Greek island hopping is a trip of a lifetime for travelers who appreciate excellent food, sandy beaches, and rich cultural history. Where to start if you can only visit one? The following Greek islands are perfect for first-time visitors as a sole destination or as part of an island hopping itinerary. You’ll see that each isle is characterized by its own unique offering.
Milos – Best for Beaches
Milos is located within the Cyclades group of Greek islands. Both the Venus de Milo and the Asclepius of Milos were discovered on this horseshoe-shaped island. Milos consists of volcanic hinterland fringed with white sandy beaches and crystal-clear aquamarine water.
There are around 70 beaches and swimming coves in total, surrounded by dramatic white cliffs that have been molded by waves and wind. Some, such as Sarakiniko Beach, almost resemble the craters of the moon. This beach along with Firopotamos and Pollonia is just a selection of what awaits you on this glorious Greek island for beach lovers.
Its principal town, Plaka, is perched high above the island and provides incredible panoramic views. The town features the iconic whitewashed buildings of Greece and benefits from sublime sunsets.
Often overshadowed by its southern coastline, mountainous Northern Spain is alive with greenery and gastronomy. Coastal cities fuse old and new while catering to travelers seeking a mix of culture with glorious seascapes. Beyond the coast, a network of vineyards is responsible for crafting some of the best Spanish wines. Add the northern coast of Spain to your radar and explore the following areas.
Straddling its namesake estuary, Bilbao is the largest city in Basque Country. This handsome city is a blend of modern skyscrapers alongside historic plazas and churches and the winding streets of Old Town. Home to the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, Bilbao is one of the best destinations in Spain for art lovers. Furthermore, innumerable sculptures stud the streets. Visit the Azkuna Zentroa – a modernist cultural center with visual and performance art exhibitions housed within a former wine exchange.
An easy day trip from Bilbao, La Rioja is a province located at the base of the Cantabrian Mountains that is known for its wine production. Vineyards are scattered across the Ebro and Duero River Valleys with Haro and Logroño towns providing an excellent base to start your wine tour. This area claims credit for Spain’s noteworthy Tempranillo wines, full-bodied with a fruity finish.
In Central and Eastern Europe, you will find some of the most spectacular landscapes, architecture—castles, churches, and war memorials—as well as some of the most colorful, inviting cultures in the world. But what's the best way to see it all? An AmaWaterways cruise down the Danube River, of course.
The journey begins with a guided tour through the beautiful medieval city of Nuremberg, where you'll see the Imperial Castle, the famous town wall, and the Market Square's legendary fountain. There's a guided tour of the city's most significant WWII sites for history buffs, including the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds and the Nuremberg Trials Memoriam and Courtroom 600 (if the courtroom is not in session).
Next, you can savor traditional Franconian specialties including Nuremburger bratwurst, rotbier (red beer) and lebkuchen (gingerbread). While en route to the next destination, Regensburg, you'll cruise through the man-made Main-Danube Canal.
In Regensburg, you'll be treated to a guided walking tour through one of Germany's best-preserved medieval cities. In Regensburg, you'll see all the city's architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria. And if all that walking makes you hungry, there are the old Bavarian specialties to satisfy you—beer, sausage, and pretzels.
Next, take a bike tour to Walhalla, where you will see the neoclassical white marble temple inspired by the Parthenon in Athens.
The journey continues as you cruise to lower Bavaria's city of Passau, where you'll enjoy a walking tour along cobblestone streets and see Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture and St. Stephen's Cathedral. Then, if you're looking to work in a bit of exercise, choose between a guided bike tour along the Danube or a guided hike up to the Veste Oberhaus Fortress.
Recreating dishes you’ve tried on vacation is an immersive way to experience the joy of travel in the comfort of your own home. Get creative and try your hand at these two easy European recipes at home.
French Onion Soup
French onion soup is a decadent starter that is far easier to produce than you might think. The soup has anti-inflammatory properties while the generous topping of Swiss cheese makes it moreish.
Here is an easy-to-follow recipe for French onion soup that will provide four servings.
