Being the largest country in the world, it should come as no surprise that Russia has so much to offer. With Russia hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, tourism in the country is picking up, with many people curious about this fascinating region.
From big cities packed with history and culture to untouched areas of wilderness filled with natural beauty, here are some of the top places to visit in Russia this year.
St. Petersburg is known for being the cultural capital of Russia, making this the city to visit if you would like to learn more about the country’s history, heritage and traditions.
With over four million residents, this is a crowded and busy city, but is one that is always bursting with life.
Wondering what there is to see and do in St. Petersburg?
One of the most popular attractions is The Hermitage, a museum that features so much artwork that it would take you 11 years to examine every single exhibit. Of course, you likely do not have 11 years to spare, so spend your time checking out the masterpieces here, by artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci.
For even more history, the Peter and Paul Fortress is not to be missed, with this historic site having been built in 1703.
Want to tour some of the city’s extravagant cathedrals?
In addition to visiting all of the famous places in St. Petersburg, simply wandering the streets is so much fun. You will stumble upon everything from palaces to suburban parks, with a boat trip along the city’s canals rewarding you with an even greater taste of life in St. Petersburg.
For those who want to experience Russia’s great outdoors, Lake Baikal is the place to go.
Located in southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is considered to be the deepest lake in the world, measuring 1700 meters. Having been formed over 25 million years ago, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also the oldest lake in the world, and contains 20% of all of the unfrozen freshwater in the world.
So, what is there to actually do here?
Well, let’s begin with the lake itself…
The waters have long since been believed to have healing properties, and there are many shallow, and relatively warm, spots around the lake that are perfect for a swim.
Other than that, here are a few other popular activities that you can do at Lake Baikal:
One other thing that Lake Baikal is famous for is Baikal Omul, a local fish dish. This will be an easy one to find, as its popularity means that it is sold in just about every coastal town and tourist spot, although the flavors will vary slightly at each different place you eat it at.
Many people equate Russia with icy cold temperatures, but don’t forget that Russia is the largest country on the planet, meaning that it is home to quite a few different climates.
Being one of the southernmost places in Russia, Sochi boasts a subtropical climate with warm seas, and can become quite busy in the summer months.
You have probably already heard of Sochi, as the city hosted the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is also one of the cities hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup.
The city is stretched along the coast of the Black Sea, and is actually the second longest city in the world after Mexico City.
This is quite a unique city, for a few different reasons…
The first is that the air quality in Sochi is exceptional for a city.
Because the city is home to around 500,000 acres of forest, with 10,000 acres being located in the city center itself.
As you can imagine, all of this nature plays a central role in life in Sochi, with everything from its botanical gardens to its arboretum being top tourist attractions.
When it comes to healthy living, Sochi residents are passionate about this, with daily walks being a ritual for many. Thanks to this, there are many pedestrian byways dotted around the city, all of which make Sochi easy to explore by foot.
Petropavlovsk is still considered to be quite the hidden gem in Russia, but this city is slowly attracting more and more tourists.
You may be thinking…
I’ve never heard of Petropavlovsk, why would I want to visit it?
Because of its unique scenery, for starters. This city boasts a magnificent backdrop of surrounding mountains, giving you gorgeous views from just about everywhere.
Thanks to the increase in tourism, there are now many boating excursions available, as well as organized trips to nearby attractions, giving you the opportunity to really explore this relatively unseen part of the country.
For those who enjoy dramatic natural beauty, make sure you visit some of the nearby volcanoes, such as Uzon Volcano and the Tri Brata Volcano, as well as its nature reserve. To learn even more about volcanoes, spend a few hours at Vulkanarium, a museum dedicated to these natural wonders.
The name Kazan means “cooking pot” in Tatar, and this name is fitting seeing how this spot is where Europe and Asia seem to meet each other.
This is another extremely unique city, and, being over 10,00 years old, is one of the oldest in the countries, featuring a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions living happily together as one.
There are several interesting things to see and do in Kazan, such as:
Another one of Kazan’s highlights is its culinary scene…
The local cuisine in Kazan tells so many stories of the city’s history, and many dishes can be found nowhere else in Russia.
Not sure what to try?
Give some of these foods a taste:
Founded in 1925, the Stolby Nature Reserve is one of the oldest natural reserves in Russia, as well as one of the most famous in the world.
What makes it so unique?
The fact that it is home to magnificent volcanic rock pillars, known as stolby, that appeared on the surface of the plant about 400,000 years ago, for reasons that are still unknown.
Climbing to the tops of these pillars is a popular activity here, but there are also many new paths and steps that have been created, making it easy for even the less active to access the viewpoints up at the top. There is even a chairlift to take you up one of the most impressive rock pillars, and this is open throughout the year.
Wondering where you would stay if you visited the Stolby Nature Reserve?
Well, while the nature reserve may be a pocket of natural paradise, it is actually located just a 20 minute drive from the center of Krasnoyarsk.
This large city is home to several of its own attractions, as well as plenty of luxury hotels, including:
If you have ever been into a Russian grocery store, you will have likely noticed the name Yessentuki splashed across bottles of water.
Because this resort town has given its name to a brand of salty mineral water, as it is famous for its mineral springs, as well as for its hot springs.
Thanks to these natural features, Yessentuki has been popular with those seeking a health-conscious getaway since the early 19th century, and continues to promote this reputation.
This is the place to go if you are wanting some rest and relaxation, with several stunning spas to choose from. The largest is the Essentuki Therapeutic Mud Baths, which not only boasts spectacular architecture, but also over 100 years of history behind the treatments that are on offer.
Not only does the spa use natural mineral waters, but they also use mud from Lake Tambukan, offering up treatments that can help with everything from skin diseases to diabetes to the peripheral nervous system.
Have you ever seen a stretch of pure wilderness that has literally been untouched by civilization?
It is likely that your answer is no, but this could change if you paid a visit to the Altai Mountains.
Thanks to the absence of both air and rail connections, the Altai Mountains are one of the least-visited regions on the planet, making this the place to go if you enjoy travelling off the beaten track.
Of course, you will need to travel quite some way into the mountains in order to really get away from civilization, but the effort really is worth it.
You will probably meet quite a few of the local Asiatic Altai people here, and if you are interested in culture, the locals are usually always happy to share their traditions.
Prefer outdoor adventure to culture?
The Katun River is known for being one of the best rafting spots in Russia, while horseback riding is a popular way to get around and explore the mountains. Sailing and fishing are also popular, as is visiting the local spas, where you will find one-of-a-kind saunas built into large cedar barrels.
Suzdal is a historic small town that is a part of Russia’s Golden Ring.
Never heard of the Golden Ring before?
It refers to a ring of ancient towns and cities, encompassing those such as Suzdal, Rostov, and Sergiyev Posad.
Many would argue that Suzdal is the main historic town in the Golden Ring, which is why this town tends to be the most visited out of all of them.
Although Suzdal may be a small town, there is so much to do here, such as:
There is one more thing that Suzdal is famous for…
This is known as medovukha, which is a Russian cider that has been made from honey. This is a famous drink that everyone visiting Suzdal should try, but make sure that you do not purchase any off the streets, as counterfeits are common.
Russia is such a vast country, with every part of it offering such a different experience. As you can see from the places listed above, every town and city in Russia has something unique about it, and this is exactly what makes the country such a magical one to explore. From subtropical gardens and healing lakes to rafting along a mountain river and ice fishing, you never know what you will find when travelling around Russia.
Even though Abu Dhabi is often overshadowed by the ultra-modern playground of Dubai, this Emirates’ capital is slowly becoming recognized as an alluring tourist attraction in its own right.
Between the vastness of its beaches, the opulence of its mosques and the rapidly growing cultural and artistic landscape, you won’t be left short of intriguing sights to explore in the enchanting metropolis of the Gulf.
If there is one absolute must-visit while in Abu Dhabi, then it has to be stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque.
The construction of this monumental sacred sight was completed in 2007 and it has since been visited by curious visitors in hundreds of thousands.
It features its signature pristine white façade made out of Macedonian marble, as well as 82 domes in seven different sizes.
The courtyard of the mosque, which extends for about 17,000 m2, is composed of a picturesque mosaic that is thought to be largest one in the world. Due to its sheer size and mesmerizing design, it represents an attraction in its own right.
The inside of the mosque treasures what is considered to be the largest carpet in the world. It measures 5,627 m2 and was crafted using New Zealand wool. This ornate carpet took almost two years to complete.
This breathtaking art complex is one of the most recent additions of Abu Dhabi’s growing cultural palette.
In 2017, ten years after the approval was granted, Louvre Abu Dhabi was opened on Saadiyat Island to great fanfare.
The concept behind pieces showcased in the museum aims to bridge the gap between eastern and western art; the exhibition space artists from all over the globe, including Ai Weiwei, Paul Gaugin and Vincent Van Gogh.
The most buzzed about piece of art that found its way to Louvre Abu Dhabi was undoubtedly Salvador Mundi, painted by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. The purchase of the painting marked the most valuable art transaction as of 2017, worth a whopping $450.3 million.
Aside from the impressive collection it hosts, architecturally speaking, the museum is a work of art in its own right.
The construction features a one-of-a-kind web patterned roof which allows for the sun rays to shine through. The effect is meant to mimic the shade created by date palm tree.
Abu Dhabi’s most beloved theme park should be on top of the to-do list for every visitor who is looking to pump up their adrenaline.
Perched on the Yas Island, this bustling playground features over a dozen rides, which range from go-karts to flight simulators to teacup rides.
Since the thrills are numerous and diverse, the theme park can be enjoyed by the entire family.
Other than white-knuckle rides, Ferrari World also hosts shows featuring stunts, acrobats and other kinds of exciting performances.
And when you need to take a break from all the action, you can always fill your belly in one of the park’s excellent restaurants or go shopping in Ferrari’s largest retail space in the world.
Due to Abu Dhabi’s markedly modern character, it might be difficult to grasp what the region looked like before all the luxurious motels and vast shopping malls started popping up.
However, all you need to do its head over to the Emirates Heritage Club Heritage Village and you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the Emirati way of life as it once was.
This reconstructed space represents a traditional village where the old-school Gulf lifestyle still lives on.
Here, you will find everything from old workshops to spice vendors to old irrigation systems, even a recreation of the traditional souq.
And to learn more about the pre-oil history of the region, you can always head to the open museum that’s contained within the village, where you can find out all the information on how life used to look on the Arabian Peninsula.
Once you’ve got a taste of Abu Dhabi’s state-of-the-art urban landscape, you might be in the mood to experience something a little wilder.
