Monthly Archives: March 2014

Charles Bridge in the eraly hours of the morning

How to spend an epic evening in Prague

Charles Bridge in the eraly hours of the morning. Photo by Anthony GELOT, flickr

Charles Bridge in the eraly hours of the morning. Photo by Anthony GELOT, flickr

Deciding how to spend an epic evening in Prague shouldn’t be difficult. The culture, the history, the skyline, and the beauty of Prague are all overwhelming. But what many people fail to realise is the city has all this and so much more to offer. The nightlife in Prague is unlike any other in Europe, even boasting the biggest nightclub in Central Europe.

The historical capital of Bohemia has certainly earned its place as one of the hippest travel destinations, with an endless amount of things to do, see, and eat. Below are some of the best aspects of the vivid nightlife to check out while traveling in the City of a Thousand Spires, whether you’re a culture vulture, a party goer, or anything in between.

Things to do/see

 Bed lounge and restaurant bar, prague. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Bed lounge and restaurant bar, prague. Photo courtesy of the restaurant

Bed lounge

Located in the Old Town Square is the unique Bed Lounge Restaurant and Bar. Kick off your shoes and relax on the beds while enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine. The lounge also offers a selection of light French and Italian cuisine.

River Cruise

Enjoy Prague by night on an evening river cruise which allows you to take in the sights such as Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, accompanied by a buffet dinner and fine wines.

 Prague Castle By Night. Photo by on-holidays.eu

Prague Castle By Night. Photo by on-holidays.eu

Prague Castle By Night

The largest castle in the ancient world, the Prague Castle is roughly the size of seven football fields. The castle is even more majestic by night when you can experience it up close and explore its history and legend, including its churches, gardens, alleyways, and royal residences.

Old Town Square

Located in the Old Town quarter of Prague is the Old Town Square. The square is a hub for activity and celebrations, and is considered unique due to the vastly different architectural styles that surround it.

MORE: 10 OF THE BEST NIGHTCLUBS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

What to eat

Double Trouble Bar. Photo by doubletrouble.cz

Double Trouble Bar. Photo by doubletrouble.cz

Svíčková na smetaně - a traditional Czech dish, it consists of beef sirloin and is doused in a vegetable-laden gravy, topped with cranberry sauce, lemon, cream, and bread dumplings.

Ovocné knedlíky – fresh fruit dumpling made with strawberries, apricots, or plums, this is a staple sweet dish in the Czech Republic.

Tatarák – fresh, minced raw beef served with egg yolk, diced onion, mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika.

Kurtosh – originally a Hungarian dessert, they are very popular in Prague. These chimney cakes are similar to cinnamon donuts, but with a crispy outside layer and soft inside layer.

Nightclubs

Old Town Square. Photo by ghetzu, flickr

Old Town Square. Photo by ghetzu, flickr

Karlovy Lazne

The biggest nightclub in Central Europe, Karlovy Lazne is one of the best places to hang out in Prague. The massive club boasts five levels, each with its own style. First experience Music Café, then Discotheque (70s disco revival), Kaleidoscope (hits of the 60s-80s), Paradogs Club (in-house and techno), and Chill Out (mellow tunes, floor cushions, and soft lighting). Karlovy Lazne features a range of interesting architecture; with Roman-style spas serve as two of the dance floors.

Double Trouble Bar & Club

A short walk from the Old Town Square is the large historic bar, Double Trouble. It is the most popular gothic cellar pub in Prague. An entrance at street level takes you down to the beautifully restored rooms below where visitors can indulge in the real party culture of Prague.

 Vltava River and Prague Cityscape. Photo by lucie, flickr

Vltava River and Prague Cityscape. Photo by lucie, flickr

Duplex Restaurant & Club

During the day, Duplex is an impressive restaurant. However, it truly comes alive at night when it transforms into Prague’s most exclusive club, featuring some of the city’s best DJs. The two story club is also popular with international celebrities and has a reputation for being the most stylish club in Prague.

Bunkr Parukarka

For a completely different clubbing experience, and to combine history with clubbing, head to Bunkr Parukarka. Housed underground in a 1950s nuclear bunker, this graffiti-covered nightclub is located in a hillside. Although it would be easy to miss, Bunkr Parukarka comes alive at night with electro-pop and some of the best DJs pumping out tunes all night.

Zizkov

The former industrial suburb is now the epicentre of Prague’s rougher nightlife. With more than 300 bars in the five square kilometres, it is the highest per capita concentration of drinking venues in Europe.

2 - The Great pyramids and Spinix, Photo by matt champlin, flick

A short guide on 5 cities to visit in Egypt

The great Pyramids and Spinix. Photo by matt champlin, flickr

The great Pyramids and Spinix. Photo by matt champlin, flickr

The magnitude of Egypt’s beauty lies in her sands of time, an incredible place rich in culture with colourful markets and endless deserts. Just outside city walls are colossal Sphinx statues sitting perfectly still next to ancient pyramids. To make things a little easier, we’ve put together a short guide on 5 cities to visit in Egypt. These cities hold the key to unlocking Egypt’s past as you pass through places that have stood the test of time. You can begin to gain a sense of how profound it was for the ancient Egyptians to craft and rule a highly detailed civilization as you walk like an Egyptian through these incredible cities.

Cairo

The Nile, Egypt. Photo by Mohamed Ahmed Kazzaz, flickr

The Nile, Egypt. Photo by Mohamed Ahmed Kazzaz, flickr

Egypt’s historic capital is a perfect starting place for any trip to the area. Located on the Nile River, this city blends a mix of modern and ancient architecture. Located in Cairo is the Egyptian Museum, which contains some of the most fascinating artefacts from the past. A short tip outside Cairo takes you to the city of Giza, famous for housing the Great Pyramids and the Great Sphinx. The only remaining ancient wonders of the world. Try seeing the pyramids at night where they light up during a laser show.

Where to Stay: The Ramses Hilton has a reputation as being one of the best hotels in Cairo. At around $140 a night it is affordable and has a great view of the Nile River.
Where to Eat: Try the Zooba restaurant for an authentic Egyptian meal at an affordable price.

Aswan

 Sailing down the Nile. Photo by Lucie Debelkova, flickr

Sailing down the Nile. Photo by Lucie Debelkova, flickr

South of Cairo located on the Nile is the city of Aswan. This city is a perfect place to unwind and relax after seeing the nation’s capital. Be sure to see the unfinished Obelisk, one of the largest single rock carvings in the world. Spend a day relaxing sailing on a felucca, one of the Niles traditional white sail boats. A short day trip outside of Answan takes you to Abu Simbel, a gigantic temple constructed during the reign of Ramses II, this attraction is an absolute must for any Egypt traveller. Aswan is also home to many different traditional markets and bazars. Have fun shopping around for different bargains, but be sure to haggle hard!

Where to stay: The Keylany Hotel has a quirky Egyptian décor with all the amenities you need. It goes for around $92 a night.
Where to eat: The Panorama Restaurant offers views of the whole city whilst serving a selection of different Middle Eastern dishes.

Luxor

A true Egyptian Obelisk. Photo by Marco Di Fabio, flickr

A true Egyptian Obelisk. Photo by Marco Di Fabio, flickr

The city of Luxor is the second most visited city in Egypt, and possesses some of the most famous attractions. Have a look around the Temple of Luxor and Temple of Karnak, and gaze in wonder into the detail of the hieroglyphics. In between these two temples lies the Avenue of the Sphinxes. A shell of its former beauty, this path was believed to have over 2000 Sphinxes in its prime. No trip to Luxor is complete without a trip to the Valley of the Kings. This ancient burial site of former Egyptian kings is most famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen. Just past the valley are the Colossi of Memnon, two enormous monuments depicting the Pharaoh Amenhotep III.

Where to stay: For value for money don’t look past the Saint Joseph Hotel. At around $50 a night it has a great location in the heart of the city.
Where to eat: The Latern is a hot spot for luxury diners, however if you are feeling brave then go out and try some street food!

Sharm El Sheikh

 Places of worship in Sharm El Sheikh. Photo by _flucio6, flickr

Places of worship in Sharm El Sheikh. Photo by _flucio6, flickr

Sharam El Sheik is a luxurious paradise located in the north of Egypt. Known for its pristine beaches and lavish resorts, Sharam El Sheik attracts thousands of tourists every year. Located on the red sea, it is also home to some of the best snorkelling and diving sites in the world. There are many different water sports and activities offered here. Be sure to scope out the night life, with its assortment of trendy bars and restaurants.

Where to stay: Treat yourself and try the Jez Mirabel Beach Resort. Compared too many of the hotels in the area it is surprisingly affordable, and located directly on the beach. It will cost you about $140 a night.
Where to eat: The Camel Bar and Roof is in a great location and offers cheap food with fantastic views.

