Beautiful locations blend with traditional and modern treatments at this pick of great value spas from Iceland to Sardinia
• 30 best UK spas
Chichibuga beach on Shikoku island was barely known until photographs of stunning sunsets started to appear on social media. Now visitors flock to capture images of the fiery sea and skies at dusk
People were running down the beach. Not for exercise but to get into position before the sun slipped below the horizon. I hurried along, swept up by the sense of urgency. Mini tripods were lined up on the sand at the water’s edge, and selfie sticks were held aloft. Groups of friends, silhouetted against the pink sky, were trying to synchronise their star jumps, while women instructed their boyfriends on exactly how to photograph them as they stared into the sea. One woman posed holding her pet dachshund. The entire beach was a mass Instagram shoot.
Whether it’s China, Bosnia or Colombia, our readers have found guides whose humour, passion and local knowledge have been the making of a trip
My girlfriend and I stayed at Hostel Majdas in Mostar and signed up for a daily tour that the owner’s brother, Bata, was running. Bata gave us a jaw-dropping personal account of his life and escape during the Bosnia conflict, and an incredible amount of information about the political situation and its relevance to this day. He took us to incredibly beautiful locations miles off the beaten track, and the highlight was visiting Grandma’s house and getting the warmest Bosnian hospitality and tastiest home cooking. He was the most enthralling and passionate local guide I’ve ever met.
• Day tour €30, on Facebook
From a Buenos Aires spot where greens rule to a ‘house of pig’ in São Paulo, our writer offers a personal selection of affordable restaurants on Latin America’s latest 50 best list
Elaborate tasting menus and fine dining dominate the annual World’s 50 Best Restaurants list but it’s a different story with the Latin American edition of the awards. The top spot for 2018 did go to Lima’s Maido for the second year running (15-course menu £103), but further down the list there are plenty of restaurants offering great cooking at much more affordable prices. Here are 10 of the tastiest bargains around.
Enjoy ocean views from rooftop bars or just step out and get the sand between your toes. From Mazatlán to Pochutla, here are 10 charming beachside escapes
Mexico’s Pacific coast, more than 1,000 miles of it, is renowned for its beaches, as well as the resorts which have attracted Hollywood royalty. However, it’s also an area that can experience tropical storms, usually between June and December. The most recent was Hurricane Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded at sea, which swept across the region at the end of October, but caused less damage than anticipated. Hotels are now operating as normal.
Well-known and deservedly popular for its jungle, coast and ancient ruins, the Yucatán peninsula can be a pricey place to stay – unless you pick one of these brilliant budget hotels and hostels
On the surface, this mid-size hotel in Cancún’s hotel zone is pretty unremarkable. The tile-floored rooms are big and clean, with terraces or balconies – though they’re not notably stylish. The restaurant is good, not gourmet. The pool is a sensible size. But set this against its glitzy, high-rise neighbours and check the rates, which are often lower than similarly appointed hotels on the mainland, 30 minutes from the water – and Beachscape starts looking pretty good. Then walk out on to the palm-shaded beach, one of the prettiest stretches in the hotel zone, and the place becomes a minor miracle.
• Doubles from $109, +52 998 891 5427, beachscape.com.mx
The Seychelles islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue may be known for their luxury resorts but there is also a great selection of family-run, more affordable guesthouses just as close to the archipelago’s famous, world-class beaches
For a room with a five-star view, Colibri is hard to beat. Nine rustic rooms – all wood and stone – ensconced amid tropical foliage that tumbles down a hillside to the turquoise waters of Baie Sainte Anne. There’s no beach but you can use the small infinity pool overlooking the bay at neighbouring B&B Chalets Cote Mer, also owned by Sylvie and Stephan, and costing about €10 more a night. You also share the waterfront creole restaurant. The owners can help with car hire but it’s a five-minute walk to a bus stop – which will take you to Praslin’s most famous beach Anse Lazio and the Unesco-protected Vallée de Mai nature reserve – and the jetty for ferries to Mahé and La Digue.
• Doubles from £112 B&B, +248 429 4200, colibrisweethome.com
From Cape Town and its peninsula to the Garden Route and the West Coast, the Western Cape is a dazzling part of South Africa, and its beachside accommodation doesn’t have to break the bank
Tour classical sites with locals and discover the guesthouses, restaurants and bars being opened by young entrepreneurs in a city buzzing with creativity
The revival of Europe’s classical capital has attracted plenty of artists, curators and digital nomads. But it’s entrepreneurial young Athenians who are opening pop-up restaurants, design collectives and guesthouses, regenerating derelict buildings in rough-around-the-edges areas such as Pangrati, Kypseli and Keramikos. Messy and unpredictable, Athens fizzes with an intense energy that burns bright into the night.
