51 of The World’s Best Beaches

Introduction: The world is full of great beaches, but some of them stand out and make you wish you never had to leave. From pristine white sand beaches to black beaches and even pink beaches, there is no shortage of beaches that will leave you in awe. Copiled below is a list of fifty of the best beaches found throughout the world as told by travel bloggers from around the world.

Highlights: Explore the mostly empty Luskentyre Beach in Scotland, visit Iceland’s black sand beach, visit with some mountain goats at Seitan Limania in Greece, view the ancient Venetian Castle from Balos Beach in Crete, dig your toes into the white silica sands of Whitehaven beach in Australia, view the Arabian sea along the Gokarna beach trail, hike to the observation deck near Jungle Beach in Sri Lanka, walk the pink colored sand of Pink Beach, Indonesia, dive the Blue Hols in Dahab, look for shells at Cape San Blas in Florida, take in views of the shark fin rocks at Playa Maderas, enjoy the wildlife at Playa Guiones, and view the torch lighting at Black Rock in Maui. 

The Best Beaches in Europe

Etretat, France

Written by Elisa from France Bucket List

The beach of Etretat is one of the most beautiful beaches in France. This beach is located on the French Atlantic coast, and more precisely in the region of Normandy,  Northern France. Etretat is well known for its beautiful cliffs and rock formations in the sea that became famous thanks to Monet’s paintings. Monet spent some time in Etretat trying to capture the beauty of these beach landscapes with different lights and from different points of view. Thanks to these paintings Etretat is one of the most visited places in Normandy, together with Mont Saint-Michel or the D-Day Landing beaches.

Etretat is a great place for a day trip from Paris or Rouen. Apart from the beach, the town has a beautiful Norman architecture and it is a nice area for a stroll. It is also nice to climb up to the Chapel Notre-Dame-de-la-Garden for some pictures and more amazing views. End your day in one of the restaurants close to the beach for a more than deserved fish or seafood dish with a view.

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Etretat Beach. Photo Credit: France Bucket List

Punta Rata Beach, Croatia

Written By Places of Juma

Punta Rata Beach, also known as Dugi Rat, is a real beach highlight and known as one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia. International travel magazines e.g. Forbes Magazine and various travel blogs have already voted this place to be one of the best beaches in the world! And truly, this bright pebble beach with the turquoise blue sea colors is simply breathtaking and shouldn`t be missed on any trip to Croatia.

This dream beach is located on the picturesque Makarska Riviera, in the popular holiday resort of Brela. At the western end of the beach is the spectacular Brela Rock, a huge stone in the sea covered with green pine trees. Surrounded by the crystal clear turquoise blue sea, this rock formation is a real eye-catcher. Around this rock you will find plenty of fantastic spots for snorkeling!

Just behind the beach is a beautiful waterfront promenade, which leads past many beautiful other bays and towards Brela town. This path is ideal for long walks, for jogging, but also for cycling. There are also many small beach bars along the promenade, which provide cool drinks and small snacks.

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Punta Rata Beach. Photo Credit: Places of Juma.

Luskentyre Beach, Scotland

Written By My Voyage Scotland

When you think beaches, people always think the Mediterranean, Australian, etc. However, one of the best beaches in the world is in actual fact in Scotland.

Most of the world’s beautiful beaches are typically overcrowded and often filled with litter, loud noises and screaming children. Luskentyre is different. To get here from Edinburgh or Glasgow, you have an 8 hour journey including a ferry. Due to the apparent unaccesability, Luskentyre beach is famously empty. The perfect place to hit the reset button and clear your head.

Now, it would not make sense to make the day long trip to Luskentyre simply to head straight back. Visiting Harris and Scotland’s Outer Hebrides is a magical experience itself. Luskentyre Beach will always feature on lists of top things to do in Harris and the Outer Hebrides but the Island of Harris also features tons of other cool things to do.

The whole archipelago of the Outer Hebrides is littered with enough small coves and empty, ‘Carrideanesque’ beaches to spend a lifetime exploring. Not to mention rich Norse, Scots and Celtic culture and history.

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Luskentyre Beach. Photo Credit:Chris Combre/Flickr

Saint-Valèry-en-Caux, France

Written By Navigate Content

One of the hidden gems along the English Channel on the northern French Coastline is the quaint village Saint-Valèry-en-Caux, embedded between the impressive white cliffs on the channel’s Southeastern coast. 

Situated in Northern France, 32 km from Dieppe, St.-Valèry-en-Caux is a highlight on the Normandy Alabaster Coast. Charming alleys, traditional seafood restaurants, and historic buildings provide a picturesque snapshot of small-town Normandy.

Memorials show the history of when this part of the world was less peaceful, but they also demonstrate the achievements of the great French pilot pioneer Dieudonné Costes flying nonstop from Paris to New York in 1930.

If you travel with dogs, the gorgeous beach is heaven for canines with hardly any sand. The beach is mostly rock formations and at low tide you can actually explore the bottom of the sea. Where the gorgeous hard-to-identify green-colored water once filled the channel, at low tide the dirt and rocks reveal seaweed and colorful coral, while crabs and other crustaceans scamper about.

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Saint-Valèry-en-Caux. Photo Credit: Navigate Content.

Great Bay, Isles of Scilly

Written by Smudged Postcard

Hidden away on the Isles of Scilly in south west England is Great Bay. This wide arc of sand is backed by heathland and sandwiched at either end by rocks. There are no buildings or roads nearby. The water is crystal clear and perfect for swimming (it’s also rather cold).

To reach Great Bay, visitors must first find their way to the Isles of Scilly, a group of islands off the coast of Cornwall. There are regional flights from a handful of airports or you can take a ferry from the port at Penzance. Great Bay is located on the island of St Martin where there are no roads, just a network of footpaths and a few farm tracks. Boats make the 20 minute crossing to St Martin from the main island of St Mary several times a day. Just make sure you don’t miss the last boat back, there aren’t many places to stay on St Martin.

The beach is a 30 minute walk from the dock but it’s worth the trek. Even in the height of summer, there will only ever be a handful of visitors on the beach, frequently you’ll have the place to yourself. Ensure you stock up at the island bakery or book a table at the pub near the dock for lunch. There are no facilities near the beach.

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Great Bay. Photo Credit: Smudged Postcard.

Porth Joke Cove, Cornwall, UK

Written By Wandering Bird

One of the best beaches in the world is Porth Joke Cove, near Perranporth in Cornwall, UK. This small, hidden beach has soft sand and, most importantly, is relatively quiet throughout the year- despite the bustle of nearby Newquay. The entire north coast of Cornwall has wonderful beaches, full of caves and great surfing waves, but that does attract the crowds to match! 

We were told Porth Joke was an unmissable place to visit in Cornwall and a great location to get away from the people- even in high summer. The beach is a short walk from the car park, which is one of the reasons it remains quiet, even in the middle of summer. It has cliffs on 3 sides, so you’re fairly well protected from the wind, It’s quite shallow, so safe for swimming or snorkelling but please be aware of the dangerous currents around these waters.

There are no toilets or cafe so most families choose to go elsewhere with more facilities- making it a perfect retreat for couples or those with older kids. There is also no shade- I highly recommend bringing a parasol if you’re going to spend the day (and you are definitely going to want to spend the day!) 

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Porth Joke Cove. Photo Credit: Wandering Bird.

Costa Rei, Sardinia

Written By Strictly Sardinia

Costa Rei is one of the best beaches in Sardinia. This long stretch of fine, golden sand and incredibly clear waters occasionally dotted by scenic rock formations is found at about one hour drive from Cagliari, the main city of the island. 

The beach can be access from several points along the coast, making it ideal for families with children and even people with disabilities. Along the beach you will find a few kiosks where to get a drink, gelato or a light meal. From the same places you will be able to rent any equipment needed for your day at the beach, such as umbrella loungers. In some bigger kiosks you will also be able to rent pedal boats, kayaks and to sign up for activities such as wind surfing, fun tubing, or boat trips along the coast. 

When the mistral wind blows Costa Rei is the perfect place for wind and kite surfing, though hardly ideal to stay at the beach as sand flies everywhere. The beach can get quite crowded in the peak summer months, but never overwhelming. If you want to enjoy it without the crowds, make sure to visit towards the end of September.

The best restaurant close to the beach is Chaplin – it’s a trattoria style place where you can eat fish and seafood specialties. The best dish is by far the “carbonara di mare” – carbonara style fresh pasta made with smoked swordfish.

You can reach Costa Rei by car from Cagliari driving along SS125. Alternatively, get there on a very scenic bus ride which takes about 2 hours.

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Costa Rei. Photo Credit: Strictly Sardinia

Achmelvich Bay, Scotland

Written By Two Scots Abroad

The Maldives? The Bahamas? The Caribbean? 

You won’t believe it but this turquoise sea and white sand beach is actually in… Scotland. Granted, you won’t get the temperatures enjoyed at the exotic beach destinations but you can feel the white sand between your manicured toes or paddle in the clear blue waters. 

So where is Achmelvich Bay? 

Sometimes referred to as Achmelvich Beach, this bay is located in the west coast of Scottish Highlands on the super popular camper van route, the North Coast 500. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic words, Achadh which is a plain or a meadow and mealvaich, sandy dunes. 

There isn’t much to do at the beach itself so bring your own picnic, water sports gear such as a kayak and relax in the beach alcove. A great photo spot can be found when you climb the rocky embankment to the right of the sea. There is a friendly campsite nearby if you plan to stay longer than a couple of hours.

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Achmelvich Bay. Photo Credit: Two Scots Abroad.

Reynisfjara, Iceland

Written By Moyer Memoirs

Reynisfjara is the most famous black beach in Iceland. It is located near the town of Vik on Iceland’s south coast. What makes it special is not the ability to bask in the golden sunrays like most other beaches, but rather a wide variety of Mother Nature’s unique creations found among the ground up volcanic rocks that provide the dark black sandy shore.

The rough ocean waves constantly crash onto the black shoreline, dangerously approaching unsuspecting onlookers and causing the construction of multiple signage warning of powerful ‘sneaker waves.’ The waves batter the landscape and form new natural wonders and rock formations. Iceland folklore tells of trolls that snuck ashore, did not make it back by sunrise, and have turned into the stone formations called Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks, becoming a permanent picturesque backdrop in the water.

Eons ago, volcanoes provided lava that has now formed into giant hexagonal basalt columns that line the shore. The columns loom high above and resemble a giant array of silent organ pipes. Here and there, the powerful sea has gorged an eerie cave into the towering cliffs. The cliffs are the remnants of the volcanos and rise above the beach, providing a home to many seabirds. The cutest of them all are the puffins, which make their nests on the sides of the cliffs to the delight of bird-watchers.

For more descriptions and information about Reynisfjara, as well as Diamond Beach, the black sand beach covered in pieces of glacier, and other popular sites along Iceland’s south coast, visit this REVIEW OF ICELAND’S RING ROAD ATTRACTIONS.

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Reynisfjara. Photo Credit: Moyer Memoirs.

Playa de los Lances, Spain

Written By Andalucia in My Pocket

Playa de los Lances is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the South of Spain. Located in Tarifa, Playa de Los Lances is a golden sandy beach that stretches over 10 kilometres, from the town to the pine forests of Alcornocales National Park.

Playa de Los Lances is famous for the water sports practiced here. Tarifa is known as a very windy town year round, which makes this beach perfect for kite surfers. At any time of the day you can see the kite surfers taming the waves and doing tricks in the air on their boards. Beach lovers don’t have to worry for not being able to swim in the water, as the beach is split into the sunbathing area and the water sports area. The sunbathing area is closest to the town, and it is sheltered by the wind by the pier that splits the Mediterranean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

Along the Playa de Los Lances promenade you will find plenty of traditional chiringuitos where you can enjoy freshly grilled fish for lunch.

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Playa de los Lances. Photo Credit: Andalucia in My Pocket.

Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Written By Nomadicmun

Las Canteras beach in Las Palmas, Gran canaria is considered one of the most popular urban beaches in Spain. But what makes it one of the best beaches in the world is its crystal-clear water and golden sand beach. The 3 km long beach is divided in several areas. You may find even different color of sands in different parts.  Playa Grande is the widest area of Las Canteras beach. There are facilities of public toilets, showers, lockers and parks for kids. You can rent sun beds and umbrellas and even the possibility of placing nets to play beach tennis or volleyball. Remember smoking is prohibited in the whole area.

One of the highlights of Las Canteras is La Barra reef which goes through most of Las Canteras. The Reef works like a seawall and makes it ideal for swimming, diving and snorkelling. On the other hand, La Cícer area of this beach has rough sea, which makes it a paradise for Surfboard and body board lovers.  

The beautiful wide sea promenade offers several restaurants, hotels and apartments.

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Las Palmas. Photo Credit: Nomadicmun

Seitan Limania, Crete, Greece

Written By Sofia Adventures

Seitan Limania is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and the most stunning of Crete’s beaches. Located outside of Chania, it’s most easily reached by car. But beware, the drive here is winding and not for the faint of heart (or anyone who gets easily carsick).

Once you are here, you’ll need to make your way down the side of the cliffs to get to the beach at the bottom. The sides are quite steep, so wear shoes with a good grip and change into your flip-flops when you’re in the sand. 

There aren’t any businesses or stores here, so bring everything you need for the day with you, from drinks to beach snacks to gear and toys. Bring extra snacks, because the nosy mountain goats may steal some of your food (or pee on your stuff). Be prepared to bring all of your trash back with you. 

While here, enjoy a swim, jump off the cliffs into the water, marvel at the goats, and enjoy Greece’s wonderful Mediterranean sun. 

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Seitan Limania. Photo Credit: Sofia Adventures.

Navagio Beach, Zakyntho, Greece

Written By Darek and Gosia

Across the world, on every continent we can find amazing beaches. But which one is the most beautiful, or at least should be in the top on the list? If you are in Europe, you have to visit Navagio Beach in Zakynthos – it really is one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

Navigo Beach, also known as the shipwreck beach, is an extremely popular tourist destination on this Greek island. In addition to the fabulous, extremely beautiful view with azure blue and light sand, there is a shipwreck on the beach. The beach is only accessible from the water – so you will have to go on an organized boat trip.

The large sand and pebble beach is surrounded by about 300 meters high limestone cliffs, from which you have a breath-taking view on the whole area. For tourists staying in Zakynthos this is the number 1 spot – a must see & one of the most amazing beaches in the world!

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Shipwreck Beach. Photo Credit: Darek and Gosia.

Balnahard Bay, Scotland

Written By Watch Me See

Balnahard Bay is a beach on the remote Isle of Colonsay in Scotland. As if a 2-hour ferry ride from Oban is not hard enough, Balnahard Bay can only be reached on foot via a farm trek from nearby Kiloran Bay. Its remoteness is what makes Balnahard so special. Once you lay eyes on the mesmerising, white sands, you might never want to leave. 

The dunes of the beach provide shelter from the typical wind of the Scottish west coast and low tide reveals shallow rock pools with plenty of wildlife. Balnahard’s location on the east side of the island makes it a great beach for families and beach novices, as the waters are significantly calmer than on the exposed west side. 

The rocky outcrops in the shallow water split the beach into sections, which makes it easy to get away from other sunbathers and enjoy some privacy. Since it takes around 1.5 hours to walk to Balnahard though, the crowds (if you can call them that) usually stick to the more famous Kiloran Bay.

You will most likely have Balnahard Bay all to yourself – the best experiences in life usually require a little bit of effort!

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Balnahard Bay. Photo Credit:Watch Me See.

Isola Bella, Taorima, Sicily

Written By Nicole from Nicole LaBarge Travel Blog

One of the best beaches in Sicily is Isola Bella in Taormina.   It is often called the most beautiful beach in all of Europe and Isola Bella is known as the Pearl of the Ionian Sea.
Isola Bella is a small pebble beach on the east coast of Sicily.  The beach has a small, thin sandbar that connects the island of Isola Bella.  You can walk to the island on the sand bar during low tide.

The island has a small and rather rocky beach which is a popular destination for sunbathers.  The clear, turquoise waters here make it the perfect place to cool off and go for a swim.

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Isola Bella. Photo by Giuseppe Famiani on Unsplash

Balos Beach, Crete, Greece

Written by Gabi from The Tiny Book Crete Travel Blog

Usually listed among the top 10 beaches in the Mediterranean, and certainly one of the best beaches in Crete, Balos Beach and Lagoon can easily be described as one of the most exotic beaches in Europe.

The beach is located in west Crete, on the northern coast of the island, at the end of the beautiful Gramvousa peninsula.

To get there from the closest city, Chania, it’s necessary to drive for about 50 minutes on the National Highway, then get on a dirt-track and drive off-road for about 20 minutes more. Finally, once you’ve reached the end of the road and parking spot, it’s necessary to hike for about 20 more minutes down a mountain path populated by fragrant thyme bushes and local goats. The way to reach Balos Beas is almost as fun as spending your day there.

Once you approach the end of the peninsula, you will be amazed at the spectacular white sand with pinkish tones, and the pristine turquoise waters, shallow enough to form a beautiful lagoon enclosed by the massive Cape Tigani, opposite the beach. In the distance, the breathtaking view of Imeri Gramvousa island, home to an ancient Venetian castle overlooking the deep blue sea.

If you’re not sure about driving and hiking, it’s also possible to visit the island if you board a boat from the nearby port of Kissamos. These daily cruises will also allow you to visit Imeri Gramvousa island and swim near an old shipwreck off the coast.

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Balos Beach. Photo Credit: The Tiny Book Crete Travel Blog.

The Best Beaches in Australia

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia

Written By Amanda from My Backpacker Life

When someone asks me about my favourite beach in the world that they just have to put on their bucket list, one always comes directly to my mind – Whitehaven Beach in Australia.

Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsunday Island in Queensland. Most people visit this incredible place by taking a day cruise or an overnight sailing trip departing from Airlie Beach.

This beach has won several awards and often appears on lists over beautiful beaches in the world – which makes total sense to anyone who’s ever set foot on this magical paradise!

So, what is it that makes this beach special? The answer is quite simple: the sand. Whitehaven Beach has beautiful white silica sand, which is among the purest in the world! Once you’ve been to this incredible place, visiting a beach will never be the same again.

Find another great beach recmmendation: Oahu, Hawaii

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Whitehaven Beach. Photo Credit: My Backpacker Life.

Second Valley, South Australia

Written By Curious Campers

Tucked away behind rolling green hills in the countryside is Second Valley. Around an hour and a half from Adelaide in South Australia it’s the perfect place for a day trip or to relax for a few days.

The sheltered waters of Second Valley are great for families with a lovely little beach, perfect for swimming, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. The jetty is ideal for a spot of fishing, so pack the fishing gear.

For the more adventurous Second Valley is a great spot for snorkeling and scuba diving with a jetty, reef and caves to explore. Second Valley is the home to the rare leafy sea dragon, so keep an eye out when you are snorkeling.

The tiny village is supported by a general store that manages the local campround, supplies take away meals, snacks and fishing supplies.

After a day of soaking up the sun and paddling in the refreshing waters stay around for what is likely to be a spectacular sunset.

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Second Valley. Photo by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash

Port Stephens, Australia

Written By Cassie the Hag

I believe Port Stephens in Australia is home to one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. First of all due to the famous Stockton Sand dunes. This striking 32km stretch of sand is the longest moving sand dunes in the Southern Hemisphere with dunes reaching up to 30m high at an angle of 60m, making it one of the most photogenic places in New South Wales. This desert-like landscape is perfect for sandboarding, quad biking or 4×4 drives.

If you prefer a more classic beach, just a 20-minute drive along the coastline and you’ll arrive at Zenith Beach. This sunrise spot is great for coastal walks (such as the Mt Tomaree Summit Walk for a panoramic view of the many gorgeous bays in this area) or just relaxing on the paradise quality white sand. You also can surf, swim or go whale watching. The best time to view whales in this area is between September and November.

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Zenith Beach. Photo Credit: Cassie the Hag

Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia

Written By Love to Travel, Stay-Eat-Do

The Port Fairy township is one of the most gorgeous on the south west Victoria coastline, in Australia. It is at the end of the Great Ocean Road and oozes history, country charm and elegance. Although the water can be cold, the beaches are simply remarkable. East Beach is a popular spot for swimming, paddling and learning to surf. South Beach, more commonly known as ‘Pea Soup’ is a protected beach which is fabulous for families and snorkelling. Surfers love to head out past the lighthouse on Griffiths Island.

There is no shortage of holiday accommodation in this seaside town as it is a popular getaway location, all year round. Visitors flock to Port Fairy for the great dining, boutique shopping, art scene, nature experiences and of course the marvellous beaches. While there is plenty to do in and around Port Fairy, another popular draw card is the Grampians National Park, which is just one hour from the coastal town.

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Port Fairy. Photo Credit: Love to Travel, Stay-Eat-Do.

Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

Written By Many More Maps

Recognised the world over, Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia has everything a beach-goer could possibly need! Expect epic surf, a long, golden sandy beach, and more bars, cafes and hip surf shops than you could ever visit in a lifetime.

Of course, even if you don’t want to try your hand at surfing, there’s loads to do at Bondi. A great unique experience to try out at the beach is taking a swim at the famous Bondi Icebergs swimming pool. It’s the most photographed pool in the world, for obvious reasons! The pool is
situated at the end of Bondi beach, right on the ocean, and is filled with sea water. In fact, if the waves are particularly large, they often flow over into the pool!

Bondi beach is also the starting point for the beautiful Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, an easy 3km walk past a number of great Australian beaches and stunning scenery. Walk there and back, snapping some great photos, before laying your towel out on Bondi to catch some rays.

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Bondi Beach. Photo Credit: Unsplash.

Lorne, Victoria, Australia

Written By Love to Travel, Stay-Eat-Do

Lorne is located on the Great Ocean Road, in south west Victoria, Australia. The Great Ocean Road is full of remarkable beaches, viewing points and known for its great surf locations. Lorne is a picturesque beachside town of Louttit Bay and on the Erskine River. With the Great Otway National Park nearby, it is a popular spot for holiday makers.

Lorne is known for its family friendly beaches, being a great spot to learn to surf, kayak and ride a stand up paddle board. The grassed area on the foreshore is a great place to kick a football or throw a frisbee and the giant playground is a favourite for families with young children.

The main street in Lorne is full of great eateries, bars and boutique stores. Lorne has a supermarket, petrol station, cinema and lots of accommodation choices for all budgets. Lorne is also popular for it’s great walks and waterfall hikes.

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Lorne. Photo Credit: Love to Travel, Stay-Eat-Do.

Chinaman Beach, Australia

Written By Lee from The Travel Scribes

When you think of Australian beaches it’s probably the bustling shores of Bondi or even the azure-tinted waters and pristine white sands of the Whitsunday Islands that come to mind. But we’d toss a little-known beach into the best beach pot: Chinaman Beach, a stone’s throw from sleepy seaside town, Agnes Water.

