The return to work heralds a whole new year of annual leave opportunities and what better time to plan one or two short breaks. Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture or beach flopping, we have a selection to excite and inspire you through these dark and gloomy January days.
Tucked away on the south coast of Wales lies a land of golden beaches, winding coastal paths and shady forests. Having just signed up for a trek to Nepal in November, I decided it was time to venture out of the South East and explore new hiking territory in the Gower Peninsula – one of the most remote and un-spoilt corners of the UK.
Nestled between the Rhine and the Black Forest, Freiburg is officially Germany’s sunniest city. Offering cuckoo clocks, cobbled streets, roof top restaurants and pulsing techno bars, it’s a quirky blend of Hans Christian Anderson meets Kraftwerk. Throw in some succulent, fresh Trout and Black Forest Gateau and it’s also a mecca for foodie indulgence. Swapping my corporate suit for dashing dirndl, I set off in search of adventure.
With 2016 marking the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, the City was ablaze this weekend in flickering light installations, scorching Catherine wheels and great balls of fire. Created by Artichoke, the masterminds behind Lumiere London, the London’s burning commemorations sparked wonder across the capital. As a City worker, I headed into the heat after work to experience my working environment in an entirely new light.
With a name like Bohemian Paradise, this national park had a lot to live up to. Promising mythical castles, towering trees and gargantuan sandstone pillars, it sounded just the kind of flamboyant weekend break I craved. Casting off my work suit, I set off to follow in the footsteps of song writers and poets on a gloriously Bohemian Bank holiday get-away to the Czech Republic.
“Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones” rang the soundtrack in my head as I visited the infamous Bone Church or “Ossuary” in Kutna Hora, Bohemia. Crammed with the remains of more than 40,000 mortals displayed on walls, ceilings and cherub-topped pyramids, I didn’t know whether to be impressed or repulsed.
The glittering Aegean sea, flower-laden churches and streets on fire, an Easter break to Santorini is a journey into ancient times. As the poppies and mimosa blossom, the island prepares for the most important religious festival of the year. If you’re keen to shake off the last vestiges of winter, it’s an ideal time to book an out of season spring mini break to Santorini and sample an unforgettable experience of the real Greece.
City breaks are now more popular than beach holidays and more of us than ever before will explore a new country in 2016. These are just two of the holiday trends revealed in a recent survey by Sainsburys Travel Insurance. If you’ve still to firm up your holiday plans, we can reveal the most popular annual leave hot-spots; how much salary you’ll spend and what you’ll do once you get there.
With annual leave disappearing like snow off a dyke, it’s important to cram as much as we can into the our precious annual leave allocation. If like me, you love the buzz of the city and the solitude of the great outdoors – why not enjoy both by seeking city breaks that offer mountain escapes. I’ve hand-picked five radically different destinations where you can spend the day clambering up mountains and be back in time for evening cocktails.
After six months of training, I finally set off on my Atlas Mountain trek last week in a state of excitement and trepidation. Would all the hard work pay off? How would I cope with altitude sickness, the trots or a combination of both? And most importantly, would I make it to the summit of the mighty Mount Toubkal? All is revealed…….