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Dream holidays: Ultimate travel bucket list

by Gianluca Palermi
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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, encounter exotic wildlife, 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 for this year and next.

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

Whether your dream holiday involves an adventurous cruise, an iconic railway journey, enchanting cities, we’ve got something for you.

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.

1. Discover the gourmet highlights of Bordeaux with Monica Galetti

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.

saint emilion monolithic church and old town bordeaux, france

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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, or Libourne’s Gothic church.

Top chef Monica Galetti will join Good Housekeeping for a very special food and wine cruise of Bordeaux. You’ll visit vineyards for tastings and learn the art of French cooking from a true master with an interactive cooking demonstration from Monica.


2. 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 Hebrides. Located off the west coast of Scotland and with more than 50 inhabited islands to discover, the Hebrides prove 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 Good Housekeeping for a dreamy island-hopping tour around the Hebrides. It will take you to several of the islands, starting from Arran and ending on Colonsay. You’ll sail on Ms Spitsbergen, a Scandinavian vessel with a hybrid engine built for exploring smaller islands.


3. 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 it a dream holiday destination for any wine lover. If you visit in September or October, you will arrive 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. If you travel in the autumn months, 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.


4. Soak up the romance of Venice and meet Angela Hartnett

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 once. There’s St Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, the Rialto Bridge and much more to explore. Foodies will be in their element with a visit to the Rialto food market, 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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Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett is joining Good Housekeeping readers on a boutique food-themed cruise around Venice, where she will give a private talk and host an onboard cooking demonstration. During the trip you’ll sail in luxury and style on S.S. La Venezia, with gourmet meals and unlimited premium drinks included as you visit the major sights of Venice as well as Burano, Mazzorbo, Torcello, Chioggia, and Murano.


5. 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 Swiss holiday. 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.


6. Discover the ancient archaeological treasures of Jordan

Jordan is a real treasure trove of ancient archaeological wonders and captivating landscapes. It’s home to the magnificent Nabatean city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Petra is carved into the towering pink sandstone cliffs, and wandering along the canyon leading to the entrance of the ‘Rose City’ is a truly unforgettable experience.

Aside from Petra, Jordan boasts natural wonders, like the Wadi Rum desert, whose ethereal landscapes look straight out of a sci-fi film (and in fact, has appeared as a filming location for many).

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Visit Jordan with Good Housekeeping on a special women-only trip and you can see Petra and Wadi Rum, as well as the historical settlements of Amman and the Dead Sea, where you’ll spend two relaxing days enjoying the pristine beaches and floating on the salty and buoyant lake.

You’ll spend several hours traversing the awe-inspiring landscapes of Wadi Rum on a 4×4 tour, before spending the night in a traditional Bedouin desert camp – a truly immersive experience and a great way to fully appreciate the beauty of this desert wilderness and its starry skies.


7. Travel through the Scottish Highlands like Harry Potter and meet Kirsty Wark

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.

glenfinnan railway viaduct in scotland with a steam train

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The Highlands make for a great spot to experience Britain’s wild beauty and Good Housekeeping’s dream holiday in July 2024 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. Making a special appearance is Scottish broadcaster Kirsty Wark, who’ll give a talk and Q&A and join you on board the Jacobite.


8. Discover the 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 of the Isles of Scilly, 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, the South West’s answer to Kew. There are over 450 species of seabirds, waders and migrants to be spotted on the island 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 which includes dinner and a talk from the Chief Executive of the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, Julian Branscombe.


9. Take in the beauty of Japan’s cherry blossom season on a cruise

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 among soaring skyscrapers. But you’ll want to make sure to travel around the country to get the fully floral experience.

cherry blossom holiday to japan


On Good Housekeeping’s 17-day cruise of Japan you can see the stunning blooms in Tokyo, Osaka, Kochi, Niigata and more. You’ll have plenty of time to take in all the culture, tick the highlights off your list and even venture to Busan in South Korea to explore more of Asia’s beautiful nature, nightlife, sandy beaches, hot springs and temples.


