Where To Go Next Year Based On The Length Of Your Leave
One, two, three or four weeks; we have you covered.
This feature is brought to you by Qantas, who are proud to play a part in bringing travellers together with the people they love from around Australia and across the globe.
Plan well, travel better. A perfect holiday is well-researched, well-budgeted and timed just right, with the amount of holiday leave you have to spend taken into account.
Don’t fly 24 hours to spend a week in Paris – you’ll be jet-lagged half the time you’re there. And don’t plan to spend a month on the beach unless you’re a total beach bum. Different trips work better with different amounts of leave. Here are a few suggestions for how to spend your precious time off in 2017.
For those huddled masses on the east coast, Western Australia is an impossible distance for a weekend getaway. But with a week up your sleeve, and a little focus, the most remote stretches of this island nation are within reach. Fly into Perth and north to Exmouth and you’ll find yourself in the heart of a stunning remote wilderness. Snorkel off the beach over the pristine Ningaloo Reef, hop an expedition to swim with whale sharks (between April and July) or paddle between limestone cliffs at Yardie Creek to spot colonies of rock wallabies clustered on sheer walls and knots in the gorge. It’s the deep, red Australia of postcard dreams.
With a solid week in Tasmania, you can tour lush wine and cheese country, explore spectacular bluffs and encounter wild sea creatures around Freycinet and South Bruny National Parks, or go deep bush on Cradle Mountain. For a tidy package, tour the rugged southern wilds via the Three Capes Track then toast your hike with a couple of indulgent days in Hobart, including a street feast in and around Salamanca Market and a brain-exploding visited to the Museum of Old and New Art.
It takes a couple of days to sink into the rhythm of a proper beach holiday. Bali is the perfect tropical destination when you have a week up your sleeve – less than seven hours on a plane from the east coast (and much closer from Darwin or Perth) and you touch down in another world, with its own rhythm, landscape and sun-baked delights. Pick the stretch of sand that best suits your taste – Balangan Beach for die-hard surfers, Karma Beach for cocktails and exclusivity, Jimbaran Beach for a 24/7 party – and prepare to let go of all your worldly concerns. If you want to skip the waves and go deep into relaxation mode, the jungles around Ubud play host to plenty of week-long yoga and meditation retreats.
The best way to experience the land of the long white cloud is behind the wheel of a car, or even an RV. With two weeks at your disposal, the natural beauty of New Zealand can be mapped out and (at least partially) conquered, from the gleaming crust of the Fox Glacier to the rich seams of the Wai-O-Tapu geothermal reserve. With epic waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, rich wine regions and remote beaches, New Zealand has some of the most spectacular vistas your Instagram can handle. And when you’ve drunk in all the wilderness you can handle, Wellington is waiting with a dose of hipster cool. Visit Hannah’s Laneway to sample a whole range of independent artisanal food and drinks, visit the Te Papa museum for a dose of history and science, and see how movie magic works at the Weta Workshop.
Two weeks is just about enough time to travel the long, vibrant body of Vietnam, starting in the mad, hot flash of Ho Chi Minh City and ending in picturesque old quarters of Hanoi. For a wilder ride, consider a motorcycle tour past national parks through the inner spine of the country, or take the slow train along the coast past endless rice paddies. Stop in Dalat to see the whimsical Crazy House and the Giant Buddha, have a cocktail in Nha Trang and have a suit made in Hoi An, tour the limestone pillars of Halong Bay on a 19th Century junket ship and pay a visit to Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum in Hanoi, the bizarre high church of this beautiful once-Communist country.
You could do two weeks in Tokyo alone – from the neon lit delights of Shibuya to the kawaii characters around Harajuku, to sculpted gardens and temples, to the robot battle restaurants and late-night karaoke madness – but on Japan’s bullet-fast rail network, rural beauty is only a few hours away. Venture out towards Miyajima Island on the Seto Inland Sea to see the sun set behind the floating torii gate, wander the ancient necropolis in Koyasan, take in the somber weight of history at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum or hike the summer forests at the foot of Mount Fuji. In two weeks, a glimpse of the beauty beyond Tokyo will take your breath away.