Worry not, because the Emirates’ capital is nothing if not accommodating for every stripe of traveler.
And the perfect place for thrill-seekers and nature lovers to embark on an adventure would be the Mangrove National Park, Abu Dhabi’s prime outdoor getaway.
To get up close and personal with the flora and fauna surrounding the city, it’s best to look into booking a kayak or canoe tour into the mangrove forest, where you can feast your eyes on the serenity of the surrounding nature.
The most stunning sight in Mangrove National Park is undoubtedly the colorful flamingos, who assemble along the tidal flats for all visitors to see.
Other than flamingos, this protected reserve is also home to other kinds of exotic animal life, including herons and crabs.
The oldest tower in entire Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn is a sight not to be missed.
This monumental edifice, also called “The White Fort”, was constructed in the 18th century, first serving as a watchtower meant to protect the only freshwater well on the island of Abu Dhabi.
Over the years, it has been expanded and renovated many times. Historically, it used to be the place of permanent residence of the ruling sheiks and until 1966, it operated as the official seat of the government.
These days, the fort is partially opened to the public; it houses an exhibition space which details the history of the Qasr Al Hosn and Abu Dhabi. In it, you will find a collection of photographs, artefact and weapons that illustrate the state’s pre-oil boom historical trajectory.
Abu Dhabi’s latest effort to appeal to the more high brow visitors has been embodied in Manarat Al Saadiyat, an intriguing complex dedicated to the city’s booming arts and culture scene.
Nestled at the heart of Saadiyat, Manarat Al Saadiyat regularly hosts exhibitions, performances and other culture-oriented community events, and all visitors are welcomed to join.
During your visit to Manarat Al Saadiyat, you can join a local workshop, attend movie screenings, listen to a panel discussion or simply enjoy a cup of coffee or a hearty meal in the company of other art lovers.
At the Terrace, Manarat Al Saadiyat’s outdoor space you can take a moment to relax amidst greenery or even grab a mat and join one of the local yoga classes.
One of Emirates’ main draws are the long sandy beaches and mesmerizing emerald waters.
In Abu Dhabi, you’ll find the most alluring stretches of beach along the famous Corniche Road, which curves along the western coast of the Abu Dhabi Island for about 8 kilometers.
The pristine beach has all the amenities you’ll need for your day of fun in the sun, including chairs, parasols, changing rooms and showers.
Other than long stretches of sand, Corniche is a true haven for outdoor adventures, since this promenade also features opulent fountain, relaxing green oases, as well as play areas for children.
Corniche is also one of the prime spots for cycling, and a great way to experience the promenade is to rent a bike and pedal your way along the seafront.
And if you’re not exactly in a rush to get physically active, you can always go on an epicurean adventure in one of the numerous waterfront eateries and cafés that are dotted along the Corniche.
In a city that is known worldwide for its wealth and opulence, it should come as no surprise that Abu Dhabi is also home to one of the largest and most diverse zoos on the planet.
The Emirates Park Zoo, which counts over 1800 animals belonging to 250 different exotic species from all over the world, guarantees a fun afternoon, whether you are traveling with children or on your own.
The wildlife you’ll get to see in the Zoo includes lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs and many others. The Arabian peninsula is home to some of the most fascinating birds of prey, and you’ll find many here.
You can also get up close and personal with various exotic species in the petting zoo. The park also organizes elephant and giraffe feedings, and both adults and children are invited to partake.
And if you’d rather watch someone else feed the beasts, you can always enjoy the spectacle from afar; for example, you can catch the daily feedings of Zoo’s Nile crocs.
Abu Dhabi doesn’t only produce the best and biggest when it comes to man-made creations.
This bustling hub is also located on the edges of what is referred to as the Empty Quarter or Rub al’ Khali, the largest continuous sand surface on Earth.
And even though this area is completely devoid of man-made creations, plants and, of course, water, you can bet that the locals still know how to turn even the seemingly hostile desert into a playground for all kinds of adventures.
All it takes is a short car ride from the center from Abu Dhabi to find yourself transported from sleek skyscrapers to seemingly never-ending sandy vastness.
Once you reach the desert, exploring the dunes can be done in various exciting ways.
One of the most popular ones includes riding the camels; however, if you want something a little more adrenaline-pumping, you can always go on a wild dune buggy ride or perhaps safari-style jeep.
If you are looking to truly grasp the immensity of the desert, make sure to book a balloon tour, where you will be able to admire the sandy stretches from up in the air.
For something a little more low-key, you can book an overnight stay in one of the desert resorts and indulge in your very own Arabian Nights experience.
It goes without saying that no visit to the UAE would be complete without indulging in some of the most exclusive shopping experiences on the planet.
And Abu Dhabi has just the place to shop ‘till you drop.
Marina Mall is more than just your regular shopping center; these days, it represents a bona fide landmark of the city.
Located just a short from the lush Corniche Beach, the Marina Mall is a great alternative when you don’t feel like lazing around in the sizzling sun.
In this enormous space, you will be able to browse for the garments of all stripes: from small local designers to high-street brands to full-blown haute couture.
If you’re not feeling like having a bout of retail therapy, there are other things to do in Marina Mall that don’t include maxing out on your card. For example, you can climb up the 100-meter viewing platform to get a breath-taking panorama of Abu Dhabi.
Alternatively, you can go ice skating (always a welcome break from the desert heat!), bowling or catching the latest cinematic releases.
By now, it should be crystal clear as to why Abu Dhabi represents one of the most alluring destinations on the Arabian peninsula. Between its ultra-sleek character, opulence at every step and hospitability unlike anywhere else in the world, we are sure the Emirates’ capital will quickly become the destination of your dreams.
Ah, Europe! The haute couture of France, the high of Kensington High in London, the amore of Rome, and the luck of the Irish in Ireland. Sounds like something for everyone! But if your limiting your definition of Europe to those few countries, you’ve only got the half of it.
Historically, Europe was divided into two blocks, the Western and the Eastern. The West is associated with democracy, capitalism, and stability. The East is associated with Communism, and is also generally less economically stable. So, when it comes to vacations, the choice is obvious. Why spend time in an economically ( and usually meteorologically) disadvantaged communist country when you can be exploring the beaches of Monaco with your top off?
Well, it turns out that there is a lot of charm to Eastern Europe, a lot of people with a lot of heart, tremendous beauty, and even some really bizarre and interesting customs and habits that you might want to experience first hand. Here are some of the more compelling reasons you might want to see Europe from the path less taken.
It’s the home of the Croatian language and literature, the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the home to painters, philosophers, mathematicians, physicists and scholars, the elite crown on the head of all Croatian tourism – but most importantly, it’s the place where “Game of Thrones” is filmed.
It may be known for its gothic castles, history, and beauty, but no one can deny Dubrovnik’s recent surge in popularity from fans flocking to see the real Kings Landing and Quarth, and Dubrovnik is only too happy to capitalize on its newfound windfall. In fact a little shop down from Zudioska Ulica even has a replica of the “Game of Thrones” throne that you can sit on for 30 kn, or free, if you buy the store’s merchandise.
However, if you are more of a purist, there are still many wonderful things to do and see in Dubrovnik. The Lazareti is an old quarantine hospital that now serves as the cultural center for concerts, theater and exhibitions, and Dubrovnik is also a great place to explore the Adriatic Sea. There are many agencies in Dubrovnik that provide yacht and motor boat rentals operating from the ACI rentals. Just be sure to BYO food and drink. The Dubrovnik Sea is unpredictable, and you wouldn’t want to get stuck out on the sea with no sustenance.
If you keep au courant in Eastern Europe, Budapest is the place to do it. While Dubrovnik is dubbed the “pearl of the Adriatic,” Budapest is the Paris of the East. Budapest is the largest city and capital of Hungary, and if you’re hungary for a little of everything, Budapest will not disappoint.
If you find history a bit dry, you haven’t seen the historical sights of Budapest. Here no historical building comes without its own weird and wild anecdotes and features. The Parliament is so immense, the soil surrounding the Danube actually had to be enforced with seven feet of concrete just to support its astounding structure. The Royal Palace is also quite a stunner. Word has it that when a Turkish Ambassador saw its wealth and grandeur, he completely forgot his opening address, and could only say, “The emperor sends his respects.”
And if you want a little conversation piece to take home, be sure to visit Memento Park. Once you make it through the statues of the politicians, and the exhibition about the 1956 revolution, you have the opportunity to see some of Budapest’s lighter side. Possible souvenirs include T-shirts which poke fun at communism, German Trabant model cars, and CDs of Hungarian fight songs.
Also, don’t skip out on the night life. The Trafo House of the Contemporary Arts is the transformer building turned nightclub and most modern cultural center. On ground level, you will find Hungarian and international experimental dance, and with a lively upstairs bar and basement disco, you’re bound to get your party in haute couture.
Unfortunately, the associations with Krakow are not the best, but if history needs never to be forgotten, Krakow is doing a pretty good job of keeping it alive.
However, even though Krakow might be known for its dark past, it is also known for its vibrant present. While the city is sure to acknowledge its dark years under Nazi occupation, most Krakow events are celebrations of the Jewish culture, rather than bleak reminders. The Jewish Culture Festival held there in June and July is the biggest one of its kind in the world, complete with tours, concerts, workshops, and a big Saturday night finale.
If you like your celebrations non-denominational, Krakow has something for you too. The Taste Vodka- vodka tasting tour is sure to be one not to be remembered, and the Kazimierez food tour takes you through 5-6 authentic Polish restaurants, so you may want to loosen the belt a little.
Lastly, you would be remiss without taking in the sights. Krakow’s Old Town and Wawel Castle both place highly on the UNESCO list of historic sites, and the Kazimierez district is rich in Jewish history dating back to the 1500’s.
Want to know one of the best things about Moscow? How about no daylight savings time? Imagine never having to lose that hour of sleep! No wonder Moscow is the second most populous city in Eastern Europe!
You wouldn’t expect the capital of Russia (and formerly the Soviet Union) not to be extremely proud of its 869 years as the financial and political center of the country, and you wouldn’t be hip if you didn’t include Red Square in your visit. The Red Square is the heart of the city, and the first stop for most visitors.
Be sure to stop by Lenin’s Museum for a quick glimpse of the leader’s embalmed body and speculate about whether it is really him or not, and pay a visit to the St. Basil’s Cathedral for some of that inimitable gothic architecture. The Kremlin Museum and Grand Kremlin Palace has rooms dating back to the 16th century, but only an exclusive few will be admitted at a time, so book your reservations well ahead in advance.
