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9 Places to Visit in the US for History and Culture

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.

Taos, New Mexico

Ancient City of Taos, New Mexico.

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:

  • The Harwood Museum of Art
  • Linda Rauch Gallery
  • Act One Gallery
  • Michael McCormick Gallery

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.

Natchez, Mississippi

Auburn Antebellum House in Natchez, Mississippi

Auburn Antebellum House in Natchez, Mississippi

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:

  • Natchez National Historical Park
  • Grand Village of the Natchez Indians
  • William Johnson House
  • Auburn Antelbullum Home
  • St. Mary Basilica

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.

New York City, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York | © Kamira / Shutterstock.com

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:

  • The Met
  • The Whitney
  • The Guggenheim
  • The Museum of Modern Art
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Staten Island Museum
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage 

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.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Iolani Palace in Honolulu Hawaii

Iolani Palace in Honolulu, Hawaii | © Jeff Whyte / Shutterstock.com

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.  

Houston, Texas

Space Center, Houston

Space shuttle factory at the Space Museum on March 22, 2015 in Houston, USA | © Det-anan / Shutterstock.com

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.

Salem, Massachusetts

Salem Witch Museum

Salem Witch Museum | © Pierdelune / Shutterstock.com

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:

  • The Peabody Essex Museum, which is the oldest continuously operating museum in the country
  • The Salem Maritime National Historic Site, which will teach you about the city’s history as a Colonial trading port
  • The Chestnut Street Historic District, which is home to a 19th century sea captain’s home, complete with period furniture  
  • The House of the Seven Gables, which is a famous 17th century mansion with extensive gardens
  • The New England Pirate Museum

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Historic downtown and row houses in Savannah, Georgia

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.

Washington, D.C

The White House, Washington D.C.

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:

  • The White House
  • George Washington’s plantation                   
  • The Smithsonian Museum
  • The National Museum of American History
  • The National Museum of the American Indian

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.

Birmingham, Alabama

Vulcan statue in Birmingham, Alabama

The statue of Vulcan, the Roman God of Irons, overlooking Birmingham, Alabama

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.

Feeling fit?

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:

  • Southern Museum of Flight
  • McWane Science Center
  • Birmingham Museum of Art
  • Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame

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.

Research the Weather Beforehand

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.

Know Your Currencies

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.

Learn How to Communicate

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!

Go Out in Nature

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.

Take Out a Travel Insurance

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.

Dive into the Food

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.

Go on a Free Walking Tour

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.

Time Your Visit Around Festivals

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.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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.

Portland, Oregon

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.

Austin, Texas

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.

New Orleans, Louisiana

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.

Palm Springs, California

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.

Las Vegas, Nevada

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.

Montreal, Canada

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.

Savannah, Georgia

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.

Washington, DC

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.

Napa Valley, California

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.

Miami, Florida

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.

Toronto, Canada

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.

Boston, Massachusetts

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!

We all know that Europe is a continent brimming with millennia-worth of arts, culture and history, not to mention the masterful architecture that graces pretty much every European capital.

But did you know that the Old Continent is also home to some of the most breathtaking feats of nature?

Keep reading to find out what these are.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

Montenegro is a small coastal country located in the south-eastern corner of Europe.

Despite being roughly the size of Connecticut, Montenegro’s natural relief manages to pack in extreme contrasts: steep, barren mountains and serene, translucent seas; breezy forests and deep, ominous canyons.

One of the starkest examples of these oppositions can be seen in the Bay of Kotor (also called the Boka Bay), a territorial unit that is wedged between the dramatic cliffs of the Lovcen Mountain and the bright blue east Adriatic waters.

At the heart of Boka lies Kotor, a maze-like historic town that used to be one of Venetian maritime trade hubs. The town’s ancient ramparts, which are testament to its powerful historical status, rise along the edges of the surrounding mountains, forming a spectacular juxtaposition of natural and man-made creation.

Lapland, Finland

The northernmost province of Finland is known to most people for two things: being the official home of Santa Claus and some of the most stunning natural phenomena.

Since this area sits firmly on the Artic Circle, it should come as no surprise that Lapland experiences extreme weather conditions. Due to its unique geographical positioning, this region sometimes witnesses perpetual darkness for days on end during the winter months.

On the plus side, this is the time when you can catch the magnificent Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, when the entire Arctic sky lights up with bursts of yellow, purple and green.

Even though most of us have the image of Lapland as Polar wonderland, not everything in this Finnish province is pretty snow fells and hordes of reindeer.

Spring and summer months is when nature of Lapland comes alive in full force: snow and ice melt, unveiling mirror-like lakes, blooming arctic berry shrubs and swaying birch trees.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Nestled in central Europe, Slovenia is a country that, despite its small size, somehow manages to pack in the very best of European landscape – from emerald rivers and thick forests to Mediterranean coasts and alpine cliffs.

One of its most stunning feats is Lake Bled, a magnificent body of water situated in the northwestern part of the country on the Julian Alps.

The crown jewel of this 2-kilometer-long lake is the tiny island sitting in its southwestern part. The tiny islet houses the Church of Mary the Queen, a beautiful Gothic construction with a tall bell tower that dates back to 15th century.

During the summer months, northern part of Lake Bled becomes a popular getaway for people looking to swim and catch some rays against the stunning backdrop of Slovenian countryside.

The northern part of the lake also houses lush thermal springs, which are believed to have all sorts of healing properties.

Faroe Islands, Denmark

Faroe Islands are a small archipelago that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean, halway between Norway and Iceland.

The 18 isles that form this northern cluster are home to some of the wildest and most surreal scenery in Europe.

Featuring never-ending expanses of green fields juxtaposed against hostile, barren cliffs, the Faroese landscape looks like it has been transported straight out an epic fantasy novel.

The pinnacle of Faroe Islands’ otherworldly character is the Leitisvatn, an iridescent lake that sprawls across the ominous, plunging cliffs.

The positioning of the lake makes it seem like it’s levitating right above the ocean’s frigid waters.

And with this, we end our round-up of the most awe-inspiring sceneries scattered around the Old Continent. We hope it has inspired your next travel adventure. Do you feel your feet itching yet?

Tunnel of Love, Ukraine

Given that it’s one of the most romantic spots on Earth, you’ve probably come across photos depicting the Tunnel of Love while flipping through travel magazines or scrolling down inspirational blogs.

This 5-kilometer-long stretch of old industrial rail, which is located in western Ukraine, starts in the town of Klevan and ends in the village of Orzhiv.

The section is completely enclosed with lush trees, which form arches all along the rail. In the spring and summer, the leafy branches form a beautiful verdant tunnel, ideal for breezy strolls.

Due to its enchanting atmosphere, the Tunnel of Love has become a favorite destination for couples from Ukraine and abroad.

Tunnel of Love is also the most photographed place in the country, which means you should definitely put it on your “to-go” list if you ever happen to find yourself in Ukraine.

Santorini, Greece

When someone says “Greece”, chances are you will think of picturesque sugar-cube houses tightly stacked against cobalt-blue sea.  In real life, the image in your mind translates to the beautiful island of Santorini.

This crescent-shaped island lies in the southern part of the Aegean Sea, some 75 kilometers from the Greek mainland.

A major part of Santorini’s tourist appeal lies in its intriguing geology: the island is, in fact, what remained of an ancient volcanic crater which was sunk during the Minoan eruption that occurred some 1,500 years ago.

The collapsed caldera of the former volcano rises up to 400 meters, forming dramatic rocks that slope into the iridescent lagoon off the western coast of Santorini.

Perched on the roughly chiseled cliffs, you will find densely packed rows of Cycladic houses and Byzantine style white-and-blue churches, which, together with the azure waters and dizzying cascades, form a picture-perfect sight.

Plitvice, Croatia

Croatia is a country that lies in the western Balkans, east of Slovenia.

It is best known to holidaymakers for its vast coastline, which stretches for over 1,700 kilometers along the Adriatic Sea.

Due to its many gorgeous islands and spectacular seaside, Croatia’s popularity as a holiday destination has been on a steady rise (also helped by the fact that it’s one of prime filming locations for the uber-popular TV show Game of Thrones).

And yet, Plitivice Lakes National Park, one of Croatia’s most attractive sights, is located further inland, just off the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This UNESCO Heritage Site is composed of sixteen breath-taking lakes, which are beautifully framed with cascading waterfalls and thick, luscious greenery.

Plitvice National Park is also home to various species of animal life, including roe deer, wild cat and lynx.

This serene slice of paradise has become a favorite getaway destination for people looking to unwind and clear their minds amidst the relaxing sounds and sights of nature.

Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

The Emerald Isle is known for idyllic scenery, from the unmistakably green fields to the undulating hills and the craggy coast.