The diverse continent of Europe is a place of ancient cities, diverse cuisine and wines, and phenomenal accommodation opportunities. When you are seeking a luxurious vacation, you can trust Europe to deliver an exceptional experience suitable for a special occasion.
These are the five most luxurious destinations for a weekend (or longer) in Europe.
Romantic Italy with its rich history, gourmet dining scene, fashionable cities, and swanky islands speaks of luxury and experiences to treasure forever. Foodies should head straight to Tuscany for a weekend of food, wine, and prestigious art galleries. Travelers who love sunshine and seafood can head south to the Amalfi Coast and Bay of Naples. The Isle of Capri wows with its grottos and picturesque plazas where you can linger over aperitifs. Charter a yacht for a premier experience.
Choose between a weekend touring the landmarks in Paris or retreating to the glorious French countryside for a sophisticated yet rustic experience. It goes without saying that the wine regions of Burgundy and Provence are stellar destinations for a luxury stay. Check yourself into a chateau and spend days discovering your favorite vintages and cafès. Meanwhile, the South of France province dazzles with its historic seaside towns, lavender fields, and grand palaces.
As one of our most biodiverse countries, Costa Rica is one of the best destinations for wildlife watching. Approximately a quarter of the Central American nation consists of protected jungle that provides a safe habitat for birds, mammals, and reptiles. What’s more, Costa Rica rates highly in terms of sustainability and eco-initiatives.
What wildlife can you see in Costa Rica and where?
Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species of wild animals. With 30 national parks in total – where do you start?
There are around 900 varieties of birds in Costa Rica. Six species of toucan reside in Costa Rica’s jungles. The keel-billed variety is the variety you are most likely to recognize, with their multi-colored beaks and necks. You may spot flocks of toucans in the foliage dining on tropical fruit, seeds, and insects.
50 species of hummingbird live in Costa Rica, representing all the colors of the rainbow. These are commonly sighted – beating their wings at the speed of lightning in the vast rainforests.
Other examples of birdlife include robins, macaws, resplendent quetzals, and pelicans.
The Monteverde Cloud Forest ranks at the top of the list for birdwatchers and flora enthusiasts. 10% of the plants found in the reserve cannot be seen anywhere else on the planet. Accessible via boat or plane, Tortuguero National Park contains eleven different types of habitat and is another leading destination for birdlife as well as turtles.
A journey on the Mekong River is a trip you will never forget. This vast Asian waterway crosses through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. The majority of live-aboard cruises focus on the Cambodian and Southern Vietnam sections. Here are 10 things to know before your journey on the Mekong River.
1. Expect diverse experiences and sights: Your journey may well start in the hip metropolis of Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) but you’ll soon encounter an entirely different rhythm as your ship glides through rural villages, floating markets, and traditional workshops. Meanwhile, Buddhist temples provide the chance to connect with the region’s spiritual beliefs.
2. Consider extending your trip: While you’re in this part of the world, you are encouraged to see as much of the region as possible. For example, you might want to tap on a couple of days to explore the Temples of Angkor Archaeological Site. As well as being the gateway to the temples, the small Cambodian town of Siem Reap is a fantastic place to find your feet in Southeast Asia. You could also seize the opportunity to visit Ha Long Bay.
3. Dress appropriately: A major highlight of your journey on the Mekong River is the opportunity to visit temples along the route. Pack modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. A sarong is a handy addition to your luggage that you can throw over your shoulders or wrap around your legs.
4. Brush up on the etiquette: Honoring the local customs goes a long way during your Mekong River cruise. When passing an item, always present it with both hands. Haggling at the markets is cultural but it’s important to haggle with consideration and not cause offense. And never point your feet towards an image of Buddha.
Boutique hotels represent smaller properties with upscale accommodations and personalized service. Most boutique hotels have 10 to 100 rooms to allow a comfortable, intimate experience as an alternative to a regular chain hotel.
These customized hotels offer specific aesthetics tailored to their location. Allowing the guests to feel more in a vacation trance mindset and attain exceptional customer service. The owners can also change interiors and upgrade different amenities to their liking.