If the history doesn’t do it for you, do like the Russians do and drink – coffee that is! Bulka bakery is known for its outstanding coffee and desserts, and most Moscow restaurants serve a coffee drink called Raf that’s rumored to knock your super latte mocha espresso out of the Moskva River.
Talk about not going with the status quo. Ljubljana is so nonconformist that it even defies you to pronounce its name. If you think the name Ljubljana is the only sign that it’s too cool for school attitude, there’s more where that came from. In fact, the hippest thing about Ljubljana is the fact that it chooses not to be hip. Ljubljana has no world famous attractions, so you don’t have to worry about crossing major must sees off your list, which means you can chill out in this city in any way you choose.
Of course, that’s not to say there’s nothing to see or do in Ljubljana – quite the opposite in fact. The Zmajski Most Dragon Bridge is guarded by four intricately detailed dragons bearing the city’s coat of arms and Tivoli Park is often cited as the most beautiful and historic amusement parks in all of Europe.
But, when it comes down to it perhaps one of the most nonconformist thing about Ljubjana is its music. Metelkova mesto is a squat turned six club mega party each with its own style of music and program. Gala Hala’s strangely, fun music ranges from indie to rap, to hip hop to funk. Gromka is a similar, smaller version of Gala Hala, usually featuring rockabilly, retro 90’s music, and rock alternative. Menza pri kuritu is all about the punk and metal, Jalla Jalla is gay, and Channel Zero is electronic. Guess you can say Ljubljana is pretty progressive; that is, if you can say Ljubljana at all.
When in Rome, do like the Romans do, and when in Kotor do like the Kotorans do, and in Kotor that means getting lost. Everyone in Kotor gets lost, even the locals get lost, so don’t count on asking them for directions. But the good news is that, when you’re getting lost in Kotor, you’re getting lost in one of the most magical places on earth.
No one knows exactly when Kotor was founded, but archaeologist are sure that it was before the time of Homer, that it was Greek, and it was about IV-VII BC, which means there are some stunning and unusual geological and architectural features in Kotor that you’re not likely to want to pass up.
One of the best and most thrilling ways of appreciating the geology of Kotor is by scaling the Upper Town Walls. The Upper Town Walls could be described as a smaller version of the Great Wall of China on almost vertical cliffs, and you’ll be rewarded for climbing the 1350 steps with the view of Kotor from the Church of Our Lady of Health halfway up, and the St. John’s Fortress at the top. Be sure to choose your footwear wisely, and set aside about an hour for the full ascent.
While you’ll want to start your climb up the walls pretty early, you’ll definitely want to stick around after the sun goes down. When the bars reach their 1am liquor curfew, the party moves to the nightclubs. The locals say Maximus is the place for letting their hair down and Secondi Porto runs a close second. So get your Kotor running!
Czech please! Why not start with the good stuff? One of the first things you may realize about Czech clothing is how little of it there is, on the beach at least. Even though much of Czech Republic is landlocked, there are those few naturist and nudist beaches, and you won’t see locals batting so much as an eye.
And while we’re on the subject of natural attractions, the Czech Republic has no shortage of parks and forests that haven’t seen much change in the last hundred years. It’s also a veritable treasure trove of castles – Czech out the Chervena Lota chateau in South Bohemia. It’s painted Renaissance red, and is situated in the middle of a pond, linked to the land by a stone bridge. The nearby Kasperk castle, located near the mountainous Bohemian forests is a gothic legacy to the reign of Emperor Charles IV, and also worth seeing.
Need one more thing to put on your bucket list? How about spelunking in Slovakia? The area of Slovakia has been settled since the Paleolithic era, and that makes for some pretty dramatic geology and spelunking is one of the best, and most fun, ways to check it out. You can spelunk your way through the over 2,400 subterranean caves like the Sobsinska Ice Cave in Slovak Paradise National Park, or the Demanovska Cave of Liberty in the low Tatras. Check out the Slovak Caves Administration website for more info.
If you have a little vampire blood in you, you’ll surely want to take a tour of the Slovakian Castles. The Bratislava Castle is more or less the symbol of the Slovak state and the Bojnice Castle is a gothic masterpiece that cemented centuries of Hungarian rule. In fact, the Orava Castle is so dramatic, it was used for the filming of Nosferatu in 1922! ( insert spooky laughter here.)
Just remember, the food is as heavy as the mood, so be careful to keep your pierogi consumption to a minimum!
What do you think? Is Eastern Europe the new more interesting, cheaper, and more fun cousin of Western Europe, or are you still not willing to deal with the potential impossibility of not being able to get your favorite smoothie every morning? Let us know if you’ve been, what you’ve seen, or what you think about going a little off the radar on your next vacation.
Asia, our planet’s biggest continent, is a treasure trove of destinations that guarantee to reward you with an experience of a lifetime.
Between futuristic metropolises, ancient historical sights and secluded tropical getaways, a travel debut to Asia can be made as broad or as specific as you’d like it to be.
Once you take into consideration the sheer size and immense diversity of this landmass, picking out what to see first might start to seem a bit overwhelming.
Worry not, rookie travelers!
To help you make the first steps towards the Asian holiday that you deserve, we have crated a list of some of the most popular getaways that will satisfy all your globe-trotting needs.
In recent years, South Korea has become the embodiment of the “Asian cool”, in large part thanks to the ever-growing popularity of music, dramas and the booming beauty industry hailing from the peninsula.
And the place that perfectly encapsulates all the factors that make Korea so alluring is none other than Seoul. In a single day, you can go from sipping tea with the Insadong monks to watching the change of guards in front of the immense Gyeongbokgung Palate to soaking up the views from the high and mighty N Seoul Tower.
And in the evening, there’s no better way to experience the city like a local than heading to your nearest barbeque restaurant to feast on mouthwatering samgyeopsal and partying the night away in one of the Seoul’s many karaoke bars.
If you want to experience Seoul’s thriving arts and culture scene, head over to the bustling Hongdae neighborhood, where you will be welcomed with a host of hip cafés, street performers and jumping nightclubs.
Alternatively, make your way towards Myeongdong, where you can shop ‘till you drop for the newest skin care and fashion, all while bubbly K-pop tunes blast from the speakers.
Regardless of how many Asian destinations keep getting discovered, forgotten, then re-discovered, Tokyo is probably the one city that has remained firmly at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists.
The eternal allure of the Japanese capital shouldn’t be a surprise, either: Tokyo is quite literally like no other place on Earth.
For the curious travelers, it offers a plethora of intriguing cultural sites and institutions, from the dreamy Studio Ghibli Museum to the state-of-the-art Miraikan.
On the other hand, dyed-in-the-wool Japan lovers can enjoy getting lost in the streets of Akihabara and Harajuku, where they can get their full-on manga and anime fix, but also witness some of the most kawaii examples of Japanese fashion.
And if you want to avoid your visit to Tokyo turning into a sensory overload, you can always seek refuge in one of its urban oases, which will provide a much needed respite from the frenzy of Shibuya and Shinjuku.
These gems are embodied in the perfectly manicured Kiyosumi and Hamarikyu gardens, but also between the walls of the gorgeous temples found in the old Asakusa district.
To most people, this north-western Cambodian town is best known for being a gateway to the world largest temple complex: the majestic Angkor.
This vast historic sight, located just 7 kilometers from the center of Siem Reap, dates back to 12th century, time when King Suryavarman II ruled the land.
The temple grounds cover a whopping 400 acres and counts over seventy temples and other religious sites.
The stucco façades of that grace these ago-old constructions feature intricate designs that depict scenes from the everyday life in the Khmer Empire, but also celestial beings who acted as messengers between humans and deities.
Other than being a playground for history buffs and architecture lovers, Angkor is also one of the prime spots in the world for sunset-watching.
If you want to bask in the full splendor of Angkor’s sunsets, head over to Phnom Bakheng, where you will be rewarded by some of the most stunning views of the nature surrounding this monumental temple complex.
Due to its unique geographical positioning and historical trajectory, Hong Kong has developed into one of the most intriguing metropolises in Asia.
This 7-million city is an ever-growing melting pot, and this cultural phenomenon is decidedly felt on every step of its busy streets.
First-time travelers to Hong Kong are bound to be swept of their feet by the jaw-dropping views from the Victoria Peak and the majestic Tian Tan Buddha, a 34-meter statue that sits on the serene Lantau Island.
Visitors who preferred to blend in with the locals can venture into the labyrinth of streets and alleyways found in Sheung Wan and Soho, where a plethora of cozy cafes, busy eateries and buzzing markets await.
For a unique, old-school way to explore the city, make sure to board the iconic “Ding Ding” tram, sit back, and soak up the bustling urban landscape as it passes you by.
The Vietnamese capital represents a beautiful chaos of opulent colonial architecture, rushing scooters and busy street markets.
Saigon, as the city is also known, is also one of the prime gastronomical destinations, where just about every stripe of eatery, from a local pho joint to an exclusive rooftop dining establishment, has the potential to send your taste buds on a wild ride.
And when your palate is pleased and your belly is full, head over to the the Backpacker Street, a stretch favorited by wide-eyed adventure-seekers – this district, which comes alive at night, helped establish the HCMC’s reputation as one of the most party-loving cities in Asia.
Ho Chi Minh City also boasts close proximity to one of Vietnam’s most attractive destination, the Mekong Delta.
Tour operators located throughout the city offer one-day trips to this mystical river mouth, where you can enjoy an intimate boat ride through the Mekong’s backwaters, try out local still water fish or visit the nearby coconut workshop.
Over the last half of the century, Bali has become one of the most coveted travel destinations for holidaymakers looking to experience the ultimate tropical paradise.
And what else to expect from the island that is believed to have been created by gods?
Between miles of pristine beaches, secluded inland temples and lush vegetation, Bali is guaranteed to please every variety of visitor.
The coastal areas of the island have several well-established holiday resorts, including Kuta (favored by party-loving travelers, especially from Australia), Seminyak (where more aspirational, bohemian crowds gather) and Uluwatu (surfer’s paradise).
If you want to experience the full extent of Bali’s famed mysticism, make sure to spend a few days in Ubud, a place where you can witness age-old Balinese dances, practice yoga and meditation or simply surrender yourself to the luscious nature that surrounds it.
Between the uncomfortable elevation, the jam-packed traffic and incessant pollution, the first contact with Kathmandu might seem a bit overwhelming to the inexperienced traveler.
However, those who decide to scratch between the city’s dusty surface are bound to be rewarded with an experience of a lifetime.
To begin with, the Nepalese capital is home to some of the most spectacular sacred sights in the entire world.