Alexandria

 The great city of Alexandria. Photo by Michel Assaad, flickr

The great city of Alexandria. Photo by Michel Assaad, flickr

Alexandria is the second biggest city in all of Egypt. Located in the north of the country right on the Mediterranean Sea, the city is the nation’s largest sea port for imports and exports. The combination of warm weather and vast number of beaches makes it a popular place for visitors year around. Other popular sites here include the Bibliotheca Alexandria, Egypt’s largest library that is in a modern designed building surrounded by ancient structures. The Stanley Bridge offers a fantastic walk at night time, to take in some of the lights and sounds of the city.

Where to stay: The Alexandria Mediterranean Suites is affordable and centrally located at around $70 a night.
Where to eat: For a romantic setting, try the Greek Club. Located on the harbour is offers remarkable views.

4 The Waitomo Glowworm caves give the impression of a majestic starry night. Photo by Tim Spaulding, flickr.jpg

7 great places for backpackers to visit in New Zealand

New Zealand is known for its wild landscapes and scenery. Photo via cashimor, flickr

New Zealand is known for its wild landscapes and scenery. Photo via cashimor, flickr

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with outstanding luscious scenery and an abundance of things for the thrill-seeker traveller to do. It is a country known for volcanoes, glaciers, stunning bush land, deep caves and beautiful beaches. This is the place to be for backpackers; the action and adrenalin, the spacious landscape and the thrilling outdoor lifestyle are what appeals to travellers flocking to New Zealand each year. To help you out, check out these 7 great places for backpackers to visit in New Zealand below.

New Zealand is made up of two main islands – The north and the south and both of which have different things to offer to travellers. The North Island is home to Auckland, the most populated city; to the capital city Wellington, and to dozens of active and inactive volcanoes. The South Island presents an array of landscapes and national parks; with glaciers, alpine lakes and some of the most famous ski slopes in the world. To get the most out of your visit to New Zealand ere are seven of the best places to travel to:

Lake Taupo

 Settle at sunset on Lake Taupo after a long day of water activities. Photo by Simon Cartwright, flickr

Settle at sunset on Lake Taupo after a long day of water activities. Photo by Simon Cartwright, flickr

Nature’s playground, Lake Taupo has everything there is to offer for water sports and adventuring. The best time to travel to Lake Taupo is in the summer, to get the most out of everything the area has to offer. This is a great destination for families, with rafting, swimming, kayaking offered, as well as bike riding, hiking, fly fishing and rock climbing. Lake Taupo is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Australasia and is known for its role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For fishing enthusiasts, this is the place to be; with both brown and rainbow trout being heavily populated in the area. Make sure to catch the Maori rock carvings on the cliffs of Mine Bay.

Matapouri Bay

Stunning mermaid pools at Matapouri Bay. Photo by Chris Gin, flickr

Stunning mermaid pools at Matapouri Bay. Photo by Chris Gin, flickr

Spectacular beaches and stunning mermaid pools, perfect at low tide are what bring tourists to Matapouri Bay. Walk along the beach towards the North end to locate the cove and the track that leads you to the pools. From the pools, located on a hill in a secluded cove, you have spectacular views of the beach. The only time to go is low tide! It becomes a hazard at high tide as most of the pools are covered up by water and it becomes slippery. Once you get there, slip into the feeling of complete satisfaction whilst diving into the natural pools. The water is impeccably blue, and the scene is like one from a film. Take in the serenity, there’s not enough places on earth that are as great as this one. The pools are deep enough for you to dive into, so be adventurous and jump from a nearby rock. Just be careful because more often than not, the rocks are wet and slippery.

Waitomo Caves

 The Waitomo Glowworm caves give the impression of a majestic starry night. Photo by Tim Spaulding, flickr

The Waitomo Glowworm caves give the impression of a majestic starry night. Photo by Tim Spaulding, flickr

Nestled in a tiny community on the North island is Waitomo, home to a world famous caving system dating over two million years old. There are a number of main tourist caves in the area, the most popular being the Glowworm Cave, for all the right reasons. This cave in particular is home to an exclusively Kiwi glowworm that make the cave seem out of this world. You can visit the cave through a guided tour, which brings you through three different levels; beginning at the top. The levels are linked by a 16m vertical shaft, made of limestone which is heavily evident within the cave and surrounding areas. The tour travels from the Catacombs, down to the Banquet chamber, before finally reaching the Cathedral where the tour is finished with a boat ride in the underground river system. The glowworms living in the cave walls are the only light source along the boat ride, giving the impression of a sky of living lights or stars. The Ruakuri and Aranui Caves are also in the same system as the Waitomo glowworm cave. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can travel independently into the caves – however, it is always best to go with a professional of the area or system, as recreational caving can often be dangerous.

MORE: 10 AWESOME PLACES TO SPEND THE SUMMER

Rotorua

The cultural city of Rotorua is famous for hot springs and delightful mud pools. Photo by Ellen De Young, flickr

The cultural city of Rotorua is famous for hot springs and delightful mud pools. Photo by Ellen De Young, flickr

Rotorua is a place full of fascinating and traditional culture. It is a place full of history for Maori people, and is home to some of the best hot springs and mud pools in New Zealand. The city has been nicknamed the “Sulphur city” due to its location close to thermal springs and volcanoes. The hydrogen sulphide emissions around the city often give off a pungent smell, but don’t be put off by that – the city has a lot of natural beauties to offer. Make sure to visit the Government Gardens and Whakerewarewa Forest which is great for mountain biking enthusiasts. There are also several stunning lakes in the area, the largest being Lake Rotorua, great for kayaking and swimming. Make sure to visit the Museum and Rotorua Bath House for an insight to Maori heritage and culture.

Side note: for those travels who are also movie enthusiasts, travel approximately an hour inland from Rotorua to a place called Matamata, the site of Hobbiton, where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. Here you’ll find what’s known in the films as “The Shire” and you’ll be able to experience what it’s like to live as a Hobbit. Daily tours are available to visit the movie set.

West Coast

 Lake Matheson gives a mirrored view of the Fox Glacier on the West Coast. Photo by Geee Kay, flickr

Lake Matheson gives a mirrored view of the Fox Glacier on the West Coast. Photo by Geee Kay, flickr

Known by the locals as “the coast”, the west coast of the Southern Island of New Zealand runs over 600km and has plenty to offer. The biggest town in the area is Greymouth, but it’s best to have your own transport in this area; there’s so much to see and do. There are over eight unique areas, ranging from Westport and Karamea, Reefton, to the Great Coast Road, Greymouth, the Lakes District, Jade Country and then finally the Glacier Country in the far south. Each area has something different to offer – caves, rainforest, glaciers, ski slopes, national parks, deserted beaches; something for everybody.  It’s recommended that you visit the Denniston Plateau; venturing into underground mines, walk in sections of the Heaphy Track for luscious coastal beauty, visit the Oparara Valley for one of the largest limestone arches in the world, see the Hokitika Gorge for amazing turquoise water, embark on a glacier encounter at either Fox Glacier or Franz Josef to get up close and personal to one of the worlds’ most astounding phenomena, cycle on the west coast wilderness trail, and visit the Pancake Rocks from blowholes at high tide and magnificent limestone rocks that resemble pancakes! This place is action packed.

Queenstown

 Queenstown shadowed by the snowy mountains in the distance. Photo by Sprengben, flickr

Queenstown shadowed by the snowy mountains in the distance. Photo by Sprengben, flickr

One of New Zealand’s top visitor areas, Queenstown is famous for lake and mountain landscapes, as well as activities for those of us who prefer to indulge in the finer things in life. For the more relaxing traveler, visit one of the many spas in the town; get a massage or beauty treatment before heading into the city for boutique shopping and outstanding wine and food. For thrill-seekers, Queenstown offers great ski slopes in the winter, as well as bungee jumping, sky diving, canyon swinging, jet boating, horse trekking and river rafting in every season. This is also a great location for sightseeing for Lord of The Rings fans, as loads of the area was used throughout the trilogy. Travel in the surrounding areas of Queenstown for the Lake District area and museum, as well as chances to go gold panning.

