Girls' holidays. Sunning yourself, spending quality time with your besties, dining out and uncovering the joys of travel with your closest girlfriends. What's not to love, right?
I have been going on a girls' holiday every year for close to a decade. So it's safe to say I know a thing or two about which destinations are best suited to female friendly adventures.
Nearly three years ago, I wrote an article about my top girls' holiday destinations. Well, I've travelled far and wide, and a lot has changed since then, so I think it's about time I revisited this topic.
Especially as a few other destinations have made it into my top picks and one has even stolen the crown. And our vision for the perfect holiday has significantly changed from when we were in our mid-twenties to early thirties.
Ingredients for a fab girls' holiday
We used to seek relaxation and a chilled out break by the sea. And whilst we still appreciate a day of hard-core sunbathing on a pristine beach, after a few days, we get a little restless.
We're not looking for bars and nights out, we'd rather enjoy the culinary scene and have a few drinks over dinner. Of course we want some down time, but we've realised that we like to get more out of our girls' holidays than a break.
We look for destinations that offer places to explore and things to do. Places with a bit of history and local towns and cities to wander around. We often swap sunbeds for city days or trips to nature parks. Although one thing that won't change about our holiday is that we'll always be up for some kind of boat trip.
How to choose your destination
My top tips
Based on my experience, these are the things that make up a memorable and enjoyable holiday with your friends...
A selection of restaurants and quality dining options. We like to indulge on our girls' holidays.
City+beach combos work oh so well (e.g. Valencia, Nice) because you can get the best of both worlds.
Either hiring out an apartment or villa which is great for the social side of things, or going all out and staying at a luxury hotel. Hello champagne+hot tub and mojitos on the beach.
We're done with budget breaks in sub-par accommodation, it's definitely worth spending that bit extra.
Places where it's easy to get around and there are good/affordable transport links.
Having either restaurants and bars or the beach within walking distance. Though personally, I find it's always better to be closer to places to eat and drink.
Places with a beach club - we had the best time at the beach club in Valencia.
Avoid staying in quieter locations where there's not much to do and it's hard to get anywhere, you want to be close to the action.
Before you pick your destination, research what activities/day trips/experiences there are to do and confer with your gals as to whether these are things you'd enjoy doing.
My current top ten based on places I've been to
So, at the moment, Valencia is currently sitting comfortably in my top spot. I'm a fan of Spain anyway, seeing as I went to the same place in Spain as a youngster with my family every single year. Valencia just has it all when it comes to ticking boxes. Beach? Tick. City to explore? Tick? Parks and activities within easy reach? Yes.
And I'm a sucker for a European city with a charming old town, which is where we stayed. Valencia blends old and new with its adorable old town and modern features like the Science Park which kind of looks like something from outer space. The city has a main beach with an awesome beach club, plenty of bars and restaurants, its signature Paella and a ton of Sangria.
I've actually just got back from my most recent ladies hol in Portugal. We went there for a friend's hen do, and extended a few days afterwards to make up this year's girls' hol. I fell in love with this colourful, vibrant and quirky city instantly.
All the buildings have intricate patterns and come in a rainbow of colours, which makes you instantly feel happy. The nearby town of Cascais (about a 40 min taxi ride which split between four is cheap) is absolutely adorable and has a lovely beach. We went to the food market, hopped on a tuk-tuk around the city, sailed off on a boat trip and did a rooftop yoga class in the sunshine.
I was lucky enough to go to the Dominican Republic a few years back for an epic holiday with another female friend. This definitely took my girls' holiday experience to a whole new level. You can't beat going to the Caribbean, experiencing pure luxury and going on incredible excursions. We stayed in three different resorts, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and La Romana.
Read my article here on why the Dominican Republic is such a fantastic girls' holiday destination, and read all about our trip here. My top memories from the trip include a catamaran ride out to Saona Island, swimming with reef sharks, zip lining through the jungle and diving in a blue hole at Scape Park.
Another perfect example of a city and beach combo. The beaches here are pebbles not sandy and we had a few less than graceful entrances into the sea, but if you venture further along the coast to neighbouring towns there are some lovely sandy shores.
With plenty of dining options and shopping galore, you'll be spoilt for choice on a girls' hol in Nice. We also went on a two-hour road trip to St Tropez and spent a day absorbing the glitz and glamour which was fun.
A slightly alternative girls' holiday destination if you're looking for something different. Marrakech offers a colourful, cultural break to ignite the senses. If you want to barter for bargains in the souks, have a hammam with your gal pals and live it up in a stylish Riad then you'll fall in love with this utterly fascinating city. I went with my sister and we had some fantastic adventures exploring the Jemaa elFna souks, visiting Jardin Majorelle and chilling out in our luxury hotel (Hotel Opera Plaza) just outside of the centre.
Oh Croatia, you absolute beauty. I've been to Croatia twice, and both times I stayed in charming Trogir, which isn't too far from Split. It was the perfect remedy when I'd just split with a boyfriend and wanted to get away with friends.
You can hop across to all the different beaches on local taxi boats, there are gorgeous coves and secluded beaches to uncover and plenty of fun day trips to go on. Krka waterfalls was definitely a highlight as well as stumbling upon a stunning little town called Primosten. I'd say Croatia in general is a great location for holidays with friends as it's got nightlife, bars, restaurants, picturesque beaches and plenty of things to do.
A characterful Greek town full of adorable rooftop restaurants perched on a hill. OK, so it doesn't exactly say "party town", but that's not really my bag these days. Whilst there's not a huge amount to do, if you're happy to indulge in flavourful Greek dishes and have lazy beach days beside gorgeous seas, then this is the spot for you. Lindos is a pretty Greek town with all the ingredients for a perfect beach holiday in the scorching sunshine.
Love Island eat your heart out. If you want to enjoy the delights that Mallorca has to offer with your girlfriends then head to Pollença where you can soak up the sun on the beach. And enjoy a few days trips to Palma City for some history and excitement. We rented a boat out for the day and sailed around the coves surround Pollensa and it was epic.
Destinations on my wishlist
So, where to next? Well, our aspirations have continued to change and we're now looking for more luxurious destinations. And we're happy to go a bit further afield if needed. Say hello to five star resorts in tropical and lavish locations. Think Sex and The City 2, Abu Dhabi.
After much discussion we've decided the following destinations are on our hit list for the next few years:
- Dubai, UAE
- Miami, USA
- Bali, Indonesia
- Umbria, Italy
- Verona, Italy
- Las Vegas, USA
- Ibiza, Spain
- Abu Dhabi, UAE
Yes, it's time to turn the girls' holiday dial up a notch and set our sights even higher to faraway lands that are just begging to be explored, keep in touch and we will tell more soon.