With the COP26 taking place this week, here at Not In The Guidebooks we thought this would be a good time to highlight the option of no-fly holidays for 2022.
We’re not oblivious to the impact flying has on the planet. But we’re also not oblivious about the impact on thousands, even millions, of livelihoods that would be stripped away should foreign tourism come to a complete standstill, or of the role tourism can have in combating climate change.
However, if you’re looking for the very best way to travel sustainably, your best option to travel by car, plane, train, boat or bike.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of Not In The Guidebooks’ best no-fly destinations and holidays.
No Fly Holidays in Scotland
We often think that here in the UK, we don’t understand how lucky we are to have Scotland right on our doorstep. From the medieval beauty of Edinburgh and the urban grit of Glasgow, all the way to the rugged mountains of Skye, the snow-dusted hills of the Cairngorms and the pristine beaches of the North-West coast, there is an incredible amount of Scotland to explore by road and by rail.
Blessed with some of the most scenic train journeys on earth, not much beats sweeping through the dramatic mountain landscape in the Scottish Highlands sipping a cup of tea, before setting up near the sea in a cosy pub, a pint and a hot meal to enjoy as the sun sets over distant islets.
And with one of the world’s most infamous ring roads, the NC500, also found in Scotland, it feels as if Scotland is tailor-made to be the perfect no-fly holiday destination, where navigating hair-raising mountain passes and cruising along jaw-dropping coastal roads is as much part of the experience as the destinations you visit.
Starting from Edinburgh before heading north into the stunning Highlands and hills of Scotland, this adventure shows off some of the very best bits of Scotland, and some lesser-known corners of the country, via a combination of standard trains, steam locomotives, ferries and on foot.
Highlights along the way include tasting whisky in the shadow of Ben Nevis, drinking in the incredible scenery from the ‘Skye Train’, and hiking in the formidable Cairngorms. All in all, you’ll cover a huge amount of Scotland in the most environmentally way possible, and enjoy some of the best train journeys the country has to offer.
You can’t get much more off the beaten track in the UK than the rugged, wild islands of the Orkneys, and by catching the ferry to reach them, you’ll be ensuring that your impact on the environment as you travel is minimal. Once again, transfers are included from Edinburgh or the slightly closer Inverness, both within reach by train.
Once on the Orkney Islands, you’ll explore these outposts of the UK with expert local guides, and discover everything from Stone Age settlements, stunning sea cliffs, rare wildlife and hearty, local food. By the time you head back to the mainland, you’ll certainly feel as if you’ve visited another country, despite the fact that it’s been a no-fly holiday.
No Fly Holidays in France
Over the other side of the Channel lies a country of endless variety. Windswept beaches and quaint fishing villages await in the northwest at Brittany and Normandy, whole worlds of culture and cuisine in addictive cities like Paris, Lyon and Marseille, snow-capped mountains and cosy chalets in the French Pyrenees and the Alps, and gold-sand beaches on the Mediterranean coast.
All of this, and we’ve barely scratched the surface. A no fly holiday to France can take you to some of the most unexpected places and deliver truly unexpected, memorable experiences. That small, family-run vineyard you stumbled across at sunset for a wine tasting, or the rural village square and its weekly feast of fresh, local produce on long picnic benches.
By getting away from the airports and travelling through the country by car or by train then you discover people and places you might otherwise miss. Throw in the convenience of the Eurostar and the efficiency of France’s high-speed train system, and you could be at home one day and in the pure air of the Alps the next, all without flying.
The city of Reims, the unofficial capital of the Champagne region, is easy to reach by simply hopping on a Eurostar from St Pancras International in London, changing in Paris to a 45-minute high-speed train from Paris Gare de l’Est to Reims itself.
This easy no-fly journey allows you to enjoy the magical city of Reims at the most magical time of year, on a Christmas markets break that doesn’t only take you around the magnificent medieval city all lit up in festive lights, and introduce you to sumptuous local cuisine, but also gets you out of the city to generations-old Champagne houses and on Champagne masterclasses.
Turning our gaze south, this all-encompassing tour of Southern France is another potential no-fly holiday. All you need to do is get a couple of high-speed trains from London via Paris, and you can begin a trip that takes you through the wine lands of the Dordogne, all the way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Provence.
Along the way, you’ll see stunning Chateaux and idyllic villages, hilltop medieval towns and Gothic Cathedrals, all places you may well miss if you were just to fly into a south coast resort and flop on the beach. Just another great example of how much easier it is to get off the beaten track when you travel overland.