The best no-fly holidays for 2020 and 2021

Eschewing airplanes this year? A wide range of glamorous eco-friendly holidays remain possible, from Scottish steam journeys and short Amsterdam breaks to explorations of London or the Lakes.

Scottish Highlands by Steam

Romance abounds during this slow-paced holiday to the snow-capped Scottish Highlands. That's particularly true as you ride a Jacobite steam train along the Iron Road: a 42-mile rail journey travelling from near Ben Nevis, Britain's highest peak, to its namesake loch through heathery moorlands, island-splattered coastlines and Robert McAlpine's curving, 21-arch Glenfinnan Viaduct, of Harry Potter fame.

Staying at the four-star Airth Castle Hotel - some of whose rooms occupy the 14th-century fortress itself, overlooking strollable gardens - you'll also enjoy a champagne reception and cruises on Loch Katrine and - aboard an elegant paddle steamer - the Firth of Clyde.
Bonus points: Dinner with wine is included each evening.

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express and Med cruise

There's no more stylish way to do Europe than a train-and-boat combination itinerary. Kick off by taking the iconic, art-deco Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train overnight from London to Verona, in northern Italy, and relax into a world of white-gloved butlers, sumptuous upholstery and stupendous Swiss Alp vistas. Stay for the night in the four-star Grand Hotel Gardone beside Lake Garda, where you can check in like Churchill once did, before visititng Florence, a stop at which allows time to see Michelangelo's David sculpture.

From Rome, board a lavish cruise liner and return home via the likes of Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Lisbon.
Bonus points: Your cruise's complimentary 24-hour room service, included restaurants and great nightly entertainment.

The Times recommends...

Wales and the Snowdon Mountain Railway

You needn't be a hardy hiker to relish northwest Wales' thrilling mountain scenery: thanks to remarkable engineering, rail travel here offers similar euphoria. The Snowdon Mountain Railway offers panoramic views as it scales Wales' highest peak. Steam-powered Llanberis Lake Railway hugs Llyn Padarn's pretty shores while the Ffestiniog Railway, Earth's oldest narrow-gauge route, crosses wilds from the Italianate village of Portmeirion.

There's also the 25-mile Welsh Highland Railway, that connects Snowdonia's foothills with the Aberglaslyn Pass gorge.
Bonus points: In walled castle town Caernarfon stands the luxurious Celtic Royal Hotel - a 200-year-old institution whose spa contains a pool, sauna and steam room.

Chelsea Flower Show and historic houses

Come May 2021, the Royal Hospital Chelsea's usually-sedate grounds welcome a glorious glut of show gardens, inspirational urban greenery and kaleidoscopic plant displays courtesy of the iconic RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As well as attendance at that, a holiday to London can take in historic houses demonstrating distinct architectural styles: Mayfair's neoclassical Spencer House, the 17th-century Jacobean-style Charlton House and, reached by river taxi, Queen's House, Britain's first consciously classical building.
Bonus points: Guided tours of Spencer House and Queen's House are offered, the latter followed by afternoon tea.

The best no-fly holidays for 2020 and 2021

Lake District gourmet getaway

Lakeland is famous for its fell walking, inspired by the literary likes of Wordsworth and Wainwright, and, of course, for its many sedate bodies of water. Increasingly, though, gourmet food is an incentive to visit. The savviest epicureans stay at an AA-rosette-accredited hotel, enjoying their tasting menu on one evening.

The other might be spent at a famous restaurant such as L'Enclume, and the time in-between purchasing some of Grasmere's famous gingerbread or slabs of Kendal mint cake.
Bonus points: The Lake District is also a craft-ale hub: the cosy, Tudor-era Kirkstile Inn has its own microbrewery, for instance.

A classic Cotswolds break

There's nowhere quite like the Cotswolds for short breaks. In between an array of tea shop-tastic villages - many with pretty names such as Chipping Norton or Bourton-on-the-Water - comes the most gently-rolling countryside imaginable, all chalk rivers, hedgerows and bright green fields. A network of footpaths criss-cross it all, and also connect to arboreta and National Trust homes.

As for your accommodation between road trips, choose between poshed-up coaching inns and classic, honey-stoned country-house hotels with intimate restaurants.
Bonus points: Ringing the Cotswolds are tempties towns: Cheltenham and its spa, beautiful Bath and the old Roman base of Cirencester. The best no-fly holidays for 2020 and 2021

Getty Images

Cornwall's coast and gardens

Among UK breaks, Cornwall stands out for its beaches: glorious sandy expanses such as Kynance Cove or Whitsand Bay. That coast also plays host to the open-air Minack Theatre and St Michael's Mount, plus some superb bases: foodie Padstow, say, Doc Martin's home of Port Isaac or the shop-filled lanes of St Ives.

Not that it's all about the seaside, what with the Eden Project and quaint river cruises awaiting inland. Whatever you do, try to scoff a classic Cornish pasty and at least one cream tea with the area's superlative clotted cream.
Bonus points: Cornwall has an unrivalled collection of medieval sites, but none are more dramatic - or mysterious - than the island-set Tintagel Castle and its Arthurian legends.

Paris or Amsterdam with Eurostar

Instead of going by plane, go by train! Departing from St Pancras International, Eurostar's high-speed services can take you from London to Paris in just two and a half hours.

While the Notre-Dame continues its rebuild, the Louvre gallery and Sacre-Coeur basilica remain happily open to visitors, as do Seine cruises along one of the great European rivers. Direct Eurostar trains, taking as little as four hours, also enable city breaks in Amsterdam. Though the Dutch capital is rightly famed for canals and gabled architecture, its Anne Frank museums and much-improved waterside dining also impress.
Bonus points: Travel in Eurostar's especially-comfy Standard Premier or Business Premier categories, and a three-course dinner with wine is also included.

The best no-fly holidays for 2020 and 2021

Getty Images

Dublin by ferry

Accessible by ferry from Liverpool, Holyhead and the Isle of Man, Ireland's charismatic capital does heritage as well as any other cities.

Be it medieval castles, the 12th-century St Patrick's Cathedral, Merrion Square's Georgian splendour - dating to the British Empire's heyday - or Trinity College's galleried library, this is a place that evocatively reflects its local history.

It also excels at museums, with the National Gallery, the National Museum of Archaeology and the new, James Joyce-worshipping Museum of Literature Ireland the headline acts.
Bonus points: In the Liberties neighbourhood, between boutiques and music bars, hide many excellent antique shops.

You may also like...