Unusual
holidays

Do something a little different and book an unusual holiday to a unique destination.

From the Great Migration of Tanzania in the Serengeti to the penguin camps of Gould Bay in the South Pole, the world will become your stomping ground. Here are the best places to go for travellers who like the unconventional…

Where to go?

When it comes to getting away from the world – your family, your job, whatever it is that causes you to roll your eyes on a regular basis – not everyone wants an all-inclusive two week stay on a beach. And to be fair, it’s 2020, we’re over that now. Travelling is all about adventure, going somewhere quirky, unique. You want somewhere that no one you know has been to before and, more importantly, you want somewhere that will look good on the ‘gram.

So, if you want an unusual holiday, you need to start from the beginning: where are you going to go?

United Kingdom

England is the land of sweeping greenery and romantic countryside. It’s been the location for rom-coms since movies first began, and even today you’ll get the stereotypical British gentleman emerging from the depths of the Yorkshire Moors to sweep the princess off her feet (it’s all very Heathcliff and Cathy). So, it’s no surprise there are some very eccentric places to stay in the country that inspired Tolkien’s Middle Earth.

Why not check out the Sunridge Treehouse in Devon, or stay in a converted abbey in Coventry (I’m almost certain it’s not haunted)? Or get to grips with the first capsule hostel in London, or the converted bus hotel in East Lothian which has been created from an actual bus.

Europe

Europe is everything, from fairy-tale castles, to picturesque southern beaches, hidden coves, epic history, exquisite culinary, and some of the best nightlife in the world. It’s the site of the historic roman empire, the Swiss Alps, Napoleon’s dynasty – you name it, it’s here. But don’t just go where everyone else goes. Instead, get off the bus, get out of your tourist trap town, and see what you can find.

Some good places to start include Camogli in Italy, the Loire Valley in France, and the UNESCO listed town of Berat in Albania. Or, throw it back to your student days and have a go at getting into the most elusive club on the continent: Berghain in Berlin.

Americas

The Americas are some of the most diverse collections of land in the world, literally ranging from snowy ice caps in Alaska, to volcanic islands in Hawaii, white sand beaches, colonial towns, Incan ruins and everything in-between.

Skip the Inca Trail if you want to stay away from the tourists, and head up Rainbow Mountain instead. There’re also the glacier fields of Patagonia in Argentina, or the Galapagos Islands where Charles Darwin made his historic discovery.

Asia

Asia is a place of exotic wonder. Having been so far removed from the western world for so long, the culture that has emerged there is one so different from anything else it is almost like stepping into a different world. Travellers cannot help but be fixated by the sheer possibilities for adventure, spirituality, and new experiences, ranging from the Mekong River to the traditional curries in India, the Great Wall of China to the sci-fi futuristic city of Tokyo.

Explore the modern and the historic side by side with trips to the Garden of Dreams in Nepal, Shodoshima in Japan, Koh Kood in Thailand or Kota Gede in Indonesia. Away from the tourists, and enough culture to justify your “gap yah” attitude when you’re back home.

Africa

There is so much more to Africa than just safaris, but that doesn’t make them any more magical. Who doesn’t want to take a trip half way around the world just to hold up their slightly smaller friend and scream the Lion King songs as you watch the sunrise?*

That doesn’t mean you have to do the same safaris as everyone else though. Head around the continent to Mozambique or Tanzania, experiencing the incredible wildlife but also learning so much about the people who live there and the societies they’ve cultivated. In the land where humans first came into existence, traditions and rituals have been passed down through generations, with time-honoured ceremonies and a community spirit that welcomes anyone and everyone.

*PSA: Everyone wants to do that. Trust me, not a single person does not want to do that.

When to visit?

Deciding when to go on holiday is crucial. Different countries and destinations have different peak times, depending on where they are in the world, and what you’re looking for from them. Travelling anywhere in Europe during the school holidays, for instance, is probably a no go because everywhere is ridiculously expensive and full of screaming kids. Not fun.

Price should never be your only concern though; hotels and flights are often cheap for a reason – the place you’re going to is going to be terrible at that time of the year. That’s why we’ve put together a handy guide of when to go on your unusual holiday, and what destinations are best for each month. Enjoy.

January

There’s no denying that January is a pretty miserable time of the year. Christmas is over, the presents are all open, you’ve probably started your New Year diet, and there’s no way any of your resolutions are still going. All in all, pretty dull time of the year. Plus, thank to Christmas and all the bank holidays, you’ve probably been trying to make your December pay last for about 7 weeks. So, yeah, January sucks and to make it worse it sucks for a ridiculously long time.

That’s why you need to get ahead of the curve, plan for your misery, and book a funky, quirky, gonna make all your mates’ jealous holiday for the middle of January. It’s the perfect time to head to Antarctica, as it’s warmer with the long days and the penguin chicks and seal pups will all be out and about on the ice. Or, why not try the Galapagos Islands, with the calmer seas and warmer weather making this the best time to visit. Kerala in Southern India is also fantastic for tiger watching during January.