10. Celebrate Madeira’s colourful 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 a 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 are 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 2024’s Flower Festival in April and you’ll visit several of Madeira’s renowned gardens including the Botanical Gardens and Palheiro Gardens, as well as enjoying the parades, performances and installations in the streets of Funchal.


11. Glide through the Swiss Alps on the Glacier Express

If you don’t have the time or energy to travel 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.

glacier express opweg naar sankt moritz passeert het beroemde landwasser viaduct dit viaduct is een onderdeel van de albulabahn deze spoorlijn behoort tot het unesco wereld erfgoed


Known as the slowest express train in the world, the Glacier Express offers a magical break. It’s wonderful in autumn, 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 five-day trip to Switzerland you’ll ride the Glacier Express, explore the underrated city of Bern and enjoy a tranquil lake cruise.


12. Admire springtime blooms along 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 blooming flowers. It’s when you can visit the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens to see 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 waterways takes you to visit the famous flower fields and Keukenhof Gardens, as well as visits to the Netherlands’ two biggest cities, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, where you can trace the steps of some of their famous former residents.

You’ll be accompanied by Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost and 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.


13. 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.

ruins of urquhart castle overlooking loch ness

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Good Housekeeping has an exclusive four-day escape to the highlands where you’ll sail around Scotland on a luxurious yacht-style ship, Lord of the Glens. You’ll be joined on board by proud Scotswoman and weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, who’ll give a talk and Q&A, and chat with guests about her experience growing up in Morar.


14. Cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River

The incredible Mekong is one of the world’s great rivers, winding almost 5,000 kilometres from its source on the Tibetan Plateau in China to the Mekong Delta. One of the most scenic stretches runs through Cambodia and Vietnam, meandering through sleepy fishing villages and lush green paddy fields, past elaborate temples and through Cambodia’s frenetic capital, Phnom Penh.

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Joining a cruise along the Mekong is one of the best ways to discover the archaeological wonders and turbulent history of these two captivating countries. On a Mekong cruise you can see the magnificent temple complex of Angkor Wat, glide through the delta on a traditional wooden boat called a sampan, and learn about the harrowing and brutal history of the Khmer Rouge and the infamous Killing Fields in Phnom Penh.

Good Housekeeping has a very special 17-day adventure through Cambodia and Vietnam which includes a seven-night cruise on the Mekong. You’ll be staying in a Luxury Balcony suite on the Mekong Jewel, a luxurious and ornately-decorated ship with two dining venues, a swimming pool, spa, sauna and steam room, two lounges and a library.


15. Glide through the Rocky Mountains on the Rocky Mountaineer

Canada’s Rocky Mountains make a truly bucketlist holiday destination, thanks to their breathtaking scenery of jagged peaks, serene lakes, and cascading waterfalls. The Rockies’ natural beauty can best be seen in the National Parks of Banff, Jasper, and Yoho, which are all home to abundant wildlife and great opportunities for scenic walks, making them an unforgettable destination for adventurous, nature-loving travellers.

beautiful turquoise waters of the emerald lake with snow covered peaks above it in rocky mountains, yoho national park, canada

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Join Good Housekeeping for a fantastic tour of the Rockies with three nights in beautiful Banff, where you’ll venture into the Banff and Yoho National Parks for a full-day tour with an expert guide, learning more about these unique natural landscapes. A highlight of the trip will be a ride aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, one of the world’s great train rides.

The train weaves its way through the Canadian wilderness, including beautiful mountain passes, serene lake shores, winding river canyons and pristine forests until you reach Vancouver, where you’ll set sail on an epic seven-night cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage, witnessing more jaw-dropping North American scenery.


16. Sleep in a hotel carved entirely out of ice in Transylvania

Transylvania is a rugged Romanian region famed for its imposing Gothic castles, atmospheric beech forests and towering mountains. The Carpathian Mountains, which separate Transylvania from the rest of the country, offer majestic snow-capped peaks and verdant valleys to explore.