One of Ireland’s most impressive gems are the Cliffs of Moher, which lie in the Burren region of County Clare, on the western coast of the country. These ominous cliffs stretch 8 long kilometers that overlook the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.

The highest point of the cliff reaches a whopping 214 meters, opening up some of the most spectacular views of the ocean and the surrounding region.

The southernmost point of Cliff of Moher ends in Hag’s Head, a mythical rock formation that resembles a woman gazing at the sea.

Uvac, Serbia

Serbia is a land-locked country located in the Balkan region, whose popularity has been on a steady rise, especially among adventurous backpackers and other types of budget-conscious travelers.

Even though its main draw are the bustling metropolitan areas like Belgrade and Novi Sad, Serbia’s breathtaking countryside doesn’t fall far behind. The rural parts of the country are characterized by colorful landscape, from vast green plains to towering mountain ranges.

The Uvac River flows between two such mountain ranges, Zlatar and Zlatibor, which stretch in the southwestern part of the country.

In the Uvac Canyon, the river forms snake-like meanders, which make for an astonishing sight when observed from atop of the surrounding rocks.

The rugged cliffs which frame the Uvac are also one of the largest natural habitat for the whitehead griffon vulture in Europe. These birds often cruise around the meandering river while scavenging for food.

Lake District, United Kingdom

The beauty of England’s Lake District has been inspiring writers and artists for centuries.

The great Romantic poet William Wordsworth once described it as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.

Two hundred years later, Lake District exudes that same serene atmosphere described in Wordsworth’s works.

This area offers the finest of British scenery, from the emerald Bassenthwaite Lake and Coniston Water to the copper-colored bracken and sloping fells.

When coupled with rustic architecture that graces the local villages, it’s no wonder that thousands of tourist flock to Cumbria in search of unparalleled combination of beauty and tranquility.

Matterhorn, Switzerland

The gargantuan Matternhorn is among tallest peaks of the Alps and one of the most recongnizable natural sights in Europe.

It sits on the border between Switzerland and Italy, at a whoping 4,478 meters above sea level.

The alpine summit has long attracted the most adventurous mountaineers; however, casual observers can admire this awe-inspiring sight from Zermatt, a charming mountain resort nestled at the foot of the mountain.

The sharply carved pyramid-shaped peak also served as inspiration for Toblerone, the signature Swiss candy.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

Italy is a land known for its immense cultural and artistic riches.

However, the natural jewels of this boot-shaped country shouldn’t be overlooked either.

When it comes to scenery, Italy really has it all: alpine highlands, rolling vineyards and azure waters.

However, one if its most famed destination is the Amalfi Coast, a 50-kilometer strech that runs from the town Salerno to Sorrento.

This breathtaking coastal region feaures a long, steep cliff that plunges into the sparking blue waters of the Tyrrenian Sea.

Along this glorious path, you will find enchanting olive groves, lemon orchards and picturesque, pastel-colored fishing villages.

Due to its beautiful, contrast-ridden landscape, Amalfi Coast makes for some of the most exciting scenic rides in Europe.

Landmannalaugar, Iceland

The northern European country of Iceland is known for having fascinating landscapes unlike anywhere else on the planet.

And among its many natural obscurities is the Landmannalaugar, a spectacular geological gem located in the southern part of the island.

The mountains and highlands that form Landmannalaugar feature a gorgeous palette of browns, caramels and greens, which twist and bleed into each other in the most spectacular fashion.

This highly pigmented effect is caused by a reaction between geothermal gasses and rare rhyolite rocks.

Other than impressive geological formations, Landmannalaugar area is also home to thermal springs, crater lakes and lava fields.

Douro Valley, Portugal

The southern European country of Portugal boasts both rich cultural heritage and gorgeous natural landscapes.

Among the most visited ones is the Douro Valley, a natural phenomenon formed by the one of the biggest rivers of the Iberian Peninsula.

This mesmerizing region, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, features seemingly endless terraced vineyards that cascade over the sloping hillsides.

Contrasted against the sparking blue waters of the river, the green terraces form a spectacular sight for the visitors who venture into the Douro Valley.

This area is also one of the most famed wine countries in Europe, where the aromatic Port is produced.

Detox spas have experienced a huge surge in popularity recently, as these destination resorts are the perfect way to cleanse the body while reviving the mind and spirit. While each spa will have their own range of detox treatments and activities, here are six in the USA that are definitely worth a visit.

Canyon Ranch, Tucson, Arizona

Canyon Ranch first opened its doors in 1979, and, ever since then, has been recognized as being one of the top wellness destinations in the country, if not the world. 

Wondering what makes it so great?

This is largely due to its spa complex that measures 100,000 square feet. As you can imagine, there is so much that can be squeezed into here, from gyms and cycling studios to swimming pools and tennis courts.

Prefer spending your time outdoors?

There are over 40 fitness classes offered by the resort, many of which take place in the great outdoors, from cross-country skiing to hiking.

Of course, while physical health is an important part of every detox, so is mental well-being, and Canyon Ranch has this covered too. Everything from acupuncture to clairvoyant readings are offered at the resort, as well as therapy sessions to help you to deal with whatever may currently be cluttering up your mind.

One fear that many have about detox spas is in regards to the food that they will be served…

But, when it comes to Canyon Ranch, you do not need to be concerned. Yes, the meals are all healthy, with so much thought put in to everything from calories to grams of fat, but the menu itself will still feature a number of your favorite dishes. Popular items include grass-fed steaks with a customizable salad to freshly baked pizzas.  

Worried about over-spending once you arrive and see all the incredible treatments and healthy meals available?

You need not be, as the pricing at Canyon Ranch is all-inclusive, meaning that you can really just let go and focus on enjoying yourself.

Don’t want to travel all the way to Tucson?

Canyon Ranch now has a second location in Lenox, Massachusetts, as well as Spa Clubs around the country, making it easier than ever to book yourself in for a detox break. 

Hippocrates Health Institute, West Palm Beach, Florida

When it comes to detoxing at the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida, the program is much more structured than that of Canyon Ranch. Guests usually stay here for a minimum of one week and a maximum of three weeks, with orientation taking place every Sunday night. 

The daily routine that you will follow at this spa will be conceived based upon your blood test results, which are taken on a weekly basis. Activities include everything from morning group walks to salt water pool sessions to yoga and meditation, each of which will be chosen for you based on what your body, and mind, actually needs.

When it comes to detox, the resort offers a one-week detox and de-stress program, which will teach you a number of different skills, including:

  • Scanning your own body to release tension and stress
  • Medical qigong, to remove both physical and mental stagnation and pain
  • Working on your perception and creative responses to problems
  • Developing meditative awareness
  • Muscle resistance training
  • Mindfulness 

Teaching you how to properly care for yourself is a huge focus at this resort, and there are also a number of talks and lectures that you can attend that relate to this subject.

When it comes to food, the focus at the Hippocrates Health Institute is placed on raw food. This basically refers to foods that have not been cooked at a temperature higher than 115 degrees Fahrenheit, as this enables the food to retain the majority of its nutrients. A raw food buffet will be put out for you each mealtime, and will include items such as vegetables and beans to fresh sprouts.

Golden Door, Escondido, California

Escondido’s Golden Door spa is quite an exclusive one, admitting no more than 40 guests at a time, so that each one can enjoy a level of individual attention that other spas cannot offer.

Located just 40 minutes from north San Diego, the resort itself is situated in incredibly beautiful surroundings, with 600 acres of mountains, and 20 miles of hiking trails, right outside the door. As soon as you arrive, you will feel a sense of peace, not only because of the stunning nature all around you, but also because of the zen, Japanese-style layout that the spa features.

The majority of the rooms at this spa are single rooms, as everyone is encouraged to have their own space at night, even those who are visiting with a partner. The rooms are done up with plenty of stylish Japanese touches, and include a meditation area, a large bathtub, and five visits a day from housekeeping.

Wondering what your days here will consist of?

That all depends on the initial telephone interview that you will have with the spa before arriving. Based on your answers, the spa will put together a suggested itinerary for each day, although you do have the freedom to swap certain activities depending on your own personal preferences. Activities include everything from morning hikes to spinning and dance classes, and each guest also enjoys four sessions with a personal trainer.

The actual spa here will also no doubt be one of the highlights of your stays, thanks to the diverse range of offerings on the treatment menu. From massages and detox body wraps to facials and manicures, each treatment is designed to really boost your sense of well-being.

While the food that the Golden Door serves up is healthy and nourishing, there is plenty of it, along with mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks to ensure that you are never feeling too peckish. The majority of the organic produce that the spa serves up is actually grown on-site, meaning that the food that you eat will be fresh and seasonal.

