the day against the cooling Atlantic breezes.If you’re craving a city break, the capital, Lisbon, is cosmopolitan yet full of rich culture and is very easy to get around. Hop on one of the vintage yellow trams and explore the steep streets. Head to Chiado for shopping and theatre, while the Bairro Alto district offers an urban cool vibe, perfect for downing cocktails in stylish bars in the evenings. Porto, after which Portugal is named, is where you can discover museums and fantastic architecture and, of course, every type of port wine under the sun. After some countryside scenes? From Porto, head into the Douro Valley, which is on the hot list for wine adventures. It’s a picturesque area where rolling hills meet castles and rural churches for a very authentic taste of Portugal.And should you wish to take home a souvenir, typical Portuguese items include traditional basketware, carved cork wood, ceramics, filigree gold jewellery and lace – so it’s easy to find something to fill your suitcase!
  • Russian Federation

    In the past 20 years, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia has emerged as an intriguing destination with exciting, vibrant cultures, gorgeous landscapes and millennia of history – from imperial magnificence and opulence to revolution and international communism. The largest country in the world is waiting to be explored. Russia covers one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited landmass. Needless to say, the variety of cultures and landscapes is astounding. You can cross the vast wilderness of the Steppes in the north-east on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway, frolic on the sun-dappled shores of the Black Sea and ski on the snowy slopes of the Caucasus Mountains to the south, both playgrounds of the oligarchs. If you asked a Russian for the most beautiful place in the world, many would say the dazzling Kamchatka peninsula on the very eastern edge of Russia. Across this vast country there is one unifying feature: a sense of proud hospitality born of centuries of tradition. The most popular destinations for most travellers in Russia lie in the western regions of the country and its two most important cities, Moscow and St Petersburg. At the centre of the nation’s capital there is the breathtaking Red Square and the imposing Kremlin alongside the striking spires of St Basil’s Cathedral. In the old capital, St Petersburg, you will find the ultimate symbols of Russia’s opulent imperial past. The Winter Palace’s magnificent scale and grandiose architecture is impressive alone, but even more so because it adjoins the State Hermitage Museum. The second-largest museum in the world, it houses one of the most impressive collections of art and artefacts in the world. In both cities, those wishing to find authentic Russian experiences should consider heading to the baths and saunas, the most iconic and luxurious of which is Sanduny in Moscow – it has been welcoming the most select clients and visitors for more than 200 years. And one of the favourite traditions in Russia is the pairing of caviar and vodka. Across the country you will find opportunities to sample the finest in the world, with guided tastings to find the most exquisite of both delicacies.
  • Spain

    Whether you crave a golden beach to catch some rays, a hidden village where you can join in a fiesta in full swing, the lifestyle of the Balearic islands, or the colour and vibrancy of one of the cities, Spain is perfect for a leisurely break. Accommodation and travelling options abound; style, panache and luxury are there for the taking. Allow yourself to wind down and dance to the Spanish rhythm of life. Indulge in the beguiling pastime of long, lazy lunches designed for optimum sociability. Ask the chef to whip up a family-sized paella or order a mouth-watering array of tapas to share, from sizzling gambas al ajillo to pimientos de padrón. And be sure to sample some of the quality wines from Ribera del Duero. As exciting cities go, Barcelona and Madrid rank up there with the best. As well as the cultural highlights, museums and galleries, there are fantastic shopping opportunities from high-end boutiques to endearing antique shops. As night falls, nothing beats watching the drama of a flamenco show unfold in one of the bars in Madrid, whilst there are venues playing music from Latino beats to jazz to suit whatever mood you may be in. On the coast, particularly around Marbella, you’ll find glamorous yachting marinas edged by seafood restaurants and stylish bars, offering the best vantage points for people-watching. Or, perhaps you’d like to charter a boat for a private sunset cruise? If island life appeals, Mallorca in the Balearics is a great all-round choice boasting gorgeous family-friendly beaches and all the fun that comes with what is essentially a holiday destination. The capital of Palma is beautiful, with its striking cathedral, lively café society and stunning sea views. And for winter sun, head to Tenerife where the rays are almost guaranteed.
  • Sweden

