Do you ever yearn for the freedom of your youth when holidays were carefree journeys and you simply went along for the ride? These inspiring itineraries aim to recreate that sense of exploration, allowing you to see, taste and feel a more authentic side to Europe.
Surely there is no better way to explore the islands and calm translucent waters of the Turkish Riviera than aboard your own vessel?
Drop anchor at will, moor up in quiet harbours, ﬁnd isolated coves and explore ancient ruins. We’ll work out the right gulet and crew for you, and with this week-long itinerary, you can sail away into summer.
A week gives you plenty of time to explore the dramatic coastline, scattered with forested islets and quiet ﬁshing villages, and backed by the wooded foothills of the Taurus Mountains. You’ll appreciate the natural colours of Turkey even more from aboard your boat – the deep blue of the mirror-like Aegean Sea as you jump in pre-breakfast or the rich greens of the islets set aﬂame by the sinking sun.
Beneath the surface, the Caretta turtle drifts, and the cobalt-blue waters ﬂit with ﬁsh, perfect for snorkelling. On land visit atmospheric ancient cities like Kaunos, whose 2,500-year- old tombs are embedded in cliﬀs above the water. Sweep into Keci Buku, a natural harbour surrounded by pine trees with an old Byzantine fortress guarding the entrance. Absorb ancient history at Cleopatra’s Bay – where a ruin of an old hammam makes a natural seawater bath, said to have been visited by Cleopatra herself.
Drink and Chauffeur Drive
One of the joys of exploring the French countryside is dropping by wine producers, gazing at chateaus and lingering over lunches of fine French food and wine. But there’s one slight problem. You’re driving.
So we’ve created a brilliant solution to this, allowing you to enjoy a glass or two of champagne, pomerol and saint émilion, by arranging a chauﬀeur-driven car and ﬁrst-class train journeys for a week visiting France’s ﬁnest vineyards.
A Journey through France:
Start your luxurious tour with a few days in Paris. Set the tone by taking in a Paris-by-night tour in an open-topped Citroen 2CV with a local at the wheel. By day enjoy an unusual cheese tasting in an old wine cellar in Le Marais where you’ll match smooth wines with brie, époisse, morbier and more. On your way to Reims stop at resplendent Versailles to learn how the French royalty live.
LAND OF BUBBLES
Over the next few days, prepare to learn everything about champagne, as your Mercedes takes you to Reims, passing by UNESCO villages, Reims cathedral and Dom Perignon’s grave. Discover the different grape varieties that make up champagne in multiple tastings at the top houses.
At lunch, learn how to pair champagne with food over a lingering meal and in the afternoon stop at a world-renowned producer in the Côtes des Blancs area.
You’ll then head to Bordeaux on a first-class train journey to be met and welcomed to this historically rich city with a private tour to see the Grand Theatre, Old Bordeaux and enjoy its charming squares and vistas over the Garonne river. The following day, rise early to get to grips with big-hitting appellations from Bordeaux and visit the pretty town of Saint-Émilion; have lunch at atmospheric chateaus with fine wine, and meet a wine producer for a unique one-to-one tour of the vineyards and barrel cellar.
Head on to the coast for some additional days at the sand-dune-backed beaches of seafood paradise Arcachon, where seafront restaurants serve the freshest catch of the day. Visit the Oyster House to learn about oyster farming and of course taste this salty speciality. Whizz back to Paris on the speedy TGV.
Cool Coastal Peloponnese
This self-driving trip takes in easily-connected, little-known Greek coastal towns with bags of local charm, beaches lapped by crystal-clear waters and rocky scenery scattered with ancient Greek wonders. You’ll have a glimpse of the pine-scented Peloponnese way of life, where few tourists visit, and characterful hotels warmly welcome you.
Fly into Athens and drive along spectacular coastal roads to one of Greece’s prettiest towns: Nafplio. Its attractiveness lies in its cobbled streets, Venetian houses, seafront cafes plus the view onto fortified islet, Borutzi. Visit the World Heritage ancient city of Mycenae with its well-preserved fortifications, houses and tombs.
You won’t miss Monemvasia, further along the coastline. Its sheer cliffs rise from the sea into an imposing and spectacular rock fortress. Explore within the walls of the rock’s castle to find a fascinating medieval village amid narrow streets. Admire the view from one of the numerous beaches and cool off in sparkling, turquoise water.
Eastwards towards the Mani Peninsula, the landscape becomes wild and rocky, with tiny coves and ancient ruins contrasting with the deep blue Aegean Sea. Spend a few days here in one of the least visited areas of Greece where Byzantine churches, castles and hilltop villages preside over rolling olive groves.
LAID BACK LIVING
Before your trip ends in Kalamata, make a stop at bohemian Kardamyli, achingly pretty and once home to famed British author Patrick Leigh Fermor. Marvel at the cool Diros Caves studded with luminous stalactites, and sit back at family run restaurants for seafood, meze and the obligatory ouzo.
See Spain by Train
It’s a known fact that Spain’s cities have an alluring mix of cultural heritage and foodie hotspots which are perfect for wandering on a sultry summer day. But why limit yourself to one? We’ve put together a two-week trip that pinballs between our favourite Spanish cities by first-class high-speed train and private transfers.
Start in Madrid, and enjoy a guided tour around the grand boulevards, narrow streets and impressive plazas that make up this multi-layered city, with its fascinating influences from Arab heritage, Austrian dynasties and Spanish royalty. Gaze at work from the masters Velazquez and Goya at the Prado museum. Wander the historic centre passing through the lofty Plaza Mayor before stopping for a glass of cava and some tapas at culinary gem Mercado de San Miguel.
Hop aboard for a trip to Toledo, a striking town that sits atop a gorge and is known for its unusual mix of Christian, Muslim and Jewish cultures. Sit back and let the world go by in first-class on the train to Córdoba, where you’ll be met at the station to explore this welcoming city. Proud residents open their doors so visitors can admire beautiful, geranium-spotted patios, and the Grand Mosque which is so big it has a cathedral inside it.
You’ll be met by your private driver to continue via road to Granada. Stop at an under-the-radar wine producer nestled in the chalky hills of the Sierra de Montilla for a tasting of little-known Montilla-Moriles, a sherry-style fortified wine. One of the most stirring sights in Spain must be the rust-red Alhambra. On this trip you will have a private tour of the Moorish palace and afterwards experience tapeando – an evening of drinks and tapas – a unique Andalucían way of life.
In the white-washed city of Ronda, explore the dramatic gorge, Spain’s oldest bull ring and hike in the valleys of
the ‘Route of the White Towns’ in the Sierra Nevada. In Seville, become entranced by the passionate art of flamenco and visit the 12th century Giralda bell-tower and cathedral, the largest Gothic building in the world. With time for one last trip, your driver will take you to Jerez for a private tour at an award-winning sherry producer. Bring a bottle home for a memento.