Renaissance revealedThere was a time when no young gentle-person was considered educated until they had taken the Grand Tour. Italy is the cradle of Western civilization, and a visit to Florence makes an ideal spring break. Home to the Medicis, Michelangelo and Dante, this Tuscan city is jammed to the brim with some of the finest artworks ever created. Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' still hangs in the Uffizi gallery, and the streets are lined with exquisite mediaeval architecture. Stroll amongst the palazzos and piazzas, promenade on the Ponte Vecchio and retrace the glory that was the Renaissance.
Ride of the ValkyriesForget the Mediterranean and Caribbean, the cruising world's best kept secrets are the sub-arctic grandeur of Norwegian fjords and the stunning majesty of Iceland, land of ice and fire. Ideally timed to coincide with the equinoxes (late March or September), there is no better way to witness the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights. The spectral lights glimmering over dark water can be breathtaking as swathes of green and red dance across the sky. There is more natural drama on show with calving glaciers and volcanoes spilling streams of magma into steaming seas.
Ancient grandeurFollow the shades of Hercule Poirot and Howard Carter on a trip down the Nile and visit the Giza pyramids, Luxor and Karnak to enjoy a taste of antiquity's most spell-binding achievements. The cooler months of the year are October through to April.
Deep ecologyFly south for the winter and leave the clouds and cold behind as you head to the coast of Queensland to explore Australia's Great Barrier Reef, one of the most vibrant scenes the world has to offer. Take the plunge with scuba diving lessons and drift through multi-coloured banks of coral swarming with clownfish, Maori Wrasse and sea stars in every shade. Best enjoyed as part of a reef tour, you can cruise the Barrier Reef with local guides and marine biologists for an in-depth experience.
Your own back yardIf all this globe trotting sounds too exhausting, don't forget the wealth of history, discovery and natural beauty on your own doorstep. From the wild Cornish coast to Neolithic settlements in Orkney, the British Isles are awash with fascinating places to visit. Try pony trekking in the Brecon Beacons, walk the Ridgeway Trail to Avebury or hunt monsters in the dark waters of Loch Ness. And the best of it is, it's there all year round.
Photo by Flickr User Arian Zwegers