Milford Sound

On the West Coast is Milford Sound, a majestic and untouched national park. Photo by stevoarnold, flickr

On the West Coast is Milford Sound, a majestic and untouched national park. Photo by stevoarnold, flickr

In an area completely untouched, an area of isolation and serenity is Milford Sound. Located on the west coast of the South Island, within the Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is known for spectacular natural scenery; particularly the cliffs, mountain peaks and waterfalls. The area was carved by glaciers during the Ice Ages, and has since turned into a fjord, an area of astounding beauty in any sort of weather. The area is a known breeding ground to a number of wildlife, the most popular being the Fiordland Penguins. You also have the possibility of seeing whales and dolphins within the area. The most popular way to see this remote area is by boat, with cruises of all different calibers being offered. The most common choice is a two hour tour of the area, explaining the history of the location, as well as providing breathtaking views of the surrounding areas. Keep in mind not to be put off by rainy weather, as it often amplifies the waterfalls and makes them all the more majestic. This area is great in any sort of weather.

3 - Yasawa Islands, Fiji, Photo by mrsptravels.com

10 awesome places to spend the summer

 Railay Beach, Thailand. Photo by Bakh World, flickr

Railay Beach, Thailand. Photo by Bakh World, flickr

When most people think of a holiday, they think of lying back in the hot sand, the sun tanning their skin, the tropical drinks overflowing and relaxing by the ocean or pool. People automatically think of summer. There’s just something about summer that makes us feel good. It could be that summer holidays are the longest holidays, or it could be that we are all passionate about getting a perfect full-body tan. Whatever it is that makes us so crazy about summer, one thing is for sure, we all want to know the best holiday destinations for summer from all over the world. Slap on some sunscreen, pack your swimming costume and get the passport ready. Below are 10 awesome places to spend the summer.

10 awesome places to spend the summer: Santorini, Greece

Fira is the main city of Santorini and is located high up in the mountains. Photo by Emma_L_M, flickr

Fira is the main city of Santorini and is located high up in the mountains. Photo by Emma_L_M, flickr

Soak up the sun in this picturesque town, famous for its blue and white houses and buildings. With amazing beaches across the coastline, as well as ports to other Islands with equally stunning beaches, Santorini is not one to miss. Choose between sunbathing on stunning crystal beaches, enjoying an ice cream or coffee at a seaside café or just roaming the streets, taking in the scenery and people. Travel from June to October for the best weather.

Sicily and surrounding Islands, Italy

Ranked as one of the greatest summer destinations, be sure not to miss out on traveling around the Islands of Sicily. Rabbit Beach in particular is a beach town famous for crystal clear water and white sands. Hop between the Islands and beaches to get the most of your holiday – just be warned, English speakers become scarce once you start travelling around the Islands, so be prepared with a phrase book in case of any emergencies. Travel from June to October to avoid the wet season and get the most from the warmer weather.

Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Yasawa Islands, Fiji. Photos by Stefan Heinrich, flickr

Yasawa Islands, Fiji. Photos by Stefan Heinrich, flickr

Languid, long stretches of beach and crystal-clear lagoons, Yasawa is arguably the best area for beaches, swimming, kayaking and snorkeling in Fiji. You have the choice between staying at one of the resorts on the Island itself or staying on the mainland and travelling to the Islands. Yasawa is most popular with backpackers, as this area is not as commercialized as some of the other parts of Fiji. The coral coast is firmly intact and as perfect as ever. The best months to travel are between October and February for the best weather. Just be warned that throughout the warmer months, rainfall can be heavy, particularly in late afternoon but the temperature will still be warm and very humid.

MORE: 10 OF THE COOLEST RESORTS IN THE WORLD

Palawan, The Philippines

The magical remote islands of Palawan. Photo by David Min, flickr

The magical remote islands of Palawan. Photo by David Min, flickr

An island area just north of Malaysia, this Island is renowned for its stunning beaches, jungles, rivers and lagoons. The area is rich in history, having been influenced by a number of different cultures which have left their mark on today’s society. You can marvel at endangered marine life at the Wildlife Sanctuary, explore the Japanese shipwrecks off of Coron Island or explore the Puerto Princea Underground River. Just be careful about travelling in summer as often the afternoon brings heavy rainfall as part of the monsoon season. Travel from February to May to get the best weather and to avoid typhoon season. February has cooler weather, with less humidity, avoiding the monsoon season. May is the month where the weather peaks at its hottest and most humid.

Alanya, Turkey

Cleopatra Beach, Turkey. Photo by Mulazi Moglu, flickr

Cleopatra Beach, Turkey. Photo by Mulazi Moglu, flickr

Make sure to visit Cleopatra Beach for the best waves and water in Turkey. This beach is packed with great facilities for all kinds of travelers, and so it makes for a great summer holiday. The water is clean and clear and you can hire sun beds, great for soaking up that great Mediterranean sun. Take a stroll into the city centre for markets, shopping and food of the greatest quality. The Cleopatra Beach is also a great spot to watch boats, including older style pirate ships – and you get a great view of the Alanya castle! Travel between June and September for the best weather, but be warned that this is peak tourist times and so prices will vary for food and accommodation. If you have time, check out the Pamukkale hotsprings, it’s a great place to soak your tired bones.

The Whitsundays, Australia

Crystal clear waters in the Whitsundays, Australia. Photo by Hypergurl, flickr

Crystal clear waters in the Whitsundays, Australia. Photo by Hypergurl, flickr

Made up of over 70 Islands, the Whitsundays are Australia’s golden gem, their pride and joy and hub for tourists from all over the world. Right in the heart of the famous Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays boast beautiful white beaches, crystal clear water and activities all year around for every type of traveler. Explore the water by snorkeling, scuba diving, sailing or swimming. Go inland and bike ride, hike, or stroll through all that this Australian wonder has to offer. There are a handful of resorts in the Whitsundays; Hamilton, Hayman and Daydream islands. Travel from October through to February for the warmest water and weather. Just make sure you pack sunscreen and aloe vera to protect you from the sun.

Railay Beach, Thailand

 Railay Beach, Thailand. Photo by Bakh World, flickr

Railay Beach, Thailand. Photo by Bakh World, flickr

A beach that can only be reached by boat is a beach worth visiting! Known for its deep blue water and array of activites, there’s no wonder that Railay beach is one of the best in Thailand. You can choose to travel and stay at Railay Beach, at the many resorts and hotels – or take a long boat from Aonang beach and do a day trip. Just be warned, there are some rocks along the beach that can be sharp and at times there are jellyfish in the water along the beach. Always be cautious about where you swim. Travel between March and June to avoid the wet season and still get the most out of warmer weather.

Cap Ferret, France

Cap Ferret, France. Photo by tony nunkovics, flickr

Cap Ferret, France. Photo by tony nunkovics, flickr

A peninsula with a lot to offer, Cap Ferret is more than just golden sandy beaches and crystal clear water. This is the perfect place for those of us who like to surf, or windsurf or sail. Within the town there are cafes, restaurants, a ferry terminal, and a lighthouse for you to climb. Travel around the peninsula by car or ferry to get the most out of the different beaches and villages, many of which have authentic boutiques, bars and cafes for you to choose from. Travel between June and September for the warmest weather.

Hawaii, The United States

 Rugged and highly active volcanic islands of Hawaii. Photo by the beat counselor, flickr

Rugged and highly active volcanic islands of Hawaii. Photo by the beat counselor, flickr

Tropical surfing paradise, there’s never a bad time to travel to Hawaii. With an abundance of beaches, all as great as the one before, there’s no doubt that you’ll enjoy your time spent in Hawaii. Fly into Honolulu and travel around Hawaii, stay at hotels in the city or resorts in more regional areas. Go surfing, snorkeling, and scuba diving, sailing, swimming and kayaking at any of the beaches. Waikiki beach, ranked as the best beach in Hawaii, is great for those travelers who want a beach and city lifestyle packed into their holiday. Travel all year around – there’s a reason that Hawaii is internationally known as paradise.

The Maldives

Another beautiful sunset over the Maldives. Photo by gravebone, flickr

Another beautiful sunset over the Maldives. Photo by gravebone, flickr

Home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the entire world, The Maldives is a tropical paradise just waiting for you to embark on its white shores. Stay in a famous reef bungalow, overlooking some of the most pristine coral in the world. Relax on perfectly white sand, under the shade of a tree, or go snorkeling to view the reef up close and personal. Go scuba diving in the hopes of seeing a whale shark or manta ray. Resorts here are more up-market and expensive but you pay for what you get and in the Maldives, it’s only the best. Travel at any time, as the location is scarcely affected by changes in the weather. However, for best snorkeling and scuba diving season, it is best to dive from July through to August.

santorini-3

A short guide on what to do in Santorini

Santorini is famous for its blue and white buildings that scatter the hillside. Photo by Mints Time, flickr

Santorini is famous for its blue and white buildings that scatter the hillside. Photo by Mints Time, flickr

With mountains of white and blue, the Greek islands have more to offer than you can poke a stick at. Located southeast of Greece’s mainland, Santorini was built among inside of a dead volcano. Perched high up on a hill, overlooking the Caldera, Santorini has been carefully restored aimed at attracting tourists.

