by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:16th January 2024

Inspiration for your travels in the coming year

Let’s embrace the new year of 2024 and discover a little inspiration for a memorable and welcoming holiday in the coming year.

I’ve chosen 12 incredible locations to add delight and fulfilment to your 2024 travel calendars for an exciting year ahead.

There’s always that thrill of which delightful locations you’ll be venturing off to, whether a cosy cottage in the countryside or an adventure of a lifetime; we all love discovering somewhere new and 2024 is the year to do it.

Gary and I live in the southeast of the UK, in the picturesque county of Kent. Hence, our ‘near’ destinations are UK-based and often involve a little history and intrigue.

The six recommendations we have chosen for overseas travel include a charming mixture of mini-breaks, road trips, sunshine, safari, and culture, all with a touch of fun.

Foot tracks leading up the sand dune known as 'Big Mamma' in Sossusvlei, Namibia
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Our near locations

For us, it’s the UK

The UK has so much to offer every traveller; whether you’re a city lover and enjoy immersing in the local culture, you relish the thought of discovering our ancient history, or you just love escaping for a weekend away, we’ve got you covered.

So, fire up a map and plot your route; there’ll be beaches, castles, and Romans.

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Our first location in the UK is the charming city of Chester in Cheshire, a perfect destination for a weekend away. This beautiful city is overflowing with fascinating history, and you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Romans.

The cathedral city of Chester is so unique in many ways, especially with its ancient city walls encircling the medieval town. We found traversing the city walls was an ideal way to navigate Chester and to appreciate its distinctive aspects.

Water flowing over the weir on the river dee in chester towards the old dee bridge
The weir and the Old Dee Bridge

Another characteristic of Chester are its extraordinary Rows. The Rows can be found along Eastgate Street, Northgate Street, Watergate Street and Bridge Street and converge where the ancient Chester Cross resides.

Chester’s two-tiered medieval shopping galleries date from the late 13th-century. Some of the buildings are believed to be the earliest examples of shopfronts in England.

The Tudor revival black and white timbered façades were added during the Victorian era, adding a further unique element to the Rows.

Don’t miss enjoying a leisurely stroll along The Groves beside the River Dee; it’s a lovely place to relax and watch the world pass by.

A close-up view of the historic lovell telescope at the jodrell bank observatory in the heart of the beautiful cheshire countryside
Lovell Telescope, a Grade 1 Listed Building

While you’re in Cheshire, ensure you take a little detour to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Jodrell Bank Observatory. It is a fascinating place to visit, and the towering Lovell Telescope is just mind-blowing.

We have created a couple of YouTube videos of our experiences.  Why not take a look?

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Where to stay in Chester

Hotel Indigo Chester
Hotel Indigo Chester is a modern, contemporary boutique hotel that has welcomed guests since 2019. The Hotel is situated just a short hop outside Chester’s city walls; within only an 8-minute stroll, you’ll be admiring the iconic Eastgate Clock.

Ahh, the Cotswolds; if you would love to see a slice of old England full of so much character and charm, I would urge you to visit the Cotswolds and explore 8 of the Cotswold’s finest villages.

The picturesque region of the Cotswolds spans across six English counties and is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). As you weave your way across the rolling hills and countryside, passing by beautiful meadows, there is a calming sense of peace and tranquillity.

An idyllic Cotswold scene of a very shallow, slow flowing, river in front of a Cotswold home and a water mill with a tall brick built chimney In a village called Lower Slaughter
On the River Eye

During our visit to the Cotswolds, we touched on three of the six counties: Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, and Worcestershire. The other three are Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, and Somerset.

We explored some stunning villages with flowing streams ambling by the golden-stoned cottages, little hillside churches, and village squares overflowing with locals having a natter and traditional log-burning fires in cosy inns.

The Cotswolds are perfect to discover all year round as they offer something different, whatever the season. From the bulbs piercing the lush ground in the spring to the russet colour leaves fluttering in an autumn breeze.

Looking down at the stone cottages of Arlington Row in Bibury
Arlington Row, Bibury

The advice that I would give is that some of the villages and towns can become quite busy, so it may be advisable to plan your day ahead and visit the popular locations earlier in the morning or late afternoon. You’ll enjoy it so much more.

