4. SLEEP IN A UFO IN SWEDENExtra-terrestrial accomodation in Sweden
Hidden in the pine forests of Swedish Lapland is a place that makes alien abduction seem a very pleasant prospect. A shiny cabin suspended among the trees, the UFO is one of several outlandish constructions that comprise the Treehotel, a complex designed by leading Swedish architects. Climb the ladder into the metallic orb and you’ll find a cosy space decked out in constellation-dotted furnishings, with a lounge area and room to sleep a family of five.
Should you decide to return to Planet Earth, there are activities galore in the surrounding area: in summer, walks in the forest beckon, as well as kayaking on the nearby Lule River. In winter, guests can go dog-sledding, meet local Sami people and head out in search of something truly extra-terrestrial – the shape-shifting light-show of the aurora borealis.
Arrive: Norwegian and SAS fly from London, Manchester and Edinburgh to Lulea airport, an hour’s drive away, via Stockholm. TheTreehotel can arrange transfers.
5. CLIFF CAMPING IN WALESA ‘portaledge’ in action
Though it doesn’t feature in many TV thrillers, Anglesey may be the setting for the most exhilarating cliffhanger ever. Outdoor activity company Gaia Adventures has taken wild camping to a whole new level – to be precise, halfway down a cliff face.
Suitable, unbelievably, for novices, the experience involves first learning the ropes of rock-climbing (literally) before abseiling down to an ultra-strong, hammock-like ‘portaledge’ suspended above the Irish Sea, solitary except for a staff member camping nearby. Here, you can watch the sunset while digging into a hot meal, before a sleep on the (waterproof) contraption, with the sound of the waves far below.
Back on terra firma, the beautiful scenery of this North Wales island awaits, from dramatic coastal walks to imposing medieval castles.
Arrive: Anglesey is about 21/2 hours’ drive from Manchester. Trains run direct from London Euston to Holyhead, via Chester.
6. A ‘CITY’ BREAK IN ANDORRASant Esteve Church – La Vella, Andorra
Ensconced in the Pyrenees at more than 1,000 metres up, Andorra La Vella is Europe’s loftiest capital, and one of the most curious. Home to just 20,000 people, it’s the sole town of tiny Andorra, a Catalan-speaking principality under the joint leadership of a local bishop and the French president. A weekend here shows the capital at its liveliest, with an emerging dining scene and an Alpine-style outdoors that feels a long way from the Med.
Begin by wandering the barri antic (old town), dotted with medieval buildings like the Romanesque Sant Esteve church, before heading into the mountains for skiing in winter or to explore abundant walking and bike trails in summer.
Arrive: Andorra La Vella is a three-hour drive from Barcelona, Perpignan and Toulouse, all served by direct flights from numerous UK cities.
Stay: Running since 1940, Hotel Pyrénées has rooms with darkwood furnishings and a summer terrace.