The place is filled with cafes, restaurants, boutique shopping areas, beaches, lagoons and boat harbors by the dozen. The main city of Santorini is Fira, however, views of the sunset and cliffs are seen from the city of Oia. Each of the cities throughout Santorini are accessible and each has something special to offer. Below is a short guide on what to do in Santorini to help you on your way.

How to get to Santorini

Fira is the main city of Santorini and is located high up in the mountains. Photo by Emma_L_M, flickr

Fira is the main city of Santorini and is located high up in the mountains. Photo by Emma_L_M, flickr

The faster method of travelling to Santorini is by plane from Athens. The airport in Santorini is just north of the town of Kamari, and there are regular flights from Athens daily. The flight between Athens and Kamari, Santorini takes an estimated time of only 30 minutes. After you have arrived at the airport, there are buses available travelling into Fira and from there you can change to buses that travel into other towns. If you prefer to do a more “sight-seeing” alternative, you can travel by sea.

Ferries leave from Piraeus, the port at Athens, and arrive in Athinios, the port city of Santorini. During high season there is a ferry that operates between Crete and Athinios. The trip between Piraeus and Athinios takes roughly 4.5 hours on a high speed ferry, and it’s best to ensure that you arrive well before the ferry departs to ensure your spot. From the ferry docks you can take a taxi to your destination further inland, or you can arrange with hostels for pick up and drop off services.

MORE: 4 PLACES IN EUROPE TO SPICE UP YOUR LOVE LIFE

Travelling around Santorini

Scooters can be hired to travel around the island from a number of companies and street sellers. Photo by palindrome6996, flickr

Scooters can be hired to travel around the island from a number of companies and street sellers. Photo by palindrome6996, flickr

While taxis are fairly common in Santorini, they often cannot be relied on as a means of transport, with most of them being expensive. Cars can be rented from Santorini Car Hire for around $61 USD per day. However, an international driving license is required. Otherwise there is a public bus service, just keep in mind that buses often skip stops.

Scooters and 4-wheels are also common amongst tourists on Santorini. Each can be hired through companies, ranging from roughly 25-40 USD per day. Keep in mind that the majority of riders are tourists, and therefore the road rules are close to none and roads are often unsafe. Helmets and protective clothing is recommended for riders. It is also required that you hold a drivers license.

Eating and drinking

 Dining out in Santorini. Photo by the o0023, flickr

Dining out in Santorini. Photo by the o0023, flickr

Santorini is famous for its white eggplant, a delicacy served often with other Santorini specials including capers, tomatoes, and served in traditional rolled vine leaves. Fresh fish is popular, especially with establishments closer to the sea. Keep in mind that if you are in a restaurant or café with views of the sunset or ocean, you will be charged more! There is often a “sitting fee”, and places that are more commercial will charge more for food to customers with better views. You should attempt at finding smaller, family run restaurants and cafes to avoid the extra charges, and to get more bang for your buck.

Where to stay

Hotel Loukas, Santorini. Photo by Karolina Dominish, flickr

Hotel Loukas, Santorini. Photo by Karolina Dominish, flickr

There are two sides to Santorini; the western and the eastern. Both differ in the accommodation and sights they have to offer. The western side hosts the larger, fancier resorts and hotels and is where the majority of couples and honeymooners stay. The establishments on the western side have the nicest views of Santorini and the sunset, however, because of their location on the cliff, many of them are built with stairs to climb – and therefore most do not offer services for children under teenage years. Keep in mind that the western side is also more expensive than the eastern side.

The eastern side of Santorini attracts families and younger tourists, with hotels larger in size; with bigger rooms and bigger pools. The eastern side is more affordable, due to the fact that tourists are charged by rooms according to view. Don’t need a room with a view? You’ll be charged a lot less. Keep in mind that many restaurants and cafes have views – so you can save yourself money by booking a cheaper room and eating out somewhere nicer.

What to do and see

 Santorini is built on top of a collapsed volcano called Calderas. Photo by wiki media

Santorini is built on top of a collapsed volcano called Calderas. Photo by wiki media

Santorini is famous for beaches. Red Beach is arguably the most famous beach in Santorini, with many tourists flocking there each year to sunbathe, swim and take photos of this luxurious spot. It’s important to wear closed in shoes when going to Red Beach, however, as the hike to the beach is particularly difficult if you are not wearing proper shoes. Vlychada beach is a nudist beach, the further left you go from the tourist strip. On the left, you are required to be clothed, and umbrellas can be hired, but to the right you venture into an area where you get comfortable in your own skin and that only! Agios Georgios is at the southern tip of Santorini, and this beach is the perfect spot to go if you want to avoid massive tourist crowds. It’s perfect for a quiet swim, some water sports and then a visit to a beach bar or café. Agios Georgios is also famous for its black sand.

Night falls over Santorini adding even more magic to this stunning place. Photo by Vacation Advice

Night falls over Santorini adding even more magic to this stunning place. Photo by Vacation Advice

Be sure to catch a famous Santorini sunset. They are one of the world’s marvels – and what a dream it would be to see. Sit down for a coffee, a meal or walk along the streets in the cliffs to get the best view. Remember though: establishments charge more for the best view. Some of the best views are seen from the climb to the monastery, Ancient Thira. You start the climb from Perissa, and follow a zig-zag trail taking roughly an hour. From the top, you have outstanding views of the ocean, beaches and surrounding islands.

4 - The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii, USA, Photo by cntraveler

5 awesome waterslide parks from around the world

If you’re planning on beating the heat this summer by sitting in your grandma’s inflatable pool with hose in hand, try thinking outside the foam noodles and floatys. There is a much more enjoyable and alternative pastime to be had – WATERSLIDES! Here is our selection of 5 awesome waterslide parks from around the world.

Insano, Brazil

 Overhead view of Insano Water Park. Photo by globe-walls

Overhead view of Insano Water Park. Photo by globe-walls

Fortaleza, Brazil is home to the world’s tallest and scariest water slide known to man. This slide maybe only for the die-hard thrills seekers, but if you are willing to take the plunge you will not be disappointed. For safety reasons you must only go down on your back with arms and legs crossed. Once your legs are dangling off the 41 metre high or 14 stories tall slide, there is no turning back. Reaching up to a blistering 65mph, the ride is over within five of the most fear riddled seconds of your life. The ride then terminates with what the creators call a ‘relaxing dive into the swimming pool.’ Relaxing might not be the right word.

Slide into the Mediterranean at Citta del Mare

Hotel Citta Del Mare. Photo by hotelbed.it

Hotel Citta Del Mare. Photo by hotelbed.it

The hotel Città del Mare located on the Gulf of Castellammare is home to one of the more picturesque waterslides ever seen. The slide has been built on a cliff face, offering three levels of slip and sliding fun, eventually flowing down into the Mediterranean Sea. There are a number of other pools to lounge about in at the resort at the hotel village including a small salt water pool (with magnificent views of the Gulf), a whirlpool and, of course, tranquil spas.

Atlantis resorts

Waterslide at Atlantis resort. Photo by edsaplan

Waterslide at Atlantis resort. Photo by edsaplan

Located at the massive Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, the slide aptly named ‘Leap of faith’ starts at the top of an iconic Mayan temple and sends riders down a sudden, 18.5m drop. As you speed down the slide you enter a clear, acrylic tunnel that transports sliders through a shark-filled lagoon. You’ll be going so quick you won’t have time to be scared of the sharks (that’s a good thing?!). When at the top of the slide make sure you take in the awe-inspiring view of the ocean and the grounds of the Atlantis. If you feel as though you might chicken out or you want to go at a more relaxing pace, don’t worry you can experience a number of less extreme slides that are just as fun located at various places about the resort.

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii, USA

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii, USA. Photo by cntraveler

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii, USA. Photo by cntraveler

After lazing around the Westin Maui resort pool deck with a few mocktails (or cocktails if you please) all day, you may want to try your hand at one of the two super-fast slides launching unassuming sliders into seventh heaven. The slides are situated in the 87,000 square-foot pool area overlooking the Pacific Ocean which also features five other swimming pools. One of the hair raising waterslides spins the rider down a quick three loop drop and spits them out into the main pool below, whilst the other has softer turns and smoother drops, but still just as riveting. When you are done enjoying the slide and worked up a big enough appetite you can make your way over to the oceanfront pool bar. Enjoy delicious pupus (appetizers) beneath the Ka’anapali sun as well as charming selections of wines, beers and cocktails.

