Four-night holidays to relax and recharge

Meagan Drillinger

Travel writer

Three-day breaks are so good for mind and body – but a fourth night opens your options even further and means you truly unwind. What would you do with that extra time? Follow these itineraries for inspirational ideas to help you explore three enchanting cities and switch off from the demands of daily life.


Rome Vatican Museum

It may be known as the Eternal City but you certainly don’t need an eternity to soak up Rome’s delights. In an effortless four days, you can meander the labyrinthine streets on a whim and take in history.

Day 1
You’ve caught a peek of Rome’s beauty on your inward journey, now check into your hotel and relax. Why not take a dip in the pool or order an indulgent dessert from room service? Then, when you’re ready, head to the Monti neighbourhood near the Piazza della Madonna dei Monti. This lesser-known area of charming cobblestone streets oozes cool and is packed with great restaurants and shops.

For dinner, scoot over to Maccheroni, a restaurant near the Pantheon with an industrial-chic vibe. Lauded by locals for its authentic (and delicious) dishes, it has played host to Michelle Obama and Oprah.

Day 2
The classic sights, such as the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum are within easy reach of each other, so you can check them all off the bucket list with ease. Or if you’re looking for a less touristy option, visit the Baths of Caracalla – completed in 216 A.D. by emperor Caracalla, many of the stunning marble structures, mosaics and statues remain incredibly well preserved.

In the evening visit the romantic and trendy Trastevere neighbourhood for bustling nightlife and dinner options aplenty.

Day 3
Reserve your third day for a genuine masterpiece: Vatican City, the smallest state in the world and home to the Pope, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums (pictured above). See Michelangelo’s impressive works, such as La Pieta or his frescoes at the Sistine Chapel. A sightseeing tour is recommended, since the options are vast.

Day 4
Hop on a train from Rome’s Stazione Termini and take a 30-minute trip to Castelli Romani, a scenic area outside of central Rome with a volcanic lake (also a prime destination for foodies). Set yourself up along one of the lakes to enjoy lunch with a glass of locally produced wine. And relax.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Neon Boneyard

If your idea of winding down is to stay busy, this action-packed, non-stop, vices-encouraged city lights up the Nevada desert both day and night. And on a quick trip you can still enjoy the de facto entertainment capital of the world to the full by enveloping yourself in it.

Day 1
Check into your hotel, ideally one located somewhere along The Strip – you might as well stay directly in the buzz of bright lights and action!

After spending some time getting acclimatised, visit The Cosmopolitan for dinner. As one of Vegas’ most chic hotels, it’s packed with masses of dining options – two to consider are China Poblano, a fusion of both Chinese and Mexican street food; or the more upscale ZUMA, serving high-end Japanese cuisine (try the exquisite sushi).

Once satiated, make a beeline for Fremont Street, an entertainment and gaming institution that draws a decidedly local crowd. It offers a glimpse of yesteryear’s Las Vegas, when the prime rib dinner reigned supreme and The Rat Pack played on the jukebox.

Day 2
Ready for a dose of culture at the 18b Arts District? Located downtown, this area hosts a blend of boutiques, antique stores, art galleries and restaurants set across an 18-block zone designed to encourage art and artists. ‘First Fridays’ (of the month) are huge here: the Arts Walk event features food and drink, performances and local artists showing off their work.

In the afternoon, rent a cabana at the Mandarin Oriental to escape the thumping bass of The Strip without having to leave the area.

To end the day, take in a Cirque du Soleil show.

Day 3
Vegas isn’t all about roulette wheels and nightlife. There are also some cute family attractions. Challenge your friends and family to a game at the Pinball Hall of Fame, where there are more than 100 types of pinball machine, some dating back to the 1950s. Alternatively, slip on your sunglasses and peruse the Neon Museum, full of old Vegas signs (pictured above), or check out the National Atomic Testing Museum for a lesson on Nevada’s nuclear testing history.

Day 4
When you feel you know downtown Vegas like the back of your hand, it’s time for a day trip out. The Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a gorgeous stretch of protected area, where you can lose yourself in towering rust-coloured mountains that merge into the desert in true Wild West fashion.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong wishing tree

When scouring the map to pick your next stop in the Eastern hemisphere, consider the energetic, cosmopolitan and decidedly traditional city of Hong Kong. With four days to explore, you’ll leave feeling rejuvenated, relaxed and, likely, a little more cultured.

Day 1

Check into your hotel to drop off your things and then set out on a leisurely stroll along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront to enjoy the sensational skyline views across Victoria Harbour. Snap a few pictures, then meander round the outdoor market nearby, which serves traditional Cantonese food.

Next, stop by the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees before you return to your hotel for the evening. You’ll find these grand banyan trees near the Lam Tsuen Tin Hau Temple (pictured above). Traditionally, visitors would write wishes on paper and toss them on the branches: the higher the branch, the more likely the wish would come true. In recent years, new guidelines have been put in place to protect the trees, so you’ll have to settle for tying your wishes on one of the imitation trees or pre-made racks. But tie it just right, and who knows: it might come true.

Day 2
A cooking class is a great way to immerse oneself in the local culture and to try new flavours. Sign up for a course at Home’s Cooking, where you’ll make local dishes from ingredients chosen during a tour of the Kam Wa Street wet market in eastern Hong Kong.

Afterwards, visit Che Kung Temple to spin the ‘wheel of fortune’ three times for good luck.

End the day back on the waterfront for cinematic views – and to shake up your palate, enjoy Italian food at Al Molo in Harbour City.

Day 3
Strap on your hiking boots and get ready to enjoy the great outdoors: the Ng Tung Waterfall Path winds through the Tai Mo Shan Country Park, about 30 minutes northwest from Victoria Harbour, taking you on a two-hour hike past breathtaking waterfalls and thick forest. You’ll be so enveloped in nature that you may forget you spent the night before among the skyscrapers downtown.

Day 4
Your fourth day was made for tranquil beach retreats, and there are plenty to pick from along the Sai Kung Peninsula. The secluded Tai Long Wan beach is reachable on a hiking trail from Sai Wan Pavilion: this popular surf destination is one of the most beautiful spots in Hong Kong.

If you’re ready to put these itineraries into action, search your dates and be on your way.

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