And a good few of them are nestled at the Durbar Square where, in the early morning hours, you can witness crowds of devotees gathering to make their offerings.
On the north-eastern edges of the town, you will find Bodhnath Stupa, one of the tallest and most intricately decorates stupas in the world.
Perched atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley is the Swayambhunath, referred to by many as the “Monkey Temple” due to all the playful primates who gather to interact with the visitors.
In case you’re wondering, Kathmandu is not all about history lessons and holy sites. If you want to explore the city’s busy cafés and dining spots, make your way towards the Thamel district, where tourists and locals comfortably mix to create a boisterous atmosphere that will provide a welcome change after long hours of sightseeing.
The south-eastern city-state is on a fast track to become one of the most alluring destinations on the continent.
And when you take into consideration it’s rapidly-evolving trajectory, Singapore’s growing popularity as a tourist getaway shouldn’t come as a surprise.
When you think about it, the Lion City has it all: rich cultural diversity and efficient infrastructure, all tucked away amidst an intriguing blend of modern, colonial and traditional architecture.
And owing to its multi-faceted character, you can rest assured your Singaporean travel will be packed with all kinds of adventures: from getting lost in the busy streets of Chinatown to admiring exotic wildlife at the Singapore Zoo to maxing out your credit card in the glitzy shops on the Orchard Road.
The city also boasts a refreshing amount of urban greenery, so whenever your feet get tired after a long day of sightseeing, you can unwind in the tranquility of Singapore’s oases, such as Padang or Botanic Gardens.
As someone who is looking to explore Asia for the first time, how many times have you heard people raving about Thailand and its delightfully chaotic capital of Bangkok?
There’s a reason why the popularity of this Thai metropolis never seems to wane – the 11-milion city has the ability to amaze and keep every stripe of traveler on their toes.
And yes, while it’s most known for its hedonistic nightlife scene, Bangkok’s immense historical and cultural heritage transcends its modern-day reputation.
For one, no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to the Grand Palace, a mesmerizing royal residential complex nestled at the heart of the city.
In Wat Pho, you will be greeted with the famous Reclining Buddha, a holy statue that measures over 46 meters.
Of course, if you don’t one to miss out on what Bangkok is always praised for – the never-ending party – head over to the Khaosan Road, Silum or Sukhumvit and you won’t be left disappointed with the outburst of restaurants, clubs and bars.
The charm of the Taiwanese capital lies in its intriguing blend of historical influences, all which have helped shape the wonderful hub that Taipei represents today.
And of the first places where you’ll be able to notice this mish-mash of historical presences will be in the city’s architecture, which somehow manages to seamlessly incorporate ancient Buddhist temples, sleek skyscrapers and meditative Japanese-style hot springs.
Its most impressive edifice is the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which proudly stands as the symbol of the city.
Eating has to be one of city’s favorite pastimes, and you’d be hard pressed to find a local who isn’t actively enthusiastic about Taipei’s dining offers.
You can start your Taiwanese culinary adventure by visiting one of the city’s popular night markets, where you’ll get a chance to sample the very best of local cuisine without committing yourself to one full dish.
Even if you’re not immediately familiar with the name of this Uttar Pradesh town, you will definitely know its most famous attraction – the Taj Mahal.
Millions of tourists flock to Agra each year just so they could catch a glimpse of this monumental mausoleum as it reflects in the glistening waters of the ornamental pool at the front.
And yet, the Taj is only where the wonders of Agra begin: this popular travel destination is a bona fide treasure trove of architectural feats from the Mughal era.
Among its most striking examples are the Agra Fort and Akbar’s Tomb, both of which date back to the 17th century.
Luscious gardens that stretch in between these majestic historical edifices shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
Perhaps the most enchanting one is the Mehtab Bagh, which lies on the opposite side of the Yamuna River. This vast green expanse, which was first built by Emperor Babur, had its shine restored during the 1990s, so you can rest assured you will experience it in its full verdant splendor.
If your feet are feeling itchy after reading this list, maybe that’s a good sign you should bite the bullet and finally book the ticket for the Asian destination that has peaked your interest. Wherever you choose to land, we are positive you will discover whole new worlds unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
Ah, the playgrounds of the rich and famous. The resorts on Lake Geneva, the beach adventures on the islands of Fiji, the massage pavillions at Seychelles, the luxury cruises around the Mediterranean Islands. Been there, done that? Seen one elegant spa, seem ‘em all?
Anyone can pay oodles of dollars to live like a rock star for a few days, but if you’re sick of the schtick, you might want to get real on the rail.
The last of the great transcontinental railways, and the longest in the world, the Trans-Siberian railway is 5,776 miles of railway stretching between Moscow’s Yarovlasky Station and the Vladivostock. It takes a minimum of a week to traverse.
One of the first things you should know if you’re planning a trip on the Trans Siberian railway is that there are three routes to choose from. The Trans Siberian classic goes from Moscow to Vladivostok, covering the whole 5,776 mile expanse. The Trans-Mongolian veers left at Lake Baikal, runs across Mongolia and ends in Beijing, and the Trans Manchurian skirts around east Mongolia, dips into the busy border town of Harbin in China, and also ends in Bejing.
The trip packages start at $85, the memories: priceless. Your trips will take you through breathtaking churches of hurl you through birch forests, deliver you across the seven steppes and through seven time zones in what is sure to be the wildest ride of your life.
What do you call a person from St. Petersburg? A St. Petersburger. If you’re making a trip on the Transcontinental, you’ll want to stop in this legendary city and walk in the footsteps of some of the most famous St. Petersburgers of all time, and when it comes to famous St. Petersburgers, they don’t come much greater than Peter the Great. St. Peter founded the city in 1703, and there’s not much in St. Petersburg that’s not somehow related to the great tsar and his predecessors.
If your idea of a day at the museum is a little closer to the movie, “A Night at the Museum,” you are bound to appreciate the Kunstkamera. Founded by Peter the Great himself, this museum is a little more about morbid fascination than art appreciation.
Back in those days, people feared the weird. Anything that was anomalous to the norm was considered to be a creation of the devil. However, a fearless leader wants a country of fearless citizens, and Peter the Great was determined to be a leader of the brave. He commissioned the construction of the Kunstkamera as a place in which the abnormal was displayed in hopes of educating the people and thus relieving them of their fears. In fact, Peter even offered a reward to anyone willing to contribute to his den of abnormality. The result: one of the biggest collection of unborn fetuses, two headed deer, and large-headed unborn children ever. Not for the faint of heart, but then again, not much on this Trans-Siberian journey is.
Nowadays, we all want to get in touch with our spiritual side. How about getting in touch with your Mongolian Shamanistic side? Ulan Ude in Buryatia Russia was first settled by the nomadic Buryat Mongols, following the split of the Russian organized church in 1650. The group of “Old Believers” were forced to flee their homes, and escape to Siberia to practice religious freedom, the animistic and shamanic ethnic religion of Mongolia. Ulan Ude provided this group with their new home.
However, just when the group believed they had found their religious haven, there was further shake up when, in 1900, the start of the locomotive revolution and the building of the Trans Siberian railroad turned their sacred ground when into a prosperous trading hub. Still, the Buryat Mongols kept their stronghold in the city where they continue to make up more than 20% of the population. Their cultural influence is just part of what makes Ulan Ude the interesting and diverse city it is today.
Other points of interest in Ulan Ude include the world’s largest Lenin head, located in the city square. You know what they say: “big head, big ideas…”
When most of us think of a trip to the lake, we expect a tranquil, experience; a chance to get someone on one time with nature, perhaps get in a bit of fishing. Rule 1 of the Trans Siberian railroad: Expect the unexpected.
You’ll find no relaxing day of fishing at Lake Baikal, in fact the fish you encounter here probably have very little in common to what you might call a day’s catch in your neighborhood fishing hole.
Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake, curving for 400 miles through South Eastern Asia, north of the Mongolian border, in a cleft at which Asia is about to split apart. According to geologists, if you want to get an idea of what the world looked like before the continents split apart, Lake Baikal is a pretty accurate representation.
With a maximum depth of 5,000 feet deep atop a four-mile thick layer of sediment, oxygen-rich Lake Baikal is home to some of the more bizarre aquatic life forms.
If your looking for fish of the edible variety, the golymyanka comes highly recommended by the seals. Geologists believe this semi-transparent pink fish that gives birth to live young is a holdover from the Mesozoic era, which, according to them, is just about when Lake Baikal was formed. Apparently, many of the golymyanka’s 20-25 billion-year-old friends make their home in the Baikal, too, and if your traveling on the Trans Siberian, you’ll want to make sure to pay a visit to them all.
Also of note is the Baikal’s backdrop. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and self-reliant villages of the taiga, you’ll find the some of the vistas of unparalleled beauty that give the Trans-Siberian adventure its reputation for breathtaking glory.
Fossils of 267-year-old crowned crocodile dinosaurs? Prehistoric, virtually invisible high-tech nanospirals? Forgotten stone idols? It’s just another day in the Ural Mountains. The Ural mountains are an ancient mountain range located in what most think of as the eastern boundary between Europe and Asia, but most are more interested in their creation than their location.
According to geologists, the Urals appeared over 300 million years ago in a collision between two islands, Eurussia and Kazakhstania, which no longer exist. To put this into perspective: while most mountain ranges form from the collision of two presently existing land masses, the Urals are formed of land masses that are no longer there, which makes them vestiges of tectonic activity that no longer exists, and a veritable treasure trove for archaeologists, geologists and tourists alike.
Gigantic stone structures, traces of lost civilizations, geographic anomalous zones, unexplained explosions, unanswered questions. it’s enough to take Indiana Jones out of his comfort zone. Does the M-Triangle really hold the presence of unknown forces? Could the Akraim really be the same village that reportedly burnt down 4000 years ago? Is the Patomskiy a natural creation made from an explosion of uranium and ore, or an artificial structure made by man? You’ll never know if you never go. Book your package today!
Things you should know before you go to Ulaanbaatar:
Just when you’re wondering if there are any civilized stops of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Ulaanbataar appears. Ulaanbaatar is a Mongolian city known for its nonstop traffic, nonstop nightlife, and nonstop industrial growth, with a bohemian underside that sets it apart from other modern cities. Here you’ll find upscale businessmen on their way home meeting up with punk rockers on their way to the nightclubs as Buddhist monks chant on the steps of Gandhad Kiid. Just be sure your GPS is working; the city is not known as a place for the uneducated navigator. Another word to the wise: dress in layers.
