Author Archives: eeteurope

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10 Places You NEED to Go in 2018, According to Travel Experts

Get ready to revise your bucket list and pack your bags!
The top picks for travel in 2018 range from affordable jaunts to exotic vacations, and they’re all ready to welcome visitors with open arms in this 2018.

Portugal

Portugal

Portugal

Portugal welcomes tourists with open arms with a delightful mix of history and modernity, lively cities and white-sand beaches, the freshest fish and the richest pastries, says Aviva Patz, Deputy Editor of ReadersDigest.com. Portugal offers all the greatest hits of Europe, but at a wallet-friendly price, “The people are super friendly,” she enthuses, “and you won’t go broke while you’re here.” As if that’s not enough to make it a “Must Go” in 2018, it’s also family friendly and there are frequent well-priced flights with the country’s national airline carrier TAP.

Simply walk the winding, picturesque cobblestone streets lined with shops, restaurants, fountains, and statues of leaders and poets, you’ll see signs of Portuguese culture everywhere. Step into a shop to down a shot of Ginga, the signature cherry liquor (drunk on the spot in a tiny chocolate cup), or listen to a live performance of Fado, traditional Portuguese folk music with a singer and two guitarists. The Anantara Vilamoura Hotel, in the southern region of Algarve, marks the arrival of every evening with a breathtaking performance of Fado, which is a bit like soulful opera. From the Vilamoura, beaches and lush vineyards are just a quick drive away for a taste of quintessential Portugal.

Detroit

Detroit

Detroit

With the dark days of the auto industry bailout in its rear-view mirror, Detroit has been reinventing itself into a hot destination. The dining scene is buzzing thanks to an emerging generation of young chefs and restaurateurs launching new dining destinations, breweries, and cocktail bars. Getting around is easier thanks to the brand-new QLINE streetcar. The city has also been steadily extending its riverfront trail, an interconnected system of parks, pavilions, pathways, and open green space linked by the popular RiverWalk. (The RiverWalk can be explored on foot or bike thanks to a new 43-station bike-sharing program.) One must-stop for families on the riverfront is the three-story DNR Outdoor Adventure Center that offers an interactive taste of Michigan’s great outdoors by giving kids the chance to catch a fish, paddle a kayak, and steer a snowmobile or bush plane. Another don’t-miss is the Detroit Zoo, which opened the world’s largest penguin exhibit in 2016, a chilled 326,000-gallon aquatic area that lets visitors take a “deep dive” with views above and below water. Other great Detroit attractions include the Michigan Science Museum and the Henry Ford Museum.

Namibia

Namibia

Namibia

Namibia is one of the world’s true wildernesses. It’s one of the least densely populated nations on earth, with limitless horizons and endless sand dunes, as well as an oasis of fascinating wildlife as well ancient culture. This peaceful southwest African nation will be at the top of bucket lists in 2018, they predict, with three new safari camps opening next year from Natural Selection, including Hoanib Valley Camp, The camp will offer game drives to see desert adapted lion, elephant, rhino, and giraffe, cultural experiences with the Himba and Herero people, and unique interactions with giraffe researchers. Bonus: Namibia offers an excellent value for the money since camps are priced in Namibian dollars, a currency tied to the South African Rand, rather than the U.S. dollar like many southern African safari destinations, which means you can take a 5-star trip at a 2-star price.

Thailand

Thailand

Thailand

“Thailand is really coming into its own as an all around destination, with a lot of new openings in 2018 of hotels and resorts in different parts of the very diverse country. The country has a perfect mix of things that travelers are seeking these days: amazing food, cooking classes, cultural experiences, beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, temples, and great sports from golf to scuba diving to kick-boxing lessons. (Also don’t miss this incredible charity elephant polo tournament in Bangkok.) “Most of all, are the incredibly friendly people—it’s not called the Land of Smiles for nothing!

