See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are one of nature’s most mysterious and impressive phenomena; a spectacular light show that sees the night sky lit up in beautiful colours like a lava lamp. Admire them in style at the Eagles View Suite at Hotel Iso-Syöte in Finland, where all four walls and even the roof of your luxury two-floor suite are made from glass, meaning you’ll be able to admire the view at all times, whether you’re relaxing in bed or the private Jacuzzi.
Go Island-Hopping in Greece
Island-hopping in Greece can be something of a marathon undertaking. After all, the number of islands is estimated to be in the thousands, with some experts counting 1,200 and others up to 6,000, depending on the minimum island size. A classic route would include the picturesque beaches of Mykonos, the chalk-white churches of Santorini and the Byzantine architecture of Paros. Those who want to experience something a little more “authentic” should head to the islands untouched by tourism (thanks to the difficulty in reaching them – no airports here) – our favourites are Ithaca, Folegandros and Symi.
Ski the Alps
The Alps offer some of the most prestigious and glamorous ski resorts in the world, rivaled only by the likes of Whistler in Canada and Aspen in the States. Our favourites include Courchevel 1850, whose 2,000-strong population is all but outnumbered by the guests of its 19 five-star hotels, Zermatt, with its cobble-stoned streets and 50+ mountain restaurants, serving the best raclette; and St Anton, with its state-of-the-art facilities and modern architecture.
Attempt the Marathon du Médoc
The Marathon du Médoc is undoubtedly the most fun you’ll ever have while running. Taking place in Pauillac near Bordeaux every September, the unique marathon sess 8,000 participants from around the world swapping water for the Haut Médoc’s finest wines, with the 23 “wine stops” en route, each at a different fairy-tale chateau. If that wasn’t unorthodox enough, there’s also French food on offer too, including foie gras, oysters and entrecôte. It’s a Francophile’s dream (and probably a marathon runner’s nightmare).
Tour Britain’s Stately Homes
Before you book your flights to the Continent, don’t forget that there is plenty to see and do in Britain, too. One of the best ways to celebrate Britain’s illustrious past is by touring their stately homes, which offer not only fascinating insights into their previous owners and our former way of life but also grand architecture and gardens. Top of our must-visit list are Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth House, which doubled for Mr. Darcy’s home in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice, the Longleat, which features the UK’s first safari park.
Live in the Jet-Set Life on the French Rivera
From the Cannes Film Festival to the Monaco Grand Prix, some of Europe’s most stylish events take place on the French Rivera. To channel the lifestyle of the glitterati, make it your home between May and August, flitting between yachts in Monaco and villas in Saint Tropez. Be sure to spend time wine-tasting at the local vineyards and chateaux, buying bespoke perfume in Grasse and being “seen” on Cannes’ famous shopping street, Promenade de la Croisette.
See the Best in Italian Renaissance Art at the Uffizi
Florence’s foremost gallery is home to the world’s biggest collection of Italian Renaissance art, with some of the best-known works, including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Giotto’s The Ognissanti Madonna and Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo all vying for your attention. A whole day here wouldn’t be enough time to see everything, so be sure to make return trips – you’ll discover something new every time.
Complete the Camino de Compostela Pilgrimage
Whether you’re looking to find inner peace or simply want to see the beautiful countryside of Northern Spain, there’s no better way to do it than by undertaking the Camino de Compostela. The route, which leads to the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela (it’s where the bones of St. James are believed to be buried), takes you through some of the Galicia region’s prettiest villages, where you’ll find locals more than willing to help weary pilgrims with a dish of the local delicacy – octopus – in exchange for your tales of the road.
Ride a Vespa Along the Amalfi Coast
When you think about it there’s really only way to explore the winding coastal roads of Italy’s postcard-worthy peninsula. A Vespa tour is perfect for anyone who wants to discover the striking region the Neapolitan way and at their own pace, stopping at cliff-top Sorrento, glamorous Ravello and beguilling Positano, discovering hidden gems along the way.
Experience Carnevale in Venice
The world’s most famous masquerade party takes place every January/February to celebrate the arrival of spring. The Carnevale begins with La Festa delle Marie, a masked procession through the city; reaches its peak with the Grand Masked Ball which takes place at a different palace every year; and closes with a beautiful flotilla of decorated gondolas sent down the Grand Canal. The only thing required for entry is a mask – the best can be found at Ca’Mancana and L’Arlecchino.