    As an ever-growing influence on the international stage, Sweden has it all. Ultra edgy design? Check. Dazzling natural phenomena? Check. A vibrant culinary culture that – believe it or not – is more than just meatballs? Check, check, check. But these well-known aspects are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Sweden: a Nordic wonderland resplendent with fairytale castles, tucked-away towns and eco-sustainability excellence. And then there’s the wonderful Outdoor Access Rights – known as Allemansrätt – which quite literally gives every person in Sweden – whether resident or guest – the freedom to roam. If you’re visiting in the summer months, aim for the end of June. This will align with Midsummer, a national holiday in Sweden that makes for a deliriously fun time. Each year on the summer solstice, the nation erupts into festivities complete with singing, dancing, raising the maypole and so much more. Midsummer isn’t the only time that Swedes know how to party. The country has a phenomenal music scene that boasts globally renowned festivals for every taste, whether that be rock and electronic at the iconic Way Out West festival in Gothenburg or Åmåls Blues Fest on the shores of Lake Vänern. Another reason for a warm weather visit is to see the famed midnight sun: the extraordinary, otherworldly period of summer in which the sunlight shines for 24 hours a day. The allure of the great outdoors doesn’t stop there: Sweden has a lifetime’s worth of glaciers, fjords and mountains to explore. When you’re not gawking at the gorgeous natural surroundings, a fabulous city experience can be had in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Stockholm spans fourteen islands (which are connected by dozens of bridges) and is home to Gamla Stan: the city’s Old Town where cobblestone streets and shockingly vibrant buildings combine with medieval architecture and a chic nightlife scene. Gothenburg is the country's second largest city with approximately one third of the population of Stockholm, a pretty seaport town with a gorgeous coast line and phenomenal gastronomic scene – the highlight being seafood, naturally.
  • Switzerland

    Whatever the season, there’s always something beautiful and special to see and do in Switzerland. If you appreciate sublime scenery, you won’t be disappointed – from the snow-capped Alps and alpine meadows down to the sparkling lakes. As you’d expect, it’s great if you favour outdoor adventures and fresh mountain air, and for world-renowned, luxury ski holidays, it’s hard to beat. Shopping trips in affluent cities such as Geneva, Lugano and Zurich, weekend lakeside breaks with world-renowned Swiss spa pampering, beautiful cities and towns to discover, as well as superb wining and dining experiences will satisfy any cravings for a slower-paced, high-end holiday. Stylish and sophisticated city breaks are the only kind there are in Switzerland, and Geneva and its famous lake is a great place to start. Begin by sightseeing in the charming ‘old town’, then peruse exhibits in the city’s world-class museums and, finally, soak up the artsy vibe at a few of the galleries in the Les Bains district. All are a good way to get familiar with the area. Further afield, exploring the popular ‘Swiss Riviera’ of Lake Geneva is heavenly if you like the finer things in life. Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux… it’s an expensive area, as the good helping of gorgeous hotels with fabulous wellness centres and upmarket restaurants reflects. But if you can tear yourself away, you should explore to appreciate fully the vast array of activities and sights the region has to offer. Hop aboard the scenic railway trains, go wine-tasting in the vineyards, cycle or enjoy a walk through shady forests, unwind on a boat trip or hire a car and visit lakeside beaches and the sublime surroundings. In winter, the scenery is equally magical and there are Christmas markets and themed activities, such as ice-skating, for all the family to enjoy. Log fires, mugs of hot chocolate and cheese fondue are great ways to warm the bones after a day out. And do be sure to try the country’s legendary chocolate truffles – they go perfectly with a glass of red wine. If you’ve come for real outdoor adventures, there are rich pickings. Luxury ski holidays in Switzerland are beloved for good reason. Winter sports and activities include cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking and sledding – with near-guaranteed snow in many resorts – making it a dream come true for adrenaline addicts. The luxury ski resorts we all know, including Zermatt, Gstaad and St Moritz, as well as those that are up and coming such as Andermatt, are brilliant destinations for summertime leisure pursuits too. So if you are looking for a different option to a ‘fly and flop’, there’s mountain biking, hiking, climbing, sailing, mountaineering, golf and picnics in pine forests to entice you.
  • Turkey

