Forget dry January, this year you should channel your post-Christmas, glutton's guilt and newfound motivational energy into something that’s both good for you and enjoyable: travel.
But not just anywhere; pick a place that’s known for sports, activities, and the great outdoors. Here is Booking.com’s pick of the best.
Queenstown is a remarkable place to reconnect with nature
Queenstown, New Zealand
There’s nothing like the New Zealand landscape to beckon you outdoors. Most tourists come to Queenstown, a city on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, for the adrenalin – to trek glaciers, bungee jump off the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, skydive, or raft the rapids. In winter, you can ski nearby mountain range, the Remarkables. But you can also reconnect with nature at a slower pace. Admire the wild and formidable terrain on a gentle hike, a trout-fishing trip, or a visit to a local vineyard. And after a day of outdoor activities, a glass of chilled Chardonnay on the banks of the broad, glassy lake makes a nice reward.
The mountains near Seoul are a hub for outdoor activities and snowsports
Seoul, South Korea
With the 2018 Winter Olympics to be hosted by Pyeongchang, the spotlight is now on South Korea. The majority of visitors tend not to venture out of the thrilling, modern, and enormous capital, Seoul, missing a cornucopia of outdoors experiences. Skiing or snowboarding just outside the city is the most popular but this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are also snow parks, mogul obstacle slopes, mountain biking, and hiking.
Cycle along the canals of cosmopolitan Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a city break with an active edge. Cycling along the canals of this cosmopolitan capital, with its distinct village demeanour, is by far the best way to see the sights and blend in with the locals. A network of cycling paths covers the country so you can take your bike as far as you like, perhaps visiting the tulip fields, heading to the beach for some windsurfing or Utrecht or Den Haag. Closer to home, Amsterdamse Bos is a landscape park that’s only a half hour cycle from the city centre, yet is around three times the size of New York’s Central Park. Here you’ll find inviting forests of slender trees, lakes with obstacle courses in the water and rivers perfect for a spot of canoeing.
The Dordogne region can be explored on foot, horseback, by bike or canoe
Perigeux is an old Roman town right in the middle of the Dordogne region of southwestern France. This is a region that really lends itself to active and family-friendly holidays, centred around the Dordogne River. Take a canoeing day trip through archetypal French countryside, where châteaux sit atop honey-coloured rocky promontories, poking out of the forests and vineyards. There are tree houses, yurts and throngs of riverside campgrounds, so you can pitch up a tent en route and carry on canoeing the next day. Cycling, walking and horse-riding expeditions are on offer too.
Trek through the world's highest mountains near Kathmandu
As you descend into the valley of Kathmandu, the sight of the city alone is enough to whet your appetite for adventure. As rickshaws race around ancient temples, your eyes will be drawn to the Himalayan backdrop, containing several of the world’s highest mountains. Opt for a high-altitude trek and you’ll be camping in the snow, enveloped in unparalleled silence and mountains of spine-tingling scale. Alternatively, treks run through woodland and waterfalls lower down the mountain range, while bungee jumping, skydiving and other extreme sports are also available.
Morocco offers world-class hiking and surfing not far from Marrakech
Getting lost in the city’s labyrinthine souks amid the aroma of spices and recently-tanned leather is an activity in itself. But once you’re outside of Marrakech, there are ample ways for you to get active on holiday. In just a few days, you can go from hiking in the arid Atlas Mountains to surfing strong swell in the Atlantic Ocean.
Though it's known for surfing, stunning Hawaii offers a plethora of active holidays
With several tropical islands to choose from, the state of Hawaii is a utopia for active holiday-goers. Hike through lush green rainforest, volcanic craters, canyons and valleys before taking a dip in a cascade or mountain stream. The island’s beaches are among the world’s very best surfing spots but kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling are mellower ways to admire this paradisiacal place.