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Going Global – Seek adventure

great wall_of_china_12_06_12We’ve scoured our travel guides to find 50 of the most interesting sights, destinations and exciting activities around the world.

1. Panda to it
Spend a few days getting up close and personal with China’s national treasure – the Giant Panda. On a panda tour you can see these gentle creatures in their natural habitat, and even participate in a volunteer programme where you care and interact with them on a daily basis.
For more information, visit www.chinahighlights.com

2. It’s not just mums who go to Iceland
Explore the coast and fjords by boat where you can witness unspoilt landscapes and marvel at the prolific birdlife. There’s also the chance to go whalewatching, try snow-mobiling on glaciers or bathe in hot springs.
For more information, visit www.explore.co.uk

3. Kids can come too!
Bestival organisers also run a more intimate festival for families, Camp Bestival. Located on the grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset, the kids can visit the Animal Farm, or listen to storytellers around a warm campfire. This year it runs from 26-29 July and is a great event for the summer.
For more information, visit www.campbestival.net

4. Egyptian style
The Grand Rotana Resort and Spa in Sharm el-Sheikh has 450 metres of private beach and a stunning 3,600sq metre pool, surrounded by 2,000 palm trees. All just a few minutes from the international airport and the centre of Na’ama Bay.
For more information, visit www.rotana.com

5. Wine tasting in Bordeaux
For one weekend in May, the region’s top Châteaux hold tastings for the general public, with many offering visits in their properties. For more information, visit www.ugcb.net

6. Spanish family fun
Although it‘s a trek to get to, Barcelona’s whimsical little Tibidabo Amusement Park on the top of Mount Tibidabo is great for kids and adults alike, with stunning views and a rollercoaster.
For more information, visit www.barcelonaturisme.com

7. Kick back weekends
Classic Cottages, an independent holiday company, has over 700 carefully chosen properties all over the West Country, close to beaches and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Perfect for an ultimate chill out weekend with friends.
For more information, visit www.classic.co.uk

8. Brussels bar
Au Bon Vieux Temps, which translates to ‘The Good Old Days’, is a quaint bar that has been in the city of Brussels for over 300 years. The interior looks like an ancient Gothic church and a must-have order is a Picon vin blanc, a typical Belgian cocktail. Located on Impasse Saint Nicolas 4, Brussels

9. Spa secrets
Situated in Leicestershire, Ragdale Hall offers a wide range of spa treatments from a fire and ice massage, to a milk and honey body float. Leave feeling energised.
For more information, visit www.ragdalehall.co.uk

10. Cowboy kid
Saddle up and live like a real cowboy in Montana, US, riding horses and camping out. Yee ha!
For more information, visit www.americanroundup.com

11. Like mamma makes it
Learn to cook like a proper Italian while staying in a beautiful farmhouse in Terranuova Bracciolini, between Florence and Sienna. Right in the middle of nowhere, the farmhouse, which sleeps up to 16, has been refurbished in an old Tuscan style so you can enjoy rustic charm at its best.
For more information, visit www.doccio.it

12. A head for heights
If hanging off a mountain from a small rope sounds like great fun to you, then abseiling is something you should try. You don’t need to be particularly fit, or young – just keen to learn and with a good head for heights. Courses are run in the picturesque Peak District in the UK. For more information, visit www.iain.co.uk

13. Adrenaline rush
White-water rafting has it all – the fear factor, the outdoor experience and the chance to take in some stunning scenery, particularly if you try it in Scotland. Do a one-off trip, go for a weekend or try a five-day adventure holiday with plenty of other extreme activities thrown in.
For more information, visit www.rafting.co.uk

14. Cretian spa
The exquisite Six Senses spa in Porto Elounda, Crete, has a hydrotherapy pool with views over the peninsula and an amazing relaxation area complete with glistening infinity pool. Try out the Cleopatra Bath – a relaxing soak in aromatherapy oils guaranteed to gently soothe a tired mind, body and soul.
For more information, visit www.sixsenses.com

15. Visit the Star Wars set
For Star Wars fans, a visit to Tunisia, where Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope was filmed, is a must. You can go to the desert planet of Tatooine, see the outside of Luke Skywalker’s home in Matmata and the courtyards, filmed at the Sidi Driss Hotel. The hot temperatures are a bonus, too.
For more information, visit www.thomson.co.uk

16. You can’t afjord not to!
Breathtaking scenery and postcard-pretty ports are yours to discover on this seven-night Norwegian cruise of the country’s spectacular fjordlands. You’ll sail to the beautiful Sognefjord: overlooked by snowy peaks, this is the world’s longest and deepest fjord, and truly something to behold. The cascading waterfalls that surround it are also picture perfect. Also included is a visit to Bergen, a World Heritage site built on the grounds of an ancient Viking settlement.
For more information, visit www.pocruises.com

