While there are times when a week lying on a sunlounger is just what the doctor ordered, a holiday can also be a great opportunity to learn a new hobby, or pick up a new skill.
Increasingly, travel companies understand that people want to come back from a trip with more than a bottle of Limoncello, whether that’s a greater understanding of Italian art, a knowledge of how to kite-surf, or the techniques involved in drawing manga. There’s never been a wider choice of learning and activity holidays – here are some of the best.
Whether you want to whip up the perfect pannacotta, or discover your perfect Rioja, there are dozens of food and wine breaks to try. Head to Kerala for a food-themed trip that includes lessons in classic Indian cookery, or learn about traditional Moroccan food, on a gastronomic tour that includes bread and pastry-making lessons. Take the car for a road-trip around Spanish vineyards, learning about the wine-making process. Closer to home, the Lucknam Park Cookery School adjoining the hotel of the same name near Bath, offers courses on everything from street food to vegan cookery. And, as English wine goes from strength to strength, a tasting weekend at the lovely Three Choirs Vineyard can be a great introduction to local wines.
If you want to improve your mind, along with your suntan, there’s a huge range of art, music and history tours. Fans of Picasso can learn about his life and art on a six-day trip to Malaga, while classical-music lovers can indulge their love of Handel – along with a crash course in Swedish history and art – on a trip to Sweden. Lovers of history can discover the story of Pompeii on a four-day trip to Italy, or learn about Renaissance art and architecture in the glorious city of Florence. A ten-day trip around Egypt offers the chance to gain real insights into the extraordinary ancient cites that dot the country. Or plan a cultural weekend in London, with a guided visit to the V&A museum, or a walking tour of the capital’s ten most historic sites.
On the Waterfront
Make this the year that you finally master your watersport of choice – whether that’s kitesurfing, sailing or diving. Head to the brand new Paleros Beach Resort in Greece, which offers wake-boarding and windsurfing, alongside more gentle paddleboarding and dinghy sailing in the sheltered bay. Or head to Club Med Palmiye in Turkey, where you can learn to sail a catamaran or a traditional caique. If you want to learn to scuba-dive, there’s nowhere better than the Cayman Islands, which boasts over 170 different dive spots to choose from. The whole family can learn to sail on a flotilla holiday in Greece, while a guaranteed way to keep the kids happy is to book them on a PGL (parent-free) learn-to-surf break.
A holiday can also be a great way to take some time out to learn about yourself, and what is – and isn’t – making you happy. Cortijo Romero is a retreat in the Spanish mountains offering a range of personal development courses, while The Grange, an elegant country house on the Isle of Wight hosts mindfulness courses. A yoga holiday can be a great way to improve the health of your body and mind.
Time is always an excuse for why we don’t write that novel, or take up watercolours – so a holiday can be the perfect opportunity. Try your hand at a manga drawing class in Japan, or head to the Writer’s Lab in Skyros to start work on your plot and characters. And if you need to bring some imagination to your golf swing, a few days at Sardinia’s Verdura Resort, with two 18-hole courses and a team of PGA professionals, might make all the difference.