The villages we strolled around were Castel Combe, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Lower Slaughter, Northleach, Snowshill, Broadway, and Chipping Camden.

You could even turn your visit into a five-day road trip and visit the university city of Oxford and the home of William Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon, as well.

Escape for a few days

So, you'd love to visit the chocolate-box towns and villages in the Cotswolds, and you’re in search of a tranquil hideaway to unwind in.

Take a peek at the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.

I love living in Kent in the southeast of the UK; it has magnificent rolling countryside and delightful unique characteristics like Oast Houses and Cloth Halls. However, my favourite aspect of Kent is visiting the stunning Kentish coastline and enjoying the beauty of the seashore.
The golden sand of Margate's main beach, with a fish 'n' chip shop in the foreground. Margate's harbour arm can be seen in the distance.
Fish 'n' Chips on the beach at Margate

There are so many traditional seaside towns in Kent; some still have the childhood delights of candy floss, penny arcades and kiss-me-quick hats, whereas others have colourful fisherman’s cottages and old-style piers stretching far out into the sea.

We’ve created a fun-packed scenic coastal Kent road trip, where you’ll get to explore Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Sandwich, Deal, Folkestone, Hythe, and Dungeness.

The towns scattered along the Kent shoreline have a charming mixture of golden sandy beaches, where your bucket and spade are essential, and the undulating cobbles, where you’ll find working fishing boats and Martello Towers.

The wooden bridge across the moat to the ivy-covered Walmer Castle
The entrance across the moat to Walmer Castle

Along the Kent coastline. you’ll also be able to visit the incredible castles that have historically protected the Kent shores. Keep a lookout for Dover Castle, Deal Castle, and Walmer Castle.

So, come on, grab your sunnies and flip-flops head to the Kent coast and feast on fish and chips.

If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".

You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Gary and I have both worked in London for many years and since leaving ‘The Smoke’, we’ve gained a whole new perspective of London whenever we revisit this incredible city as a tourist.

I adore London for many reasons, especially its history, diversity, and incredible architecture. Now, when Gary and I revisit London, we often choose a region or district of the city that we want to explore further and delve deep into its local history to find out any intrigue or quirky aspects.

The southern entrance to the historic Smithfield meat market in the east of London
Main Avenue in Smithfield Meat Market

We’ve discovered some fascinating tales in and around its famous streets, especially in the City of London, the famous financial ‘Square Mile’. The districts of London that I really loved exploring were Smithfield, Spitalfields, Temple and Bank.

Smithfield alone has some extraordinary history. Not only has it been home to a livestock market since the 12thcentury, but it has also witnessed the execution of Sir William Wallace; it is where England’s oldest continually running hospital is located, St Bartholomew’s and also bares scars from First World War, these were created by Zeppelin raids on 8th September 1915 and on 7th July 1917.

A pathway leading to the brick chambers of the Middle Temple in London's legal district
Middle Temple

Another region I never tire of visiting is Temple and all around the Inns of Court. Admittedly, this district isn’t solely in the City of London. It also straddles the City of Westminster.

Normally, I would say if you were visiting the City of London, I would head there at the weekend when the streets are empty; however, Temple and the Inns of Court are best explored midweek. This is when you’ll see all the legal eagles flapping around in their barrister’s garb, and all the intimate lanes are open to the public.

In the iconic words of Ralph McTell….” Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London”.

We have a little book on our shelves that we sometimes delve into when we're about to hit an area of London.

Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different regions of London, it's a great resource to help you see what's hidden in plain sight.

Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves London.

Have you visited the vibrant city of Bristol in southwest England? If not, you must add it to your travel list.

Bristol is full of fascinating history and has an intriguing past for many different historical reasons, from the dark days of slave trading through to the revolutionary years of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s inspirational feats of engineering.

Looking back at the bow of the SS Great Britain in its dry dock in Bristol Harbour

The bow of the SS Great Britain in dry dock

In Bristol, you can explore the decks of the world-famous engineer’s magnificent ocean-going ship SS Great Britain and stroll the width of the Avon Gorge across the Clifton Suspension Bridge. It’s astonishing to see.

