These flight-free holidays are ideal for seeing the world without the hassle of flying

·10-min read
Photo credit: Giacomo Augugliaro
Photo credit: Giacomo Augugliaro

Not a fan of flying? Want to travel greener? Or simply looking for something different this year? No-fly holidays are worth considering if you've always wondered what it's like to visit Europe by rail, road or sea.

BEST NO-FLY HOLIDAYS

They're also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint as sustainability becomes more and more important to us. In fact, in 2020, ABTA surveyed 2,000 people and half of them said sustainability was one of the things they consider when booking a trip, compared to just one fifth in 2011.

Travelling on a boat or train means you can take in the scenery at a more relaxed pace too, so the journey becomes a more memorable part of your trip.

The good news is that there's a variety of fabulous no-fly holidays available for those who want to keep their feet on the ground, and we’ve rounded up some of the best of them below.

If you fancy taking a shorter journey and staying in the UK, there are plenty of options to choose from. How about a break in the beautiful Cotswolds, with its honey-hued cottages, quiet cobbled streets and perfectly manicured gardens? Or maybe you'd like to take in the views of North Wales by riding the historic railways?

There's no need to limit yourself to UK destinations for a flight-free trip, either. If you’re itching to go further afield, you could travel by train to the Swiss Alps and experience picturesque Lake Thun and the bright red Glacier Express, or visit stunning Slovenia by rail before witnessing charming Lake Bled and the mountains of this small country.

These are only a few of the exciting holidays available by rail, coach and cruise this year. So, if you've always wondered what it's like to visit Europe without the hassle of flying, you're in for a treat.

Here’s our selection of the very best no-fly trips to take this year.

Discover the nature and wildlife of the Isles of Scilly

A wonderful UK destination for a no-fly holiday where you’ll feel like you’re in Europe is the idyllic Isles of Scilly. While you’ll still be in Britain, people often say that this beautiful archipelago feels far from home, with its white-sand beaches, turquoise waters and tropical gardens.

Photo credit: Ashley Cooper - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ashley Cooper - Getty Images

On Good Housekeeping's nature-themed tour in October, you’ll take a ferry from Cornwall and arrive on the tranquil isle of St Martin's. From here you’ll enjoy excursions to several of the islands' beauty spots and attractions. These include the fascinating Tresco Abbey Garden, described as 'Kew without the glass', which is home to over 20,000 plants from more than 80 countries. You’ll also enjoy a wildlife cruise where you have the chance to spot grey seal pups, dolphins and a huge variety of birds.

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Ride the magical Glacier Express in Switzerland

Hop on the Eurostar before taking the high-speed train to Interlaken in Switzerland for the winter no-fly holiday of dreams. Staying in a hotel with character close to the emerald waters of Lake Thun, you'll be in a great position to get to know the Swiss Alps.

Photo credit: Glacier Express
Photo credit: Glacier Express

The iconic Glacier Express is the perfect way to do this and will take you to wintry scenes through beautiful forests and over amazing bridges. You'll also visit the walkable cities of Bern and Lucerne. Good Housekeeping has October 2022 and February 2023 departures for a Glacier Express adventure.

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Browse the gorgeous gardens of the Cotswolds

From Hidcote Manor to Highgrove House, the Cotswolds are home to an abundance of places that gardeners will fall in love with and summer is the ideal time to visit. Joining The One Show's gardening expert Christine Walkden, you'll not only have a celebrity guide to take you around Hidcote, but the TV star will give you gardening tips for your own outdoor space along the way.

Photo credit: Shutterstock
Photo credit: Shutterstock

During this no-fly staycation in June, there'll be visits to Sezincote, Rodmarton Manor and Batsford Arborotum too, plus you can enjoy a stylish stay at a hotel in Witney, the historic market town just a few miles away from Oxford.

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Take to new heights in North Wales

When it comes to outstanding natural beauty, you really don't need to venture far as North Wales has it all - the mountain scenery, views and plenty of space to isolate. On a rail trip to North Wales this year, you can get to know the region's delights during a Snowdon Mountain Railway ride as you travel up Mount Snowdon to be rewarded by the magnificent view, which is known as one of the best in Britain.

Photo credit: Edward Haylan - Getty Images
Photo credit: Edward Haylan - Getty Images

Then there's the Ffestiniog Railway, the world's oldest narrow-gauge railway, and the Welsh Highland Railway, which takes you past the foothills of Snowdon and the Aberglaslyn Pass to Porthmadog. While here, you won't want to miss pretty Portmeirion, which looks like it could be Italy, and quaint Betws-y-Coed, one of the UK's loveliest villages.

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Be amazed by the magnificent lakes of northern Italy

Italy’s northern lakes are one of the most glamorous places for a no-fly holiday. In Lake Como, you can stroll around picture-perfect villages, villas and parks, and visit the historic Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo. And Lake Maggiore is where you can take in the majestic villas and gardens of Stresa on the western shore, including the Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto.

Photo credit: Lisa Mei Photography - Getty Images
Photo credit: Lisa Mei Photography - Getty Images

You can travel in style by train through France and Italy to this gorgeous destination and arrive at Lake Orta for Good Housekeeping’s eight-day tour of northern Italy’s famous lakes. You'll spend seven nights at four-star Hotel Giardinetto, in a peaceful location beside the foothills of the Alps. From here you’ll explore Lakes Maggiore and Como and there’ll be plenty of time to explore your surroundings on the peaceful and lesser-known Lake Orta.

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Explore Scotland on a luxury yacht with Carol Kirkwood

One of the best ways to explore Scotland’s beautiful Highlands is a cruise on board a luxury yacht-style ship. Lord of the Glens is one of Scotland’s most elegant cruise ships and is the perfect way to get to know the stunning waterways, hidden sea lochs and beautiful islands of the Highlands.