Dotted among these mountainous landscapes are cobble-stoned mediaeval villages and several historic castles, including Bran Castle, and imposing fortress that’s said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

bran castle in winter with snow and bucegi mountainsmore pictures with draculas bran castle in my portfolio

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Good Housekeeping has a special trip to Transylvania where you can spend one night in the magical Hotel of Ice, a unique hotel which is carved every year entirely of snow and ice blocks taken from a glacial lake in the Fagaras Mountains.

While here, you can try your hand at various snow sports and winter activities, like snow rafting or hiking, or simply kick back with a hot drink and enjoy the scenery. The trip will also take you to beautiful Bucharest and Bran Castle, where you’ll discover the mysterious and ominous history of this intriguing monument.


27. Spot incredible wildlife on safari in Kenya and stay on the Mombasa coast

Kenya is a dream for wildlife lovers, with its famous national parks and pristine stretches of untouched coastline. It’s one of the best places to go on safari, giving you a chance to spot magnificent creatures including leopards, cheetahs, buffalo, elephants, giraffes, zebras, lions and crocodiles, plus a whole host of spectacular bird life.

Equally lovely is the country’s Mombasa Coast, famous for its crystal-clear waters and vibrant marine life. It’s the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing on the beach after an exhilarating safari.

giraffes, fog, kilimanjaro and acacia trees in the morning

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On Good Housekeeping’s excellent Kenya tour, you’ll enjoy multiple game drives into the heart of Tsavo West and Amboseli National Parks and get the chance to observe hippos from an underwater hide at Mzima Springs – a truly unforgettable experience.

After five nights in luxury safari lodges in the National Parks, you’ll switch your safari gear for beachwear, heading for the pristine sands of the Mombasa North, and checking into Voyager Beach Resort, set right on the seafront.


18. Hear the sounds and discover the musical legacy of the Deep South

A tour of the USA’s Deep South is a dream for any fan of country music, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz or blues. This part of the States is renowned for its rich musical heritage, which has echoed around the world, inspiring musicians for decades.

Some of the musical highlights are New Orleans, aka The Big Easy, with its iconic French Quarter where sidewalks are flanked with colourful houses and where the sound of live jazz fills the air, Tupelo, where Elvis Presley was born, and Nashville, the home of country music.

bourbon st, new orleans, louisiana, usa cityscape of bars and retaurants at twilight

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You’ll visit all of the above and more on Good Housekeeping’s tour of the Deep South. The trip includes two nights staying in The Guest House at Graceland, just a few steps from Elvis’ famous home, last recording studio and final resting place, which you’ll have a chance to visit.

19. Hunt for the Northern Lights in Norway’s Arctic Circle

Norway is a magnet for those who love exploring the wonders of the natural world and getting off the beaten path. Adventurers will find otherworldly landscapes of glistening fjords carved by ancient glaciers nestled among majestic, snow-capped mountains.

Making these landscapes even more captivating is the chance to see the spectacular Aurora Borealis in the skies above them. In certain parts of the country, at the right time of year, the Northern Lights are almost guaranteed to make an appearance.

a group of animals running in the snow with a green aurora in the background

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Good Housekeeping has a 12-day expedition cruise of Norway, where you’ll cruise through some of the country’s most captivating landscapes, sailing past more than 100 fjords and 1,000 mountains. combining stargazing and wildlife spotting opportunities, travelling north into Norway’s romantic wildernesses.

A real highlight will be crossing the Arctic Circle, and sailing Norway’s northernmost waters, where your chances of spotting the dazzling Aurora Borealis during winter are very high.


20. Island-hop around the gloriously green Azores archipelago

The verdant Azores islands really are like something out of a dream, with their sweeping volcanic craters filled with lush flora and fauna. The islands of São Jorge, Faial and Pico form a triangle that’s particularly rich in natural beauty and local culture, from the mighty volcanic Caldeira of Faial to the greenery of Sete Fontes Forest Park on Sao Jorge and the many welcoming local villages where you can enjoy handicrafts and traditional cooking.

