Visit The Baltic Coastal Town of Gdansk, Poland

An industrial port on the edge of the Baltic may not sound like an ideal spot for a mini break, but with his cobbled streets and pastoral coloured Flemish buildings, Gdansk is full of surprises. And right now, is the time to go, before it starts attracting anywhere near the hefty number of visitors Polish hotspot Krakow does. From a tourist’s perspective, it still feels almost undiscovered.

Explore Egypt’s Saharan Wild Western Desert

It's not a pretty sight. The stark landscape of Egypt's desert burns my retinas, forcing me to squint as I scan the quivering, molten, 40°C scene before me. Besides my two friends, our jeep driver, there's not a soul around, nor is there a signal that life could survive here - even if it wanted to. Instead, ochre sands meet dark smatterings of iron ore from the region's volcanic rock formations. It's a surreal corner of the earth almost entirely untouched by mankind.

7 of the World’s Best Deep Sea Dives

All you can hear is the sound of your own slow breathing. Lurid yellow, orange and pink fish flash by, like tiny electric bolts. Your flippers gently brush against the tips of swaying tropical plants and with each metre you swim deeper, there' another underwater scene, each one more mesmerising than the last. Welcome to the world of scuba diving.

High as a Kite in El Gouna, Egypt

"Ever ridden a horse?" my Egyptian kitesurfing instructor Cousha asks. Before I can answer, he continues: "This is the exact opposite of riding a horse. Pull on that line and we will soon be watching you fly away." So, it's with those anxiety-inducing instructions I'm introduced to kitesurfing. The sport is a relatively new one, a complicated combo of wakeboarding, windsurfing and gymnastics. In 1998 it went mainstream.

Visit Pisa, The Lovely Tuscan Student Town

Pisa is a perfectly lovely Tuscan student town that's become a landmark around the world because of its extraordinary gravity-defying tourist pull: There's no denying the Tower, or Torre in Italian, is unique, but the town has loads more on offer.

See the Real Sarawak, the Heart and Soul of Borneo

In Sarawak, fortune favours the intrepid.  As Malaysia's largest state it isn't just beautiful, it's a land of wild encounters, of 140-million-year-old rainforests and unique tribal cultures. Those that tread lightly - who travel slowly and sustainably - will see a side to the region that few others do, for this is a destination that rewards a deeper exploration.  Spend a night in a tribal homestay, and you'll be welcomed as a member of the family. Join a turtle nesting project, and the beach reveals its wild side.

Get a Taste of Japan, Visit the Cities of Niigata and Tsuruoka

On the north-east coast of Japan, where mountains roll into rice fields and waves crash on sandy shores, two historical cities stand out for their gastronomic delights. Harbour side Niigata and mountainous Tsuruoka - located in the Tohoku region of Japan, a few hours from Tokyo by train - have a very different culinary style, but both approach cuisine in a way that celebrates the farmlands, oceans and mountains that surround them. The cities may  be 140km apart, but their commitment to the country's natural abundance unites them in reputation: as true culinary capitals of Japan.

Nicaragua as Nature Intended

Green is the perfect adjective for Nicaragua. Not only does it apply to the country's lush jungles but also to the raft of responsible measures Nicaragua has introduced to make sure that its area of pristine and natural beauty stay protected for generations to come.

Take a Road Trip and Experience the Lone Star State of Texas

Start your adventure in Dallas, where glimmering skyscrapers meet tangible history - starting at Dealey Plaza, the birthplace of Dallas and later the location of a significant moment in the USA's history. Learn all about the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy at the sixth-floor museum before delving into the city's blooming beauty at the 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, or its burgeoning creative scene in the atmospheric Arts District.

Weekend City Break Vienna, Austria

With its splendid architecture, wide collection of museums and galleries, and regular performances of world-class ballet and classical music, this is the place to embrace high art. Throw in atmospheric bars, taverns and cafes, and you've got the makings of a wonderful city.

Headline attraction

The Schloss Schonbrunn, the baroque palace that was Marie Antoinette's home as a child, is a microcosm of Vienna - touching on many of the things for which the city is famed.

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