Maremma, Italy

Maremma, Italy

Maremma, Italy

The Maremma is where to go to find the true Italian summer experience. We predicts the under-the-radar area of southwestern Tuscany will be a draw in 2018 for its miles of unspoiled coastline bordered by beautiful vineyards, farms, and hilltop towns. Its vast beaches—all blue flag certified—have charming restaurants and stabilimenti, rustic seaside resorts, while its medieval towns filled with fortresses, castles, and towers allow you to walk through living history. But you’ve got to get into the countryside to truly “get” the Maremma, advises Firpo. Drive the three Strade del Vino e dei Sapori, wine roads, to sip SuperTuscan, Morellino and Vermentino wines, and also taste the Maremma through its local flavors of olive oil, beef, cheese, and pasta.

Barbados

Barbados

Barbados

This island gem is far west and south in the turquoise Caribbean, putting it in the African jet stream and out of harm’s way when it comes to hurricanes, an important designation for 2018 after the destructive Caribbean storms of 2017. Not only is it safe and sound after a chaotic weather season, but its fantastic family resorts, beautiful beaches, and adventure activities have been flying under the radar, until now, so you can get great deals on vacation getaways.

For 2018, three cultural highlights of the island, including Bridgetown, the capital city with UNESCO World Heritage Site designation, will be updated and improved thanks to a large cultural endowment.

In Bridgetown, explore historic sites, visit a pirate’s tavern, shop for duty-free goods and authentic local crafts, and savor delicious local delicacies. Then head back to the beach; you’re on a tropical island after all!

 

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

You might not be as familiar with Edmonton as say Toronto or Montreal, but three of Canada’s 10 best new restaurants for 2017 are located in this charming northern city. There’s clearly a passion for creating art on the plate, noting, the new hockey arena is a game-changer, too.For 2018, this Canadian city on the rise will open the River Valley Funicular that will provide access from the city center to the river valley and will also launch a new museum, RAM (Royal Alberta Museum), the largest museum in Western Canada with galleries showcasing both natural and human history. For dinosaur fans (and really, who isn’t one), The Nodosaur—a 110-million year-old dinosaur discovered in Alberta and the best preserved fossil ever found—will go on view in May at the Royal Tyrrell Museum.

Don’t spend all of your time indoors eating and museum hopping though; Edmonton is home to the largest expanse of urban parkland in Canada, with 20 back-to-back parks spanning both sides of the North Saskatchewan River (which runs directly through the middle of the beautiful city). During the winter months, you might even spot the Northern Lights at night from the park.

London

London

London

Royal watchers, take note: we expect 2018 to be a crowning year for the House of Windsor. Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, are expecting their third royal baby in April 2018, which is sure to create a festive atmosphere at the palace. For those fascinated by Britain’s long-standing monarchy, you may be inspired to pay a visit to London to honor the birth while learning about the royal family. Tour the Tower of London with a Beefeater and marvel at the Crown Jewels; celebrate Princess Diana’s sense of style at the “Diana: Her Fashion Story” exhibition in the elegant Kensington Palace; and watch the Changing of the Guard ceremony before touring Buckingham Palace. And a new museum on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries is set to open in 2018 in Westminster Abbey.

Alaska

Alaska

Alaska

Cruise fans who have Alaska on their wish list, circle 2018 on your calendar; 2017 brought the most cruisers ever to Alaska’s Inside Passage (more than one million passengers), according to Alaska Tourism, and 2018 will expand the trend with a cruise for every style and interest: from family to luxury to expedition ships, ranging from a 10-person vessel to a 4,000-person mega ship. Not only that, 2018 brings three new cruise line stories set to make headlines: Norwegian Cruise Line will debut a new ship, the Norwegian Bliss, in 2018 designed specifically for Alaska cruising; Princess Cruises will launch its largest Alaska deployment ever in 2018 with seven ships that will sail Alaska’s pristine waters on 130 cruise departures; and Windstar returns to Alaska in 2018 after a two decade absence with luxury cruises sailing through scenic Tracy Arm Fjord and Misty Fjords. And Alaska Tourism is also reporting some of the lowest prices in years for flights to Anchorage, especially from cities like Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco and even Chicago and Boston.


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8 Breathtaking Places You Must Visit in 2018

As you begin compiling goals and resolutions for 2018, start by making travel a top priority. Vacations can make you more productive at work, after all.

To help you get started, we rounded up places known for their rich culture, excellent food and breathtaking scenery that deserve a spot on your travel bucket list.

Bon voyage!