Another word to the wise: dress in layers. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world, which means if you go in the winter you may not be able to party your butt off without freezing it off as well. Survey says: go in the summer!
If Ulaanbataar sounds like a bit of a cultural mishmash, Kazan certainly is. In fact, the name Kazan means “cooking pot” in Tatar. Located along the Volga River, Kazan is 150 years older than Moscow, and the home of the Volga Tatars, a Turkish population associated with Genghis Khan. However, rest assured; Moscow has taken careful measures to ensure Kazan remains loyal to Russia, and the large Slavic Russian population in Kazan is largely responsible for the cultural conflux that makes Kazan so interesting.
While the cooking pot of culture may be enough of an attraction for most, it is the actual attractions in Kazan that may be the most intriguing.
Let’s start with the Chak-Chak Museum. If the idea of a museum dedicated to food is something of an anomaly to you, let’s just chalk it up to Kazanian pride. The Chak-chak Museum is an interactive museum dedicated to the sweet balls of honey-baked dough that has been the comfort food which sustained the Tatar people for so many years. Learn to bake, learn to appreciate, and Prijatnogo appetita! Make reservations ahead of time, these things are going like hotcakes!
Looking for some more offbeat ways to spend your days in Kazan? How about a trip to the Soviet Lifestyle Museum? Here, you’ll find novelties including a leather jacket made of 120 Communist party cards, made by a loving father for his daughter during hard times, a cockroach trap that works by attracting the bugs with beer, and then dousing them in boiling water, ( at least they’ll have something to lessen the pain), a high voltage mouse trap,(no mercy here) a drinking tumbler that can balance on its bottom edge, (ideal for the less experienced drinker), and a blade sharpener made from a 1980’s cassette player.
Of course, there are many more serious sites to be seen in Kazan, the Kremlin for one,
If you really can’t resist a vacation without a stop in an exotic island, Vladivostok fits the bill. Located in the very Far East of Russia on the Pacific coast, Vladivostok, is noted for its sandy beaches and verdant islands. However, the beaches here are not so paradisiacal. In fact, you can expect to find boats trolling the water to pick up the excess of debris that has accumulated in the industrialized trading port and naval base, environmentalists, beware!
However, the waters of Vladivostok are not the only thing polluted in the city, so are some of the minds, and if yours is too, you’ll definitely want to check out Museum 18+. You can use your polluted mind to fill in the details.
While there are some destinations that defy the imagination along the Trans-Siberian Railway, it should be mentioned the biggest attraction is the trip itself. It is not unusual to find Trans-Siberian passengers prepared with enough food (and vodka) to feed an army, and the biggest insult to them will be your refusal to partake in the festivities. Within minutes of boarding the train, passengers will begin unwrapping blankets filled with meats, cheeses, cookies, and pastries, and there may be no better way to sample the local culture and if you don’t expect too much in the way of luxury, you should be fine.
Encounters with drunken passengers, alcohol-fueled stewardesses, and long lines for charging electronic devices come with the territory on the Trans-Siberian. One woman tells of her unfortunate experience of a vomit-filled cabin and a father coming down with pneumonia.
While there are more luxurious options, like the superluxe Golden Eagle Express, with amenities such as a private bathroom, powerful shower, and underfloor heating, what you’ll gain in comfort you may lose in experience. Who needs heat anyway, when there’s so much warmth on board?
With the weather warming up, many people are now starting to think about the places they would like to visit this year on their vacation/s.
Are you going to be travelling with your family?
If so, here are some of the best family-friendly destinations in the USA to consider.
The Southern city of Atlanta is one that appeals to all age groups, with such a diverse range of family-friendly activities to choose from.
One of the most popular is the Georgia Aquarium, which was the largest aquarium in the world when it opened in 2005.
There are over 500 different species of marine life that call this aquarium home, from sea lions to whale sharks, the latter of which you can even have the opportunity to swim with.
Want more animal fun?
Head to the Zoo Atlanta, which is home to the only pair of giant panda twins in the USA.
Another fun activity is a visit to The World of Coca Cola, where you will find exhibits detailing the history of the most famous soft drink in the world. The tour of the buildings ends with a stop at the tasting room, where you can sample over 100 different drinks from all over the world.
Looking for more to fill your time with?
Atlanta offers plenty, such as:
When travelling with families, finding a restaurant that caters to everybody’s varied tastes can sometimes be difficult…
Atlanta’s Krog Street Market solves this problem by serving up everything from burgers to tapas in its historic 1920’s building.
Home to the majestic Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon National Park is a destination that everybody should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Your entire family will be able to recognize the beauty and importance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was carved out by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years.
A hike along the Grand Canyon is a must-do, and while many of the trails might be quite challenging, the Rim Trail is family-friendly. There is even the option to ride a mule for part of the trail, so anyone who does not want to walk the whole length of it does not need to.
If you are travelling with children who are too young for a hike, another great way to take in your one-of-a-kind surroundings is with a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway, which is famous for offering up one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world.
One of the problems that many families face when travelling as a larger group is transport, especially if there are too many family members to fit in one car.
Visiting a city with a good public transportation network does away with this, which is just one of the reasons as to why Portland is so appealing. Their public transportation system is extremely extensive, as well as great value for money, making it easy to explore the entire city.
Wondering what there is to do in Portland?
So much, such as:
For families who love nature, just 30 minutes east of Portland is the Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot waterfall that attracts over two million visitors each year.
Although growing in popularity, South Padre Island is still considered to be quite the hidden gem, offering up a tropical paradise with sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters.
This is the perfect spot for those who would prefer a relaxing beach vacation, rather than an action-packed city vacation, and there are enough activities here to appeal to all age groups and tastes.
If you want to make the most of the warm waters here…
Give boogie boarding a try, or spend an afternoon or two trying your luck at some fishing. Dolphin watching is also popular here, and there are a few boat excursions that will take you out onto the water to give you a closer view of these gorgeous creatures.
Prefer the sand to the sea?
The sand here is actually perfect for sandcastles, to the extent that you will find numerous sandcastle lessons being offered here. If you would prefer a little more action, the north end of Padre Island is where you will find large sand dunes, perfect for some off-road driving.
Need to cool off a bit?
The Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort is the place to go, which is a beach-inspired indoor and outdoor waterpark, with a variety of different attractions.
Does your family enjoy theme parks?
If your answer is yes…
Then Orlando is definitely the place to go.
Because this city is home to an impressive 12 theme parks!
The Walt Disney theme parks tend to be the most popular with families, and these include Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
You will also find Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, as well as Islands of Adventure, which is also owned and run by Universal Parks and Resorts.
Other theme parks worth checking out include Legoland Florida, Gatorland and Discovery Cove.
If you want to check out multiple parks but are put off by admission prices…
There are many companies that offer combination packages for several different parks, so it is worth having a look online at the different deals out there.
Looking for something to do in between all of your theme park visits?
Here are a few ideas:
While Washington may be famous for politics, there is so much else to do in the city, with many of its attractions aimed at families.
The National Mall, where you can learn about the country’s history and check out the majestic reflection pool is always popular with people of all ages, while the National History Museum, as well as the Air and Space Museum both have special exhibits for children.
Does your family love animals?
The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute consists of 163 acres, with more than 1500 animals, from over 300 species, calling this facility home.
If your family would prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, Rock Creek Park is home to turtles, fish and a wide variety of birds, as well as numerous activities for the whole family to take part in.
The United States Botanic Garden is also located in Washington, and this is a fantastic place to visit on a rainy day, as ten of its gardens are situated underneath glass. Even if you have younger kids with you, the Botanic Garden will still appeal to them, thanks to its Children’s Garden.
Want to spend some time in a tropical paradise?
Then Oahu is the place to head to, because even though this island may be small, it is absolutely perfect for families.
Because there is such a wide range of activities to be found here, meaning that you can appeal to every member of your family.
When it comes to deciding where to stay…
You have quite a few options. Waikiki Beach is geared towards tourists, meaning that there are numerous amenities in this area, while Ko Olina, as well as the north shore, are much quieter, and offer a more relaxed pace of life.
Wondering what there is to do on Oahu?
One of the most popular activities is checking out the beaches on the island, as these world-famous stretches of sand are a joy to spend some time on.
These are a few of the must-visit beaches on Oahu:
Need a break from the beach?
Check out the Diamond Head Crater, a volcanic crater that you can hike to the top of, or spend some time browsing the many shops at Waikiki Beach.
A luau is a must when in Hawaii! These traditional parties feature local music and dances, as well as a show that will tell you stories about the history of various Polynesian islands. Of course, one of the main highlights of a luau is the Hawaiian feast that comes along with it, giving you the opportunity to sample many authentic specialities.
Being one of the most famous cities in the world, New York has so much to offer, no matter what your family may be interested in.
One must-do activity is a ferry ride along the Hudson, where you can see some of the city’s top sights, such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Once you’re back in Manhattan, there is plenty to choose from.
Begin by checking out some of the city’s museums, which focus on everything from fashion and history to art and religion. There are more than 80 museums to choose from, meaning that everybody in your family can pick one that they want to see.
Are there any animal lovers in your family?
If so, there are several popular animal-related attractions to keep you all busy, including:
Prefer attractions that are more urban?
Take your family for a spot of shopping at some of New York’s bustling markets. Chelsea Market is always popular, and boasts some delicious restaurants too, while the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market is a great place to go to bag a bargain. The Brooklyn Flea Market, as well as Queens Market, are also worth checking out.
When it comes to meal times…
The restaurant scene in New York is one of the best in the world, with everything from casual food trucks to fine dining restaurants offering up delicious meals.
There are numerous family-friendly restaurants all over the city, with some of the best being:
When it comes to finding somewhere to stay, there are a variety of hotels all over the city. However, if you have a large family, it may be worth looking into one of the many AirBnBs available in New York City, as this will give all of you much more flexibility.
Choosing a location for a family vacation can be tough, especially if everybody in your family is hoping for something different. These destinations are varied enough to appeal to just about everyone, ensuring that you all have a truly memorable family trip.
Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, falling on Sunday the 13th of May this year.
Have you already got something special planned?
If not, you’re in luck, because here is a round-up of the 8 best places to visit with your mom this Mother’s Day to celebrate all that she has done for you.
Sonoma is at the forefront of California’s thriving wine industry, and is the ideal place to take any wine-loving mothers.
There are a few special events happening here for this year’s Mother’s Day…
The Montalvo Arts Center will be hosting three different Mother’s Day brunches on the 13th, one in their outdoor Spanish courtyard, one in their historic villa, and one on their veranda overlooking the Great Lawn. All of them will feature a special champagne toast to acknowledge the big day.
