Are you over beach holidays?

Not up for sunburn and getting sand everywhere this year? We don’t blame you.

If you’re wondering what alternatives are available, here are some suggestions for city escapes, spa breaks and adventure holidays to jump on in 2023.

Scintillating city breaks

Ljubljana, Slovenia

One of Europe’s smallest capitals is also among its greenest, due to having been free of private motorised vehicles since 2012. It’s now a vibrant pedestrian paradise, teeming with street food and microbreweries.

If you want to give your feet a rest while exploring, there are several environmentally friendly modes of transport available. You could hire an electric scooter, join Ljubljana’s bicycle-sharing scheme, or hop into a Kavalir (or ‘gallant helper’) electric buggy for short trips around the city.

There are direct flights to Ljubljana with low-cost airlines from Gatwick and Luton all-year round, and British Airways offer seasonal flights from Heathrow.

Tivat, Montenegro

A picture-perfect town on the Adriatic coast, Tivat is slowly being discovered and adored by holidaymakers. Ok, so you can go to the beach here… But it’s really more about wandering around the walled town centre, taking a leisurely boat trip, and sampling the local seafood. It resembles the Croatian coast in its look and vibe, but – at the moment at least – it’s cheaper and less well-visited. Get there before it gets huge!

You can fly to Tivat direct from London, with EasyJet from Gatwick generally working out cheaper. It’s also possible to fly direct from Manchester with Jet2.

Sumptuous spa breaks


Reykjavik, Iceland

Why not combine a city and a spa break? The Icelandic capital should feature on everyone’s ‘must go’ lists, and it’s the perfect base to travel to some of the world’s loveliest geothermal spas.

An hour and a half’s drive away, the Secret Lagoon is a real treat. The oldest human-built pool in Iceland, it’s like a toasty swimming pool, and it even has its own geyser. It doesn’t feature the extras you might get at the better-known spas like the Blue Lagoon – such as saunas and treatments – but it contains all the minerals that imbue you with that healthy feeling… And it’s much cheaper.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit the Blue Lagoon. It’s Iceland’s most famous natural spa after all, featuring a shoulder-massaging waterfall, caves, and an in-water bar. Plus it’s just 45 minutes from the capital.

You can fly direct to Reykjavik from over a dozen airports in the UK, including from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Belfast and Newcastle.

Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian capital is famous for numerous reasons, not least its abundance of thermal baths and spas. Probably its most famous is Széchenyi Baths in City Park, which claims to be Budapest’s most visited attraction. It boasts 18 pools, a handful of which are outside, surrounded by its stunning lemon yellow Neo-Baroque buildings.

The complex features saunas, steam rooms and fitness equipment. And if you want to exercise your brain, there are floating chess boards. In the summer, pop-up bars offer further lubrication for the baths’ famous ‘sparties’.

Elsewhere in the city, you’re spoilt for choice. The Art Nouveau columns of Gellért Baths are a stylish backdrop for bathing, and Dagály Baths in Pest offer sweeping views of the Danube and Buda Hills. And if you take the trip in winter, you might be lucky enough to bathe in warm mineral waters outdoors while surrounded by snow.

Numerous UK airports fly direct to Budapest, from Bristol and Bournemouth to Newcastle International, Edinburgh, and Belfast International,.

Adventure holidays

Pont du Gard, France

Spanning the Gardon river in the south of France, the Pont du Gard is an ancient Roman aqueduct. Despite having been built in the first century AD, it’s in such good condition that you can walk or cycle across it. The surroundings are stunning, the aqueduct itself is vast and impressive, and it’s free to access.

But the real adventure here is kayaking down a crystal-clear river, through gorges, and beneath the aqueduct. Sense of wonder guaranteed.

There are direct flights available from the UK to nearby Nimes and Avignon, but staying in the walled city of Avignon is highly recommended. A former seat of the Pope’s on the bank of the Rhône, this UNESCO World Heritage Site feels like it should be inhabited by knights and dragons.

There are also several low-cost routes to Montpellier and Marseille from the UK, each of which are an hour and a quarter’s drive away.

…And if you’d like to stay in the UK:

Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

To help spark a family sense of adventure, head to the UK’s most northerly park. This beautiful backdrop is where Robert Louis Stevenson penned ‘Treasure Island’, comprising snowy mountains, Caledonian forest and windswept moors. Adventure pursuits include kayaking, hiking, mountain biking… or wildlife watching, where you can spot red deer, otters, beavers and golden eagles. Dressing as buccaneers and unearthing buried gold is optional.

The numerous drives there are incredible, but it’s also easily accessible by rail (including via direct trains from Kings Cross to Inverness) and coach, or you could fly to Aberdeen or Inverness. Find out how to get here on the Cairngorms National Park website.

For more top travel tips, go to Solved.