Blog > Top luxury holiday destinations for retirement

Top luxury holiday destinations for retirement

luxury cruise ship

By Clare Yates • 27th March 2023 • 7 min read

With age comes adventure!

Travelling in retirement offers a freedom that you simply can’t enjoy when you have a busy career. With no restrictions on when you can take time off, you can grab those last minute deals and start ticking off those bucket list destinations.

Perhaps you fancy a once-in-a-lifetime trip to celebrate a milestone birthday or special anniversary? Or how about warming up with some winter sunshine across the globe? Whatever your ideal break might look like, we’ve found some fantastic luxury retirement holiday ideas for you to consider.

To help navigate your way through our picks of the best retirement holidays, we’ve broken our top choices into three fantastic categories for you to peruse at your leisure. So pop the kettle on, get comfy and join us for an armchair tour of…

  • Once-in-a-lifetime holidays
  • A luxury world cruise
  • Winter getaways

Also, because luxury holidays are one of the top reasons why retirees arrange equity release plans, we’ve included information on how equity release could help you fund your adventures. To find out how much you could borrow, check here or talk to one of our friendly consultants by calling 0808 178 3055 or request a call back.

Once-in-a-lifetime holidays

At Equity Release Wise, we love to hear our customers talking about the once-in-a-lifetime holidays they plan to enjoy in retirement. And why not? After a lifetime of working and raising the family, it’s time to put you first! If you have a lump sum of money available and want to experience some luxury, excitement or the exotic, here are just a couple of incredible destinations to consider.

Whale watching in Alaska and Arctic

If you love wildlife and the great outdoors, but prefer to enjoy them in comfort and style, then an Alaskan cruise could be your dream come true. Relaxing, romantic, exciting…this is arguably one of the best holiday destinations for elderly couples and single travellers alike.

With a glass of fizz in your hand, sail across the icy waters of Alaska’s coastlines and through dramatic fjords. During your luxury retirement holiday, you’ll spot humpback whales, blue whales, orcas, belugas, sea lions, bald eagles and more.


Wildlife enthusiasts should pay close attention to the ports your chosen cruise calls at – it’s all about being in the right place at the right time. Whale migration paths and feeding zones will be packed with wildlife at certain times of the year. 

In Alaska you’ll want to tick off Icy Strait Point in June/July if humpback whales are on your bucket list. Juneau and Sitka are also superb ports for other species of whales and other wildlife.

Victoria in British Columbia, Canada often features on Alaskan whale watching cruise itineraries too – and for good reason. Here you can hop off your ship on to an open-air boat or catamaran whale-watching tour. You’ll be able to track and get closer to humpbacks, orcas and more with the help of experts who know exactly where to look. 

When to go: May to September

Find out more: Explore Alaskan whale-watching cruises with Celebrity

South Africa

Safaris, winelands and stunning mountain and coastal tours…there is so much to see in South Africa! Here, you can make your retirement holiday adventure as active or relaxing as you like.

If sampling delicious local food and drink is your thing then you can enjoy some fantastic cheese and wine-tasting at the country’s world renowned vineyards. Or, take in an incredible African safari adventure at Kruger National Park to spot the ‘Big Five’. Afterwards, you can partake in a traditional South African ‘braai’ (barbecue) to sample local meats.


If you enjoy walking, you’ll love the many wild trails where you can amble along at your own pace to spot antelope and bush pigs. Or for those who enjoy a challenge, the fabulous summits in Table Mountain National Park offer picture perfect sunrises and sunsets.

The thing we love about South Africa is that everyone can enjoy it regardless of your fitness or ability! There are fantastic senior coach tours available to show you the fascinating history of Cape Town. Then, see the stunning scenery of The Garden Route as you travel along river gorges, through dense indigenous forests and over breathtaking mountain passes.

With nearly 3,000km of coastline, South Africa is recognised as one of the best scuba diving destinations in the world. But you don’t have to be a diver to marvel at the awe-inspiring marine life in these tropical waters. There are many relaxing catamaran tours, glass-bottomed boats and thrilling helicopter rides! You’ll spot whales, dolphins, sharks and South Africa’s famous seal and penguin colonies.

When to go: May to September

Find out more: Get prices for a South African trip of a lifetime with Virgin Holidays


The fascinating thing you’ll notice when you arrive in China is the remarkable blend of past, present and future. Its high tech futuristic cities such as Shanghai are built next to the breath-taking ancient monuments and sacred Buddhist shrines of its historical civilisation.

If it’s an active retirement holiday you’re looking for then book one of the many guided tours of the world-famous Great Wall of China, the palaces in Forbidden City and Xian’s 8,000-strong Terracotta Army. There’s a huge variety of things for you to do and explore in China!


You can really explore the country’s imperial past with a stay in Beijing, the country’s bustling capital. It is here you can see the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs and the Forbidden City. 

Don’t forget to visit the National Museum of China, one of the biggest museums in the world. Sitting on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest plaza, the museum showcases over one million historical objects for you to study and admire.

