With increasingly hectic lifestyles, active holidays are growing ever more popular among sports enthusiasts looking to combine luxury amenities with opportunities to enjoy their favourite recreation. For those who want refined accommodation, fine dining and a stimulating array of sports and fitness activities all in the same trip, there are numerous lavish destinations around the world that can cater to your needs.
From dramatic coastal golf links offering breath-taking vistas to spring training grounds where you can rub shoulders with sporting legends, these locations allow you to pursue athletic passions at your own pace while sampling the finest in hospitality and relaxation.
The dramatic, snow-capped peaks of the Swiss Alps have long attracted adventurers and leisure seekers alike. Here you can fill days and nights with high-altitude activities showcasing Switzerland’s majestic alpine terrain before retreating to ultra-luxurious mountain lodges brimming with haute cuisine and spa pampering.
Base yourself in the car-free village of Zermatt, where the iconic pyramidal Matterhorn will be your dawn and dusk companion. By day, explore this alpine wonderland with help from the expert guides at the Matterhorn Ski Paradise. On skis, traverse miles of powdery tree-lined pistes and the linked Italian resort of Cervinia for over 300 miles of terrain. Or take to the slopes in summer to hike the famed Haute Route high-altitude trail from Chamonix, mountain bike down single-track descents or climb the vertiginous ice faces of the Monte Rosa massif.
After the day’s exploits, retreat back to your chalet to discover true Alpine luxury. Here you can unwind with sunset views of the Matterhorn from your clawfoot tub before sampling modern European cuisine and fine Swiss wines to perfectly complement fondue savoured atop the slopes earlier in the day.
Scotland is a spectacular destination for active getaways, from hiking and cycling to watersports. However, for golf enthusiasts looking to play the top courses around the world, few rival the dramatic landscapes and historic prestige of St Andrews. In the ‘homeland of golf’, the Old Course Hotel at St Andrews places you steps from the historic clubhouse and stone buildings that launched the sport.
Stay in a luxury room overlooking the 17th hole on the Old Course, before enjoying an expert tutorial on navigating the renowned double greens. With the best of Scottish hospitality, the hotel also boasts exceptional local whiskies, fine dining showcasing coastal produce and a whisky bar offering over 300 varieties to sample post-round whilst recalling your best approach shots with newfound friends against the backdrop of ancient university buildings.
In the sun-dappled Provence and Côte d’Azur regions of south of France, picturesque lavender fields, rolling vineyards and vibrant coastal villages create an idyllic backdrop for active holidays. Base yourself in a luxurious converted farmhouse rental or countryside hideaway while embarking on self-guided treks exploring scenic trails, hilltop hamlets and open-air markets.
Why not set out into the Luberon Natural Park to traverse limestone cliffs and fragrant thyme bushes stopping to picnic under abandoned abbeys as falcons circle overhead. Further south, the coastal Corniche de L’Esterel trail winds from hilltop village to village, opening up panoramas of cobalt bays dotted with luxury yachts anchored off the red porphyry cliffs plunging to the sea. Trailside restaurants offer plates of sea-fresh bouillabaisse and crisp rosé wines to replenish after a day of hiking from Calanques coves to medieval Mons perched on volcanic peaks.
For an adventurous yet luxurious active escape, Iceland’s dramatic glaciers, steaming hot springs and thundering waterfalls create an unforgettable backdrop. Guides lead snowcat, helicopter and snowmobile tours to access untouched powder runs and scenic backcountry terrain. In warmer months, you can wander through fields of lupine and crystal streams on hikes past black sand beaches, fishing villages and the iconic Godafoss waterfall.
After an exhilarating day outdoors, soak in geothermal pools overlooking the icy plains, indulge in spa treatments featuring locally sourced botanicals, and dine on wild game and fresh seafood paired with Icelandic craft beers in farm-to-table restaurants. Iceland offers a remote yet luxurious wilderness escape unlike any other.
With rugged coastal cliffs, winding mountain passes, and endless sunny days, Cape Town is a cyclist’s paradise. Ride along the Cape Peninsula taking in one spectacular view after another, from the shimmering blue waters of the Atlantic to the wildflowers blanketing Table Mountain National Park.
Base yourself right on the V&A Waterfront to start early morning rides to the Cape of Good Hope. Pedal past colonies of African penguins, alongside ostrich farms and vineyards before stopping for a gourmet picnic overlooking the sea. For those wanting a challenge, conquer the steep switchbacks of Chapman’s Peak Drive hugging the cliffsides high above Hout Bay. Or join the Cape Town Cycle Tour: the world’s largest timed cycling event winding through the Cape Winelands.
The volcanic island of Madeira blends vibrant coastal villages, soaring mountain peaks and a year-round spring climate perfect for active travellers. For those seeking luxury fitness getaways, this area combines exhilarating hikes, yoga escapes and spa pampering with beautiful surroundings.
Spend days conquering the island’s ancient levada trails – stone canals winding through villages, past waterfalls and over soaring sea cliffs. Work up a sweat in fitness classes at nearby resorts ranging from circuits to cardio boxing before recovering with rejuvenating massages, meditation and soothing sound baths.
In the evenings, head into the colourful capital of Funchal to sample local wines and watch fishermen haul in the day’s catch. Join guided hikes and bike rides to admire the island’s volcanic peaks, deep ravines and picturesque ports where boats bob in the harbour. With warm temperatures year-round, Madeira offers the perfect destination to invigorate mind, body and spirit while enjoying ocean vistas and charming old-world charm.
For active travellers who wish to pair stunning scenery and exceptional recreation with refined relaxation, these are just a handful of luxury destinations which allow you to indulge athletic passions without sacrificing comfort. With farm-to-table culinary delights, full-service spas nestled discreetly among the sporting facilities and hospitality drawing deeply from regional cultures and charm, these destinations promise far more than your average active getaway.
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