Not to be confused with a beach of the same name near Sydney, Chinaman Beach is a little-known, off the beaten track beach on the stretch between Cairns and Brisbane. With secluded beaches dotted along the entire Queensland coastline, most of them offering an almost utopian experience without another soul in sight, Chinaman is the best of a beautiful bunch. With golden, almost red-tinted sands, some pretty solid surf conditions and a horizon stretching for days, it’s the kind of beach you can spend an entire day visiting, especially as a tonic to the more crowded main beach of Agnes Water next door.

Since Chinaman is an unpatrolled beach you’ll need to be a little careful when venturing into the sea but this is part of it’s charm: the breakers can be a little rough, the wind might whip up your hair but this beach feels a bit wild, slightly deserted but oh so idyllic. Avid walkers will also delight – Chinaman is as good for an uninterrupted romantic stroll as it is for trekkers, with a number of walking tracks winding all the way to the next bay. You can also skip over to the Paperbark Forest Trail a few miles away, a 400m stretch of wooden walkways in the paperbark trees which will make you feel like you’ve stepped out of a modern-day fairy-tale.

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Chinaman Beach. Photo Credit: The Travel Scribes.

The Best Beaches in Asia

Ngapali Beach

Written By Adriana from Czech the World

Ngapali Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Myanmar. It is a wonderful area with white sand beaches, coconut palms, and amazing turquoise water! Like a paradise. You will find luxurious hotels and resorts, as well as a few backpackers hostels. There are also many restaurants with delicious seafood. You can take a boat tour and explore the coast, go snorkeling, rent a bike, explore nearby pagodas of Nandaw and Sandaw, climb Amata Mountain, shop at Thandwe market, or try other holiday activities.

Ngapali Beach is much less crowded than more popular destinations like Thailand, Philippines, or Indonesia, therefore, if you want to enjoy a beach vacation and are tired of tourist crowds, Ngapali could be a great option!

You can get there by direct flight from Yangon. If you are more adventurous, you can go by bus, however, that ride takes 16 hours and is very tiring.

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Ngapali Beach. Photo Credit: Czech the World.

Gokarna Beach, India

Written By Backpack Adventures

Gokarna beach is one of the best beach destinations in India, especially if you are looking for a more quiet place away from the crowds. Gokarna is still a bit off the beaten path, but is getting more popular, especially among Indians themselves. And for good reasons, because Gokarna has lots to offer.

Gokarna is a little temple town in Karnataka on the coast of the Indian Ocean. It is actually not just one beach, but 5 coastal inlets close together. Some of them are so remote that you can only get there by boat or on foot. On paradise beach it is just you, palm trees, the sand and the sea. While on on beach you can treat yourself to a nice dinner in one of the sea view restaurants.

All of the beaches are connected with each other through the Gokarna beach trail. This trek is around 8 kilometers with spectacular views over the Arabian sea. Therefore Gokarna is also perfect for a more active beach vacation

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Gokarna Beach. Photo Credit: Backpack Adventures

Nacpan Beach, Philippines

Written By The Travel Quandary Blog

It’s not difficult to argue that the Philippines perfectly encapsulates the definition of “idyllic paradise”. But of all the stretches of silken sands, the best spot is El Nido’s Nacpan Beach.

A 45 minute drive from El Nido ferry terminal (either by minivan or tricycle), the soft crescent shaped cove is a blissful spot where many tourists come to chill, away from the hustle and bustle of the main town. If sunbathing, snoozing and all-round relaxing is what you’re looking for, Nacpan Beach is where you need to go. Those looking to stay off-grid also have a few hostel and homestay options in the area. 

Nacpan Beach doesn’t offer much in terms of shopping or water sports activities. The vibe here is ultimate chill where all you’ll do is swim in the shallow waters, walk the entire length of the beach, practice yoga, read a few pages of your book and indulge in a siesta. A few cafes and bars are pitched at the water’s edge where you can lounge on low cushions and sip cool refreshments under the heat of the spicy Filipino sun. We recommend sticking around for sunset when the sky lights up in a blaze of tangerine orange and starburst pink.

10 Day Budget Guide to the Philipines

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Nacpan Beach.Photo Credit: The Travel Quandary.

Bottle Beach, Koh Phangan, Thailand

Written By Travel Geekery

Bottle Beach belongs to one of the most beautiful beaches in Koh Phangan, an island in the South of Thailand. The secluded beach is quite off the beaten path, in the very North of Koh Phangan, and it’s not easy to get there, which makes it even more appealing.

There’s no road coming in from the developed West of the island, only a dirt road from the East, which in itself is largely undeveloped and with way less tourists.

To get to the beach, you need to take a boat from the fishing village of Chaloklum, which takes 15 minutes. The only other option is to hike!

The hike to Bottle Beach is the most popular hike on the island, but you’re not likely to meet more than a handful of people. I hiked it twice in the high season and met only 5 people in total. There are two routes leading to Bottle Beach – a shorter one, which leads through the jungle, and a longer one that follows the coast. Both of them are absolutely beautiful with stunning views.

The Bottle Beach is usually quite empty. There are only 4 small resorts, each with a beachfront restaurant. Other than that, it’s just about lazing on the beach and swimming in the refreshing water.

For the way back, you can choose between hiking and taking the boat.

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Bottle Beach. Photo credit: Travel Geekery.

Jungle Beach, Sri Lanka

Written By Live Your Dream Today

Perfect shades of clearest blue water, light soothing waves of the calm Indian ocean, rich marine wildlife in a small secluded bay – welcome to Jungle Beach! Located on the south coast of Sri Lanka, it’s mainly known between locals so you won’t meet hundreds of tourists as in more popular places.

Being surrounded by jungle wild enough to influence the name, Jungle Beach provides a marvelous tropical experience. You see monkeys on the trees on your way to the beach and then watch various colorful fish while snorkeling near the shore. You can rent the necessary equipment if you come to see the coral reef or have a cocktail in a small restaurant if you just come to swim and unwind.

Peaceful and quiet Jungle Beach is especially great for families with children. The bay hides it from the strong currents so it’s much safer than most of Sri Lankan beaches. If you are looking for adventures, a short hike through the jungle brings you to a beautiful observation deck with no one around. Great place to see a sunset or meditate in natural solitude!

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Jungle Beach. Photo Credit: Live Your Dream Today.

Pink Beach, Indonesia

Written By A Life Wihout Borders

Only a handful of pink sand beaches exist around the world, their rarity simply adding to their beauty and allure.  Even if you’re not a beach lover, you’ll be drawn to the Pink Beach Komodo Island in the remote Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia.  With its blush pink sand and turquoise water, the beach is perfect for photographers, nature-lovers, and beach-goers alike.

Located around 90 minutes by boat from the nearest town of Labuan Bajo, the Pink Beach is set deep within the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Komodo National Park.  You’ll probably head over for a day as part of an island-hopping tour, as access can only be gained by boat.

Uninhabited and with no infrastructure, the Pink Beach is a world away from the hectic pace of Bali.  A small, quiet cove that is perfect for a lazy day of swimming and snorkeling.  Simply stop and unwind on the pink-hued sands, or snorkel in the crystal-clear waters to discover a diverse array of fish and coral just 100 metres from shore.  With small hills flanking the cove, enjoy an easy hike for a dramatic view over the bay.  Plus, the cotton-candy coloured sand and turquoise waters make for the perfect dreamy selfies!   

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Pink Beach. Photo Credit: A Life Without Borders.

White Beach, Boracay Island, Philippines

Written By James from Team AJ Travels

White Beach gets a bad wrap for being overly commercial and only having a shadow of the natural beauty the beach once held. Yes it is a very touristy place, but this means infrastructure, accessibility, and convenience. Qualities that are rare for most of the best destination in the Philippines. You will find bars, restaurants, clubs and shops all the way along the waterfront. So if you are after a secluded island getaway this is not it.

But, there are two things that the commercial invasion cannot touch.

1. The stunning turquoise water that glows under the sun, and white sand that stretches the full 4km beach strip. The beach almost stretches the entire western side of the island.

2. Being on the western side you are treated to a magnificent sunset every afternoon. The only symptom of the tourists around you being the sailing boats that sit on the horizon – but this only adds to the spectacle.

White Beach also hosts some of the most popular activities in Boracay. Paragliding, riding the fly-fish, sailing, paddle boarding and jet skiing all keep the beach front buzzing through the day. But the beach is long enough for this not to be a nuisance leaving plenty of peaceful spots to swim or bask in the sun.

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White Beach. Photo Credit:Team AJ Travels

The Best Beaches in Africa

Matemo Island, Mozambique

Written By Kesi To and Fro

Matemo island is the best beach in the world because it is far off the beaten path, making it like your own private paradise.  Matemo island is a part of the Quirimbas archipelago in Mozambique, which has many gorgeous beaches. To get there, you have to take a dhow trip from Ibo island, and then there are camping options to stay on the beach overnight. It is the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen, with pure white sand and crystal clear turquoise waters, similar to the Maldives. Matemo is a perfect honeymoon destination since it provides tranquility, privacy, and beauty.

One of the best things about camping on this beach is the fresh seafood that surrounds you. Find a local fisherman to catch an octopus and cook it for you over a fire. This remote beach provides a chance to be disconnected and be one with nature.  Wake up with the sunrise and fall asleep under bright stars. What more would you want? 

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Dahab, Egypt

Written By The Wanderer Pharaoh

Dahab is a coastal town located on the southeast coast of Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. It is very famous for its underwater marine life and some of the best diving sites in the region. Over the last couple of decades, Dahab has changed from a small Bedouin town to Divers, Backpackers and hippies’ paradise, because of its golden sand beaches and laid-back vibes. Dahab came on the top of National Geographic’s list of “Best Beaches in the Middle East” in 2019.

The main activities in Dahab are Scuba diving, free diving, snorkeling and windsurfing. The Blue Hole is the most famous diving spot in Dahab and Egypt. It is a submarine sinkhole. Diving at the Blue Hole is an experience of a lifetime because of the breath-taking view of the healthy coral reefs. But it can be dangerous. So, only advanced divers are allowed to dive at the Blue Hole.

The Laguna is another amazing spot on the Dahab beach. It is the main hub for wind-surfers. It is also an amazing place to relax, meditate or watch sunrise/sunset. The Laguna Beach is just 15 minutes walking from Dahab’s center. So, a lot of the Dahabians – Bedouins, local Egyptians, expats and travelers – walk to the Laguna beach to watch the sunrise/sunset. It is like a social event especially during the low touristic seasons.

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Dahab. Photo Credit: The Wanderer Pharoah.

Flic En Flac (Sugar beach), Mauritius

Written By Orange Wayfarer

Derived from the old Dutch idiom free and flat, Flic En Flac is one the quintessential postcard-perfect beaches of Mauritius. the beach is 13 km long. It has a vibrant nightlife with locals as well as tourists from private resorts participating in beach-side activities.

Mauritius was a volcanic island during ancient time. If you can have a bird’s eye view over the island, you will see a distinct rim bordering the island from the deep azure blue of the Indian ocean. Within the rim, limpid turquoise water, apt for snorkeling and diving stands still.

Water at Flic En Flac is warm and perfect for swimming. Sunset is iconic at this place, like all west coast beaches of Mauritius are. In the evening, locals perform the vibrant Sega dance. their floral skirts twirl. Florid sunset takes place at the background! Flic En Flac is a rather posh beachfront area of Mauritius. The road leading to the beach has several local vendors selling Dhal puri and meat ball in noodle bowl. In case you are seeking a more romantic bespoke experience, I suggest visiting the Japanese restaurant at Sugar beach Mauritius and try sushi.

Close to Flic En Flac, there lies a sprawling sugar plantation. a visit to this is an integral part of Mauritius travel! 

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Sugar Beach. Phhoto Credit: Orange Wayfarer.

The Best Beaches in North America

Cape San Blas, Florida

Written By Red Around the World

When most people think of Florida beaches, they think of Miami or Cocoa Beach, but tucked away up in the panhandle, about an hour from Destin, is Cape San Blas.  While it isn’t an island, the peninsula certainly feels like one.  It’s a sleepy little area still recovering from damage from Hurricane Michael in 2018.  

It has an almost perfectly white beach full of beautiful shells.  There isn’t much of anything on the cape aside from houses and rental home, but there are a couple of restaurants, a little corner store, and a gas station.  There is also a beach gear rental shop.  Make sure you try the key lime pie at The Sand Bucket Smoke.  There are more restaurant and store options in Port St. Joe on the mainland.  The biggest things to do on the island are shelling and visiting St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, where you can relax on the beach or look for shells.  There are also a couple of boardwalks that are really nice at Salinas Park Gulfside.

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Cape San Blas. Photo Credit:Red Around the World.

Rialto Beach, Washington State

Written By The Mandagies

Rialto Beach in Washington State is not the typical beach when you think of “best beaches in the world”. Most of the time is shrouded in clouds, rough waves crash on the shore, and the beach is littered with sun-bleached driftwood!

However, if adventure is what you seek, this is the perfect spot for you. Rialto Beach is one of the best beaches in Washington for its endless opportunities for exploring. One notable trip is a 1.5-mile trek up the beach to a place called The Hole-In-The-Wall trail, a giant cliffside with a hole bored by hundreds of years of crashing waves. This is a perfect beach for landscape photographers, beach backpackers, and curious explorers. From tide pools to secret coves, sherbet sunsets and foggy mornings, every visit to Rialto Beach can bring a different experience.

Rialto Beach is part of the Olympic National Park, and a perfect stop if you’re looking for things to do around the area. Stay at the iconic Kalaloch Lodge nearby to round out the foggy Washington experience!

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Rialto Beach. Photo Credit: The Mandagies.

The Lost Coast, California

Written By She Dreams of Alpine

The Lost Coast is not your typical California beach getaway. You won’t find boardwalks or sunbathers or volleyball players. You won’t find shops and restaurants and brunch spots, but instead, you will find a stunning stretch of coastline with rocky black sand beaches that will take your breath away.

Most of the Lost Coast cannot be accessed by car, so you’ll need to be prepared to hike, but the views of mountains in the King Range and the wildlife along the ocean are absolutely worth it. If you just want a taste of the Lost Coast, you can hike in from the north to visit Mattole River Beach and see the photo-worthy abandoned lighthouse in Punta Gorda.

But for the true Lost Coast beach experience, you can backpack the Lost Coast trail over the course of a few days. As you make your way along the 25-mile trail, you’ll camp in solitude along the beach and will see some of the most epic sunsets of your life. This is what makes Lost Coast beach truly special.

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The Lost Coast. Photo Credit: She Dreams of Alpine.

South Beach, Florida

Written By Buddy The Traveling Monkey

South Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. The beach itself is just over two miles and it’s the southernmost neighborhood of the city of Miami Beach. It’s one of the best beaches in the world because of its clear blue water and nearby activities. You can lounge all day on the sand under an umbrella, go rollerblading in popular Lummus Park, take an Art Deco walking tour on Ocean Drive, or go shopping on trendy Lincoln Road.

There are also many bars, clubs, and restaurants in South Beach. Many highlight the Latin culture of the area and some even have shows with music and dancing. Whether you’re on a budget and looking for free things to do in Miami or want to indulge with expensive bottles of bubbly on the beach, you’ll have a great time on South Beach.

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South Beach. Photo Credit: Buddy The Traveling Monkey.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA

Written By Meals and Miles Markers

Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the 48 contiguous states, outside of Florida. After visiting for the first time, I can see why! It’s family-friendly, affordable, and easily accessible. You can walk to most places so you don’t have to worry about driving! In 
addition to the beach, there are several cute shops and restaurants to enjoy. I actually did the job of narrowing down the best restaurants to visit so you don’t have to figure it out on your own!

As you walk along the main strip, you’ll find fun attractions among the storefronts. For instance, Ripley’s has many exciting attractions the whole family will love! You’ll also find several arcades. These arcades bring out the kid in you–and may even bring out the 
competition among you and your travel buddies! This is the perfect escape from the heat of the sun whenever you want to have fun and stay cool. Myrtle Beach has something to offer for everyone: families, couples of all ages, or even friends who just want to leave town for 
the weekend!

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Myrtle Beach. Photo Credit: Meals and Mile Markers.

Palm Beach, Florida, USA

Written By Travels in Poland

Palm Beach has some of the sandiest and best beaches in all of Florida.  With many miles of coastline, Palm Beaches stretch along the Atlantic and provide so many wonderful opportunities to try a variety of watersports.

Boynton Beach has amazing boardwalks with chairs and umbrellas for rent along the shore as well as a playground for children.  Delray Beach is another wonderful Palm Beach that has calm waves and natural sand dunes to create a barrier to the beach and provide an aura of seclusion to families visiting.  There are dozens of restaurants around Delray that are family friendly and inviting. 

Water activities along Palm Beaches are in abundance. Snorkeling, kayaking, canoeing, surfing, jet skiing and boating are just some of the dozens of activities that are available on this stretch of Atlantic coastline.  Besides watersports, hiking, and walking along the boardwalks as well as taking in the splendid Atlantic views from diverse restaurants are some of the top ways to experience the beauty of Palm Beach.

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Palm Beach. Photo Credit: Travels in Poland.

Long Point Beach, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

My reommendation

Long Point Beach sits at tip of Cape Cod, Massacusetts. While it make not have the pristine white sands and turquoise blue waters found in mnay of the other beaches, it’s lighthoue, abandoned beaches, and stunning views of both Provincetown and the Atlantic Ocean. The area is also great for wildlife viewing, from families of seels swimming through, to birds, to a variety of sea life in the small pools found along the causeway.

Long Point can be reached either by trekking or a ferry that leaves from Provincetown. Aside from visiting Long Point, nearby Provincetown has much to offer guests, including great food, shopping, theater, sand dunes, and nature trails.

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Long Point Beach. Photo Credit: Flickr/Carlos Pacheco.

The Best Beaches in South America

Cabo San Juan, Columbia

Written By Living Out Lau

If you are looking for the best beaches in the world, you cannot skip Cabo San Juan in Colombia. Located inside the protected area of the Tayrona National Park, Cabo San Jan is one of the most natural beaches in the world. There is no trash, the noise is minimal, and wildlife is abundant in that area. Visiting Cabo San Juan is a trip to nature’s paradise.

Besides its stunning turquoise water that allows amazing snorkeling, Cabo San Juan features a watchtower that juts into the Caribbean Sea. Visitors have the option to sleep overnight in the hammocks on the watchtower. Nothing is most magical than hearing the crashing of waves when you fall asleep and the music of the birds when you wake up. If you don’t want to sleep in a hammock, visitors also have the option to rent a tent or pitch their own. Whichever option you choose, the soft sand and clean refreshing Caribbean waters beach will literally be on your doorstep!

Make sure you don’t forget Cabo San Juan on your Colombia itinerary!

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Cabo San Juan. Photo Credit: Living Out Lau

The Best Beaches in Central America

Playa Maderas, Nicaragua

Wrtten By The Wanderlust Within

Playa Maderas, is considered one of the best beaches in Nicaragua, especially for surfing. The beach is located along a bumpy dirt road twenty minutes north of the surfer town of San Juan del Sur. The landscape is uniquely characterised by shark-fin shaped rock formations in the distance that can be seen from anywhere along Playa Maderas. 

The beach is known for being an all year round surf spot and caters for all levels, so newbies can enjoy the sections closer to the shore and those who are looking for a challenge can head further out to sea. Hence there are several surf schools in the area, including DreamSeaSurf who I learnt to surf with. If surfing isn’t for you, you can explore the jungles that surround the beach or wait for sunset and head out on a catamaran trip to get a closer view of the shark fin rock. There are only two restaurants on the beach so choices are limited but their selection of seafood is well worth trying.To reach Playa Maderas you must drive three hours from Managua, or catch the daily beach shuttle to the beach from Casa Oro in San Juan del Sur.

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Playa Maderas. Photo Credit: The Wanderlust Within

Playa Guiones, Nosara, Costa Rica

Written By Travlinmad

Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula on the northern Pacific coast, is known for having some of the most wild and beautiful beaches in the country, and my favorite place to go is the small surf town of Nosara. The wildlife along this stretch of the coast in amazing: it’s where Olive Ridley sea turtles return each year to lay their eggs in Ostional, and seeing monkeys and other wildlife is a daily encounter on your walk to the beach.

Nosara is popular wellness and yoga and retreats, and restaurants serving fresh organic smoothies and bowls, but one of the biggest draws here is the beach — Playa Guiones is famous the world over as one of the longest surf breaks in the country.

The gorgeous, seven kilometer white sand beach is perfect for board and body surfing, and at low tide, the beach along the shallow bay offers up some of the coolest tide pools to explore and snorkel. Horseback riding along the beach is also a popular way to experience the entire stretch of beach. There are no hotels along the beach and no high rise buildings to obstruct your view. If you’re looking for deserted beaches and Costa Rica wildlife, Nosara should be on your itinerary. Getting here is easier these days as the nearby town of Liberia offers regular international flights into Costa Rica. 

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Playa Guiones. Photo Credit: Travlinmad.

Playa Avellanas, Costa Rica

Written By Drink Tea and Travel

Playa Avellanas in Costa Rica is located 30 mins south of one of the nation’s most popular destinations, Tamarindo. However, it feels like a world away. 

Playa Avellanas neighborhood is known for its incredible natural setting. It is mostly just ocean, coast, and jungle where you’ll often find monkeys and other animal life hanging out in the trees. There are no shops, only a handful of restaurants, and few tourists. It’s the perfect place to unplug and fully embrace the “Pura Vida” lifestyle Costa Rica is so famous for.

You can swim, sunbathe, SUP, kayak or enjoy any other beach activities at Playa Avellanas.  However, the beach is known as a surfers paradise. It has breaks for all levels of surfers, and is located just a few kilometres away from another popular surfing beach, Playa Negra. This is another stellar surfing spot known for its appearance in a popular surf film “Endless Summer II”.

Don’t miss a chance to stop by Lola’s beach side restaurant on Playa Avellanas. It has a good selection of food and drink, as well as its resident pigs! 

Contributed by sustainable travel bloggers Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel. Follow their adventures around the world on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  

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Playa Avellanas. Photo Credit: Drink Tea and Travel.

The Best Beaches in the Carribbean

7 Mile Beach, Negril, Jamaica

Written By Have Clothes, WIll Travel

The 7-mile beach is a breathtaking white-sand beach in Negril, Jamaica. It’s the most beautiful stretch of beach I have ever seen. Its waters are crystal clear, shallow and relatively calm. 

It gets its name because it is, literally, almost 7 miles long! The beach is near Norman Manley Boulevard in Negril, which is a rather small town with a population of just over 3,000 people. It’s made up of a long 4-mile stretch and then a smaller 3 mile stretch in Bloody Bay.

