13 best learning holidays around the world
Get more out of your next holiday than a tan by picking up some new skills while you’re there. Discover how to make wine in Italy, create ceramics in Portugal or salsa dance in Cuba, because trying something new (or revisiting a long lost skill) while you’re on a break is the ultimate ‘me time’.
Coral planting, Borneo
You could just lie in a hammock and soak up the bliss that is Gaya Island for a week but it would be a shame to miss out on the resort’s marine centre, which helps care for local reefs and endangered Hawksbill turtles. Spend a day with the resident marine biologist in the Tunku Adul Rahman National Park learning to plant coral from the resort’s nursery and discover how it’s helping to restore the aquatic world. From £270pn
Muddy loves a glass of wine or three, but we’ve never taken our love of vino further than quaffing it. That’s about to change this Autumn, however, thanks to COMO Castello Del Nero’s Grapes of Chianti workshop, where we can try our hands (ok, make that feet) at winemaking, including a guided walk around the vines, talk about the harvest, an Italian picnic and, best of all, having a go at the traditional pigéage method of breaking down the grapes. Cheers. Available from 6 Sept – 5 Oct.
Salsa dancing, Cuba
Strictly’s returning to our screens and if it’s inspiring you to take to the dance floor yourself how about booking a two-week trip to sunny Santiago de Cuba? You’ll be partnered with a professional Cuban dance tutor and more than 30 hours of tuition will also see you mastering the merenegue, chachacha and rumba, plus there are cultural visits, and Spanish lessons too. It scores a 10 from Muddy. From £1650pp.
Botanical nature walk, French Alps
Hike and forage in Val d’Isere with Franck Bortolotti, a local guide with an encyclopaedic knowledge of mountainside vegetatation. He’ll teach you to identify edible plants, from medicinal herbs to wild spinach and yarrow, and help you reconnect with nature along the way through mindful walking. We can think of worse ways to spend an Autumn afternoon.
Ceramics class, Rhodes
Fancy styling your own Grecian-style ceramics? Take a break from the beach and sign up to this workshop at Lindos Grand Resort & Spa, where up to 15 guests learn about the tradition of designing colourful tiles with experts from Nassos Keramik, Rhodes’ most famous ceramics business, then try their hand at making and firing them – that’s the souvenirs sorted then!
Get a buzz from a two-day break at Glenapp Castle learning how to keep bees happy, healthy and producing honey. Treats include a two-hour keeper experience (yes, you get to wear the white suit and helmet), a tasting session – discover the difference between heather and wild flower honey – a jar of the estate’s sweet stuff to take home and a three-course lunch. From £290pn.
Cooking class, Marrakech
If you want to know your chicken tajine from your tabbouleh salad join a Market & Cooking Class at La Sultana hotel in Marrakech. You’ll get a guided tour of the Medina and souks where you’ll pick up fresh fruit and veg before heading back to base to cook up a storm on the hotel’s scenic rooftop. The best bit? Eating it of course! We love that you’re also given a beautiful Moroccan cooking book to recreate the dishes back home. From £105 per couple.
Gin experience, Gibraltar
Love gin? Us too, which is why we’re putting this Spirit of the Rock experience on our weekend break wish list. Guests are given a tour, tasting and talk at the island’s only distillery led by its owner, Peter, including sampling six delicious gins and being taught all about botanicals, like lemongrass and Moroccan rose. Treat yourself to a night or two at the legendary Rock Hotelwhile you’re there. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tennis lessons, Portugal
Whether you want to learn from scratch, rediscover old skills or improve your current game, The Campus at Quinta do Lago resort in the Algarve is the place to do it. Book a week’s intensive training (£385) and you’ll get a private lesson and morning group activity every day – sounds ace to Muddy.
Art retreat, Tuscany
Immerse yourself in Italy’s art scene on a colourful retreat led by Italian painter Tanvi Pathare, who teaches at Florence Academy of Art. The two-day retreat, which can be added on to a stay in a private villa, includes learning how to landscape paint, a textile workshop and museum visit too. From £1314 for two.
Cowboy College, Arizona
Yee-haw, this three-day course in the Sonoran Desert teaches you how to lasso, ride and round-up cattle, cowboy-style on a working ranch. A horseback trek up a nearby mountain is just one of the highlights, back at the ranch it’s all wooden beds and campfire tales. Click here for more horse riding breaks closer to home. From £1080pp.
Open water swimming, Mallorca
If your Instagram feed is always full of people #wildswimming and you have a penchant to be one of them but haven’t quite got round to it/dared, you might want to take the plunge and join one of SwimTrek’s fun escapes to Colonia de Sant Jordi in Mallorca. A coach makes the transition from pool to sea as smooth as a wave-washed pebble and will have you paddling in open water in the big blue in no time. Five nights’ accommodation, lessons and some meals, from £1050.
Rock climbing, France
Clip ’n Climb with the kids not doing it for you? Time to try something a little more challenging in the shape of Céüse and Orpierre crags in the French Alps. All equipment, guides and accommodation provided…a head for heights is not. Four days from £591pp.