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Collage of two landscape images, one with elephants in a lake and the second of a cactus garden with volcano in the background. Text on the image reads Artist Edition Gorgeous Getaways

From Lanzarote to Vancouver: Gorgeous Getaways, artist edition

Where is your gorgeous getaway? Is it a town, city, beach, region or country?

Coming together with like-minded people, sharing our experiences and forming connections and bonds through our travel stories. That was one of the reasons I set up South Island Art, why I love in-person events and why I adore working with my clients on commissions.

I’ve wanted to do a series about favourite places from different perspectives within the South Island Art community for a long time and some lovely clients have agreed to share their stories. Each post in this Gorgeous Getaways series will take a different person’s view, sharing their top places with recommendations and tips.

I’m kicking off the series with my own top 10 - and goodness, it was a challenge to whittle it down! So here we go - and this list could and will probably change!

1. Lanzarote

Variety of cacti in Jardin de Cactus, Lanzarote which blends into the volcanic landscape.

From otherworldly volcanic landscapes to delicious food, this island instilled an incredible sense of peace in me.

An absolute must is to hire a car and explore the art of Cesar Manrique, driving through and past volcanic landscapes which are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

There are places to discover Manrique’s art all over the island - whilst other islands across the Canaries have a few Manrique-designed places too, you’ll find the majority on Lanzarote. His vision of blending tourism and architecture with nature has to be seen - it is beautiful. We visited Jameos del Agua, Mirador del Río and Jardín de Cactus. There can be queues at times for the Jardín de Cactus and Jameos del Agua, so those are worth visiting early.

2. Melbourne

Aerial view of Melbourne city skyline with towering skyscrapers and green parkland.

Photo by Julian Varon on Unsplash

This city has such a warm and welcoming nature. Incredibly visitor-friendly with a great visitor shuttle and free central tram zone, fantastic food and a lovely laid-back vibe. There’s all the colour and street art of The Laneways, the art and architecture of Federation Square, and the picturesque and expansive Royal Botanic Gardens. Definitely take time to visit St Kilda and see its colony of little penguins, stunning city skyline views, and the tranquility of its own botanic garden.

Read more of my recommendations in this post about visiting Melbourne.

3. Sri Lanka

Mother and baby elephant crossing a grassy field in front of a lake.

I was trying to think of how to capture what I love about this island, and I think above all, it’s how you can experience the beauty of nature. Along with the hospitality and friendliness of people, mouthwatering food and ancient sites.

There are so many national parks - 22 in fact - (Lonely Planet has this article on the best ones to visit ) and seeing herds of elephants going about their day is just mesmerising.

Then there’s the coastline and soft sandy beaches which differ depending on which part of the island you’re on. And jungles and mountains or the fresh misty feel of tea plantations. There is so much to soak up and see.

Here are my thoughts on four beaches around Sri Lanka.

4. Vancouver

Vancouver landscape at sunset with beach, forest and mountains.

Photo by Devon Hawkins on Unsplash

If you love the outdoors and spending time in nature, this place is definitely for you!

Spend a day wandering the incredibly peaceful Stanley Park and stroll through some of the different types of landscapes around Vancouver, from lakes to forests to beaches. The views of the surrounding mountains are breathtaking.

Get a ferry to Granville Island for shopping from artisan makers and a food market. It’ll be busy, but along with a food market, there are all these little streets filled with artisan shops, studios and independent makers, with everything from artists to jewellers to blacksmiths. It’s a lovely place to walk around and investigate. Off the Tracks is a little bit away from the business around the public market, and has great coffees and outdoor seating. Don’t miss a craft beer at Granville Island Brewing.

5. San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge seen from the Presidio with cacti and plants in the sandy foreground.

If you do one thing, go to the Presidio. There’s a free bus from Downtown, about one an hour, and takes you right into the park by Golden Gate Bridge. We followed one of the trails down to see incredible views of the bridge, beaches and Crissy Field. Our walk was so scenic and peaceful, passing lots of people out walking their dogs or playing with their young kids on the beach.