Red Mountain Resort, Ivins, Utah

There are many factors that set the Red Mountain Resort apart from other detox spas, and one of these is its location. The resort is set within the Snow Canyon State Park, with its vivid red rock cliffs providing an unforgettable backdrop. 

There are several different program packages to choose from, with everything from emotional fitness retreats to self-care retreats. These encompass everything from acupuncture and biopuncture to nutrition assessments and experts available to calculate your individual caloric needs.

Curious about the spa?

The resort’s surroundings play a huge part in its spa offerings, with native ingredients and techniques used wherever possible. Inspired by ancient health rituals, many of the spa’s treatments are exclusive to the resort, and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Here are a few of the treatments that you can look forward to:

  • The Soothing Agave Ritual, which makes use of sea salt, a cactus gel wrap, and agave nectar oil
  • The Salt Glow, which is a salt scrub that makes use of fossilized Utah salt
  • The Lavender Hydrating Cocoon, which makes use of local red clay, full of unique minerals

Of course, using nature indoors is one thing, but, with such beautiful surroundings, it only makes sense to make the most of the great outdoors at the Red Mountain Resort too. The moderate climate here means that you can enjoy the state park around you throughout the year, whether you hike, bike, or go on a photography excursion.

When it comes to staying physically and mentally healthy, the Red Mountain Resort recognizes the importance of food, and nutritional knowledge. In order to help you with this, the resort provides cooking classes and demonstrations for guests, helping to change the way in which they think about food. 

Wondering where you will be sleeping?

You have two choices…

The first is one of the villas, which are arranged around a negative-edge swimming pool and whirlpool. Each villa is decked out with eco-friendly décor, as well as views that overlook the red mountains. Alternatively, you can stay at one of the resort’s deluxe rooms, which offer all of the amenities that a luxury hotel room would, complete with deep soak tubs and fluffy robes.

The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, Fairfield, Iowa

The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa has won numerous awards over the years, thanks to its dedicated focus on Maharishi Ayurveda, a natural wellness system that has been practised for over 5000 years. 

The resort’s building is a grand one, inspired by ancient Vedic architecture, featuring a French country-style mansion set within 100 acres of lush, green grounds. This is the only facility of its kind outside of India, making it a must-visit for those interested in Ayurveda.

The programs offered at the Raj have all been developed alongside Ayurveda experts from India, who use original classic texts to create treatments of the highest integrity.

Wondering what a day at the resort would be like?

Here is an example:

  • Mornings begin with a meeting with an Ayurveda Health Consultant, who uses ancient diagnostic techniques, which have still been acknowledged by the World Health Organization, to determine the levels of balance within the body
  • You will be recommended a treatment that will last for a couple of hours, based on the results of above
  • Mealtimes can be either solitary or with other guests, with a low-fat, organic vegetarian diet provided
  • Free time can be spent doing everything from yoga to learning more about Ayurveda to taking a walk along a forest trail
  • In the evenings, a lecture by a guest speaker is hosted, followed by some hot spiced milk and Vedic music before bed

Wondering how long to stay for?

A week or two is ideal, but, if you do not have the extra time to spare, the resort also offers a day spa program, which consists of:

  • An Ayurveda wellness consultant
  • An oil massage
  • A relaxation treatment
  • An anti-stress massage
  • A ten-step facial
  • A meal at the Raj Restaurant

Mii Amo, Sedona, Arizona

Mii Amo is set within the breathtaking Boynton Canyon, with its Red Rocks symbolizing all of the healing that the spa does. This is an incredibly exclusive spa resort, taking in no more than 16 guests at a time.

All of the packages offered here are fully customizable, meaning that you can tailor your detox to take place in whichever way you desire. Each package focuses on a specific “journey”, whether this may be de-stressing, physical health, healing the soul, or spiritual exploration.

There are a range of different treatments and massages on offer, as well as yoga and meditation sessions. For those who do not enjoy group classes, private sessions can be booked, no matter your skill level.

When it comes to your meals…

These are all served up by the Mii Amo Café, which offers private seating as well as community-style tables for guests who want to socialize. The exhibition-style kitchen is perfect for picking up some cooking tips, although cooking classes are also on offer for those who want to learn more about how to improve their diet. The menus are varied, and include fresh vegetables, meats and seafood, all sourced in a sustainable way.

There are 16 guest rooms and suites available, with their amenities including:

  • Private patios or balconies
  • Minibar and coffee maker
  • Bathrobe and sandals
  • Bathrooms filled with spa-amenities and extra-deep soaking tubs
  • Beehive fireplaces
  • Whirlpools and outdoor showers
  • Private massage areas 

Sound tempting?

This is a spa that is open year-round, but, due to its exclusivity, you may need to book quite far in advance.

While there are many ways in which you can detox at home, it is always nice to treat yourself, and make the detox process run much more efficiently. Whether you do this surrounded by the Red Rocks of Sedona or the mountains of Escondido, these spa resorts will definitely ensure that your detox is a success.

Are you going to be taking a vacation this year?

If so, take a look at these travel destinations that are predicted to be amongst the trendiest places to visit in 2018.

Croatia

Located in the Adriatic Sea, to the east of Italy, Croatia consists of 1246 islands, and is actually one of the sunniest spots in Europe.

Croatia

Of course, you are likely to need some help deciding which islands to visit. Here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Hvar – one of Croatia’s largest islands, Hvar is packed with heritage and culture, but is also a favorite getaway spot for the rich and famous
  • Krk home to one of the most popular beaches in Croatia, as well as fine wines made from locally grown grapes
  • Rab known for its incredible array of sandy beaches, as well as its medieval old town
  • Pag has a reputation for its open-air nightclubs and music festivals, as well as its roast lamb and sheep’s cheese
  • Mljet consisting mainly of a forested national park, and home to two saltwater lakes
  • Cresa rugged, wild island with over 300km of walking trails
  • Vis a must-visit spot for food and wine lovers

Sound good?

It is about to get even better…

Up until now, travelling between Croatia’s different islands was not easy, due to unreliable public ferries and expensive charter boats.

However, 2018 sees the launch of UberBOAT, a new venture by the popular ride-sharing app.

As you can guess, UberBOAT is all about on-demand boat transfers, as well as private tours, making it so much easier to explore all that Croatia has to offer.  

Botum Sakor National Park, Cambodia

The largest national park in Cambodia, the Botum Sakor National Park stretches across the south west of the country, and boasts a wide range of ecosystems, from evergreen rainforests to coastal plains.

As you can imagine, there is plenty to see here, but there is one part of the park that tends to be the highlight for most visitors…

This is the 700 square mile Southwest Elephant Corridor, home to the largest population of Asian Elephants in Cambodia. You will also find everything from waterfalls to saltwater crocodiles to traditional villages here, meaning that this area should be the focal point of your visit.

So, why visit in 2018?

Because this is the year that Shinta Mani Wild Bensley Collection is going to be opening up in the park. 

Wondering what this is?

It is a luxury eco-camp, set along a beautiful river and waterfall, offering a view unlike any other. Here are a few of the amenities that this camp will be offering up:

  • Private, luxury expedition boats for guests
  • Personal rangers
  • The opportunity to accompany researchers on expeditions
  • A bar and restaurant perched on the edge of a waterfall
  • A full-service spa featuring natural products
  • Stilted vintage safari-style luxury tents

Kangaroo Island, Australia

The third largest of Australia’s islands, Kangaroo Island is all about wildlife, bushland, adventure and exploration.

This is the place to go if you want to experience true Australian rugged natural beauty, and the best part is that it can be reached in just half an hour from Adelaide.

As you can imagine from its name, plenty of animals call Kangaroo Island home, from kangaroos to wallabies to koalas, which are now actually overrunning the island.

Kangaroo Island, Australia

The island is only home to 4500 people, and they live a slower, more relaxed, pace of life, which is something that most visitors really appreciate.

Wondering where to stay?

There are actually quite a few accommodation options, ranging from the budget to the luxury.

Want a more challenging vacation?

Then take on the new Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, which only opened last year. The trail stretches out for 61 kilometres, taking about five days to complete. 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been trying to focus on their tourism trade for a few years now, but there has been one major problem…

The country does not actually allow tourists to visit.

Wondering why it is on this list?

Because this is all set to change this year in 2018, with plans in place to begin issuing tourist visas in the first quarter

What’s changed?

Saudi Arabia is trying to change their image, with a huge redevelopment project currently underway to create a range of luxury resorts. They are also lifting their ban on cinemas, while now allowing women to drive.

So, what is there to do in Saudi Arabia?

Quite a few things:

  • Visit Mada’in Saleh, an ancient caravan city filled with desert tombs
  • Explore Al’Ula, a 2000 year old ghost town, made from mud and stone, that lies in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert
  • Visit the Al Wahbah volcanic crater, which is home to a field of salt
  • Take a cable car ride to the top of Jabal Sawda, in the Asir National Park
  • Sample the delicious local cuisine
  • Haggle for some bargains at the local souqs

The best part of it all?

