There is no denying the power of a good maxo relaxo holiday – one where you barely move from the sun lounger and cycle your way through the cocktail menu. But as our everyday lives become more sedentary – based at desks, commuting on the tube and drinking at pubs – it's also true that sometimes the most satisfying break is one that truly pushes your limits and reminds you what your body is capable of.

Particularly after the forced localism of the Covid years, it seems more than ever we are all after an adventure and a break from the shackles of modern life. Here, we round up our pick of the best challenge holidays that will truly take you out of your comfort zone. 

The best challenge holidays for 2024



Is simply visiting Antarctica not adventure enough for you? Take things up a notch and hop aboard the Bark Europa for a thrilling 22-day journey to the icy continent. This trip will not only have you tackling the infamous Drake Passage, but you’ll also join the crew. With no experience necessary, the Bark Europa’s talented team will teach you how to sail some of the most exciting waters in the world, following a four-hours-on, eight-hours-off timetable day and night, mirroring the typical crew experience. Then, you’ll explore Antarctica and its surrounding islands in an experience not dissimilar to that of the initial explorers of this most mysterious of continents.

From £11,300 per person for 22 days;

Shackleton Challenges


While ski touring might be a way of life for Norwegians, for those a little less familiar with icy environs, being out on the snow for hours on end can be a seemingly impossible endeavour. Not any more. Shackleton’s Hut to Hut Challenge takes you to Finse, the home of polar training, and will see attendees skiing large distances each day across undulating terrain before bedding down for the night in one of the many public huts in the area, balancing challenge with Norwegian culture.

From £6,995 per person for 6 days;

Race to the Wreck


Rat Race offers challenges that are cut from a different cloth. One of their signature events is the Race to the Wreck in Namibia, where participants traverse one of the most remote deserts on earth, with unique permission to cross the Naukluft National Park, which boasts the highest sand dunes in the world, ending up at the rusted hull of the Eduard Bohlen, the most infamous landlocked shipwreck on the planet. Taking place over five days, you can either take on the challenge 100% on foot, or mix it up with a few fat biking sections.

From £3,938 for 7 days;

Desert Island Survival


Fancy becoming a veritable Robinson Crusoe? Dabble in your very own shipwreck experience with a Desert Island Survival trip. Across a period of eleven days, you’ll travel with a small group to an island somewhere in the tropics – the destinations are as far-flung as Tonga and Indonesia – and embark on five days of intensive survival training before you’re left to put your new skills to the test across three days of authentic survival living. Perhaps the exact antithesis to our hyperconnected modern lives, these Desert Island Survival expeditions are designed to radically reconnect attendees with nature.

From £2,400 per person;

Woodland Survival Course

United Kingdom

Does basic camping seem too mainstream for you? Are you after a heftier challenge, something that really immerses you in the outdoors? Sign up for Woodland Ways’ Woodland Survival Course. Set across ten days in the Oxfordshire countryside, you’ll learn all the handy skills you need to survive in the wild, including trapping and snaring to source food, cooking meals with wild ingredients, lighting fires and building basic shelters for sleeping. As the days progress, you’ll slowly cut down your reliance on modern tools until, by the end of the course, you’ll be surviving using entirely natural materials. Bear Grylls who?

£950 per person;