Adventure holiday anyone? These types of trips are on the rise with more travellers opting for itineraries that allow them to stay active – walking, cycling, or trekking – while still affording them a healthy dose of relaxation.
By: Emily Djock
Lace up your shoes and get ready to explore 2020’s most exciting offerings.
Seek Adventure In Ireland’s Legendary North
Steeped in history and lore, a tour around the land of Éire takes travellers from Dublin to Belfast and back.
Explore the streets of Northern Ireland’s lively cities and quaint towns by foot to really experience the music, myth and legend behind its illustrious stories.
Not sure where to start with planning this adventure holiday? Consider a Trafalgar guided holiday; their local specialists will guide you through Ireland’s cultural charms, while recounting the tales of Celtic chieftains and mythical giants.
After a walking tour of the heritage town of Westport (voted the best place to live in Ireland), go and get a healthy dose of fresh air and Atlantic sea spray on idyllic Achill Island. Popular for water sports and outdoor activities, the island has natural beauty in spades – from beaches and bogs to rugged mountains and sea cliffs.
Afterwards, find refuge and good food at the 18th-century Westport House, host to an exclusive Trafalgar ‘Be My Guest’ dinner.
Wander its stately grounds after your final course of Banoffee and Baileys, treading in the footsteps of its once-notorious owner, Ireland’s Pirate Queen, Grace O’Malley.
Fuelled by Guinness from the source, fish and chips served in historic pubs, and infectious Irish good humour, you’ll be jigging with joy by the end of your trip.
Spain’s sultry second city is the perfect base from which to explore the Catalonia region. Get in your daily step count while discovering its world-renowned gastronomy, buzzing street life, and artwork by such masters as Dali, Picasso, and Gaudi.
Barcelona is spoilt for choice with day excursions just beyond its cosmopolitan borders. Set your sights on the mountains and head to the Benedictine Monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat, founded in the 11th century.
On your way back down to sea level, a stopover at Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, known for its production of sparkling wine, is the perfect way to quench your thirst with a glass of Cava.
Cruise down the coast for a chance to view the ancient Roman ruins in Tarragona. Visitors can walk across Les Ferreres Aqueduct, also known as the Pont del Diable, which dates back to 1st century AD.
No adventure holiday to Barcelona would be complete without paying proper homage to Gaudi’s magical architecture dotting the city. And sharing centre-stage is La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. Take your time wandering around these breath-taking attractions – there is stunning artistry and whimsy around every corner.
Do as the locals do and rest up with a siesta after an active day of sightseeing – before heading back out for a traditional meal in the historic Gothic Quarter or a fiery flamenco performance.
Pearls of the Adriatic Croatian Cruising
Worried a cruising holiday will limit your adventure holiday activities, leaving you lazing about onboard all day? Think again!
New to the Trafalgar portfolio, this enchanting itinerary takes travellers from love-at-first-sight Dubrovnik in the south, to Opatija in the north with its French Riviera vibes.
And all along the way, you’ll be navigating the secluded harbours and hidden treasures of the Adriatic coast in style on the deluxe MV Aquamarin.
Give your newfound sea legs a reprieve on land with a tour of one of the many mediaeval coastal towns. Amble along narrow, cobbled streets discovering Dalmatian delights, hidden bars, and ancient edifices.
A stop in Metković serves as your gateway to Europe’s last remaining wetland delta. Hop onto a barge for the day to view the verdant landscape and local birdlife of the Neretva Delta.
Nestled alongside the Krka River, you’ll find the sleepy romantic town of Skradin and entrance to Krka Waterfalls National Park.advent
A true wonder to behold, this park features travertine waterfalls cascading into emerald lakes. Follow the boardwalk to come to Skradinski Buk – the largest fall in the park and a perfect spot to refresh with a dip in its cool waters.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant colour and infectious energy of this emerald South American gem. Take in Bogota’s historic neighbourhoods, the brilliant beaches of charming Cartagena, and all the highlights in between.
Fully appreciate the flavours and aromas of Colombia with a trip to the famed Coffee Triangle. This Coffee Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site and retains the centennial tradition of coffee cultivation specially adapted for mountain conditions.
Experience a “coffee baptism” learning the intricacies of variety, roast, and brew. And then put your caffeine buzz to use with a long walk beneath the looming wax palms of Cocora Valley, home to the tallest palms in the world.
‘Dive into Culture’ at a local Finca where the Silletero (flower farmer) will guide you through the floral history of the mountainside town of Santa Elena, just outside of buzzy Medellin.
Work up an appetite at the nearby Arvi Park, an ecological nature reserve and pre-Hispanic archaeological site – meandering the serene riverside paths and bamboo bridges, followed by a picnic lunch.
Columbia is an adventure holiday and nature lover’s playground – teeming with lush rainforests, unspoiled countryside, and tropical coastline to explore – whether by foot, bike, jeep, or canoe.
Travellers can visit both Mamancana Private Game Reserve and Tayrona National Park near Caribbean-side Santa Marta or see a different side of Cartagena while paddling through the mangroves of La Boquilla.
Splendours and Adventures of Japan
With an endearing mix of rich cultural heritage and ultra-modernity, Japan offers adventure holiday activities for every preference. Beginning in the megacity of Tokyo, take in the neon lights and state-of-the-art skyscrapers standing alongside ancient temples and green gardens.
The richness of Japan’s unspoilt natural landscapes may come as a welcome respite after the populous capital city. Visit the Five Lakes District and the rural village of Oshino Hakkai with its numerous spring water ponds at the foot of Mt. Fuji – foreshadowing your day at elevation.
Ascend the sacred Mt. Fuji by road, summit Mt. Tenjo on the Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway, and then journey through the Japanese Alps before arriving at the historic hillside town of Takayama.
After a full day taking in the sights on Awaji Island – walking around the mountainside complex of Yumebutai with its striking 100 Stepped Garden and admiring the modern architecture of the Water Temple – there is no better way to relax than at a traditional Japanese ryokan with its own onsen (hot spring), a Trafalgar ‘Stays With Stories’ favourite.
Before you fully unwind, climb up to Kotohira-gu Shrine, surrounded by lush greenery it offers up sweeping views of the countryside.
And there is so much more – from the cultural capital of Kyoto to Hiroshima’s symbolism of peace and hope to the foodie haven of Osaka – Japan is packed with soul-stirring, sense-awakening activities.
Words By Emily Djock