Bristol’s bustling harbourside and waterways are delightful to stroll around; you can enjoy the city’s true essence and you come face to face with its iconic towering harbour cranes.

A view of Bristol Harbour from the Prince Street Bridge at dusk
Over the harbour

Bristol has many quirky aspects, too; seek out the timber-framed 17th-century Llandoger Trow Inn; you may even bump into the resident ghosts.

Another popular and colourful side to Bristol is its storytelling through street art. You’re probably already aware of Bristol’s elusive son Banksy; however, there are so many other talented artists expressing themselves throughout the walls of Bristol.

Bristol is perfect for a sneaky weekend away.

Where to stay in Bristol

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel
Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel is located in the heart of Bristol and easy walking distance of many of the city's historic sites. This charming hotel is in a peaceful location, and on-site parking is available.

Over the last few years, we have loved visiting National Trust properties, so once again, we chose to renew our membership and ventured off to discover more historic locations.

As you explore the UK, you’ll spot National Trust homes, castles, and gardens dotted all around the countryside, from the smaller properties like Lamb House in Rye, East Sussex, to the whole Wiltshire village of Lacock.

I’ve selected two of the many locations we’ve explored. The first is in the heart of Kent, a visit to Scotney Castle in Spring, and the second is to Bodiam Castle in East Sussex.

The idyllic ruins of the ancient Scotney Castle reflected across the moat on a beautiful Spring day.
Scotney Castle

When you first catch sight of Scotney Castle, I assure you, you will stop in your tracks; the view is breath-taking. The picturesque, moated castle looks like it should be in a fairy-tale.

Scotney Castle is secretly nestled away in the heart of Kent’s rolling countryside. As you wend your way closer, you almost feel like you’ve stepped into a landscape painting.

As you wander down towards the medieval ruins of Scotney Castle, ensure you take time to explore Scotney’s beautiful gardens, too. The gardens at Scotney Castle are delightful, especially in springtime when the rhododendrons and azaleas are in full bloom.

Within the grounds of Scotney Castle, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit Scotney House. Scotney House was built by the Hussey family during the 1830s. You can experience the family home during that era as you tour the property.

The north view of the entrance to Bodiam Castle reflected in the moat that surrounds it
The entrance to Bodiam Castle

My second choice is the enchanting Bodiam Castle in East Sussex. This magnificent, moated castle was built during the 14th century for a former knight of Edward III. The castle is now restored ruins, and within the sturdy walls, you can clearly see the layout of the rooms within.

Climb to the top of the tower at Bodiam Castle and catch the beautiful view across the East Sussex countryside.

Bodiam Castle is on the Sussex, Kent border and from here, you can visit the charming and historic town of Tenterden by hopping aboard the heritage line of the Kent and East Sussex Railway. Tenterden is full of quaint independent stores, antique shops, and fascinating history.

Map, guides and more

Whether you’re planning a road trip, plotting a hiking route or cycling one of UK’s scenic trails, there’s nothing quite like using a tactile paper map.

The Ordnance Survey folk are here to help, with maps, guides, gadgets and more. Take a browse through their vast array of maps and grab your ideal companion for your adventure.

Alternatively, why not purchase and download the OS Maps App, which covers all of Great Britain.

Our far locations

The world’s your oyster

If you’re anything like us and love experiencing international cultures, mingling amongst foreign locals and just being a fly on the wall, then we have you covered.

I’ve chosen some unique getaways, including a road trip touring through Portugal, a self-drive African safari in Namibia, and a driving tour around Lake Garda. Then, a few Provence treats, a selection of delights from Spain and 8 of Germany’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A few years ago, we ventured off on a two-week road trip around Portugal, exploring towns, cities and villages covering north, south, east, and west. The journey was incredible and full of so many memories.
Wooden Portuguese barges once used to transfer salt have now been converted for tourist pleasure trips. A couple of these Brightly painted boats are now mooring up at the end of the working day in Aveiro, Portugal
Moliceiros on the the Canal de Sao Roque, Aveiro

In part one of our road trip itinerary, we journey from northern Portugal through the beautiful Douro Valley region, visiting historical locations of Guimarães, Ponte de Lima, and the incredible Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Monte.