Aquatica waterpark, Seaworld, Orlando

 Aquatica waterpark, Seaworld. Photo by biscayneaqua

Aquatica waterpark, Seaworld. Photo by biscayneaqua

Aquatica waterpark in SeaWorld is home to a number of the world most mesmeric waterslides ever encountered. One of which, the Whanau way, is an 18 metre tall quadruple slide tower that offers unique rides for either a single or double rider. Each side mirrors the other with the same short and long loops then splashing down into the main pool below. Much of the waiting line is completely shaded which is really friendly on your feet. Another slide, the Tassie’s Twister is a pair of funnel like slides that can be ridden in either a double or single raft. In order to get to the entrance of the ride, you must first take a spin on Loggerhead Lane, one of the two lazy rivers in Aquatica waterpark, before you enter the super-fast tubes which lead to a large bowl that empty back into Loggerhead Lane. Sounds like a blast doesn’t it!

4 - Frankfurt Skyline, Photo by rednaxela_west , Flickr

19 skylines from the world’s most famous cities

When it comes to skylines, it seems every city in the world wants to be a contender for the tallest or the most breathtaking. While some iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building or the Burj Khalifa give their cities an edge, they can easily be trumped by adding an ancient wonder such as the Pyramids of Giza. The following are 19 skylines from the world’s most famous cities, and what makes each of them so wonderful and unique.

Skylines from the world’s most famous cities: Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong seen from Victoria Peak. Photo by J.T. Noriega

Hong Kong seen from Victoria Peak. Photo by J.T. Noriega

While Hong Kong certainly doesn’t boast the highest number of skyscrapers, what makes it so unique is how compact they are. When viewed from across the water, this amazing sight becomes even more dramatic, especially at night when the buildings are lit, emphasizing their colours and shapes.

Chicago, Illinois, USA

USA Illinois Chicago. Photo by USA PICTURES

USA Illinois Chicago. Photo by USA PICTURES

After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the people of Chicago were driven to rebuild the area, and now had plenty of space to do so. As a result, Chicago’s skyline is one of the world’s tallest, boasting three of America’s five tallest buildings.

Dallas, Texas, USA

Dallas, Texas City Night Scene. Photo by picstopin.com, Pinterest

Dallas, Texas City Night Scene. Photo by picstopin.com, Pinterest

The ninth largest city in the United States, Dallas owes its growth to banking, electronics, fashion, and motion picture industries. The Dallas skyline is now abundant, with a number of new skyscrapers under construction or being planned. This skyline is known for its distinctive ball-shaped Reunion Observation Tower.

MORE: 10 OF THE BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL TO DURING WINTER

Frankfurt, Germany

 Frankfurt Skyline. Photo by rednaxela_west, flickr

Frankfurt Skyline. Photo by rednaxela_west, flickr

With five structures over 200 metres tall, Frankfurt is one of Europe’s most interesting skylines. Unlike many other European cities, Frankfurt combines a number of low-rise, high-density traditional European architecture with modern towers, giving the city an impressive combination of new and old.

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt. Photo from wallpagez

Cairo, Egypt. Photo from wallpagez

The skyline of Cairo is full of religious tradition and modern realities. The city was inhabited nearly 6,000 years ago and today has a population of over 11 million, making it the biggest settlement in the Middle East or Africa. Its skyline is an amazing sight and includes the Great Pyramid of Giza, which held the title of tallest man-made structure for over 3,800 years. Today a range of both modern and ancient structures can be seen throughout the city.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 Kuala Lumpur at night. Photo by 1hdwallpaper

Kuala Lumpur at night. Photo by 1hdwallpaper

Kuala Lumpur is a beautiful mix of varying ethnicities, all captured in its bold city skyline featuring three of the 25 tallest buildings in the world. The East-inspired Petronas Towers are the tallest twin buildings, and are just some of the city’s many examples of bold statements. The skyline also includes the massive 420 metre Menara Kuala Lumpur Tower. The city has certainly drawn some international attention for its beautiful architecture.

Miami, Florida, USA

 Miami skyline. Photo from wikipedia

Miami skyline. Photo from wikipedia

The modern gem that is Miami is a skyline that is expanding all the time. What makes this skyline so unique is its tropical feel, paired with neon lights, making it a beautiful scene attracting some of the top architects and designers from all over the world for a chance to add to this amazing cityscape.

Montreal, Quebec

Montreal, Quebec. Photo from berrisuites.ca

Montreal, Quebec. Photo from berrisuites.ca

The second largest city in Canada, and a UNESCO City of Design, Montreal boasts a number of impressive structures on a beautiful waterfront. The city has a height restriction which keeps the buildings from being as tall as Toronto’s, but the 18th and 19th century buildings compliment the modern towers wonderfully.

New York City, New York, USA

 New York skyline. Photo by Songquan Deng, flickr

New York skyline. Photo by Songquan Deng, flickr

Often referred to as the centre of the modern world, New York City is among the most famous skylines in the world due to Hollywood’s obsession with the city. It is the densest skyline in the world with a range of diverse structures such as the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Centre, and many more. New York City boasts an incredible 47 buildings over 200 metres, more than any other city in the world.

Paris, France

Paris Skyline Sunset. Photo by James Woodward, flickr

Paris Skyline Sunset. Photo by James Woodward, flickr

One of the most instantly recognizable symbols in the world, the Eiffel Tower gives the city of lights its distinctive skyline. Although Paris is mostly flat, the city holds many sights, including Notre Dame, the Arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, Sacre Coeur, skyscrapers, and many beautiful bridges. It’s no wonder more than 6 million tourists each year visit the Eiffel Tower’s observation deck to take in the amazing views.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro at night. Photo by Skyline Wallpaper

Rio de Janeiro at night. Photo by Skyline Wallpaper

Nature plays a powerful role when it comes to this beautiful city. The cultural heart of South America, Rio de Janeiro can be viewed from Corcovado Mountain, home to the iconic structure, Christ the Redeemer. From here, Rio’s many gorgeous beaches can be seen, as well as the city’s amazing colour and character.

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco is the United States’ second densest city, with much of the population packed into a compact peninsula. San Francisco has a number of new developments to improve its skyline, which is already home to the historic Transamerica Pyramid. However, what makes this city unique is the Golden Gate Bridge, which stretches almost two miles across the water, and stands at 700 feet above the water.

Seattle, Washington, USA

 Paris Skyline Sunset. Photo by James Woodward, flickr

Paris Skyline Sunset. Photo by James Woodward, flickr

Also known as the Emerald City, Seattle is considered the commercial, cultural, and technological hub of the Northwest USA. Its skyline is nothing short of spectacular, with the famous Space Needle at 184 metres, a number of skyscrapers, and Mount Rainier looming on the horizon. A great deal of planning went into Seattle, and the result is this picturesque city surrounded by mountains and water.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai skyline. Photo by Kenny Teo, flickr

Shanghai skyline. Photo by Kenny Teo, flickr

Shanghai is China’s biggest, most advanced city, and looks like something out of a sci-fi film. Its skyline boasts a massive 25 structures over 200 metres tall. The most well-known of these structures is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower at 468 metres. The city is a showcase of modern architecture, as well as one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world.

Singapore, Singapore

 Singapore skyline. Photo by Kenny Teo, Flickr

Singapore skyline. Photo by Kenny Teo, Flickr

Singapore is one of the best planned and cleanliest cities in the world. Due to height restrictions, Singapore’s buildings are a consistent height, making their skyline extremely unique. Singapore has over 4,300 high-rises, with 49 that rise higher than 140 metres. The city also includes three buildings at exactly 280 metres, and five at just over 200 metres.

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Sydney skyline. Photo by wikimedia

Sydney skyline. Photo by wikimedia

Sydney Harbour is often referred to as the most beautiful natural harbour in the world. The city itself has an extremely recognizable skyline due to the world famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the Sydney Opera House which serves as a national icon and important piece of 20th century architecture. Hundreds of skyscrapers are located in the central business district, with 8 over 200 metres tall.

Tokyo, Japan

 Tokyo skyline. Photo from Wallpapers Wala

Tokyo skyline. Photo from Wallpapers Wala

The most populated city in the world, the design and architecture of Tokyo reflects the chaotic city well. It has a number of skyscrapers, 15 of them at over 200 metres tall. Like some other cities, Tokyo has height restrictions and required red lights that flash atop all high-rise buildings at night. Combined with the neon lighting, unique architecture, and Mount Fuji just on the horizon, it gives Tokyo one of the best skylines in the world.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

 Toronoto Skyline. Photo by bhmpics

Toronoto Skyline. Photo by bhmpics

Boasting the world’s highest observation deck at 553 metres, the CN Tower gives Toronto an easily identifiable skyline. The city also includes 7 structures that stand at over 200 metres. Toronto has had a number of buildings booms, first beginning in the early 1920s. As a result, the city now has 2,506 high rise buildings.

