20 dream holidays to tick off your bucket list

dream holidays
20 dream holidays to tick off your bucket listWestend61 - Getty Images

Dream holidays take you to the breathtaking places you've seen in magazines and on social media but have always wanted to experience for yourself.

They're ideal for ticking amazing places off your bucket list as you witness rare events, like wildlife encounters and natural phenomena, and visit heavenly destinations around the world.

To help you plan your next dream holiday, we thought we'd bring you some of the most amazing ideas or 2023 and 2024.

Our carefully curated selection is a one-of-a-kind, exclusive and gives you the chance to travel with like-minded Good Housekeeping readers - as well as a few of your favourite celebrities and experts.

Whether your dream holiday involves a luxurious cruise, an iconic railway journey, or exploring enchanting cities by foot, we’ve got something for you here.

From seeing Japan during the picture-perfect cherry blossom season to gliding through Scotland's Hollywood-worthy scenery on a steam train, these are the places to tick off your holiday wish list. Check out the dream holidays to experience in 2023 and 2024.

1. Discover northern Italy's breathtaking lakes and gardens

Italy’s northern lakes are known as one of the world's most glamorous holiday destinations, where visitors are treated to scenic views, grand villas and ornate gardens set against a dreamy backdrop of snow-capped peaks. There’s Lake Maggiore, Italy's second largest lake, where you can visit the majestic villas and gardens of Stresa on its western shore, and the wonderful Botanic Gardens of Villa Taranto.

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You’ll want to explore Lake Orta too, a smaller lake in a peaceful location in the foothills of the Alps. This is where you’ll be staying on Good Housekeeping’s eight-day tour of northern Italy’s lovely lakes and gardens in April or September 2023.

There are renowned lakeside gardens to explore too, including the wonderful Botanic Gardens of Villa Taranto, with its rare flowers and the gardens at Villa Carlotta with their blooms of bright azaleas and rhododendrons. You’ll also visit charming lakes Maggiore, Como and Lugano, sun-drenched Locarno and trendy Milan.

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2. Glide through natural scenery on Canada's Rocky Mountaineer

When it comes to the greatest train journeys in the world, Canada's Rocky Mountaineer train is up there with the likes of the Royal Scotsman and the Trans-Siberian Express. This epic train travels through the majestic Rocky Mountains, taking in superb destinations like Lake Louise, Jasper, Whistler and Calgary, while allowing you to spot amazing wildlife, including grizzly bears, bald eagles, elk and big-horned sheep.

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Rocky Mountaineer

With oversized glass dome windows, a large and exclusive outdoor viewing platform, and gourmet meals served in a lower-level dining room, this train is a luxurious way to see the natural wonders of North America.

On Good Housekeeping's exclusive 15-day tour, you'll ride this wonderful train into the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies. You’ll also experience the stunning Alaskan coastline on a cruise of the Inside Passage, a protected network of waterways that wind through glacier-cut fjords and lush temperate rainforests. Keep your eyes peeled for majestic humpback whales!

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3. Join a luxury Caribbean clipper cruise around the Leeward Islands

The Leeward Islands make a dream holiday destination for anyone looking for the best of the Caribbean - think white-sand beaches, turquoise waters, and warm weather near guaranteed.

There’s plenty to keep you active though, should you tire of sunbathing and dipping your toes in the ocean. What about a hike in the orchid-festooned rainforest of Dominica, or some energetic water sports on Terre-de-Haut?

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Roberto Moiola / Sysaworld - Getty Images

Join Good Housekeeping for a cruise in January, February or March and you'll visit a different Caribbean island each day, exploring some of the most beautiful sites in the region. You’ll make stops on Nevis, Dominica, Terre-de-Haut, Deshaies, Antigua, and St Barts. Time on shore is yours to spend as you wish, getting to know the culture or seeking out a shady palm on a perfect powdery-soft beach.