Oslo, Norway

Oslo, Norway, the country’s capital, is not only known for its stunning scenery, but its rich history as well. The Vigeland Park features more than 200 sculptures from artist Gustav Vigeland and the Fram Museum, touted as the “home of the world’s strongest polar vessel,” shows visitors what it’s like sailing through some of the coldest places on the planet. Be sure to visit between April and September, when the days are long and light-filled.

The business district of Oslo at night

The business district of Oslo at night

Glacier National Park, Montana, US

See the glaciers before they disappear at Glacier National Park in Montana. Established in 1910, the park stretches across more than 1,500 square miles of land, including 762 lakes, 175 mountains and 26 shrinking glaciers. Visitors can camp, bike, boat, hike, ski and fish while soaking in the area’s awe-inspiring surroundings. Driving or biking across Going-to-the-sun Road, which cuts through the middle of the park, is a can’t-miss and offers unparalleled views of Glacier’s flora and wildlife.

Glacier National Park in Montana, US.

Glacier National Park in Montana, US.

Tokyo, Japan

Fresh off the PyeongChang games, Tokyo will be buzzing with excitement as the next city in line to host the Olympics. Learn the history of Japan’s capital at the Tokyo National Museum before unwinding in one of the city’s many serene gardens, such as the Imperial Palace or Koishikawa Korakuen. Taste the local cuisine at the Tsukiji Market, which serves up everything from sushi rolls to fresh sea urchin to sweet dumplings.

Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo, Japan.

Granada, Nicaragua

The coastal location of Granada, Nicaragua made it a strategic trading location in the 16th century, and today the city retains a rich culture and mixture of architectural influences. Stop by the Iglesia de Merced for breathtaking views from the church’s bell tower and venture just outside of the city to explore Nicaragua’s lush landscape, including beaches and hot springs. Frommer’s also named the country one its top places to go in 2018, noting that “despite the tourism boom, crowds remain rare and prices low.”

Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

Valletta, Malta

An underrated Mediterranean gem, the island of Malta is small, but packed with things to do. Valletta, the nation’s capital, glows gold in the sunlight and serves as the commercial heart of the country. Take the city by foot and be sure to plan stops to St. Johns Co-CathedralUpper Barrakka Gardens and the new Parliament Building, all while viewing the city’s signature Baroque architecture.

Valletta, Malta.

Valletta, Malta.

Hamburg, Germany

In Hamburg, Germany, spend your days exploring the city’s historical charms, such as the expansive Rathaus town hall, and your nights imbibing at its many riverside bars. Embrace Hamburg’s thriving music scene with a visit to the Elbphilharmonie, the expensive and much-delayed waterfront concert hall that finally opened in 2017, or an early morning stop at Sunday’s Fischmarkt, where revelers close out of a night of partying with food and live music.

Hamburg, Germany.

Hamburg, Germany.

Porto, Portugal

The second-largest city in Portugal after Lisbon, Porto is known for quaint cobblestone streets, local wineries and leisurely pace. Porto’s food scene is booming, with Michelin-starred restaurants like The Yeatman and Antiqvvm garnering international acclaim. Ribeira Square, a UNESCO World Heritage site, overflows with charm from colorful houses to riverside shops and bars.

Porto Portugal

Porto, Portugal

Phuket, Thailand

Known for its miles of white sand beaches, striking scenery and raging nightlife, Phuket, Thailand provides a mix of relaxation and fun. It’s a big island, but don’t miss touring Phang Nga Bay, which features a natural limestone formation famous for its appearance in the James Bond flick “The Man with the Golden Gun.” It’s best to visit between November and April to experience Phuket’s dry season and avoid spending your entire trip indoors, U.S. News reports.

Row of longtail boats at Phi Phi island in Phuket, Thailand.

Row of longtail boats at Phi Phi island in Phuket, Thailand.


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TOP 20 PLACES YOU NEED TO VISIT IN 2018

Looking for your next adventure? We present our top picks which will have you discovering new trails, tasting local foods, and spotting vibrant wildlife around the world.

