Get swept up in the allure of ancient temples and local culture in Laos

Need an escape from reality this April? Sunny Sardinia, New Year festivities in Laos and a Sinai safari are just a few suggestions for your next holiday.

For sunseekers...

Short Haul: Sardinia, Italy

Looking to get away from it all this April? Escape to the Italian island of Sardinia just before the tourists arrive in May. At around a comfortable 18°C (64°F) you can take a stroll along the beaches, bask in some afternoon rays and see the island bloom into spring. Stay in Cagliari to experience city life in the island’s southeastern province. Nearby is Poetto, which at 8km-long (12 miles) is one of Italy’s longest beaches, whilst the small town of Villasimius is known for its white sandy beaches and lush plant life. For an idyllic setting with a Catalan flavour spend your holiday in the north western town of Alghero. Beyond its cobblestone streets and archaic piazzas are beaches around the bay – one of the nearest is Maria Pia, but if you have time, it’s worth taking a trip to Pelosa, Sardinia’s northernmost tip, where the beach is said to be more tropical than Mediterranean.

Long Haul: Hawaii, USA 

Once you arrive in the Polynesian oasis of Hawaii you may never want to leave. Island-hop through the state by taking ferries that connect to different harbours or via Hawaii’s domestic airlines.

Waikiki HawaiiSurfs up in Waikiki
Thinkstock / iStockphoto
Start off on the island of Oahu in Hawaii’s capital of Honolulu, where you can stay at a beachfront resort in the world-famous Waikiki – just remember to take a break from sunbathing and brave the waves for surfing lessons in Waikiki’s waters. Don’t miss the ‘Magic Isle’ of Maui where natural wonders run abundant, from cascading waterfalls to the mountains of Haleakala and 50km (31 miles) of beaches. Kaanapali Beach in the western region was once a resort for Hawaiian royalty and is now one of the state’s most beloved beaches. Veer off the tourist path and explore the less-visited island of Molokai where the vast Papohaku Beach will be all yours.

For culture lovers...

Short Haul: Cracow, Poland

A dense, at times dark, history is combined with a picturesque cityscape in Poland’s Cracow. Embark into the storybook Old Town, the medieval city centre recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can visit the 16th century Wawel Castle and Mariacki Church adorned in gold features from floor to ceiling, before spending a couple of hours in the Old Town’s massive market square known as Rynek. Watch street performers, lounge at a café with locals and marvel at the surrounding Renaissance architecture.

CracowRelive the medieval era in Cracow's Old Town
Thinkstock / iStockphoto
Mix leisure with learning by making a visit to the Rynek Underground Museum, which opened in 2010 after underground tunnels were found below the square. The museum tracks Cracow’s storied history from 2000 BCE to modern day. To get a closer look at Cracow’s ties to WWII visit the Oskar Schindler Factory, a site that is immortalized in Hollywood history as portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. Outside the city limits is Auschwitz. Today a museum and memorial, visitors can pay respects to the victims of the Holocaust and tour the living quarters and gas chambers.

Long Haul: Laos

Less affected by westernisation than its Thai and Vietnamese counterparts, a holiday in Laos is ideal for culture lovers with an adventurous side. This South East Asian country has risen from the ashes of excessive bombings during the Vietnam War and now offers a thriving eco-tourism and foodie scene. Choose from Laos’ 20 National Protected Areas that boast jungles, exotic animal species and other natural wonders. In the capital of Vientiane dine on delicacies such as laap (a staple dish of minced meat, herbs, spices and lime juice) and taste French influences in the duck confit. You won’t want to miss the UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang with its Buddhist temples and lively markets. From 14-16 April join in with ancient festivities in Luang Prabang to celebrate Pi Mai Lao­- the Lao New Year.

For adventure junkies...

Short Haul: Sinai, Egypt

More than just ancient pyramids, Egypt guarantees loads of adventure (and opportunities to lather in sunscreen) in its beautiful deserts. Trek through the Blue Desert where rocks were painted blue in 1980 to represent peace between Egypt and Israel after the 1979 Camp David. Not far from here, you can hop on a 4x4 to the White Canyon for a hike on the white limestone or take a Bedouin safari through the Sinai for views of deserts, mountains and beaches. Brave the heat in the Western Desert where you’ll encounter seas of sand, dunes, canyons and mountainous terrain – just make sure to unwind at a hot spring in the evening.

Long Haul: Nicaragua

Flanked by the Pacific to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east, the Central American nation of Nicaragua is fit for the water-loving adventurer.

Cerro NegroA thrilling descent from Cerro Negro
Creative Commons / H Dragon
Divers can choose from sites along the Pacific coast or off Corn Island in the Caribbean. The Caribbean waters in particular are home to exquisite coral reefs and ample species such as sea turtles and nurse sharks, but whilst the east coast may offer top-notch diving, the west coast is ideal for surfing. San Juan del Sur’s 60km (37 miles) of beaches are the surfer’s choice. More remote surfing can be found at Playa Maderas where you can ride the waves with locals. Looking for a unique land adventure aside from rainforest zip lines and hikes? Brave the 400m-trek (437 yards) up Cerro Negro volcano and reach the bottom in less than 10 minutes by whizzing down the black sands on a wooden board or on foot.  

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.