So little of the country has actually been seen by outsiders, so by visiting in 2018, you will be amongst the first tourists to see all of these incredible places.

Hoi An, Vietnam

A city rich in cultural gems, Hoi An was granted its UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1999, and tourism has been increasing rapidly ever since then.

Many would say that Hoi An is one of the most atmospheric of Vietnamese cities, because it has everything from grand architecture to a well-preserved historic district, giving you a balanced taste of old and new.

Speaking of tastes…

Vietnamese cuisine is definitely one of the highlights of visiting this country.

Hoi An is the perfect place to taste the country’s exquisite delights, with these restaurants in particular being stand-outs:

  • Morning Glory – the owner of this restaurant has turned traditional home cooking into restaurant quality dishes, recreating recipes that have been passed down for generations
  • Mango Mango – sat right across from the riverbank, Mango Mango serves up traditional Vietnamese fare, as well as a few Western classics
  • Ancient Faifo a menu that features ancient recipes with a twist, as well as a tasty tapas selection. You will also find a bar area here, as well as an art gallery that showcases local Vietnamese artists
  • White Marble Wine Bar and Restaurant a simple menu but one that features key regional specialities
  • Central Market Food Hall one of the best places to sample freshly cooked street food dishes

Other than eating, there is plenty else to do in Hoi An…

The city’s Old Town is one of its main attractions, as is the Japanese Bridge, which was built in the early 1600s. There are also quite a few museums to tour, from the Museum of Folk Culture to the Hoi An Museum of History and Culture.

Japanese bridge in Hoi An, Vietnam

Need a bit more adventure?

Try hiring a motorbike to explore the city, or take a boat ride through the water coconut groves. Kayaking is another popular activity, as is scuba diving and snorkelling, with daily boat trips to Cham Island for this purpose.

Wondering what makes 2018 so special for Vietnam?

Simply put, the fact that prices are quite low. From accommodation to food to attraction fees, Vietnam is a great country to visit for those on a budget, and an even better country to visit for those looking to splash out.

Salvador, Brazil

The fourth largest city in Brazil, Salvador is often overlooked in favor of its larger neighbours when it comes to tourism, but it has recently been emerging into the spotlight.

Up until recently, its city center felt almost like a ghost town, but this has been rapidly changing, with its 400 year old buildings bursting with life once again.

The city has an energy that really needs to be felt to be understood, and this is partly due to the fact that Salvador is the musical and cultural center of Brazil. No matter where you go in the city, you are likely to hear local beats wafting down the streets.

The increase in tourism has urged the city to improve its public transportation options, and it now offers everything from a user-friendly shuttle bus from the airport to the city, to a new Metro line.

Wondering what there is to do here?

These are some of your options:

  • Visit Largo do Pelourinho, a restored colonial square that used to be a slave-trading market, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site 
  • Take in the sunset over the Baia de Todos Santos
  • Enjoy an outdoor sunset jazz performance
  • Spend the day on one of the city’s gleaming sandy beaches
  • Take a day trip to one of the nearby towns or villages
  • Visit a few museums

When should you visit?

Well, that depends on the vibe that you are after. February is the month of Carnival, so if you would like to see the city’s famous street parties, this is the month to visit. Other than that, December through to April are the best months, as this is summer in Salvador. The rainy season is in June and July, so you are best skipping these months.

Singapore

Singapore may be small, but this island country is one that many have heard of all around the world.

Why?

Because it is constantly making a name for itself, with recent accomplishments being the fact that it boasts six of the best bars in the world, as well as 47 Michelin stars, making this the perfect destination for foodies.

extensive view of Singapore

If you are a foodie, then you will likely have already heard of Singapore’s delicious culinary scene, with everything from local street stalls to fine dining restaurants being worth a visit. 

But with Singapore constantly expanding on its reputation, what makes 2018 the year to visit?

All of the new accommodation options that will be available to you. The Andaz has recently opened, with its fine dining restaurants arranged in a traditional hawker court fashion on the 25th floor, while the Raffles Hotel, the most iconic in the country, is undergoing its first revamp since 1991, and will be welcoming three new celebrity chefs to its roster

There are many that think that Singapore is a destination solely for city-lovers, but this is not strictly true…

While there is no denying that Singapore is an extremely built up country, there are many places to go where you can get away from it all. The Singapore Zoo is laid out in an open-plan way, making you feel as though you are walking through a rainforest, while the country’s beaches offer a quiet respite. The Botanical Gardens are also not to be forgotten, while Fort Canning Hill features a number of historic landmarks.

Of course, for those who do love city life, you will love all that Singapore has to offer, from its glittering shopping malls to its pulsating night life.

February to April tend to be the best months to visit, as this is after monsoon season, but before it gets too hot. There are now so many new non-stop routes to this island nation, making it easier than ever to pay it a visit. Do not worry about airport queues either, since Singapore’s Changi Airport has long since been known as being the best in the world.

If this is your first time visiting South East Asia…

You may want to take advantage of Singapore’s convenient location and combine your visit with a few other countries. The islands of Indonesia are just a short boat ride away, while Malaysia is accessible by both train as well as car.

If you have not yet started planning your 2018 vacation, these are definitely some destinations worth considering. From island-hopping around Croatia to desert camel rides in Saudi Arabia, each of these places promises a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Now that the fun and celebrations of the festive season are over, the remaining days of winter can seem even bleaker and drearier than before.

Need to cheer yourself up a bit?

Here are nine destinations that will not only guarantee you some winter sun, but will also no doubt chase your January blues away.

Marrakech, Morocco

Moroccan bazaar

Jon Chica / Shutterstock.com

Lying in the north of Africa, Morocco remains quite warm in the winter months, although the temperature can become much chillier in the evenings.

When it comes to Marrakech, this is a city that is eclectic and magical, with everything from sweeping deserts to majestic architecture.

With the winter months being off-season in terms of travel, this is the perfect time of the year to visit the city, as you will not have to deal with hordes of tourists.

Wondering what there is to do in Marrakech?

Here are a few options:

  • Haggling and shopping at the city’s many souks
  • Sampling delicious foods, from traditional street fare to fusion fine dining
  • Learn about the city’s history by visiting Mosques, palaces and tombs
  • Relax at a luxurious hammam, which is a local spa
  • Take a camel ride at Les Palmeraie, an area measuring 54 square miles that is covered with hundreds of thousands of palm trees 
  • Visit Jemaa el-Fnaa, a famous square filled with street stalls, snake charmers and more

Quy Nho’n, Vietnam

snorkeling in Quy Nho'n, Vietnam

Most people have never heard of Quy Nho’n before, and this is hardly surprising…

A quiet, laidback beach town, Quy Nho’n is situated in between Nha Trang and Hoi An, both of which are coastal hot spots, which is perhaps why this quaint town is so overlooked.

The focal point of the town is, of course, its long, broad, sandy beach, which is home to a sprinkling of bars and cafés, perfect for lounging the day away at.

Love watersports?

The snorkelling is great here, and there are many boat excursions available that can take you on snorkelling trips to nearby islands. The water is so much clearer here, with a wide variety of marine life.

If you want to take a day trip…

Hire a motorbike, or a taxi, and visit Bai Xep, just 15 kilometres away. While this may just be a small town, it is home to a vibrant community, a fishing village serving up deliciously fresh seafood, and even more gorgeous beaches.

Praia, Cape Verde

Praia, Cape Verde

Lying 300 miles off the coast of north-west Africa, Cape Verde is made up of ten different islands, each one with its own distinct character and personality. Thanks to its location, as well as winds that come from the Sahara, the islands enjoy balmy temperatures throughout the year.

You are probably wondering…

With ten islands to choose from, what is so special about Praia?

Well, to begin with, Praia is the capital of Cape Verde, and actually lies on the island of Santiago. The ten Cape Verde islands have a culture that is an eclectic mix of African, Portuguese and Brazilian, but Praia is predominantly African, and traditional African hospitality is huge here.

Laid back and friendly, the locals on Praia are always happy to help ensure that visitors enjoy their stay, whether this means sharing the location of a hidden beach or taking them diving or kite-surfing. There are also plenty of hiking opportunities to be found here, and the vistas that you will come across will really take your breath away.

Want to check out the rest of the islands?

Island hopping is a popular activity, both by sea as well as air. Here are a few of the other Cape Verde islands that you should not miss out on:

  • Boa Vista – with a selection of Blue Flag beaches and family-friendly hotels, this island is perfect for those visiting Cape Verde with their family
  • Sal home to the famous salt lakes, where the water is so dense that you will float on the surface without any effort at all 
  • Santo Antao famous for its green valleys and incredible hiking trails
  • Sao Vicente – music is a strong part of the culture on this island, as is carnival

Big Island, Hawaii

Black sand in Big Island, Hawaii

The largest, but youngest, of all of the Hawaiian islands, Big Island guarantees an unforgettable exotic vacation.

