During lockdown, we’ve spent many a moment dreaming about the global destinations we’d love to visit, be they long-time favourite holiday places or new locations to explore.
Now that travel is partially back on the agenda, we felt it was the perfect time to compile a list of ultimate summer destinations. To help us, we asked you, our dear ICONS community, to share the locations on your jet-set mood boards. We might not be able to get to them all this year, but there’s nothing that boosts our mood more than planning a trip for the future. From Balinese rice fields to the peaks of the Shetland Islands, we hope these suggestions fill you with plenty of globe-trotting inspiration. Bon voyage!
A city close to Laura’s heart, Venice is renowned for its picturesque canals, historic buildings, impressive art collections and mouthwatering cuisine. A ride on a traditional gondola is a must, as is a trip to the Basilica di San Marco, one of the best-known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. Take a stroll through the picture-perfect backstreets and stop at a cicheti bar (think Italian tapas) for a light bite, before paying a visit to Peggy Guggenheim’s waterside house to view a significant selection of modern artworks. For aperitivo hour, nothing beats a bellini at Harry’s Bar, the very birthplace of this classic cocktail.
RICE TERRACES, BALI
No trip to Bali is complete without a visit to the breathtaking rice terraces that form an integral part of the country’s heritage and culture and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These lush terraces were built by hand and feature the unique Subak irrigation system that incorporates three traditional principles: harmony among people, harmony with nature and harmony with God. Scattered across the island, the most picturesque are thought to be Jatiluwih in Tabana, Tegallalang in Ubud and Rendang in East Bali. Whichever terrace you choose, it’s worth visiting early in the morning to enjoy a peaceful, mesmerising view.
SHETLAND ISLANDS, SCOTLAND
Situated between mainland Scotland and Norway, the Shetland Islands boast some of the most incredible landscapes in the UK. Having once been under Norse rule, Scandinavian influence can still be seen in street names, however the surroundings feel typically Scottish; think rolling hills, deep lochs and plenty of sheep. Explore the capital, Lerwick, a pretty harbour town filled with quirky lanes and independent shops, bars and restaurants. Then travel to the coast and breathe in fresh, clean air while taking in miles of pristine beaches, clifftops and the dazzling blue sea. Don’t forget to look out for the local wildlife – otters, seals and ponies are never far away.
Famous for its stunning mosques, bustling souks and beautiful palaces, Marrakesh has long been on our wish list. Also known as the Red City (thanks to the sandstone buildings and city walls), here is where sounds, tastes and smells collide, giving you a unique sensory experience. Indulge in a little retail therapy in the vibrant marketplaces, where everything from spices to Berber rugs can be purchased, then escape the noise and head to the calm oasis of Yves St Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle, where you can sip a mint tea while taking in the magical gardens. Book a room at El Fenn, in the heart of the medina, and make sure to stay for breakfast – the best in the city.
ÎLE DE RÉ, FRANCE
Known as the holiday destination of choice for discerning Parisians, Île de Ré is a small, picturesque island off the west coast of France. At only 30km long, it is best explored by bike or – for intrepid explorers – horseback. Stop for lunch at a pavement cafe in Saint-Martin-de-Ré (its Vauban fortifications are a UNESCO World Heritage Site), then head to one of the white sandy beaches for a dip in the sea. Or cycle along pretty country lanes to a traditional bric-a-brac market, making sure to sample sea-fresh oysters at one of the many family-run cabanes. Stay at L’Hôtel de Toiras, locally regarded as the best on the island.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
With turquoise waters and white sandy beaches, it’s no wonder the British Virgin Islands are one of our bucket-list destinations. Made up of around 60 small islands in the Caribbean Sea, this is the place to go for sun, swimming, sailing and pure indulgence. The largest of the four main islands is Tortola, known for its coves, forts, ruins and lush green mountains, while the smallest is Jost Van Dyke – a haven of coconut-shaded shores and rugged scenery. Virgin Gorda boasts The Baths, a collection of crystal-clear grottoes perfect for snorkelling and sunbathing. Travel around via yacht or ferry to get a taste of each paradise island.
COROMANDEL, NEW ZEALAND
Cloaked in native rainforest and with dazzling white beaches, the Coromandel Peninsula is one of New Zealand’s most renowned beauty spots. About a two-hour drive from Auckland airport, it is home to unspoilt, rustic landscapes which can be enjoyed by myriad hiking and cycling trails, or from the sea, where clear waters allow for plenty of diving. Take a dip in the natural hot springs at Hot Water Beach and enjoy a post-picnic swim at Cathedral Cove, or join a guided sea kayak tour around the coast. Home to a thriving creative scene, the area also offers the opportunity to pick up original art and pottery works from various artists’ studios.
The capital of Andalucia, Seville is well known for being one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, thanks to its native orange and lemon trees and decorative ceramics. A visit to the ornate Alcázar is a must. The palace, whose origins date back as far as 712, is a stunning example of Moorish architecture, and the gardens are glorious. It’s also worth crossing the bridge to the Triana area, which has shops bursting with colourful dishes and tiles, as well as plenty of flamenco clubs. Andalucia is the birthplace of tapas, so what better destination for a stroll that encompasses a few pit stops for salt cod, Manchego and a glass of vermouth?
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