2023 is the year for heading off the beaten path to experience lesser-known sides of a destination and truly immerse yourself in the authenticity of a place.

There is no better time to discover the hidden gems of a destination outside of peak season as this can often be a more cost-effective way to enjoy the luxury of travel and avoid the crowds. From mountain biking in Japan’s summer to cultural tours of beautiful Bermuda, here are some of the exciting destinations to visit during the shoulder seasons.

January – March 

Bermuda: For the culture vulture 

Travellers with a keen interest in history can explore Bermuda beyond the beaches at the Royal Naval Dockyard, standing as a historic symbol of British military power for more than 150 years. Despite the British Royal Navy sailing out in the 1950s, the Dockyard remains steeped in maritime history, visitors can visit the site to learn more about why Bermuda was the perfect middle ground between Europe and the New World. To learn more about the island’s past, history buffs can join tour guide Kristin White for a fascinating walking tour through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. George’s to explore Bermuda’s distinct culture and hear stories of the impactful people that shaped the island’s fascinating history. For a truly immersive visit, stay at Cambridge Beaches Resort and Spa where the pirates of the Island used to hide their bounty! 

For more information, visit www.gotobermuda.com

Experience authentic Athens this winter season

Known for its sun-kissed beaches, lively seaside towns and popularity of being the ideal spot for a summer escape, Athens, Greece maintains its authentic charm even during the winter months. With notably less crowds and a higher than average temperature in comparison to much of Europe, winter in Athens offers travellers the opportunity to experience the city in an authentic and intimate setting. Renowned for being the home of the Acropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and symbol of Greek history, Athens is a must-visit destination for any history buff. Strolling through the picturesque alleys lined with neoclassical buildings, travellers will be able to immerse themselves in a truly Greek experience, without the battle of being engulfed by crowds.

Bringing the stylish Moxy brand to one of the world’s oldest cities, Moxy Athens City takes a playful twist on Greek mythology with its ‘myth of eternal youth’ inspired design. Featuring 200 cosy and smart guestrooms, Moxy Athens City is just a short walk from Syntagma Square and Ermou Street, where fun hunters can find shops, trendy restaurants, and bars. The city’s top cultural attractions, such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and the old city of Plaka, are moments away to discover. The hotel’s rooftop penthouse will be the perfect place for a memorable stay or a stylish event, offering dazzling views across the city skyline.

For more information, visit www.marriott.com

April – June 

Live life on the wild side in The Palm Beaches, Florida

The Palm Beaches’ year round sunshine, white sand beaches and city scenes exude all things wellness, relaxation and luxury. Travellers looking to get back to nature can experience the cities’ wilder side at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge at Boynton Beach, The Palm Beaches best kept secret that will transport visitors to a verdant jungle. The refuge offers over 145,000 acres of marshland and an abundance of native wildlife, including American alligators, endangered snail kites, and many species of birds. Those wanting to experience a more glamorous side of The Palm Beaches while staying active can cycle along the Intracoastal Waterway to feel a million dollars while passing by the elegant mansions and the brilliant blue ocean. 

For more information, visit www.thepalmbeaches.com 

July – September 

Get your adrenaline fix at  Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Japan 

Skier’s paradise Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve has so much to offer when the snow melts away. Summer springs new life in Niseko Village as the mountain landscape blooms with emerald forests and curious wildlife that are usually tucked away in the popular winter season. Explore the mountainous terrain, abundant with flora and fauna, independently or on a guided tour with trekking, biking and horse riding excursions. Saddle up on a mountain bike and  embrace the Japanese philosophy of kachou fuugetsu, or discovering oneself through nature, in this remote mountain range to get your adrenaline pumping as you take in breathtaking views over Niseko. 

For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com

Sip and savour new world wines in Scottsdale, Arizona

Scottsdale’s wellness scene is not one to be missed, but those looking to see the desert city beyond the spas will love the undiscovered wine scene. Explore the Desert Valley vineyards and sip new world wines in the stunning Sonoran Desert, surrounded by red sands and vast mountains. Scottsdale is a hub for some of the state’s most acclaimed tasting rooms from Aridus, previously an art gallery with some of its artistic charm remaining, to Salvatore Vineyards Passion Cellars offering both vintage and freshly harvested wines. Visitors can download the walkable ‘Wine Trail’ app and spend a day sampling their way through Scottsdale’s wine tasting rooms, discovering their heritage as you go. If you’re looking to stock up on your favourites, head to The Wine Collective of Scottsdale to sample new varietals, winemakers and wine regions with over 30 Arizona wines available in a Napa-style tasting room. 

For more information, visit www.experiencescottsdale.com 

Bask on beaches and hike the Appalachians in Alabama in September 

Alabama is renowned for its impressive music scene and abundance of cultural history, being at the heart of the Civil Rights Movement during the mid-20th century, but its lesser known side is equally as impressive. Explore the undiscovered natural wonders of this Southern State; from the Gulf-coast beaches to mountain peaks, Alabama’s diverse scenery makes it ideal for an outdoors escape. Travellers may also get back to nature and discover some of Alabama’s 21 state parks, staying overnight in campsites, cabins or lodges at the beach, by the lake shore, or in the foothills of the Appalachians for a truly alternative experience. For more untrodden paths, the Gulf State Park’s 28 miles of trails are just waiting to be explored on foot, by bike or even segway. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife from alligators to nesting sea turtles and bobcats. 

For more information, visit alabama.travel 

October – December 

Explore San Francisco’s iconic sights and diverse music offerings in October

October is one of the best months to visit San Francisco, when the peak summer season is over but the warm weather remains. For the quintessential experience, travellers can take a walk across the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and enjoy truly spectacular views of San Francisco Bay and Alcatraz in a cable car ride down Russian Hill. Visiting during October is also the perfect time to experience the city’s diverse offering of live music across genres of country, soul, punk and folk. Top annual events include Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park and Noise Pop’s 20th Street Block Party in the vibrant Mission District.

For more information, visit sftravel.com

Go beyond the beach in Bali at Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve 

Travellers looking to experience a different side to Bali will find calm and tranquillity at Mandapa, a Ritz-carlton Reserve, a secluded sanctuary tucked away from the beaches and the crowds. Named after the entrance to a traditional Hindu temple, this one-of-a-kind resort is situated beside Ubud’s Ayung River, framed by verdant rice paddies and rolling hills. Guests can discover a journey towards optimal well-being with a luxurious stay combined with an immersive, individually-tailored wellness programme. Mandapa provides a sensory path to wellness and nature, offering guests unobstructed access to nature and traditional Indonesian experiences. Cultural experiences include flower Gebogan making, participating in a Balinese lifestyle ritual to prepare a daily offering called Canang, and sunrise hikes up the sacred Mount Batur volcano.

For more information, visit www.ritzcarlton.com 

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