Our world is big, beautiful, and astonishingly diverse, and if you’re fascinated by other countries and cultures, you may want more from your holidays than time off and a tan. Whether you have a passion for food, art, nature, or history, choosing a special interest tour for your next break is a chance to embrace a whole new realm of adventures and experiences.
There are cultural tours for almost every interest – and the best trips aren’t only exciting and immersive but they also give you a chance to deepen your knowledge. So, to get you inspired, we’ve partnered with Travel Editions, one of the UK’s leading specialist independent escorted tour operators.
With 30 years of experience providing cultural short breaks and tours, Travel Editions has a legion of loyal customers who travel with them year after year, and their special interest tours are particularly popular with foodies, walkers, history buffs, nature lovers, and art enthusiasts. Locations are diverse and eclectic, ranging from Helsinki in the north to Sicily in the south – so there’s plenty of variety!
The even better thing about Travel Editions tours is that they also give travellers the chance to relax, soak up the local atmosphere, and, of course, enjoy the regional food and wine! To find out more, check out the video below to hear what guests of Travel Editions have to say – and then keep reading for a list of 10 special interest tours for curious travellers.
10 special interest tours for curious travellers
1. Sicilian Culinary Experience
Sicily is known around the world for its mouthwatering cuisine, and if you’d like to learn how to make authentic Sicilian delights from your own kitchen – as well as taste the very best of this Italian island’s produce – this tour is for you. Over seven days, you’ll travel around Sicily, learning how to make pasta and antipasto from scratch, experimenting with porcini mushrooms, and tasting local wines.
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy learning how to make traditional treats, like cannoli – and if you prefer savoury food, a highlight may be visiting producers of local cheeses, sausages, and salami. You’ll also have plenty of free time to relax, hit the beach, visit restaurants, or tour ancient sites – and there’s plenty of walking involved too, so you’ll certainly work up an appetite for all the food!
2. Nancy and The Birth of Art Nouveau Tour
Art enthusiasts looking for an exciting city break might want to book themselves onto this three night art and architecture tour. This is a unique chance to explore the chic French riverfront city of Nancy, which is known for its art nouveau landmarks. Led by experts, you’ll tour the city, visiting museums, art nouveau houses, and art galleries, and enjoying lectures, dinner, and wine in the evenings.
You’ll visit the imposing art nouveau Villa Majorelle, where you can check out the original decoration and furnishings before moving onto the Ecole de Nancy Museum. After admiring a unique collection of furniture, fabrics, jewellery and glassware, you’ll move onto The Musée des Beaux Arts. A walking tour of art nouveau houses is also on the agenda, as is a private visit to the grand Maison Bergeret.
3. Bulgaria Rose Festival Tour
Bulgaria is a unique country that sits at the crossroads of Europe and the Orient, and its fascinating history has been shaped by many complex cultures, from the Greek and Roman to Byzantine. During this seven-day tour, you’ll discover the true beauty of this Balkan nation.
You’ll visit all kinds of ancient sights and medieval treasures, from 12th century capital Veliko Tarnovo to the UNESCO-listed monument of Madara Rider. The capital Sofia is one of Europe’s oldest cities, and on a walking tour you’ll discover its rich history – both ancient and modern. Another highlight is the colourful Rose Festival at Karlovo, where you can really immerse yourself in the local culture!
4. Krakow – The Jewel of Central Europe
Krakow is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Because it managed to avoid much destruction in the wars, it has an exceptional collection of historic buildings, from royal castles to 14th-century churches. On this five-day tour, you’ll delve deep into Krakow’s cultural legacy and, with an author and art historian as your guide, you’ll soon discover why it’s considered the jewel of Central Europe.
Your tour will kick off with a visit to Jozef Mehoffer House where you can admire all kinds of art, before enjoying a lecture, wine, and dinner. For four full days, you’ll tour the city, visiting churches, galleries, museums, and palaces. The Jewish district of Kazimierz is on the itinerary, as is the ‘socialist realist’ suburb of Nowa Huta. There’ll also be plenty of time to explore or relax at your leisure!
5. Cotswolds Arts and Crafts Houses and Gardens
While Europe is packed with cultural treasures, so are our own shores – and, if you’d like to stay a little closer to home, why not head to the Cotswolds on your next trip? Throughout the early 20th century, the Cotswolds was the heart of the Arts & Crafts Movement, and artists and craftsmen flocked to these honey-coloured villages, lured by the area’s natural beauty and rich craft traditions.
Over three days, you’ll tour some of the region’s most impressive sites and learn about the arts pioneers who put the Cotswolds on the map. You’ll visit Hidcote Garden, Chipping Campden, and Broadway while enjoying dinner and lectures in the evening. Other interesting tours include the Court Barn Museum of Craft & Design, the Jacobean Stanway House, and Hart’s Silversmiths Workshop.