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4. Discover the gourmet highlights of Bordeaux with Raymond Blanc

With its fairytale chateaux, delectable wines and enthralling scenery, Bordeaux is a near-perfect spot for a wine tasting holiday. Here, you can sample the finest clarets, sip wine as you sample oysters - which the region is famous for - and go on exciting excursions to the many inviting food markets, where you can taste the freshest of local produce.

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Holger Leue

You might also be tempted to discover the region’s rich history, with a trip to the UNESCO-listed citadel in Blaye, the mysterious underground catacombs of Saint-Émilion, orLibourne's Gothic church.

You can join Michelin star chef Raymond Blanc on a food and wine cruise of Bordeaux during the harvest season. You’ll visit vineyards for tastings and learn the art of French cooking from a true master with an interactive cooking demonstration from Raymond.

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5. Go island hopping in Scotland's untouched Hebrides

If you’re looking for a slice of paradise but want to avoid long-haul flights, consider a trip to the gorgeous Hebrides of Scotland. Located off the west coast of Scotland and with more than 50 inhabited islands to discover, the Hebrides show that you don't necessarily need to leave the UK if island hopping is your thing.

You’ll find clear waters and powder-soft sands on some of Europe's most pristine beaches, where you can stroll along the striking coastline and spot varied birds and wildlife.

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You can also get a taste of what it's like to live on the Atlantic Ocean archipelago on visits to whisky distilleries and tweed-weavers. Join us for an island-hopping tour around the unforgettable Hebrides in April or May 2023.

It will take you to several of the islands, starting from Arran and ending on Colonsay. You'll be sailing on Ms Spitsbergen, a Scandi vessel that's environmentally progressive, thanks to its hybrid engine, and built for exploring smaller islands.

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6. Taste wines and try grape treading along the beautiful Douro River

Portugal’s Douro Valley is an incredibly picturesque wine-producing region. Its sweeping, sun-kissed hills make a dream holiday destination for any wine lover. If you visit in September or October, you’ll be arriving in the middle of the harvest season. You’ll find there’s a festive atmosphere in the hills, with live music playing through the night in the quintas - historic Portuguese wine estates.

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Taking a cruise along the Douro River allows you to fully immerse yourself in the wine culture, stopping off at vineyards to sample the finest port wines. You can even get involved in the harvest yourself by taking part in the traditional grape treading, where fresh grapes are trampled underfoot in a juicing ceremony that dates back centuries - it's a fun and satisfying experience.

Good Housekeeping has an eight-day Douro cruise that will take you to a picturesque quinta where you can try grape treading yourself. You’ll also stop off in buzzing Porto to sample more wine and admire the elegant architecture.

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Alternatively, you might choose to visit in the spring. At this time of year, the weather is lovely and warm and the terraced vineyards on the hills are bright with vibrant grape leaves. Join us in May 2023 for an eight-day cruise where a real highlight will be a special meal at Quinta da Avessada in the heart of the wine region.

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7. Soak up the romance of Venice and watch Russell Watson in concert

One of the world's most romantic cities, Venice is a classic European hotspot. The enchanting destination is one every Italophile needs to visit at least one. There's St Mark's Square, Doge's Palace and Rialto Bridge to explore, plus more. Foodies will be in their element, with a visit to Rialto's food markets, and if you're looking to get out of the centre, you can venture to the islands of Burano and Murano to discover their colourful architecture.

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Russell Watson is joining Good Housekeeping readers on a boutique music-themed cruise around Venice in April 2023, where he will give a private talk and host an exclusive live concert. During the trip you’ll be sailing in luxury and style on Super Ship La Venezia, with gourmet meals and unlimited premium drinks included.

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8. Ride the Bernina Express through Switzerland's epic mountains

Anyone in search of a dream train journey needn't look further than the stunning Swiss and Italian Alps, where the Bernina Express awaits. The Bernina Express runs from Chur and St Moritz in the east of Switzerland, before crossing the border of north Italy and heading to the quaint village of Tirano. It's one of the best train journeys in the world and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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The four-hour train ride chugs through 55 tunnels, over 196 bridges and takes in three of Switzerland's four language regions. Some of the incredible experiences along the route include travelling across the incredible UNESCO-protected Landwasser Viaduct.