Harar, Ethiopia

is myriad alleys (and treasures)

World Heritage–listed Harar (ሐረር) is a place apart. With its 368 alleyways squeezed into just 1 sq km, it’s more reminiscent of Fez in Morocco than any other city in the Horn. Its countless mosques and shrines, animated markets, crumbling walls and charming people will make you feel as if you’ve floated right out of the 21st century. It’s the east’s most memorable sight and shouldn’t be missed. As if that wasn’t enough, there are many chances to get up close and personal with wild hyenas. It’s a rare traveller who doesn’t enjoy it here.

In Ethiopia, Harar’s old town is a maze of alleys lined with colorful walls.

Jujuy Province,Argentina

Hang with nature-made rock stars.

Located in outermost northwest Argentina, Jujuy is home to the Quebrada de Humahuaca World Heritage site. The narrow valley is cloaked in colorful rock bands crafted over millennia. Elevate your Instagram with shots of Cerro de los Siete Colores (Hill of Seven Colors).

A motorcycle drives through Jujuy Province in northern Argentina.

Tbilisi,Georgia

is history in colour

Tbilisi has come a long way since the Rose Revolution of 2003 ousted the post-Soviet Shevardnadze government. To Tbilisi’s eternal charms of a dramatic setting in the deep valley of the swift Mtkvari River, picturesque architecture, an ever-lively arts and cultural scene, and the welcoming Georgian lifestyle have been added a whole new 21st-century dimension of inviting cafes and restaurants serving ever better food, up-to-date lodgings from backpacker hostels to international five-stars, funky bars and clubs, spruced-up museums, galleries, parks, plazas and whole streets, modernised transport and a sprinkling of eye-catching contemporary architecture. All of which make it a much easier, and more fun, city to visit and live in than it was less than a decade ago.

But the old Tbilisi is still very much here too. The Old Town, at the narrowest part of the valley, is still redolent of an ancient Eurasian crossroads, with its winding lanes, balconied houses, leafy squares and handsome churches, all overlooked by the 17-centuries-old Narikala Fortress. Neighbourhoods not far from the centre still retain a village-like feel with their narrow streets, small shops and community atmosphere. Small traders still clog up the pavements around metro stations selling fruit, vegetables, cheese and nuts fresh from the countryside.

The bus stations are still rooted in about the 1930s, too – but you can’t have everything. Modern and ancient, Tbilisi remains the beating heart of the South Caucasus and should not be missed by any visitor.

Vibrant buildings create the intriguing cityscape of Tbilisi, Georgia.

Sydney,Australia

is iconic cityscapes

Sydney, spectacularly draped around its glorious harbour and beaches, has a visual wow factor like few other cities. Scratch the surface and it only gets better.
On the Wild Side
National parks ring the city and penetrate right into its heart. Large chunks of harbour are still bush-fringed, while parks cut their way through skyscrapers and suburbs. Consequently, native critters turn up in the most surprising places. Clouds of flying foxes pass overhead at twilight and spend the night rustling around in suburban fig trees; oversized spiders stake out corners of lounge-room walls; possums rattle over roofs of terrace houses; and sulphur-crested cockatoos screech from the railings of urban balconies. At times Sydney’s concrete jungle seems more like an actual one – and doesn’t that just make it all the more exciting?

After Dark
After a lazy Saturday at the beach, urbane Sydneysiders have a disco nap, hit the showers and head out again. There’s always a new restaurant to try, undercover bar to hunt down, hip band to check out, sports team to shout at, show to see or crazy party to attend. The city’s pretensions to glamour are well balanced by a casualness that means a cool T-shirt and a tidy pair of jeans will get you in most places. But if you want to dress up and show off, there’s plenty of opportunity for that among the sparkling harbour lights.

Making a Splash
Defined just as much by its rugged Pacific coastline as its exquisite harbour, Sydney relies on its coastal setting to replenish its reserves of charm; venture too far away from the water and the charm suddenly evaporates. Jump on a ferry and Sydney’s your oyster – the harbour prises the city’s two halves far enough apart to reveal an abundance of pearls. On the coast, Australia ends abruptly in sheer walls of sandstone punctuated by arcs of golden sand. In summer they’re covered with bronzed bodies making the most of a climate that encourages outdoor socialising, exercising, flirting and fun.

