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1. The Lake District
The Lake District’s postcard assortment of 14 lakes, valleys and woodlands make up some of Britain’s finest scenery, and while rain showers can strike at any time, this only adds to its ethereal beauty.
From the central Lakes of Windermere and Coniston Water, to the craggy hilltops and mountain tarns, it’s little wonder so many writers found inspiration here. Including Beatrix Potter, whose house, Hill Top Cottage, still stands as it did when she first penned her books.
Take the steam yacht across Coniston Water, or embark on a seven-hour hike of England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike. Enjoy some of the region’s best walking at Buttermere Lake and its namesake village, or simply duck into a local teashop and absorb the Lake District’s dazzling colours over a pot of tea and a crumpet.
HOT TIP: It’s true, it rains a lot, but the worst of it is usually saved for the beginning and end of winter. Summers are busy, but Spring and Autumn are near-enough perfect for a visit.
2. A day trip to Paris
From London you can catch the Eurostar from London St Pancras and be in Paris Gare du Nord just 2.5 hours later. No stops.
Departing London daily from 5.40am, with the last train leaving Paris at 9.13pm, it's a quick and easy way to spend the entire day in Paris. You could be in the City of Lights by 9am, tucking into your first croissant by 9.01.
For this, we highly recommend finding one of the seven Pierre Hermé patisseries. Pierre, better known as the “Picasso of Pastry” is the city’s top pâtisserie chef and his esteemed Ispahan croissant is well worth hunting for. A buttery croissant, glazed with rose-almond cream, filled with raspberry-litchi fondant and decorated in petals, it’s pure Parisian extravagance.
HOT TIP: The Ispahan isn’t available in all Pierre Hermé patisseries, but we’ll let you in on a secret, you’ll find one at the 72 Rue Bonaparte store.
3. An adventure across Iceland
Is this Iceland, or did you just arrive on another planet? With its Aurora Borealis, towering fjords and glistening glaciers, it feels out of this world.
Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon bordering Vatnajökull National Park, is a lake peppered with so many statuesque ice-chunks, it’s completely surreal. In summer and autumn, there are boat tours which forge a route through its icy figures of all sizes and colours. There’s also Diamond Beach, where polished chunks of ice litter the black sand beach, like giant jewels spewed out by the sea.
In Hofn, an Icelandic fishing town in south eastern Iceland, you’re on the doorstep to Hornafjörður fjord and in the presence of the largest ice cap in Europe, the eerily beautiful Vatnajökul glacier. Akureyri, at the base of Eyjafjörður Fjord is also home to 19th century Icelandic turf homes (the ones with grass roofs) and on a clear night, from September through to April, the northern lights frequently put on a performance.
HOT TIP: The seas surrounding Akureyri are teeming with whales, dolphins and porpoises. Enjoy an unforgettable whale watching experience in Hauganes, 30-minutes north of Akureyri.
4. A remarkable stay
Try something you’d never get the chance to experience in New Zealand. Rent a villa bathed in Italian sunshine, or a twee British cottage built from brick and thatch. Live like you own the place and experience life as a local. Take each day as it comes; staying put for a week or two at a time, visiting local markets and mixing with the residents.
In the UK you can coax out your inner nobleman (or noble lady) and stay in a stately countryside manor, many of which offer indulgent accommodations, complete with roaring fireplaces and bespoke restaurants. Or how about a French chateau? With immaculate grounds and ornate French décor, but also flush with modern luxuries, such as spas, gyms, swimming pools and tennis courts.
HOT TIP: From inner city apartments, modern in every manner, to bijou cottages full of Knick knacks and character, rest your head somewhere truly remarkable.
5. The ease of a river cruise
When the journey is a water-based one, you’re rewarded with stunning scenery and vistas that change with every nautical knot. A river cruise grants you the freedom to sit back and soak up the passing panorama - while someone else does all the navigating.
It’s not often you can explore multiple destinations and only have to unpack once, as this would usually require several hotels and thus, several attempts at closing your suitcase. But on a river cruise, you simply throw all your luggage in the wardrobe and pop your case under the bed.
You’ll quite often sail at night – or through it. Which means you utilise every moment of your time. You’ll wake up in a brand-new destination. Simply stroll off the gangway and hey presto, you’re exactly where you need to be. It’s the beauty of most river ports that they are frequently positioned in the centre of a city or town. Meaning you’re right in the heart of all the local attractions.
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