11 alternative ideas for a girls’ weekend away

Find spas too expensive? City breaks exhausting? Shake up your girls’ weekend away with these new ideas – they’re fun, fabulous and won’t break the bank.

1. Have a mini adventure

It’s amazing how far you can travel in just a few days, with a little planning and a sense of adventure. Swap a city break for something much more exotic on Intrepid Travel’s Cappadocia Short Break: a 4-day trip that will whisk you to Turkey’s off-the-beaten-track gems.

It’s great value (from just £210, excl flights), and includes most meals and an excellent local guide. You’ll discover Turkey’s myriad charms beyond its fly-and-flop resorts: think stunning thousand-year-old churches, beautiful mountains, tasty locally-grown cuisine, and surprisingly fine wine (the tour includes tastings at a local winery).

You’ll stay in a charming cave hotel, carved by hand from the rock in a centuries-old tradition, and immerse yourself in ancient Unesco World Heritage-listed treasures such as Goreme’s cave churches and an ancient underground city. The terrain is out-of-this-world too, with towering mountains and ‘fairytale chimney’ rock formations that have captured travellers’ imaginations for centuries. A sunrise hot air balloon ride (extra €175) offers an unforgettable glimpse from above.

2. Spend a weekend in Champagne

If fizz is an integral part of your girls’ weekend away, why don’t you go to Champagne itself? Over three wine-drenched days you can explore the beautiful city of Reims, take private tours of famous vineyards, and enjoy lots and lots of tastings.

We’ve designed a long weekend trip to Champagne, especially for Woman & Home readers, departing in spring 2019 – with wine tastings and vineyard visits galore. You’ll even have a private party at the glitzy headquarters of famous Champagne house Taittinger – sipping on on some of their finest vintages while enjoying canapés and a tour of their iconic chalk cellars. This extravagant weekend of superb food and wine is the ultimate treat! See the details

3. Set sail on a bite-sized cruise

With sunshine, great food and cocktails on tap, cruises were made for girlie holidays – and Celestyal Cruises’ three-day Greek Islands itinerary is perfect for a long weekend. It sets sail from Athens on a Friday morning, venturing to Mykonos for white-washed villages and beautiful beaches, then mountainous Patmos for a taste of history.

Next stop is Crete and Santorini – an action-packed day that’ll see you exploring hilltop villages, sipping local white wines, and finally watching the sunset over the glittering ocean.

4. Have a weekend of hedonism in the capital

You don’t have to travel far to experience one of the best cities in the world… London. The perfect weekend in London begins with a pampering session at some of the city’s most glamorous salons. For the perfect blow dry, head to Duck and Dry. The original Chelsea Salon has just had a sleek refurb, but you’ll also find salons in Oxford Circus, Soho – and they’re recently opened a brand new store in Old Spitalfields Market.

For a fabulous manicure, pedicure or facial in even more fabulous surroundings head to SMUK in Eccleston Yards, with its Scandi-inspired ultra cool decor and a warm welcome from the owners. Creative hubs such as Eccleston Yards in Victoria are popping up all over the city – and make planning a day out with the girls in the Big Smoke completely hassle-free. Rather than trawling from place to place and negotiating the underground, a space like this offers everything you need.

After a morning of pampering, enjoy a yoga or meditation class at Re:Mind studio, where you can drop in for a session and relaxing cup of herbal tea. And what better way to finish off your experience than with some fine dining and delicious cocktails. Jones Family Kitchen is a family-run restaurant in Eccleston Yards (with another branch in Shoreditch – the original Jones Family Project) where you can choose from a delectable range of fish and meat dishes. Their rib-eye steak is not to be missed!

Look out for pop-ups going on throughout the year, such as the recent Paradise Now ‘wellness playground’, where guests can enjoy free sessions and mini treatments, as well as specially curated food and drink menus.

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In the sunnier months, why not explore one of London’s beautiful parks, with a pre-packed champagne picnic – and own personal butler to ensure your glass of bubbles stays topped up all afternoon. Iconic hotel Dukes London offer a brilliant – and surprisingly affordable – picnic package. The Dukes Classic Picnic is £39.50pp, while the Ploughman’s Picnic is £26pp. To make a booking at GBR, call 02074914849 or visit the Duke’s Bar website.