17. Sample some Cambodian culture
Spend six days going back in time, visiting the ancient Angkor temples of Siem Reap in Cambodia, taking in the colonial charm of Phnom Penh, the stilted ‘floating’ village of Kampong Klaing, and experience a scenic boat ride through Kampong Phluk, a flooded forest. Learn traditional fishing techniques from the locals and sample local cuisine.
For more information, visit www.selectiveasia.com

18. Opera in Verona
Famed for its amphitheatre, a four-day tour of Verona will enable you time to soak up the incredible atmosphere, enjoy evening performances of Carmen, Aida or Tosca, and taste wines at the magnificent Villa Novare vineyard.
For more information, visit www.jmb-travel.co.uk

19. Taste of the Cape
Whether you long to dine on a small wine estate or in a restaurant by the harbour, there’s a fantastic range of eateries in this stunning South African city. Enjoy the abundant wildlife, clean white sandy beaches, winding coastal drives, the famous prison on Robben Island and much more.
For more information, visit www.expertafrica.com

20. When the only way is up
The whole family can enjoy the biggest variety of rock climbing experiences in Spain’s Costa Blanca. Your week’s exploring can take you up sea cliffs and mountain routes, and involve abseiling or trekking if you want a truly rounded outdoor holiday.
For more information, visit www.rockandsun.com

21. Loch, Scot and one stunning train
Take The Royal Scotsman train and drink in spectacular scenery as you relax in ‘a fine country hotel on wheels’. On the West Highland line you start and finish at Edinburgh and pass lochs, glens and mountains, such as Ben Nevis.
For more information, visit www.royalscotsman.com

22. Animal magic in beautiful Bali
Meet the monkeys of the Ubud Monkey Forest and majestic local elephants, treat yourself to a dolphinspotting boat trip at Lovina, climb Mount Batur, an active volcano and then after all that activity, relax on the idyllic beaches of the island.
For more information, visit www.explore.co.uk

23. Best of Berlin
This is a city that is steeped in history. Take a tour around the famous Brandenburg Gate, the Tiergarten, the Victory Column and the Checkpoint Charlie museum. A great place for walking is the Wannsee, a stunning lake in the centre of the city.
For more information, visit www.berlin-tourist-information.de

24. Kiwi-style tipple
Stonyridge Vineyard has a global reputation for producing great wine, and its casual, wood-and-stone restaurant/café is ideal for chilling out on a hot afternoon. Situated on Waiheke Island, a short ferry ride from Auckland in New Zealand, this small vineyard is without doubt one of the most beautiful in the country.
For more information, visit www.stonyridge.com

25. What a trek
If walking is your bag then trekking in Nepal is a ‘must do before you die’ holiday. You can enjoy short excursions into the foothills of the Himalayas or go for the challenges of the snow peaks.
For more information, visit www.itreknepal.com

26. Relive Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Based on the novel by Louis de Bernières, this film, starring Nicolas Cage and Penelope Cruz, was shot on the Greek island of Kefalonia. Explore the gorgeous village of Sami and relax on Myrtos Beach, where most of the movie was filmed.
For more information, visit www.thomson.co.uk

27. Cultural getaway
For a touch of glitzy Hollwood glamour fused with European culture – head to the oldest film festival in the world, held in Venice each year in August. The Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica first took place in 1932 and has been drawing in the A-listers ever since.
For more information, visit www.labiennale.org/en/cinema

28. Go to Gothenburg
This popular Swedish city has lots to offer, from the Liseberg amusement park, modern opera house and maritime museum. Visit in May, when the fabulous jazz festival takes place, or in August, for an amazing, free six-day cultural extravaganza that is a must-see attraction.
For more information, visit www.goteborg.com

29. Start singing from the rafters
South-east Ireland’s Wexford is home to the Wexford Festival Opera, a key event in the UK’s opera diary, and a festival that is renowned for staging rarely-performed or unjustly neglected operas. Take a four-day grouptour that includes organised outings to a selection of evening performances and a walking historic tour of beautiful Wexford.
For more information, visit www.jmb-travel.co.uk

30. Art attack
Indulge your passion for art on a Spanish painting holiday. The special light, unique architecture, panoramic vistas and guaranteed sunshine of Andalucia makes it the perfect place for you to release your inner creativity.
For more information, visit www.paint-andalucia.com

31. Thai, Thai and Thai again
Based in beautiful Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, the Thai Cookery School is recommended by all top travel guides. You can do a one- to five-day course which includes an introduction to Thai ingredients, or for foodies, there is a master course. Plus you get to eat all the yummy food you cook.
For more information, visit www.thaicookeryschool.com

32. Go wild in Corsica
If your legs are up to it, try an eight-day trek through the Corsican countryside: enjoy hiking through pretty villages and along spectacular valleys, explore food markets and taste some local wines.
For more information, visit www.explore.co.uk

33. Go golfing
Set yourself a holiday challenge with an 18-hole championship golf course on Canouan Island, the heart of the Grenadines. Set on dramatic sloping hills, every hole overlooks the Caribbean Sea.
For more information, visit www.canouan.com

