Beach vacation: Isla Holbox
Just off the scorching northern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, Holbox is a 25-mile-long sandbar with a gorgeous beach and warm, calm waters. Enjoy shoreline walks, swims and SUP sessions, delicious alfresco barefoot lunches and candlelit dinners. The aesthetic is bright, bold, improvised, with room for the shabby and the stylish. To the south are lush mangroves and crystal clear freshwater lagoons, part of the Yum Balam Biosphere Reserve. A lazy boat ride or two to see this and, further afield, the whale sharks, is the only effort you’ll have to make.
How to do:
Journey Latin America (020 8747 8315; journeylatinamerica.co.uk) can organize a 16-day vacation in Mexico City, a street food tour, the pyramids of Teotihuacán, guided tours of San Miguel de Allende and San Cristóbal de las Casas, the Mayan ruins of Palenque and Chichén Itzá, a cooking class in colonial Mérida, and a three-night stay on Holbox Island. From £3,860 pp, including B&B accommodation (plus two lunches), transfers, international and domestic flights.
The city break: Florence
Florence has inspired millions of words, images, songs and memories. Best known as the birthplace of the Renaissance, it was already an exceptional cultural center in medieval times, producing artists of the caliber of Giotto and writers like Dante and Petrarch. A political, ecclesiastical and artistic centre, it was also an economic power, hence the magnificence of the civic churches and palaces. In the Quattrocento (1400-1500), with Cosimo de’ Medici as its unofficial ruler, it blossomed into the humanist center of Europe and saw Brunelleschi, Michelangelo and Donatello pioneer neoclassical painting and sculpture. Queues for galleries and honeypots can be extreme in high season, but the buzz in Piazza del Duomo and the views from Piazzale Michelangelo are legendary.