Would your mom prefer an activity?
If so, then the Tesoro Flowers Workshop Mother’s Day Tea Party and Floral Crowns would be ideal. You will both have the opportunity to create gorgeous floral crowns, while also being able to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea.
Of course, if you would rather just spend the day enjoying Sonoma, there is plenty for you and your mother to see and do here, with historic buildings, natural beauty and 425 wineries.
Not sure which to visit for a wine tasting?
Here are a few of the finest:
There is always so much to do in New York City, and Mother’s Day is no exception.
For those travelling in from afar, the main sightseeing activities will always delight, from the Statue of Liberty to the Rockefeller Center.
Would you prefer a special Mother’s Day event?
Again, there are plenty to choose from, such as the Mother’s Day Brunch Cruise on a 1920’s-style yacht, complete with a brunch buffet and champagne or cocktails.
Another brunch with a view can be had at the Queens Botanical Gardens, where a picnic-style Mother’s Day Brunch will be held, serving everything from omelets and bacon to muffins and bagels.
Once you are done eating, walk off your meal by exploring the displays around the 39 acres of botanical gardens, featuring everything from roses and herbs to an arboretum and art gallery.
Would your mom prefer to do something a little more exciting?
If so, the Amazing Mother’s Day Scavenger Hunt begins at Slattery’s Pub, and will have the both of you racing around the city in search of clues and tackling obstacles.
For a more indulgent option, New York City is home to some of the finest spas in the world, such as:
The vibrant buzz of Miami is the perfect vibe for an unforgettable Mother’s Day.
Does your mom like animals?
If so, Lion Country Safari is the perfect place to spend the day. This safari park features a four mile trail through which the two of you can drive, with mothers enjoying free admission on May 13th, as well as admission into the adjoining Safari World Amusement Park.
Another great place to spend the whole day is at the Deering Estate, where there will be an action-packed schedule of activities for you and your mother to take part in. From croquet to tours of the historic home to a champagne cruise, your mom will really feel so pampered here.
Of course, if your mom would prefer to just spend the day relaxing and soaking up the sun, Miami boasts numerous beaches at which you can do this, including:
For those who have been wanting to spend some time in Chicago, Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity.
While there are plenty of the standard Mother’s Day brunches to choose from here, Chicago also boasts quite a few other unique events.
For a one-of-a-kind brunch, head to Band of Bohemia, where you will be served everything from Peekytoe crab to duck confit hash. The brunch at Mindy’s HotChocolate is also worth checking out, as James Beard award-winning chef Mindy Segal will be cooking up this spread herself.
If a physical activity would be appreciated, book yourselves a place at the Athletica Mother’s Day Yoga and Brunch session, which also features a private shopping session in the Athletica store.
For a spot of shopping, there will be a Mother’s Day Gift Market held in Ravenswood, with everything from handmade jewelry to fresh flowers available to purchase.
Would you prefer to spend the day at a spa?
Then let the Forbes Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Spa and Health Club be the one you choose, as they are doing a special promotion for Mother’s Day, with a customized two hour restorative spa treatment.
If you would prefer a more culture-filled day, Chicago has many museums worth exploring, including:
For moms who like to keep fit, spending Mother’s Day in Milwaukee will definitely not disappoint.
Because this city hosts an annual Mother’s Day 5K and 10K Walk/Run, with a special one mile course for younger children.
The run starts at 8am on May 13th, and provides some fantastic incentives for finishing, such as cake pops and fresh roses.
If your mother would prefer something more laid-back, the Milwaukee Art Museum will be hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch with some classic dishes, while the brunch at the Pfister Hotel features everything from a carvery to a seafood display to a mouthwatering dessert table.
Hawaii is known for being a tropical paradise, making this such an idyllic place to spend this year’s Mother’s Day.
The Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch Cruise is a fantastic way to make the most of your surroundings, as it takes place on-board the Star of Honolulu, complete with multiple observation decks. In addition to the champagne and scenery, this cruise also includes authentic Hawaiian activities, such as lei making and hula lessons, as well as presents for mom.
For an evening celebration, Rock-a-Hule will be hosting an event called Legendary Moms. With gourmet food, specialty cocktails, the biggest show in Waikiki and roses for moms, this is an event that you will not want to miss out on.
Of course, the natural beauty of Hawaii is not to be missed, so if you would like to spend Mother’s Day making the most of the great outdoors, Turtle Bay has some great options. Give their Mother’s Day Horseback Riding Special a try, where mothers can ride the morning trail ride for free, or the Mother’s Day Golf Special where mothers can enjoy 50% off a day on the course. For watersports, the Mother’s Day Kayaking Special is the one to sign up for, as this is the perfect way to explore the North Shore.
Would you prefer to spend the day exploring Honolulu instead?
Here are some of the city’s must-visit spots:
The best Mother’s Day events in Phoenix are centered around food, but this is definitely not a bad thing.
Start your morning in a memorable way by spending it at the Phoenix Zoo, making the most of their Mother’s Day Breakfast. This event is only open to members of the zoo, but membership can easily be purchased online, and also grants you admission to the zoo for a year, so you can take a tour of it too after your breakfast.
Another delicious event is Mother’s Day Brunch in the Grove, which is being held at The Farm at South Mountain. This is an annual event that has actually received national recognition from USA Today, due to its incredibly decadent buffet spread, along with gorgeous views.
If you have young children with you, head on over to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, which is as much fun for adults as it is for kids.
There are quite a few events taking place on Mother’s Day weekend in Charleston, so you are bound to find something that appeals to the whole family.
One of the most popular is the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity. This is an annual event, and 2018 will be its 48th edition, with everything from Greek food and wine to Greek music and dancing.
On North Myrtle Beach, the 13th Annual Mayfest will be held, with live music and performances to celebrate the beginning of summer, while Mother’s Day Brunches can be found all over the city, with one of the best being at High Cotton Charleston.
Never been to Charleston before?
Here are a few of the best things to do around town:
If you would like something to do on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, head to the Deep Water Vineyard, the one and only winery in Charleston. Every Saturday, they host their Weekend Wine-Down, with wine and food tastings along with live tunes from local musicians.
Mother’s Day only comes around once a year, and while many may say that this is such a commercialized holiday, it is still so important to find a way to show your mother just how much she means to you. Whether this means spending the day at the wineries of Sonoma, or racing about doing a scavenger hunt around New York City, these destinations will no doubt make Mother’s Day 2018 one of your best ones yet.
The USA is packed with so much heritage, but some destinations are definitely better than others when it comes to experiencing this.
From the big-name cities, such as New York City, to the country’s lesser-known jewels, such as Taos, here are nine places to visit in the USA for history and culture.
A town with a population of just over 5000, Taos is not a big-name tourist destination, but is home to hundreds of years of history. With everyone from the Spanish to the Native Americans making their mark here, there is so much to see, do and learn in Taos.
Let’s begin by talking about one of the main historical highlights of Taos…
Taos Pueblo is a multi-storey adobe complex that was inhabited by Native Americans for centuries, with many of the homes still being occupied today. This is the only Native American community that has been designated as both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which tells you just how important this landmark is.
Wondering what else there is to do in Taos?
Well, this area has long since provided inspiration to artists, with everyone from Georgia O’Keefe to Ansel Adams having found a creative spark here.
This has led to Taos becoming quite the arts and culture hub, and while there may not be any international museums here, there are still many galleries worth exploring, such as:
When you want a break from all of that culture, Taos is also famous for its outdoor activities. From skiing to hiking to relaxing in natural hot springs, this is a town with so much to offer.
While Natchez may not immediately spring to mind when thinking of vacation destinations, this city is actually the oldest settlement in all of Mississippi, having been first settled in 1716, and is the place to go for those who love history and one-of-a-kind architecture.
The heritage of the city has been shaped by such a diverse array of cultures, with French, African, Spanish and British influences.
Some of the best places to learn more about this include:
Of course, everyone needs a break from history once in a while…
Wondering what else there is to do here?
With easy access to the Mississippi, water sports are always an option, while those who want a more relaxing activity can spend some time sampling the city’s locally-produced beer, wine and rum.
Known for being the cultural capital of America, as well as one of the greatest cultural cities in the world, New York City boasts everything from visual arts to music to historic landmarks.
Music is always an important part of a region’s culture, and, in the 70’s, New York City gave birth to punk music, following this up with some of the best jazz clubs in the country. Of course, let us not forget about Broadway and all that that has brought to the world.
For those who want to soak up some history and culture at the same time, there are many museums in New York where you can do this. Give some of the following a try:
If all of that was not enough, there are other pockets of history around New York City that are worth checking out…
The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, as well as Ellis Island itself, will teach you so much about the story of immigration in New York City, while Ground Zero provides a sombre look at a time in recent history that changed the country forever.
Located on the island of Oahu, Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii, and in addition to being home to world-famous beaches and glitzy resorts, also boasts such a rich history.
To begin with, a tour of Pearl Harbor and its monuments is a must, as the events that happened here in 1941 forever changed the course of history.
Iolani Palace is also worth exploring, as this was once home to Polynesian monarchs, while the Queen Emma Summer Palace is equally as regal and impressive.
Another fascinating site is the Kawaiaha’o Church, which was built in 1842, while the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace is famous for being the country’s oldest cathedral in continuous use.
Want to learn more about religion’s history on the island of Oahu?
Then Puu o Mahuka is a must-see, as this National Historic Landmark is the largest religious site on the island, and was likely the location used for sacrificial ceremonies.
Enough about Honolulu’s history, what about its culture?
This is actually one of the best places to learn about Hawaii’s unique culture, beginning by taking a tour of the historic downtown area. Stop by at the Honolulu Museum of Art, which is home to some interesting exhibits, before taking in a live theatre performance at one of the city’s many venues.
Of course, do not forget to spend at least one evening indulging in an authentic Hawaiian luau! There are plenty to choose from, including the Paradise Cove Luau, where you will be able to play traditional Hawaiian games, and the Polynesian Cultural Center Luau, which is surrounded by waterfalls, hibiscus flowers, and a freshwater lagoon.
For art lovers, Houston is definitely the place to go.
You will likely end up spending the majority of your time in the city’s Museum District, where you will find an impressive 20 museums. Some of the highlights include the Museum of Fine Arts and the Rothko Chapel, which features 14 of Rothko’s abstract paintings.
When it comes to music…
Refined tastes will appreciate the Houston Ballet, while those who want some Texas twang will find a number of live music venues around the city.
Want to know more about Houston’s history?