Dubai, UAE

0 Dubai skyline. Photo by wallpapershdi

0 Dubai skyline. Photo by wallpapershdi

Dubai is a city that seemed to have come out of nowhere. Not only is it home to the tallest hotel and tallest residential buildings in the world, it now also holds the title of tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa can be seen for miles across the UAE desert. Although the city doesn’t boast the highest number of buildings, it surpasses the number for tallest buildings. This includes 63 buildings that stand taller than 200 metres, 125 taller than 150 metres, and 17 that exceed 300 metres. Seven of these structures were built after 1999, giving you an idea of just how new this city is.

1 - Mermaid Pools, New Zealand, Photo by Chris Gin, Flickr

5 incredible natural pools from around the world

For centuries people have sought out baths for their health benefits and relaxation ability, and for centuries people have been flocking to natural hot springs. Many of these present themselves in different styles, often complementing the captivating natural scenery that surrounds them. These thermal pools not only provide relaxation, but deliver amazing views and an unforgettable experience. So here are 5 incredible natural pools from around the world that are definitely worth the trip!

Mermaid Pools, New Zealand

Mermaid Pools, New Zealand. Photo by Chris Gin, flickr

Mermaid Pools, New Zealand. Photo by Chris Gin, flickr

Located on the Tutukaka Coast of New Zealand is Matapouri Bay, a small coastal village approximately two and a half hours north of Auckland on the east coast. Surrounded by mangrove forests is Matapouri Beach, and beyond that, the Mermaid Pools. Reaching these natural pools is not an easy feat however. To reach them, visitors must reach the north end of Matapouri Beach, and then take the steep path among palm jungle. The Mermaid Pools can also only be accessed at low tide. Once reached however, the Mermaid Pools provide a spectacular sight and the beautiful waters are perfect for diving into, as the pools can be quite deep.

Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale, Turkey springs. Photo by expedia

Pamukkale, Turkey springs. Photo by expedia

When you first enter Pamukkale in the Denizli Province in south-western Turkey, the first thing you will notice are the large slopes that resemble a frozen waterfall. On closer inspection however, these are large terraces and pools that rise over 100 metres. These terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs. These hot springs are perfect for a soothing bath. They can be visited all year round, but the experience is far better in the winter time, when the 17 hot water springs have temperatures from 35 degrees Celsius and hotter. The beauty and experience of these natural springs are not to be missed.

Saturnia, Italy

Natural thermal baths in Saturnia, Italy. Photo by Andrea Einaudi, flickr

Natural thermal baths in Saturnia, Italy. Photo by Andrea Einaudi, flickr

Stretching from Mount Amiata to the hills of Albenga and Fiora is Saturnia, famous for its thermal springs. The town itself caters for tourists with its wellness and spa centers, but outside are two spectacular waterfalls, the most famous natural springs in Tuscany. The waterfalls are made up of warm, sulphurous water, which gushes into the natural pools at a rate of 800 litres per second. What makes these springs so significant however, is their history. According to legend, the springs were born in the exact point where Jupiter’s thunderbolt fell in a battle against Saturn. This combination of history and nature makes Saturnia the perfect holiday destination.

Poças do Gomes, Portugal

Rock pool Poças do Gomes, Portugal. Photo by enzinho, flickr

Rock pool Poças do Gomes, Portugal. Photo by enzinho, flickr

On the group of volcanic islands known as Madeira archipelago are several natural pools that were created when lava flow met the Atlantic Ocean millions of years ago. The island of Madeira itself was formed from a hotspot in the Earth’s crust of the African Tectonic Plate. These natural volcanic rock pools are an amazing sight, having been formed by nature and managed by man. Visitors to the island can swim in the crystal clear waters while enjoying a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ma’In, Jordan

18 Relax at the Ma'In hot springs. Photo by Erin Maree Moo

18 Relax at the Ma’In hot springs. Photo by Erin Maree Moo

Situated between the city of Madaba and the Dead Sea lies Hammamat Ma’in, a number of hot mineral springs and waterfalls. Visitors can enjoy the scenic route and winding road which crosses some amazing territory surrounding the Dead Sea. The main attraction of Ma’in is the large spring-fed waterfall, though there are also a number of smaller ones within private resort areas. The natural springs range in temperatures from 40 to 60 degrees Celsius, and have been enjoyed for therapeutic purposes for thousands of years.

4 - Siesta Key beach, Florida, Photo by Brittany Bruce, Pinterest

5 awesome beaches in the US you should visit

 

Whether you’re going to do some surfing, exercising, tanning, building sandcastles, or just want to soak up the summer sun, the beach is always a popular destination. The United States has many beautiful and pristine beaches to choose from on all sides. To narrow it down, here are 5 awesome beaches in the US you should visit.

Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii

High shot of Lanikai beach, Photo by Kanaka Menehune, flickr

High shot of Lanikai beach, Photo by Kanaka Menehune, flickr

Lanikai Beach, or “heavenly sea” truly lives up to its name. It is considered the best swimming beach in Hawaii with its clear, clean waters and beautiful soft sand. The swaying coconut palms make it easy to escape the sun, making it the perfect place to relax. Lanikai Beach is also popular for its other activities such as kayaking, canoeing, sailing, and windsurfing.

MORE: 5 REASONS YOU SHOULD VISIT HAWAII

Magens Bay Beach, U.S. Virgin Islands

Translucent water in Magens Bay, Photo by Steve Grundy, flickr

Translucent water in Magens Bay, Photo by Steve Grundy, flickr

The most famous of the U.S. Virgin Islands beaches, Magens Bay Beach stretches for a half-mile. Its pebble-free sand and remarkably calm waters make it one of the most picturesque beaches on the islands, as well as an ideal spot for swimming. It also provides plenty of shade and amenities for the crowds in the warmer months.

Kauna‘oa Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

Kaunaóa Bay Hawaii, Photo by Kenneth Wright

Kaunaóa Bay Hawaii, Photo by Kenneth Wright

One of the most beautiful beaches on the island, Kauna’oa Beach is perfect for body-boarding and surfing, as well as for snorkeling along the rocks. The beach slopes very gradually and features a long crescent of pure white sand. During winter, Mauna Kea can be seen in the distance covered in snow, providing amazing views.

Siesta Key, Florida

Beach chairs Siesta Key, Florida, Photo by ResortQuest, flickr

Beach chairs Siesta Key, Florida, Photo by ResortQuest, flickr

Named the best sand beach in America, Siesta Key’s sand is 99% quartz. This means that the sand is very reflective and even of the hottest days will remain cool underfoot. Together with its cleanliness and beautiful waters, Siesta Key has been called one of the best beaches worldwide.

Santa Cruz, California

Natural bridge on Santa Cruz beach, California, Photo by Stephen Oachs , Pinterest

Natural bridge on Santa Cruz beach, California, Photo by Stephen Oachs , Pinterest

The main beach at Santa Cruz is not only great for catching some waves, but it is also the perfect destinations for families, with restaurants, shops, beach volleyball courts, and a scenic boardwalk. If all this wasn’t enough however, Santa Cruz is also home to a beachside amusement park so you won’t have a moment of boredom.

3 - wharf onJumby Bay, Antigua, Photo by IDEE PER VIAGHIARE, Flickr

3 of the hottest honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean

Relaxing honeymoon suite in Amanyara. Photo by George Graymore

Relaxing honeymoon suite in Amanyara. Photo by George Graymore

The Caribbean has long been a favourite honeymoon destination due to its serene beaches, picturesque landscapes, and its range of luxury resorts and villas. Whether you want to relax in the sun and be pampered, or be active and adventurous, the Caribbean has a destination to suit you. Below are our pick of 3 of the hottest honeymoon destinations in the Caribbean, including the range of activities each has on offer.

Amanyara, Turks and Caicos

Walk into paradise at Jumby Bay, Antigua. Photo by IDEE PER VIAGHIARE, flickr

Walk into paradise at Jumby Bay, Antigua. Photo by IDEE PER VIAGHIARE, flickr

Located on the island of Providenciales, one of the Turks and Caicos Islands is Amanyara. This luxurious resort features 36 beautiful pavilions, either with pools or directly on the oceanfront. The resort is perfect for couples who want to relax in the sun with its crystal clear waters and powder-white beaches.

The resort also caters for outdoor enthusiasts who can enjoy a range of activities, including paddle boarding, kayaking, and swimming. More than 2,500 square kilometres of coral reefs, combined with the warm climate, make this location acclaimed for some of the worlds best wall and reef diving. In certain months visitors can also go whale watching or enjoy some fishing, golf, or eco tours. The resort provides a number of relaxation activities such as spas, wellness centres, and a pilates studio.

