On your marks – 7 active holiday ideas for 2024, just one flight from Manchester

If you’ve made a new year’s resolution, there’s a good chance that living more healthily comes into it. Research for Forbes showed that nearly two thirds of resolutions people make are connected to exercise or dietary changes, and becoming more active is the most common resolution made.

January is also one of the most popular times of year to book a holiday, with millions making plans for this summer – and if you’re looking to incorporate a health kick into your next sunny getaway, you’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re flying from Manchester. The northern hub boasts direct flights to more than 200 destinations and many of them offer holiday experiences that go far beyond the classic combination of sun, sea and sand.

Here are seven ideas to get your adrenaline pumping.

Climb a volcano in Italy

Mount Etna is something of an enigma; standing alone amidst the quiet rolling hills of Sicily, off the coast of the Italian mainland, is one of the world’s most active stratovolcanoes. It’s also one of the most visited, thanks in part to the fact it lies less than 25 miles from the popular Mediterranean resort of Catania.

Multiple tour operators lead expeditions up the volcano’s slopes, where you can circle the crater (safety permitting!) and see lava flows. Exploring volcanic caves also forms a part of many excursions, and some tours include visits to vineyards at the foot of Etna, which benefit from fertile volcanic soils. The return trip typically takes around 6 hours and requires a moderate level of fitness, but you don’t need to be an expert hiker. Once you’re finished on Etna, Sicily is a fantastic place to explore on foot, with dozens of trails and footpaths through unspoilt countryside.

Flights to Catania from Manchester are available with easyJet or Ryanair.

Cycle the stunning Dalmatian coast in Croatia and Montenegro

The Dalmatia region boasts some of the most dramatic coastline anywhere in Europe, with a string of islands dotted off more than 1,000 miles of rugged, mountainous shores, sandwiching the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic. Highlights of the region include the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia, and Kotor in Montenegro. All three of these cities boast direct flights from Manchester, and all three act as a gateway to their respective sections of this stunning coast.

The sweeping views on offer from its cycle paths and mountain passes, as well as regular pitstops at quaint coastal villages and vineyards, make cycling a particularly popular way to explore Dalmatia. Ambitious cyclists might fancy taking on the whole coast from start to finish over the course of a two-week break, flying out to Split and back to Manchester from Tivat airport near Kotor, or vice versa.

Trek into the desert in Jordan

Royal Jordanian Airlines recently announced a brand-new service from Manchester to Amman, launching this March, and many visitors to the Jordanian capital will be indulging their sense of adventure. Highlights of a visit to Jordan include exploring famous sites like the Dead Sea, the ancient city of Petra and the other-worldly desert landscapes of Wadi Rum, which doubled for the Red Planet in 2015 film The Martian.

The best way to see many of these attractions is on foot, with walking tours and guided desert treks available, so Jordan is a fantastic option for an adventure holiday that combines sightseeing with getting active. For the avid explorer, the Jordan Trail stretches for more than 400 miles from the country’s far north to its southern coast and takes in all of these sights and more – but it takes more than a month to complete, so is not for the fainthearted!

Traverse the ski slopes year-round in France

You may think of skiing as a winter pursuit, but the highest Alpine peaks are covered by snow year-round, so even if you’re booking a trip for the summer, it’s not too late to give winter sports a try. One of Europe’s most popular spots for a summer skiing or snowboarding holiday is Les Deux Alpes, with its glaciers nearly 12,000ft above sea level providing reliably icy slopes and its lifts in full operation. The surrounding area is also hugely popular for mountain biking in the summer months.

Les Deux Alpes is only a couple of hours from Geneva airport, which has year-round flights from Manchester with Ethiopian Airlines and easyJet.

Take to the skies in Turkey

If you’re afraid of heights, go ahead and skip this suggestion! Babadag mountain, about an hour’s drive from Dalaman on Turkey’s Turquoise Coast, is one of the most popular spots on the planet for paragliding. Experienced paragliders can fly solo, but tandem flights are also available if you’re new to the sport. The flights start at the top of Babadag and end in the resort of Oludeniz at the bottom of the mountain, which is home to a renowned banjo-shaped beach jutting out into a lagoon, regarded as one of the best in Turkey. The nearby Butterfly Valley nature reserve, only accessible by boat from Oludeniz, is a popular daytrip for walkers and rock climbers. No fewer than six airlines offer flights from Manchester to Dalaman, so you’ll have no trouble getting there!

Hike and kayak under the midnight sun in Iceland

You might not spot the famous Northern Lights, but summer is nevertheless a great time to visit Iceland. With much of the winter snow cleared, more of the island is accessible – including the picturesque Highlands and Westfjords – and the long daylight hours give you the freedom to get out and explore. Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, scale a glacier at Snaefellsjokull National Park, or hire a kayak and explore one of Iceland’s many crystal-clear lakes.

Icelandair, Jet2.com, TUI and easyJet all operate direct flights between Manchester and Reykjavik–Keflavik airport.

Scuba dive in Mexico

The Yucatan peninsula in Mexico is most famous for the party resort of Cancun, but it also offers some outstanding scuba diving. The Costa Maya strip of coast to the south of Cancun, and the neighbouring island of Cozumel, are lined with colourful tropical reefs with excellent visibility. If you’ve never dived before, it’s a popular place to learn. For advanced divers, a more unique diving experience can be enjoyed in the region’s cenotes, cavernous limestone sinkholes in the peninsula’s interior that link to a network of underground rivers. Once you’re done with diving, visit the ruined Mayan city of Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and explore on foot at your own pace.

TUI flies from Manchester to Cancun, year-round.