Further reading – Where to travel in January

February

The shortest month of the year, it’s easy to get side tracked, distracted, busy, and suddenly the whole month has disappeared. It’s a good time to get away though, with much of the southern hemisphere enjoying the perfect tropical weather, as well as countless festivals and street parties happening all over the world.

February is perfect for exploring countries in ways you wouldn’t have thought of before. Take India, for instance, where huge sheets of ice transform the landscape, making it the perfect spot to watch for snow leopards. Or Mexico, where you can see millions of monarch butterflies take flight in the Michoacán Province’s Oyamel forests.

Further reading – Where to travel in February

March

March is the month of Easter for much of the world – even countries that aren’t predominantly Christian will likely celebrate the festivities in one way or another. Easter is the sign of spring, and this is welcomed everywhere you go, from the Holi festival in India to the cherry blossoms in Japan and New York. Not only this, but a lot of the tropical locations – such as south Asia, and Central America – are still fairly dry, and beginning to get warmer, making March the perfect time to explore the ancient Inca ruins of Peru.

With World Wildlife Day happening on 3rd March as well, it’s the perfect month to journey to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base in China, or have a go at spotting your favourite characters from The Jungle Book in the forest reserves of Madhya Pradesh (the supposed inspiration for Kipling’s book).

Further reading – Where to travel in March

April

There is almost nowhere that isn’t a good destination during April. It’s finally starting to warm up a bit in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere hasn’t reached its coldest months yet, and tropical countries are still hovering around a manageable temperature with minimal rainfall.

It’s the best time to try something new, like taking an unusual package holiday cruise down the Amazon river, or why not check out the multitude of festivals happening in Melbourne? Think the Formula 1 Grand Prix, Fashion Festival, Food & Drink Festival, and the world’s third-largest comedy festival. Doesn’t quite beat the water fight festivals happening in Thailand during Songkran, but it’s close.

Further reading – Where to travel in April

May

Considering the month is named after the Greek goddess of fertility, it’s no wonder May is the perfect month for travelling: everything is new, and fresh, and reborn following the harsh winters – at least, in the northern hemisphere. Even the depths of Russia can be enjoyable during this spring month, with longer days and the White Nights Festival in St. Petersburg making the chilly weather worth it.

If you don’t fancy freezing though, there are plenty of funky things to try out in the warmer parts of the world. Such as, the start of the Komodo dragon mating season on the Indonesian isle of Komodo, which sees rival males face off and fight. Definitely not something you’ll see on the beaches at Benidorm.

Further reading – Where to travel in May

June

The perfect time to get away from work, your day to day life, and just explore. It’s halfway through the year, the Wednesday hump day of months – you’ll be lying if you said you didn’t need even a little bit of a break. Plus, it’s pretty good weather for a lot of the world, without the hefty summer prices that you might find on unusual package holidays during the school summer holidays.

Explore the world’s oldest Christian country, Armenia, or watch the turtles hatching along Borneo’s beaches. Thanks to the dry season, June is also prime time to head on safari, and witness mountain gorillas and lions in their natural habitats.

Further reading – Where to travel in June

July

It’s hard to find the motivation to go on holiday during July, especially when the northern hemisphere gets crazy heatwaves like they did in 2018. Everyone’s relaxed, work is less hectic (usually), and it’s so difficult to see the need to go away and relax more. Might as well save your holiday for more stressful times, right?

Wrong. It’s exactly because of this relaxing feeling at home that July is the perfect time to get away – when else are you going to want to have a pretty hectic, adventure style holiday? Think walking with grizzly bears in Alaska, or explore the Arctic Svalbard, which enjoys 24-hour daylight during July.

Further reading – Where to travel in July

August

August is peak travel season, no matter where you are in the world. And there’s a reason for that: everywhere is amazing during August. If you want good weather and culture, head to Europe. If you want fantastic wildlife, head on a safari in Africa. If you want a road trip with tonnes of weird and whacky festivals, head to the US. The possibilities are endless.

The ideal places to head during August if you’re looking for an unusual holiday, however, would be Victoria Falls or Iguazu Falls, where the months of little rain will have provided fantastic views. There’s also the migratory crossing of over 1.5 million wildebeest on the Mara River in Kenya, or the volcanic tours around Iceland where travellers can get up close and personal with the bubbling volcanic craters and lava flumes.

Further reading – Where to travel in August

September

Whether you’re a culture junkie, a nature lover, or a beach worshipper, September offers something for everyone. There’s the mid-Autumn festival in China, the dry season in Southern Africa perfect for safaris, and prime bird watching time in Madagascar.

Take in the history with an unusual holiday along the Silk Road, where September is the perfect time no matter which section of the road you’re travelling along: it’s not too hot for the deserts of Turkmenistan, not too cold in the Kyrgyzstan mountains, and not too crowded along the main hotspots. As Goldilocks would say, it’s just right.

