Matera  (Shutterstock)
List 06 February 2019

Upsized mini breaks: 9 action-packed trips under a week long

Want the biggest adventure for the shortest time? From leisurely hiking in Spain to encountering apes in Rwanda, these trips pack a mighty punch in under a week…

1: Leisurely hiking

The picturesque village Zumaia (Shutterstock)

The picturesque village Zumaia (Shutterstock)

Mix culture and Camino in Spain

Bed down in charming fishing villages as you trace dramatic shores and delve into the beautiful interior of northern Spain on Purely Pyrenees’ Basque Country & Atlantic Coast trip, treading stretches of the iconic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail along the way. Hike past ocean views, wildflower meadows, oak forests and fossil-flecked flysch cliffs, gaining cultural insights with visits to museums in Getaria, Elorriaga and Guernica, and ending with the pintxo (tapas) bars and Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao.

Who: Purely Pyrenees (020 7859 4906)

When: May–Oct 2019

How long: 5 days

2: Middle East discovery

The impressive Nizwa fort (Shutterstock)

The impressive Nizwa fort (Shutterstock)

Explore red sands, rugged canyons and remote oases in Oman

Squeeze in a Middle East microadventure in Beautiful Oman with TravelLocal. Tick off a trio of forts – Nakhal, Rustaq and Nizwa – and be awestruck by Wadi Ghul, Oman’s answer to the Grand Canyon. Spend time with the Bedouin among the rust-red dunes of Wahiba Sands before cooling off in the refreshing pools and cascades of Wadi Bani Khalid. Finish with a day wandering the bustling markets of capital Muscat.

Who: TravelLocal (0117 325 7898)

When: Oct–May

How long: 5 days

How much: From £1,270 (excl flights)

3: Ape Encounter

A mountain gorilla in Rwanda (Shutterstock)

A mountain gorilla in Rwanda (Shutterstock)

Bag a bucket-list experience in Rwanda

The launch of direct flights from London to Kigali has brought Rwanda’s gorillas closer than ever – and Expert Africa’s Mountain Gorilla Safari tour maximises your time with these mesmerising great apes. Trek the lush uplands of Volcanoes National Park, where you can track troops of endangered golden monkeys hidden in bamboo thickets, and tackle hikes to meet gorilla families for an unforgettable encounter with these charismatic primates.

Who: Expert Africa (020 3405 6666)

When: Year round

How long: 6 days

How much: From £4,221 (excl flights)

4: Walking break

The beguiling landscape of Timanfaya National Park (Shutterstock)

The beguiling landscape of Timanfaya National Park (Shutterstock)

Lace up for lunar landscapes in Spain

Hike through otherworldly environments on Walks Worldwide’s new Lanzarote Long Weekend. Begin with a trek among the volcanic craters and barren moonscapes of Los Volcanes Natural Park and Timanfaya National Park. Then explore the lush lands of the south: climb La Corona volcano, traverse the rugged Famara Cliffs and descend into Haría, known as the ‘Valley of 1,000 Palms’.

Who: Walks Worldwide (01962 302085)

When: Year round

How long: 4 days

How much: From £729 (incl flights)

5: Mountaineering

Reaching the summit of Weissmies (Shutterstock)

Reaching the summit of Weissmies (Shutterstock)

Become an Alpine adventurer in Switzerland

High ambitions? Tackle a new challenge over a long weekend with an Introduction to Alpine Mountaineering. Join expert Kevin O’Neale on Mountain Kingdoms’ tour in Switzerland, donning crampons to traverse the Trift Glacier, grappling with the via ferrata on Jegihorn (3,206m) and testing your training with an ascent of Weissmies (4,017m).

Who: Mountain Kingdoms (01453 844400)

When: 12 Jun & 21 Aug 2019

How long: 5 days

How much: From £1,090 (incl flights)

6: Island explorer

A big male orca in the Azores (Shutterstock)

A big male orca in the Azores (Shutterstock)

Hop over to Europe’s wildest outpost in Portugal

Visit a distant corner of Europe adrift in the North Atlantic on Artisan Travel’s A Volcanic Island Short Break in the Azores. On boat, kayaking and cycling tours around São Miguel you’ll explore the twin emerald and blue crater lakes of Sete Cidades, spy some of the archipelago’s 25 whale and dolphin species, steam in the hot springs around Lake Furnas and visit one of Europe’s oldest tea plantations.

Who: Artisan Travel (01670 785085)

When: Apr–Oct 2019

How long: 5 days

How much: From £595 (excl flights)

7: Cycle and cruise

The beautiful Keukenhof flower garden in full bloom (Shutterstock)

The beautiful Keukenhof flower garden in full bloom (Shutterstock)

Bike and barge through the Netherlands

Enjoy the Dutch springtime at its best on UTracksTulip Tour. With a barge as your mobile base, pedal out to explore the sleepy village of Spaarndam and roam the cobblestoned streets and churches of Haarlem before admiring the rainbow carpet at the Keukenhof flower garden. Cycling through the green heart of Holland, you’ll visit a traditional cheese farm and experience the floral frenzy of the world’s biggest flower auction in Aalsmeer.