The term boutique initially surfaced in the 1980s when a hotel in New York City had been compared to visiting a boutique retail store. For most guests, these unique one of a kind stays is a destination within a destination as they are provided with that certain eloquent ambiance. The space is usually very community-oriented with local neighboring markets and shops adjacent to the hotels.
Combining a visit to Patagonia and Antarctica is the trip of a lifetime. As expedition vessels depart for the continent from Patagonian towns, it makes sense to plan a few days to experience the wider region.
Shared by Argentina and Chile and dissected by the Andes mountain range, Patagonia encompasses the southernmost tip of the South American continent. While much of the Argentine side is characterized by grasslands and deserts, it eventually melts into a realm of glacial fjords and rainforests alongside the Chilean segment.
Chile’s southerly city is the gateway to Patagonia and Antarctica. The city is rich in heritage with museums offering insight into the lives of 16th-century seafarers as well as the indigenous cultures.
Scenic cruises are the best way to appreciate the local surroundings. Board a craft and sail through the channels and fjords of the glacial archipelago, Tierra del Fuego. These take you as far as the southernmost headland, Cape Horn.
Meanwhile, Magdalena Island in the Strait of Magellan provides a habitat for one of Chile’s largest colonies of Magellanic penguins as well as migratory birds.
Planes depart Punta Arenas to King George Island where you will board your Antarctic expedition vessel. This option is suitable for travelers prone to seasickness who would rather avoid crossing the Drake Passage.
As one of the narrowest countries on the planet, Chile is packed with diverse landscapes and varying climates. The South American nation registers a total length of 2,690 miles (4,329 kilometers) and is home to arid deserts, glacier-carved national parks, sun-kissed coastal towns, and the cosmopolitan capital, Santiago de Chile. Here are the top 5 experiences waiting for you in Chile.
The Atacama Desert is considered the driest desert in the world. This arid and cool desert provides a landscape of sand dunes, salt flats, blue lagoons, hot springs, canyons, and geysers. Major draws include the opportunity to witness wild Chilean flamingos at Los Flamencos National Reserve and stargaze at Valle de la Luna (the Valley of the Moon).
Journey to Parque Nacional Lauca in the northeast to see the high-altitude Chungará Lake as well as the Parinacota, Pomerape, and Acotado volcanoes.
Torres Del Paine National Park
Located in Southern Chile’s Patagonia region, the cinematographic Torres Del Paine National Park is a region of mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rare wildlife species. Hiking is top of the agenda in Chilean Patagonia with other tourist attractions including cruises through the fjords to reach Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of the continent.
Torres Del Paine is awash with luxury lodges and resorts such as Tierra Patagonia that adhere to eco-friendly principles.
With a large variety of trains available to explore the world, the choices may seem overwhelming. Although some people choose to focus solely on the destination, the train can play an essential role in the journey. No matter if you are looking for something vintage or something a little more modern, keep reading to discover some of the top luxury trains located around the world.
The Belmond Andean Explorer
Located in the beautiful country of Peru, The Belmond Andean Explorer is a modern dream. With a stunning royal blue and white exterior and insides designed by Inge Moore from The Gallery in London, this train is as luxurious as it comes. The furniture inside is nothing less than exquisite, containing spacious private cabins with oversized headboards.
The Maharajas' Express
If you have ever wanted to go to India, the Maharajas' Express might be for you. Not only is the train reminiscent of a fairytale with its golden interior and features such as private butlers and fine dining, but it also takes you to extravagant places. From magnificent palaces to lively markets, this luxury train lets you explore all of the best parts of India while living in comfort.
Hawaii Island is the largest of the Hawaiian state. Attracting travelers from the United States and beyond, the island is known for its volcanic landscapes, Polynesian culture, excellent surf, and relaxed approach to life. The most famous attraction on “Big Island” is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park which is well worth a visit to see the glowing craters and lava flows.
For those eager to escape the typical tourist trail, here are 5 lesser-known things to do on Hawaii Island
Created from acid rain caused by previous eruptions of Kīlauea, the Kau Desert is made up of dried lava, volcanic ash, sand, and gravel. Due to the rainfall it received, the Kau Desert is not technically a desert but rather it resembles one. You can opt to take one of several hikes through the desert which lets you get a close-up of the lava remnants and 200-year old fossilized human footprints in mud-ash. The Footprints Trail is under 2 miles while a longer variation equates to 8.5 miles.