If you want to see views of glorious glaciers, dramatic mountains and breathtaking lakes for yourself, join Good Housekeeping's exclusive holiday in May, October or December 2023. The trip includes a ride on the Bernina Express, a stay on the shores of northern Italy’s Lake Como and a day in charming St Moritz.

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9. Join Delia Smith on a foodie trip to Norfolk

Norfolk is a brilliant place to visit for any lover of good food looking for a UK break. With its rich agricultural heritage and long coastline, the county is packed with gourmet pubs, independent delis, craft breweries, and top restaurants with menus which take advantage of tasty local produce.

Its most famous edible export is probably the Cromer crab, a meaty and flavoursome crab caught in the nutrient-rich waters off Norfolk's coast. But there's a lot more for foodies to discover here.

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Getty/Delia Smith

You can explore Norfolk on a special five-day trip with Good Housekeeping in April 2023. This exclusive trip includes a day hosted by Delia Smith at her Food and Wine Workshop.

You'll also be joined by chef Alex Mackay and wine expert Jason Banner. This exciting food and drink experience also includes a three-course lunch with wine tasting, a cooking demonstration with Alex, a cocktail masterclass, and a special Q&A session with Delia.

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10. Travel through the Scottish Highlands like Harry Potter

If you're looking for a staycation like nothing else, a trip to Scottish Highlands offers all the goods. Here, you can take to the spectacular 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, which was a location of the Harry Potter films and take in the impressive sight of Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis, as you ride the Jacobite, one of the greatest railway journeys in the world.

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The Highlands make for a great spot to experience Britain's wild beauty and Good Housekeeping's dream holiday is one way to see its glorious scenery on the steam train ride of your childhood dreams.

You’ll ride the famous Fort William to Mallaig line through rugged mountains, past sea and inland lochs and onto the shores of the Atlantic at Mallaig, where you can make a pitstop for local seafood or fish and chips.

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11. Explore the highlights of Spain and Morocco on an unforgettable rail journey

Spain has an array of captivating cities, with architecture, art, and cuisine telling the story of the country’s fascinating and complex history. In Madrid you can visit the world-renowned Prado Museum, which boasts one of the world's greatest art collections. In Barcelona you can visit Gaudi's famous architectural gems, like the Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo, before relaxing on the beach.

Fortunately, these two enchanting cities are well-connected by rail, making them easy to combine into one trip. For a dream holiday, you can extend your holiday by travelling south and crossing the Strait of Gibraltar by ferry to reach magnificent Morocco.

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Discovering two of the most elegant and history-rich cities in Morocco in one trip is convenient thanks to a convenient express train that runs between them. You can spend time in Casablanca, visiting its Medina and the incredible Hassan II Mosque before catching the train to Marrakech, where you can enjoy its historic ramparts, intricate mosques and bustling souks..

Good Housekeeping has an exciting 10-day trip to Spain and Morocco, where you’ll explore the highlights of both countries by rail.

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12. Discover the wonderful wildlife and glorious gardens of the Isles of Scilly

These pristine islands 28 miles from the coast of Cornwall are a brilliant destination for wildlife lovers. The largest island, St Mary’s, is where the majority of the 2,200 Scillonians live, and can be easily reached by ferry from Penzance.

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The second largest island, Tresco, is famed for its dramatic headlands, quiet beaches and historical forts, plus the outstanding Tresco Abbey Garden, known as the South West’s answer to Kew. There are over 450 species of seabirds, waders and migrants to be spotted here throughout the year, and in the autumn you might be lucky enough to spot Atlantic grey seal pups.

Good Housekeeping has a fascinating tour of the Isles of Scilly in April 2023, which includes dinner and a talk from the Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Julian Branscombe.

