While all of Singapore’s long weekends are excellent for holidays throughout the region, summer is the ideal time to take off for a week or two and really get further afield. For those thinking about a European holiday, the experts at luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel have selected a few of their favourite destinations for every type of holiday.
One of the most picturesque places in all of Italy, Sicily’s landscapes often involve shimmering blue seas, sandy beaches and towering volcanoes. Ride high above Mount Etna’s mounds and mounds of hardened lava in a cable car, then continue the journey through moon-like vistas in a special minibus jeep, before stopping for a picnic lunch amid panoramic views. The archaeological sites at Syracuse are great for kids channelling their inner Indiana Jones, and a special workshop provides activities such as discovery games, drawing and colouring. A visit to see the Opera de Pupi, the famous Sicilian puppet theatre, is a great way to introduce kids to Sicilian folklore, which is an integral part of the island’s identity.
One sign that Santorini is a great destination for couples is that most of its hotels are for adults only! Those looking to get out and about might like to hike along the volcanic trails that crisscross the island; or sail along the coastline aboard a luxury catamaran, stopping for a swim and a freshly prepared seafood lunch onboard; or perhaps take a donkey ride down the 588 steps that lead to the old harbour of Fira. While Greece is better known for beaches than vineyards, Santorini features excellent wineries that date back to Roman times, and there are some fantastic wine tours on the island. Balance all the outdoor activity with sightseeing tours to the ruins of Ancient Thira and Akrotini, and make sure to end the day with drinks high atop the caldera in the village of Oia, host to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world.
Dalmatian Coast and Dubrovnik, Croatia
For beach bums
It may not feature your typical white sand beaches, yet the Dalmatian Coast is an unexplored gem of breathtaking archipelagos, lush vegetation and intact nature. With more than 6,000 kilometres of coastline and over 1,100 islands, it’s a superb getaway for those who love the sea. Set off on a diving excursion in the open ocean, sail in and out of secluded coves and harbours, and sample the area’s exquisite local cuisine. Go island-hopping from Mljet, one of the greenest and most beautiful islands in the Adriatic, to Korcula, known as the hometown of Marco Polo, with over 2,000 years of history. And no stop to Croatia is complete without a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Dubrovnik, which features the works of artists, writers and scientists, all woven into the texture of the town.
For culture lovers
This city is a wonderful combination of incredible art and architecture, with beaches and shopping thrown in for good measure. Stroll through Gaudi’s whimsical Park Guell, before paying a visit to his unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Take a tapas tour with a local guide to gain insight into the food culture that defines the city, and visit the famous Boqueria Market to sample the home-grown produce. Lightfoot Travel recommends visiting one of Barcelona’s castellers’ clubs and watching the men as they train themselves to form castells, or human towers. It’s a tradition that dates back two centuries, and a fascinating way to spend an afternoon.
For adventure seekers
While in The Land of Fire and Ice, take a helicopter journey over volcanoes, glacier lagoons and ice lakes, go fly-fishing in some of the country’s finest salmon rivers, and ride through grassy plains on an Icelandic horse, a tradition that has been a way of life since the age of the Vikings. Amazingly unique activities abound, such as diving the Silfra Fissure where you can dive or snorkel between the American and Eurasian continental plates, touching both continents at the same time in some places. Whale-watching is very popular, as are tours through lava caves where Lightfoot can arrange picnic lunches in this rather unusual setting!
The Lyngen Alps, Norway
Off the beaten path
While this area is renowned for skiing and viewing the Northern Lights, from June to October it becomes a summer haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Lightfoot recommends taking a riverboat safari in Reisa National Park, fishing in the rivers through the Lyngen Fjord, kayaking, stand-up paddle-boarding, ice-climbing, glacier-walking and horseback-riding. Summer is the season for the midnight sun, when all the snow recedes, covering the mountains in rich flora and creating ideal hiking conditions. You can choose between these mountain and fjord-based activities, and it’s an ideal destination for solo travellers, families or groups of friends.
This story first appeared in Expat Living’s May 2015 issue .