And as the colder nights draw in, Duke’s Bar is the place to go for a cosy cocktail, where you can sample arguably London’s best martini. Yum!

5. Venture into the unknown…

Would you book a mini break without knowing where you’d end up? Pioneering travel company Srprs.me organise trips as cryptic as their name: they book you a city break to a secret destination, and don’t tell you where you’re going until you’re at the airport. You tell them your budget, and a few places that you don’t want to visit, and they look after your flights and accommodation – only giving you a small hint of your destination a week before departure, when they tell you what kind of weather to pack for.

It might sound a bit stressful, but it’s actually great fun: all the important bits have been sorted, so all you have to do is look forward to discovering somewhere new. It’s a great idea for a break with the girls because it keeps everyone guessing – and you all get a great surprise! See our review…

5. Let your hair down in Dubai

If European city breaks just don’t cut it anymore, give Dubai a go. It’s seven hours from the UK, but there are some fantastic flight deals out there – and cheap upgrades too (Emirates regularly has sales). Great shopping, beautiful beaches and incredible nightlife await – not to mention year-round sun.

While summer is the cheapest time to visit, it’s also the hottest (reaching up to 55 degrees) – but this is the time to find spa deals, bargains at all the top hotels, and discounts in all of the big malls as they gear up for the summer sales.

More like this: The 8 trips every woman should take in her sixties

6. Retreat to a holiday cottage (with wine, of course)

Holiday cottages aren’t just for romancing couples, you know: grab your girlfriends and head into the countryside, armed with a boot-load of food and wine. Canopy and Stars has some of Britain’s best remote boltholes – all with gorgeous bedrooms, beautiful locations, and every creature comfort you need for a fantastic stay.

The Lodge in Cumbria sleeps six and has blissful river views, walking paths on its doorstep, and a hot tub in the garden. What more could you want from a girls’ weekend away?

7. Walk the beautiful Jurassic Coast

Head down south to stretch your legs on the Jurassic Coast, the gorgeous collection of beaches between Exmouth and Dorset. On a three-day guided walking trip with HF Holidays, you’ll visit the fossil-rich beaches that give this coastline its name, stroll atop sunny cliffs, and swim in the idyllic Lulworth cove – pictured below.

This trip is designed for medium-level walkers, so it’s perfect for an active girls’ weekend away. All meals are included, as well as accommodation at West Lulworth House – a beautiful property with swimming pool, well-stocked bar and uninterrupted sea views.

More like this: See all of Woman & Home’s exclusive hotels and travel offers

8. Lend a hand with the National Trust

The National Trust’s Working Holidays give you a great excuse to get outdoors – lending a hand with conservation, landscaping or wildlife surveys. Gather a few like-minded girlfriends and join the Trust on a weekend break, for a behind-the-scenes look at its most popular properties plus a big dose of the feel-good factor.

You could assist with outdoor conservation at Buckinghamshire’s Cliveden, or let off steam on an ‘extreme gardening’ weekend. You’ll work alongside friendly people from all walks of life, and stay in one of the Trust’s lovely holiday cottages.

More like this: No travel buddy? No problem! Introducing the ultimate holiday for solos

9. Learn yoga with a pro

If it’s serenity you crave, sign up for a weekend yoga retreat in the beautiful British countryside. You’ll find lots of options at Yoga Weekends, which connects hotels and retreats with yoga devotees all over the UK – plus some overseas options too.

You could bring in the New Year on a yoga weekend in Sussex, or practise pilates and meditation in sunny Oxfordshire. There are trips suitable for beginners, intermediates and yoga experts, as well as introductions to mindfulness too.

10. Stay in a British vineyard

British wines have never tasted better, so now’s the time to immerse yourself in the fruits of our fair country. Vineyard hotels offer the perfect combination of beautiful location, great food and fantastic wine – and a chance to restock your bottle supplies before you head home.

You’ll find lovely Llanerch Vineyard just outside Cardiff, and Three Choirs in Gloucestershire. Sussex – the UK’s most prolific wine-producing region – has lots of vineyards with attached hotels or holiday cottages, while the wines of Camel Valley in Cornwall are regular award-winners.

Images from Alamy

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