We then venture across to the Atlantic coast and visit the colourful town of Aveiro, Nazaré, onto the Estoril shoreline and Cascais; we then continue south to the Algarve and explore its magnificent, rugged coastline.

A narrow cobbled lane between the white buildings of the historic hilltop town of Monsaraz in Portugal
The cobbled lanes of Monsaraz

In part two of our Portuguese itinerary, we start journeying north through central Portugal, discovering the historical city of Evora and the hilltop village of Monsaraz. Then, continue west, visiting the Templars of Tomar and another beautiful hilltop village of Óbidos.

The trip didn’t end there; we had a few nights amongst the charismatic streets of Porto and, of course, a taster of the local Port Wine.

Portugal is a wonderful country to explore on a road trip; the architecture is stunning, the countryside is beautiful, and the locals are so welcoming.

Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

Start planning

We embarked on our Portuguese road trips from the UK, catching a Brittany Ferry to Santander.

However, there are regular flights to many of Portugal’s cities; take a look at Then pop in your location details, and Rental Cars will search well-known car hire brands and discover the deals that suit you the best.

It’s time to start reminiscing about France, and what could be better than dreaming of an enchanting visit to Provence in southeastern France. I must admit, I adore Provence. There’s something quite magical about the region that endlessly brings a smile to my face.
A view of the hillside town of Gordes captured in the glow of the evening sun.
The town of Gordes

Provence is a beautiful area to explore, from the spectacular teetering hilltop villages to the magnificent coastline along the Mediterranean Sea. Let’s not forget the Roman history and the scenery inspired by Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh.

There are so many stunning locations for you to choose from Avignon’s historic city and its neighbouring aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, to the village of Cucuron, where the captivating pondside movie scene from ‘A Good Year’ was filmed.

A collection of stalls at an art market in the town of St Remy-de-Provence.
The art market in la place Jules Pelissier

If you’re planning to visit Provence, we stayed in this delightful town named Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It’s a fantastic location to base yourselves while touring the Provence countryside. You’ll be spoilt for choice each evening as to which welcoming bistro to choose.

I would honestly visit Provence every year if I had the chance, delicious food, exquisite wine and scenery to fall in love with.

Where to stay in Provence

Hotel Gounod in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
We've stayed at this delightful hotel on two occasions and would return again in a flash. Hotel Gounod is centrally located with very welcoming staff, delicious Provençal breakfast in the patio/lounge, and private off-site parking is available nearby.

If you love Provence as much as we do, you'll want to start planning your visit now.

I so enjoy using the DK Eyewitness books, as they are extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Provencal road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

How about Namibia for something a little different? We highly recommend a 3-week self-drive safari around some of the world’s most incredibly diverse landscapes, and will leave you lost for words.
The beware of the elephant sign next to the dirt trail in damaraland in namibia
An elephant crossing sign at Grootberg, Damaraland

I can assure you that once you start researching this stunning southwestern African country, you’ll be hooked.

This is truly a trip of a lifetime, with the desolate golden sand dunes of Sossusvlei undulating as far as the eye can see, magnificent African wildlife crossing your path and night skies like no other.

If adventure is what you are after and a change from your usual trip, why not try something new? If you wish to camp out under the stars in the Kalahari Desert, you can; alternatively, there are some stunning luxury lodges in locations so remote that you’ll feel like the only ones on Earth.

Foot tracks leading up the sand dune known as 'Big Mamma' in Sossusvlei, Namibia
Tracks up Big Mamma, Sossusvlei

Not only will you be free to pull up near remote watering-holes and admire lions and elephants, but you can also escape to the harsh, unforgiving Atlantic shores along the Skeleton Coast.

Furthermore, what is so special about this incredible country is that you can do all this on your own self-guided road trip.

I’m feeling envious just talking about it; take a peek at our Namibian truths & trivia post, and let’s start planning.