The Holocaust Museum Houston has some extremely powerful and moving exhibits, while Battleship Texas was the first battleship memorial museum in the country when it was established in 1948.
Of course, no visit to Houston would be complete without checking out the Space Center. This is where you will find one of the largest collections of space artefacts in the country, including space crafts that have been flown in space and a variety of rocks brought down from the moon.
Home to early American history, literature, museums, and a vibrant arts scene, Salem is a fantastic destination for history and culture buffs to visit.
Of course, Salem tends to be most famous for its witch trials of 1692, and the Salem Witch Museum will teach you everything you want to know about this. Another witch-related landmark to check out is the Witch House, which used to be home to one of the witch trial judges.
For those who want some witchy souvenirs to take home with them, Crow Haven Corner is famous for being the oldest witch shop in the country, and is packed with a magical array of items related to witchcraft.
Other than witches, there are plenty of other historical sites to visit in Salem, including:
Savannah is an elegant historic city, with one of its main benefits being that its heritage has been so well preserved.
The perfect example of this is with the quaint public squares that are dotted around the city…
Originally, the city was home to 24 of these, and there are still 22 of them left, each one completely intact and complete with fountains, monuments and plenty of lush foliage.
These squares can all be found in Savannah’s Historic District, which has actually been designated a National Historic Landmark, making it one of the largest districts in the country to have this status.
Since Savannah used to be home to the elite of Georgia, there are so many upscale historic homes to explore, giving you an in-depth idea of what life was like for the upper-class of Savannah. If you only have the time to see one, make it the Green-Meldrim House.
Wondering what’s so special about it?
Well it was built in the 1950s, and not only is it a National Historic Landmark, but it is also considered to be one of the finest, and most lavish, examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the American South.
If you want to take some time out from history to relax for a while, do this at Forsyth Park, the largest park in Savannah as well as the most photographed spot in the city.
Being the capital of the United States, you can only imagine how much history Washington D.C is home to.
There are miles of museums and monuments to explore here, with all of them boasting free admission, meaning that you can really make the most of everything on offer.
Here are a few highlights to check out:
In fact, there are just too many museums to list, with everything from the National Air and Space Museum to the Newseum being located here.
There are also a number of memorials you can visit here, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to the Lincoln Memorial.
Wondering when to visit?
The most scenic time of the year is in April, as this is when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom along the Tidal Basin.
For those who want to learn more about the country’s Civil Rights history, Birmingham is the place to go.
Located in central Alabama, this city was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement, and was the place at which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was arrested. He also wrote his monumental Letter from a Birmingham Jail here.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is the best place to learn more about this, with a number of fascinating permanent and temporary exhibits.
In addition to being famous for its role in the Civil Rights Movement, Birmingham was also the heart of steel production in the South. It is here where you will find the largest cast iron statue in the world, known as the Vulcan.
There are 159 stairs located inside of the statue, and if you decide to climb to the top of these, you will be rewarded with some incredible views of your surroundings, as well as a compact, but extremely educational, museum.
Want to check out some more museums?
Here are a few more options:
Birmingham is also home to many iron ore mines that take back to the 1880’s. A high concentration of these can be found at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, where you will be able to take a look at mining sites, equipment and quarries.
There is so much history and culture to be experienced all over the USA. Whether you are seeking museums and art performances or historic landmarks and tours, each of these destinations has so much to teach you.
For years and years, the South American continent has been attracting all stripes of travelers – from adventurous backpackers to luxury holidaymakers.
Is there any surprise, really?
This enticing landmass, which spans just short of 7 million square miles, boasts immensely rich cultural tradition, as well as some of the most breathtaking natural sights on Earth.
Culturally, South America is an ever-exciting mish-mash of different influences. It is home to over 130 languages, and as many indigenous tribes that have inhabited these lands long before the European colonizers arrived.
When it comes to nature, this stunning continent offers everything from lush Amazonian forests to Andean cliffs to Patagonian glaciers. It is also home to several wildlife species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
And before you decide to embark on a South American adventure of your own, it’s important to prepare thoroughly – so your trip is only filled with the kind of surprises that will enhance your journey, rather than impede it.
The South American continent is vast and diverse – it encompasses three climate belts and a plethora of more localized microclimates.
Because of this, it’s important to inform yourself about the weather conditions of the regions your are looking to visit prior to your trip, lest you end up over or (under!) packing.
Because the climate in South America is so varied, it’s difficult to talk about it in generalities.
In order to minimize on any weather-related surprises while on your travels, you might want to consider the cities and regions you’ll be visiting, but also the purpose of your trip.
If you are looking to do a lot of sightseeing in South American metropolises, perhaps it’s best to do so outside of the scorching peak season (January and February), as summers in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires see temperatures rise up to 40 degrees during these months.
Of course, if beaches and tropical resorts are what you’ve had in mind for your South American holidays, then summer is absolutely the best choice for you.
On the other hand, if you want to engage yourself in winter sports, then you want to set off to South America between the months of June and September – the peak season for Chilean and Argentinean winter resorts.
Another thing to keep in mind are the altitudes. If you plan on traveling to La Paz, the Bolivian capital, you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re affected by altitude sickness symptoms.
Same goes for Machu Picchu – visitors who plan on trekking the iconic city of the Inca are advised to spend a day or two in Cusco to acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness.
The South American continent comprises 12 countries that use 14 different currencies.
Of course, if you’re only visiting one country, you shouldn’t have too many issues exchanging your money in your home country or at your destination.
However, if you plan to do a multi-country trip, things can get a little trickier.
Some South American currencies can be changed abroad, so it might be worth inquiring if you can do so at your home country. This might save you the initial hassle of looking for exchange offices at airports and bus stations (and potentially getting fleeced in the process).
However, some currencies are a little more difficult to get a hold of, for example the Paraguayan Guaraní, the Bolivian boliviano or the Peruvian sol. If you happen to be visiting these countries, it might be worth researching beforehand to check which places offer decent exchange rates.
Likewise, make sure to always carry American dollars or Euros; with these currencies, you’re less likely to run into obstacles during exchange.
Travelling through South America, it’s always good to carry at least some amount of cash on you; however, if this makes you feel paranoid, inquire at your local bank whether you can use your card abroad. Moreover, try to find out what are the ATM fees and policies in the country that you are visiting.
South America is the continent of many cultures and nationalities; however, in most of the countries, people will speak one of its two major languages: Portuguese and Spanish.
This prevalence of these to languages makes things easier for travelers who plan on visiting several countries.
Of course, learning a new language from scratch just because you’re going on a holiday should by no means be a necessity. Still, it will make your life a lot easier if you are able to communicate your basic wants and needs.
Not only will knowing a few basic words and phrases in Spanish and Portuguese be incredibly helpful if you’re looking for directions or trying to read to bus timetable, it will also enhance your interaction with other people.
Wherever you find yourself in South America, you can rest assured locals will be delighted to hear a tourist make an effort to communicate with them in their native language.
Plus, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in a foreign culture than to form a meaningful connection to its people.
Who knows, maybe your speaking Spanish or Portuguese might be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!
South America is famous for its bustling metropolises.
Between Rio’s colorful parades, Buenos Aires’ tango-dancing streets and Cartagena’s breath-taking architecture, it’s hard to pass up the appeal of the continent’s ever-inviting cities.
And yet, much of South America’s beauty lies in its natural landscape, which features sceneries unlike anywhere else in the world.
Even if you’re not a naturally outdoorsy person, it would be a shame to travel all the way to South America without experiencing some of its superb scenery.
If you’re still not convinced, rest assured the South American natural canvas has something for everyone.
For example, if you are a fan of more tropical settings, then you’ll be delighted to know that South America is the home to some of the most heavenly beaches in the world.
A few amazing places to start your South American seaside adventure would be the famed Ipanema in Brazil, Colombia’s San Anders Island or the Easter Island in Chile.
Alternatively, if you’d like to dive right into the mystical wonders of the Amazonian rainforests, there are several points from which you can do so – including Brazil, Peru and Ecuador.
You can also completely shut off from the world a go on a nighttime astronomy-themed holidays in the middle of the Atacama desert.
Finally, if you want to get away from scorching temperatures and explore South America mountainous regions, then there’s a host of mesmerizing high-altitude destinations awaiting you along the iconic Andes.
Taking out a travel insurance is never a bad idea – and if your trip to South America is looking like it’s going to be an extensive one, then you definitely should look into this option.
Why is this the case? You planned everything to a T!
While this may be true, you never know the kind of unexpected situations you might get into.
For example, if you end up with an injury or illness, you might be slapped with a hundred or even a thousand-dollar bill for medical expenses.
And why not avoid all the unnecessary expenditures if you can?
Besides, health isn’t the only reason why you should look into taking out a travel insurance.
Certain policies will also cover material loss, which is good news for any travelers who carry lots computer and camera gear.
So, if you go through the misfortune of having your valuables lost or stolen, at least you’ll have the funds to replace them.
All in all, most holidays go without a hitch, and chances are that will be the case with your South American travels. Still, if the option is there, might as well leave all your worries at the door.
In South America, you will have an opportunity to explore one of the most diverse and palate-enticing culinary palettes in the world.
From multi-course meals in fine dining establishments to delicious bites from rough-around-the-edges food stands, there is something to please the taste buds of every kind of gastro enthusiasts in South America.
This is why you shouldn’t hesitate to indulge in the ultimate epicurean adventure during your holidays across this continent.
For example, carnivores will be thrilled to hear that Argentine cuisine offers just about any kind of meat, prepared in their traditional assado (barbeque) style.
For something a little more casual, you should look over to Brazil – whose diverse cultural landscape is clearly reflected in its colorful cuisine. One of Brazil’s most illustrative fast bites are the coxinhas, a type of croquette that’s filled with chopped or shredded chicken.
And the most experimental foodies can head over to Peru, where they can taste Cuy – or grilled guinea pig – the nation’s most famous dish.
Visitors who have a sweet tooth will be pleased to hear South American cuisines boast some of the yummiest treats out there. The most ubiquitous one has to be dulce de leche, a delicious caramel-like treat which is made by cooking milk and sugar.
If you plan on checking out one of South America’s bustling metropolises and don’t feel like traipsing the streets of an unknown city on your own, then it might be a good idea to join a free walking tour.
There are many reasons why walking tours are a great way to get to know a new place.
First of all, they won’t cost a thing – walking tours are usually organized by local enthusiasts who are eager to share the magic of their hometown with visitors from abroad. So not only will you get to have an interesting, immersive experience, you might also save a couple of bucks along the way.
