Picturesque English villages off the beaten path, jaw-dropping Portuguese architecture and Italian mystical folklore; we’ve selected some unusual destinations with a difference. If water jousting, stuffed mummy’s or ancient riverbed tours are your bag then take a trip with us and explore a unique location for your next holiday.
Unusual destination No. 1.
Far from the madding crowds indeed, this spot in central Portugal offers an alternative to its popular cousins in the Algarve.
Who’s it for: Couples searching for the chance to unwind and a hidden gem to explore.
Why you should go: One of the least populated regions in Western Europe you’ve got acres of countryside to explore and the impetus to do it. Dubbed Portugal’s Garden the region of Alentejo boasts the majority of Portugal’s wheat fields and vineyards. Monsaraz is a charming unusual collection of whitewashed cottages overlooked by the Torres das Feiticeiras (the Witches Tower to you and me) once owned by the Knights Templar. As a destination steeped in history, Monsaraz offers a look back in time.
Where you should stay: Monte Saraz – rooms glow with Indian rugs, fine country furniture and washes of warm colour. Outside are orchards, gardens, two pools and fabulous views.
Make sure you: Walk the old castles walls
Unusual destination No. 2.
Forgo Venice and head to Palermo to experience all that comes with an Sicilian port town famous for its heady mix of Mediterranean cultures.
Who’s it for: The adventurous foodie traveller
Why you should go: Expect a souk atmosphere, a dash of Italian grandeur and ever changing character as you wander the streets. For the brave of heart head down to the catacombs and visit the world’s largest collection of dead bodies. With the oldest harking back to 418 and the youngest a mere 96 years old you’re guaranteed to get a holiday snapshot like no other; a surefire unusual destination.
‘Le Terrazze’ B&B, Sicily
Stay: Le Terrazze – Towering 5 storeys above lively Palermo, a gracious B&B with sunlit rooms, lovely Sicilian hosts and breakfast in fine china on the terrace
Make sure you: eat your way through the street food; the daring should try the Stigghiola.
Unusual destination No. 3.
La Fuenta de le Higuera, Ronda, Spain
One of the oldest towns in Spain; Ronda offers an alternative to the neighbouring Costa del Sol.
Who’s it for: couples looking for romance or the literary traveller
Why you should go: Character, jaw dropping architecture and a tranquillity that comes with stepping away from the popular beaches. The city’s defining feature is its bridges with the Puente Nuevo spanning the canyon to the old town; a sight to behold day or night. Ronda has captured the imagination of many artists and writers alike. Ernest Hemingway said of Ronda; ‘…nice promenades, good wine, excellent food, nothing to do…” – sounds good to us.
Stay: La Fuente de la Higuera – Laid-back, relaxed atmosphere meets stylish elegance; this old mill conversion is delightful. There are views, a pool and wonderful food.
Make sure you: visit the ancient Arabic baths
Unusual destination No. 4.
Who’s it for: couples looking for relaxation by the sea
Why you should go: This picturesque village in Suffolk proves that staycations can provide the weird and wonderful too. Lucky visitors can expect a plethora of sights to behold whilst enjoying a peace and calmness that only comes with the quiet British coast. Expect everything from nature reserves, iconic lighthouses, to smokeries serving up fresh fish. Dig deep into the rich history of smugglers and the mystery of the ‘Wildman of Orford’ for your bedtime stories.
Stay: The Crown & Castle
Make sure you: Explore the beaches; boasting several rare species you’re sure to discover the coastal wildlife.
Unusual destination No. 5.
Who’s it for: families ready to explore
Why you should go: If what you’re missing from your next holiday is a spot of water-jousting head to Sète in the Occitanie region of southern France – there you’ll find the lances and shields your heart desires. This ancient tradition of water warriors striking each other with lances from rowing boats is kept alive in summer months with bouts held throughout the season, culminating in a five-day showdown at the St Louis Festival. When you’re not busy jousting there’s the sparkling Med sea to gaze on, beaches to relax on and winding canals to explore.
Stay: La Baraquette
Make sure you: enjoy the view after a (steep) walk up to the Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette.
Unusual destination No. 6.
Forgo its showier sister Barcelona and head to Valencia.
Who’s it for: Museum and gallery lovers
Why you should go: Combining old tradition and modernity this clash of opposites sings beautifully in Spain’s third largest city offering a noteworthy, unique stay in a much visited country. Just 15 minutes from the coast and surrounded by huerta, Valencians offer a relaxed vibe for any holidaymaker wanting to explore its architectural treats and dizzying dining scene.
Stay: La Maga Rooms
Make sure you: take a bike ride along the riverbed
Inspired? Explore more…
Sawday’s Curious Guides and Journeys are designed to help you get off the beaten track, to explore further and find a new angle on some well-loved destinations. We want to uncover the people, places and experiences that make somewhere unique and inspire you to go out and find even more. Close to home and further flung we’ve got beautiful spaces in the nooks and cranny’s of Europe just waiting for you to explore. From hidden gems, family getaways to foodie destinations and road-trip inspired boltholes.