There are so many good places to eat and drink - you can find more of my recommendations in this post about how to spend four days in the city.

6. Toronto

People sitting on benches on Toronto Islands, gazing at the Toronto skyline.

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

Toronto is a beautiful, vibrant and welcoming city. The neighbourhoods each have a distinct character to them. You could be walking down a street and within a few blocks, you will see and sense a shift in the vibe - often a contrast to the area you've just been in. From the boho, arty feel of Kensington Market, through Chinatown, to the hip feel of the Distillery district, there is something for everyone.

It’s also a great base to do a day trip to Niagara Falls, and I highly recommend factoring this into your time spent in the city.

A short ferry ride from the harbour, the Toronto islands are an incredibly picturesque place to spend a day. Beaches seem to stretch all along one side of the three interlinking islands, and with sand dunes, mini lakes and wildlife, it's a wonderfully scenic day out.

7. North Tyneside & Northumberland

Wide sandy beach with the outline of Dunstanburgh Castle perched on green clifftops.

Historic castles perched on clifftops above soft, expansive sandy beaches. The dramatic coastline stretches on and on and how the landscape changes depending on the sunlight is stunning. Coastal walks in these regions will take your breath away, with plenty of places you’ll want to stop off and visit. Cullercoats, Amble and Dunstanburgh Castle are amongst my favourites.

See photos from a North Tyneside coastal walk

8. Valencia

Buildings in Old town Valencia in pink and yellow hues.


Photo by Jonny James on Unsplash

From the gentle, pastel hues of the historic Old Town to the Natural Park of L’Albufera, where Valencian paella was created in the 16th Century (here's my source) to the modern and futuristic architecture of the City of Arts and Sciences, there is much to experience in Valencia. Try a Valencian horchata (refreshing tigernut drink) in a horchateria - the Horchateria de Santa Catalina is gorgeous - or take a boat trip in the Albufera.

9. Boston

Old buildings contrasted with modern skyscrapers along the Freedom Trail in Boston.

Photo by Leonel Heisenberg on Unsplash

What I liked about visiting Boston was its sense of history along with a slightly more laid-back feel and it’s pretty walkable.

We found the Freedom Trail a great way of seeing some of the varied neighbourhoods that make up Central Boston. You follow a red-brick path, about 2.5 miles in total, along the city’s streets that takes you to 16 locations that played key roles during the American Revolution. From museums to Churches and meeting places. The trail begins at Boston Common, which is the oldest public park in the US, taking you to museums, Churches and meeting places, via the contrasting architecture of Downtown, North End’s residential brownstones and Italian restaurants and Charlestown’s slower pace and pretty pastel houses.

See my full post on the Freedom Trail.

10. Singapore

Greeny lake in Gardens by the bay, Singapore with supertrees in the background.

When you think of Singapore, you may think of it as a hub of finance and shopping. There is so much more to this island - away from the skyscrapers, there are so many neighbourhoods each with their own distinct identity.

Singapore is also known for its food and you have to visit a Hawker Center. We went to Maxwell Road, but there are plenty more to discover.

Make time for visiting both Gardens By the Bay and the Botanic Garden. Both places are free to enter, with attractions that have admission charges. The Botanic Gardens is a UNESCO Heritage Site, founded in 1859 and split into three themes - heritage, tourism and education. A personal highlight is the Rainforest area, with a lovely boardwalk that runs through the trees.

There’s also a beautiful boardwalk surrounding the Dragonfly lake in Gardens By the Bay. The lake is soothing and tranquil and the gardens are beautifully planted. The Gardens also have a nightly light show with the Supertrees - try and catch it if you can, it’s a beautiful sight.

Singapore from the perspective of colour

I'd love to know where your top five gorgeous getaways would be? Do any of my top 10 make your list?

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