13 luxury trips for a long weekend

Whether you're looking for a laidback vibe, luxurious settings or a little adventure on your long weekend, from city trips to beach-side breaks, here's where you should travel
A woman in traditional Maiko in Kyoto. Photo: Shutterstock
A woman in traditional Maiko in Kyoto. Photo: Shutterstock

A woman in traditional Maiko in Kyoto. Photo: Shutterstock

Here at Insight Guides, we're all about helping you take your next holiday. Today we're zeroing in on the best ways to spend a long weekend. If you've got a few days off coming up, you may want to perk up. Each of these ultra-luxe getaways makes for a fantastic short break.

Don't see an itinerary that fits your schedule? No worries, we can create a customised trip just for you. You can also submit a trip request to your ideal destination; Insight Guides will do the rest.


1. For a dose of culture

Where? Paris
What? Shopping, luxury, romance
Which tour? Luxury Paris

Paris is one of those exquisite destinations that's ideal for both long vacations and quick city breaks. If you have a few days to spare, why not spend it falling in love with the French capital? The cobbled-street walking tours, the culinary delights, the luxury shopping: there's plenty to fill your itinerary. Kick-off your escape with some retail therapy around Saint-Germain-des-Prés, topped off with a champagne lunch.

Come nightfall, experience the romantic side of Paris with a dinner cruise on the Seine (while those who prefer to whip up their own dishes can opt for an authentic French cookery class). Then finish your trip with a visit to Maison Guerlain for a fragrant perfume-making workshop. Their in-house perfumer will help you create your next signature scent; the perfect souvenir from your long weekend in Paris.

2. For art lovers and history buffs

Where? Madrid
What? Art, architecture, nightlife
Which tour? Made for Madrid

This European escape is sure to satisfy culture-vultures. There's a reason Madrid is often regarded as the art capital of Spain; there is no shortage of spectacular galleries and museums just waiting to be discovered. Jut off to Toledo (an UNESCO World Heritage Site), where old-world charm comes to life by way of ancient churches and revered monasteries.

Meanwhile, Madrid itself is dripping with architectural wonder. Immerse yourself in the culture with a local tour that explores the city's most treasured fixtures, including the majestic Plaza Mayor. Picturesque Madrid is brimming with age-old plazas and history-steeped architecture: explore it at your own pace, breaking up your weekend with a leisurely stroll through Buen Retiro Park. When the sun goes down, Madrid's bustling nightlife and colourful barrios are equally show-stopping.

3. For beachy bliss and fun in the sun

Where? Mexico
What? Whale watching, snorkelling, surfing
Which tour?  Baja: Pacific Coast Paradise

Sometimes (OK, a lot of the time), the only way to do a long weekend is on the beach. Put the demands of everyday life on the back burner by heading off to Mexico's dazzling shores for a few blissful sun-kissed days. Baja California makes for a heavenly starting point. This stretch of Pacific paradise boasts thousands of kilometers of jarring mountains and seemingly untouched coastlines. Start your beach holiday with a bit of snorkelling or diving. Time your trip right and you may even catch a glimpse of migrating gray whales.

The real stunner of this trip is a jaunt over to the wonderfully uninhabited Espiritu Santo Island, located not far off the coast of La Paz. Here, crystal-blue water provides the perfect backdrop for snorkelling with local sea lions. Round out your weekend by touring one of Baja California's many beautiful little towns.

4. For the eco-traveller

Where? Costa Rica
What? Wildlife, rainforest, waterfalls
Which tour? Costa Rica Eco Adventure

When it comes to planning the most epic extended weekend, more and more travellers are turning to eco-tourism. Enter Costa Rica, a Central American dreamland that attracts eco-minded visitors in droves. Why? It's made up of some of the most stunning natural diversity imaginable. The local ecosystems here play host to astounding jungle landscapes and national parks. This trip puts you right in the heart of the action, setting the stage for an adventure like no other.

Get your fill of wild waterfall hikes, unique bird-watching tours, and unreal views of the cloud forest. When it comes to accommodation, you certainly won't be roughing it: Insight Guides will set you up in luxury eco-lodges, providing up-close encounters with local sloths, monkeys and more. Wrap up your nature exploring with a bit of horseback riding before turning in for a night under the stars.

Relaxing at Jordan's Dead Sea. Photo: ShutterstockRelaxing at Jordan's Dead Sea. Photo: Shutterstock

5. For old-world wonder

Where? Jordan
What? Ancient ruins, the Dead Sea, historic castles
Which tour? Discover Jordan

Those with a soft spot for ancient lure and old-world adventure may want to put Jordan on their list of best long weekend destinations. This trip touches down in Petra (aka one of the New Seven Wonders of the World). Here, ancient wonder awaits in what's been coined the rose city. Carved out of rock more than 2,000 years ago by the Nabataeans, this incredible attraction features over 800 unique monuments that span more than 100 sq km.

This trip also ventures to the Dead Sea. Treat yourself to the ultimate in relaxation at the lowest place on earth's surface. The water's therapeutic properties have been lauded for years. Indulge in a natural mud wrap or sea salt scrub before heading back to your workweek.

6. For a cosmopolitan escape

Where? Hong Kong
What? Culture, shopping, family fun
Which tour? Hong Kong Highlights

Hong Kong remains the go-to location for animated wandering, grand cityscapes, and culture galore. A wondrous mishmash of old and new, Hong Kong brilliantly merges buzzing city streets with hidden pockets of serenity. The shopping, as you probably already know, is top-notch here. Everything from glammed-up malls to vibrant street markets and hole-in-the-wall antique stores are sure to satisfy shopaholics (jade and silk are among the top local finds).