Further reading – Where to travel in September

October

October is the month of spooky tours, eerie castles, underground attractions, haunted houses – basically anything that’s going to give you nightmares. It’s the ultimate adventure month, with everything from the Croatian sailing season to the spectaculars safaris in Tanzania and being in full swing.

Why not really get into the Halloween spirit and take a trip over to Transylvania in Romania, the ultimate destination for all things spooky? Or head to the catacombs in Rome to get up close and personal with the dead.

Further reading – Where to travel in October

November

Just before Christmas, the end of the year can feel like a bit of a drag. It’s also quite an expensive month (Christmas presents, duh), and the sudden lack of sunlight thanks to the clocks going back is enough to make anyone feel a little bit blue. That’s why it’s the perfect time for a bit of self-care practise, and what better way to look after yourself than with a fun, exciting, unusual holiday away?

The cooler month is perfect for a fun mountain trek (think Ethiopia, or Nepal); the monsoon season having just passed, the weather is clear enough to see for literally thousands of miles – you’ll never find a better view. It’s also the start of expedition cruise season to Antarctica now the weather’s warm enough to melt the ice and allow boats to sail through.

Further reading – Where to travel in November

December

December can be a struggle to get away. What with Christmas, New Years’ Eve, all the bank holidays, and work closing early on, not to mention numerous Christmas parties and events, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of time left for travelling. If you can though, you should try and make time because December is one of the most magical times of the year to travel.

If you want to stick with the Christmas theme, head to Lapland for a bit of reindeer sleighing, or visit Moscow’s Red Square in time for the New Year’s fireworks.

Further reading – Where to travel in December

What to do?

Not all trips are the same, and that’s why sometimes it’s easier to check out types of holidays before you filter it to when, and where. What’s the point in thoroughly searching the page all about European holidays if what you’re really looking for is a cruise that takes you to see penguins and snowy ice caps?

With that in mind, here are all the different types of holiday you could think of, to suit every need.

Families

When it comes to going away with the whole family, it can be tough, because everyone wants something different. Your surly teenagers needs decent internet and access to their phone, your toddler needs somewhere to burn off their insane amount of energy (seriously, where do they get it from?!?) and you need to relax for two weeks with a cocktail and a good book.

There are places where everyone can enjoy themselves though: a Kenyan beach holiday with optional safari trips, a cultural exploration of rural and traditional Thailand, or an unusual package holiday exploring the national parks and exotic animals of India.

Further reading – Unusual family holidays

Beach

A beach holiday doesn’t have to be a week in Ibiza or the Canary Islands for it to be amazing, there are literally thousands of other options with a fun, added twist that brings your holiday to that next level. From Madagascar’s remote northern shores, to the Havelock Island where elephants wander around at the edge of the tide, there are so many places that will turn your beach holiday into an unforgettable trip.

Further reading – Unusual beach holidays

Winter

Some of the most unusual places come alive during the winter – and don’t forget, for a lot of the world it doesn’t actually get cold during the November to February disaster period in the UK. And even the places that do get cold can be so cool to visit (cool, get it? See what I did there?). Finland, for instance, has heated, glass igloos that let you see the night sky – including the Northern Lights.

Further reading – Unusual places to stay

Cheap

Travel doesn’t always have to come at a price, which is why under the radar, unusual package holidays are some of the best around. They’re normally cheaper, and they unknown for tourists – best of both worlds. Think Sheki in Azerbaijan for the rich culture and cuisine, or Cape Kolka in Latvia, where you can see two seas kissing each other, along the beachfront.

Further reading – Unusual cheap holidays

Honeymoon

Your honeymoon is one of the most important holidays of your life. You can say I’m wrong, and try and argue if you want, but you know, you know, it’s true. For the rest of your life, people are going to ask you: “Oh, so where did you go on your honeymoon then?” and you need to make sure you’ve got somewhere incredible to pull out of your hat, to avoid the pitying head nods.

Why not check out the Skylodge adventure suites in Peru, a honeymoon suite that’s about 1200 feet in the air? Or the Giraffe Manor in Kenya, famous for being a giraffe sanctuary and a hotel.

Further reading – Unusual honeymoons
Further reading – Unusual romantic breaks

City Breaks

The classic holiday, the city break has everything you need: it’s quick, normally pretty cheap, you don’t have to take too much holiday at work, and you still get to fully immerse yourself in another culture. Of course, you have the classics like Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam etc. etc., but they can quickly get boring – especially if you’ve already been a couple times. That’s why we would recommend more niche destinations, like Perugia in Italy, or maybe Cordoba in Spain.

Further reading – Unusual city breaks

Further reading – Unusual short/weekend breaks

Summary

Unusual holidays are fun, and interesting, and they make for great dinner party conversations. There are also tonnes and tonnes of places out there that are off the beaten track and less well-known, so there’s really no excuse for sticking it out with a 4-day bender in Magaluf with the lads. You’re better than that.

Read more about unusual holidays

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Giraffe Manor Kenya

Unusual honeymoons

Rabat Morocco

Unusual city breaks