    A country with an air of exoticism where traditions are upheld and yet modernism shines through, Turkey is a beguiling destination. The people, the ambiance, the experiences, the sites, and the shopping are all so fantastic that Turkey as a holiday option easily stands out from the crowd. And the country as a whole is also great value for money which makes absorbing its rich culture, indulging in the nation’s time-honoured Turkish bathing rituals, savouring the flavoursome cuisine, and relaxing on the golden beaches, all the more pleasurable.Steeped in history that spans thousands of years, re-visit the Hellenistic, Roman, Greek, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman eras through architectural wonders, from ruined cities to glittering mosques. Modern Turkey is more about sun-soaked beach holidays along the ‘Turkish Riviera’, and the Aegean coastal resorts in places like Bodrum provide the perfect base for topping up your tan and partying. Here as well is the opportunity to indulge in both the contemporary as well as the traditional. Stylish bars, yachts and nightclubs will appeal to some while the option to cruise aboard a Turkish gulet and sample dish after dish of meze, aubergines with yogurt, pastirma (pressed beef), hummus and so on, might be the choice of others. But whichever appeals, make room for Turkish coffee as well as a slice of sticky baklava studded with local honey, pistachio nuts and dried fruits.Picking up a bargain in the bustling bazaars is almost obligatory and don’t be afraid to haggle for anything from jewellery and leather goods, to hand-painted ceramics and tribal carpets, to spices and even antiques. Treat yourself to some Turkish delight as you go; you’ll find it stacked high in pretty pyramid arrangements at most markets, in almost every flavour you can think of.If the lure of the city beckons, Istanbul, which is divided by the Bosphorus Strait and straddles both Europe and Asia, is truly unique. For here West really does meet the East; you can spend the morning exploring ancient palaces and sites and then while away the afternoon in ultra-hip malls that rival Dubai’s behemoths. Whether you choose to enjoy the impressive skyline dominated by the Blue Mosque aboard a luxury cruise ship or spend a couple of days on shore, its many charms are bound to captivate you.
  • United Kingdom

    The United Kingdom is brimming with world-class cities, picturesque countryside and timeless traditions. Royal heritage, excellent sightseeing, superb museums and galleries, and thriving annual festivals all call out to the leisure traveller who likes a dose of culture. With so much to see and do, you have a good excuse to visit on multiple occasions. The mere word ‘London’ is enough to start the mind racing with the endless possibilities it presents. After you’ve ticked Buckingham Palace and a Thames river cruise off your list, venture slightly off the tourist trail to places such as Portobello market and pick up all kinds of antique curiosities, knick-knacks and assorted paraphernalia. Make time for the classic English afternoon tea at one of the landmark hotels, or seek out an olde-worlde British pub for lunch. Evenings offer every kind of entertainment from dining at celebrity chef restaurants and musical performances at The Royal Opera House or Covent Garden, to full-on night clubs. But there is so much more to England than the big city, so why not combine London with a hotel in the countryside offering spa pampering, rose-scented gardens and Pimm’s on the lawn for a few days of complete rejuvenation? Scotland too is steeped in legends, Celtic heritage and the trademark Gaelic spirit. Enjoy unique celebrations in Edinburgh which really comes into its own during the traditional Hogmanay festivities and the world-renowned Festival Fringe. Meanwhile, baronial homes and castles harken back to the country’s grandeur and history. Great to visit, but even better to check-into for a sophisticated house party with your nearest and dearest. After walks through heather-strewn moors and glens, fishing for salmon in the glistening rivers, or enjoying golf on a championship course, spend cosy nights indoors sipping single malts by the crackling log fire, snacking on fresh Loch Fyne oysters and devouring lavish local fare, Haggis included. No matter what time of year or how many times you visit, there is always something to tempt even the most experienced traveller.