Show Pony
Brash is the word that inevitably gets bandied around when it comes to describing the Harbour City, and let’s face it, compared to its Australian sister cities, Sydney is loud, uncompromising and in your face. Fireworks displays are more dazzling here, heels are higher, bodies more buffed, contact sports more brutal, starlets shinier, drag queens glitzier and prices higher. Australia’s best musos, foodies, actors, stockbrokers, models, writers and architects flock to the city to make their mark, and the effect is dazzling: a hyperenergetic, ambitious, optimistic and unprincipled marketplace of the soul, where anything goes and everything usually does.

The illuminated Sydney Opera House can be seen from a nearby neighborhood known as the Rocks.

Oaxaca,Mexico

is colonial charm

A cultural colossus fit to rival anywhere in Latin America for history, gastronomy and colorful manifestations of indigenous culture, Oaxaca is a complex but intensely attractive city whose majestic churches and refined plazas have deservedly earned it a Unesco World Heritage badge. Lovers of culture come here to indulge in the Mexico of Zapotec and colonial legend. Flowing through handsome yet tranquil streets, life pulsates with an unadulterated regional flavor. See it in the color palate of historic boutique hotels, a meet-the-producer artisan store or an intentionally grungy mezcalería(plying locally manufactured alcoholic beverages). But what makes Oaxaca especially interesting are its undercurrents. While largely safe and attractive by Mexican standards, snippets of political protest in recent years have lent the city a grittier edge. It bubbles up in satirical street art, bohemian bars, or been-around-forever street markets. Trust us; there’s far more to this city than just pretty churches.

A woman in a traditional gown embroidered with silk flowers poses during a festival.

Vienna,Austria

is imperial history

Baroque streetscapes and imperial palaces set the stage for Vienna’s artistic and musical masterpieces alongside its coffee-house culture and vibrant epicurean and design scenes.
Imperial Architecture
Vienna’s imperial grandeur is the legacy of the powerful Habsburg monarchy. Their home for more than six centuries, the Hofburg palace complex, incorporates the Burgkapelle (Imperial Chapel), where the Vienna Boys’ Choir sings Sunday Mass, and the famed Spanish Riding School, where Lipizzaner stallions perform elegant equine ballet, along with a trove of museums, including in the chandeliered Kaiserappartements (Imperial Apartments). Other immense palaces include the baroque Schloss Belvedere and the Habsburgs’ 1441-room summer residence, Schloss Schönbrunn, while 19th-century splendours such as the neo-Gothic Rathaus (City Hall) line the magnificent Ringstrasse encircling the Innere Stadt (inner city).

Masterpiece-filled Museums
One of the Habsburgs’ most dazzling Rinsgstrasse palaces, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, houses the imperial art collection. It’s packed with priceless works by Old Masters, and treasures including one of the world’s richest coin collections. Behind the Hofburg, the former imperial stables have been transformed into the innovative MuseumsQuartier, with a diverse ensemble of museums, showcasing 19th- and 20th-century Austrian art at the Leopold Museum to often-shocking avant-garde works at the contemporary MUMOK. Meteorites, fossils and prehistoric finds fill the Naturhistorisches Museum, while exquisite furnishings at the applied-arts Museum für Angewandte Kunst are also among the artistic feasts in store.

Soul-stirring Music
With a musical heritage that includes composers Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Josef Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss (father and son), Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, among countless others, Vienna is known as the City of Music. Its cache of incredible venues where you can catch performances today include the acoustically renowned Musikverein, used by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the gold-and-crystal main opera house, the Staatsoper, and the multistage Konzerthaus, as well as the dedicated home of the Vienna Boys’ Choir, MuTh. Music comes to life through interactive exhibits at the captivating Haus der Musik museum.

Renowned Drinking & Dining
The Viennese appreciation of the finer things in life extends to its opulent coffee-house ‘living rooms’ serving spectacular cakes; its beloved pub-like Beisln dishing up hearty portions of Wiener Schnitzel, Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) and goulash; elegant restaurants; and its fine Austrian wines served in vaulted Vinothek (wine bar) cellars, and in rustic vine-draped Heurigen (wine taverns) in the vineyards fringing the city. Local and international delicacies fill the heady Naschmarkt stalls, and creative chefs are experimenting with local produce and fresh new flavour combinations in innovative, often repurposed venues.

Schönbrunn Palace sits beyond Neptune Fountain in Vienna, Austria.