There is no shortage of fun activities on the 7-mile beach! It’s a great location for snorkeling and diving. There are also numerous places to rent kayaks, jet skis, catamarans, and more. Or if you would rather not be in charge of driving – you can hop on board a glass-bottom boat tour!

There are also tons of different resorts you can stay at along the 7-mile beach. I’m personally a fan of Sandals Negril, it’s a wonderful, all-inclusive, couples-only resort. 

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7 Mile Beach. Photo Credit: Have Clothes, Will Travel.

Varadero Beach, Cuba

Written By Grumpy Camel

Cuba is known for its cigars, gorgeous classic cars and world-famous salsa music, but this Caribbean island is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. About a two-hour drive from Havana lies the stunning beach of Varadero, which stretches across the 20-kilometre Hicacos Peninsula, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Varadero beach is lined with beautiful hotels and resorts, making it a popular tourist spot in Cuba. There are plenty of other things you can do in Varadero besides swimming in the crystal-clear sea and soaking up the Caribbean sun. You can take a boat tour, go snorkelling, or simply take a stroll through Varadero town.  There is also a nature reserve on the peninsula, the Varahicacos Ecological Reserve, where you can hike through the woodland and visit a large cave with ancient pictographs.

For a more relaxing and romantic experience, consider staying at an adults only beach resort in Varadero. While there are several restaurants and bars on the peninsula, many resorts in Varadero offer all-inclusive stays.”

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Varadero Beach. Photo Credit:Grumpy Camel.

Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe

Written By The Migrant Yogi

The coastal town of Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe boasts one of the most beautiful beach destinations in the Caribbean.  Sainte-Anne is located on Grand-Terre island of the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe.  

Sainte-Anne beach is covered in soft white sand with clear, turquoise waters that are protected by a coral reef.  Long breakwaters extend into the sea to provide beautiful and safe areas to swim.  

Sainte-Anne is very much a tourist destination, especially for French visitors.  This means that there’s an abundance of restaurants and shops nearby, not to mention the daily market.  The daily market in Sainte-Anne makes this place truly special.  You can find everything here, including clothes, fresh fruit juices and vegetables, and bottled rum punch.  The best part of the market, however, is the overwhelming selection of spices!  

The local drink is called ti’punch (short for petite punch), which translates to ‘small punch.’  This drink may be small in size, but be careful of having too many.  The only ingredients are white rhum agricole, lime, and cane sugar.  

If you’re into watersports, there’s no shortage in Sainte-Anne.  You can find surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing – essentially any kind of surfing your heart desires.  

Start planning your next trip, and add Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe to your ultimate beach bucket list!

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Sainte-Anne. Photo Credit: The MIgrant Yogi.

Saona Beach, Dominican Republic

Written By Martha from Quirky Globetrotter 

For me, an impeccable beach has three keys things. First, soft, clean sand is essential. Second, little foot traffic to make it an oasis that melts your worries away. And, finally, be a favorite among the locals. Saona Beach checks off all those boxes. 

Saona Beach is a remote and a gleaming hidden gem in the Dominican Republic. The nearby bustling town of Mano Juan has a population of 300. The locals have set up quaint little seaside shack shops selling their beautiful, handcrafted wares. The beach is not overcrowded with locals or tourists since the island can be reached only by boat. All this is an effort by locals to protect the beautiful island from being tainted by tourism and haven for Caribbean wildlife. 

Every moment on Isla Saona is like winning the lottery. The turquoise waters glitter like gemstones. The palms branches overhead threaten to tan tiger stripes onto your skin. The surf is relatively calm making it ideal for snorkeling. Just off the shores, there is a small coral reef where colonies of rainbow-colored fish live. Peering down in the water is similar to lying back with a kaleidoscope. The schools of fish swirling and chasing each other through towers of coral. 

Saona Beach is nothing short of majestic. 

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Saona Beach. Photo Credit: Quirky Globetrotter.

Flamenco Beach, Culebra, Puerto Rico

My Recommendation

Flamenco Beach, located about 17 miles off of mainland Puerto Rico, is one of the many great reasons to visit Puerto Rico. Flamenco Beach is a horseshoe shaped bay that sits on the island of Culebra. Flamenco Beach is home to shallow turquoise waters great for swimmers of all skills or waddlers, pristine white sands, and ocean life just off shore that presents great snorkeling opportunities. Flamenco Beach is also home to grafitti covered, abandoned military tanks that were left behind by the US army in 1975. Flamenco Beach was used as a weapons testing area for thirty years.

Flamenco Beach makes for a great day trip from main island Puerto Rico either through an organized tour or through a ferry that leaves from Farjardo severl times daily. The boat ride is approximately 90 minutes one way. There are snack shacks nearby for a treat or you can bring your own and enjoy a picnic on the beach. One thing that makes Flamenco so great is a lack of motorized water sports, creating a quiet and peaceful atmosphere.

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Flamenco Beach. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie

The Best Beaches in Oceania

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

Written By Hawaii Travel With Kids

One of the best beaches in the world is Waikiki Beach in Hawaii. There’s a reason it’s been featured in countless movies and TV shows throughout the decades. Here, you can learn how to surf, go kayaking, or just body surf in the super calm water. It’s perfect for swimmers of all ages and abilities.

The beach itself is also amazing for people who enjoy people watching. You’ll see tourists from all over the world who want to experience their ultimate Hawaii vacation. It’s also located near high-end shopping centers like Luxury Row, the Royal Hawaiian Center, and the re-imagined International Marketplace. You will find stores like Chanel, Burberry, Saks Fifth Avenue, Christian Louboutin, and more.

But, you can also find local treats from Big Island Candies and Honolulu Cookie Company that make awesome Hawaii souvenirs. And it’s the absolute best spot to enjoy a tropical cocktail while gazing at Waikiki and Diamond Head! There are tons of tiki bars and beachfront restaurants with all kinds of delicious Hawaiian and Pan-Pacific food.

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Waikiki. Photo Credit: Flickr/ graysky.

Kama’ole Beach, Maui, Hawaii

Written By Planning Away

Maui is the second largest island in Hawaii. It is known for its world famous beaches.  We only had one day in Maui and wanted to spend time relaxing in paradise. Kama’ole Beach is the best kept secret on the entire island.  There are actually 3 distinct Kama’ole Beaches.  We went to Kama’ole Beach 1.

Kama’ole Beach is about 1/3 mile long.   This beach is not overly crowded. Although, It does get a little busy during the weekends. The water is crystal clear and the temperature is perfect, not too hot and not too cold.  The sand here is simply amazing! It is very similar to that found at Wailea and Makena Beaches which are located further south. The white sand bottom makes it a perfect place for swimming and snorkeling. 

There is a parking lot located along the road. Restrooms and picnic areas are also available.  If you are lucky volleyball nets will be set up. Kama’ole Beach is a perfect destination. 

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Kama’ole Beach. Photo Credit: Planning Away.
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Hometown Series: Townsville, North Queensland, Australia

Introduction: With the current travel restrictions and quarentines in place, exploring our own backyards is becoming more of a trend. This week we continue the hometown series, where we explore all the great attractions from the hometowns of travel bloggers around the world. In previous weeks we explored Delhi in India, Leeds inYorkshire, Ann Arbor in Michigan, and my own hometown Herkimer NY. This week we will dive in to Townsville, Australia as told by local Abbie of One World Wanderer.

Highlights: Townsville has much to offer visitors, from exploring the lovely and picturesque botanical gardens, catching a movie at a drive in theater in Charters Towers, getting up close with nature at Wallaman Falls, enjoying Australia’s coastline at Orpheus Island, to wnadering a rainforest and cooling off in the rainforest’s waterholes.

About Townsville

Townsville, a sunshine destination on the north-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia, is a traveller’s wonder, with so much to discover. From stunning palm-tree lined beaches, to the tropical coral wonderlands of the Great Barrier Reef, to dense rainforest as ancient as time, and the true red-dirt heart of the Outback; Townsville has it all.

You’ll never be bored of things to do in Townsville!

Photo Credit: One World Wanderer

What To Do

Townsville’s Gardens

There are two stunning, unique, and large gardens in Townsville, each one home to beauty and nature unlike any other, that are must-visits when in Townsville.

Anderson Botanic Gardens is the largest Australian Botanic Garden with a strong emphasis on the dry tropics and native species. With large shady grass areas, the gardens are the perfect spot for a picnic or a day relaxing in nature.

The Palmetum is a unique tropical experience in the heart of Townsville, covering over 17 hectares. It is a botanical garden with a collection of over 300 species, many rare and threatened in their natural habitats. The Palmetum gardens also feature the magnificent ‘Tumbetin Lodge’– a heritage building with a long history, that now serves one of Townsville’s best coffee and brunches.

Charters Towers

Red dirt, blue skies, and only an hour inland from Townsville, Charters Towers encompasses the true grandeur of the Australian Outback, with an abundance of incredible things to do. Founded in 1871 after the discovery of gold, Charters Towers was established as a place for prospectors to mine their fortune in the goldfields of North Queensland, leaving behind an establishment of character and history Australians pride themselves on.

There are many must-do things in Charters Towers, but none more than witnessing the release of a blockbuster film at the famous Tors drive-in theatre- one of the oldest and last remaining drive-in theatres in Australia. It’s the perfect way to end a day of travel, where you can enjoy a unique night of stargazing and movies.

While visiting Charters Towers, another must-do experience you can have, is by visiting Australia’s largest herd of purebred Texas Longhorns. Here, you can take a horse-drawn wagon ride back in time to the old west, in the era of the Texas Longhorns, or enjoy oven cooked damper and billy tea served the traditional Australian way.

Wallaman Falls

Wallaman Falls, the largest single drop waterfall in Australia, is approximately two hours north of Townsville and set high in the mountains of the UNESCO World Heritage Wet Tropics. Boasting and impressive 268 metre single drop, the falls are often shrouded in a rainbow-fringed cloud of mist- a sheer display of Mother Nature’s beauty. 

To get to the base of the falls, a 3.2km return track offers you many incredible viewpoints to stop and take pictures. While the hike down to the base of the falls is relatively straight forward, pace yourself on the return trip as the incline is definitely more noticeable, particularly if you’re travelling with camera gear or as a family.

Photo Credit: One World Wnaderer.

Orpheus Island

Imagine there’s a place where you feel fully submerged in the beauty of the world. A place where the only sounds you can hear are the soft rustle of the trees and the waves crashing against the shoreline. Imagine an untouched wonderland where the only word you can express is, ‘wow.’

Orpheus Island- one of the hidden treasures of the Great Barrier Reef, is just that. Located just 80km north of Townsville and amidst the magical waters of the Reef, Orpheus Island stretches across the immaculate turquoise coastline, comprised of National Parks and World Heritage- listed Marine Parks.

The Rainforest

Deep in the heart of the North Queensland lies an abundance of incredible forest locations, fuelled with nature’s finest waterholes, falls, and ancient trees. You can meander along the rainforest walk to see magnificent white figs in Abergowrie State Forest, explore the bank of the Broadwater Creek, swim upstream at Crystal Creek, find seclusion and peace at Jourama Falls, or kick back with a hike through the Paluma rainforest.

Whatever it is you choose to do- the rainforest has the answer for you, and it is waiting.

Photo Credit: One World Wanderer.

Author Bio

Abbie Gatherum has been writing her entire life, most actively since 2017 as a freelance writer and travel blogger for her website One World Wanderer. She grew up in North Queensland, Australia, but prefers to chase stories in different countries around the world. Abbie is an aspiring fiction writer who finds solace in the way words create stories about the past, present, and future. She hopes to one day travel to every country and write a collection of tales set in different time periods.

Follow Abbie on her adventures via Instagram!

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12 Hidden Gems in Paris That You Shouldn’t Skip

Introduction: Paris is full of wonderful attractions, culture, and history, from the Effiel Tower to the Louvre Museum to the Arc de Triomphe. However, in the less traveled, back street areas there are plenty of great attractions that will give you the same wonder with less crowds.

Highlights: Visit Canal Saint Martin for a picnic and relaxing walk, take in the beauty of Palais-Royal, take in some history at the Dali Museum and Musée de Montmartre, take in the colorful design of the Pigalle Basketball Court, and more!

1.) Canal Saint Martin

Recommended by Martina & Jürgen of Places of Juma

The Canal Saint Martin, which is extending over 4.5 km, is one of the best places to visit in Paris away from the typical tourist’s path. Located in a picturesque working-class area the canal amazes with many locks, Venetian-style foot bridges, lush green parks, lovely squares and wonderful places to sit and enjoy the waterfront. Not surprisingly, that Canal Saint Martin has become a popular meeting point for locals as well as tourists for having a picnic at the canal banks.

Walking along the canal and enjoying the marvelous scenery is the best relaxing thing you can do in downtown Paris. Just take your lunch and some drinks and soak in the unique atmosphere of Paris. If you prefer eating out there are many nice and small shops and bars along the canal. However you prefer, don`t forget to take you camera. Canal Saint Martin is one of Paris’ hidden jewels and offers many lovely photo opportunities.

The nicest part for having a picnic is definitively between rue Dieu and rue des Récollets. Here you will also find the Hotel du Nord, built in 1885, which was the location of the film Hôtel du Nord by Marcel Carné.

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Canal Saint Martin. Photo Credit: Places of Juma.

2.) Palais-Royal

Recommened by Claudia of Adventures Across the World

One of the most unique places to visit in Paris is Palais-Royal. Tucked away in a small street not far from the Louvre, it’s the kind of place most visitors stumble upon and end up falling in love with. The main building is beautiful. It once was a royal property called Palais-Cardinal, as it was the home of Cardinal Richelieu, who lived there until his death in 1642. After that, it became property of Philippe II Duke of Orléans, who held the monarchy when Louis XV inherited the throne at age 5 in 1715 and was too young to reign. 

Palais-Royal is now the seat of the Constitutional Court of France and of the Ministry of Culture. Though the palace is beautiful, your attention will inevitably be drawn to the edgy, fun art installation of striped columns of different sizes which are fun to photograph. Go early in the morning if you want to have the place to yourself, but the good news is that it never really gets crowded – quite welcome news in a city that sees an overflow of tourists. 
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Palais-Royal is free to visit. It opens daily at 7:00 or 7:30 am and closes late. 

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Palias-Royal. Photo Credit: Adventures Across the World.

3.) Dali Museum

Recommended by Emma of Forever Lost in Travel

I spent a lot of time on my last trip to Paris in the Montmartre area. I hadn’t explored it much in the past beyond the Sacre-Couer and the Moulin Rouge. But climbing to the highest point in Montmartre, I walked the tiny streets and came across the Dali Paris Museum. Dali is one of my favorite artists. His eccentric personality was responsible for some truly unique art. I have visited his hometown in Spain, but this museum in Paris was a close second to some of his amazing work.

The museum is 12 EUR to enter, but there’s a lot to see for your money. The gallery has paintings and sculptures, but it’s not like any regular museum. The art makes you think and makes you lose yourself in all its unique weirdness. Like paintings where you have to tilt your head to figure out what’s going on. Or the drawings that look like nothing until you use a mirror to see how it all comes together in the reflection.

If you’re a Dali fan this is a must. If you have no idea who he is, you will still find this one of the most interesting collections of art in Paris. It doesn’t hurt that’s it’s also in one of the artiest bohemian neighborhoods of Paris that will draw you in and make you never want to leave.

Find more art in Montmartre with these tips on exploring street art!

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Dali Museum. Photo Credit: Forever Lost in Travel.

4.) Galeries Lafayette

Recommened by Michelle of Intentional Travelers

Even if you’re not into malls or shopping, Galeries Lafayette is a sight to behold. The main building on the corner of Boulevard Haussman and Rue de la Chaussee d’Antin features a stunningly ornate interior that’s worth a look if you have the time.

Additionally, there are two rooftop terraces where you can get free, panoramic views of the city! I like taking people up there because of the unique viewpoint of Paris hidden away from the main attractions. 

Here’s how to find the two overlooks: In the Galeries Lafayette “Grand Magasin” building, take the elevator or escalator up to the 5th level and then continue up two flights of stairs to the 7th floor. Further down Haussman, the Printemps Beauté department store also has a rooftop terrace and cafe on the 9th floor. Wander up to either terrace and enjoy the view!

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Galeries Lafayette. Photo Credit: Intentional Travelers.

5.) Musee du Parfum at Fragonard Parfumer

Recommended by Everywhere Forward

If you’re looking for something unique and free to do in Paris, consider visiting Musee du Parfum! Located a short walk from the Palais Garnier, this free museum offers a unique look into the world of French perfume. You’ll get to see how making perfume is truly a work of art! Don’t miss out on visiting the Musee du Parfum during your trip to Paris. The museum covers a range of topics from history to science to marketing and business, so it’s not just for those who love to wear perfume. 

All visitors the museum are given a free thirty-minute guided tour. During this immersive tour, you’ll learn about how perfume has been a staple since ancient civilization and how over the centuries fragrance has evolved into what we know it as today! Then you’ll take a step into the laboratory and see how companies like Fragonard develop and manufacture their scents. You’ll watch how aromatics are extracted from raw materials and how master perfumers use their sense of smell to develop their final product. At the end of your tour, you’ll get to test your olfactory system in a perfume testing session. And of course, you’ll have the chance to do some shopping for authentic Parisian perfume! The museum also hosts workshops where you can try your hand at making your own scents and perfume. During your visit to Paris, don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind sensory experience! 

More to Do in Paris

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Musee du Parfum. Photo Credit: Everywhere Forward.

6.) Park Floral & Castle Vincennes, Paris

Recommended by Gabrijela of Under Flowery Sky

Park Floral in Paris is a large botanical garden near castle Vincennes where you can easily spend the whole day. Though this quarter is located in the suburb of Paris, the elegance is so alive with the white wide streets and historical decorations. It is awaken in 1969 with the intention to become the background for the large flower festival called Floralies. Artificial lake is a treasure of peace among colourful spring trees, little gardens of curative plants, and many magnolias. Bonsai trees are the highlight of the park, more than 60 trees can be found. The Dahlia flower show makes the garden enchanting. Children’s playground give them an exquisite ambiance of eco-style with tipis made from branches and other creative equipment. Minigolf with the replicas of the Paris monuments is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. During the summer many events are happening like the Paris Jazz Festival.

For all the botanical lovers Parc Floral is a hidden paradise, an oasis of peace and education. An additional bonus is that castle Vincennes is just across so you cannot skip it when arriving. The castle gives an artistic inspiration not only to common people but to many students making drawings of it. That’s one of the reasons for its relaxing atmosphere and sitting around it. Castle Vincennes is surrounded by one of the largest parks in Paris Bois de Vincennes and is truly a place to go. Castle Vincennes is a beautiful royal surprise which once served as the residence of the royal family, then the porcelain manufactury and later as prison. So much history deserves the visit. The chapelle inside is decorated with the ever wonderful stained glass. Parc Floral and castle Vincennes are easily acessible by metro.

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Castle Vincennes.. Photo Credit: Under Flowery Sky.

7.) Pigalle Basketball Court

Recommended by Jenna of I Know The Pilot

Set amongst plain, pastel buildings in the 9th Arrondissement of Paris, the last thing I expected to discover was a fluro-bright basketball court, full of ballers young and old.

Originally an old parking lot, locals campaigned to keep the space empty as a place for children to play, rather than being developed. The local basketball team, along with local residents, painted the first version of the court in the early 2000s.

However, the space rose to international fame in 2009, when a collaboration between French brand ‘Pigalle’ (whose creator had been playing at the court for several years), Nike and creative outfit ILL Studio culminated in a fantastic, functional space that not only hosts local basketballers of all ages, but celebrities and even fashion shows. Present at the original opening of the space were Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Spike Lee and LeBron James – all basketball superstars, and fashion shows and ad campaigns have been held at the space since.

The space gets a refresh every few years, the most recent in January 2020. Always colourful and always bright, the site has now (thanks largely to social media) become a hot-spot for tourists, photographers and those wanting to snag the perfect ‘gram. However, it is still a fully functioning basketball court, and it is not unusual to see a variety of players on the court at any one time, amongst the obvious tourists and selfie queens.

Though I have to admit I went there specifically to get some photos (I’m terrible at any kind of sports), my partner ended up in a game that lasted almost an hour, with a mix of locals and visitors – speaking five different languages. It was one of those amazing travel moments that make you realise that there is so much that unites us as humans, and we don’t always need to speak the same language to communicate.

Located in the 9th arrondissiment of Paris, at 22 Rue Duperré, the court is easy to reach with several Metro stops nearby, the closest being Blanche. It is free to visit and play on (though you have to bring your own ball), and is a great way to interact with other visitors and locals. Definitely a must-see, this quirky little spot is so unique, and your pictures will be amazing!

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Pigalle Basketball Court. Photo Credit: I Know the Pilot.

8.)Wine and Chesese Tasting Workshop

Recommended by James of Travel Collecting

One of the hidden gems in Paris is a wine and cheese tasting workshop.  When you think of France, chances are you think of wine and you think of cheese.  So, what better way to experience French culture than to sample both – and to learn more about them in the process.  The workshop starts with a welcome glass of wine while getting a general overview of the cheese and wine growing regions in France.  Then the host presents each cheese along with an explanation about the kind of cheese it is, where it comes from, what qualities it has.  A wine is also introduced, with an explanation about the wine and why it is commonly paired with that type of cheese.  Participants then try the cheese, noting the flavors, whether they like it and why or why not. 

This is repeated for the wine.  Then the cheese is held in the mouth while sipping on the wine at the same time.  It is fascinating to note how the combination changes the flavor of both the wine and the cheese.  Sometimes a cheese that tastes great alone doesn’t taste as nice when paired with the wine and sometimes the cheese tastes better with the wine.  It is truly fascinating.  A “scorecard” is kept so pairings can be noted.  Most of the cheeses are extremely seasonal – only at their best for a few weeks a year, and freshly bought from a cheese market.  The workshop is a great springboard for venturing out into the Parisian markets and tiny cheese shops and experimenting with new cheeses for a picnic in one of Paris’ many great parks!

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Wine and Cheese Tasting. Photo Credit: Travel Collecting.

9.) Shakespeare and Company

Recommened by Wendy Werneth of The Nomadic Vegan

Shakespeare and Company is a wonderful English-language bookstore where you can pick up some books for your next long train ride, but it’s also much, much more than that. The store was founded in 1951 by an American expat named George Whitman who came over to Paris to study on the GI bill. He had been running an informal reading room and lending library out of his dorm room, and a friend of his convinced him to make it official and open a bookstore.

So George moved his store into what used to be a monastery, built in the 17th century on the banks of the Seine, right across from Notre Dame. His motto was always “give what you can, take what you need”, and he even allowed budding writers, artists and other lost souls to sleep inside the bookstore in exchange for helping out for a couple of hours each day. George called these temporary residents “tumbleweeds”, and he welcomed anyone as long as they agreed to write a one-page autobiography and read one book a day for as long as they stayed there.