After all that exploring, why not wind down afterwards with a cruise down the 4,000 mile-long Yangtze – the world’s third longest river. It is perhaps one of the best holiday destinations for elderly travellers in China thanks to its tranquillity and stunning views. Here you’ll see the stunning ancient pagodas lining the river banks, with incredible scenery of the Three Gorges to marvel at too. Look out for some of China’s beautiful and endangered wildlife including the river dolphin and Chinese alligator. 

When to go: April to May and September to October

Find out more: Plan your China trip with Thomas Cook

A luxury world cruise

One of the most popular and best retirement holidays around, there’s no better way to celebrate your new chapter in life than with a cruise! 

If you really want to see it all, a world cruise takes a minimum of 100 days – with the ‘Ultimate World Cruise’ from Royal Caribbean lasting a staggering 274 nights. Cruising has soared in popularity in recent years, with some fantastic deals to be had if you book early enough. 

You don’t have to be a lottery winner to afford a world cruise today. In fact, at the time of writing, Cunard offers a fantastic 117-day world cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from $21,199 per person; that’s around £17,123.


So what can you expect from a world cruise itinerary? Many UK-arranged tours start from Miami, where you’ll first visit the Caribbean islands, South America and the stunning glacier-studded Antarctica.  After visiting the Hawaiian islands, you’ll sail to Australia and New Zealand, before taking in countries in the Far East. 

From there you may get to explore Sri Lanka, India and Dubai before taking in Egypt and the many destinations in the continent of Europe. You might go on to visit Russia, Iceland, Norway and Greenland, before stopping at Canada on the way back to Miami.

A cruise is a fantastic way to visit the best holiday destinations for older couples, single travellers and families all in one luxury trip. There’s something for everybody on today’s liners, with world class food and drink to boot!

When to go: World cruises generally start in January and end March–May.

Find out more: Explore prices and itineraries for world cruises with P&O here

Winter breaks for retirees

What could be more luxurious than jetting off to a warmer climate when the thermometer drops? While your family and friends don their gloves and scarves, you’ll be sipping ice-cold drinks in your sunglasses. The only thing you have to decide is which incredible destination you’ll top up your tan in! Here are two of our personal choices…


India is a beautiful place to spend your retirement holiday, with glorious beaches, jungles, ample history and world famous food. Public transport isn’t always recommended for tourists and the roads can be very difficult to navigate, so coach tours are a popular way to see this spectacular country. 

Coach tours around the Golden Triangle – the tourist circuit of India – are particularly popular. You’ll explore the bazaars of Delhi, see the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Amber Fort at Jaipur, amongst many other sights. With a typical two-day stop in each of the three regions, you’ll be able to sample the vast history, culture and architecture the country has to offer. 


Or why not book a stay near one of India’s beautiful beaches for your luxury retirement holiday? Goa offers stunning white sand beaches and colonial architecture to admire. If you want an adventure, embark on a jungle safari adventure to the Jim Corbett National Park in northern India’s Uttarakhand State. Here you will spot Bengal tigers, elephants, leopards and more!

When to go: November to February

Find out more: Get a quote for a full package coach tour of the Golden Circle with Saga

Australia and New Zealand

Featuring near the top of many retiree’s travel bucket lists, Australia and New Zealand offer stunning beaches, bustling cosmopolitan cities, wildlife and natural wonders like no other. Thanks to their seasons being at opposite times of the year to ours, they make a perfect winter retirement holiday.

In Australia, Cairns’ idyllic location between the 1,400 mile long Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest makes it an ideal place to stay. If diving isn’t your thing, scenic helicopter flights can hover you over the Reef, or get a view from below with a glass bottomed boat. 

After all that wonder, no visit to Down Under would be complete without a trip to the vibrant sun-drenched harbour city of Sydney, with its world-famous Opera House, Bondi Beach and Sydney Harbour Bridge. 


After taking in all the culture and beauty of Oz, you can reach New Zealand with a relatively quick three hour flight. With its stunning scenery, food, wine, thermal geysers and hot springs, volcanic hiking tours, whale watching tours, Glow Worm caves and historic Māori villages, what more could you ask for? New Zealand is one of the best holiday destinations for elderly visitors who are young at heart!

When to go: December to March

Find out more: See what’s included on an Australian and New Zealand tour with Saga

How Equity Release Wise can help

If these dream holiday destinations for older couples and single retirees are on your bucket list but out of your budget, equity release might be worth a look. Thousands of homeowners every year are unlocking the tax-free money they need from their homes to get the most out of their retirement. 

You can take your money as a lump sum lifetime mortgage, or select a drawdown plan which allows you to access smaller amounts of cash to fund trips as and when you take them. This has the added benefit of meaning you only accrue interest on the money you release, rather than the full amount that you are entitled to. 

Before you make a decision though, you’ll need to speak to a qualified adviser. Having a plan will reduce the value of your estate and the amount of inheritance you leave, so you don’t want to rush into anything. The good news is that our selected advisers will explain all the pros and cons of equity release to you before helping you search for a plan that might suit your individual circumstances.

Bring your retirement holiday ideas and dreams to life! By calling our friendly team today, you can start the process of finding out how much you could unlock. Simply call us on 0808 178 3055 or request a call back for a time that suits you, and we’ll arrange an appointment. Alternatively, check your eligibility and get an initial indication of how much tax-free cash you could unlock. 

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