Ever spent ages wistfully window shopping for dream holidays? These destinations scored high on our site for searches – here’s why you should actually book them.
1. Colorado Springs, USA
Hunkered up against the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s second largest city is surrounded by the great outdoors, offering endless scope to get out there, hiking, biking, riding, rafting, zip lining and generally keeping adrenaline levels well and truly topped up. It’s also home to some unusual attractions, including the US Air Force Academy (cue Top Gun soundtrack); the Olympic Training Centre (complete with a hall of fame honouring US athletes) and the Garden of the Gods, where nature has created dramatic jagged sculptures out of the rusty red rock. Overlooking it all is Pike’s Peak, a landmark for 19th-century gold prospectors and famed for the panoramic views from the summit, so awe-inspiring that they inspired the lyrics of America the Beautiful. One day, in a pub quiz far away, that little nugget of information must surely come in handy.
Stay: The Broadmoor
When it first opened, a century ago, The Broadmoor’s goal was to be the most beautiful resort in the world, and it’s still out to impress today, with a five-star spa, two golf courses, three pools, five tennis courts, 11 restaurants, and a seemingly endless list of outdoor activities, from fly fishing to falconry. Rooms from around £232.Search flights to Colorado Springs Search hotels in Colorado Springs
2. Cape Town, South Africa
When it comes to stunning natural settings, Cape Town’s up there with the best. That mountain. Those beaches. Good looks aside, though, it also has endless ways to keep you entertained. Foodie travellers can focus on the buzzing restaurant scene, checkout the rooftop bars for sundowners with a view and take tasting tours through the nearby Winelands. The adventurous can cram in all manner of gung-ho activities, from hiking up Table Mountain (and abseiling back down) to snorkelling with seals and cage diving with sharks. And for culture-lovers, attractions include the contemporary African art at Zeitz MOCAA (an extraordinary building converted from an old grain silo) and First Thursdays, a sociable gallery-hopping event held once a month. Want something you won’t find in any other city? Go to Boulders Beach to watch the resident colony of African penguins waddling across the sand and bobbing on the waves. Sheer joy.
Welgelegen means ‘well situated’ and this boutique guest house lives up to its name – it’s close to the city centre and just a few minutes’ walk from the cafes, bars and boutiques of Kloof Street. A handsome conversion of two Victorian houses, it has just 13 bedrooms, all with high ceilings, air con and pretty décor. From around £91.Search flights to Cape Town Search hotels in Cape Town
3. Liberia, Costa Rica
Located in northern Costa Rica (and not to be confused with the West African country of the same name), the town of Liberia serves as a gateway to the coastline of Guanacaste province. And what a coastline it is, lined with glorious beaches where pelicans bob gently on the sea, howler monkeys hang out in the trees, and each receding tide leaves the sand studded with beautiful shells. You could spend all your time unashamedly beach bumming and be blissfully happy – but you’d be missing a trick when there’s so much to do inland as well. The region’s national parks shelter an astonishing diversity of wildlife, from jewel-bright frogs and iridescent butterflies to elusive jaguars and ever-endearing sloths. And a whole host of birds with such exotic looks and colourful names (elegant trogon, scarlet tanager, turquoise-browed motmot…) they’re likely to bring out any traveller’s inner twitcher.
Stay: Hotel Pasatiempo
This little charmer in Tamarindo (90 minutes’ drive from Liberia) has simply furnished cabanas dotted round lushly landscaped gardens. At its heart is a sweet little pool, sheltered by palm trees, and an open-sided restaurant and bar with a high thatched roof. Chilled and laidback, that’s the Pasatiempo vibe, but it’s just minutes away from beach, bars and surf shops. Rooms from around £103.Search flights to Liberia Search hotels in Liberia
4. Bridgetown, Barbados
Flying to Barbados, you can guarantee that at least one person on the plane will be singing Totally Tropical’s 1975 hit. It may even be you. Still, it’s a small price to pay for the rewards in store on this much-loved Caribbean island. Great beaches are a given here and a key factor in choosing where you stay: if it’s big surf you’re after, head to the wilder east coast; if you prefer your seas mill-pond calm, stick to the west; and for something in between, try the south coast, more developed and with more nightlife options. Away from the beach, sightseeing highlights include caverns and tropical forests; old plantation houses and botanical gardens; wandering round historic Bridgetown (a UNESCO World Heritage Site); and seeing how the other half used to fly, courtesy of the Barbados Concorde Experience. One thing is certain: wherever you go, you’ll never be far from the next rum punch.
Ten minutes’ drive from central Bridgetown, and right on the beach, this relaxed hotel has good-sized rooms from around £131. All face the ocean, have a balcony, and are equipped with microwaves, fridges and toasters as well as the usual bits and bobs. Generous extras include free airport transfers, a shopping shuttle service to Bridgetown and a bottle of punch in your room.Search flights to Bridgetown Search hotels in Bridgetown
5. Hamilton, Bermuda
Two key things to know about Bermuda: it’s not in the Caribbean (it’s hundreds of miles away, up in the North Atlantic) and it’s not just a single island (there are seven main islands plus another 170-odd islets and rocks). It’s also a big destination for divers, lured by clear waters, reefs full of fish and an abundance of shipwrecks strewn across the seabed. If you’re more of a landlubber, you can still get a feel for the sub-aqua action at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, where a simulated submersible experience takes you on a virtual trip 12,000 feet below the ocean surface. Golfers get six world-class courses to tee off on and there are plenty of historic sites to visit if you want to explore Bermuda’s British roots. Above all, though, this is a place to simply chill on the beach. Take a pile of good books, find a lounger and order in the cocktails. And relax.
Stay: Elbow Beach
The resort’s cottages are dotted around 50 acres of tropical gardens that slope down to one of the island’s best stretches of pink sand. It also has a beach restaurant and large free-form pool, along with other assorted facilities including tennis courts and a spa. Rooms are big and bright and start from around £266.Search flights to Hamilton Search hotels in Hamilton
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All flight and prices mentioned in this article are estimates of the cheapest prices based on Skyscanner’s flight search tools. These are subject to change and were correct at time of publication on 27 December 2018.