Sunset over Antigua Leeward Islands. Photo by Wallpaper Web

Sunset over Antigua Leeward Islands. Photo by Wallpaper Web

Turks and Caicos has no real town centre, so visitors can enjoy exploring the island and kayaking to the smaller islands nearby to soak up the sun. The perfect destination for those who want to get away from the city, the island has almost no shopping or nightlife, except for those you can find in the hotels.

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Anguilla, British West Indies Island

Infiinity pool at resort in Anguilla, Photo by Shedexpedtition.com, Google images

Infiinity pool at resort in Anguilla, Photo by Shedexpedtition.com, Google images

Relax in any one of the beautiful resorts Anguilla has to offer, and start planning some day trips around the island. Visitors can choose to kayak or catamaran to any of the gorgeous turquoise beaches surrounding the island, and can even go swimming with dolphins. Anguilla also boasts a massive 100 places to eat in just 35 square kilometres, making this the ideal getaway location for food enthusiasts. After beach hopping, visitors can visit the rum distillery or indulge in the local culture of the area, which includes many galleries showing the work of local artists.

Ocean views of Anguilla. Photo by Joe Minami, Flickr

Ocean views of Anguilla. Photo by Joe Minami, Flickr

For the more adventurous, enjoy the ocean breeze as you ride horse-back along the beach, go hiking, ride a bike, enjoy the nature trails, or go snorkeling or diving. In the evening, enjoy the nightlife from around the island, and then relax at any of the hotels or resorts located on the oceanfront.

Antigua, Leeward Islands

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa Anguilla. Photo by Thierry Dehove, flickr

CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa Anguilla. Photo by Thierry Dehove, flickr

The most romantic of these destinations is Antigua, once home to the British fleet in the Caribbean. Antigua provides visitors with a number of serene, secluded beaches, perfect for those who want to escape reality.

At Hermitage Bay Resort, visitors can enjoy the spectacular ocean views and privacy of one of the 25 hillside cottages featuring private plunge pools. Outside each of these villas, guests can enjoy the sun on their private bungalow’s wooden deck. If you can tear yourself away from the spectacular surroundings, enjoy a day trip and have the chef pack you a basket of gourmet snacks to indulge in on a secluded beach or private island.

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood resort, Antigua, Photo by IDEE PER VIAGGIARE, flickr

Jumby Bay, A Rosewood resort, Antigua, Photo by IDEE PER VIAGGIARE, flickr

For those who want to enjoy the pristine waters of Antigua to the fullest, snorkeling, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing, and fishing are among the activities offered by the resort. Guests can also take a helicopter tour to see the complete island, and then finish up the day at the garden spa with a relaxing facial and massage.

5 The southern coast of Albania is popular with tourists from Italy and Greece for beaches. Photo by Godo-Godaj, flickr.jpg

Why Albania is becoming a popular place to travel

Albania is a country surrounded with tourist destinations – Macedonia to its east, Montenegro to the northwest and Greece further south. Despite its prime location, Albania remains a place almost untouched from the hands of tourism. A large percentage of Albania’s national income is sourced from tourism, Albania only welcomes roughly 4 million visitors per year. Still, it’s easy to understand why Albania is becoming a popular place to travel to.

Why Albania is becoming a popular place to travel to: It’s loaded with history

The Gjirokaster Castle is now home to artillery artefacts. This is a plane captured by the US. Photo by Elena Miari, flikr

The Gjirokaster Castle is now home to artillery artefacts. This is a plane captured by the US. Photo by Elena Miari, flikr

Albania is not a country short of stunning sights and landmarks – the most notable being the Blue Eye Spring, a stunning natural waterhole with crystal blue water, surrounded by thick forest. It’s a place of untouched and tranquil beauty. Just be warned the road and public transport systems aren’t great, so plan your adventures ahead with hotel or hostel concierge.

The National Historical Museum in Tirana is the country’s largest museum. Inside you can find exhibitions on antiquity, medieval times, iconography, communist genocide and the culture and history of Albania and its people. The museum was built in 1981, and has since held a number of valuable archaeological treasures. The most important and must-see display is the gallery devoted to those who suffered persecution under the former communist regime – a sad and twisted part of Albania’s history.

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The Blue Eye Spring is a natural swimming hole with beautiful clear water. Photo by Carpe Feline, flickr

The Blue Eye Spring is a natural swimming hole with beautiful clear water. Photo by Carpe Feline, flickr

Kalasa is a place of ruin. Beyond the once-majestic castle walls lay an ancient neighbourhood, a busy and tired little town of ruins and labyrinth streets. Whilst taking in the sights, you’ll roam through courtyards, churches and the ruins of where the castle walls once stood. After Kalasa, move on to the Gjirokaster Castle, in the city of Gjirokaster (formerly known as Argyrokastro). The castle is bulky and eerie, overlooking the river valley below. It now contains a military museum featuring the captured artillery from the Communist regime and resistance. There is also a captured US air force plane on site – a sign of the struggle Albania once had against Western Powers.

Roam the streets of the cities to find stunning churches and chapels, many of which still operate today. There are a number of chapels in Kala, including St Theodore, the Church of the Holy Trinity and the chapels of St Mary Blachernae and St Nicholas. Visit the ancient ruins of Butrint, with remains spanning over a range of periods and often dating back to 2500 years old.

It’s a cheap place to travel

Visit the ruins village of Butrint to get a glimpse of past life in Albania. Photo by valplumlee, flickr

Visit the ruins village of Butrint to get a glimpse of past life in Albania. Photo by valplumlee, flickr

Albania is a cheap country to travel around. You can travel around in private or public transport, eat out and stay in hostels and hotels all for reasonable prices. Because of its location, Albania has coastline to offer very similar to that of Greece, just cheaper and less tourist-based. To put it simply, Albania is a back packer’s heaven.

Budget around $15 a night for a really good hostel – you can find ones with reviews online and most of which have positive ratings and are super cheap. Hotels that are given the rating between three and four stars range in price, starting at roughly $25 and costing anywhere up to $50 per night. This often depends on the location and type of room booked. Try the Baron Hotel or Milingona Hostel in Tirana for great, affordable accommodation.

Cuisine in Albania is a mixture of many cultures, the biggest influence  being Greek, Italian and German – so you’re sure to find a restaurant that you like. Eating out in Tirana is fairly cheap, especially on the outskirts of the main square where you can get meals ranging from $10 up to $35.

The beaches there are incredible

Cows roam the beaches of Dhermi, a quiet and more isolated coastal area. Photo by savagecat, flickr

Cows roam the beaches of Dhermi, a quiet and more isolated coastal area. Photo by savagecat, flickr

The coast line of Albania is as beautiful and as untouched as the rest. There are tourist beaches, like Vlore, where passengers from Italy dock and board ferries, and where beach clubs, cafes and restaurants come by the dozen. Most of the nicer beaches are located in the southern part of Albania, and all lie within close proximity of the Albania Riviera.

Dhermi Beach is located 42km south of Vlore, and is a great beach for those who enjoy the perks of eating alfresco, drinks at beach clubs but beaches that are near empty. You can get buses from Tirana to Dhermi  daily at midday, and buses run between Vlore, Dhermi and Sarande. Dhermi beach boasts white sands and rentable umbrellas and sunbeds, great for the family. However if you’re into something a little more secluded, walk down the beach to Perivoli Beach and you’ll have the whole thing to yourself!

Swim around the beaches of Ksamili and reach rock and island vantage points, great for diving. Photo by Julian Dragoi Photography, flickr

Swim around the beaches of Ksamili and reach rock and island vantage points, great for diving. Photo by Julian Dragoi Photography, flickr

Further south of Dhermi is Sarande, which is one of the most important tourist attractions in the Albanian Rivera. Sarande is known for beaches with white pebbly sand and deep blue water. Nearby is the ancient city of Butrint, and due to its location, Sarande is home to a large Greek ethnic minority.

Make sure to see the stunning horseshoe bay that makes up Sarande, giving a spectacular view between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. Nearby to Sarande is the village of Ksamili, which houses a beautiful beach with several small islands that can be swum to. Ksamili is a quirky village, notorious for its toppling buildings – the effects of buildings being put up illegally and being sabotaged by the police.

 

6 NZ winter evening on crater lake Mount Ruapehu Tongariro Photo by picstopin From Google images1

10 places to travel during winter

There’s something about winter that’s wonderful. It could be the colder weather, the hot chocolate and the heating turned up all the way. It could be the snowfall, the comfort of an oasis we call bed, or maybe just movie marathons under piles of blankets. But winter can make some amazing destinations, so check out our top 10 places to travel during winter.