North Shore,Oahu, Hawaii

is an adventurer’s dream

It’s easy to see why Hawaii has become synonymous with paradise. Just look at these sugary beaches, Technicolor coral reefs and volcanoes beckoning adventurous spirits.
Natural Beauty
Snapshots of these islands scattered in the cobalt blue Pacific Ocean are heavenly, without the need for any embellishment by tourist brochures. Sunrises and sunsets are so spectacular that they’re cause for celebration all by themselves, such as atop Haleakalā volcano on Maui. As tropical getaways go, Hawaii couldn’t be easier or more worth the trip, though be aware that visiting these Polynesian isles isn’t always cheap. But whether you’re dreaming of swimming in crystal waterfall pools or lazing on golden-sand beaches, you can find what you’re looking for here.

Play Outside
Just as in days of old, life in Hawaii is lived outdoors. Whether it’s surfing, swimming, fishing or picnicking with the ʻohana (extended family and friends), encounters with nature are infused with the traditional Hawaiian value of aloha ʻaina – love and respect for the land.Go hiking across ancient lava flows and down fluted pali (sea cliffs). Learn to surf, the ancient Hawaiian sport of ‘wave sliding,’ and then snorkel or dive with giant manta rays and sea turtles. Kayak to a deserted offshore island or hop aboard a whale-watching cruise. Back on land, ride horseback with paniolo, Hawaii’s cowboys.

Island Style
Floating all by itself in the middle of the Pacific, Hawaii proudly maintains its own distinct identity apart from the US mainland. Spam, shave ice, surfing, ukulele and slack key guitar music, hula, pidgin, aloha shirts, ‘rubbah slippah’ (flip-flops) – these are just some of the touchstones of everyday life, island style. Pretty much everything here feels easygoing, low-key and casual, bursting with genuine aloha and fun. You’ll be equally welcome whether you’re a globe-trotting surf bum, a beaming couple of fresh-faced honeymooners or a big, multigenerational family with rambunctious kids.

Modern Multiculturalism
Hawaii is as proud of its multicultural heritage as it is of former US President Barack Obama, who was born in Honolulu on Oʻahu. On these Hawaiian Islands, the descendants of ancient Polynesians, European explorers, American missionaries and Asian plantation immigrants mix and mingle. What’s remarkable about contemporary Hawaii is that harmonious multiculturalism is the rule, not the exception. Boisterous arts and cultural festivals keep diverse community traditions alive, from Hawaiian outrigger canoe races to Japanese taiko drumming. Come here to see what the future of the USA could be.

The Ko’olau Mountains on the island of Oahu are located just beyond Waikiki’s bustling city.

Malmö,Sweden

is Old Town grandeur

Sweden’s third-largest city is a place where old meets new: from its proud castle and showpiece squares Stortorget and Lilla Torget, in the heart of Gamla Staden (the ‘Old Town’), to the cosmopolitan promenades of Västra Hamnen’s vibrant redeveloped waterfront. Here, Scandinavia’s tallest building twists its way skyward, gazing down over the vast Öresund bridge – both are modern engineering marvels reflecting multicultural Malmö’s progressive outlook.

‘The bridge’, connecting the city to cool-cat Copenhagen’s downtown and busy international airport, has helped forge a dynamic urban conglomeration. This, and the fact that Germany is just a short hop across the Baltic, helps explain why more than 150 nationalities call Malmö home.

It’s no wonder then that Malmö is so fabulously worldly – Middle Eastern markets, Italian coffee culture, edgy international eateries and cruisy, chic bars counter its intrinsic Nordic reserve, while its classical and contemporary fine-arts and theatre scenes are thriving.

Modern architecture greets riders in Triangeln Station in Malmö, Sweden.

Jordan Trail

is a moment to treasure

A safe haven in a region of conflict, Jordan has delighted visitors for centuries with its World Heritage sites, friendly towns and inspiring desert landscapes.
Ancient Hospitality
Jordan has a tradition of welcoming visitors: camel caravans plied the legendary King’s Highway transporting frankincense in exchange for spices while Nabataean tradesmen, Roman legionnaires, Muslim armies and zealous Crusaders all passed through the land, leaving behind impressive monuments. These monuments, including Roman amphitheatres, Crusader castles and Christian mosaics, have fascinated subsequent travellers in search of antiquity and the origins of faith. The tradition of hospitality to visitors remains to this day.