Moreover, since free walking tours are done in groups, you might get to meet other curious tourists and befriend them. This is especially useful for solo travelers who might be looking to make some friends along the way.
Finally, you’ll get to absorb the city through the eyes of a local. No amount of guidebooks and internet research can quite illustrate the allure of a place as a living, breathing person who gets to live in that city every day. It is very likely they will help you discover all the nooks and crannies of South American towns that only natives know about.
South Americans are known around the world for their boisterous, vibrant festivals.
These joyous events, which celebrate everything from ancient gods to annual harvests, is when the locals go all out with their best traditional costumes, dances and, of course, the ever-exciting food!
Since festivals are an amazing way to soak up local culture, it would be a shame to visit this continent without attending at least one.
Not only will you make memories for life, you will also get to experience the South American joie de vivre first hand.
One of the most famous South American events is the Rio Carnival, which takes place in the second-most populous Brazilian city every year before lent, usually in February or March. This is when the entire metropolis lights up with floats, samba dancers and colorful costumes. Attracting over 2 million participants each year, the Rio Carnival definitely an event not to be missed!
And if you’re visiting South America during the winter, then you have the option of visiting Inti Raymi, the most significant pre-Columbian festival in Latin America. This celebration is held in the Peruvian city of Cusco and it pays respect to the most important Incan deity, the Inti. The so-called “Sun Festival” involves various parades, traditional customs, yummy food and a day-long fiesta.
And there you have it, all the essential information that might help you make the first steps toward the South American journey of a lifetime. Happy travels!
Spring is the ideal season to book a holiday and recharge your batteries away from your usual everyday surroundings.
And North America, with its rich natural landscape and a diverse multicultural character, is ideal for just about any kind of springtime adventure.
Take a look at our list of the most alluring spring destinations in the United States and Canada.
It truly doesn’t get more American than spending your spring holiday in Myrtle Beach.
The adventure-packed resort town has long been favored by families from across the country.
This should come as no surprise: when it comes to nature, Myrtle Beach boasts miles of sandy beach overlooking the blue vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.
The seemingly never-ending beachfront is jam-packed with top-notch hotels offering all sorts of exciting amenities.
The South Carolinian resort is also heaven for outdoor enthusiasts. Water sport adventurers can indulge in parasailing, kayaking, snorkeling and fishing, while golfers can enjoy a game of golf against the stunning backdrop of the ocean and the surrounding woodlands.
If you’re in it for pure hedonism, hit up one of Myrtle Beach’s vast shopping malls, rowdy bars and seafront restaurants serving all of the favorite Southern dishes.
Mover over, Seattle – the Pacific Northwest has a new, cool kid on the scene.
Portland, the largest city in the state of Oregon, is quickly becoming one of the most attractive urban destinations in the United States.
For good reason, too: City of Roses combines the best of both worlds – the comfortable feeling of a small town and an exciting cultural offer worthy of a metropolis.
At every corner, you will be greeted with a cozy coffee shop or a hip craft brewery. There is also no shortage of art venues – from music to theater to film – so Portland is bound to satisfy cultural cravings of all stripes.
Portland’s natural canvas shouldn’t be overlooked, either – the areas surrounding the city are the perfect place to discover the deep-green beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
The city boasts gorgeous urban oases, such as the Forest Park and the Tryon Creek State Park, while on the eastern outskirts, you will find Columbia River Gorge, the crown jewel of Portland’s beautiful landscape.
More than anything else, the city of Austin is known for its eccentric, diverse character.
Home to the University of Texas, the Texan capital is a place that forests progressive, artistic thought, which is clearly reflected in the abundance of creative, independently-owned business which are found in every nook and cranny of this bustling city.
Since summers in the Lone Star State are known to be brutal, shoulder seasons like spring and fall are the ideal time for exploring Austin.
Coming to Austin in spring will also give you the opportunity to visit the city’s iconic South by Southwest festival, which takes place every March. This large-scale multimedia event attracts hundreds of creative and innovative individuals from around the world.
As this is one of the most fascinating towns in the United States, it’s never a bad time to visit New Orleans.
And yes, while the peak tourist season happens during the iconic Mardi Gras festivities, spring is probably the second best season to visit the Big Easy.
The weather is pleasant and the sticky summer humidity still hasn’t hit. This gives you the ideal opportunity to explore the city’s lush parks (City Park and Audubon Park), the rustic French Quarter, as well as to dine in NOLA’s numerous courtyard eateries.
Of course, holidays in Birthplace of Jazz wouldn’t be complete without attending a live show. Luckily, spring is the perfect time to do so, and you will find plenty of music festival and outdoor performances all around town.
Spring is also an ideal season to indulge in an epicurean adventure while in NOLA. This is when the ever-popular crawfish starts being sold in seafood restaurants and shops around town, making it a sin to visit New Orleans without tasting this staple of local cuisine.
Once a favorite vacation spot for the old Hollywood celebrities, Palm Springs has transformed into a destination where everyone can have the Californian holiday of their dreams.
The climate in Palm Springs is pretty arid, which means summers tend to be absolutely sizzling – making spring the ideal time to visit if you want to enjoy more moderate temperatures.
Travelers who are interested in little other than sunbathing next to a refreshing pool are more than welcome to do just that, while nature enthusiast can go further east and visit the Joshua Tree Park, one of the most impressive natural sights in the state.
Of course, music festivals are Palm Springs’ main draw this time of the year. Thousands of visitors, including various celebrities and fashionistas, flock to the Coachella Valley to show off their bohemian style and party for days on end.
Visiting Las Vegas is on bucket lists of many world travelers.
And spring is one of the most favorable times of the year to visit the Sin City, as the weather is sunny, but you can still score a great deal on the accommodation.
The #1 sight in Las Vegas is the iconic Strip, where all the action happens once the sun goes down.
Here, you will find all the legendary hotels and casinos that evoke different historical eras and parts of the world.
Gambling is by far the most popular activity in this party-loving oasis; however, if you don’t feel like rolling the dice, you can also see one of the dazzling live shows or shop ‘till you drop in one of its extravagant malls.
The Quebecoise capital is the hub of Francophone Canada, a characteristic that definitely sets this city apart from the rest of its North American siblings.
Montreal is known for its rich cultural scene; the city is bursting with galleries, design studios and live venues on every step of its gorgeous, quaint streets.
Montreal winters are long and dark, but the Montrealers really know how to make up for the bleak months as soon as the first sun rays hit the ground.
The city comes alive with outdoor concerts and open-air markets, while bicycles become the favorite mode of transport.
Spring is the ideal time to soak up Montreal’s stunning architecture, which is embodied in an intriguing blend of North American and European sensibilities.
The Georgian gem is one of the oldest and most aesthetically pleasing cities in the United States.
Its architecture features an intriguing mish-mash of styles, ranging from opulent antebellum mansions to medieval-looking cathedrals.
Savannah is also home to twenty-four gorgeous public squares, most of which were constructed during the 18th and 19th century. Its urban greenery is characterized by gargantuan oak trees and luscious Spanish moss.
Since Savannah is known as the “Hostess of the South”, you will never have a hard time finding quality restaurants, bars and coffee shops in which you can unwind after a long day of sightseeing.
Spring is by far the ideal time to visit Savannah. Its green parks and squares burst with color, while the infamous Georgian humidity and high temperatures never become unbearable.
No spring holiday list would be complete without mentioning the United States capital.
In the spring, Washington bursts with colors due to rows of pink-hued cherry blossom trees that frame its most famous historical spots.
Tidal Basin, one of the most scenic areas in the city, is the best place for strolling and relaxing among the beautiful blossoms.
During this time of year, the historic sites found in the nation’s capital become even more intriguing to explore.
To soak up the intriguing history of the USA, head over to the National Mall, where you will find all the instantly recognizable monuments and institutions, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.
A world of superior natural beauty and gastronomical indulgence awaits all those who book their spring holiday in the Napa Valley.
This Californian slice of paradise is best known for being America’s most famous wine region, but Napa is so much more than it palate-pleasing Cabernets, Merlots and Chardonnays.
This region is also known for its beautiful scenery, embodied in never-ending stretches of vineyards that blanket its hillsides.
The wine country is also one of the prime destinations for fine dining in Northern California, so if you find yourself in Napa Valley, make sure to go on a tour of its exquisite eateries.
Nothing says “spring break” quite like holidaying in Florida.
The Sunshine State is home to a host of coveted holiday destinations, but its crown jewel has to be the buzzing oceanfront paradise: Miami.
Not only does the Magic City boast miles of pristine, fun-packed beaches, it also oozes glitz and glam on every step of its breezy boulevards.
Fashion enthusiasts should head over to down Collins and Washington Avenues, where they will discover everything from high couture shops to small, independently-owned boutiques.
If you want to learn more about Miami’s alluring urban canvas, venture into Miami Beach Architectural District, where you can admire all the constructions built in Art Deco, style that defines Miami’s exterior.
And if you’re feeling extra luxurious and want to go further afield, hire a yacht that will take you all the way to Key West or even the Bahamas.
If you are desiring to spend this spring in a fast-paced metropolitan setting, look no further than booking your vacation in Toronto.
The buzzing Canadian metropolis is the most culturally diverse place on Earth, so you can rest assured your trip will be filled with different sensations and adventures.
Torontonian winters are known for being extra-frigid, but come April, you can already expect temperatures to stay firmly above zero.
Sitting on the northern shores of Lake Ontario, Toronto is by far the largest Canadian city. As such, you can expect it to be teeming with all sorts of art, gastro and nightlife gems.
Art Gallery of Ontario and Royal Ontario Museum hold some of the most extensive art collections on the North American continent, while the Distillery District is home to numerous small galleries and venues.
To soak up Torontonian atmosphere, head over to the Kensington Market, where you will find a plethora of food stalls, cozy eateries, vintage stores and coffee shops.
Everyone always romanticizes New England’s autumnal beauty, but spring is when this gorgeous area truly awakens.
And what better place to visit than the City on the Hill, the historic hub of American culture and academia?
Boston is brimming with arts and history at every step, from the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail to the waterfront-perched Institute of Contemporary Art.
Of course, not everything about Boston has to be uppity and highbrow – if you want to spend a weekend just like the locals do, head over to Fenway Park and watch the Red Sox take to the field.
Finally, there is no better place to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than Massachusetts’ capital. Since the city is known for its rich Irish heritage, this is when Bostonians go all out by organizing parades and street parties that continue until the early morning hours.
Are you feeling excited for your vacation yet? After going through this list, we’d be surprised if you weren’t. Time to pack your bags and enjoy the spring at one of these fabulous destination!