Kona Coffee Farms
The verdant slopes and unique microclimate of Hualalai and Mauna Loa lend themselves to the cultivation of exceptional coffee. Towns and villages in the Kona region are strung together by a series of coffee farms where you can learn about coffee production and sample a cup or two of 100% Kona coffee. Take a scenic drive along the Hawaii Belt Road and look out for such farms as Heavenly Hawaiian, Hulu Daddy, Buddha’s Cup, and Tokie Kona.
Spring is just around the corner and we can look forward to shaking off the thaw of winter with warmer temperatures, bluer skies, and longer days. As we await a return to a new normal in the international travel industry, there has never been a better time to explore what’s on our doorstep in the United States.
These are the best cities in the US to visit during the spring season, combining culture, wine, nature, and seasonal flora.
Washington DC is resplendent during the spring months when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. These trees were gifted to the city by Japan in 1912 and have wowed residents and visitors ever since. The National Cherry Blossom Festival takes place in mid to late March for four weeks when the blossoms are in full bloom.
During the month of March, the city’s museums honor National Women’s Month with special exhibitions at the likes of the National Portrait Gallery, Hillwood Estate, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is one of the liveliest cities in the US and there is always something going on. The New Orleans Jazz Festival takes place in April and is always guaranteed to put a ‘spring’ in your step. The event celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana which means that beyond jazz you will hear the likes of blues, Cajun, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, bluegrass, and beyond.
Furthermore, Jazz Fest features a full program of crafts events and food opportunities.
The country of New Zealand draws travelers from all over the world for its stunning landscapes and laid back small towns. Even though travel is restricted to this magical country right now, we can always dream of an adventure to this country with many hidden spots to discover.
The city of Auckland is full of diversity and personality. It is also New Zealand's largest city, with a population of nearly 1.5 million. If you're looking for somewhere exciting to go to on your next vacation, Auckland is the place to be. Why do you ask? Below are some of the top reasons you shouldn't miss the opportunity to visit this magnificent city.
1. There's a myriad of daring adventures to be had. Helicopter rides, hiking, motorbiking, kayaking, and bungee jumping are just a few of the popular activities within the city.
2. You'll find the city is brimming with natural beauty. Preserved parks, stunning gardens, sandy beaches, volcanoes, and beautiful alpine forests, make up most of Auckland.
3. The coastlines will leave you breathless. Auckland is almost entirely enclosed by vast waters, creating amazing coastlines nearly all around the city.
4. You must explore Waiheke Island, the island isn't just sandy white beaches with huge rocks blanked in greenery. It's full of art galleries, vineyards, and flavorful wines.
5. The zoo is an exciting adventure. You can visit over 1400 animals (135 species). Many of them are native to New Zealand.
Wine pairs beautifully with cheese but it goes even better with travel. Visiting wine destinations around the world provides the opportunity to sample long-standing vintages and discover emerging varieties and modern vinification techniques. A country’s wines draw out the flavors in the nation’s dishes and are best experienced as part of a meal or tasting at a vineyard.
This is a handy guide to the world’s best wine destinations.
Wine is produced in every single region of Italy and a number of these are home to the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Tuscany stands out as the most prominent wine Italian region with its vine-clad hills and cypress trees. The flagship wine, Chianti, compliments the majority of Italian foods and is recognizable by its distinct hue of bright red.
Recommended winery: Antinori nel Chianti Classico
Boasting an esteemed list of red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines, France naturally ranks highly as one of the world’s best wine destinations. Bordeaux is the number one region for reds where flavorsome and full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Grenache varieties lead the way and are best enjoyed alongside a cheeseboard. Meanwhile, those visiting the balmy South of France will appreciate a chilled glass of rosé from the Provence region. The Alsace wine region route presents over 1,000 wine producers scattered among rural France.
Recommended winery: Maison Joseph Cattin
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