16 June 2015 by Lowenna Waters
Of course, when it comes to summer holidays, many people have their perennial favourites. However, it can be very rewarding to try alternative destinations that are more off-the-beaten-track.
Whether you're a lover of the great outdoors, a night owl, or a cultural connoisseur, we've got some excellent ideas for out-of-the-ordinary holidays this summer. For an experience of the great outdoors on the Adriatic ocean, skip Croatia and head to the less well known Montenegro where you can combine divine beaches with fresh mountain air.
Likewise, for culture, the Baltic cities are often largely ignored for their more resplendent Mediterranean cousins such as Rome and Florence. However that's a great oversight: they've got stunningly beautiful Art Nouveau architecture and a rich and mixed heritage.
Don't let assumptions get in the way of a first-class holiday either. Whilst most people assume Iceland is only a winter destination, it's got rich pickings in the summer months. Admire its varied landscape and even try horseback riding. All in all, we advise you get adventurous this summer, and try something new!
Our Top 5 Alternative Summer hotspots
- Montenegro - 8-day tailor-made journey from £1,115
- Iceland - 8-day self-drive holiday from £995
- Borneo - 13-day tailor-made journey from £2,600
- Baltics - 8-day escorted tour from £830
- Namibia - 15-day self-drive holiday from £2,395
These days, Croatia is considered part of the mainstream and Montenegro is fast becoming Europe's hottest new summer destination. And, if you're a lover of the outdoors, it's an ideal destination.
To experience its pure mountain air combined with its beautiful Mediterranean beach climate, try our eight-day itinerary. Start your trip with an exploration of the green pastures, dense forests and tranquil lakes of the mountainous region of Kolasin in the centre of the country. Whilst there, you will visit the Biogradska Gora National Park, which has truly spectacular views, untouched forests and deep lakes.
You will then travel to Budva, a beautiful medieval coastal town for the beach-break section of your holiday. Explore its terracotta roofed Old Town, and the surrounding Baroque villages before making a visit to the iconic Sveti Stefan beach. Along the way, stop at the small village of Limljani, where you will try Montenegrin ham, olives, cheese and wine. You'll also get the chance to wander the cobbled streets of Cetinje, the historic capital of Montenegro.
Iceland is much more than just a winter destination: it's the latest summer hotspot for night owls looking to witness the magnificent Midnight Sun. Take our action-packed eight-day self-drive itinerary to experience Icelandic culture and have the opportunity to stay with local farmers in truly remote locations.
Start your adventure in Reykjavik, one of Europe's most happening capital cities with a buzzing nightlife, the Blue Lagoon on the doorstep. Then travel through the island's kaleidoscope of landscapes, including the pouring Gullfoss waterfall, the hot springs of Geysir, the volcanic formations at Dimmuborgir and the black sand surrounding Vik. Then, take the scenic drive to Skaftell National Park, and visit the charming harbour town of Hofn, known as the lobster capital of Europe.
You'll then move on to explore the dramatic cliffs and charming fishing villages along Iceland's Eastern Fjords, before driving across the spectacular highlands, and visiting Dettifoss, Europe's mightiest waterfall. Along the way, you will get the opportunity to spot whales, seals and puffins as well as hopping on the back of an Icelandic horse, which is often impossible in the snowy winter time.
For animal lovers who are looking to venture further afield this summer, wildlife-rich Borneo is the perfect destination. With biodiversity to rival the Amazon and Madagascar, travellers will not only encounter orangutans, the island's star attraction - but also an extraordinary array of birdlife and monkeys, including proboscis monkeys - a unique species endemic to Borneo.
Our 13-day itinerary includes visits to the bustling towns of Kuching and Sandakan, as well as the regions of the Danum Valley and the Kinabatangan River Sanctuary. Whilst in Kuching, you will wander the city's narrow streets and discover traditional Chinese shop houses, ornate temples and the beautiful riverfront park. You'll then visit the beautiful Batang Ai National Park, which is in the Indonesian part of Borneo where you will discover traditional tribal longhouses and stilted fishing communities by longboat.
The final three nights will be spend relaxing in the beachside city of Kota Kinabalu and exploring beautiful coral-fringed islands and the breath-taking Kinabalu Park that's home to Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia's highest peak. Enjoy sweeping views to the north across the South China Sea from your first-class resort.
Right on our doorstep yet often overlooked as a summer hotspot, the Baltic cities are an ideal destination for cultural connoisseurs. All have a fascinating array of architectural styles, and are home to some of Europe's most impressive designs.
Our eight-day itinerary explores the capitals of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on an escorted tour led by expert guides. Start in Lithuania, where you will explore its capital Vilnius, visiting both its medieval and modern quarters. Enjoy its grand cathedral and its beautiful Gothic architecture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of Europe's most impressive ancient towns.
From there, travel to Riga, the historic capital of Latvia that's home to excellent examples of Art Nouveau architecture. It was also named Europe's Capital of Culture in 2014. Finally, round off your trip in Tallinn, Latvia's eclectic capital. On your way, you'll drive past a beautiful range of scenic Baltic coastline. On arrival, explore the city's beautiful Old Town and the splendid 18th century Kadriorg Park and Palace, that was built as a gift from Peter the Great to his wife Catherine II.
This year, the beautiful country of Namibia celebrates its 25th anniversary of independence making this an excellent year to try our 15-day self-drive itinerary introducing you to the country's incredible natural beauty.
Start your tour in Windhoek, a fascinating city that displays an enticing fusion of the contemporary and old German colonial architecture. Then set out for the expansive Kalahari Desert, where you will take a safari to admire its flora and fauna. Despite being a desert, it receives a lot of rain and the landscape is characterised by golden grasses and small red dunes.
Drive to the Namib Desert, and visit the sand dunes at Sossusvlei, which are some of the highest in the world. Whilst there, you will stay at the &Beyond Sossusveli Lodge, which is one of the best destinations for stargazing in the world, and has its own state-of-the-art observatory as well as a resident astronomer.
Then travel on to the Etosha National Park, a game-rich area perfect for self-drives. Spot lion, leopard, elephant and black rhino whilst there, as well as thousands of flamingos that are attracted to the area's saltpan after heavy rains.