Looking for a quirky alternative to the usual beach side break? These are the sites to peruse.

Looking for a quirky alternative to the usual beach side break? We certainly are, because yes, there's a whole world out there, not to mention activity based breaks to help bring home the meaning of life. Without further ado, these are the sites to peruse.


Really creative dynamic holidays are on offer at Skyros, it's all about taking a holistic approach via course based schedule, whilst also taking in the sights of the ludicrously beautiful Greek islands.

Over the years Skyros have built up a reputation as the number one provider of alternative holidays and for good reason, not only are there writing courses on offer, but there are art holidays and even groups for singles.


If it's purely writing you're interested in, then the UK based Arvon courses come with some serious creative muscle. Acclaimed authors act as tutors giving you an insider's view of the writing industry, they include Mark Haddon,  Bernardine Evaristo, Jim Crace, Sinead Morrissey, Simon Armitage, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Willy Russell, Malorie Blackman and Melvin Burgess.

Holidays are based in idyllic rural settings such as West Yorkshire, Shropshire and Devon. There are even bursaries for those who are new to writing and struggling to afford the fees.


If cooking is the skill you’d like to master then Stirred Travel is an excellent holiday companion.

You’ll find yourself hosted in a 15th century estate in the foothills north of Venice with a course that utilizes local produce and seasonal cooking techniques. If Italian food is your poison this is the course to book.


Cooking, painting, pilates and language holidays are on offer once again in Italy, there’s even a singles guide for solo travellers. Venice, Tuscany and Sicily are the locations, with cooking in Puglia and Amalfi.

Learning Italian in the language’s home country is perhaps where this company excels.


If it’s culture you’re missing in your life then Martin Randall is a well respected company offering holidays themed around art, architecture, archaeology, history, literature, gastronomy and walking.

All inclusive music festivals are a particular niche, whilst expert speakers are the USP: academics, broadcasters, writers and researchers... The most intellectual of holidays for those looking to gain access to locations usually denied to the general public.


If detoxing your body and mind from the toxins of every day life is your mission, then in:spa retreats is the one stop shop for your health and fitness requirements.

A comprehensive schedule complete with diet and relaxation, is married with small numbers to ensure a highly personal experience that promises to leave the guest rejuvenated.


From the same group as in:spa Retreats, this sister company offers bespoke holidays based on the principles of well being and fitness.

It’s all about creating the ideal experience with exactly the right combination of exertion and relaxation, in the destination of your choice, consider it the à la carte choice.

8 May 2015