Dazzling colours in the great outdoors

03 October 2017

As the seasons change, they bring a glorious colour change, don’t they? Tiny buds busting into pink cherry blossom in spring. Leaves turning from bright green to red, gold and orange in autumn. And those carpets of bluebells covering the woodland floor are always a breathtaking sight…

For your next trip, embrace nature and experience the great outdoors in full colour. From sweeping lavender fields in Provence to bright red leaves in New England and the glittering white wonderland of Norway, head outside and wander through these spectacular landscapes.

Springtime washes of pastel hues

 Japan cherry blossoms

Cherry blossom in Toyko, Japan

Best time to visit: Late March to mid-April

Japan’s cherry blossom season, sakura, begins in spring and it’s a breathtaking sight as trees across the country suddenly light up with pale pink blooms. Thousands of people gather for picnic parties, hanami, to gaze at the beautiful cherry blossom, and it’s a delightful way to experience this iconic sight.

Travel Counsellor Belinda spent 16 days touring Japan with her family in April 2016, "seeing the beautiful cherry blossom season and immersing ourselves in the local culture." Belinda visited Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Miyajima, though the best sakura was in Osaka: "After Miyajima we headed to Osaka and enjoyed exploring the city in the little time we had. It’s such a vibrant city, well-known for its culinary delights. The beautiful cherry blossom was at its best while we were here. Osaka is only about 40 minutes by train from Kyoto but the cities are so different and it’s worth seeing. We then took a slightly longer rail journey through the Japanese Alps to get to Takayama. Takayama offered some lovely walks and we particularly enjoyed exploring the Hida Folk Village to get an insight into Japanese life in days gone by."

Bluebell woods UK

Bluebell woods across the UK

Best time to visit: April to May

Spotting clusters of wild bluebells, with their charming little bell-shaped ‘hats’, is a delightful part of a springtime walk. Spotting the forest floor carpeted in a blue-purple hue, though, is truly wonderful! And as the UK is the only place in Europe where you’ll find the protected bluebell growing in the wild, it’s one to add to your travel wish list.

There are lots of woods in the UK where you can see bluebells in full bloom, with woods near London as well as more rural spots. Why not add a countryside trip to your holiday plans this spring?

Bright summer shades made for picnics

Provence lavender fields

Lavender fields in Provence, France

Best time to visit: June to August

With sweeping fields in that exquisite pastel blue-purple hue and ancient towns with beautiful architecture, it’s no surprise that Provence has inspired artists for years. And in the summer months, the fragrant scent of the lavender, often referred to as ‘blue gold’, fills the air.

There are festivals and tourist routes to help you experience the lavender, so you can explore the area while taking in the rolling countryside and aromatic landscape. And don’t forget to try the food. Lavender is often used as an ingredient but Provence is also known for its cuisine, with delicious seafood bouillabaisse, ratatouille, and mouthwatering Provençale stew (with garlic, tomatoes and olive, among other ingredients). Perfect dinners after a day spent wandering the beautiful countryside! 

Travel Counsellor Sally stayed at Crillon le Brave in November, which is surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, and said the food was superb: "The restaurant is outstanding though I liked the more casual Bistrot 40K and the terrace bar in the summer must be amazing – the views are breathtaking!" Sally also took part in a truffle hunting event: "We visited the woodland nearby owned by expert truffier Eric Jaumard where the truffles are planted amongst the special green and white oak trees. Besides the morning hunt, I learned what to drink with truffles at a tasting in the hotel and at a Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine cellar; how to cook them; how to eat them, even in ice cream, with a gastronomic meal prepared by the hotel’s fabulous chef Jérôme Blanchet, formerly of Hôtel le Negresco in Nice."

Tirolean Alps, Austria

Rolling green hills in the Tirolean Alps, Austria 

Best time to visit: April to September

Though the Austrian Alps are known as a stunning skiing destination, the summers in this picturesque area of Europe are glorious.

Winter white landscapes give way to rich green valleys and dazzling blue lakes. And the area comes alive with outdoor enthusiasts and hikers exploring mountain walks, charming alpine villages and castles, and the great outdoors.

Glistening gold, burnt orange and bright red autumn colours

New England leaves

Red leaves in “the Fall” in New England, USA

Best time to visit: Mid-September to end October/beginning November

As autumn arrives, the swathes of bright green trees across New England turn into mesmerising golds, reds, and oranges. It’s a spectacular contrast against the picture-perfect white churches, charming clapboard houses and opulent mansions, and glistening rivers.

The state of New England encompasses Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, and there’s a huge amount to see and do here. Hike through the stunning scenery, follow the scenic driving routes, explore the beautiful beaches up and down the coastline. And sample the delicious seafood the area is known for.

Brilliant colours in Kyoto, Japan

Brilliant colours in Kyoto, Japan

Best time to visit: Mid-November

Didn’t manage to catch the delicate pink blooms of cherry blossom during spring? Head to Kyoto in autumn. The city is awash with dazzling reds and golds and the vivid colours seem to light up the exquisite wooden Japanese temples and parks.

Kyoto is home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 1,600 Buddhist temples and some of the most incredible Zen gardens in Japan, and it’s a spectacular spot for culture. The mild weather in autumn is a perfect time to wander through the streets and gaze at the incredible shrines and temples nestled against autumnal leaves.

White winter wonderlands

Finland Northern Lights

The Northern Lights and snow in Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Lapland, Finland

Best time to visit: December to March

Dreaming of bright white blankets of snow and the flashes of the Northern Lights? Escape to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort.

Snuggled inside the incredible glass igloos, you can gaze at the twinkling, inky-hued night sky and the snowy landscape from the warmth of your cabin. And, of course, keep an eye out for those bright green streaks of light as the aurora borealis make their way across the night sky.

Snow in Banff, Canada

Banff National Park, Canada

Best time to visit: November to March

Nestled in the colossal Rocky Mountains, Banff National Park is delightful in any season but in winter, the layers and layers of snow add an extra magical touch.

There are plenty of outdoor activities to indulge in this great white paradise, from snowshowing to skiing to horse-drawn sleigh rides. And, don’t miss the spectacular ice skating on the frozen Lake Louise, with a spot of post-skating afternoon tea at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to warm you up!

You could easily combine a trip to Banff with other areas in Canada. Travel Counsellor Vanessa began her trip in Calgary, travelling to Banff by coach before boarding the Rocky Mountaineer train: "The area around us was just spectacular, everywhere we looked the view was amazing. We arrived in Banff, a beautiful small village that I fell in love with, hidden amongst the mountains it had a true village feel. We spent the next few days experiencing all the area had to offer, the beautiful Lake Louise, Sapphire Lake, and much much more.

The real adventure began when we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer in Banff bound for Kamloops. "Wow!" - that is an understatement! The scenery along this rail road was truly spectacular. Not to mention the Gold Class experience on this amazing train, the service, the comfort and the commentary was superb. The next day we boarded the train in Kamloops bound for Vancouver. Again, mind-blowing scenery wherever you looked. The [Rocky Mountaineer] train is definitely the best way to travel through the Rocky Mountains!"

Ready to wander through the great outdoors? Get in touch with your Travel Counsellor today to find out the spectacular landscapes you could visit on your next holiday

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