George also lived in the bookstore, or, more precisely, in the apartment just above it, which is where he passed away in 2011 at the age of 98. Since then, his only daughter Sylvia Whitman has taken over the running of the shop. She’s made a few modern additions, such as the attached café selling some of Paris’ best vegetarian food, but the welcoming, ramshackle spirit of the bookstore remains very much the same.

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Shakespeare and Company. Photo Credit: The Nomadic Vegan.

10.) Musée de Montmartre

Recommended by Laura of What’s Hot?

Montmartre is one of the most famous and tourist-ridden districts in Paris, but the Musée de Montmartre is a hidden gem atop this hill. It’s one of the top small museums in Paris and the perfect addition to an afternoon in Montmartre. The Museum is located just a few metres up from the infamous “La Maison Rose”. You’ll undoubtedly have seen pictures of this pink restaurant on Instagram. In contrast, the Musee de Montmartre is nondescript so you could be forgiven for walking past it. You almost certainly wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t know it was there. 

The museum pays homage to Montmartre and takes you through the history of it from the 19th century to today. Back then, it was an area full of mills and vineyards. Then in the late 1800s, artists started moving to this area and it became a vibrant arrondissement associated with theatre, music and dance. The museum contains a whole section dedicated to the French Cancan you won’t want to miss. It is also the former home of a number of artists including famous French painter Renoir and there’s a wonderful atelier inside so you can see what a painter’s studio would have looked like at the time. One of the best parts, however, is the green garden at the back of the museum. From here, you even get a view over the Vineyard. Yes, there’s still a vineyard in Paris! There are tables dotted around the garden so you can enjoy tea and cake in the sun with a view over the city. 
Tickets cost €13 with concessions available. 

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Musée de Montmartre. Photo Credit: What’s Hot?

11.) Paris Catacombs

Recommended by Victoria of Tori Leigh

Visiting the Paris Catacombs is one of the most unique experiences visitors can have in the City of Lights. A bit obscure, the underground ossuary is creepy, exciting, and interesting all at the same time.

In short, the Paris Catacombs is a network of tunnels and rooms 3,000 km below the streets of Paris. It contains the remains of six million Parisians, including Marat, Robespierre, and others who perished during the French Revolution.

At the end of the 18th century, amid major plague outbreaks, cemeteries began transferring their remains to an underground quarry. The site officially became an ossuary in 1786 and, after renovations, the final bones were laid in 1860. Today, the site welcomes over six million annual visitors.

Not for the faint of heart, the Paris Catacombs greets its visitors with a sign reading Here Lies the Empire of Death. The bones and skeletal arrangements are, in fact, all real. The site, which is only accessible by descending 131 steps, can feel cold, damp, and closed in at times.

A part of Parisian history, though, the Paris Catacombs are not to be missed. Purchase tickets online and ahead of time as the line get sometimes get long; only 200 visitors are allowed in at one time. A self guided tour should take about an hour and audio is available (placards in the Catacombs are all in French). Afterwards, enjoy some of the cafés lining the streets of Montparnasse and explore this lesser traversed neighborhood.

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The Paris Catacombs. Photo Credit: Tori Leigh.

12.) La Petite Ceinture

Recommended by Elisa of World in Paris

When planning your trip to Paris, keep some free time for a couple of hidden gems far from crowds. There are many interesting places off the beaten path but perhaps my favorite is La Petite Ceinture.

La Petite Ceinture, “the Little Belt” in English, is Paris’ ancient railway built in the 19th century that circumnavigated the city. The trains transported passengers and goods and it was a good way for people to get around Paris. The railway’s decline started with the inauguration of the Parisian Metro in 1900 and it stopped transporting passengers in 1934 when the metro reached its maturity. The trains kept transporting goods for some more years until the seventies when it stopped working. Then the railways and train stations were disaffected and abandoned.

Years later the City of Paris decided to restore parts of this Petite Ceinture and convert them into green spaces with some informative panels to highlight its importance for the history of the city.

Today it is possible to visit parts of La Petite Ceinture a little bit everywhere in Paris 12, Paris 13, Paris 15, Paris 16, Paris 19, and Paris 20.  Personally, I prefer the section located in the 15th District of Paris because it has kept the railways, visitors still can see a secondary train station and some train sights.

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La Petite Ceinture. Photo Credit: World in Paris.

Are you looking for some more off the beaten path destinations in Europe? Check out these underrated cities (part 1 and part 2) in Europe!

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Chimney Bluffs State Park

Introduction: Chimney Bluffs State Park is located in Wolcott, NY and offers stunning views of Lake Ontario. The park gets its name from the stunning bluffs along the North end drumline, developed over thousands of years.

Highlights: Take in the stunning views of Lake Ontario and the eroded cliff edges after taking a relaxing walk through the woods and then visit nearby Sodus Point for some family fun, great food, and a lighthouse.

Related Links:

Leave No Trace (hiking etiquette)

Lake Ontario.

The History

Located in Wolcott, NY, Chimney Bluffs State Park is a frequently visited destination that attracts visitors because of it’s erosion crafted bluffs. If you take the trails leading above you will get stunning views of Lake Ontario and the bluffs above, or walk along the shoreline below and you will get some great views of the bluffs from below.

Lake Ontario was formed as a result of a continental glacier that melted 12,000 years ago. The bluffs are located along the Northeran end of a glacier made hill called a drumline and reach up to 150ft. in some places. The chimney bluffs were formed as a result of thousands of years of waves splashing against the drumline and causing the soil to washout as well as erosion from wind, rain, and snow. At present time the shoreline continues to recede as much as three to five feet yearly.

Another piece of interesting history, during the Prohibition, the Chimney Bluffs were used as an area where Canadian smugglers dropped off liquor that would be collected and stored for selling.

One of the cliffs along the Bluff Trail.

Park Info

Find More Information Here

Address: 7700 Garner Road, Wolcott, NY 14590

Hours: Open daily year round from dawn to dusk

Cost: $5 per vehicle from April 1st to October 31st. You can also use the Empire Pass for entrance, the New York State park pass that allows you entrance into New York State Parks free of charge (the pass is a one time payment of $80).

Contact Information: (315) 947-5205

Maps: You can find downloadable maps on the Chimney Bluffs website as well as a digital map for your phone.

Activities: Fishing, Hiking, Hunting, Grilling, Picnics, Bird Watching, and Snowmobiling/Snowshoeing in Winter

Exploring the Park

When you arrive at the park there are two entrance options. The first is located on Garner Road and will give you access to most of the trail heads and a picnic area. There is also bathroom access adjacent to the parking area. We passed the entrance to the East-West Trail and the Bluff Trail while walking along this path, but both were very muddy and inaccessible with small children (if it were just me I would have gone for it!).

The shoreline at the end of the walking path from the parking lot.

The second entrance and parking area is located along East Bay Road and will take you directly below the bluffs. From here you will find a set of stairs leading to a steep hill. While the hill is quite steep, the climb to the top is relatively small, so it is likely doable for people of all hiking abilities (I was able to complete the hike with a five and six year old, the two year old had to be carried up the hill). Once you reach the top you will first come across a single bluff with great views of the lake.

Continue on and you will find more single bluffs along the path until your reach the largest group of bluffs. This is where we ended our walk because the the path got closer to the edge at this point and we did not feel it was appropriate for younger children.

Near the entrance to the stairs leading to the Bluff Trail is a small area along the that gives you some access to the shoreline. There is a bit of a ledge that you have to climb down and we opted not to do this with the kids, but it did make for some good views.

The Shoreline.

The Trails

You have four different trails to choose from to explore the wilderness of the park and to view the Bluffs. All of the trails are relatively easy and can be enjoyed by beginning level hikers.

The Bluff Trail

A 1.25 mile long trail that takes you along the edge of the bluffs. The Trail is accessible near the picnic area or via the stairs located on the East Bay Road Entrance. There is a steep inclination on the East Bay Road side with a milder inclination along the other side.

The Drumline Trail

A 0.75 mile long trail that begins on Garner Road, crossing the East-West Trail, and eventually meets the Bluff Trail at the top of the cliffs. (This trail was not accessible when we visited).

Garner Point Trail

The Garner Point Trail is a 0.5 mile trail that begins to the left of the parking area and extends to Garner Point at the shore of Lake Ontario. The Bluff Trail and East-West Trail can be reached along this trail.

East-West Trail

The longest trail, a 1.75 mile trail that goes through the park parallel to Garner Road. This trail does not pass by the bluffs, but does have connecting points with the Drumline Trail and ends at East Bay Road, which can be taken down to the stairs leading to the Bluff Trail.

Tips for Visiting

One of the Bluffs.

If you are visiting in the Spring time, expect the trails to be VERY muddy. During our visit one of the trails was closed for reconstruction (the Bluff Trail) and the other was inaccessible due to the trail being overrun with huge mud puddles.

Swimming is prohibited in the park. If you walk along the lower levels below the bluffs you will be able to get up close to the water, but going in is not allowed for safety reasons.

Pets are allowed in the park, but must be kept on a leash with a maximum length of 6ft.

Chimney Bluffs State Park is a carry in carry-out park. If bringing anything in be sure to carry it out with you! Do not leave trash behind that can damage the environment. Remember the Leave No Trace guidelines!

One of the most important things to take note if is staying away from the cliff edges. They are unstable and change continuously, so listen to the signs and be careful. You will still get great views!

A sign warning you to stay back!

Nearby Attractions

If you are visiting Chimney Bluffs State Park, you must take the time to visit nearby Sodus Point. Sodus Point is a small village in Wayne County that offers great attractions, great food, and lots of family fun!

1.) Sodus Point Beach Park

The Sodus Point Beach Park is located only twenty minutes from Chimney Bluffs State Park. The park features a beach/swimming area, lighthouse, playground, picnic area, and grills. The park is a great place to spend a summer afternoon and the whole family will enjoy it! End the evening watching the sunset from the lighthouse.

2.) Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum

The Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum sits within the building that was once a lighthouse, destroyed in 1824 during the Civil War, and rebuilt in 1870. Today you can visit the museum, learn about the history, view artifacts, and climb the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse.

3.) Beechwood State Park

Beechwood State Park is a 288 acre state park located along Lake Ontario in Sodus, NY. Beechwood State Park was once home to a girl scout camp that has since been abandoned. However, the remnants of the camp remain and today you can see the remnants on the cabins, a pool, and a number of other buildings. Also within the park you can find great walking trails, fishing sites, and some beach access.

4.) Huckleberry Swamp

Huckleberry Swamp is a fifteen minute drive from Chimney Bluffs State Park and is the perfect destination for a relaxing afternoon walk. The walk through Huckleberry Swamp is a two mile long, easy walk through a nature preserve and wildlife preservation area. You will likely come into contact with a variety of different wildlife species and plant species.

5.) Visit a Vineyard

Sodus Point and the surrounding areas are home to many vineyards along the Lake Ontario Wine Trail. You can spend the day enjoying wine tasting and vineyard tours. Thrope Vineyard is just a five minute drive from Chimney Bluffs State Park if you are looking for something right next door!

Photo by Math on Pexels.com
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Most Underrated Cities in Europe (Part II)

Part II

Introduction: Europe is undoubtedly one of the most popular continents for travelers of all types. Many of the world’s most well-known and popular destinations are in Europe, including Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. However, Europe is also full of underrated cities that have much to offer travelers and are worth a visit.

Highlights: In Part I we discussed many underrated cities located throughout Europe, from Coppenhagen to Waterford to Valletta. This week we will explore Piazza del Campo in Siena, learn about Bryndzové halušky in Slovakia, view the Yantra River in Bulgaria, explore the sulfur baths of Tbilisi, and more!

Photo by Barb Duggan on Pexels.com

Seville, Spain

Written By Earth’s Magical Places

Spain is full of wonderful cities to visit, however, one that often gets overlooked is the fabulous and historic Seville. The capital of southern Spain’s Andalusian region, Seville is famous for its oranges (which are used to make Marmalade), and year round warm weather!

It also has a rich history to discover. Said to be founded by Hercules, Seville’s location close to the African continent means it flourished under the rule of the Islamic civilization for over 500 years. Despite being overtaken by the Christian King Fernando III in 1249, much of the city’s architecture and culture continues to have a Moorish influence, making it a truly unique place to visit.  In this way, there’s lots to discover in the city, from its magnificent Gothic Cathedral, which is the final burial place of Christopher Columbus, to Europe’s oldest inhabited Royal Palace: The Real Alcazar.

Visiting Seville is also like stepping right into one of your favourite movies! The beauty of the city makes it a TV and Film maker’s heaven. Most recently, the Real Alcazar was used as the backdrop to create the Kingdom of Dorne in Game of Thrones. Meanwhile, another of the best places to visit in the city, The Plaza de Espana, was featured in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the clones back in 2002.

While you’d be right to never want to leave Seville! It’s also the perfect base for exploring more of southern Spain. Nearby charming towns such as Ronda, or the magical Granada, are a must visit. Plus you can even take day trips out of Spain to Gibraltar or Morocco…. Just another reason why Seville should not be skipped as a destination when visiting Europe.

3 Day Itinerary for Seville

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Seville. Photo Credit: Earth’s Magical Places.

Siena, Italy

Written By Homeroom Travel

Siena, Italy is a charming medieval town located in the Tuscany area of Italy. In 1995, it became a UNESCO World Heritage City. It is known for its museums, gorgeous views, delicious food, and for hosting the Palio horse races each year. The city center is a pedestrian zone and visitors can spend hours wandering the streets. 

When in Siena, visitors must stop and grab lunch in the Piazza del Campo, the main square. Locals and visitors alike can be found at all hours hanging around in the square and relaxing. Adjacent to the square is the Torre del Mangia. This tower was completed in 1348 and offers impressive views of Siena if you dare to climb the 300 steps to the top. On a clear day, you can even see the Tuscan vineyards from the tower. The Siena Cathedral is also worth a visit to see the gorgeous artwork inside. 

I highly recommend eating at Osteria il Vinaio di Bobbe e Davide, where they make the most amazing homemade pasta. Make sure to try the Caccio e Pepe, a local favorite and grab an Aperol Spritz along with it. A spritz is an alcoholic beverage with Aperol, a popular Italian orange liqueur, mixed with sparkling wine. Do not forget to grab some gelato for dessert!

Siena should not be skipped when visiting Italy because it gives a great depiction of Italian life and history. Not only do you get to escape the hustle and bustle of the big cities, but there is also delicious cuisine, spectacular views, and friendly people. Its charm and character makes Siena one of the most underrated cities in Europe.

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Siena, Italy. Photo Credit: Homeroom Travel.

Corniglia, Italy

Written By Fueled By Wanderlust

Corniglia is the most overlooked village in Italy’s coastal Cinque Terre region. Many visitors to this region skip over this underrated Italian village, and miss out on its unique beauty and charm.

Some of the other Cinque Terre villages are more Insta-famous, and attract hordes of day trippers. If crowds aren’t you thing, Corniglia is a welcome retreat, since it manages to avoid the worst of them. This is largely due to the fact that Corniglia is the most challenging village to access.

Corniglia’s train station is located far below the actual village. This means visitors need to either climb over 300 stairs or wait for a shuttle bus in order to reach the center of town. However, this really helps to weed out the riff-raff, and greatly rewards those who have the patience to deal with these minor challenges.

In addition, those who come to Cinque Terre for hiking will find a great home base in Corniglia. This village is the middle of the five and at the highest altitude, so you can hike downhill to two of the other villages in either direction. Plus, with the coastal trail connecting all five villages being partially closed, choosing an alternative hike to two villages at a time is currently the best option.

If breathtaking views are what you seek, Corniglia’s high elevation guarantees you’ll take in plenty of gorgeous scenery. From our lodging we could actually see Manarola, Vernazza, and Monterosso in the distance. Even a couple local enotecas had dreamy views out to the Ligurian sea, and were the perfect place to grab an aperitivo around golden hour.

Finally, Corniglia offers a great food scene with plenty of ambience. Once of the most famous places to check out is A Cantina da Mananan for its extremely fresh seafood dishes. An experience like this is best topped off like any good Italian vacation should be – a scoop of gelato. The local favorite in Corniglia is Alberto Gelateria, which you will certainly love, as authentic gelato never disappoints.

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Corniglia, Italy. Photo Credit: Fueled By Wanderlust.

Gothenburg, Sweden

Written By The Wanderlust Within

Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg has remained a hidden gem compared to its big sister, Stockholm. However, as the world’s most sustainable destination four times in a row, this is one Swedish city that shouldn’t be missed. 

Gothenburg is one of the most walkable cities in Europe and is filled with beautiful (and free!) botanical gardens, local designer shops, and canals that can transport you across the city. All across Gothenburg there is a love for the Swedish fika culture, that will have you visiting all the pastry hotspots across the city, such as the quaint neighbourhood of Haga, famous for baking the largest cinnamon rolls in Sweden! Food in Gothenburg encompasses the same high quality ingredients and flair that Stockholm is famous for but for a much more affordable price.

The best time of year to visit the city has to be in December during the Gothenburg Christmas Markets, when the whole city turns into a festive winter wonderland. There are four main Christmas markets sprinkled across the city but the main one, and Sweden’s largest Christmas market is at Liseberg Amusement Park. The country’s national icon, Liseberg couples thrilling rollercoaster rides with a seasonal ice skating show and over 80 Christmas stalls and shops. There are plenty of festive food choices such as traditional Swedish gingerbread called Pepparkaka, sweet mulled wine called glogg, and even a four course Swedish Christmas buffet dinner all under one roof. 

Gothenburg is perfect for a weekend but if you have more time, make sure you visit some of the West Sweden islands to experience Swedish nature at its best.

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Gottenburg, Sweden. Photo Credit: The Wanderlust Within.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Written By Cassie the Hag

Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has to be one of the fascinating cities I’ve visited in Europe, with its startlingly sad history and a huge number of cultural places in one centre.

Learning about the 1990s war and the resulting genocide is a must-do, despite its disturbing nature. There are a number of free walking tours available so you can learn about this respectfully from a local, although you may prefer to do this independently. Museums such as Galerija 11/07/95, with its immersive gallery, give visitors a chance to learn about the tragedy.  Despite outlining the horrors in both photographic and written formats, I found it more emotive than provocative. It thoughtfully humanised the thousands of people killed and made you question how this could possibly have happened to them. And how you did not know about it. Other popular alternatives are the War Childhood Museum or the Tunnel of Hope.

While walking around the Old Town, historical places of interest include the beautiful Gazi Husrev-Beg Mosque and The Baščaršija mosque, both built in the 14th century. At the same time, you can visit lively alleyways lined with coppersmiths and small cafes selling Bosnian coffee. It is certainly worth walking along to the Sarajevo Meeting of Cultures too – the spot where the original prominent cultures of Sarajevo merge. It is known as an ‘east meets west’ city and in this exact spot, you can see buildings of an Austro-Hungarian style change to Islamic and Ottoman architectures in just one step.

There are also plenty of more light-hearted tourist activities in Sarajevo. My favourite was seeing the sunset from The Yellow Fortress, which is just a 15-minute walk from the heart of the old town. The cable car up Trebevic mountain is also hugely popular. While at the top, you can visit the abandoned Olympic bobsleigh track.

One Day Itinerary for Visiting Sarajevo

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Sarajevo, Bosnia. Photo Credit: Cassie The Hag.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Written By Becksplore Travel

One city that often gets overlooked is Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. It is not the biggest city and compared to other capitals there might be not as much to do. However, it is still worth the visit if you are traveling to Europe. 

The main attraction in Bratislava is its impressive castle that can easily be spotted from the city centre. Other than that you can walk around the beautiful old town, visit the presidential palace, or look at the fascinating blue church. You can hike up to the Slavin War memorial and from there get some beautiful views of Bratislava from above. 

Slovakia’s national dish is Bryndzové halušky, which is sheep cheese served on potato dumplings. It usually comes with Bacon sprinkled on the top. There are a lot of traditional Slovak restaurants in Bratislava such a the Slovak Pub or Flagship restaurant. Food in general is cheap if you avoid restaurants located directly in the old town. Other than good restaurants you can also find a lot of bars with cheap drinks, even beers for one 1€.

Bratislava is located next to the Danube river so if you are coming from Vienna or Budapest, you can even travel to Bratislava by boat. There are good train connections to the Czech Republic and Hungary and a bigger bus terminal that makes it easy to travel to and from Bratislava. 

Furthermore, you can go on a lot of interesting day trips from Bratislava to cities in neighboring countries. Vienna in Austria is only one hour away and also the Czech Republic and Hungary can be reached in less than an hour. That makes Bratislava a good and inexpensive starting point to discover more of Eastern Europe. 

While it might not have as many things to offer as Prague or Budapest, Bratislava should definitely be considered when you are travelling to Eastern Europe. 

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Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo Credit: Becksplore Travel.

Groningen, Netherlands

Written By Bucketlist Bri

Chances are you’re already well aware of Amsterdam in The Netherlands, but have you ever heard of the hip, young, and happy city in the north known as Groningen? I had the chance to live in Groningen for my master’s studies and little did I know I was about to live in one of the most underrated cities in Europe!

If you think Amsterdam is full of bikes and students, think again. Groningen actually competes with Amsterdam in this area, judging by the sheer amount of parked bikes in front of the university on Monday morning (around 10,000 each day!) Renting a bike and exploring around is one of the top things to do in Groningen. But from both a tourist and local’s perspective, there’s much more than meets the eye. Groningen has an adorable downtown area with cobblestone streets and huge squares, with typical Dutch-style homes and architecture. 

Must-visit cafes and concept stores are Holtbar, Op z’n Kop (cat cafe), and BAQ Brood & Cafe. Each has its own character and makes for the perfect afternoon sipping a delicious chai or hot tea. When the weather is nice and sunny, Groningen is perfect for exploring on foot or bike. Don’t miss out on visiting the iconic buildings in Groningen like the ancient Martini Clock Tower, the University of Groningen’s majestic Academy building from the year 1604, the Neo-Gothic train station (Hoofdstation), and the creative and colorful Groninger Art Museum! 

When you combine all of its tourist attractions with its cute houseboats and canals, cafes and bars, bike lanes, and windmills, there are so many reasons to visit Groningen, the Netherlands during your next trip to Europe! Next time you visit the Netherlands, make sure to plan a trip from Amsterdam (even if it’s a quick weekend getaway!). 

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Groningen, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Bucketlist Bri.

Courseulles-sur-Mer, France

Written By Poppin’ Smoke

If you ask most anyone – even a French person – where Courseulles-sur-Mer, France is located, they will likely shrug their shoulders. This small town on France’s northwest coast is where Parisians come to enjoy their vacation homes in the summer, and tourists from around the world come to visit the many famous landing beaches, battlefields, landmarks, and museums in Normandy.

A more recognizable name associated with Courseulles-sur-Mer is Juno Beach, where Canadian forces landed during the 1944 D-Day invasion. The town is a great place to learn about this historic battle from the very grounds on which it was fought.