If you're considering a road trip through Namibia, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.

Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.

One of the countries we’ve come to love in more recent years is Spain. We’ve ventured off on mini-breaks to Seville, Barcelona and Valencia; however, we love touring Spain on a road trip.

There are so many beautiful towns and villages to discover en-route, often to a location you’ve never heard of or a region you’ve never ventured through.

A substantial arched brick-built bridge, known as the 'Puente Nuevo', or New Bridge, in Ronda, Spain, constructed between two natural rockfaces over a deep chasm.
The Puente Nuevo at sunset

We’ve selected some of our favourite places in Spain to enrich your travel list; hopefully, they’ll inspire you to grab your passport. We’ll show you Andalusia, La Rioja, Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura and Castile and León.

Spain is such a scenic country with its rugged coastline in the north, the far-reaching plains and windmills in La Mancha, to the southern Pueblo Blancos in Andalucía. There is so much to discover.

A view over the empty Plaza Mayor from between the stone defences of the Bujaco Tower in Cáceres, Spain
Plaza Mayor from the Bujaco Tower, Cáceres
Whether they are north, south, east, or west, they all offer something a little special. It’s not just the fascinating history and scenery that I love but also the regional differences that make each place unique and memorable.

There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Eyewitness books, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

For a dreamy and picturesque break in Italy, we can highly recommend a visit to Lake Garda. The choice of beautiful lakeside towns and villages is incredible. They are often hidden away from the main road, so you need to go exploring on foot.
A view of Lake Garda, looking south from Trobole, with ducks in the foreground and flanked on either sides by the mountains.
The view of Lake Garda from the north at Torbole

Touring around Lake Garda on a road trip is magical, weaving through the narrow tunnels carved out from mountains with the wind in our hair and opal waters ahead. We chose a few destinations for the route; however, this one-day itinerary is also about enjoying the stunning landscape.

A complete loop around Lake Garda by car is around 90 miles (140km). If you didn’t stop, it would take about 3 hours. However, this is traffic-dependent, and I’m sure you’ll want to stop for a gelato.

Looking along a wide canal, lined on each side with small powerboats.
A view along the Mincio River

During our road trip to Lake Garda, we stayed at the stunning location of Limone sul Garda, with its quaint little harbour and lemon tree terraces. The reflection of the magnificent mountains glistening across the opal waters of the lake is breath-taking.

Limone sul Garda is a perfect place to base yourself, as you can either tour the lake under your own steam or hop on one of the many ferries visiting the lakeside towns.

Where to Stay in Lake Garda

During our independent tour of Lake Garda, we stayed in Limone-Sul-Garda for 3 nights and could so easily have stayed longer; the location is incredible. Limone-sul-Garda is in the picturesque northern region on the lakeside shore.

Our video of Lake Garda

We have created a little YouTube video of Lake Garda.  Why not take a look?

Also, why not subscribe to our YouTube channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Last but by no means least, there are 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore in Germany.

We love visiting UNESCO Sites as they reveal an intriguing insight into Germany’s extraordinary past and how it is interwoven within Europe’s historical timelines. We’ve selected eight locations in Germany for you to browse through; however, there are so many more for us to add to our list.

The view of the Dom at dusk from the rear steps of the Rathaus. The square between the two building is home of the cities main Christmas market.
Aachen Cathedral at dusk

You can choose from the stunning Aachen Cathedral in the west, Germany’s first UNESCO site granted status in 1978. This beautiful cathedral is home to shrine of Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor.

Also, in the west of Germany, you can explore the Roman Monuments of Trier and the ancient cathedral in Cologne. A bit further north in Bremen is the Town Hall and Roland on the Marketplace, and in Hamburg, you’ll discover the Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus.

A view over the Danube to the Dom St Peter
The Regensburg skyline

Then in the east of Germany, you can visit the UNESCO Museum Island in Berlin. Further, hop south into the Bavarian region of Germany and explore the Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof and the picturesque, historic town of Bamberg.

These are just a few of the stunning locations that Germany has to offer.

I love nothing more than planning a trip and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Germany road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

* This post may contain links to affiliated sites where we earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.

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