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Join Good Housekeeping’s ten-night island-hopping tour of the Azores and you’ll see the best for these paradise isles. You’ll have the chance to hike to Caldeira do Santo Cristo, a vast volcano crater, rich in geological formations and visit Portugal’s longest lava tube on the island of Pico.

There’ll be free time to explore the islands at your own pace too, perhaps joining a dolphin or whale-spotting boat tour to see the rich marine life in the waters surrounding the archipelago.


21. Search for tigers in India’s Ranthambore National Park and tour the Golden Triangle

Another dream holiday for any wildlife lover is a trip to the exquisite Ranthambore National Park in North India’s Rajasthan state, which is one of the best places in the world to observe tigers in their natural habitat. Seeing these magnificent creatures in the jungle is an unforgettable wildlife experience.

While in India, why not combine your trip to the jungle with a tour of India’s Golden Triangle of Delhi, Jaipur, and Agra? Each city shows aspects of India’s rich cultural heritage, from the buzzing streets of Delhi to the colourful palaces and vibrant markets of Jaipur and the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra.

the taj mahal more often meaning crown of the palace is an ivory white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the yamuna river in the indian city of agra

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You’ll see all of this and more on Good Housekeeping’s two-week Indian adventure. Start your trip with a tour of the Golden Triangle, before heading into the heart of Ranthambore National Park to venture into the jungle on safaris, searching for the elusive Bengal tiger with the company of an expert naturalist.


22. Sail to Antarctica on an icy expedition cruise with an expert team

Antarctica is a truly unique continent, with its expansive, uninhabited landscapes, harsh climate, drifting icebergs, and captivating wildlife. It never fails to inspire visitors, but you can only visit as a tourist on special expedition trips, where you’ll be in the safe hands of experts who know these extreme terrains like the back of their hands.

the gerlache strait separating the palmer archipelago from the antarctic peninsular off anvers island the antarctic peninsular is one of the fastest warming areas of the planet

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Good Housekeeping is offering a very special opportunity to visit the White Continent on an expedition cruise. You’ll first fly to Buenos Aires, where you’ll have a couple of days to explore this exciting South American capital, before heading down to Ushuaia and setting sail for Antarctica.

As you glide through the icy waters of the Drake Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula, you’ll gaze out at seas that are home to pods of orcas and seals. While in Antarctica, your expedition team will lead ice-cruising and landings at every opportunity to go ashore and explore the impressive landscapes.


23. Cruise along the Danube and see the Lipizzaners with Lucy Worsley

A cruise along the mighty Danube makes a dream holiday for anyone with an interest in the arts, music and culture of central Europe. This grand river flows through Germany, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, among others, with quaint villages and stately cities along its banks, including Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava, all bursting with culture.

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You’ll discover these three fabulous cities on our cruise with historian Lucy Worsley. There will be guided walks, evening entertainment and plenty of on-shore excursions so you can get to know these beautiful cities, and you’ll also sail through the rural Wachau Valley, with its lush landscapes dipping into the Danube.

An extra-special excursion will be to the Spanish Riding School at the Royal Lipizzaner Stables in Vienna, where you’ll get an insight into the training work of the riders with their regal Lipizzaner stallions.


24. See the works of Vermeer and the Dutch Masters with Andrew Graham-Dixon

Another unmissable holiday for any lovers of European art is a trip to the Netherlands to see the work of the Dutch masters. A visit to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum gives you the chance to see its exceptional 8,000-strong collection of artworks, including works by Rembrandt and Vermeer’s The Milkmaid and Woman Reading a Letter.

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You’ll visit this excellent museum and others on our exclusive six-day tour with the company of top art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon, who’s an expert on Vermeer. As well as the Rijksmuseum, you’ll pay an exclusive visit to the Mauritshuis in The Hague, where Andrew will join you for a special talk in the Vermeer Room, before you explore the rest of the museum with a local expert guide.


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


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