Australia is one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations – so it can get pretty crowded, especially in the hotspots such as Bondi Beach, Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef.
Fortunately there are plenty of places you can head to that are far less busy, and just as wonderful. I was delighted to share some of my favourite alternative Aussie destinations with Sunday Times readers this weekend.
Read my Alternative Guide to Australia to find out which places made the list.
I’ve found the best beach in Spain – and that is saying something.
It is called Praia de Rodas and it is not on the country’s well-known and perpetually sun-soaked southern coast, it is out to the northwest of the mainland on an island off the coast of Galicia.
This is a beautiful coastline, strung with gorgeous white sand beaches. But to find the very best, the one that looks like it could have been lifted from the pages of a Caribbean holiday brochure, you ave to board a boat and head out to sea – or more precisely to the Islas Cies.
Rodas beach is a stunner. White sands, turquoise waters, the works. But there is more to these islands than just a place to switch off and sunbathe. There is also a simple but quietly spectacular restaurant serving fresh fish on a ramshackle terrace, a dramatic walk across the cliffs to a towering lighthouse and hundreds of birds wheeling overhead.
Read my recent article for the Times to find out more.
I am often asked where I would live if I could live anywhere.
If we’re talking outside the UK (because, honestly, the answer is London!) then it has to be Palma.
Mallorca’s capital city is a stunner. And on my most recent visit I got to see her from a new angle – from the top of her world renowned Gothic cathedral.
I also gazed out over her rooftops from my rooftop infinity pool at the Hotel Nakar, a wonderful hotel, and got to know her a little better on a tapas crawl through Sa Gerreria.
You can read more about what I got up to on my weekend in Palma in my article in the Times.
Madeira has a terrible reputation. Cruise ships, coach parties and, well, plenty of visitors of a certain age.
But there is so much more to this tropical island marooned in the Atlantic. There’s excellent walking for a start, along levadas (precipitous aqueducts) and up volcanoes, not to mention delicious fresh seafood, a burgeoning arts scene and some of the tallest cliffs in Europe.
Check out my guide to the island for Sunday Times Travel magazine to find out why you should head to Madeira this year.
New Zealand is a gorgeous country. It’s a country of marching glaciers, soaring white peaks and plunging green valleys. But it’s also a country of quieter scenic pleasures, such as Akaroa.
This small coastal town on the south island is like a little piece of France on the other side of the world. Here you can sit over breakfast baguettes or a bowl of snails in the cafes and walk along rues to distinctly French looking cottages. But you can also explore a distant volcano, a watery inlet home to dozens of dolphins – and one very weird “giant’s” house.
Check out my article in Journey magazine to find out more.
I’ve been banging on for years about how unfairly maligned the Canary Islands are, and so I was delighted to be asked to write about my favourite spots for Conde Nast Traveller’s December issue.
Conde Nast Traveller have shot some truly gorgeous photography for this feature, which does plenty of the hard work for me. But do read my feature – and let me convince you of the appeal of macronesia with a hip rooftop cocktail bar in Las Palmas, a whitewashed cantina serving ridiculously good local tapas in Lanzarote’s ancient interior and a literally star-studded festival on Tenerife.
Few questions elicit quite the response Down Under as this one – which is better, Sydney or Melbourne?
No Sydneysider would even entertain the idea that Melbourne might have anything at all to offer besides the latest hipster joke, while Melburnians tend to think they’re, well, just a cut above the Sydney scene.
But visitors needn’t get embroiled in which city is best – both make for great city breaks, with fantastic restaurants, beaches nearby, culture aplenty and a variety of day trips on the doorstep.
I weighed in on the great debate recently for Rough Guides. So, which do you think I picked?