14 January 2014 by David Ward
Six inspiring holiday ideas to awaken your wanderlust
Each year we go further to bring you the very best trips from around the world. From hunting the Northern Lights in Norway to travelling by luxury train through the heart of ancient Persia, here are our top six holiday ideas to help inspire your travel plans for 2014.
1. Hunt the Northern Lights in Tromsø
Tromsø, Norway's fun and friendly Arctic capital, sits right in the centre of the fabled Aurora Zone, and is one of the very best places on earth for observing the magical and mysterious Northern Lights.
A four-day trip to Tromsø not only allows plenty of time to go in search of the Northern Lights, but also gives you the chance to indulge in a smorgasbord of exciting winter activities, including snowmobiling, snowshoeing and husky sledding. There's also the opportunity to learn about the unique culture of the indigenous Sami people who make their home amidst the beautiful but unforgiving landscapes of northern Scandinavia.
2. Travel on Tito's Blue Train from Montenegro to Serbia
During the presidential years of Yugoslav revolutionary Josip Broz Tito, the Blue Train was used to wine and dine some of the world's most influential statesmen. After Tito's death in 1980, his once lavish 'palace on wheels' languished for more than three decades in a Belgrade railway siding until in 2013, having been lovingly restored down to the very smallest detail, it took to the tracks again and now carries tourists on an unforgettable 11-hour journey from the Montenegrin port town of Bar to the Serbian capital Belgrade.
Spend four days exploring the beautiful towns of Budva and Kotor in Montenegro before joining the Blue Train and journeying to Serbia's culture-rich capital Belgrade where you'll have a day to explore one of Eastern Europe's most fascinating cities.
3. Discover the best of China
China is one of the world's great travel destinations, a land of immensity where superlatives come thick and fast. Within its vast borders, which are home to largest human population of any country on earth, you'll find the world's highest peak, Mount Everest; Asia's longest river, the Yangtze; and a unique, dynastic history stretching back thousands of years.
Discover the essence of China on an 11-day tailor-made holiday, taking in ultra-modern Shanghai; historic Beijing and the Great Wall of China; Xian and the famous Terracotta Warriors; and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province and home to China's most important Panda rehabilitation centre.
4. Visit Perth and Australia's stunning west coast
Set in glorious isolation, four and a half hours by plane and three time zones from the famous East Coast destinations of Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef, Perth - Australia's sunniest city - is enjoying something of a renaissance. A flood of new luxury hotels, world-class restaurants, trendy bars and a gorgeous beachside setting make it the perfect place to relax for a few days before exploring the country's stunning west coast from Margaret River to Ningaloo Reef and the spectacular Coral Coast, a region renowned for its fabulous food, wonderful wine and world-class wildlife.
5. Take a luxury river cruise along the Mekong River
The Mekong River, stretching 4,350 kilometres from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, winds its way through some of South East Asia's most striking landscapes, vibrant cities and important historical landmarks, and supports the lives of the thousands of communities who make their homes along its banks.
Take a 12-day luxury river cruise from the bustling riverside towns of the Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam to the historic Cambodian city of Siem Reap and discover the fascinating cultures, unique cuisines and breathtaking scenery of the southern Mekong, ending with a tour of the world-famous Temples of Angkor.
6. See the jewels of Persia by luxury train
From the ornate mausoleums and tranquil gardens of Shiraz, to the vibrant, albeit traffic-choked streets of modern day Tehran, Iran is a place of breathtaking beauty, not only in terms of its spectacular landscapes and remarkable historical treasures, but also in terms of its people, who are some of the most warm and welcoming you could ever hope to encounter.
This year, Golden Eagle Luxury Trains are offering the chance to travel aboard the Danube Express - the first and only luxury train to be allowed to enter Iran - on a 15-day journey from Budapest to Tehran, travelling through Hungary, Romania and Turkey before entering the ancient land of Persia on what's certain to be an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.