In central France, the Auvergne’s volcanic landscape offers year-round activity holidays, with peaks to climb, lakes to swim, restored farms to stay in and great value mountain cuisine
The Cantal is the rural heartland of France’s wild Auvergne region, right in the centre of the country and part of the Massif Central. Locals joke that there are more cows here than people and there certainly are not many tourists, despite a range of adventurous outdoor activities in summer and winter. Hotels and B&Bs could not be more reasonably priced, and the hearty regional cuisine – rustic rather than gourmet – comes in formidable four- or five-course bistro set menus, ideal for big appetites and small budgets. The Cantal also boasts some of the most spectacular sites in La Chaîne des Puys, the 80 or so extinct volcanoes that have just been recognised as a Unesco world heritage site.
‘Tourist hordes’ is not a phrase you’re likely to hear in Basilicata but given its rich cuisine, stunning national parks, ancient towns and great beaches, it’s hard to fathom why this seductive region remains so quiet
Imagine a region that has miles of white sand beaches on one coast, picturesque rocky bays on the other, two mountainous national parks, and one of the world’s oldest cities. Add lots of warm sunshine plus fine food and wine and you might expect the area to be a tourist mecca, busy with hotels and tour buses. However, Basilicata, the arch and instep of Italy’s boot, has all the above but – thanks admittedly to a history of poverty and difficult access – little mass tourism.
A haven for surfers and adventurers, ‘a timeless island feel pervades this often-overlooked peninsula’. Writers of the new Wild Guide Wales select the best coves and beaches, places to eat and seasonal campsites
With tiny lanes lined with wildflowers leading to empty coves and rugged cliffs, this magical, often-overlooked peninsula has a timeless island feel – some say the Llŷn is like Cornwall 50 years ago. Welsh is spoken more often than not, and sacred places abound. But it’s not stuck in the past: there’s a strong surf culture around Porth Neigwl (Hell’s Mouth), and you can taste the beginning of a good-food revolution.
The coast starts in rugged fashion on the north side with the towering peak of Yr Eifl, home of Tre’r Ceir, an iron age settlement with some of Wales’s best roundhouse remains. To the south, the coast is gentler – a string of pearly coves with tiny seasonal campsites. And at the distant tip sits Bardsey Island, glimmering across the tidal waters.
The city’s bars and music scene are among the most vibrant in the US. And with Lake Michigan beaches to relax on and two new budget flights from the UK, now is the time to go
Traditionally overshadowed by coastal powerhouses New York City and Los Angeles, Chicago is on the rise, with a record 55 million visitors in 2017 – and new direct flights from the UK with Norwegian and Wow making the US’s third-largest city more accessible. While visitors tend to congregate around the downtown and lakefront areas to admire the city’s world-renowned architecture, there’s a thriving music and bar scene that shouldn’t be missed.
The food, wine and idyllic lifestyle of this region’s villages have always appealed to Brits – and with Brexit looming they’re settling in record numbers – but that has not dimmed its thoroughly French allure
The Dordogne comes close to offering everything that travellers head to France for: beautiful chateaux, traditional French gastronomy, a bucolic landscape of vineyards, forests and rivers. Picturesque fortified villages, such as Beynac, La Roque Gageac and Eymet (site of an unexpected pre-Brexit boom for UK settlers), and charming towns such as Bergerac, Brantôme, Bourdeilles and Ribérac, have long been popular with Brits wanting to settle in France, and this is one part of the country where they have always been warmly welcomed into local communities.
Thousands of visitors descend on Antigua for its famous Semana Santa celebrations over Easter, but this colonial gem is worth a visit at any time of year
Cobblestone streets lined with brightly coloured colonial buildings, a jacaranda-wreathed central plaza, 16th-century ruins and with volcanoes surrounding it … Few cities in Latin America can match Antigua Guatemala (usually referred to as just Antigua) for postcard prettiness. But this Unesco-listed city is about much more than surface-level charm and Instagram opportunities.
Founded in 1543 as the seat of Spanish power in the region, it served as its cultural, religious and economic centre for more than 200 years. The city was largely destroyed by earthquakes in the 17th century but many of the colonial buildings were rebuilt and have since been renovated. The remnants of others dot parks and gardens across the city.