Thanks to its two huge volcanoes, Maunakea and Maunaloa, the island experiences four of the world’s different climate zones, including plenty of sun in the winter months.

Of course, the Volcanoes National Park is a must-visit, but do save some time for a scenic drive through the lush valleys of the Hamakua Coast, as well as a day at Punaluu Beach, with its famous black sands. The historic town of Hilo, with its museums, art galleries and restaurants, is also well worth stopping off at. 

Wondering where to stay?

Give the Four Seasons Hualalai a try. While this resort may be home to 125 low-rise rooms, as well as 50 villas, they are nestled within lush tropical gardens, making them feel so secluded. The resort boasts seven swimming pools, as well as a pond carved from black lava, home to 98 species of fish, and yes, guests are able to snorkel in it. This aquatic theme continues throughout the resort, with everything from plunge pools to a water garden, and will really complete your Hawaiian experience.

Koh Samui, Thailand

18-armed Guanyin temple in Koh Samui, Thailand

Thailand is made up of hundreds of different islands, and each one has something unique to offer.

One of the most famous of the Thai islands, as well as the second largest, is Koh Samui, because it appeals to everyone from backpackers to honeymooners to families.

What makes it so appealing?

Everything from its laidback vibe and tasty food to its paradisical beaches and natural wonders.

Here are just a few of the things that you can get up to in Koh Samui:

  • Rent a motorbike or car and explore the island’s hidden beaches and coves
  • Visit the Wat Plai Laem, the 18-armed Goddess of Mercy
  • Do some snorkelling and kayaking at the Ang Thong Marine Park
  • Try as much local street food as you can
  • Spend a day waterfall-hopping

Want to make your trip even more special?

Koh Samui happens to be home to Kamalaya, one of the best destination spas in the world. Offering everything from homeopathy and hi-tech diagnostic procedures to pilates and pranayama, the spa blends together Eastern and Westen therapies to create what is truly a tropical haven. 

Dubai, UAE

Dubai Aquaventure

Zhukov Oleg / Shutterstock.com

The largest, and most populated, of cities in the UAE, Dubai is synonymous with luxury and extravagance. With its unbelievable skyline, majestic architecture and thriving contemporary arts scene, Dubai is the place to go for those looking for a city break. 

Plus, thanks to its tropical desert climate, it remains warm even in the winter. In fact, the winter months are actually so much more bearable than the intense heat and humidity of the summer.

For many, a large part of the Dubai experience is the shopping, as there are so many opportunities available to you. The Dubai Mall and the Mall of Emirates are the places to go for luxury goods, while the souks are perfect for those who want a more traditional shopping experience.

Visiting to Dubai with children?

Spend the day at one of the city’s water playgrounds, whether you pick Aquaventure or Wild Wadi. The beaches are also great for swimming, and will help to keep everyone cool. 

Of course, while the city itself is great, do not forget that it is desert that surrounds Dubai, and these areas are definitely worth visiting. From dune bashing to camel riding to an overnight stay at a traditional Bedouin camp, the desert is one of the main highlights of visiting Dubai.

If you want to really indulge while in the city…

Book yourself in to stay at the Palazzo Versace, in which every single thing that you feast your eyes upon has been created by the House of Versace. The term no expense spared is not enough to describe this hotel, with its 700,000 pebbles that were imported from Italy, and the mother of pearl that lines the walls of the spa, which uses everything from gold leaf and caviar to white silk in its treatments.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Zanzibar, Tanzania

Tatyana Vyc / Shutterstock.com

Tanzania in itself is considered to be quite the up and coming destination, and, for those seeking some true heat, this is a country that can offer up temperatures of around 90 degrees in December and January.

Located about 50 kilometres off the coast of Tanzania is Zanzibar, an archipelago that consists of two large islands and a number of smaller ones. Due to its location, Zanzibar used to be a key point on ancient trade routes, and its history makes it a popular destination for tourists today. 

However, in addition to learning about Zanzibar’s past, which is best done in Stone Town, a visit to the archipelago will reward you with some of the most fantastic natural beauty that you have ever seen in your life.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Snorkelling and diving along the Indian Ocean reefs, with turtles and whale sharks around you
  • A sunset sail on a dhow, which is a traditional sailing boat
  • A visit to the JozaniChwaka Bay National Park, the only national park in Zanzibar
  • A tour of a spice plantation
  • A tour of the Jambiani Village, where you can climb coconut trees and meet the local medicine man

When packing for your trip, do not forget…

Zanzibar is a Muslim island, so you will need to dress appropriately. Make sure that your clothes are not too revealing, and that your shoulders and upper legs are covered.

Mauritius

luxury resort in Mauritius

Located in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is an island nation that has long since been a popular vacation destination.

While there is plenty to see and do around Mauritius, from national parks to colonial plantations, many people visit for the complete indulgence they can enjoy at one of the luxury resorts on the islands.

Sound appealing?

Then check out the Shangri-La Le Touessrok, which is not only home to a number of different beaches, but also offers a hotel boat for guests to check out two neighboring islands. One boasts an 18-hole golf course, while the other is a tropical paradise solely for the use of hotel guests.

While lounging about on the sand, you can place orders for food and drink from the staff who zip around on Segways, while dinner can be enjoyed at one of five restaurants.

Need even more relaxation?

Check out the hotel’s spa, and make sure that you book yourself in for one of their Mauritian Coconut Massage – true bliss!

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena in Colombia

With Caribbean beaches, a historic old city, and a colorful, eclectic culture, Cartagena is one of the best areas to visit if this is your first time heading to Colombia. 

The city has an innate zest for life that will no doubt spill over on to you, and there is just so much to see and do here, including:

  • Exploring the old walled city, in which motor vehicles are prohibited and horse-drawn carriages are the way to get around
  • Spend the day sailing, or on a yacht
  • Take a mud bath in an active volcano
  • Visit Playa Blanca, one of the best beaches in Colombia
  • Visit Mercado Bazurto, the biggest fruit and wet market in the city, for a slice of authentic daily life
  • Go bird spotting at the National Aviary
  • Taste as many delicious Caribbean dishes as you can
  • Take an ecotour through the mangroves
  • Make the most of the booming cocktail scene in the city by trying some award-winning mixes

As you can see, there is no shortage of things to do in Cartagena, but make sure that you also save some time to visit the Rosario Islands. These are 30 islands located around 20 miles west of Cartagena, with the majority of them being uninhabited and picture-perfect.

luxury hotel interior

If you are planning on taking a trip this year, why not splurge a bit and treat yourself to something a little extra special?

From France to Indonesia, here are some of the top luxury hotels in the world, each one worth considering for your 2018 vacation.

Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Cote d’Azur, France

The Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc is a 19th-century mansion that boasts 117 rooms, as well as two villas. The ambience here is a grand one, reminiscent of the F Scott Fitzgerald era, with extravagant historic furnishings throughout the hotel.

Wondering what there is to do here?

To begin with, the hotel is set within nine acres of gardens, among which you will find five clay tennis courts, a seawater pool and a spa. The restaurant is also a highlight, serving up traditional French classics, while the grill by the seafront pavilion serves up lighter, more casual fare, with a focus on fresh seafood.

For those who enjoy an adrenaline rush…

You will love the diving board that juts out over the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the trapeze that sits over the water.

Need a bit of extra privacy?

There are 33 beach cabins that you can choose from, and these have housed quite a few notable names in the past, from Roger Moore to Marc Chagall. 

D-Maris Bay, Turquoise Coast, Turkey

Located in an untouched nature reserve on Turkey’s stunning Turquoise Coast, D-Maris Bay is a resort that enjoys some truly spectacular surroundings. With dramatic volcanic rocks all around, and lush hillsides dotted with almond trees, this hotel is set within so much natural beauty.

Of course, the Aegean and Mediterranean views from the hotel are one of its highlights, and a top tip is to request a harbor-facing room, so that you can enjoy the view at all times.

The resort makes the most of all of this water, offering its guests a number of different watersport opportunities, from kayaking to diving.

Want to admire the water from afar?

There are five beaches from which you can do so, as well as a beautiful spa for when you need some indoor time.

Six dining options means that there will always be something new to try, including an outpost of Zuma, a famed Japanese restaurant in London.

Want to make sure that you arrive in style?

Well, instead of taking the two hour drive to the resort from Dalaman Airport, ask the hotel to book you in for a helicopter transfer, which will have you there in less than half an hour.