Petra: A World Wonder
Petra, the ancient Nabataean city locked in the heart of Jordan’s sandstone escarpments, is the jewel in the crown of the country’s many antiquities. Ever since Burckhardt brought news of the pink-hued necropolis back to Europe in the 19th century, the walk through the Siq to the Treasury (Petra’s defining monument) has impressed even the most travel weary of visitors. With sites flung over a vast rocky landscape and a mood that changes with the shifting light of dawn and dusk, this is a highlight that rewards a longer visit.

Desert Landscapes
Take a ride through Wadi Rum at sunset, and it’s easy to see why TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was so drawn to this land of weathered sandstone and reddened dunes. But Jordan’s desert landscapes are not confined to the southeast: they encompass a salt sea at the lowest point on earth, canyons flowing with seasonal water, oases of palm trees and explosions of springtime flowers scattered across arid hills. Minimal planning and only a modest budget is required for an adventure.

Safe Haven
It takes tolerance to host endless waves of incomers, and Jordan has displayed that virtue amply, absorbing thousands of refugees from the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and most recently Syria. Despite contending with this and with large numbers of tourists who are often insensitive to conservative Jordanian values, rural life in particular has managed to keep continuity with the traditions of the past. While Jordan faces the challenges of modernisation and growing urbanisation, it remains one of the safest countries in which to gain an impression of the quintessential Middle East.

The Jordan Trail highlights the country’s most scenic sites.

Dublin, Ireland

is cobbled streets and classic pubs

A small capital with a huge reputation, Dublin’s mix of heritage and hedonism will not disappoint. All you have to do is show up.
Layers of History
Dublin has been in the news since the 9th century, and while traces of its Viking past have been largely washed away, the city is a living museum of its history since then, with medieval castles and cathedrals on display alongside the architectural splendours of its 18th-century heyday, when Dublin was the most handsome Georgian city of the British Empire and a fine reflection of the aspirations of its most privileged citizens. How power was wrested from their hands is another story, and you’ll learn that one in its museums and on its walking tours.

Personality Goes A Long Way
Dubliners will admit theirs isn’t the prettiest city, but will remind you that pretty things are as easy to like as they are to forget…before showing you the showstopper Georgian bits to prove that Dublin has a fine line in sophisticated elegance. True love is demonstrated with brutal unsentimentality round here, but they’ll go soft at the knees when talking about the character and personality of the ‘greatest city in the world, if you ignore all the others’. Garrulous, amiable and witty, Dubliners at their ease are the greatest hosts of all, a charismatic bunch with compelling soul and sociability.

A Few Scoops
Even in these times of green juices and heart-monitoring apps, the pub remains the alpha and omega of social interaction in Dublin. The city’s relationship with alcohol is complex and conflicted, but at its very best, a night out in the pub is the perfect social lubricant and one of the highlights of a visit to Dublin. Every Dubliner has their favourite haunt, from the never-changing traditional pub to whatever new opening is bringing in the beautiful people. With more than 1000 of them spread about the city, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

All the World is Dublin
For as long as it’s been around, Dublin has looked beyond Irish shores for inspiration. Once the second city of the (British) empire, Dublin has always maintained a pretty cosmopolitan outlook and in the last two decades has conspicuously embraced diversity and multiculturalism. You’ll hear languages and eat foods from all four corners of the globe, and while it used to be said that ‘real’ Dubs had to be born within the canals like their parents and grandparents before them, these days you’re just as likely to meet a Dub whose parents were born in Warsaw, Lagos, Cairo or Beijing.

Patrons linger outside of the Temple Bar Pub, the district’s namesake.

Madagascar

is where nature shines

Lemurs, baobabs, rainforest, desert, hiking and diving: Madagascar is a dream destination for outdoors enthusiasts – half the fun is getting to all these incredible attractions.
Wild World
Madagascar is unique: 5% of all known animal and plant species can be found here, and here alone. The island’s signature animal is the lemur of course, but there are many more weird and wonderful creatures: the eerie-looking fossa (a cat-like predator), colourful and camouflaged chameleons, oddly shaped insects, vivid frogs, graceful rays and turtles, several species of sharks, and humpback whales during the winter months. Trees and plants are just as impressive, be they the distinctively shaped baobabs, the fanning ravinala (travellers’ palm), the hundreds of orchids or the spiny forests of the desert south.