34. Somme war walk
Walk the British front line where the First World War Battle of the Somme took place. Plus visit the Loos Battlefield and Memorial, and the start of the French front line trenches. You can also have a guided tour of the underground tunnels and caverns used in The Great War.
For more information, visit www.battlefieldtours.co.uk

35. All that jazz
With music stars like Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters and John Mayer set to play, the New Orleans Jazz Festival 2012 is set to be the grandest ever. Over 1,000 musicians spanning every genre from African to Cajun and folk to jazz will perform, and there’s an exotic food area to explore. Runs from 27 April- 6 May.
For more information, visit www.nojazzfest.com

36. It’s carnival time
Do you dream of the spectacular, spontaneous and sensational things in life? Then the Rio Carnival Parade, held in Rio de Janeiro in early February every year, is a must. There are costumes that make popstar Lady Gaga look under dressed and music from all over the world.
For more information, visit www.rio-carnival.net

37. Himalayan heaven
Nepal has much to offer, from ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples to exotic wildlife. And if you’re feeling adventurous you can take a scenic flight past the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.The best time to travel is between October and March. For more information, visit www.kirkerholidays.com

38. Shop till you drop
New York is a must for any serious fashionista. Stroll around the streets of Greenwich Village and Soho for independent boutiques and vintage finds. For a bargain, head to Century 21 near Ground Zero.
For more information, visit www.nycvisit.com

39. Jailhouse rock
Life wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Graceland, the home of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Tour his house, see his vast Cadillac collection in the Graceland Automobile museum, and go to Sun Studio, where he recorded some of his most well-known tracks.
For more information, visit www.archersdirect.co.uk

40. Turrets and tapestry
Enjoy all the cultural charm Belgium has to offer in this two-week cruise to Oudenaarde, the capital of the Flemish tapestry industry, which still thrives today. You will marvel at the amazing 17th century tapestries on display, and visit Bruges, Gent, Deinze, Kortrijk and Bossuit on the way.
For more information, visit www.leboat.co.uk

41. Hello Holland
A week-long hotel barge cruise is a luxurious way to visit Holland. See tulips at the Keukenhof park, pottery artists in Delft and cheesemaking in Gouda.
For more information, visit www.bargesineurope.com/holland/

42. Budget ski a la France
Brides-les-Bains is a pretty valley town just a short gondola ride from Méribel, but far less pricey. After you’ve downed your skis for the day, dine at an Italian restaurant, try the local specialities, make friends in the local pub or try your luck in the only casino in the 3 Vallées area.
For more information, visit www.les3vallees.com

43. A barrel of laughs
Montreal’s comedy festival is the largest of its kind in the world and draws the finest comedians from all corners of the globe, as well as showcasing up and coming talent. Each year, from 12-29 July, upwards of two million people pack into the city’s top venues to have a chuckle with the crème de la crème of comedy.
For more information, visit www.hahaha.com

44. Freewheeling fun
Cycle from Austria to Hungary with a guided eight-night tour from Vienna to Budapest, passing beautiful lakes, pretty villages and forests full of interesting wildlife. Plus make sure you take time to sample the local wine and cuisine.
For more information, visit www.hfholidays.co.uk

45. Horsing around
Take charge of a horse on a guided trek through the beautiful Brecon Beacons in Wales. The pony takes the strain and you can admire the spectacular views. There are hundreds of different treks available for the novice right through to the expert rider.
For more information, visit www.horseridingbreconbeacons.com

46. Barge your way up a canal in sunny France
For a truly leisurely holiday away from the madding crowd, hire a penichette barge and traverse the canals of France, stopping for a welcome break at a local café or to stock up on wine and cheese at the supermarché.
For more information, visit www.boatingholidays.com

47. African Adventure
The spectacular journey from Cape Town to Victoria Falls will take you past the impressive Fish River Canyon in Namibia, through the dramatic Namib Naukluft Desert (considered the world’s oldest), and across the towering sand dunes at Sossusvlei. The wildlife of the Etosha National Park is also not to be missed.
For more information, visit www.exodus.co.uk

48. Date with Dracula
Visit the castles, medieval towns and mountain ranges of Transylvania and go looking for large carnivores including the wolf, the European bear and the mythical vampire himself!
For more information, visit www.explore.co.uk

49. Big in Japan
An undiscovered gem in the world festival circuit, Japan’s Fuji Rock festival, in the mountains of Naeba, has six stages of rock, indie, pop, dance and jazz music. 2012’s line up includes The Stone Roses and Radiohead, and there’s also bizarre stand-up comedy, the Rookie a go-go newcomer stage and all-night dance tents.
For more information, visit www.insidejapantours.com

50. Dive right in
Explore the deep with an exotic holiday to the Red Sea. Do the Fast Track PADI Open Water course in clear, warm waters with an abundance of colourful sea life. The course takes three days to complete, for a cost of about £183.
For more information, visit www.regal-diving.co.uk


This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]


Photograph: Getty Images

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