You can tour one of the bunkers that German forces used as an observation post, view a German machine gun emplacement, and see the remains of the original harbor defenses. Also, take a tour of the Juno Beach Centre, a Canadian WWII museum that does a fantastic job of educating visitors about the Normandy invasion.

Courseulles-sur-Mer is also the perfect base from which to explore Normandy by car, because it is centrally located along the Normandy coast. We fortuitously ended up in this charming town by randomly choosing it on the map, because it appeared to be within a couple hours’ drive of the Normandy sites we wanted to see. It proved to be an excellent choice, not only for its proximity to other towns of historical significance, but because it’s a lovely town in its own right.

When not touring WWII sites, you can enjoy Courseulles-sur-Mer’s many seafood restaurants and delicious boulangeries (bakeries) along with its lovely beach and boardwalk. On a nice day, there’s no better way to explore the area than by renting a bike and riding along the path to explore the neighboring beachfront towns.

You may never have heard of Courseulles-sur-Mer, but if you plan to visit Normandy, it’s the perfect place to stay!

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Courseulles-sur-Mer, France. Photo Credit: Poppin’ Smoke.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Written By Ipanema Travels

When talking about Bulgaria even the most travelled tourists come up only with the name of the capital Sofia, but there are so many other great places that remain off-the-radar. One of those underrated cities is Veliko Tarnovo – the old capital of Bulgaria.

Veliko Tarnovo is a picturesque city in the North, which is easily accessible from Sofia (about 250 km) or Varna (the same distance). Travelling from Bucharest (Romania) to Istanbul (Turkey), Veliko Tarnovo can be a perfect stop on the way to spend there at least a day, or even stay longer.

The city has rich cultural and historical heritage. During the heyday of Bulgaria in 12th – 14th century the city was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. There isn’t much left from those glorious days, but you can still visit Tsarevets – the fortress where the king’s palace and the main church were located. Another historical attraction that just opened for visitors after extensive excavations and restoration is the fortress on the Trapezitsa hill.

The Yantra River meanders through the city cutting through the hilly region, allowing for some stunning views – with the old houses clung to the rocks and the green hills that surround the city. For the nature lovers, there are a lot of hiking possibilities with some trails starting at the very city.

Veliko Tarnovo is a laid back historical city where the spirit of the Bulgarian National Revival (18-19 c.) is well preserved. Walk the cobbled street of the Varusha quarter or stroll along the Yantra River on Gurko Street, or visit the Samovodska Charshia – the old market street where you can find the local craftsmen and many souvenir shops.

Veliko Tarnovo is perfect for a day trip, but I would advise you to stay a bit longer (3-4 days) so that you can explore the city and its surroundings better.

More to Do in Veliko Tarnovo

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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Photo Credit: Ipanema Travels.

Modena, Italy

Written By Little Lost Travel

Modena is a city located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. A proud UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s one of the most underrated cities in Europe and not just because of its history and architecture. Modena is a food lover’s paradise. Here in its region, Parmigiano-Reggiano, nicknamed ‘the King of Cheeses’ originated alongside tortellini, air-cured prosciutto, Lambrusco wine and balsamic vinegar. 

Spend a lazy morning in Modena wandering across the cobblestones of the Piazza Grande. Marvel at the UNESCO World Heritage Cathedral and the Torre della Ghirlandina before stopping for a photo opp and a bite at the beautiful Guiseppe Giusti. In the afternoon, join a balsamic vinegar factory tour and learn about the history of this celebrated industry. Some of the balsamic vinegar barrels have been aged for over fifty years and you’ll get a chance to taste the rich and full-bodied flavours – I highly recommend you take a bottle home with you. 

Don’t leave Modena without visiting Gelateria Bloom. Tucked away down a little side street, this gelateria serves quite possibly the best gelato in Northern Italy. Open till late (perfect for an after-dinner treat), it serves dairy-free and vegan sorbets as well as adventurous and classic gelato flavours. Try the Ricordo Catalano (vanilla, cinnamon and orange jam) with an extra scoop of chocolate gelato for the ultimate indulgence. 

Modena also has a lot to offer in between the food. The city is the birthplace of both Enzo Ferrari and Luciano Pavarotti. Car lovers should head to the futuristic-looking building of the Enzo Ferrari Museum. There you can learn about the life and work of the famous car designer and spot some of his most iconic models through the ages. 

If you’re an opera and classical music fan you’ll want to drop by the late Pavarotti’s house (most easily reached by car). This quirky museum is filled with Pavarotti’s artefacts, photographs and everyday belongings. You can see some of the costumes he wore during his performances and there’s even a room dedicated to his fan art. 

I recommend that you hire a car when you visit Modena – that way you can make use of the number of exciting day trips in and around the city. One such site is Hombre, a dairy farm a short drive out of the city. Here you can taste and buy authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese fairly cheaply and look around the farm’s surprising collection of Maserati cars. Without a doubt, Modena’s rich food heritage and exquisite beauty make it an absolute must-visit for any Italy bucket list. 

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Modena, Italy. Photo Credit: Little Lost Travel

Brighton, England

Written By Live in 10 Countries

Top of most Brits’ staycation list is the South West of England, and for international travellers staying in the capital or wandering the ancient university at Oxford are usually the top choices. But I’d like to put in an appeal for the seaside, for quirky shopping and brightly coloured beach huts that will take you straight back to the last century.

Set on the South Coast, Brighton has a brilliantly hippie and eclectic vibe where you’ll feel free to relax and be yourself. It has a thriving vegan community, a hugely supportive LGBT family and (in my opinion) the best places to nibble on some fish and chips and watch a stunning sunset.

The beach is a huge draw and it attracts plenty of sea swimmers, sunbathers with their deckchairs and even kayakers. For those who want to stay on land, The Lanes offer a network of truly unique shops where you can buy one-of-a-kind things. The vintage clothes shopping is out of this world, and there are also tasty cafes and hearty pubs to keep you fueled.

As you head south through the Lanes you’ll come close to the Pavilion, a palatial building which owes its design to a king in the 1800’s – and yet looks like it wouldn’t be out of place in India. There are cool gardens to relax in and picnic, a museum inside to browse and a really romantic view. 

You can’t skip Brighton, because it’s a city packed with heart, soul and character, so it really shows a new side to Britain’s urban areas.

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Brighton, England. Photo Credit: Live In 10 Countries.

Bari, Italy

Written By The Nomadic Vegan

Despite being the capital of the Puglia region and the gateway to all its attractions, most tourists just pass through Bari quickly en route to somewhere else. This is their loss, as they are missing out on its fascinating history, culture and way of life, all of which are remarkably well preserved. If you walk down cobbled Arco Basso street in the Old Town, you will still see local mothers and grandmothers deftly making orecchiette pasta by hand, as it’s been done for generations.

This local specialty is by far the most common type of pasta eaten in Puglia and is often paired with cime di rape, or broccoli rabe as it’s sometimes known in English. This is just one of many vegan and vegetarian dishes in traditional Puglian cuisine, which is very distinct from what most people think of as “Italian food”.

Many of the foreigners who do visit Bari are religious pilgrims rather than tourists. The 12th-century Basilica of Saint Nicholas is the final resting place of Saint Nicholas — the same St. Nick who’s now celebrated as Santa Claus. His tomb, located in the crypt underneath the basilica, is a place of pilgrimage not only for Catholics but also for Orthodox Christians. Although he wasn’t from Bari, or even Italy, his remains have been kept here ever since the 11th century, when a group of Bari merchants brought them here from Turkey to protect them from desecration by the Seljuk Turks.

Other must-see attractions include the seaside promenade, the Castello Svevo (Swabian Castle), and the beautiful cathedral with its rose window. Head down the steps to see the 9th-century Byzantine church that lies underneath the cathedral. Here you’ll also find an extraordinary mosaic floor that’s even older, dating from the 6th century.

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Bari Basilica of Saint Nicholas. Photo Credit: The Nomadic Vegan.

Astorga, Spain

Written By The Stingy Nomads

Astorga is a middle-size city in Castile and Leon, the north of Spain. The city has a very long history dating back to the Iron Age when the area was inhabited by the local Celtic tribes. Later in 14BC the Romans founded the city named Astucia Augusta now known as Astorga. For many centuries Astucia was the main Roman city in Northern Spain. In the Middle Ages Astorga became an important stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. Nowadays pilgrims still are the main tourists that visit the city. Pilgrims from two routes the Camino Frances and the Via de la Plata go through Asturias on their way to Santiago de Compostela.

Due to its rich history Astorga has a great variety of sights from different epocas from the remains of the Old Roman Walls to the 19th century Episcopal Palace built by Antonio Gaudi. The Cathedral of Santa Maria of Astorga is one of the highlights of the city. Its construction started in the 15th century and was finished only in the 18th century. It’s a truly impressive and captivating building. In 1931 the Cathedral was declared a national monument.

Like many Spanish cities Astorga has its Plaza Mayor, the main city square with several historical buildings. Plaza Mayor is the heart of the city with many restaurants and cafes along its perimeter. On weekends the square gets very busy with hundreds of locals talking, drinking wine and eating tapas. The main attraction of Plaza Mayor is Town Hall built in the 17th century. A beautiful Baroque building crowned with three towers.

Spending a couple of hours walking around the city is the best way to explore Astorga. Those who want to learn more about the Roman period in the history of the city can join a guided tour called the Roman Route.

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Astorga, Spain. Photo Credit:The Stingy Nomads.

Kiev, Ukraine

Written By Robe Trotting

One of the coolest and most underrated cities in Europe is Kiev. The city has so much going for it, it’s budget friendly and full of great restaurants and cocktail bars. Compared to more popular European capitals, you can live like royalty on a backpacker’s budget in Kiev.

In Kiev, you’ll find layers upon layers of history, architecture and culture. Since Ukraine is only one generation removed from the Soviet bloc era, the city of Kiev is still developing its identity. The city has a vibrant, fun and youthful energy and its full of young people who are defining in real time what it means to be Ukrainian.

When deciding what to do in Kiev, you should book a city tour to take in the architecture and attractions of the city. There is a blend of Soviet style, early modernist and art nouveau buildings all over the city. Pay a visit to the War Museum and Mariyinsky Palace, the current residence of the Ukrainian president. Other must-visit sites include St. Sophia’s Cathedral, Saint Michael’s Monastery and Saint Andrew’s Church. From Saint Andrew’s Church, walk downhill on a street called Saint Andrew’s Descent. There you’ll find cute shops, restaurants and sidewalk vendors from the top of the hill to the neighborhood of Podil. It’s a busy area where you’ll frequently find street performers and outdoor festivals and events in the city.

Spend one weekend in Kiev and you’ll fall in love with this colourful and exciting but underrated European city.

Kiev, Ukraine. Photo Credit: Robe Trotting.

Tbilisi, Georgia

Written By Wander-Lush

Tbilisi, capital of the Republic of Georgia, has been on the up-and-up for a few years now. Still, it remains one one of the most interesting – and underrated – cities in Europe.

You only need look at Tbilisi’s location on the map to get an idea of the kind of city it is. Literally located at the crossroads of Asia and Europe, it has long been a meeting place and hub for trading goods and knowledge. Today, it presents the same fascinating mix of cultures and cuisines that it always has.

There’s no two ways about it – Tbilisi is a beautiful city. From the steep cobbled streets of the Old Town to the otherworldly architecture of the inner city, there’s something eye-catching around every corner. Of course it helps that Tbilisi is located in valley and surrounded by vantage points where you can get sweeping views.

Iconic things to do in Tbilisi include visiting the sulfur baths (the city is built on natural hot springs – there’s a small river and waterfall right in the middle of town), climbing up Narikala Fort, doing a wine tasting (Georgia and neighbouring Armenia are the global birthplace of wine), and of course eating. Georgian cuisine is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Khinkali (twirled dumplings filled with meat, cheese or potato) and khachapuri Adjaruli (a boat-shaped bread topped with cheese, butter and an egg) are the country’s two most popular dishes.

Museums, galleries, and the Dry Bridge Market – a daily flea market where vendors sell Soviet-era memorabilia and antiques – are all must-sees. If you’re into slightly off-beat destinations that offer incredible value for money, Tbilisi should be at the top of your Europe wish-list.

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Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo Credit: Wander-Lush.

Sheffield, England

Written By Urban Abroad

One underrated city in the UK that many people forget to consider when traveling to Europe, is Sheffield. Known as one of the greenest cities in the UK, Sheffield is famous for its metalwork and its mighty contribution to the Steel industry, hence its nickname: Steel City. But why is it not seen as an important city to visit on most tourist guides? You can learn all about the history of Sheffield steel at the Kelham Island Museum and see cutlery items made in Sheffield, such as spoons and forks, bowls, and teapots which all hold international importance.

For me, the Millennium Gardens is one of the best free things to do in Sheffield along with the Millennium Gallery which can be visited next door. This part of town is home to the Peace Gardens which can also be accessed from the same site. You’ll start to gather that Sheffield is a tight-knit community in a hilly place where you can find a high concentration of Thrift and Vintage clothing stores.

A stroll through the Devonshire Quarter reveals an interesting mix of trendy independent stores, and in the evening, a bustling nightlife spot. There is also the Peak District National Park on the doorstep. It could be a drive out to the Longshaw Estate or a hike into Derwent Valley, you have so much to do outdoors. The best thing about Sheffield is that most outdoor nature spots can be reached within a 10-minute journey, no matter where you are in the city.  

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Millennium Gardens. Photo Credit: Urban Abroad.

Riga, Lativa

Written By Explore with Lora

Riga is the capital of Latvia and a city that completely took me by surprise. With beautiful architecture,  a booming craft beer scene, and fantastic health and wellness culture, there are many reasons to love Riga.

While visiting Riga, you must visit Old Town. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, Old Town is one of the most charming areas of Riga. It has many historical buildings, so a great way to see Old Town is through a walking tour. Riga is also known for it’s Art Nouveau architecture, having the highest concentration of anywhere in the world

Another aspect to love about Riga is the health and wellness culture. There are some beautiful spas in Riga offering a range of treatment options. Just half an hour outside of the city is the cute seaside town of Jurmala, which has a large spa with a beautiful beach to enjoy. Latvians love the outdoors, and even within Riga, there are many beautiful parks to walk through.

Riga also has a lively nightlife, and a relatively new, but prominent, craft beer scene. The city is small enough that you can see a lot of it in just a couple of days, making it the perfect destination in Europe to escape for a weekend.

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Riga, Lativa. Photo Credit: Explore with Lora.

Freiburg, Germany

Written By Hannah’s Happy Adventures

I spent a full year living and working in Freiburg, Germany. It’s my favorite city to visit in Europe and is often overlooked. It offers just as much, if not more, as other cities in Germany such as Munich or Berlin, but at a cheaper price. The city is also located on the edge of the Black Forest, providing endless hiking or skiing opportunities, depending on season.

I recommend spending time wandering Freiburg’s colorful streets. In the main square you’ll find the Munster (cathedral). It’s 100% worth spending the two euros to walk to the top and get a beautiful view of the city. There is also a local market held here daily, and a wine festival in June. Once you’ve finished exploring the city centre, take the small funicular up Schlossberg, and take a walk around this hill overlooking the city. Don’t forget to visit Kastaniengarten – a beer garden with a view. When you head back towards the city, walk past Schwabentor. This beautiful historic gate has the best light at sunset. There are many amazing things to do in Freiburg, these don’t even scratch the surface!

The main reason I have to advise not skipping Freiburg is the stunning Black Forest. Take the tram, just 20 minutes from the city, to the bottom of Schauinsland. From here you can take a cable car to the top of the mountain or choose to do a full day hike up. At the top there are multiple beautiful hikes and in winter a great sledging park. The Black Forest is one of my favorite places in Europe, so please don’t skip Freiburg on your next trip to Europe!

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Freiburg. Photo Credit: Hannah’s Happy Adventures.

Trieste, Italy

Written By Rocky Travel

Trieste is one of the most underrated cities in Europe and specifically of Italy. Located on the border to Slovenia in the northernmost region of Italy, Trieste has a rich and multicultural heritage that dates back to the Austro-Hungarian time. Over time it developed to one of the most important maritime trade ports in the Mediterranean Sea and nowadays is the pearl on the Adria Sea. It is, how the locals call it, the sister city of world-known Venice.

If you are a lover of Italy and come to visit regularly, you should not miss out on a day-trip or an extended visit. There are many reasons, not only for its vicinity, in only a 2-hour train ride you can get there from Venice and spend some time touring the city, but also for the variety of things to do in Trieste, Italy. From Piazza Unità d’Italia, the largest and most beautiful seafront square in Europe, it stunning 6-km promenade coastal walk, to the remarkable Karst Hills with its unique hiking rock formation and trails and its beautiful buildings, to the scenic Miramare Castle, Trieste is altogether a feast for the eyes, the mind and the tastes too.

If you love food and coffee, then Trieste offers a lot to indulge in, with its classic culinary dishes, delicious pastries and one of the best coffees you can drink in Italy. Moreover, this year in 2020 it is housing the capital of Science Exhibition in Europe. So, there are indeed many exciting things to do in Trieste.

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Triste. Photo Credit: Rocky Travel.

Ponta Delgada, Portugal

Written By Travellers Archive

The capital of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, is a rather hidden gem located right in the Atlantic Ocean. The Azores do belong to Portugal, but still feel like a completely different world. When arriving on the island of Sao Miguel, Ponta Delgada will most likely be your first stop on your island holiday – and it is definitely worth it. The city itself is not that huge and only has roughly 69.000 inhabitants. But still, it is full of sights to see and things to do.

First of, the whole old city itself is a true pearl. Imagine cobblestoned streets, cute houses and picturesque terraces of restaurants and cafés everywhere. Ponta Delgada will never be too hot as it is directly located near the beach, where mostly locals spend their summers sunbathing and swimming. One of our favourite things to do in Ponta Delgada was visiting the pineapple plantage. Did you know that pineapples also grow in Europe? It’s a fun thing to do and a great photo stop. Make sure to spend your evenings in Ponta Delgada right, namely at one of the beach kiosques with a cold beer or some yummy G&Ts.

Above all, Ponta Delgada is perfectly located as a base for everyone who is here for a roadtrip. From here, you can easily reach some of the major sights of the island such as the city Lagoa as well as the volcanic lake Sete Cidades and the romantic villages Ferraria and Mosteiros. Ponta Delgada really is a true gem, trust us.

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Ponta Delgada. Photo Credit: Travellers Archive.

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The Most Underrated Cities in Europe (Part I)

Part I

Introduction: Europe is undoubtedly one of the most popular continents for travelers of all types. Many of the world’s most well-known and popular destinations are in Europe, including Paris, Rome, Venice, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. However, Europe is also full of underrated cities that have much to offer travelers and are worth a visit.

Highlights: Discover all these great cities have to offer, including the colorful Nyhavn of Coppenhagen, visiting the chocolate museum of Hamburg, glassblowing in Waterford, walking cobblestone streets in Cologne, exploring Spilberk Castle in Brno, try a Maltese dish in Valleta, swim the beaches in Herceg Novi, and more!

Photo by slon_dot_pics on Pexels.com

Strasbourg, France

Written By I Know The Pilot

France is famous for many reasons – beautiful cities, delicious food, fascinating culture – and lets not forget the wine! There are so many amazing places and regions to visit, tourists can be spoilt for choice. However, it is often the slightly underrated, off-the-beaten-track spots that really take us by surprise and provide amazing memories for years to come. 

Hiding in the far East of France, close to the German border, is a stunning city called Strasbourg – full of colourful wooden houses, unique culture and shopping, beautiful churches and delicious cuisine. There are four bridges along the border which connect France with Germany, and the city truly represents a merging of countries and culture. 

Capital of the ‘Alsace’ region, Strasbourg has a lot to offer any type of traveler – many travel there for the stunning colourful wooden buildings lining the narrow lanes and the river. Visitors can take a boat ride through the city, which provides the perfect vantage point to take in the views. Alsatian cuisine blends the best of French and German food – make sure you try some of the pretzels, available from street vendors, or the famous ‘tarte flambe’, a pizza-like dish with a thin crust and variety of toppings to choose from. 

Not only is it the seat of the European Parliament, Strasbourg is also located directly in the most productive beer region in France, as well as right on the ‘Route des Vins’, the Alsatian Wine Trail trail. There are plenty of breweries within the city, or wine lovers can opt to take a day trip to some of the amazing varietal wineries near the city.  

No trip to Strasbourg is complete without a visit to the amazing cathedral; to be honest, it is hard to miss! Dominating the city skyline, the Gothic building spans several centuries of architectural styles and showcases a stunning interior to match it’s awe-inspiring exterior. Don’t forget to check out the famous Astronomical Clock, and visitors can climb the tower for amazing views of the city. Concerts and events also often take place in the Cathedral plaza, especially in Summer!

If the sights start to bore you (though we doubt it), there are a number of museums and other sites of interest to check out, including the Alsatian Museum, a Zoo, an Opera and Theatre, a science museum, a variety of art museums; not to mention the Palais des Rohan, the parks, other churches and synagogues, or trips to the nearby cities of Colmar, Kaysersberg or Eguisheim (say that five times fast!). In Summer, there are plenty of events across the city to keep you occupied, and in Winter the amazing Christmas events and traditional markets bring a festive vibe to Strasbourg. 

Easy to get to, visitors can utilise public transport such as the extensive train and bus network, or fly directly to the city’s airport (though it is quite small, with limited airline access). The nearest major airport is Frankfurt, roughly two hours away on the train, or people can take a high-speed train from Paris and be there in roughly the same time. There are many options for those that want to stay, from five-star hotels through to boutique guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and funky hostels (we loved the ‘Graffalgar’ hotel, with every room featuring a graffiti design from a local artist). 

Strasbourg is a beautiful, historically significant, fun city to visit! Don’t miss out on this amazing spot on your next trip through France (or Germany). 

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Photo by Sebastiano Piazzi on Unsplash

Gijon, Spain

Written By A World to Travel

It’s easy to fall in love with Northern Spain, if you don’t mind its weather. 
Surely different from the idea many have about this country, this part of the Iberian peninsula has not much to do with stereotypes such as flamenco, sangria, paella, and bullfighting. 
And that is perfectly fine. Especially for those trying to avoid crowds and busy destinations. The fact that this part of the country is off the path for many makes it even more special. 

One of the cities I like the most in this area is Gijon, in Asturias. Between the Cantabric sea and the mountains, the size of this city makes it perfect for everyone looking for a compromise among all things urban and nature. Something very attractive for active travelers, they will find the things it offers are many. From surfing to paragliding, the number of different things to do in Gijon won’t let them have a dull moment if they don’t want to. 

Other than that, Gijon is a great place to experience the world-famous Asturias cuisine. Fabada and cachopo are among the dishes to try there. Also apple cider. Pouring it out in the Asturian way is an art that entertains tourists day in day out. All in all, Gijon is a city full of life that welcomes its visitors with open arms and without any doubt, one of the places I would move to in a whim.