Nihi Sumba Island, Sumba, Indonesia

Mandorak Beach, Indonesia

Many would consider Nihi Sumba Island to be a reflection of true paradise. Formerly a surf lodge, this hotel was transformed a few years ago, turning it into what many would agree to be the best hotel in the world.

This resort is still quite the hidden gem, as so many have no idea that it even exists…

The island itself is quite a hard-to-reach, isolated one, located about 300 kilometers east of Bali, with a population of around 65,000. The resort is the only one on the island, and most of the staff there are from the island itself, creating quite an intimate feel.

So, other than its stunning natural surroundings, what else makes this hotel so great?

Here are just a few of its highlights:

  • A treetop spa
  • Villas with private infinity pools
  • Outdoor jungle showers   
  • A professional equestrian center
  • World-class surfing instructors
  • A beach club with a lap pool
  • An on-site chocolate factory
  • Personalized itineraries for the duration of your stay

Still not convinced?

Well, to make it all even better, this luxury resort is actually completely eco-friendly. An example of this is with their food – vegetables are grown in an organic garden, while chicken comes from the resort’s own chicken farm, and seafood is caught directly off the coast by the hotel.

Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania, Africa

The Singita Sabora Tented Camp can be found in a private game reserve that sprawls out for over 350,000 acres.

While you may not think that a tent in a camp is very luxurious, Singita Sabora will prove you wrong.

How?

Because its nine lavish tents, which are sat on wooden decks, will make you feel as though you are on the Out of Africa film set. With everything from wooden four-poster beds to silver mirrors and mahogany carvings, the tents are about as grand as they get.

As beautiful as the days may be here, guests always tend to look forward to the nights.

One reason for this is because of the night sky, with the Milky Way twinkling so brightly above.

Since the camp is located within a private reserve, this also gives you so much more flexibility when it comes to activities after dark. One popular night time activity is taking a drive through the reserve to look for leopards hunting their prey.

Wondering when to visit?

Try timing your visit for the Great Migration, which takes place during June and July. This is when the wildebeest migrate, and thousands of these animals stop by at the camp, with many even choosing to spend a day or two here. For animal lovers, this is really an experience unlike any other. 

Alila Fort Bishangarh, Rajasthan, India

Located in the scenic village of Bishangarh, the Alila Fort is actually a fortress that dates back over 230 years ago.

This is a great hotel for history buffs, as the fortress structure has been left pretty much intact. Everything from its looming turrets to its granite dungeon can still be seen, although they do now have a few luxury touches added to them, such as the decadent spa in the dungeon. 

Curious about the hotel’s amenities?

Here are a few to get excited about:

  • The library
  • The cigar lounge
  • The pool veranda and terrace
  • The dungeon spa that has been cut out of granite
  • Speciality restaurants

This hotel has only been open for a year, making it still quite the newcomer in the industry. However, its dedication to luxury has already earned it a fantastic reputation, and while it may boast 59 luxury suites, this is a hotel that you will definitely need to book in advance for.

The Plaza, New York City, USA

The Plaza, New York

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.com

Unlike many of the other hotels on this list, The Plaza is one that you have likely already heard about countless times.

How?

Because this hotel has starred in so many different movies and books over the years. From Eloise to The Princess Diaries, and even to the 1925 novel The Great Gatsby, The Plaza is truly iconic when it comes to pop culture.

This landmark hotel was originally built in 1907, and then designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1969.

New York is one of the finest cities to visit, with so much to see and do, and staying at this hotel will make your vacation all the more memorable. 

Of course, a hotel this grand has some fantastic amenities:

  • Shops at The Plaza
  • The Guerlain Spa
  • A fitness center
  • A beauty salon
  • A gym
  • Eateries that include The Palm Court, the Champagne Bar, the Rose Club, the Todd English Food Hall, and the Plaza Food Hall 

Want to really splash out?

Stay at one of the hotel’s suites, which also means that you are able to enjoy 24 hour butler service.

The Peninsula Shanghai, Shanghai, China

Shanghai is home to so many luxury hotels, but The Peninsula Shanghai is one that really stands out.

Why?

For a number of reasons:

  • Art-deco design details
  • An on-site Chanel showroom
  • Bedrooms that overlook the Huangpu River
  • Remote controlled tripe-choice curtains in the bedrooms
  • Large private dressing rooms with unique amenities, such as nail polish blow driers
  • Michelin-starred restaurants
  • A heated pool
  • A spa and fitness suite

This may all sound great, but regulars actually return for a completely different reason…

This is the hotel’s service, which is truly second-to-none. No matter what you need, the hotel’s concierge will be able to provide it, whether this may be a reservation at a hard-to-book restaurant, or a taxi on a rainy day when half the city seems to be struggling to find a cab.

The Oberoi Beach Resort, Dubai, UAE

With all of the city’s traffic, driving through Dubai can be a nightmare, so frequent flyers will be happy to know that the Oberoi Beach Resort is just a half hour drive from Dubai International Airport.

As you pass by the high rises all around you, you will soon enter into the Al Zorah Nature Reserve, which is paradisical with its crystal blue lagoons, white sandy beaches and mangroves bursting with life.

Wondering what this nature reserve has to do with the hotel?

The hotel is actually located within the nature reserve, offering up an ambience so unlike the majority of other hotels in Dubai. It makes the most of its surroundings, with its design being quite minimalistic, featuring interconnected buildings dotted with water pools.

While this may be an eco-friendly resort, it still offers up a range of luxury amenities:

  • Temperature-controlled private plunge pools in its villas
  • Two restaurant
  • A spa that features traditional Turkish baths
  • A poolside health bar, complete with a lounge area

Of course, when you want to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city, you are not too far away. Dubai has so much to experience, and this is a city that you will likely want to return to time and time again. 

Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

As you can tell from its name, the Atlantis Paradise Island resort is a tribute to the lost city of Atlantis. While this may be the case, it has definitely made its own name for itself, with many agreeing that this is the finest resort in all of the Caribbean. 

There are a number of different accommodation options here, from the Royal Suites, which was ranked as the most expensive hotel in the world in 2002, to the Harborside Resort, with 392 villas, to the Cove Atlantis, with 600 suites in its tower.

All of these different accommodation options are built around Aquaventure, which is a waterscape that stretches out for over 140 acres.

Here, you will find a number of water-related attractions, including:

  • Fresh water and saltwater lagoons
  • A predator lagoon, with sharks, sawfishes and more
  • A children’s Mayan-themed play area and pool
  • Power Tower, which boasts four water slides
  • The Rapid River, which is a mile long water ride
  • Water roller coasters

If all of that was not enough, Atlantis Paradise Island also has its very own 18-hole golf club, as well as a marina that is capable of docking large yachts. A shopping center is also on-site, as are a number of different restaurants, cafés and bars.

Berkeley River Lodge, The Kimberley, Western Australia

The Kimberley is a region in Western Australia, and while it may be more than double the size of the UK, stretching out for thousands of square kilometers, it has a population of less than 40,000. 

Yes, this is one of the emptiest places on Earth

So, why would you want to go here?

Because of the Berkeley River Lodge, a wilderness lodge that is so isolated that guests can only reach it via helicopter, air taxi or a private yacht.

The lodge boasts 20 smart villas, each one floating on the coastal dune that fronts the hotel.

All of the bathrooms at this lodge are outdoors, which may put some off, but have been done up beautifully, giving you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy a long shower with the tropical sun above you.

All of the villas have water views, whether this may be of the Berkeley River or the Timor Sea.

However, while you may be tempted to take a dive off your porch to explore the water, this is not advised.

Why?

Because the sea here is home to a large population of bull sharks and crocodiles.

This does not mean that you cannot make the most of the water though, as there are plenty of guided boat excursions that you can choose from, as well as natural swimming holes to take a dip in.

While Asia may be synonymous with tropical beaches and colorful coral reefs, there is so much more to the continent than this. From soaring mountains to bamboo forests, here are some of the top natural wonders that Asia has to offer.

The Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan

Bamboo Forest, Kyoto, Japan

Chances are that you have already seen numerous photographs of Kyoto’s Bamboo Forest, as many would agree that this is one of the most beautiful forests in the world.

Located just thirty minutes outside of the heart of the city, the forest provides a shocking contrast to the urban environment all around it.

What can you expect to see?

Tall bamboo stalks soaring dozens of feet into the sky, packed together incredibly densely. There are wooden paths that twist their way through these groves, so you can explore the forest comfortably at your own pace.

But that isn’t even the best part…

When the wind passes through the tightly packed trunks, making the wood creak and the leaves rustle, the sound that is created is so incredibly peaceful.

Even Japan’s Ministry of the Environment would agree with this, including the forest in the list of 100 Soundscapes of Japan, acknowledging the meditative effect that this sound can have. 

