Everyone loves to get lost in the culture of another country – it’s part of what makes travel so compelling. But while wine tasting in France and riding gondolas in Venice are fine and fun ways to explore, it turns out there’s much more to do if you know where to look. Here are some of the most unusual ways to spend your holiday. It’s time to start planning your next adventure.
Sail from Tenerife to the Caribbean on a three-mast schooner
Whether you’re a real life Hornblower or the next Jack Sparrow, few adventures can match the sensation of joining a crew of shipmates and setting sail across the Atlantic. Centuries ago, this was the only way to travel from Europe to the fabled New World – and that same rush of discovery will be yours as you strut up the gangplank in Tenerife and set your schooner’s prow for the Caribbean island of Martinique.
With just under a month at sea, you’ll learn the ropes in the literal sense as you earn your passage through seamanship and crew camaraderie. It’s one way to see the world that can never be forgotten, and – to say the least – definitely a pretty retro way to travel.
Visit The Island of the Dolls in Mexico City
Lots of travellers seek out the cultural blend of Aztec artefacts and modern trappings the capital of Mexico provides. Once you’ve breakfasted on quesadillas and explored the markets, churros in hand, you can seek the city’s canals in Xochimico for a relaxed afternoon.
But if you take one turn too many, you may find yourself in the heart of La Isla de las Munecas – the Island of the Dolls. Across every tree and surface, broken, decaying and staring dolls are strapped up, gazing at passersby. Creepy urban legends of drownings, hauntings and worse make this enough to make anyone reach for the tequila.
Take up Genghis Khan warrior training in Mongolia
Yes, you read that correctly – step into the immense plains of Ulaanbataar, and into the shoes of a 13th-century warrior. You’ll embark on a training regimen and wilderness experience identical to the nomadic masters of battle once commanded by Genghis Khan in the medieval ages.
Wield swords and bows and ride horses across the vast Mongolian landscape, complete with wilderness camping in the same tents used as these warriors of old. Following your nine day campaign, return to civilised life with a certificate of achievement – though perhaps hold back from adding ‘trained medieval Mongolian soldier’ to your CV once you’re home.
Balloon over fairy chimneys in Cappadocia, Turkey
We already know the breadth and variety that can be found in Turkey. By taking to the skies in a hot air balloon over the Cappadocia region, you’ll feel like you’ve fallen into a fantasy story. Great temples are carved into grand rock surfaces, while cone-like huts and houses pepper the arid landscape with an otherworldly magic. Snowy little villages and magnificent mountains complete the scene – your friends won’t believe the pictures you’ll take of this ethereal land lost in time.
Visit Westeros – by way of Iceland
While Game of Thrones might have us hooked, it’s the landscapes as much as the characters that have captivated our hearts and minds. Many of the most iconic scenes in the franchise were shot on location in Iceland, with tours now open for fans to follow in the footsteps of those who’ve faced the White Walkers and survived.
While you’re there, add an extra layer of heroism to your stay by visiting the Viking Lodge of Þjórsárdalur Valley, and there’ll be no beating the epic scale of your holiday stories once you get home.
Which unusual holiday activity takes your fancy? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.
Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya
Riviera Maya, Mexico