Gijon, Spain. Photo Credit: A World to Travel.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Written by TravelNuity

While Copenhagen may not be top of your mind when you think of gorgeous European cities to visit, a visit to Copenhagen is sure to delight you. With beautiful historic buildings, sparkling waterways, renown gastronomy and Scani-chic designer hotels, the city is perfect for a short getaway.

Any visit to Copenhagen has to include a visit to Nyhavn, or New Harbour, the 17th-century port lined with colourful houses and a popular spot for both locals and visitors alike on a sunny day. It’s also one of the departure points for a boat trip on the harbour, another must-do, which will include a brief cruise past the famous Little Mermaid statue. (Otherwise it’s not worth the trek out to the somewhat underwhelming icon.) Instead, perhaps consider crossing over the harbour to Freetown Christiania, an at-times controversial commune that reveals a different side to Danish culture. 

While Copenhagen may be famous for top-rated restaurants such as Noma, a visit to one of the local food markets such as Torvehallerne is a more accessible way to experience Danish cuisine. The open-faced sandwiches known as Smørrebrød are a must-try, particularly topped with the locally made pickled herring. 

It’s also a must to stop at one of the gourmet hot dogs stands scattered around the city. The Danes have elevated this humble item to an art-form, adding a variety of gourmet toppings. Alternatively, during the winter months, stop off in one of the many bakeries to load up on pastries, an essential element of hygge (the Danish concept of cosiness).

Are you a pet lover? Visit this great city with your dog!

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Copenhagen Photo Credit: Travlnuity

Sofia, Bulgaria

Written by Live Dream Discover

Bulgaria is still not really on the tourist radar but that’s starting to change due in large part to the vibrant city of Sofia. This capital city is one of the oldest cities in Europe and has an interesting though often tumultuous history that can be seen and felt as you walk the streets. Having said that, there’s also a youthful population that is more than ready to welcome all things new and innovative. All these things make Sofia a destination that offers a blend of historic sights, interesting culture and a lively social scene, all at a very affordable price. Which is why now is the time to go!

One of the most unique things about Sofia is what they call the “Square fo Religious Tolerance” It’s so named because of the square that is formed by the different religious buildings of the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Joseph, the Sofia Synagogue, the Banya Bashi Mosque, and the Eastern Orthodox St Nedelya Church. It’s a perfect example of Sofia’s varied history and influences and how it’s creating a beautiful melting pot.

Other sights include Saint George Rotunda, Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and several Roman ruins. When you’re ready to eat, drink, and shop head to the pedestrianized Vitosha Boulevard for a colorful variety of restaurants, bars, and stores. Speaking of food, you may be pleasantly surprised at the variety of delicious fresh meals. Be sure to try a fresh-baked banista, a delicious shopska salad, and meshana skara (mixed grilled meats).

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St. Alexander Nevski Church. Photo Credit: Live Dream Discover.

Hamburg, Germany

Written by Gustobeats

Hamburg, is truly the heart of Europe if you are talking about international logistics, trading, and economics, and it is a great city to explore as well. The most famous of Hamburg is its port area. From there, you can enjoy a long harbor walk to the famous Warehouse District, Speicherstadt, which is also inside the HafenCity quarter. For modern architecture lovers, a visit to Elbphilharmonie in HafenCity is a must. Elbphilharmonie is one of the largest and advanced concert halls in the world and it has a cute nickname “Elphi”.

Hamburg offers much more than only its port. You can visit St.Michael’s Church in the city center. It is not only a landmark of Hamburg but also a great Baroque-style church in 132 meters high. You can climb up to the top and have the best view of the whole city, and enjoy a different view from behind the huge bronze statue of the Angel Michael and devil. Hamburg also hosts a few large museums and galleries for classical and contemporary art. I highly recommend Kunsthalle Hamburg if you don’t have much time in the city. We’ve also been to a chocolate museum called Chocoversum. It’s a chocolate-making tour which shows how chocolates are made from cacao trading till mixing with milk and sugar. It includes a short interactive section of making-your-own-chocolate which is the best for kids and “adult-kids”. A trip to Hamburg cannot be without a night in Reeperbahn or Große Freiheit in St.Pauli district. It is just an experience of Hamburg’s vivid nightlife and free spirit.

Walking inside the city center, there are many art shops and interesting German restaurants for typical German food. A large cup of coffee with a typical Hamburg Franzbrötchen is good for a sweet breakfast. You cannot miss Currywurst either. It can be a simple street food for a quick bite, but also good to enjoy it on a big plate with some fried potato chips in a typical German bar.

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City View from St. Angelo Michael Church Bell Tower. Photo Credit: Gustobeats.

Waterford City, Ireland

Written by Travel Around Ireland

A city in Ireland that is often overlooked and is probably one of the most underrated cities in Europe is Waterford. Located in the south eastern corner of Ireland, Waterford is a city that should not be skipped.

Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city, having been established 74 years before Dublin by the Vikings. It was an important settlement and also became Ireland’s second city during medieval times. It is part of Ireland’s Ancient East and is steeped in history.

Waterford is most famous for its crystal and glassblowing with the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre offering visitors a chance to see how pieces of the world-famous crystal are made and there is a retail shop there too. This visitor’s centre borders what is known as the Viking Triangle of Waterford.

This part of the city is where you will find the oldest parts of the city and where the likes of Reginald’s Tower can be found. Reginald’s Tower is Ireland’s oldest civic urban building and is also home to the Viking Museum where you can see artifacts from the era. Make sure to see if you can spot the cannon ball still embedded in the outer walls. Directly outside the Tower is a replica of a Viking long-boat. Reginald’s Tower, along with the Medieval Museum and Bishop’s Palace Museum make up the Viking Triangle. See if you can spot parts of the 1000-year old Viking city walls.

Another great place to visit in Waterford lies just 5km from the city centre. Waterford Castle is a medieval castle which lies on an island in the River Suir. It is reachable by a small car ferry and is now a hotel and gold resort, although the grounds are open to the public. You could enjoy a spot of lunch in the restaurant (provided it is not closed for a private wedding) before taking a stroll through the grounds and seeing if you can spot the resident deer.

One of the best ways to explore Waterford is on the tourist train that meanders around the city while giving you an in-depth introduction to the city and its history. It is a covered train meaning you can still discover the city even if the typical Irish weather closes in. Afterwards, stop into one of the many pubs and warm yourself over a bowl of Irish Stew or the soup of the day. Ask for some Irish soda bread to dip into it. And if you stay long enough you could be enjoying a spot of live music over your pint of Guinness.

Waterford is a great city to visit in Ireland and is a must if you are planning to spend time along the East Coast of Ireland. Waterford is around two hours from Dublin so you could enjoy both cities during one trip.

Waterford Castle. Photo Credit: Passports and Adventures.

Cologne, Germany

Written by Emma Adventures

Cologne is a gorgeous city located in the West of Germany, on the famous Rhine River. Just an hour north of Frankfurt by train, Cologne is often skipped by tourists visiting the area, but it is well worth a visit. Known for its Gothic architecture, amazing art scene, its food and the fact that it’s an authentic German city. 

Easily the most popular sight is Cologne Cathedral, a hugely impressive cathedral in the centre of the city which has been standing since 1880. After admiring the cathedral from every angle, you can climb the 533 stairs to the top for incredible views of the city. Make sure to head to Museum Ludwig to admire art from the likes of Picasso, and head to Hohenzollern Bridge, the famous ‘love locks’ bridge. For scenic views of the city and the cathedral, head across the river to Cologne Triangle, where you can head to the 29thfloor to admire incredible views which are even better at night time. You can also go on a cruise on the Rhine River, and shop on Germany’s busiest shopping street, Schildergasse. 

Head to Cologne’s old town on the banks of the river to wander and admire the authentic feel and colourful buildings. This is also the perfect spot to stop for a drink or meal, with the cobblestone streets lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. Make sure to try a Kolsch, Cologne’s draft beer, and shop for souvenirs in one of the many shops. 

You really can’t miss a visit to Cologne when in Germany. Admire the amazing architecture and art, shop, eat and drink and simply take in the feel of an authentic Germany city. You won’t regret it!

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Cologne Cathedral. Photo Credit:Emma Adventures.

Syracuse, Italy

Written By Smudged Postcard

When people visit Sicily, it tends to be Taormina which is top of the list. However, if you travel an hour south of Catania airport you’ll reach the city of Syracuse, which is well worth a few days of exploration.

The historic heart of Syracuse is the island of Ortigia which consists of a warren of medieval narrow streets. Most streets lead to views of the dazzling Mediterranean Sea while others streets head into the centre of the island and its most dramatic square: Piazza Del Duomo.

In Piazza Del Duomo, visitors can enjoy a coffee or granita at one of the many cafes and then sit back and admire the incredible cathedral. Built on the site of an Ancient Greek temple, there are still several Doric columns incorporated into what is now a predominantly Baroque edifice dating from the 17th century. There are also elements of Arabic and Norman influences reflecting the complex history of Sicily.

If you’re looking for things to do in Syracuse with kids, you’re in for a treat. There’s an excellent puppet theatre where children are reserved front row seats. Kids will also enjoy exploring the waterfront battlements of 13th century Castello Maniace where they can play at both pirates and knights in one setting.

Another highlight of a visit to Syracuse is the archaeological park, just outside the city centre. Here you’ll find the remains of both a Greek and Roman amphitheatre as well as an interesting man-made cave called the Ear of Dionysius where the Emperor apparently listened to his prisoners’ wails.

If you’re visiting Syracuse in the summer months, there’s a string of appealing beaches close by. However, the city is so beautiful you’ll likely find it hard to leave. There are countless restaurants and cafes to try. Ensure you sample a delicious granita which is a coarse version of sorbet but no less delicious.

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Piazza del Duomo. Photo Credit: Smudged Postcard.

Brno, Czech Republic

Written By Czech the World

Brno is the second-largest city of the Czech Republic and the capital of the Moravia region. Brno presents a perfect combination of history and a modern city. It was voted as the 6th most favorite student city in the world. (1) In Brno, you will find remarkable places, as well as delicious food, cozy cafes and world-famous beer, which isn’t just great but also very cheap!

Once you are there, do a self-guided tour around the center and visit Brno’s main dominants – the Špilberk Castle, which is a massive baroque citadel with extensive casemates as well as the most iconic building of Brno – Petrov Cathedral. Another very impressive place, that should be on your list, is St. James Ossuary, which is the second-largest ossuary in Europe! If you find yourself as a fan of modern architecture, you shouldn’t miss Vila Tugendhat – villa built in functionalist style in 1929-30, which is listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Here, you can find also other places and things to do in Brno.

Once you are in the Czech Republic, try also some local cuisine. Czech cuisine is quite heavy but delicious. There are some of the most typical national dishes:

  •  Svíčková – a creamy vegetable sauce, served with dumplings, sirloin steak and a little bit of whipped cream and cranberry sauce.
  • Vepřo – knedlo – zelo – roasted pork with dumplings and sauerkraut.
  •  Guláš – a stew from beef or pork prepared with onions, red peppers, and other spices, served with dumplings. It’s a bit different from Hungarian Goulash.

One day is just the right amount of time to visit all the important places! Everything in the city center is within walking distance. In case you have some extra time, you can make a short trip to Brno dam and Veveří Castle. 

Bucharest, Romania

Written By The World As I See It

If you’re looking for an incredible European city that is underrated then consider Bucharest, Romania. Located in Eastern Europe’s Balkans region, Bucharest has endless reasons to visit, one of which for some is to learn about the man behind the Dracula legend – Vlad Tepes. But there’s so much more to Bucharest and Romania for that fact. The architecture of Bucharest is an interesting mix of Parisian and communist but is also full of parks and charming narrow streets.  For budget travelers you’ll love the ability to fully enjoy Bucharest without a big price tag. Romania still runs off of their own currency, the Leu. It’s a cheap city to visit, for European standards, with affordable deals on great hotels, cheap meals, and affordable attractions.

There are endless things to do in Bucharest, with something for every traveler’s interest, from museums to parks and even a vibrant nightlife scene. Some of the top things to do in Bucharest include visiting the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest administrative building in the world, wandering the old town, strolling through Cişmigiu Park, the city’s oldest park that’s located in the city center, and popping by Old Princely Court to meet Vlad the Impaler. If you’re looking for awesome museums try Bucharest History & Art Museum as well as Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum. And if you have more time, I dare you to take a day trip to visit Bran Castle, the inspiration behind Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s castle.

So, if you’re looking for an amazing European city to visit that hasn’t been overrun with tourists, is budget-friendly, and full of history, charm, and edge, then choose Bucharest for your next destination.

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Bucharest Park. Photo Credit:The World As I See It.

Valleta, Malta

Written By Duke’s Avenue

I may be a little biased because I grew up in Malta, but the charm of the capital city Valletta is undeniable. So undeniable in fact, that I also chose it as my wedding location in 2016.  It’s a fortress city named after its founder, Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette, and is known as the ‘a city built by gentlemen, for gentlemen’. And whilst this statement may be a little antiquated, it gives a little insight to the city’s elegance and grandeur.

Valletta is one of Europe’s smallest capital cities, with a population of around 7,000 inhabitants – but it definitely packs a punch. There is so much to see that you could easily fill up a whole day exploring.

Wander around and admire the grandiose baroque palaces, gardens and churches. Start with the Triton Fountain, as it sits just at the entrance to the city. A visit to Upper Barrakka and the Saluting Battery is an absolute must if you are looking for sensational views of the Grand Harbour. For those that are more into their history, you’ll definitely want to check out the Grandmaster’s Palace and the National War Museum, as well as St. John’s Co-Cathedral. Casa Rocco Piccola is also worth exploring – it’s a 16th century palace belonging to a Maltese noble family, and despite being an attraction, it remains a much-loved family home.

And when you finally get tired of exploring all the side streets and secrets of this beautiful city, book a table at well-known Rubino’s – an Italian trattoria serving some of the finest Maltese cuisine. Fried rabbit is a traditional Maltese dish, so if you see it on the menu that day, it’s the dish I would recommend choosing!

Valletta is also home to some stunning boutique hotels which were once grand palazzos. You’ll be spoilt for choice, but 66 St Paul’s is my favourite!

Valleta is a great destination for a hen party! Find more info here.

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Maltese Balconies. Photo Credit: Duke’s Avenue.

Herceg Novi, Montenegro

Written By Sam Sees World

Many places in Europe are ignored due to more popular and talked about places nearby getting all the attention. This is especially true for the beautiful and underrated city of Herceg Novi, Montenegro. Herceg Novi sits at the top of Montenegro near the Croatian border with the base of the city sitting along the waterline of the Bay of Kotor. The city is full of character and authentic Montenegrin elements which makes it an amazing place to visit.

However, Herceg Novi often gets ignored due to its close proximity with Kotor and Dubrovnik, but skipping this Adriatic gem is nothing short of a mistake. The other two destinations are packed with tourists which makes exploring very unenjoyable and lessens the authenticity of exploring a foreign country. Whereas Herceg Novi welcomes significantly fewer tourists with all the same beauty. Here you can explore and feel lost in a foreign country full of beauty and surprises.

There is also a ton to do in Herceg Novi. The main thing to do is swimming in the water from one of the many beaches in the town! The water here is vivid blue and amazing for swimming in. You can also enjoy some more cultural aspects of the city like going to the old clock tower or one of the forts that used to defend the city in times of battle. More so, you can eat at some of the delicious restaurants that serve authentic Montenegrin dishes like Cevapcici, which are essentially little sausages.

This is a place you do not want to miss in your European adventures. A place where the cultures, city, and life have been relatively untouched by tourism and you can get lost in the streets without feeling like one in a thousand other tourists. 

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Herceg Novi. Photo Credit: Sam Sees World.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Written By Nomad Blood

I might be a bit biased as I live here, but for me Cluj-Napoca is an amazing city to visit (if not the best) if you are thinking of coming to Romania. If you did not know that, Cluj is the second largest city in the county after Bucharest, and it is considered the unofficial capital of Transylvania ( yes, that Tranyslvania).

The city has a lot to offer : historic buildings and monuments, museums, nature, nightlife and music festivals. So if you are looking for history, you are in luck. Make sure to check out The National History Museum of Transylvania, Pharmacy Museum, Ethnographic Museum, or just take a walk around Saint Michael’s Church or Matthias Corvinus House.

Do you enjoy your time in nature? Cluj has a lot of beautiful parks ( Cetățuia, Central Park, The Botaical Garden) and two forests, one of which was voted as the most hunted forest in the world, if you are into that. But Cluj is really known for the nightlife and music festivals. If you wanna go out you can find anything from hipster cafes, thematic pubs, beautiful garden terraces, and wild parties. But what attracts the most tourists in Cluj are the main festivals: Untold and Electric Castles. Not only are they the largest festivals in the country, but some of the largest in Europe, with an attendance between them of over 500,000 people. So make sure to add Cluj-Napoca to your travel bucket list, as I promise you will not regret it.

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Replica of the moon at Piarist Church of Cluj. Photo Credit: Nomad Blood.

Sarajevo, Bosnia

Written By Backpack Adventures

Sarajevo is a great city to visit. Yet it receives few visitors compared to some other European capitals. Even though there are no famous tourist attractions, there are lots of things to do in Sarajevo for those interested in history, culture and delicious food. People are just not yet aware of everything the city has to offer.

Let’s start with the Bascarsija. The city’s historical center let’s you travel back to Ottoman times with its cobblestoned streets, mosques, bazaars and cozy restaurants. It feels a bit like a miniature istanbul, but than much smaller, less crowded and more authentic.

There are plenty of teahouses to sit down and try some herbal tea or Bosnian coffee with sweet pastries like baklava. For lunch try some burek. These phyllo dough pastries come with fillings of meat, cheese or spinach and are absolutely delicious. The bosnian version of kebab, cevapcici is also a must try.

Other attractions in Sarajevo include its elegant Austrio-Hungarian architecture, some interesting museums about the Bosnian civil war, the markale market, the latin bridge and the city hall. There is enough to do in the city itself for a day or two.

Another reason not to skip Sarajevo as a destination is its scenic surroundings. It lies in a valley with green rolling hills on each side. The mountains are great for hiking in summer and winter sports in winter. Getting there is easy with the new cable car up to mount trebevic where you will find the abandoned bobsleigh tracks of the 1984 winter olympics.

For more nature you can also visit Vrelo Bosne. A large park in the suburbs of the city where you will find the spring of the Bosne river that runs through the city. As you can see there is a huge variety of things to do that makes Sarajevo well worth a visit. 

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Sarajevo. Photo Credit: Backpack Adventures.

Tirana, Albania

Written By Lemons and Luggage

When talking about the most underrated cities in Europe you can’t forget about Tirana. Albania’s capital is not very popular with tourists. A negative reputation based on the country’s misrepresentation in certain blockbuster movies has kept tourists away from the city for too long. Because Tirana is actually a safe city that has changed a lot in recent years.

The ugly Communist-style architecture was improved by painting the walls in bright colors. This was the former mayor’s attempt to improve the quality of life in the city. And it seems to have worked. Additionally, bike lanes and big boulevards make it very easy to explore and get around the city.

There are many reasons you should visit Tirana. But perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the city is its multi-religious identity. In Tirana, you will find mosques and churches within walking distance from each other.

The center of the modern city is Skanderbeg Square with a statue of Skanderbeg and a huge Albanian flag. Here, you can visit Et’hem Bey Mosque and Tirana’s landmark, the Clock Tower. A few steps from the square there are several beautiful, colorful government buildings.

Another highlight of Tirana is Murat Toptani Street. This pedestrian street is also where you can see the walls of the Fortress of Justinian.

If you want more background information about the city pay a visit to the National History Museum, the National Gallery, or the House of Leaves. The latter is the Museum of Secret Surveillance which portrays the horrifying life under the dictatorship. An absolute must if you want to understand the city’s past.

But Tirana also has a vibrant nightlife. The Blloku neighborhood is the best place to look for trendy bars and cafés. During the dictatorship, only government officials were permitted entrance to the neighborhood. But now the young people of Tirana have turned it into the center of Albania’s nightlife.

Don’t miss out on visiting Albania’s capital! You will love the welcoming young population of Tirana. Since relatively few tourists make it to Tirana, the local population appreciates them so much more.

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Skanderbeg Square. Photo Credit: Lemons and Luggage.

Bade Baden, Germany

Written By Spa Wellness Destinations

Baden Baden is one of the most famous spa towns in the world. This beautiful German town is a wonderful destination to visit at all times of year and especially during winter. 

Baden Baden boast an imposing wellness infrastructure and is home to twelve springs which are located 2,000 meters underground. One of the most prominent and impressive bathing facilities, the temple of well-being is the Friedrichsbad where guests can enjoy the delightful Roman bath facilities and get closer to discovering the bathing traditions.

During the holidays season, Baden Baden transforms into a winter wonderland where you will discover delightful Christmas markets set in the gardens right in front of the illuminated Kurhaus, in the Kurhaus Colonnade and in the central square.  As the air fills with the sweet smell of mulled wines and the city lights up with thousands of Christmas lights, there are hundreds of stalls selling local crafts and delicious snacks like German sausages and potato fritters.  At the Festival Hall Baden-Baden which is one of the largest classical music venues in Europe and the largest opera house in Germany visitors may enjoy an evening of opera and other cultural classics. Baden Baden is also home to a glorious casino, the opulent Belle Epoque environment is a truly magical experience, even if you are not that much into casinos — this building is a rare jewel. Baden Baden is also a great city to enjoy numerous day trips to other popular German towns. 

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Baden Baden. Photo Credit: Spa Wellness Destinations.

Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Written By Andalucia In My Pocket

Jerez de la Frontera is one of those hidden gems of Spain that not many people get to visit. Located close to Cadiz, in Andalucia, Jerez de la Frontera is known for three things: the birthplace of flamenco, the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts and the sherry production.

Walking along the narrow streets of the old town of Jerez de la Frontera feels magical because of all the rhythms of flamenco that spread into the air from one tablao or another. In the evenings, locals gather at their neighbourhood pena and watch flamenco performances. Tourists go to the tabalo – a flamenco bar, where they can enjoy the famous Spanish performance over a delicious local dinner.

One of the tourist attractions in Jerez de la Frontera is sherry tasting at one of the bodegas in town. Usually, factories and distilleries are built outside towns. However, in Jerez, they are in the city centre. Sherry is a fortified wine known all over the world as a sweet aperitif. In Jerez, this type of sherry is mostly made for export, and it called “crema de sherry”. The original sherry is dry and clear, with an earthy aroma. Sherry can only be produced in Spain, in an area called the “Sherry Triangle”, between Jerez de la Frontera, Puerto de Santa Maria and San Lucar de Barrameda.