K2, Pakistan

Just like Mount Everest, K2, which is also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, is also located in the Himalayas, but this time on Pakistan’s side of the border.

Standing at 28,251 feet above sea level, K2 is the second highest mountain in the world, and is actually considered to be far more dangerous than Everest. With a number of different climbers having fallen to their deaths here, K2 has earned itself the nickname of Savage Mountain.

So, why exactly would you want to give this mountain a climb?

Well, to begin with, it is known for having some of the most incredible views in the world.

It has also only been scaled just over 850 times, compared to Everest, which has been climbed over twice that amount. If you want to take on one of the toughest mountains in the world, but prefer to take a path less travelled, then K2 is the one for you.

Mount Everest, Nepal

Of course, if K2 gets a mention, then Mount Everest should as well.

While there may be no denying that Everest is the highest mountain in the world, many people have argued for decades over its actual height, although it is believed to be around 29,028 feet tall.

Everest is actually located on the border of Nepal, China and Tibet, and is a mountain that is over 60 million years old. It is also contained within the Sagarmatha National Park, which is home to three of the seven highest mountains in the world, as well as many other prominent peaks that exceed 6000 meters in height.

Tempted to give Everest a climb?

There are 18 different climbing routes to choose from, with the journey taking about 40 days in total. But, as you can imagine, there is so much training that needs to go into this expedition beforehand. This usually takes at least a year, so long as you have a solid fitness level to build up from. Nevertheless, even if you only pay a visit to base camp, this will still be one of the most rewarding destinations you will ever visit. 

Ijen Volcano Complex, Indonesia

Ijen Volcano Complex, Indonesia

Located in East Java, the Ijen Volcano Complex consists of a collection of stratovolcanoes, which are all located inside a large volcano crater, referred to as a caldera.

So what makes this complex so special?

A couple of different things…

The first is the Ijen Volcano itself, which boasts the largest acidic crater lake in the world. Due to this high level of acidity, the water within the lake is a surreal milky blue, and while you may want to stand around admiring it for a while, the strong smell of sulphur will likely chase you away quite quickly.

Another unique feature of this complex can be found in the Ijen crater. Due to the continuous combustion of sulphuric gases, the crater itself grows an eerie shade of blue.

When gasses emerge from the volcano, they do so at an extremely high temperature and pressure. This means that when they come into contact with the air, they ignite, sending burning blue flames five feet into the air.

What makes this even better is…

As the flames continue to burn, the gasses condense into liquid sulphur, and begin to flow down the slopes of the volcano, giving off the illusion of blue lava.

Son Doong Cave, Vietnam

The Son Doong Cave in Vietnam was only discovered in 1991. Considering that this is the largest cave in the world, this is quite surprising, but, nevertheless, it has recently opened up to the public, meaning that you can now visit this natural wonder that was hidden for so long. 

The cave’s name means Mountain River Cave, due to its proximity to a river, and the fact that the cave itself was created by water eroding through the limestone, creating a large tunnel.

This tunnel continued to expand over the years, resulting in caverns that are now large enough to fit an entire city street in.

Being over 150 meters in height, and 200 meters in width, the cave was believed to have been created up to five million years ago, and even has its own river, as well as a forest that grows within the middle chamber.

Taman Negara, Malaysia

With over 130 million years of history behind it, Taman Negara is the oldest tropical rainforest in the world.

Covering an area of around 4343 square meters, this national park is one of the country’s biggest attractions, and for good reason too.

There are many ways in which you can explore the rainforest, as well as numerous routes that you can take, but the most famous canopy walkway, which also happens to be the longest of its kind in the world, is located 45 meters up in the canopy, and will provide you with views that you will never forget.

Of course, being one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country, Taman Negara can get quite crowded, even with its large size.

That being said, heading to the park early will enable you to avoid most of the crowds, especially if you are heading to Lubok Simpon, which is the local wild swimming spot.

Jigoku Valley, Japan

Japan is famous for its thermal hot springs, also known as onsens, and while these can be found all over the country, one must-see area is the Jigoku Valley.

Why?

Because this region has really embraced all of the hot springs that can be found around it, setting up boardwalks that allow people to leisurely meander through the many geysers and steam caves.

There is so much to see, with each onsen having its properties when it comes to healing. While it is worth taking a dip in all of them, make sure that you do not miss out on the Oyunuma Brook, which is a natural foot bath that you will find in the area.

Huanglong, China

Huanglong, China

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the Huanglong National Scenic and Historic Interest Area can be found in the Sichuan region of China. 

The landscape here is quite a unique one, with one of the highlights being the colorful calcite terraced pools found all around.

The area also boasts a diverse forest ecosystem, with a number of different habitats that provide homes for endangered animals, as well as plants. One example of this is the giant panda, which calls this region its home. These forest ecosystems are relatively undisturbed, giving you the perfect opportunity to really soak up some nature.

In addition to the terraced pools and the forests, you will also find snow-capped mountains, hot springs and waterfalls, as well as various temples and statues scattered around the area.

The Maldives

Located in the Indian Ocean, just south west of India and Sri Lanka, the Maldives consists of over 1000 islands, as well as 26 atolls, and is famous for being one of the top vacation destinations in the world.

Why?

Here are just a few of the reasons:

  • The Maldives is what many would consider to be the true definition of paradise. With pristine white sand that you have all to yourself, and remote islands that seem so incredibly pure, the Maldives really is a tropical haven
  • Tropical temperatures throughout the year
  • Some of the most vibrant marine life in the world, with world-class diving destinations as well as a submarine that offers reef tours
  • With just one resort allowed per island in the Maldives, each one offers the utmost in luxury and decadence, ensuring that each and every guest is well and truly pampered
  • The local culture is one worth soaking up, as it consists of an eclectic mix of South Indian, Arab and Sinhalese influences
  • The food that you will eat in the Maldives is quite international, but will always be vibrant and tasty

Zhangjiaje, China

The Natural Forest Park of Zhangjiaje, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in China is one that you will have likely already seen photos of. If you have not, then you will probably recognize it from the movie Avatar.

Why?

Because these surreal rock formations are what provided the inspiration for the one-of-a-kind landscapes of Pandora.

In fact, in honor of the movie, one of the rock formations has even been renamed as Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.

So, enough about the movie, what exactly are these rock formations?

They are basically quartzite sandstone columns, with many of them being over 200 meters in height. There are thousands of these columns, 3544 to be precise, as well as a number of caves that are filled with stalactites and stalagmites.

The pillars themselves formed over thousands of years, due to erosion and water that expanded and contracted in the crevices of the rocks.

Kampung Kuantan, Malaysia

The village of Kuantan, in Malaysia, is not only known for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters, but is also famous for another natural wonder, this time involving the animal kingdom…

Each night, the sky lights up with thousands of fireflies, who gather in the mangrove trees to feed and attract a mate.

Sound intriguing?

The best way to really experience this natural wonder is to take a boat ride, which can be chartered at the town’s jetty. Each boat holds four passengers, meaning that you can tailor the ride to be as long as you want.

However, keep in mind that photographing the fireflies with a flash camera is prohibited, n order to protect them.

The Gobi Desert, Mongolia

Gobi Desert, Mongolia

The Gobi Desert stretches across most of the south of Mongolia, as well as its border with China, and is definitely a destination for your bucket list.

This is the largest desert in Asia,  covering an arc-shaped area of land that measures around 1.3 million square kilometers.

There are a number of different ecosystems within the dessert, from grasslands to mountains, and, because it sits at quite a high altitude, is actually quite a cold desert, with snow falling on the sand dunes in the winter.

While you may think that the entire desert is filled with sand, only 5% of the Gobi desert contains sand dunes. The rest consists of rock or dry grasslands.

Wondering what there is to do here?

Quite a few things:

  • Spend a night in a ger, otherwise known as a Mongolian yurt. They are spacious, warm and comfortable tents that will give you a glimpse into the life of Mongolian nomads
  • Climb the Khongor sand dunes, which are the largest in the world
  • Take a ride on a camel
  • Pay a visit to Bayanzag, which was excavated in 1922 and is famous for being one of the places in the world where dinosaur bones, fossils and eggs were found

Architecture has been a part of human life ever since man first realized that he would need a shelter. Since then, architecture has come on leaps and bounds, with some truly extraordinary examples to be found around the world that really push design boundaries.

The Taj Mahal, India

Taj Mahal, India

In 1631, the favorite wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan died while giving birth, leaving her husband devastated. In honor of his beloved wife, the emperor commissioned the creation of the Taj Mahal, which is now probably the most famous piece of Islamic architecture in the world.

What makes it so incredible?

Firstly, its sheer size, with the main dome itself standing 240 feet above ground level.

Its design elements are also highly revered, as they combine Indian, Islamic and Persian details. The building is decorated with calligraphy and semiprecious stones, and almost seems to change color with the time of day.

