I’ve been dreaming of travel since lockdown in the UK came into play, but I hadn’t planned on where or what I’d do when we were able to finally leave the country. In my opinion, travel almost feels precious now, and spending time in places that offer something that little bit different, is what we should be seeking out. The world is big though so where should be on your list to travel after lockdown? We’ve summarised on a few special locations that offer something a little bit extra to a holiday.
Whether you’re after adventure, culture or culinary delights, we’ve got some excellent travel picks for you to consider for your next trip.
Croatia had an awful lot going for it long before Game of Thrones, so look past the screen time and discover the jewel of the Adriatic.
Its strategic location has meant Croatia has an incredibly diverse history, from Roman Empire influence, the threat of Ottoman conquest, through WW2 Occupation and the Croatian War of Independence in the early 90’s, Croatia is now a gloriously peaceful Sovereign State.
Renowned for its crystal-clear waters and islands, stunning local wines and the terracotta rooftops of its coastal towns. Oh, and that TV show! Away from the coast, the mountains of the Dinaric Alps and the tumbling waterfalls of Plitvice lakes, are home to wineries and hidden gem farmhouses, where traditional meals are super affordable and provide a fantastic time capsule into the history of this stunning landscape.
With 15 UNESCO Cultural Masterpieces, Croatia ranks 4th in the world for intangible culture, making it the perfect destination for history lovers and culture vultures alike. The wine is a good reason too!
Top Tip – If you are staying in Dubrovnik, hit the Old Town super early to really appreciate its beauty, without the crowds.
After a few days in Iceland, you begin to get the impression of a country that is managing to perfectly balance progress and identity. Reykjavik, the compact Capital, remains beautifully traditional in many parts, with flashes of sympathetic development in the waterfront area. Far from the isolated outpost of old, fantastic countless bars, restaurants and museums line every street. Impressive when you consider it only takes 30 or so mins to walk across the city!
But the primary draw of Iceland lies outside of the city, and in the wilds of the volcano landscape. Constantly in flux due to the many (sadly receding) glaciers and frequent volcanic eruptions, the ground beneath your feet is very much alive. It provides nearly ALL of the required electricity for the whole country, Iceland even holds a Guinness World Record for the Greenest Country!
Dramatically different seasons mean whenever you visit, you will not be disappointed. Thundering waterfalls, black lava sand beaches, snowcapped mountains, vast plains, erupting geysers, active volcanos and sheer cliffs provide an almost unique environment for landscape and wildlife photography. Pack extra memory cards and rent a car to really get off of the Golden Circle coach tour route and into the wilds.
Top Tip – If visiting in the winter, remember the daylight hours are short and plan accordingly. We visited in January and it got light around 11am, and started to get dark again about 3.30pm!
Eco and Chill
An 11-hour flight is an awful long way for a week, right?! Well, yes, but also a resounding no! Costa Rica has some serious box checking going on.
- Atlantic AND Pacific Coasts
- Stunning Rainforests
- National Parks and Nature reserves
- Endless surf beaches
- Fantastic conservation programs
- National drive towards Renewable energy
We wandered monkey filled forests, watched the giant Iguanas basking in the sun, drank cocktails by the pool and enjoyed New Year fireworks by the Ocean. Pretty cool, right?! Definitely our favorite thing about visiting was the opportunity to learn more about the amazing ecosystem and combine that with a ‘traditional’ beach holiday. Spend the morning visiting the Diamante Eco Adventure Park, followed by an afternoon swimming in the warm ocean. Bliss.
Top Tip – Costa Rica will leave you spoilt for choice, and transfers between attractions can be realllllly long if you haven’t done your research. Pick the excursions that excite you the most, and choose accommodation nearby, rather than the other way around. If you only have a week, be time smart!
Farm to fork Foodies
Ah, California, you beautiful, weird and wonderful State!
You can kind of divide California into 3 areas, the Southland, the coastal and desert communities from Los Angeles down to San Diego, the Central Valley, from San Francisco down to Los Angeles, bordered by the Sierra Nevada mountains, and Northern California, from San Francisco north to the Oregon border, with the deserts of Nevada off to the east.
For reasons unknown, the Northern region doesn’t seem to grab international visitors in the same way as its more southern counterparts, and all I can say is, you’re missing out!
Like the Sydney/Canberra assumption in Australia, people often mistakenly assume that one of the ‘big’ cities is the CA state capital, well, welcome to SACRAMENTO!
The Farm to Fork movement is a huge driver to the growing popularity of the Sacramento area. With wineries rivalling the most well-known Napa estates, just a short drive to the southeast, big names chefs opening innovative, locally focused menus, and the sheer diversity of the locale, equidistant between the towering mountains of the Sierra Nevadas and the recreation areas of Lake Tahoe and Reno, and the draw of nearby San Francisco.
Get a taste of home with a side of sunshine at Oliver Ridgeway’s Camden Spit & Larder, where seasonality is king, then spend the afternoon at the Bogle Vineyard, where chances are you’ll receive your tour from one of the Bogles’ themselves. Handed through 3 generations, the Bogles have worked the Vineyards on their estate since 1968!
Top Tip – Make Sacramento a big part of your Northern California Road Trip. Fly into SF and spend a few weeks exploring the mountains, plains and rugged coast of the great North. Hop the state line in South Lake Tahoe, visit hidden gems like Redding and head to the Redwood Forests in Eureka. Discover the Hidden California!
Don’t stop movin’
It’ll come as no surprise after our recent trip there, but the last on the list is Lanzarote. An excellent choice particularly for the triathlete as you have pretty epic rides, open water and plenty of trail routes to keep you occupied. Lanzarote is home to one of the tougher Ironman races out there, and so many flock here to have a go at part of the course, or to simply recce it prior to racing.
The road condition makes for a very smooth ride, but don’t be fooled as Lanzarote is notoriously windy! It’ll certainly make you a better cyclist – that’s for sure. However, if you’re not out for training and just want to go for a ride, there are so many spots to stop, take photos and simply take in this vast lava rock landscape.
You have lots of options in where to stay in Lanzarote such as it is already a big holiday destination, however, if you’re looking for activities, you must check out Club La Santa in the Northern part of the island. Best thing is it is all in one big complex and absolutely jam packed with activities.
Club La Santa has it’s own booking system meaning you can take part in activities easily. Hire out the road bikes, book in the 50m, or head on over to their own running track for some drills. Seriously, this place is like a triathletes playground, but also plenty for the entire family to enjoy as well. If staying at Club La Santa be sure to eat at La Piscina, pool restaurant and have one of the salads for 12 euros. Best salad!
Top Tip – If you head out for the day and fancy an incredible view to cast your eyes over, visit Mirador del Rio to see Caleta de Sabo. This is actually one of the places on the Ironman course too. Best thing to do is go early, as this can get crowded with people and bikes.