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13.Discover the wonders and wildlife of Costa Rica and Panama by tall ship

Costa Rica draws nature and wildlife lovers from all over the world. People travel here to marvel at its rich waters - where you might spot turtles, dolphins and eagle rays - and its rainforests, where monkeys play in the canopies and birds fly overhead. Panama is similarly blessed with flora and fauna, and its Coiba National Park, made up of a selection of 38 lush, tropical islands, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The waters surrounding Coiba support the eastern Pacific's second largest coral reef, so scuba diving here is bound to be particularly rewarding. Take to the waters and you might spot turtles, rays, whitetip sharks, and schools of colourful fish. You can visit Costa Rica and Panama on Good Housekeeping’s excellent nine-day cruise in January, February or March 2024. You’ll be sailing on board Star Clipper, a traditional tall ship with 36,000 feet of billowing sails.

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14. Learn the secrets of the English country garden with Sarah Raven

If your dream holiday involves strolling through a tranquil English country garden at the height of summer, when roses, sweet peas, and azaleas are in full bloom, a summertime trip to the brilliant gardens of Kent and Sussex might well do the trick.

Here you can witness the shrubs and perennials of Great Comp Garden, the roses and lavender of Pashley Manor, and the magnificent manicured gardens at Sissinghurst. Keen gardeners are bound to pick up tips and inspiration here to elevate their own gardens.

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Getty/Sarah Raven

You can visit the exceptional gardens of Kent and Sussex with Good Housekeeping on a very special itinerary in June 2023. You’ll be joined by garden designer, writer and broadcaster Sarah Raven, who’ll welcome you to Perch Hill, a former dairy farm that she transformed into 90 acres dedicated to flowers and vibrant gardens.

Sarah will give a special talk on her experience transforming the gardens before you take a guided tour with the gardeners, who’ll answer any questions you might have.

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15. Take in the beauty of the cherry blossom season on a cruise around Japan

A floral wonder that only occurs for a few weeks each spring, the Japanese cherry blossom season is a travel bucket list must-have for any nature-loving globetrotter. Its sheer beauty is something that you may have seen in pictures, but you can only truly appreciate it by being there. In the capital, Tokyo, there’s plenty of opportunity to see the cherry blossom, or ‘sakura’, in the lovely parks which can be found amongst soaring sky-skrapers. But you’ll want to make sure to travel around the country to get the fully floral experience.

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On Good Housekeeping's 13-day cruise of Japan in March 2024, you can see the stunning blooms in Okinawa, Kyoto, Tokyo, Mount Fuji and more. You'll have plenty of time to take in all the culture, tick the highlights off your list and even venture to South Korea’s Jeju Island to explore more of Asia's beautiful nature.

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16. Celebrate Madeira's flower festival

The Portuguese island of Madeira is known as ‘the floating garden of the Atlantic’, and if you visit you’ll soon see why. This lovely island in the North Atlantic is an absolute paradise for anyone who loves flowers. The best time to visit is in late spring, when the Madeira Flower Festival takes place, and the island’s fabulous gardens will be in full bloom.

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During the exciting festival, everything in Madeira is about flowers, and the streets of the island's capital Funchal are filled with colours and scents from floral floats. Parades and performances take place daily as island residents and visitors celebrate the beauty of the island in bloom.

Visit with Good Housekeeping for 2023’s flower festival in April and you’ll visit several of Madeira's renowned gardens including the Botanical Gardens, Monte Palace Tropical Garden and Palheiro Gardens, as well as enjoying the parades, performances and installations in the streets of Funchal.

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Alternatively, you can join an extra-special trip to the flower festival with expert gardener and TV presenter Christine Walkden in May. You’ll explore the island’s botanical gardens with Christine, and will get a reserved seat for one of the festival’s best parades.