Places to travel during winter: Stockholm, Sweden

Snowing in Stockholm Sweden. Photo by Carl Filip Nystedt, flickr

Snowing in Stockholm Sweden. Photo by Carl Filip Nystedt, flickr

Fashion forward, tech savvy and beautiful, Stockholm is a capital city with so much more to offer than just shopping and striking architecture. In the winter, you’ll find much of the city under snow, and the old town in particular is as picturesque as you can only imagine it to be. The Lake Mälaren, located in the middle of the city and throughout becomes fields for ice skating with the water freezing over between the shorelines. Stroll along the shoreline or skate on the ice. Travel between the Islands by walking or by train to visit the museums and art galleries and escape the afternoon chill – it gets dark by about 4pm! If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, travel from Stockholm to the further north of Sweden to experience snow fields, moose and reindeer safaris and the northern lights show! The best time to visit is between November and February. You can travel between March and April for a softer winter chill, without the snow.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne 360 degree shot, Photo by Ben Heine, flickr

Cologne 360 degree shot, Photo by Ben Heine, flickr

Two words: Christmas markets. Europe does Christmas (and winter) in full swing. They have little Santa ornaments all over the place, the streets are covered with snow and locals and tourists alike flock into cafes to warm up with coffee and hot chocolate. Cologne is a beautiful city all year around, with amazing architecture and great location upon the Rhine River. In winter, Christmas in Cologne radiates a unique kind of atmosphere. Think flashing lights, Christmas cake and carols. The markets at the Cathedral are the best in the city, and not just because the cathedral itself is captivating. In February, the Kölner Karneval comes to town with parades, shows and entertainment; Colognes biggest festivity. Cologne in the winter time is close to something from a fairytale. Travel between November and February to take part in carnivals, festivals and markets – the very best that Germany has to offer.

New York City, The United States of America

 

Wintertime in Central Park, NY. Photo by Ronsaari, Pinterest

Wintertime in Central Park, NY. Photo by Ronsaari, Pinterest

Bustling and busy, it’s the city that never sleeps, most astonishing in the light of winter sun. Central park is blanketed by a cover of thick, white snow – becoming host to the Wollman and Lasker ice skating rinks. The best part about spending winter in New York City is the New Years Eve Jingle Ball. The city streets fill with people, local and tourist, huddled close together waiting for the countdown in to the New Year. See celebrities perform on stage at the ball; see them on the street chanting along to the countdown. The busy streets are also decorated in time for Christmas festivities, sporting twinkling lights and holly for all to enjoy. Travel in December for to get the most out of New York’s winter highlights. I’m dreaming of a White Christmas!

London, The United Kingdom

Big Ben reflection over River Thames, Photo by Timothy Selvage, flickr

Big Ben reflection over River Thames, Photo by Timothy Selvage, flickr

If you’re brave enough to stand in the queue for the London Eye for a half hour, it’s definitely most worth it in the winter time. The view of the Thames, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, as well as the Embankment is truly astonishing covered in a sea of white. It’s like a scene from a movie, and winter has never seemed more captivating than it does in cloudy London-town.

Huddle in the warmth of the British Museum, shop in Picadilly circus or at the Portobello Road markets during the better weather – the streets are filled with Christmas decorations that would make any city envious. Visit Hyde Park for a stroll in the snow or an ice skate at the rink. Hyde Park also offers winter roller coaster rides, an Ice Mountain, a carousel and a spectacular ice village boasting ice swan rides and a castle. Bring out your inner child! The best time to travel is from late November to March as snowfall is sporadic. There have been recent reports of snowfall occurring up until mid April, but to get the most out of the events and carnivals, travel in December.

Leysin, Switzerland

Leysin mountain top, Photo by Jeroen

Leysin mountain top, Photo by Jeroen

Switzerland is world renowned for its’ skiing resorts and wondrous mountains. Leysin is one of the best skiing areas in Switzerland, located roughly 1200 metres above sea level, the ski resort has plenty to offer to skiers of all difficulty levels. The terrain of Leysin is also great for those who love to snowboard. Leysin offers amazing views of surrounding areas, including the Rhone Plain, Mont Blanc, and Dents du Midi. The coldest month in Switzerland is January, and that is also when snowfall is at its peak but often conditions are too extreme to offer skiing and snowboarding. It is recommended to travel to ski fields during late February and March. The best part about Leysin is that it offers a great snowfield without the hefty price that some other resorts hold!

MORE: WHERE TO FIND THE BEST SNOWBOARDING IN NEW ZEALAND

Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand

NZ winter evening on crater lake Mount Ruapehu Tongariro, Photo by picstopin

NZ winter evening on crater lake Mount Ruapehu Tongariro, Photo by picstopin

One of the world’s most active volcanoes and best snowfields, Mt Ruapehu has plenty to offer for travellers. With the two largest snowfields in New Zealand, Whakapapa and Turoa, skiers and snowboarders of every difficulty level will be amazed. The mountain is also home to glaciers, which are the only glaciers to exist on the North Island of New Zealand. From Ruapehu, you can overlook an astonishing view of Ngauruhoe and Tongariro – two more volcanos within the area of the Tongariro National Park. Take a chair lift to the top of the mountain to ski, snowboard or toboggan. You can also go hiking; just make sure to pack good boots! Travel between June and September for the best snow season.

Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Majestic reflection Anchorage, Alaska, Photo by Free world images

Majestic reflection Anchorage, Alaska, Photo by Free world images

Stay in Anchorage so that you can take a day trip (or two, or three) to the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska. It’s one of the biggest glaciers in Alaska, and better yet, you can walk on it and touch it. The glacier stands are 25 miles long and 4 miles wide, made of solid ice with a river flowing beneath it. The glacier itself can be seen from a number of viewing locations, but most travellers prefer to get up close and personal with it. Afterwards, visit the Sheep Mountain Glacier view park where you can view the glacier from a distance, as well as go hiking and bask in the untouched scenery and wildlife of the national park. Travel all year around for a tiny piece of winter at your finger tips!

Tallinn, Estonia

Christmas in Old Town Tallinn, Photo by Night city lights

Christmas in Old Town Tallinn, Photo by Night city lights

Tallinn is an exciting little place, a tiny town surrounded by the ancient walls of a civilisation that once existed. Its home to one of the loveliest Old Towns in Europe, with influence from Sweden, Germany and Russia – just to name a few, there’s plenty to see and do. One of the biggest and best attractions is the Christmas Market in the Old Town Square. Think of quaint market stalls set up in the cobblestone centre of town. You can try traditional foods, drinks and enjoy traditional music from shows put on at the Festive Stage. There is also a skating rink, built to blend into the Old Town beside the St Nicholas Church. The best part about Tallinn: it’s cheap. Eating out, drinking, accommodation, it’s all cheap. The best weather in Estonia is between November and February for winter time.

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Akisuke Shibata, Pinterest

Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Akisuke Shibata, Pinterest

One of the bigger cities in Japan, Kyoto has much more to offer than what some travellers assume. Unlike Tokyo, Kyoto remains intact with traditional Japanese cultural norms. You can visit the geisha district or one of the many astounding temples, which always look the very best with snow on them – the best one to visit in the winter time is Kinkakuji, otherwise known as the Golden Pavillion. Tourism is the quietest in the months of winter in Kyoto, as many tourists flock to the ski and snowfields throughout Japan, so as a traveller you can get the most out of out-of-season prices and less queues. Also, in Kyoto there is an abundance of “Onsen”, or Hot Spring Spa baths; perfect for winter time. A “sento” is known as a public bath, segregated by sex. If you decide to venture to a snowfield for a day or two, it’s always a good idea to go by “Shinkansen” (speed train) so that you reach your destination as quickly and as comfortable as possible. Travel from late October through to February for the cooler months.

Prague, The Czech Republic

Prague Winter Scenery, Photo by Dipta Nandana, Pinterest

Prague Winter Scenery, Photo by Dipta Nandana, Pinterest

Spectacular castles, medieval buildings and bridges and a cobblestone Old Town covered in snow is something you imagine from a movie. Prague sparkles in the winter time. The Old Town square is filled with market stalls, selling everything from traditional Czech goods to Christmas ornaments and lights. The Christmas market runs from November through to the first week of January. On New Year’s Eve, the pubs, clubs and cafes are full of party-goers anticipating the ringing in of the New Year. Walk along the snow filled alleyways, streets and across the famous Charles Bridge to fully take in the poetic beauty of this jewel city in the winter. There’s nothing quite like it. The best time to travel is from November through to March. Be sure to book in advance or have tickets and reservations if you choose to spend New Year’s Eve in Prague, as the streets are very busy and it’s not uncommon for restaurants, bars and nightclubs to turn away patrons when it becomes crowded.