These days, no matter what your personal interest you can find a travel experience to suit. From reading Dostoevsky to seeing art, getting crafty and drinking scotch, here are 20 niche tourism experiences worth your time

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Learn traditional weaving from a pro

1. Weave your way around Morocco

Crafty types and textile lovers can take a do-it-yourself weaving tour of Morocco. The trip is aimed at women only due the fact that participants are hosted in traditional Moroccan weavers’ homes, where they learn and share techniques. See ingridwagner.com

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2. Fine-tune your photographic skills

Sure, it’s hard to take a bad photograph in a beautiful location, but tours led by professional photographers will endow you with skills that will benefit your art back home too. Head to Iceland in July to capture forever the magnificence of the midnight sun. See udesignphototours.com

3. Get your motor(bike) running in Asia

If you are a trail-bike fanatic, an off-road adventure in Asia will literally take you off the beaten track and over the odd river crossing in your choice of Vietnam, Laos or India – or take an epic seven-country tour from Hanoi to Kathmandu. See mototoursasia.com

4. Immerse yourself in art history

Members of the Art Gallery of New South Wales can join hosted art and architecture tours around the world, gaining insight from both art theorists and artists. Australian artists Wendy Sharpe and Bernard Ollis lead a tour of Paris and the Seine, while other tours include the art, treasures and cuisine of Peru or the temples and textiles of ancient Java. See artgallery.nsw.gov.au

5. Tour contemporary-art hot spots

If contemporary art is more your thing, head to London, New York or Berlin with Art Tours. Their itineraries include artist-studio visits and behind-the-scenes gallery tours of major institutions such as the Tate Modern and up-and-coming smaller art galleries. See arttoursltd.com

6. Visit the best architecture in the world

Modernism is so hot right now. See how Oscar Niemeyer assisted in ensuring Brazil’s World Heritage status, and how other architects helped transform their cities, from Luis Barragan in Mexico City to Frank Gehry in LA and San Franciso, Alvar Aalto in Finland and Le Corbusier in France and Switzerland. Abu Dhabi is the place to go to see works by Tadao Ando, Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid and Frank Gehry all in one place. See artchitectours.com

7. Go gardening in your downtime

Horticulturalist and gardening columnist for The Weekend Australian, Helen Young regularly hosts groups on overseas coach tours of the major gardens of France and Germany, which includes a visit to Claude Monet’s famed house and garden. See travelrite.com.au

8. Satisfy your foodie streak

Home gourmets will love the food adventures designed by Intrepid Travel, which are hosted by food-obsessed locals. You’ll not only eat at great restaurants and streetside stalls, you’ll eat in the homes of local families and get hands-on cooking lessons. See intrepidtravel.com/au/theme/food

9. Tune in to a classical musical tour

Salzberg, Vienna and Prague are beautiful places to visit with or without classical music knowledge, but to get a real feel for the history here this trip allows you to experience classical performances such as “The Magic Flute” in Salzburg’s Marionette Theatre and a choral mass in Salzburg Cathedral, as well as tours of the Dvorak Museum, Czech Museum of Musical History, Vienna State Opera House and St Mark’s Cemeteries, where both Beethoven and Brahms are buried. See inmozartsfootsteps.com

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Cruising: not just for retirees. You can also meet these fine fellows on board

10. Bang your head on a heavy-metal cruise

Hard Rock Café got it so wrong. What hard-rock heads really want is a sun-filled ocean cruise out of Florida. 70,000 Tons of Metal sets sail each February for Jamaica, belting out live performances by such cult acts as Cradle of Filth and Sodom. See 70000tons.com

11. Join the ultimate Bronte book club

Any fan of the Bronte sisters will enjoy the Bronte Country Trail two-day tour, which takes in stately homes, museums, galleries, poetry readings, the sisters’ favourite walks and, of course, those evocative moors. See oldschooltours.net

12. Douse yourself in Dostoevsky

Meanwhile, Russian-literature lovers can be as immersed in literature as they like on this four-day tour of Moscow and St Petersburg. You’ll be in good company as you tour the Anton Chekov House Museum, State Museum of Lev Tolstoy, The National Alexander Pushkin Museum and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s memorial museum and grave. See expresstorussia.com

13. Dig like an archaeologist

Indulge your inner Indie Jones with the five-week-long American Institute for Roman Culture’s Summer Archeological Field School. The 2016 field trip takes place in Ostia Antica, and offers instruction on both Rome’s history and archeology, museum visits and site digs. You don’t need to have a degree or speak Italian, but BYO trowel. See romanculture.org

14. Get into the wars

Not that anyone would really want to relive the World Wars, but for amateur military historians, battlefield tours can be extremely rewarding. You may be surprised to learn there are tours of every historic war zone imaginable. Of course, there’s Anzac Day tours to Gallipoli and excursions to the Western Front, but you can also take specialty Boer and Zulu War tours in South Africa or track the Battle of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. See battletours.com.au

15. Understand Jewish history

As above, while some would prefer a beach holiday, others would prefer an emotionally charged, insightful experience. Whatever your heritage, a Jewish Heritage Tour of Warsaw, Vienna, Budapest and Prague is so much more gripping than a high-school history lesson. You’ll visit the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz and Oskar Schindler’s factory. See tauck.com.au

16. Explore the wines of Burgundy

Wine snobs can enjoy their favourite grape in the region in which it’s grown on an RBT-free four-day guided bicycle tour of Burgundy. Everything is included, from accommodation to breakfasts, lunches, dinners, winery tours and enjoy expert wine selections throughout. See burgundybiketour.com

17. Explore the Scottish whisky trail

Visit distilleries both large and small, from the Highlands to Speyside and the islands of Islay and Jura. Drive your friends nuts when you come home to explain in fine detail how there truly is a vast difference between the peaty whiskies of Laphroaig and Ardbeg. See whisky-tours-scotland.com

18. Carve up the world’s best breaks

Small-group surf tours are gaining popularity in places such as Bali, Fiji, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea and the Maldives. If surfing is your passion, make a list of the waves you want to experience in your lifetime (eg Pipeline would have to be on there, surely) then set about ticking them off over the next ten years’ worth of annual leave. See surftravel.com.au

19. Get as kitsch as can be

Aficionados of all things quirky often fall in love with Japan. It’s not just the kawaii (cute) stuff but the downright weird experiences that make Japan such an addictive travel destination. If you want to ditch the cherry blossoms and temples in favour of as much wackiness as possible, it helps to get insider info on a guided tour such as the Art or Rubbish? itinerary hosted by Lobrow Japan (which actually visits a rubbish dump – but a fascinating one – among other arty finds). See lobrowjapan.com

20. Unleash your inner pirate

For anyone whose hobby is simply daydreaming, the idea of packing in your current life to sail the high seas is no longer unattainable – at least for a short time. Next break, head off to sail in an Indonesian wooden ship with bright red sails in Komodo National Park. The owners of the Calico Jack chucked in their day jobs so you don’t have to. Sharing their fantasy is half the fun; you’ll get in some incredible diving, too. See calicojackcharters.com

 Note: This story first appeared in Escape