Who: UTracks (0845 241 7599)

When: Selected dates Apr–May 2019

How long: 4 days

How much: From £490 (excl flights)

8: Far east adventure

North Korea (Dreamstime)

North Korea (Dreamstime)

Uncover the secrets of North Korea

Glimpse perhaps the planet’s most intriguing state on Regent HolidaysWorkers’ Party Short Tour. In North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, visit the soaring Juche Tower, witness the 71st anniversary celebrations of the Workers’ Party, and pay homage to the bronze statues of Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung on Mansu Hill. You’ll also visit the demilitarised zone on the border between North and South Korea.

Who: Regent Holidays (020 7666 1244)

When: 8 Oct 2019

How long: 5 days (from Beijing)

How much: From £1,350 (incl Beijing–Pyongyang flights)

9: Wildlife watching

A brown bear in Finland (Shutterstock)

A brown bear in Finland (Shutterstock)

 

Stake out brown bears in Finland

If you go down to the woods today, you know what’s in store on Naturetrek’s Finland – Just Brown Bears! tour. Camp out in a comfy cabin-cum-hide to maximise your chances of spotting elusive brown bears by day and night – and keep your eyes peeled for elks, wolves and wolverines, too. Intersperse your hide time with forest walks to enjoy enchanting birdwatching opportunities.

Who: Naturetrek (01962 733051)

When: Seven departures, May–Aug 2019

How long: 4 days

How much: From £1,195 (incl flights)

10: Natural wonders

The Blue Lagoon under the northern lights (Shutterstock)

The Blue Lagoon under the northern lights (Shutterstock)

Whip round the Land of Fire and Ice in Iceland

Save both money and time on Tucan Travel's Iceland On A Budget trip. Marvel at the art and innovative architecture of the capital, Reykjavik, before soaking in the rejuvenating waters of the Blue Lagoon. Set eyes on the three famous cascades – Skógafoss, Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss – before wandering the spectacular fissured rift valley and tectonic plates of Thingvellir NP, all the while keeping watch for the northern lights once darkness falls.

Who: Tucan Travel (0800 804 8435)

When: Selected dates from Mar-Apr 2019 and Sep 2019-Apr 2020

How long: 4 nights

How much: From £775 (excl flights)

11: Art Nouveau

Perhaps the prettiest town in all of Norway (Shutterstock)

Perhaps the prettiest town in all of Norway (Shutterstock)

Combine fjords, food and fine architecture in Norway

Join Sunvil on its Alesund – An Art Nouveau Jewel trip for a few days in arguably Norway's prettiest town. Explore its pastel-hued historic centre, absorb the fine vista from Fjellstua viewpoint and dine on one of its tastiest exports – Norwegian cod. Cruise through postcard-perfect fjords, stopping in Geiranger to kayak or ride the waters aboard a RIB boat and walk among the jagged peaks of the Sunnmore Alps.

Who: Sunvil (020 8758 4722)

When: Year round

How long: 4 nights

How much: From £1,042 (incl flights)

12: Arabian adventure

The magnificent Treasury at Petra under a fiery sky (Shutterstock)

The magnificent Treasury at Petra under a fiery sky (Shutterstock)

Lay eyes one of the world's wonders in Jordan

Pack in some of Arabia's finest sights on a Short Break in Jordan: Amman and Petra with Audley. Trace the 5,000-year-old King's Highway from Amman, pitstopping for Dead Sea views from Mount Nebo, the Madaba mosaics and Kerak crusader castle. Then, spend a day or two wandering in awe at the rose-red facades of the ancient Nabatean city of Petra, before zipping back to Amman to recharge with falafel in its bustling souks.

Who: Audley (01993 838415)

When: Year round

How long: 5 days

How much: From £1,650 (incl flights)

 

13: Caves and culture

Matera was recently crowned as a European City of Culture (Shutterstock)

Matera was recently crowned as a European City of Culture (Shutterstock)

Visit Europe's new culture capital in Italy

Hop over to one of the world's oldest continually inhabited settlements on a Matera City Break with Abercrombie & Kent. Newly crowned as one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2019, Matera's collection of ancient limestone-carved cave dwellings look like an ethereal scene lifted from the Bible. Its elegant streets are also sprinkled with glorious baroque palaces and rock-hewn churches, making this Italian gem a charming escape.

Who: Abercrombie & Kent (01242 547760)

When: Year round

How long: 3 nights

How much: From £675 (incl flights)

 

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