The United States
Three weeks is the perfect amount of time to do your first USA trip, hopping from knock-out city to knock-out city on a major league tour. Fly into Los Angeles and drink in the palm trees and the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, then pop out to Venice Beach to catch the action on the boardwalk. Head north to San Francisco and spend a few days wandering the Mission, buy a hippy souvenir at Haight-Ashbury and walk the majestic span of the Golden Gate Bridge. Head on to Chicago to dig some happening blues clubs and incredible architecture, and maybe catch a Cubs game at Wrigley Field, then it’s on to Washington DC for a tour of the White House and a couple of days marvelling at the Smithsonian collections. Save the biggest chunk of days for your final stop – New York City, where dreams are made. Shop the Lower East Side, eat New York Slice, go to Broadway and off-Broadway, and check out MoMa and The Met. You will have an absolute ball and you’ll definitely be back.
Ireland and Scotland
Lush natural beauty and loveable cultures collide on a three-week trek through Ireland and Scotland, two countries best seen at the height of a northern summer. Drive counterclockwise around the Emerald Isle, beginning on the cobbled streets of Dublin down through Waterford and Cork, through the picture book beauty of Killarney, the rousing bars of Galway, then up to Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway. Ferry across to Glasgow and check out the excellent music scene, then train across to Edinburgh and walk around the castle walls. Finish your trip with a tour of the highlands, which are heartbreaking in their windswept, desolate beauty.
Step back in time on a grand tour of La Bella Italia, a country so steeped in history, culture and culinary wonder you won’t know where to look. Three weeks is a decent amount of time to travel north to south on the mainland by rail, taking in beautiful countryside on your path between iconic cities. From the grand opera on offer in Milan to the waterways of Venice to ornate bridges and domes of Florence, to the buzzing plazas and breathtaking ruins of ancient Rome to the volcanic seascape of Naples, Italy is dazzling on the eyes. And between the gelato, the pizza, the pasta, the insalata, the prosciutto and the pane, your tastebuds will be weeping with joy.
Four weeks is just enough time to trek from the colour and bustle of Cape Town on the south western tip of South Africa, along its spectacular coastline towards Durban, then north towards the capital of Johannesburg. This trip of a lifetime will take you through prime SA wine country, along spectacular white sand beaches, through grass-covered mountains to remote village communities. Let Cape Point and the Drakensberg grasslands take your breath away, get your adrenalin going with a hike in the Tsitsikamma Mountains and extreme sports Storms River, and finish your trip with a week of watchful wandering amongst the great beasts of Kruger National Park.
From the arid beauty of the Atacama desert to the frozen fjords of Patagonia, four weeks in Chile will give you a trip north to south through some of the most vital and intense landscapes in the world – a kaleidoscope of weather, colour and culture. Up north, there are salt flats, lunar landscapes and epic gorges. In the heart of the country, you’ll find the pastel houses and quaint funiculars of Valparaiso, the vineyards of Talca and the museums, haute cuisine and frenetic pace of Santiago. Finish your tour with the road trip of a lifetime, heading south on the Carretera Austral, deep into god’s country, where glaciers meet the sea.
With four weeks of travel and a rail pass, the faded, far off beauty of Eastern Europe is yours. Begin in the medieval Polish city of Kraków and a sobering visit to Auschwitz then head east towards the breathtaking clock towers, bridges and misted mornings of Prague. Stately, ornate Vienna and her lush opera houses follows, then the bustling cafes and nightlife of Budapest, the ‘Paris of the East’. An overnight train will take you to Slovenia, to the green and youthful capital of Ljubljana and the nearby Lake Bled. Another hop and you’re in Zagreb, the understated capital of Croatia, gateway to the Plitvice Lakes and the jewels of the Dalmatian Coast, with its lush islands, late night bars, medieval castles, beautiful wine and a particularly delicious black squid ink risotto, eaten on cobblestone streets under the stars.
(Lead image: Vincent Rommelaere)