Don't just travel for travel's sake. Why not larn a new skill, or let your hobby lead you to some of the world's most interesting destinations?
Sightseeing is all very well and good, but try doing something on your next trip and you might feel more rewarded. Whether you want to learn a new skill, or just take your hobby, be it cooking or knitting, on holiday, here are a few ways to get more involved in your next destination.
1. Keen on cooking? Rustle something up in Spain
For those with a big appetitie and a healthy relationship with the stove, Spain is an ideal hobby holiday. There may be no better souvenir to take home than a new dish you’ve mastered.
Riviera Travel’s Classical Spain (from £599) offers the option to add on a tour of the bustling Triana food market to stock up on some Spanish essentials, then turn it into an authentic tapas feast. Alternatively, take a tour of Madrid, Salamanca and Toledo (six nights from £799) and go shopping for supplies in the capital’s market before learning to make a spectacular Spanish spread, with paella, tapas and even sangria.
2. Love knitting? Get stitching in Scotland
If you’ve always got a pair of needles and yarn in your handbag, you need to go to Scotland. The country has a long-standing tradition of wool production and hand knitting, and cashmere is one of the country’s finest exports (leave room in your suitcase for a few jumpers).
Knitting Tours run a nine-night tour (from £2,499), needles and all, to the Scottish Highlands, Glasgow and Edinburgh. You’ll meet local craft experts along the way, shop for high-quality kit and enjoy workshops throughout, as well as see Scotland’s best sights.
3. Bit of a twitcher? Go to the Gambia
Britain has all manner of interesting birdlife, but there’s a whole world out there with open skies, where majestic eagles and tropical birds soar high. If you fancy yourself a bit of a twitcher, or just love seeing feathery creatures float in the skies, you should head to the Gambia.
This slim west African country’s borders follow the River Gambia, where more than 540 bird species flit about and make nests. The Gambia Experience offer birdwatching holidays with expert guides, including the likes of Chris Packham. Look out for egrets, kingfishers, hooded vultures and the brilliantly blue-green abyssinian roller.
4. Want to walk? Go on foot in Japan
Japan is a country on everybody’s lips right now. With cheap flights to Tokyo becoming the norm – you can usually find them for as little as £400 if you opt to layover in Europe – and the 2020 Olympics looming, it’s getting ever more popular.
See a different side of this country on foot, from the urban trails of Tokyo to the historic Nakasendo Way – a route once travelled by samurai and traders. Explore runs a guided, 12-day walking trip from Tokyo to Osaka from £4,350.
Alternatively: Join Riviera Travel’s walking holiday in the Tuscan hills in Italy – perfect for solo travellers. Book 8 days from £1,269 >
Read more: Why you need to go to Japan in 2019
5. Passionate about plays? Take a seat in Germany
The Oberammergau Passion Play is an historic tradition, first performed in 1634 and now put on every 10 years. In 2020, Riviera Travel is running a seven-day trip to Germany and Austria which incorporates this fascinating, moving play, as well as visits to Salzburg, Hofburg and Innsbruck.
If you can’t wait until 2020, book yourself into a fancy London hotel for a few nights and splurge on Broadway’s finest shows.
6. An artist at heart? Get crafty all over the world
Creativity can be found almost anywhere in the world, but art goes well beyond admiring canvas in museums. Whether you’re a keen painter, prefer working with pottery or fancy your hand at making jewellery, you can find a creative outlet with GoLearnTo.
Head to Cyprus for an eight-day painting adventure, taking in sun-dappled gardens, old-timey cobbled lanes and ocean views in Larnaca. Get your hands dirty wth clay on the Greek island of Zakynthos as you learn to make ceramics, or go to Gascony in France to make jewellery in between yoga classes.
7. Happy on horses? Go riding in the USA
If you’re a keen rider, you’ll find your spiritual home in the USA. Montana – known for its wide open landscapes and big, blue skies, is ideal ranch country. You can stay on working farms, where real-life, modern-day cowboys work the cattle, or enjoy a little low-key luxury in a resort ranch where exceptional hospitality and pool-side lounging are also the norm.
Set in the Bitterroot Mountain Range in the Montana Rockies, Triple Creek offers accommodation in the form of log cabins and horses at your disposal for exploring the surrounding countryside. For those without a desire for horsing around, try your hand at panning for sapphires (gold is old news here) or fly-fishing in the nearby river. Pettitts Travel run nine-day trips to Triple Creek from £4,089.
8. Keen to capture the moment? Take photos in the Faroes
‘The new Iceland’ is how many are describing the Faroes these days. This little remote archipelago between Scotland and Iceland, is a stunning place, with waterfalls and rugged coastlines, and the fluffiest sheep you’ve ever seen.
It’s a picture perfect destination, which means fine-tuning your photography skills here is a delight. Take a four-night tour with Tatra Photography (from £2,099) and you’ll be tutored by an expert photographer as you snap the islands’ prettiest places.
Alternatively: Join Riviera Travel on their amazing photo safari of Botswana, Victoria Falls and Cape Town. Book 11 days from £3,299 >