This trip incorporates just the right amount of cultural discovery with much-buzzed-about attractions. Dial up your child-like enthusiasm with a day spent at Hong Kong Disneyland. Then it's off to Ocean Park to take in some exotic marine life and rides. Whether you're getting away on your own or with the family, Hong Kong has a little something for everyone.

7. For Southeast Asia at its best

Where? Singapore
What? Hawker food stalls, city bike tour, ethnic neighborhoods
Which tour? Uniquely Singapore

Singapore has long delighted foodies: the street food is rumoured to be some of the best in Southeast Asia. And it's little wonder; its wonderfully ethnic regions and neighbourhoods (especially areas of Indian and Chinese influence) come to life on the plate. Of course, its diversity isn't the only draw. Singapore is also bursting with cultural gems, including Gardens by the Bay and the Peranakan museum.

This trip invites you to soak it up on a bicycle tour of the city, checking out residential towns and local markets along the way. You can also spend part of your weekend getting lost at River Safari, a river-themed wildlife park that illuminates eight different river habitats (be sure to put the Giant Panda Forest on your list). In a nutshell, Singapore is a jet-setter's delight, blending open green spaces with delicious eats and plenty of local culture to go around.

Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo: ShutterstockSupertrees at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. Photo: Shutterstock

8. For a taste of Japan

Where? Tokyo
What? Museums, art, culture
Which tour? Completely Japan

Japan itself is so vast, so fantastically diverse, you'd be hard-pressed to squeeze it all into one weekend. But zooming in on Tokyo makes for a fantastic few days. At the centre of this trip is a guided sightseeing tour of jazzed-up Tokyo, covering everything from garden strolls in Hama Rikyu to cups of green tea in a gorgeous island teahouse and a Sumida River cruise.

Spend the rest of your stay wandering through central Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market after treating yourself to a sushi breakfast. Art lovers can also get their fill at one of the city's many museums and galleries. The Ghibli Museum, for instance, is devoted to legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki. 

9. For the travelling foodie

Where? Bangkok
What? Gourmet restaurants, private cooking lessons, local markets
Which tour? Bangkok Gourmet

If you're like us, then you believe that one of the best ways to experience a culture is through the food. This culinary whirlwind tour of Bangkok allows you to do just that. Let's face it, Thailand is famous for its vibrant, flavourful local fare. This trip puts you right in the kitchen. The extravaganza gets going with a visit to one of the nearby authentic markets. From there, you'll take part in a private cooking class before tucking into your creations (it doesn't get much fresher than that).

This long weekend also includes plenty of opportunities to get your hands on some genuine Thai street food. Insight Guides will connect you with some of Bangkok's premier restaurants, like the world-renowned Sala Rim Nam Restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

10. For the wildlife and nature enthusiast

Where? Laos
What? Elephant camps, family adventure, sacred temples
Which tour? Laos Elephants & Jungle

Fancy a long weekend in the company of extraordinary wildlife? If you answered yes, then this exotic holiday is for you. Charming Laos, with its stunning natural beauty and historical touch points, deserves a spot at the top of your travel wish list. Where else can you trek through the jungle on the back of an elephant? Elephant Jungle Camp brings you face to face with these gentle giants before transporting you to the awe-inspiring Tad Sae Waterfall.

This once-in-a-lifetime getaway also includes a stop at Wat Xieng Thong, one of the country's most exquisite  temples. Top off the experience with a visit to the National Museum, formerly known as the King's Palace, where rare royal artifacts are on display.

11. For a glimpse of Vietnam

Where? Vietnam
What? Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta cruise, Vietnamese cuisine
Which tour? Southern Vietnam Explored

It may be tough to take in all of Vietnam in just a weekend, but you can certainly experience the splendour of the southern region on a quick stopover. The south is home to Ho Chi Minh City, known for its unparalleled street food and quick-paced atmosphere. A comprehensive day tour provides a sneak peek into the vibrant shops and markets of Cholon (Chinatown), the FITO museum, the Presidential Palace, the Opera House and more.

But the city really comes to life at night. When the sun goes down, hit the town for dinner and cocktails before checking out the nightclub scene. Spend the rest of your weekend cruising the Mekong Delta. This is where you'll find Vietnam's famous floating markets, a culturally unique experience indeed.

Proboscis monkey in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo: Shutterstock

Proboscis monkey in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo: Shutterstock

12. For unrivaled natural beauty

Where? Sabah
What? Hiking, rare plant life, whitewater rafting
Which tour? Experience Nature In the Wilds of Sabah

Nature lovers with a flair for adventure might want to perk up. This trip blends the raw wildness of Sabah with some old-school adventuring. Expect everything from scuba diving with exotic sea life to whitewater rafting down untamed rushing rivers on this outstanding Malaysian tour.

When it comes to unspoiled natural beauty, Sabah is simply divine. Cross paths with exceptional orchids and natural hot springs in Kinabalu National Park, along with the towering Mount Kinabalu. If you add one of the coral islands within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park to your itinerary, you're in for a treat. This translates to snorkelling and swimming in mind-blowingly clear waters. In a word: Awesome.

13. For the adventurous explorer

Where? Machu Picchu
What? Sacred Valley of the Incas, Machu Picchu
Which tour? Peru Express

There's a reason Machu Picchu made it on our list of 50 experiences to have before you're 50. The truth is that an extended weekend is all you need to take in its wonder. Insight Guides' Peru Express trip arranges for a private guide to take you to the famed mountain-top city that was abandoned by the Inca Empire. From the top, marvel at unbelievable views of the Urubamba river, with tropical mountain forest all around. The sight of the Inca Empire's most remarkable creation is one most people never experience. Your exclusive tour ends at a local restaurant for some tasty bites before turning in for the day. Spend the rest of your weekend exploring the colonial charms of Cusco.

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