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17. Glide through the Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express

If you don't have the time or energy to travel halfway across the world to experience a dream holiday, there's good news - you don't have to! Just a short hop away in Switzerland, you can ride an iconic red train that makes its way through stunning forests, Alpine valleys and over stunning bridges.

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Known as the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express offers a magical winter break. It's wonderful in autumn too, when you can see the changing colours of the seasons and witness the natural beauty of the Alps, and in spring, when the valleys are lush with green and pretty flowers dot the mountains with colour.

On Good Housekeeping's terrific trip in October 2023, you'll ride the train, explore the underrated city of Bern and enjoy a tranquil lake cruise.

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18. Admire springtime blooms along the Dutch and Belgian waterways with Adam Frost

You won't find a better time to visit the Netherlands than spring, when tulip season arrives, bringing colourful fields full of the blooming flowers. It's when you can visit the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens to see the millions of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. Elsewhere, the canals, windmills and streets of Amsterdam are also at their most beautiful.

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Good Housekeeping's unique, spring-time cruise along the Dutch and Belgian waterway takes you to visit the famous flower fields and Keukenhof Gardens, as well as optional visits to Belgium’s Kalmthout Arboretum and Meise Botanic Gardens.

You’ll be accompanied by Gardeners' World presenter Adam Frost. You'll get to hear his tips and tricks to use in your own garden as you take in the culture and scenery of this wonderful part of Europe.

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19. Explore Scotland's scenery by luxury yacht with Carol Kirkwood

The Highlands and islands of Scotland boast some of the UK’s most dramatically beautiful natural scenery. There’s Loch Ness, Loch Nevis, the Sound of Mull, Iona, Eigg, Skye, Fort Augustus, and Fort William, and plenty of other serene locations to visit as you tour this well-loved region.

One of the best ways to explore is by boat, sailing through the glistening waters of the Caledonian Canal, exploring the hidden sea lochs and the magical islands of Scotland's western shore. You’ll glide past wild landscapes, towering castles, and spot majestic flora and fauna, on what is surely one of the UK’s most spectacular cruises.

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Lord of the Glens/Carol Kirkwood

Good Housekeeping has an exclusive eight-day escape in May 2023 where you’ll sail around Scotland on a luxurious yacht-style ship, Lord of the Glens. You’ll be joined on board by weather presenter and proud Scotswoman, Carol Kirkwood, who'll give a talk and Q&A, sharing tales of growing up in the little coastal town of Morar.

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Alternatively, you can sail this captivating part of Scotland on Lord of the Glens on a shorter trip in April 2023. You’ll visit many of the same places, like colourful Tobermory on the Isle of Mull.

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If you’d prefer an autumn sailing, you can join us in September 2023 for an eight-day cruise. This is a lovely time to visit the Highlands, when the forests are awash with golden colours. This is also the beginning of the deer rutting season, so you might spot majestic red, fallow, and sika deer putting on a feisty display as they lock horns on the hillsides.

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20. Explore idyllic Cotswolds gardens and visit Cotswold Farm Park with Adam Henson

With its rolling hills, butterscotch cottages, and delightful market towns, the Cotswolds is high on the list of the prettiest places to visit in the UK. Well-loved for its supremely peaceful limestone hills and cosy pubs, the Cotswolds are a perfect example of quintessential English countryside and attract visitors from all over the world. One of the main draws is its range of delightful gardens.

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There’s Batsford Arboretum, with its collection of rare trees, Painswick Rococo Garden, with its follies and vegetable plots, and Sudeley Castle and Gardens, a stunning private castle with royal connections that span a thousand years.

You can visit all of these and more on our five-day Cotswolds trip in April, May or September 2023. A real highlight of the trip is a visit to Cotswolds Farm Park, a 650-hectare farm which is home to many rare breeds. You’ll be welcomed here by the farm’s charismatic owner and Countryfile star, Adam Henson, who will join you for a private lunch and give a talk about sustainable farming.

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Looking for inspiration for your next holiday? Grab a cuppa and browse our brochure packed with unique escapes.

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