Photo credit: Lukas Bischoff - Getty Images
Photo credit: Lukas Bischoff - Getty Images

On Good Housekeeping's eight-day trip in May 2023, you’ll enjoy plenty of seafood and whisky along the way. Better still, you'll be accompanied by weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, who'll tell you all about her Scottish family's history during a private talk and Q&A session. This is a great trip if you’ve always wanted to visit places like Loch Ness, Loch Nevis, the Sound of Mull, Iona, Eigg and Skye, cruising through glistening waters, wild landscapes and towering castles in comfort.

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Explore Costa Brava's beaches and the Pyrenees' scenery

Nestled between the south west of France and Catalonia in northern Spain, the spectacular Pyrenees are home to some of Europe's most amazing mountain scenery. And the good news for anyone looking for a no-fly holiday is that you can easily reach them by train.

Photo credit: Proformabooks - Getty Images
Photo credit: Proformabooks - Getty Images

This trip in May, June and September will take you by Eurostar and TGV to this stunning mountain range, where you’ll enjoy some of the most gorgeous walking trails in Europe. You’ll also take some amazing local train journeys, including the Little Yellow Train of the Pyrenees, which takes you on a winding journey through rocky mountainous scenery, with spectacular views along the way.

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Soak up the glamour of St Tropez, Nice and Monte Carlo

Taking a no-fly holiday doesn’t mean you have to rule out trips to some of Europe’s most stylish destinations. You can visit one of the most glamorous coastlines in the world, the French Riviera, by catching the Eurostar to Lille and then the high-speed TGV to St Raphaël in the south.

Photo credit: Giacomo Augugliaro - Getty Images
Photo credit: Giacomo Augugliaro - Getty Images

On Good Housekeeping’s eight-day trip in June you’ll be based in a four-star harbourfront hotel in St Raphaël. From your base in this pretty resort town you’ll stroll along the quaint streets of Nice, explore medieval St Paul de Vence and brush shoulders with the stars in Monte Carlo.

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Hike in the mountains of Slovenia

The mountain scenery in Slovenia is breathtaking, and this spectacular country is often overlooked when it comes to walking holidays. The Julian Alps offer wonderful hiking opportunities, and you can meander through alpine meadows while enjoying views of the snow-capped peaks.

Photo credit: Mathew Roberts Photography - www.matroberts.co.uk - Getty Images
Photo credit: Mathew Roberts Photography - www.matroberts.co.uk - Getty Images

The scenery is unforgettable and it's perfect for exploring on a no-fly holiday in June or September. You can soak up the stunning scenery of Lake Bled, explore the romantic Slovenian capital Ljubljana, and join an excursion into the heart of Slovenia's only national park, Triglav.

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Discover Monet’s gardens in Normandy with Susy Smith

An excellent no-fly destination for art-lovers is Giverny in Normandy, where you can visit the gardens that inspired much of Claude Monet's work. Here you’ll see the world-famous house and gardens at Giverny, which are full of poppies, lupins, delphiniums, peonies, brightly coloured arched bridges and weeping willows.

Photo credit: Herbert Frei / 500px - Getty Images
Photo credit: Herbert Frei / 500px - Getty Images

On our exclusive four-day tour in July, you'll visit Giverny by Eurostar and explore the marvellous gardens in the company of Country Living's former editor, Susy Smith. Susy will also join you to deliver a private talk and take part in a Q&A session. You'll visit some of France's other wonderful houses and gardens, including the historic Château de Chantilly, too.

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Admire the magical paintings of the Dutch Golden Age with Andrew Graham-Dixon

Another place for art-lovers looking for a no-fly holiday in 2022 is Holland. There are many cities in the Netherlands that are rich with art history, impressive museums and educational tours. The country has plenty to offer for those with an interest in art, and our culture-packed six-day tour has to be one of the best ways to absorb all of this.

Photo credit: © Allard Schager - Getty Images
Photo credit: © Allard Schager - Getty Images

You'll be accompanied by art critic, writer and Vermeer expert Andrew Graham-Dixon who will join you at the Mauritshuis in The Hague for a private, out-of-hours viewing of Vermeer's work. You’ll also visit Amsterdam to explore one of the world's greatest art galleries, the Rijksmuseum.

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Ride the Mont Blanc Express through the France and Switzerland

Travelling by train and coach, this six-day tour will take you through tranquil countryside on your journey to the picturesque resort of La Clusaz, where you'll be surrounded by incredible mountain views and charming chalet-style buildings. The views throughout this no-fly holiday will be unforgettable, and you'll have the perfect opportunity to take all of this in as you spend a day travelling on the Mont Blanc Express.

Photo credit: David LEVEQUE - Getty Images
Photo credit: David LEVEQUE - Getty Images

This train takes you through magical landscapes as you travel from the spa town of St-Gervais-les-Bains to beautiful Chamonix. There'll also be plenty of time to explore the many quaint French towns in the area and wander along the shores of Lake Annecy, enjoying its serenity and calm waters.

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See Holland’s once-in-a-decade Floriade Expo and explore Amsterdam

Journey onboard the Eurostar to Amsterdam on a five-day trip to Holland for the once-in-a-decade Floriade Expo. This floral exhibition is considered one of the world’s best flower shows, and takes place in the modern town of Almere.

Photo credit: Floriade
Photo credit: Floriade

This year, the theme is 'Growing Green Cities' and you will get the chance to see a stunning variety of trees, shrubs, perennials, creepers, hydrophytes and flowers. You’ll also spend a day cruising through Amsterdam’s canals, which have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, and see many of the city's highlights, including the famous 17th-century canal houses.

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