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts is one of the four most prestigious in the world. Here you can see how the horses are trained and learn about the art of horse riding in Andalucia in the attached museum. Every day you can watch a fantastic demonstration of equestrian ballet in which the horses seem to dance on classical Spanish music.

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Jerez de la Frontera. Photo Credit: Andalucia In My Pocket.

Cardiff, Wales

Written By Run with Amber

Cardiff, Wales is a city you shouldn’t pass up if you find yourself in the UK. While largely overshadowed by it’s big city friend, London, 3 hours away, there’s something about Cardiff that makes you feel right at home. 

With London being the big famous city that it is, it gets a lot of tourists. In Cardiff, while tourists do go there, it’s not overrun by them. There’s space without crowds, has the most lovely, intoxicating smelling fresh air you’ll ever breathe, and enough trails to keep you busy for hours, which includes some great views of the River Taff that runs through the city to Cardiff bay. 

Cardiff’s city life definitely gives you your pick of cafes, bars, and restaurants. You won’t have a hard time finding the type of food you might be craving. All different types of cuisine, and I can say that the Indian food at the Spice Quarter is some of the best I’ve had in the UK. You can also head down to Cardiff Bay if you’re in the mood for a waterfront view with your meal, or coffee. 

Wales is famous for castles, and you can see quite a few in Cardiff. Cardiff Castle is in the town center, right in the middle of everything! If you’re up for an easy bike ride, you can head up to Castell Coch (‘Red Castle”), and if you want to go even further north visit the Caerphilly Castle. And don’t worry if you don’t have a bike, Cardiff has bike rentals very cheap through NextBike. 

Cardiff is jam packed with so much without having to go very far. It smells better, it’s quieter, the people are nicer, and it’s a lot cheaper than London. This city is so underrated, but I think if anything that makes it all the better when you visit.

Spend a Weekend In Cardiff

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River Taff. Photo Credit:Run With Amber.

Manchester, England

Written By Beloved City

If there is one underrated destination in the UK it would be Manchester. As a matter of fact, the North of England as a whole is very often skipped and yet is one of the best parts of the country. Even Though Manchester dates back to Roman times, it was mainly built during the industrial revolution. This industrial background used to put off loads of visitors but a lot has changed this past 10 years.

Nowadays, Manchester is a tech and hipster hub. Although it is the 3rd biggest city in England, the city centre is quite small and easily walkable. Some of the best things to do in Manchester include: the Gay Village, Piccadilly Gardens, the Printworks, Manchester Cathedral and St Peter’s square. If you are a Potterhead and want to see the Mancunian version of Hogwarts, head to John Rylands library.You will also find many museums and galleries. I particularly recommend the Museum of Science and Industry and the Manchester museum. They are both free. 

You should also check out the Northern Quarter, Manchester’s trendiest neighborhood! Made of old warehouses, it became home to many bars and restaurants, street art murals and is often used as a movie location. If you are a foodie, you will want to try Eccles cakes, Vimto and most of all, get a Sunday roast in one of the pubs! 

Finally, there are many day-trip options. While you are in Manchester, you can easily go to 2 of England’s most beautiful national parks: Lake District and Peak District, but also discover other Northern towns and cities such as Liverpool, Chester and York. Manchester is not like London at all. The architecture, history and vibe is very unique to the North of England. If you want to have fun and meet very friendly people, it’s the place for you!


Manchester. Photo Credit:Beloved City.

Find More Underrated Cities in Part II

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New York State Road Trip: From the Buffalo Bills to the Big Apple (And How to Do it With Kids)

New York State

Introduction: New York State is steaming with great roadside and one day attractions, making it perfect for a state wide road trip. A road trip through New York contains the perfect combination of big cities, nature escapes, small towns, waterfronts, and family friendly attractions. Starting in Niagara Falls head east and explore many great destinations including Ithaca and the Finger Lakes, then continue southbound and head towards the Big Apple.

Highlights: Feel the roar of the powerful Niagara Falls, explore the city known for spicy Buffalo Wings, visit the grand canyon of the East, explore waterfall central, explore New York’s wine region, explore one of New York’s spa town, visit the capitol city, get up close with nature in the Catskills, and explore the city that never sleeps.

Recommended Length of Road Trip: Minimum of 1 week, although to really be able to enjoy all stops along the route 10-14 days would be best. I would recommend picking 2 or 3 of your favorite attractions from each destination to visit.

Stop 1: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a city located adjacent to the Niagara River and the American Falls in Western New York. It is home to one of the world’s most well known water falls-Niagara Falls.

While in Niagara Falls you will have many options to view the falls, from walking the paved trail along the falls or taking a Maid of the Mist tour allowing you to get up close to both the American and Horseshoe Falls. You can also go behind the Bridal Falls with a Cave of the Winds tour or hop aboard a jet boat and take a ride out to the Niagara whirlpool.

For a fun and educational experience visit Old Fort Niagara, which was built in 1726 and served as an essential fort to control access to the Finger Lakes region. Today you can tour the grounds and participate in living history exhibits. Explore Whirlpool State Park, where you can enjoy hiking trails and great views of Niagara River and whirlpool. For more hiking and great views along with some education exhibits on the history of the falls visit the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center. Enjoy some marine life and interactive animal encounters at the Niagara Aquarium. Take an underground boat tour of the Lockport Caves and explore historical Erie Canal locks.

Where To Eat:

  • Top of The Falls Restaurant: Classic American cuisine with great views of the falls.
  • Bella Vista-A classic Italian restaurant that offers great food and live entertainment.
  • The Griffon Gastropub-A great restaurant with plenty of options, including a full kids menu with burgers, pasta, sea food, mini tacos, and mac and cheese.
  • Rainforest Cafe-The Rainforest Cafe is the perfect combination of delicious food and great entertainment. The interior is decorated as a jungle with moving animals, moving night skies, and thunderstorms.

Recommended Time: 1-2 Days

The American Falls.

If you have time and the means to visit I would definitely recommend visiting the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. The family friendly attractions are plentiful!

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 25 minutes (20 miles)

Stop 2: Buffalo

Buffalo, NY is the second largest city in the state. Although it may not be as popular as New York City, Buffalo is an adventure in itself and is full of great family friendly attractions and-of course-spicy Buffalo wings.

In Buffalo, spend the day with a variety of different animal species, let the kids play in Duplo land, and walk through an indoor rainforest at the Buffalo Zoo. View an array of plant species at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, walk along the Buffalo waterfront and enjoy live entertainment at Canalside.

Enjoy some of Buffalo’s best indoor attractions for kids, including Bounce Magic where the kids can get all of their energy out with bounce houses or the Buffalo Museum of Science, which features educational and interactive exhibits the children will love. Take a short drive outside of Buffalo and visit Six Flags Darien Lake for some thrills, excitement, and water fun. Visit the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum and learn about the history of carousel production, ride a 1916 carousel, and enjoy a variety of different interactive exhibits.

Where To Eat:

Recommended Time: One Day

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 1 hour 10 minutes (59 miles)

Stop 3: Letchworth State Park

“The Grand Canyon of the East” is a must visit for any New York road trip. Letchworth State Park is located about an hour outside of Buffalo in Livingston and Wyoming Counties. It is a 14,427 acre park along the Genesee River offering waterfall views, hiking, white water rafting, horseback riding, and hot air balloon rides. The beauty of Letchworth State Park will leave you in awe.

Top Things to Do With Kids:

Where To Eat:

Recommended Time: One Day

Photo by Adam Bixby on Unsplash

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 57 minutes (45 miles)

Stop 4: Rochester

Rochester, New York is the third largest city in New York state after New York City and Buffalo. Rochester sits on the edge of Lake Ontario and has the Genesee River running through it. A visit to Rochester includes a mix of parks, family fun, beach life, and history, with plenty of options for the whole family.

Visit the Strong Museum, a children’s museum that is entertaining for people of all ages. The museum is home to a mini shopping market, Butterfly Conservatory, and Toy Museum that outlines the history of toys. Visit the Seneca Park Zoo to view a large number of animal species and visit the Seabreeze Amusement Park for some thrill rides. Visit the Clubhouse Fun Center for go-karts, mini golf, and arcade games.

Take a stroll along Lake Ontario at the Ontario Beach Park and visit one of the many nature parks located throughout Rochester. View the High Falls and Lower Falls of the Genesee River and take a relaxing afternoon walk through the colorful Highland Park.

Top Things to Do With Kids:

Where To Eat:

  • Tully’s Good Times-family restaurant with a full kid’s meal, American cuisine
  • Dogtown-hotdog joint, one of the top 10 in the nation
  • The Owl House-offering plenty of vegan/vegetarian options, American cuisine

More ideas for visiting Rochester

Recommended Time: One Day

Ontario Beach Park.

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 1 hour, 40 minutes (90 miles)

Stop 5: Ithaca (Fingerlakes Region)

Located on Cayuga Lake near the Finger Lakes region, Ithaca is the perfect destination for waterfall chasers as Ithaca is home to 150 waterfalls. The main draw of this area is the Finger Lakes and outdoor adventures.

Spend the day enjoying one of the several state parks in the area, such as Watkins Glen State Park, Robert Treman State Park, or Buttermilk Falls State Park. If choosing just one, I would recommend Watkins Glen State Park. The views are simply stunning and kids love it! There is also a bus that will take you to the top, and the hike down is perfect for younger children.

Let the kids get their hands dirty at the Ithaca Children’s Garden where they can climb atop a giant stone turtle. Visit the Science Center for fun, educational, and hands on exhibits or visit the Cayuga Nature Center for some outdoor learning. Lastly, don’t forget to spend some time walking the streets of downtown Ithaca, a pedestrian mall where you will find great shops and restaurants.

Where To Eat:

Recommended Time: 1-2 days

Watkins Glen State Park.

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 3 hours, 20 minutes (188 miles)

Stop 6: Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs is most known for two things: horse racing and mineral springs. Saratoga Springs is a picturesque town that has a rich history as the “Queen of the Spas” and played a major role in the lives of the Native Americans that occupied the area.

While in Saratoga Springs be sure to explore the various springs located throughout the area, including Peerless Spring, Empire Spring, Geyser Spring, Oneida Spring, Geyser Island Spouter, and more.

Enjoy some family fun at the Children’s Museum of Saratoga or spend the day at Brown’s Beach for some sun bathing and castle building. Take a ride on the carousel in Congress Park. And-of course-you can’t miss the Saratoga Race Course for some horse racing.

Take a stroll through downtown Saratoga where you will find plenty of ice shops, toy stores, and book stores. Go on a hunt with your kids to find all the horse sculptures located throughout the area. Learn about the history of Saratoga and the Battle of Saratoga at the Saratoga National Historic Park, where you will find a visitor’s center, monuments, and a reconstructed general’s home.

Where To Eat:

Recommended Time: One day

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 40 minutes (34 miles)

Stop 7: Albany

The next stop on the list is Albany, New York State’s capitol. Albany is full of history, culture, and attractions that the whole family will enjoy.

Stroll the exterior of New York State Capitol Building or take a guided tour of the building. Visit the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology for an educational experience with hands on exhibits. Take a tour of the WW2 navy ship the USS Slater.You can also take a sightseeing cruise along the Hudson River with Dutch Apple Cruises and Tours.

Enjoy some indoor adventures at Albany’s Indoor Rockgym for some rock climbing or visit the Funplex Fun Park for a variety of different family fun attractions, including mini-golf, go-karts, batting cages, bouncy houses, bumper boats, water wars, and more.

Recommended Time: One day

Photo by J E Fulford on Unsplash

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 1 hour, 40 minutes (83 miles)

Stop 8: Catskills Region

The Catskills region is well known for its stunning mountain views, especially in the fall months. The Catskills comprise 700,000 acres of public and private land with an abundance of trails for all hiker levels, including many kid friendly trails, including Vroman’s Nose, Trout Pond, Frick Pond, and the Tanbark Trail. Take the hike out to Peekamoose Blue Hole, a natural swimming hole, for some swimming in the summer months, but be aware that a day pass is required and can be obtained ahead of time free of charge.

Also located within the Catskill Region is Howe Caverns, an underground limestone cave system. Today you can take the elevator descent down to the caves on a guided tour, complete with an underground boat ride. In the warmer months beat the heat at Zoom Flume Water Park where you will find plenty of water rides and entertainment options.

For some horseback riding and other animal encounters visit the Bailiwick Animal Park and Riding Stables. Visit Yogi Bear’s Jellystone State Park for an amazing camping experience with character encounters and plenty of kid friendly activities. Visit the site of the original Woodstock in 1969, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, where a variety of family friendly events are hosted year round.

Where To Eat:

Recommended Time: 1-2 days

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 2 hours, 46 minutes (133 miles)

Stop 9: New York City

New York City, the city that never sleeps, will have something for everyone is your family. The largest city in New York state, New York City is known as the big apple and melting pot. It was the entry port for millions of immigrants and the diversity is still seen today.

Climb the stairs of one of the United States’s most iconic symbols, the Statue of Liberty. Kids will love taking the boat over and exploring the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Explore one of the only green parts of this concrete jungle at Central Park, visit the Central Park Zoo, or catch some live entertainment. Ride to the top of the tallest building in New York City and the nation, One World Trade Center and observe amazing 360 views of the city.

Opt for some traditional family fun and thrills at Coney Island and dip your feet in the Atlantic ocean or visit the Children’s Museum of the Arts for interactive and educational hands on exhibits and classes. Visit the American Museum of Natural History to explore the history of the natural world and visit the Butterfly Conservatory.

And finally, no trip to New York City would be complete without some shopping in Time Square. Your children will enjoy visiting the M&M store or Disney Store, and there are plenty of well know brand stores as well so that you can treat yourself. If you have the time, a Broadway show would be the perfect way to end the evening.

Where To Eat:

Recommended Time: 1-3 days

More Things to Do in New York City

DISTANCE TO NEXT STOP: 2 hours, 23 minutes (117 miles)

BONUS: Long Island

If you would like, continue on with the road trip to Long Island’s eastern most town, Montauk. Montauk is well known for it’s beaches. Spend the day relaxing, building sand castles, dipping your feet in the sand, and hunting for seashells. Climb the Montauk Point Lighthouse for some stunning ocean views.

For some ocean fun take a catamaran tour through Mon Tiki for a day or sunset cruise (note than children under 12 are not permitted on sunset tours). Join the Viking Fleet for a whale and dolphin watching tour. Explore Camp Hero State Park for some WW2 history, hiking trails, and beautiful coastline views.

Visit Putt’N’Puff for some mini-golf and then enjoy some kayaking canoeing, or paddle boarding at their dock. Visit Rita’s Stable and the kids can enjoy a petting zoo and miniature pony rides.

Top Things to Do With Kids:

Where To Eat:

Photo by Clay LeConey on Unsplash
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Tips For Successfully Road Tripping with Children

Ten of the World’s Most Awe-Inspiring Waterfalls

The world is full of mesmerizing scenes, and water falls are no exception. Across the globe you can find them at varying heights, varying locations, varying power, but each one seems to have its own appeal and impact on the viewer.

Getting close to nature and marveling at its beauty can present many health benefits and serves as a great escape from city life. Don’t we all need that break every now and then? Relaxing beside and taking in the sound of the powerful water rushing through the falls has many proven benefits, such as improved mood and mental health and stress reduction. It also serves to give your lungs a breath of fresh air. Admiring the majestic views will also help us realize how small we are and how big of a world we live in.

In contrast to TLC’s advice, I would recommend chasing waterfalls every chance that you get!

Here are ten of the world’s most awe-inspiring waterfalls you can visit:

1.)Angel Falls

Ranking as the world’s tallest waterfall, it is not hard to see why Angel Falls should be on your bucket list! The falls are named after Jimmy Angel, a US aviator who became the first person to fly over the falls in the 20th century. The waterfall drops over the edge of the Auyán-tepui mountain in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela.

Location: Auyán-tepui, Canaima National Park, Bolívar State, Venezuela

Height: 979 meters (3211 feet)

How to Get There: Accessing Angel Falls can be tricky, as it is not accessible by car and requires a bit of extra work. The falls is accessible by plane, boat, or a short hike to a view point once inside the park. By plane you will want to fly into the town of Canaima, Venezuela, which can be reached from Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela, or Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. Many have said the best way to view the falls from this point is to join a tour that will bring you to the falls as well as include accommodations, flights, and meals. While this water falls is more difficult to reach, it is well worth the effort!

Best Time to Visit: If visiting by foot, June through November is best to ensure the river height is high enough to reach the falls for those stunning views. If booking a fly over tour of the falls any time of year is good. The busiest times are the months of July & August and November through January, so those may be the months to avoid.

Angel Falls. Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

2.) Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls of Zambia is named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and it is not difficult to see why. Although not the tallest, Victoria Falls is considered the largest waterfall in the world. The falls was first discovered in 1855 by David Livingstone, a Scottish missionary who explored Africa. The falls produces a mist that can be seen from 30 miles away.

Location: Mosi-o-tunya Road, Livingstone, Zambia, Africa

Height: 108 meters (354 feet)

How to Get There: Arriving to Victoria Falls by flight is easy, with the Victoria Falls airport located just 11 miles from the falls. You can then visit the Victoria Falls National Park, which has 16 stops along the two mile long trail. Helicopter rides are also available for aerial views of the falls.

Best Time to Visit: The peak of Victoria Falls is April, the end of the rainy season. The best months to visit are February to May. The falls are at their lowest in October and early November, so this may be the time to avoid if you are looking to see the waters of the falls at their most powerful.

Victoria Falls. Image by Jürgen Bierlein from Pixabay

3.) Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls is one of the top attractions located in Yosemite National Park in California. Yosemite Falls is made up of three different falls, including the Upper Yosemite Falls, Middle Cascades, and Lower Yosemite Falls. The falls is the highest in the park and one of the main attractions that visitors set out to see.

Location:  Yosemite Village, CA 95389, USA

Height: 739 meters (2424 feet)

How to Get There: You can travel throughout Yosemite National Park via car or shuttle bus, but some hiking will be required. If you choose, you can take the strenuous eight mile hike to the top of Yosemite Falls for stunning views. As an alternative you can hike the first two miles of the trail and still get some amazing views of the falls.

Best Time to Visit: The best months to visit are November through July, with peak flow in May.

Yosemite Falls. Photo by Sam Goodgame on Unsplash

4.) Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls consists of three water falls at the Southern end of the Niagara Gorge,and is located between the border of the United States and Canada. The falls are made up of the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Canadian Falls (or Horseshoe Falls). The falls are contributed with being the most powerful falls in North America. Throughout the years many daredevils have challenged the fury of the falls in various objects, such as barrels, in their attempts to survive the plunge. The falls have also become the sight of high wire attempts over the falls.

Location: Niagara Falls, NY 14303, United States and Ontario, Canada

Height: 51 meters (167 feet)

How to Get There: Niagara Falls is easily accessible in both New York and Ontario. Both sides of the falls have pathways accessible to the public by foot that will bring you up close to the falls. You can also access the falls from below via a boat ride or walking tour that goes up beside the falls on the American side and behind the falls on the Canadian side.

Best Time to Visit: The best months to visit Niagara Falls are June to August.

The Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Photo Credit: Navigation Junkie.

5.) Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls are located between the border of Argentina and Brazil along the Iguazu River, dividing the river into the upper Iguazu and lower Iguazu. . The falls are made up of 275 waterfalls or cataracts, with the tallest measuring 82 meters (269 feet). The falls were first discovered by a Spanish explorer, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca. The name comes from the Mbyá-Guaraní indigenous people, meaning big water.

Location: Puerto Iguazu, Misiones Province, Argentina and Foz de Iguazu, Brazil

Height: 82 meters (269 feet)

How to Get There: Iguazu is reachable by plane to neighboring towns, Foz do Iguaçu Airport (IGU) in Brazil and Cataratas del Iguazú (IGR)  in Argentina. Day excursions into the National Parks are offered and an easy way to explore the falls. You can reach the parks and falls by car or bus as well.

Best Time to Visit: The best months to visit are from April to May and September to October, the weather will be good for exploring and the crowds will be less. November and December are the best months for peak flow of the falls due to higher rain levels.

Iguazu Falls. Photo by Julia Caesar on Unsplash

6.) Skradinski Buk Falls 

Skradinski Buk Falls is a series of multiple waterfalls spaced out over 450 meters (1476 feet). The falls are located within Krka National Park along the Krka river in Dalmatia, Croatia. The falls ends in a large pool, a popular place for swimming.

Location: Dalmatia, Krka National Park, Croatia

Height: Varies, with the tallest waterfall reaching 22 meters (72 feet).

How to Get There: The falls can be accessed within Krka National Park via boat, hiking, or biking. When arriving at Krka National Park, park in the parking lot near Lozovac, the main entrance of the park. The hiking trail down to the falls is mostly a wooden trail, creating an easily hiked walkway.

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Skradinski Buk falls for peak flow is Fall or early winter. However, if you are looking for a good swim, the warmer months would be better for visiting. June and September are best, as crowds will be lower, with July and August being peak months.

Skradinski Buk Falls. Image by Ivan Ivankovic from Pixabay

7.) Havasu Falls

Havasu Falls is located along the Havasu Creek in the Havasupi Tribal Lands of the Grand Canyon. The falls drop 99 feet into plunge pools that have a blue-green color because of the high calcium carbonate levels. Interestingly, the make up of the falls has changed over time due to flash flooding. The falls were once a number of springs flowing over, but are currently is one continuous stream.

Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona, United States

Height: 29 meters (99 feet)

How to Get There: Havasu Falls can be reached off of Route 66, onto Indian Route 18, and finally to the Hualapai Hilltop parking lot. From there an eight mile trail will take you to Supai Village and the falls. The hike to the falls is a strenuous ten mile hike one way. Note that before visiting you must obtain a permit to access the falls and must stay overnight in the canyon (according to regulations of the Havasupi Tribe).

Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Havasu Falls is early spring and late fall, when the temperature is still cool enough for hiking, but warm enough for camping overnight.

Havasu Falls. Photo by Ameer Basheer on Unsplash

8.) Serio Falls

Serio Falls has been named the tallest waterfall in Italy, and second tallest waterfall in Europe. The legend behind the falls involves a story about a woman who fell in love with a shepherd who was engaged. The legend has it that the woman kidnapped the shepherd’s fiance and locked her in a castle above the falls, and the falls are the result of her tear drops.

Location: 24020 Valbondione Province of Bergamo, Italy

Height: 315 meters (1033 feet)

How to Get There: Serio Falls are easily accessible via hike. To get to the falls, park in Valbondione, Italy and find the trailhead for Cascate del Serio. The trail to Serio Falls is approximately 2 miles one way to the viewpoint.

Best Time to Visit: Serio Waterfalls is a regulated waterfall and is open only five times a year for 30 minutes at a time. For 2020, the scheduled dates are June 21st 11am to 11:30am, July 18th 10pm to 10:30pm, August 16th 11 to 11:30pm, September 13th 11am to 11:30am, and October 11th 11am to 11:30am.

