We all need a little travel inspiration every now and again. From swimming with whales in the warm waters of the Australian seas, to journeying through villages lost in time…discover our ultimate adventure list for 2015.
Wake up and smell the…coffee
Never has a statement been more true! If you’re yet to try the Nicaraguan coffee blend, be sure to make 2015 the year you do. Run by a team of local affiliated farmers, the Nicaragua Coffee Trail offers visitors and coffee connoisseurs a chance to embark on a sensory journey – with only the area’s larger than life wildlife, breathtaking jungles, epic ruins, and exquisite volcanoes for company…oh, and dare we forget to mention, freshly brewed organic coffee on tap.
Visit the only geisha community outside of Kyoto
Having escaped major destruction during the Second World War, Kanazawa is a perfect holiday hot spot for history buffs! Home to oodles of heritage and traditional culture, it’s here you’ll find the only geisha community outside Kyoto, the impressive teahouses of Higashi Chayagai and the Nagamachi quarter with its samurai residencies. With a new high-speed train line in place, the city is now more accessible than ever, making the journey time from Tokyo to Kanazawa just 2.5 hours.
Inside Japan Tours offers a 14-night Traditional Japan self-guided trip from £1,360pp (based on two sharing) including 14 nights’ B&B accommodation, various meals, and all domestic transport (excludes international flights).
Lost in time…
Ever wished you could travel back in time? Well now you can – North East Romania is home to more carts than cars, scenery dominated by ancestral castles, old fortresses and peaceful monasteries and a much slower pace of life. Everything from wood to wrought iron is processed manually, whilst all food is grown locally. Here, the people live simple but happy lives, welcoming visitors with open arms to embrace the absence of evolution. If you’re looking for a little time out, you’re guaranteed to find it here. Fly from London to Bacau for as little as £67.
25 metres below sea level, just off the Southern Shore of Yonaguni Island, is evidence of a prehistoric civilisation. This underwater rock formation, which resembles an ancient pyramid is said to be 10,000 years old. Although archaeologists are yet to figure out what it represents, divers and explorers from around the world travel to this site on a regular basis, intent on discovering their own theory for this mysterious city. Some believe it to be Atlantis, whilst others think it’s the lost continent of Mu – a fabled landmass in the Pacific and mythical cradle of civilisation.
Yonaguni is a small, remote untouched island – to get there you’ll need to travel to Okinawa’s capital ‘Naha’. From here you can catch a 2hr flight to Sonai – Yonaguni’s main residential area.
The king of National Parks
Described by Scottish-born conservationist John Muir as ‘the grandest of all the special temples of Nature’ Yosemite still stands as the King of American national parks. Boasting 1,200 square miles of deep valleys brandishing wild-flower meadows, giant sequoias and impressive waterfalls – guests spend their summers hiking, rafting, fishing and rock climbing and winters enjoying the quiet splendour of Yosemite’s epic landscape without the crowds.
Combine your sightseeing tour with a city escape with a stop off in the Big Apple. Blue Islands offer daily flights to London City Airport, from where you can catch a direct flight to New York.
A holiday hot spot revival
Now that America has re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba – this characterful city is set to experience a revamp, albeit without losing its unique old-school charms. With the government slowly welcoming the development of non-state-owned tourism, a number of private travel ventures are emerging – especially in thriving cultural hub of Old Havana – now home to an abundance of new bars including ‘O’Reilly 304’, and the stylish bed and breakfast ‘Casa Alta’ (£19-25 a night) all adding to the buzz of this must-see city. To mark the 500th anniversary of the formation of the southern city of Santiago de Cuba, a week long party and carnival will commence on 25th July.
Those wishing to embark on a more unusual travel experience (exploring some of the country’s lesser-known spots) can do so by signing up to a 12-day cycling tour, such as the one run by World Expeditions (priced from £1,567pp). Alternatively, explore the island on something a little bit faster with Ernesto junior (Che Guevara’s son). Choose from six and nine-day motorbike tours from £1,999pp. lapoderosatours.com
A hassle-free holiday
When you think of Morocco, it’s not uncommon for overbearing locals and prodigious crowds to spring to mind. Essaouira on the other hand – an exclusive, in-expensive and super smart Atlantic hub that was once too troublesome to get to – is now welcoming a number of direct flights! The souks are relatively hassle-free, the restaurants boast fabulous views of the crashing waves and the beaches are huge. This atmospheric port is set to become one of Morocco’s freshest destinations.
Stay in the centre of town at Dar Adul (doubles from £43 B&B), or in the countryside (15 minutes outside) at the tranquil Les Jardin des Douars (doubles from £79 B&B).
Travel to Essaouira in under 3hrs. Direct flights are available from London Luton Airport and cost from as little as £61 return.
The capital of culture
As the fervently debated title of France’s second city draws to a close, Marseille is becoming something of a talking point. The city itself will be easily accessible from May, with the introduction of Eurostar’s new, year-round direct service.
Having already been crowned the European Capital of Culture, this metropolis is set to undergo a few more changes – including a €7bn facelift, which is being described as the largest urban renewal project in southern Europe.
New intros include the recently completed Les Voutes de la Major (a precinct of boutiques and restaurants near the cathedral les Halles de La Major Market and an area dedicated to gourmet foods) and La Friche Belle de Mai (a former factory converted into studios, exhibition spaces, theatres and a hot spot for the city’s rap and hip-hop heritage).
Stay at the C2 Hotel, an establishment featuring Modernist furniture by Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright (doubles from €189); and dine at the tiny, 22-seater AM restaurant, owned by chef Alexandre Mazzia.
Avoid the chaos of Gatwick and fly direct to Southampton from £49 with Blue Islands. Add a return, anytime train ticket to London Waterloo for just £30.
Skiers seeking new terrain can now travel to the Tatra Mountains for less than £30 one way from London. Catering to both skiers and snowboarders of all abilities, Jasná (the best-known resort in the Low Tatras) has undergone a massive overhaul, costing in the region of £150m! This revamp includes the introduction of three new aqua parks – a great option for families. And that’s not all, both the Freeride World Tour and World Snowboard Tour are scheduled to make an appearance here later this year.
Mountain Paradise offers Thurs-Sun weekend packages at the Vila Park & Pension Paula from £499pp including flights.
Located just a two hour drive from the medieval city of Krakow, you can easily combine a few days skiing with a sightseeing escape.
A Gastronomic delight
The foodies favourite San Sebastián has competition! Cáceres (eastern Spain) has been named the country’s Capital of Gastronomy for 2015. This hidden gem (and Unesco world heritage city centre site) is a picturesque maze of narrow, cobbled medieval streets – all of which will play host to a programme of food-focused events and festivals later this year. Expect local specialities such as jamón ibérico, bread soup with paprika, rice with rabbit, and torta del casar, (a subtly bitter local cheese made from raw sheep’s milk) to be on the menu.
Stay at the Parador Hotel, a recently refurbished 14th-century palace in the old town – spacious doubles are priced from £68 per night.
Getting there: Blue Islands fly to London City six times daily, from here you can fly direct to Madrid. Domestic flights from Madrid serve Cáceres’ nearest airport. If time is not an issue, take the scenic route and jump on a train – you’ll be anything but disappointed with the view.