Therme Vals, Switzerland

The Therme Vals in Vals, Switzerland, was completed in 1996 by an award-winning architect.

Wondering what is contained within this timeless, elegant structure?

A bathhouse, which lies over the only thermal springs in the region.

The building itself consists of over 6000 slabs of local stone, which have been layered over each other, while the grassy roof features a few strategically placed sky lights that allow a soft glow to flood the baths. 

The Alhambra, Spain

Welcoming over 5000 visitors each and every day, the restored Alhambra complex is one of the most popular attractions in Spain.

Wondering what it is?

The Alhambra is a palace that was built by Muslim princes in the 14th century. The Islamic elements within the structure are clearly visible, from the Arabic calligraphy to the geometric stalacite designs that have been carved into the walls.

While several parts of the palace have been destroyed, there are three main parts remaining:

  • A fortress, also known as Alcazaba, which can be found on the west side of the hill
  • A primary residence, which can be found to the east side of the hill
  • A collection of gardens and pavilions, known as Generalife

Sagrada Familia, Spain

Sagrada Familia

Editorial credit: Valery Egorov / Shutterstock.com

Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi is world-famous, having created some truly visionary structures in his lifetime. One of his finest pieces of work is the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona.

Gaudi spent an impressive 40 years working on this Gothic-Art Nouveau cathedral, and when he died in 1926, it was still unfinished.

However, all was not lost…

Even though the original drawings for the cathedral were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, Gaudi’s associates continued to work on this architectural wonder, and are still doing so today.

When is the cathedral expected to be finally finished?

It could be as long as 2026, but visitors are still able to take a look at what is currently there. 

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Sitting on its very own private island, the Burj Al Arab is the third tallest hotel in the world, with its billowing sail rising 321 metres above sea level.

The hotel was designed to be a national icon, and this aim has most definitely been accomplished, with the Burj Al Arab being one of the most popular attractions in the UAE.

Of course, the best way to experience its architectural splendor, from both inside and out, is to stay at the hotel. However, if you cannot do this, you can still gain access to the private island, and the hotel, by booking yourself a meal at one of its nine luxury restaurants. 

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat

The largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat in Cambodia was originally built in the 12th century, and was designed to be a state temple, and then the mausoleum, for Khmer King Suryavarman.

This fine example of Khmer architecture has become a national symbol, and is even featured on Cambodia’s flag.

Its history is definitely an interesting one…

In its earlier days, the temple was a Hindu one, but after these traditions were abandoned, the temple became dedicated to Vishnu, a Buddhist deity.

Cologne Cathedral, Germany

Cologne Cathedral is the most visited landmark in Germany, and for good reason too…

This Gothic masterpiece is not only home to some truly historic works of art, but also contains the tombs of 12 archbishops.

In terms of the actual construction of the cathedral, this actually began in 1248, but was stopped in 1473, long before the cathedral was actually finished. In the 1800s, construction started up again, and the cathedral was finally finished in 1880.

While there have been a few more bouts of construction, as well as restoration, these have all followed the building’s original medieval plan, allowing it all to stay true to the essence of the cathedral.

Beijing National Stadium

Also known as the Bird’s Nest, the Beijing National Stadium is one of the largest steel structures in the world, and took five years to build.

In order to choose an architect for the project, an international competition was held, with the winning entry being one that was inspired by Chinese ceramics.

Does the stadium look familiar?

This is because this was where the 2008 Olympic Games were held, with the design of the stadium earning so much international praise.

Since then, the city has had quite a tough time incorporating the stadium into everyday life, but, nevertheless, they have still managed to really raise worldwide standards when it comes to sports stadiums.

The Blue Planet, Denmark

The blue planet, Denmark

Editorial credit: Kraft_Stoff / Shutterstock.com

Also known as the National Aquarium, Denmark’s Blue Planet holds more than 7 million litres of water.

The design of the building is one that beautifully replicates the water around it, with its sweeping stainless steel tiles almost forming a wave over the water.

From above, the Blue Planet looks just like a whirlpool, while the interior features a central hub from which all of the exhibitions sprawl out from.

California Academy of Sciences, USA

The California Academy of Sciences building has quite a unique structure…

Although it may look quite normal from the ground, view it from a higher vantage point and you will see some excitingly thoughtful details, from the expansive green roof to the curtains made of glass.

The interior of the building is just as impressive.

Glass spheres contain massive rainforests, while aquariums lie behind floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

In addition to being visually stunning, this is a building whose architecture is also functional in a number of ways:

  • The roof allows for rainwater to be recycled
  • The building contains 60,000 solar cells to provide it with solar energy
  • The green roof stretches out for 2.5 acres

Gardens By The Bay, Singapore

Singapore has always prided itself on being a green city, and Gardens by the Bay is one of the country’s latest examples of this.

What exactly is it?

Simply put, it’s a garden. In fact, one of the top ten gardens in the world.

But it stands out for a number of architectural reasons…

The main one is the Supertrees, which rise up over everything else, containing environmental technology that mimics the ecological function of live trees. The trees are fitted with solar panels, providing energy and light to the rest of the garden, and the Supertrees also help to harvest rainwater for use in the rest of the garden.

The garden is split into three main sections, Central, East and West. You will also find two conservatories here, known as the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome, as well as an adventure trail and a children’s tree house.

The Oslo Opera House, Norway

Oslo Opera House, Norway

Editorial credit: Ana del Castillo / Shutterstock.com

Rather than standing tall and dominating over the harbor, the Oslo Opera House slopes gently down to the water’s edge, making it look almost like a rising glacier.

The design of the building aimed to reflect Norwegian nature, such as the mountains that simply begged to be climbed. In order to properly replicate this, the sloping roof of the building, which is covered in marble, is used as a public space

Of course, the architects quickly realized that the gentle slope would be a temptation that skateboarders would find too hard to resist, so rather than trying to find ways to keep them away, they decided to work with local skateboarders. While they placed bumpy marble over key parts of the rooftop, they left many smooth surfaces elsewhere for skateboarders to enjoy.

The Shard, UK

Also known as the Shard of Glass, the Shard stands 1014 feet high, towering over the city of London. The tallest building in the European Union, the Shard is shaped like a pyramid, and contains 72 storeys that are used for residences.

The architect in charge of the project wanted the building to look as though a shard of glass was emerging from the River Thames, and this has most certainly been accomplished.

Want to pay a visit to the Shard?

Head up to the 72nd floor, where you will find an open air observatory, which is actually the highest one in London.

Tokyo Sky Tree, Japan

The Tokyo Sky Tree stands at 634 meters high, making it the tallest tower in the world, as well as the second tallest structure.

Completed in 2012, the building really stands out for the way in which it has managed to combine traditional Japanese elements with futuristic ideas.

Wondering what’s inside?

The tower mainly serves as a television broadcasting tower, but also contains some restaurants, as well as high speed elevators that whisk visitors up to the top of the building, so they can check out Tokyo’s skyline from the tower’s observation deck.

Petronas Towers, Malaysia

An iconic part of the city of Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Towers are twin skyscrapers that are famous for being the tallest twin towers in the world.

The towers were designed in a postmodern style, and while they mainly contain offices, they are also amongst the city’s top tourist attractions.

The towers stand at 451 meters high, with glass and steel facades that were designed to reflect Islamic art.

The sheer height of the Petronas Towers has inspired many, such as a French urban climber who decided to climb to the top of Tower Two in 2009, with just his hands and feet, and no safety devices.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Leaning tower of Pisa, Italy

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is world-famous, and is one of the most impressive structures that remains from medieval Europe.

Many people wonder why the tower leans, and here is the answer…

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was originally designed to stand straight and vertical, just like the other structures around it. However, it was built on soft ground, and this settled at a point during construction, causing the tower to lean quite significantly. This was worked on for many years, and while the tower was straightened to some extent, it still has a noticeable lean to it.

While construction of the Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1173, there were a number of wars that took place in the area in subsequent years, meaning that the tower was only completed 200 years later.

However, it was this lengthy gap in construction that many experts believe enabled the foundations of the tower to properly settle, which is what has saved it from collapsing.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Russia

The most-visited tourist attraction in the city of Moscow, Saint Basil’s Cathedral almost looks like something out of Disneyland.

However, this magnificent piece of architecture was created long before…

Built between 1554 and 1560, Saint Basil’s Cathedral is shaped to resemble the flame of a bonfire rising up into the sky, and features wonderfully garish colors. With its sharp spikes, onion domes and polygonal towers, this building is unlike anything else that you will see in Russia.

It is located just outside the gates of the Kremlin, in a spot that marks the city’s geometric center. While little is known about the original architect, his incredible creation now serves as one of the city’s museums.