6. Portuguese Culinary Experience
Another tour for foodies now – but this time in Portugal! Portuguese cuisine may not be as hyped as Spanish, French, or Italian, but it’s just as delicious. This week-long tour kicks off in beautiful Evora – a UNESCO World Heritage City that’s essentially an open-air museum – and it’s here that you’ll begin to explore Portugal’s unique culinary traditions, and delve into its absorbing culture and history.
The week will be packed with classes, tours, and tastings, but you’ll also have time to stroll the streets and relax in restaurants. At a local farm, you’ll learn to prepare a three-course meal following traditional recipes before moving to the capital, Lisbon, for the final three days. Here, you’ll tour food markets, take a cooking class, go Pastel de Nata tasting, and enjoy some independent exploration!
7. The Nature Of Northern Greece
Greece might be best known for blazing blue skies and sun-bleached ruins, but there’s a whole other side to this beautiful country. During this seven-night tour, you’ll have the chance to explore some of Greece’s lesser-known regions and gain a whole new perspective on this ancient land. Along the way, you’ll spot wildlife, admire rare flowers, snap photos, and learn all about this wild, unspoilt region.
You’ll visit Lake Kerkini, which is one of Europe’s top birding sites – and you don’t need to be an avid bird watcher to be blown away by the abundance of wildlife here. You’ll also explore the rugged region of Zagorohoria, the picturesque mountain village of Metsovo, and timeless Epirus. Plus, en route, you’ll feast on authentic Greek cuisine, meet locals, and immerse yourself in the local culture.
8. Walking in Western Crete
If you’re looking for a hiking break with a difference, this seven-night walking tour of Western Crete ticks the box. As the largest of the Greek islands, Crete is incredibly diverse – and the western part of the island couldn’t be further removed from the resorts and crowds. This is a wonderful chance to discover a more authentic side of Crete, and immerse yourself in its absorbing, welcoming culture.
You’ll be based in the agricultural town of Kissamos, from where you’re ideally situated to explore the rest of the region. This is a moderate walking tour, with relatively few challenging hills – but the scenery is truly spectacular. When you’re not hiking, you can relax on beaches, explore traditional villages, spot wildlife, and take boat trips. You’ll also have plenty of free time to spend as you wish!
9. Discovering Albania
Albania has some of the most interesting history, archaeology, and culture in all of Europe, yet many people know very little about this fascinating and complex country. During this eight-night tour, you’ll explore Albania’s lively capital, Tirana, diving deep into its history and learning all about its role in the Cold War. You’ll also visit the nearby town of Truje and learn about the historical hero, Skanderbeg.
You’ll tour the UNESCO-listed classical site of Apollonia, and journey through the beautiful Llogara National Park to Sarandë, where you’ll enjoy a two-night stay along the Albania Riviera. The city of Gjirokastër is also on the agenda, and you’ll tour castles, museums, and the charismatic old quarter. The Ottoman houses of Berat, the ‘city of one thousand windows’, are another highlight of this tour!
10. Helsinki Art Nouveau to Post-Modernism
If you’re interested in architecture and are drawn to the Nordic countries, why not consider an art and design tour of Helsinki? The Finnish capital is a city like nowhere else. While it started with a neoclassical design – initially resembling St Petersburg – throughout the 20th century, it saw the construction of all kinds of new developments, including many stunning Art Nouveau buildings.
During this three-night tour, you’ll get to know this vibrant capital, taking immersive walking tours to admire some of the 600+ Art Nouveau buildings. There’ll be visits to museums and galleries while supporting lectures will give you a deeper understanding of how design evolved here. The Rock Church will take your breath away and your hotel – an Art Nouveau stone castle! – is another perk.
If you’re passionate about a specialist subject, whether it’s gastronomy, art and design, or nature and wildlife, you might be looking for a holiday that’s educational and interesting as well as relaxing and enjoyable.
The beauty of taking a tour with Travel Editions is that they have decades of experience and know exactly what culture enthusiasts want to see and do. Not only will your agenda be action-packed, but you’ll also get to learn from experts in their field, whether that means attending lectures from professors or having authors, naturalists, or historians lead your tours.
While you’ll be travelling as part of a group, you’ll always be treated as an individual, and because each tour includes plenty of free time, you’re able to explore in your own way too – whether that’s enjoying drinks or nibbles in restaurants, soaking up the sun on the beach, or picking up treasures to take home!
To see all tours offered by Travel Editions, you can visit their website below.
Are you interested in any of these tours? Or perhaps you’ve been on a tour with Travel Editions before? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.