Serio’s Falls. Photo by Antonio Sessa on Unsplash

9.) Gullfoss

Gullfoss Falls, or “Golden Falls”, lies within the Hvítá River Canyon in Southwestern Iceland. The Langjökull glacier supplies the river with water that eventually reaches and flows over the falls. Gullfoss Falls is a tiered cascade, with two separate stages, the first measuring at 11 meters and the second at 21 meters. There are three different theories on the origin of the name of the falls. The first is the golden hue that is often seen in the waters of the falls, the second the rainbow that can often be seen in the mist produced by the waterfall, and the third is a legend that a farmer, Gýgur, threw his gold over the falls in an attempt to prevent anyone else from getting it.

Location: Hvítá River Canyon, Southwest Iceland

Height: 32 meters (104 feet)

How to Get There: Gullfoss Falls is located along the Golden Circle sightseeing route located about an hour and a half outside of Reykjavik. Gullfoss Falls is accessible via car and most major tours around the country include a stop there.

Best Time to Visit: Gullfoss is accessible year round, but in the winter time many viewpoints will be closed. Any time of year is good to visit the falls and winter time brings unique views, but due to the ice it is essential to have proper gear and be cautious when visiting.

Gullfoss Falls. Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

10.) Godafoss

Godafoss Falls, or the “waterfalls of the gods”, is located along the Skjálfandafljót River in Northeran Iceland. Godafoss Falls is considered to be one of the most beautiful sights in Iceland. The history of the waterfalls is interesting and explains how it obtained it’s name as the waterfalls of the gods. In the year 1,000 when Christanity became the official religion, it is believed that Thorgeir Thorkelsson threw his pagan idols in the waters of the falls. You can enjoy views of the falls on the West side, or get up close to the water’s edge on the East side.

Location: Akureyri, Iceland

Height: 12 meters (39 feet)

How to Get There: Godafoss is located a short drive outside of Akureyri and is accessible from Route 1. Godafoss is easily accessible for those with cars, being located on the Ring Road. There are also plenty of tour options available for exploring the Ring Road that include a stop at Godafoss Falls.

Best Time to Visit: Godafoss can be visited year round and has unique views for each season. If visiting in the winter it is recommended to make sure you have 4 wheel drive.

Godafoss Falls. Image by David Mark from Pixabay

USA National Parks-The Perfect Family Getaway

There are 418 national sites across the United States, with 62 of them designated as national parks. These are areas that are protected by the US government to maintain the beauty and wonder of these sites. Whether you are looking to explore glaciers in Alaska, view the depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, or hike the Rocky mountains, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

National parks make great destinations for family travel and offer varying degrees of activity level, making them great from the toddler years all the way to adulthood. These parks will leave all marveling at the beauty of nature and give you a new sense of just how glorious the earth is (at least it did for us!). A group of travel bloggers compiled this list of great national parks throughout the country to inspire you to visit them!

Mount Rainier National Park

The Wandering Queen

Mount Rainier National Park. Photo credit: The Wandering Queen.

One of the best places to visit this summer with the family is Mount Rainer National Park, located in Washington State. This 369 square mile park has it all! It has waterfalls, mountain views, lakes, beautiful old grove trees, wildlife and not to mention the beast: Mount Rainier Mountain. Mount Rainier, at 14,410 feet, stands tall in the center of the park. It is the most popular attraction of the park, but there is so much more to do than stare at Mount Rainier.

One of the best things to do is to hike the extremely popular Skyline Trail. This hike is located in the Paradise section of the national park. It is one of the most popular family-friendly trails in the park. The whole path has breathtaking views of Mount Rainier. There is also a waterfall called Myrtle Falls at the end of the trail. If you go on a clear day, you can get a perfect picture of the waterfall with Mount Rainier in the background.

Another family-friendly hike is the Grove of the patriarchs trail. It is a very easy trail with beautiful forest views, a stunning bridge, and the trees are enormous! It is a great beginner’s trail for all family members. It is a very popular and fun hike. If you are looking for a less popular trail nearby with a waterfall view, try out Silver Falls. The trail is more of an easy to moderate hike but without the crowds. The color of the green-blue river is astonishing, and we were pretty surprised at how few people were there to enjoy it.

If you are looking for a fun national park where you can see cute wildlife, gigantic trees, and enormous mountains, then Mount Rainier National Park is perfect for your family. 

More Mount Rainier Hikes

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Redwood National and State Park

Evergreen and Salt

Redwood National Park. Photo Credit: Evergreen and Salt.

A trip to Redwood National and State Parks is a total treat for kids. Big trees you can climb on and over, and even drive through? A win all around for families since parents will also be astounded by the beauty and grandeur of the Redwoods. The region of Northern California that is dominated by Redwoods is located a couple hours north of San Francisco, where you’ll find a sprawling forest of trees that are designated as both national and state parks. While the National Park may be more well known, you won’t want to miss Humboldt State Park right by it, where you’ll find a number of drive-thru trees like Myer’s Flat that are large enough for a small SUV to fit through. Humboldt State Park is also home to the Avenue of the Giants, an epic part of Highway 101 where you’ll drive through some of the world’s tallest trees. Kids will also appreciate the numerous short hiking trails through the tall trees and even the fact that many road stop gift shops and cafes are right by massive trees and even old hollowed out logs that can be climbed through.

Families will also love the fact that a Redwood forest vacation takes you right by the Lost Coast, a stretch of undeveloped coastline that is stunningly gorgeous and remarkably secluded compared to the rest of California’s coastline. Stop in the tiny town of Shelter Cove located on the Lost Coast for an ice cream and to see its charming lighthouse. Then head down to the black sand beach for some time walking along the shore or visit the tide pools of the rocky beach beneath the lighthouse. Just be sure to always face the water since large sneaker waves can quickly come upon you. Whether you choose to spend most of your time among the giant Redwoods close to the ocean or deep within the forest, you and your family will appreciate the history and beauty the region has to offer.

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Haleakala National Park

I’m Jess Traveling

Haleakala Crater. Photo Credit: I’m Jess Traveling

Haleakala National Park can be found on the beautiful Hawaiian Island of Maui. Haleakala is Maui’s volcano and covers a whooping 75% of the island. There are 2 parts of the park to explore, the Kipahulu district and the summit. 

The Kipahulu or coastal district can only be reached from the east side of the island about 20 minutes past the town of Hana. Here you can experience the dramatic coast line, volcanic inlets and waterfalls!

Inside the park is a drive up, first come first serve campground perfect for the family traveling on a budget. Campsites are well maintained and walkable to the pools of Ohe’o and one of Maui’s most popular hikes, the Pipiwai Trail. This family friendly hike takes you past ancient banyan trees, through an enchanting bamboo forest and ends up at a 400 foot waterfall.

Another way to explore Haleakala National park is by accessing the summit. I recommend coming for sunrise to witness the sun rise above the clouds, an experience that is truly out of this world. To catch sunrise you must make reservations in advance here.

There are a handful of hikes that take you in, through or around the crater. The Pa Kaoao Trail is a short hike that will give you panoramic views of the crater and provide several photo ops perfect for the cover of your next family Christmas card. For a more challenging hike the Sliding Sands Trail will take you down to the crater floor. You’ll feel like you are traversing the surface of Mars and is a personal highlight of mine.

Don’t forget to dress warm, as it gets cold at the summit of 10,023 feet! However you explore Haleakala National Park, you’ll leave with unforgettable memories and have a trip of a lifetime.

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Red Rock Canyon

It’s a Family Thing

Red Rock Canyon from lookout. Photo Credit: It’s a Family Thing.

Many people do not think of Las Vegas as a destination for families, but you will be surprised how family-friendly Las Vegas can be. Located only 30 minutes away from the Las Vegas strip, Red Rock Canyon is the perfect place to take in scenic natural views with your family. Be advised, there is a $15 charge per car and no cell phone reception once you arrive at the canyon.

If you have a little nature enthusiast, they will enjoy the exhibit in the visitor’s center. Our son is going through a rock phase, so we spent an hour at the visitor’s center learning and playing with rocks. There are lookout posts for you to see the scenic mountains and desert for miles. We were even able to spot a few sleeping desert turtles. The volunteers are very nice and are informative if you would like to know more about the Canyon. This is the perfect place for families to spend the day enjoying everything nature has to offer.

Although it is a desert the beauty is indescribable. Red Rock Canyon will give you a whole new appreciation for an ecosystem that is oftentimes forgotten. After leaving the visitor’s center be sure to fill up on cold water outside before heading for the scenic drive around the canyon. The scenic drive is 13-miles and will take 35 minutes if you drive without stopping, but if you plan on making a lot of stops prepare to be there for 2 – 3 hours. There are over 25 hikes and trails for you to enjoy with your family. The kid-friendly hikes are Willow Spring Loop, Moenkopi Loop, Lost Creek – Children’s Discovery, and Oak Creek Canyon. Why not pack a lunch and explore?

Bonus: If you go between December and April you may see the hidden waterfall. How cool is that? A waterfall in the desert.

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Grand Teton National Park

Travel Collecting

Grand Teton National Park. Photo Credit: Travel Collecting.

Grand Teton National Park is a great place for families.  The Grand Tetons are a range of jagged mountains that rise dramatically right out of the plains.  The main gateway town is Jackson Hole, which is worth spending a day or two in.  The entrances to the main square in town are arches made from elk antlers, which is fun for kids to see.  Thousands of elk shed the antlers each year, and they are gathered and sold in the square in spring. 

There are plenty of viewpoints to see the mountains.  A famous view is from Mormon’s Row, with a historic barn in the foreground.  Other famous lookouts include Snake River Overlook, Oxbow Bend and Schwabacher’s Landing.  This is also a great place to see moose early in the morning or late in the afternoon.  Sightings are not guaranteed, of course, but moose often gather in the shallow waters of the river.  Another common place to see moose is the aptly named Moose Pond.  Park rangers often lead guided walks to see moose grazing in grasses that grow in the pond.  The walk is short and easy for kids to do.  This hike leaves from Jenny Lake, which is another highlight of a visit to Grand Teton national Park.  A shuttle boat crosses the lake, from where more adventurous families can do the Cascade Canyon hike.  The first section of the trail is uphill, but once you get into the canyon, you are rewarded with breathtaking views and an easy walk alongside the river that runs through the canyon.  Black bear sightings are possible (so take precautions) and if you are lucky, you may see river otters darting around the water. The other main lake is Jackson Lake and this is a popular spot for fishing and boating.  

There are several campgrounds and cabins near Jenny Lake and along the shore of the larger Jackson Lake.  Whether you go there for the mountain views; to spot wildlife; or to relax on, in and near the water, there is something for the whole family at Grand Teton National Park.

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Acadia National Park

The Nomadic Fitzpatricks

Acadia National Park is the only park in the northeastern United States, and embodies
everything New Englanders love about Maine! Located on Mount Desert Island outside of Bar Harbor, this picturesque park combines the beauty of the ocean and beaches alongside forests and small, easily hike-able mountains. It’s a perfect location for families to camp or to spend a weekend away.

Families with children will enjoy Acadia’s size and the small hikes it offers. You can drive through the park to most trailheads and the mountains are small. The highest mountain in the park is Cadillac Mountain, which sits just above 1,500 feet! In addition to smaller hikes like Gorham Mountain Trail and Jordan Pond, Sand Beach is the perfect place to spend a day soaking up the sun or searching for crabs in the ocean. Visit Thunder Hole to see the large seaspray along the beach.

You can opt to stay at a B&B or hotel in Bar Harbor, just fifteen minutes from the park, or you can stay within the park at Blackwoods or Seawall campground for cheap. From Blackwoods Campground you can hear the ocean waves, roast marshmallows over the campfire, and later walk down to the rocks for stargazing. The campsites are well equipped and the grounds are perfect for walks, bike rides, and making friends with fellow campers.

There are many restaurants in Bar Harbor, but the closest large supermarkets will be 30-45 minutes away, so plan accordingly. Firewood must be purchased within the state of Maine to be used inside the park. You’ll need a National Parks Pass to enter the park and stay within the campgrounds, or there will be an additional fee.

Acadia is our favorite place to camp every summer, and we always come back year after year!

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Muir Woods National Monument

Planning Away

Muir Woods National Monument. Photo Credit: Planning Away.

Located just outside of San Francisco is Muir Woods National Monument.  Muir Woods has impressive redwood sequoia trees! If you are looking for the top things to do in San Francisco with kids, Muir Woods is perfect.  It is very easy to get to, you can take a ferry across the bay to Sausalito and jump on the designated bus that will drop you off right at the park.  Or you can drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and park directly at the park.  There is an entrance fee of $15 per adult and children under 15 are free.  If you have the 4th grade pass or the National Park Pass this park is included.  

These trees are over 1000 years old!  The tallest tree in Muir Woods is 258 ft.  tall. They are truly incredible to look at. There is a wooden walk way that will guide you to the most spectacular trees in Muir Woods.  The trail wind’s around the trees to two spots the Cathedral Grove and the Bohemian Grove. 

There are a few hiking options: 

  • 1/2 hour loop
  • 1 hour loop
  • 1 1/2 hour loop

The 1 1/2 hour hike extends into Mount Tamalpais State Park.  Muir Woods is a great refuge away from the city.  It is also a great way to see the Redwoods without driving long distances to Redwood National Park or Yosemite National Park.
I highly recommend making a trip and seeing this spectacular National Monument. 

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Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Meals and Mile Markers

Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: Meals and Mile Markers.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, located in Tennessee and North Carolina, is a beautiful portion of the Appalachian Mountain Range. These mountains are a popular vacation spot that many Americans even visit annually. The park and its surrounding area offer a wide variety of attractions and activities so that everyone will find something of interest! The most popular activity is, of course, hiking. Whether you’ve never been on a hike in your life or if you’re a seasoned hiker, there will be a trail for you! If you have small children, Laurel Falls is a great option because it’s just over 2 miles long roundtrip. At the end of the hike, you will see a lovely waterfall that the entire family will be excited to discover! The Gatlinburg Trail is also great for all ages because it is paved and showcases some beautiful scenery. 

If you would like a more challenging hike, Rainbow Falls is popular as it is about 5 miles roundtrip and takes you to a waterfall that is not nearly as busy as Laurel Falls. The Chimney Tops trail is also a favorite. It’s only about 2 miles each way, but it’s also straight up and down. This is a very rocky trail and offers rock hopping, which is quite enjoyable for adventurers! Then, there are the trails that require a bit more effort, such as one of the five trails that leads up to Mt. Leconte, one of the highest mountains in the Eastern United States. The different trailheads vary in length and difficulty, but each of them will bring you to Myrtle Point, which offers panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains.

Fortunately, hiking is only one of the many activities in the area. If you choose to stay in Gatlinburg, which is home to many of the trailheads found within the park, you will have plenty of options in the evenings, as well as on the days when you don’t feel like hiking. You can find some Ripley’s attractions, many unique shops, miniature golf, and even some other adventurous activities!

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 Looking for more ideas about natural beauties to visit? Check out Prince Edward Island as told by Meals and Mile Markers.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Yonderlust Ramblings

Carlsbad Caverns. Photo Credit: Yonderlust Ramblings.

If you are looking for the perfect National Park to take the whole family, there is no better choice than Carlsbad Caverns National Park! This region of New Mexico embodies the best of the Southwest’s outdoor adventures, and this National Park continues the trend by excelling at combining outdoor adventure, educational learning opportunities, and unique activities all in one place, perfect for any family! At Carlsbad Caverns National Park, there is something for everybody! Children have a chance to learn and witness the wonder of some of the most unique geographical formations in the country, on a short, underground, self guided trek through the Caverns. They will likely never forget some of the whimsical creations they will see, such as the enormous Big Room, the Devil’s Den, or Iceberg Rock. Become like the early explorers and venture on a ranger guided tour, which provides even more magical and life-changing memories of exploring the Caverns lesser visited “rooms”, such as the Hall of the White Giant, Slaughter Canyon, or Left Hand Tunnel tours.

For those that enjoy above ground explorations, there are several trails that wind through the unique topography and ecosystem of the Chihuahuan desert, home to a plethora of unique species of plants and wildlife, sure to pique the curiosities and interests of any age! Choose from short and easy nature walks, like the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail, or expand your horizons on some longer treks, such as the Rattlesnake Canyon Trail. As the day winds to a close, be sure to stick around for one of the highlights of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the nightly bat flight program! This above ground dusk event includes an educational briefing by park rangers, followed by the exhilarating exit from the depths below of the Cavern’s resident population of Brazilian free-tailed bats, as they embark on their nightly ventures! Wherever your explorations of this National Park take you, be sure to bring plenty of water for the arid New Mexican environment, sturdy shoes with good traction for the wide variety of trails that exist here, and a light jacket for below ground, as the temperatures stay cool year round!

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Yellowstone National Park

Passports and Adventures

Clepsydra Geyser. Photo Credit: Passports and Adventures.

One of the best US National Parks to visit with kids is Yellowstone National Park. This amazing place found mostly in Wyoming, is home to bubbling springs, steam vents, bursting geysers and unimaginably beautiful landscapes. It is also home to an abundance of wildlife and you will be hard pressed to miss some of its occupants in the form of bison.

The most famous geyser on the world is in Yellowstone, Old Faithful, so called because of its predictable eruptions. This makes it easy to visit with kids, given that the Visitor Centre close by can tell you the approximate time of the next eruption so you are not waiting around for hours. There are other geysers in the Upper Geyser Basin that are on constant eruption. As well as the geysers, mud volcanos and springs, such as Grand Prismatic Spring, there are waterfalls, hikes, rivers and plenty of Visitor’s Centres to bring the kids to.

Yellowstone with kids is best enjoyed over several days, at least three, preferably four or more. You will need a car to get around, as it gives you the freedom to stop wherever and whenever you want.

Pro Tip: Do not underestimate the driving distances between points of interest in Yellowstone. It takes a lot longer than you think to go from point A to point B in the park.

You should plan a list of things to do with the kids and then plan your itinerary accordingly. For instance, plan to drive the lower part of the Grand Loop one day, and the upper part another day. If you elect to stay outside of the park, you need to factor in driving time to the entrance and then driving time to your first stop of the day. You should also factor in time for stops as you never know when you might spot something to stop at or pull over for. Don’t forget binoculars to help the kids spot wildlife.

Pro Tip: Get into the park early for popular places like Grand Prismatic Spring, Old Faithful and the waterfalls of Yellowstone River, mainly to grab a parking spot. Being in the park early means you will miss the crowds and get to enjoy the popular areas at your own pace.

Yellowstone is an incredible place to bring kids as it is vast and diverse. There is wildlife to spot, incredible sights from nature to see and more.

Everglades National Park


When most people think of national parks in the United States they picture sweeping scenic views of mountains and canyons. Everglades National Park, however, attracts visitors for its unique ecosystem and diverse species. Located on the southern tip of Florida, the Everglades is the perfect place to bring your kids to teach them about the importance of preserving the natural environment and fighting climate change. This ecosystem is incredibly vulnerable to rising sea levels and, according to the National Park Service, is already experiencing the effects of increasing salinity from seawater.

I recommend you start your visit at one of the park’s four visitor centers. If you only have time for a day trip, Shark Valley, which is accessible from Miami, or Gulf Coast, which is accessible from Everglades City, are good choices. If you plan to spend longer in the park, you can visit the southern centers, Royal Palm and Flamingo, via Homestead.

Unlike your typical national park, one of the most popular ways to explore Everglades National Park is by boat. Airboat tours through the mangroves are incredibly exciting and will be a hit for any kid who loves amusement rides. If you are looking for a quieter experience on the water, the park has endless trails and coastline to explore by canoe or kayak.

For hiking, there are a number of short educational trails throughout the park. The longer trails are often more wild and are not maintained by the park service due to the presence of endangered species. The visitor center at Royal Palm offers a program in Slough Slogging, or off-trail hiking through the water (ages 12 or older).

Check out this blog post for a 2-week itinerary highlighting the culture and nature of authentic Florida beyond the theme parks, including a stop at Everglades National Park.

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There you have it…many great national parks to choose from, and these are only a few! I encourage you to do some research and head out to start exploring these great locations across the United States! Before visiting be sure to read up on outdoor etiquette to make sure you are protecting these great landscapes!

Hometown Series: Delhi, India

Week 4

Written by Travel Melodies

This week we continue to explore the hometowns of travel bloggers around the world while diving into Delhi, India as told by local Anjali of Travel Melodies. Delhi is the capital of India and a pretty well known destination. However, taking a look at Delhi from the perspective of a local will give us a different spin on the destination.

In previous weeks we explored Leeds, Yorkshire from Get Lost Travel Blog, Ann Arbor, Michigan from Ann Plans Travel, and my own hometown, Herkimer, NY.

Delhi – A Local’s Guide

The vibrant capital of India – Delhi is known for its rich history, fascinating cultural traditions, chaotic yet colorful streets and markets, and mouth-watering street food. It’s a city that not only strings the people of many faiths and religions together but welcomes its guests with an open heart and mind.

As you travel across the narrow lanes of historic Old Delhi to wide boulevards of New Delhi, you’ll fall in love with the contrasts and the way the old and new blend together seamlessly.

Delhi is huge. There’s so much to see and do, to immerse yourself in from historic sites to iconic buildings to lively markets and streets soaked in the tastes and smell unique to India – you definitely need a plan to explore Delhi.

If you are a first-timer, you might get panicked and lost in the pandemonium. I’d recommend taking one of many cultural tours and heritage walks to understand the soul of the city. Delhi by Locals is one of the best tours in Delhi. A great way to see the city through the eyes of a local.

The best time to visit Delhi is during winter (October – March) as the city’s summer is harsh.

Must See Attractions

The Lodhi Gardens – a beautiful public park housing the historical monuments, is a delight to visit. The park is packed with fitness enthusiasts, bikers, runners, and families with kids indulging in various activities every morning. The adventure-loving families love walking the Lodhi Gardens Heritage and Nature Trails.

Lodhi Gardens. Photo Credit: Travel Melodies.

The iconic Mughal Garden located inside Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace) opens its doors to the public during spring every year for people to admire the endless variety of flowers in full bloom.

If you’re traveling with kids, make sure to visit the Nehru Planetarium. Kids will be able to learn about astronomy and solar system through an interactive presentation. Another museum you should visit with kids is the National Science center. The Science Fun Centre at the museum is the best where kids can try their hands on various fun science experiments. A fun way to learn!

Rashtrapati Bhavan. Photo Credit: Travel Melodies.

Another must-visit in Delhi is Waste To Wonder Park that features replicas of seven wonders of the world made entirely from the waste. Delhi is home to some of the famous Mughal architectural wonders like Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb, Safdarjung Tomb, Tughlaqabad Fort, and the list is endless. History lovers can have an awesome time here in Delhi!

You can’t visit Delhi and not go to India