Epic Landscapes
The remarkable fauna and flora is matched by epic landscapes of an incredible diversity: you can go from rainforest to desert in just 300km. Few places on Earth offer such an intense kaleidoscope of nature. There are sandstone canyons, limestone karsts, mountains, fertile hills cascading with terraced rice paddies, forests of every kind – rain, dry, spiny – and a laterite-rich soil that gave the country its nickname of ‘Red Island’. With 5000km of coastline, the sea is never very far, turquoise and idyllic in places, dangerous in others.

Island Adventures
Making the best of Madagascar can be challenging (and expensive): it is the world’s fourth-largest island and its roads are dismal. For those who relish an adventure, however, this is a one-of-a-kind destination: the off-road driving is phenomenal, there are national parks that only see a few hundred visitors a year, regions that live in autarky during the rainy season and resorts so remote you’ll need a private plane or boat to get there. There are also more activities than you’ll have time for: hiking, diving, mountain biking, kitesurfing, rock-climbing, you name it. Oh, and there are plenty of natural pools, beaches and hammocks on which to recover, too.

Cultural Insights
Madagascar has been populated by successive waves of migrants from various corners of the Indian Ocean. This cultural melting pot has evolved into an intricate set of beliefs and rituals that revere ancestors’ spirits. For travellers, attending a famadihana (traditional exhumation and reburial when relatives can communicate with their forebears) can be the highlight of a trip. There is much history to discover, too, from Antananarivo’s sacred hills to the pirate history of Île Sainte Marie.

An endangered ring-tailed lemur makes eye contact in Madagascar’s Andringitra Massif.

Santiago, Chile

is a metropolis with a view

Surprising, cosmopolitan, energetic, sophisticated and worldly, Santiago is a city of syncopated cultural currents, madhouse parties, expansive museums and top-flight restaurants. No wonder 40 percent of Chileans call the leafy capital city home.

It’s a wonderful place for strolling, and each neighborhood has its unique flavor and tone. Head out for the day to take in the museums, grand architecture and pedestrian malls of the Centro, before an afternoon picnic in one of the gorgeous hillside parks that punctuate the city’s landscape. Nightlife takes flight in the sidewalk eateries, cafes and beer halls of Barrios Brasil, Lastarria and Bellavista, while as you head east to well-heeled neighborhoods like Providencia and Las Condes, you’ll find tony restaurants and world-class hotels.

With a growing economy, renovated arts scene and plenty of eccentricity to spare, Santiago is an old-guard city on the cusp of a modern-day renaissance.

is a metropolis with a view

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

is a feast for the senses

Phnom Penh (ភ្នំ ពេញ): the name can’t help but conjure up an image of the exotic. The glimmering spires of the Royal Palace, the fluttering saffron of the monks’ robes and the luscious location on the banks of the mighty Mekong – this is the Asia many daydream about from afar.

Cambodia’s capital can be an assault on the senses. Motorbikes whiz through laneways without a thought for pedestrians; markets exude pungent scents; and all the while the sounds of life – of commerce, of survival – reverberate through the streets. But this is all part of the enigma.

Once the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh’s shine was tarnished by the impact of war and revolution. But the city has since risen from the ashes to take its place among the hip capitals of the region, with an alluring cafe culture, bustling bars and a world-class food scene.

Buddhist monks walk by the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Cleveland, Ohio

Celebrate an industrial city’s revival.

Does it or does it not rock? That is the question. Drawing from its roots as a working man’s town, Cleveland has toiled hard in recent years to prove it does. Step one was to control the urban decay/river-on-fire thing – the Cuyahoga River was once so polluted that it actually burned. Step two was to bring a worthy attraction to town, say the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Step three was to clean up downtown’s public spaces and add hip hotels and eateries. The gritty city has come a long way. Even LeBron James deemed it happenin’ enough to return to.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame adds character to the Cleveland skyline.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame adds character to the Cleveland skyline.

Tétouan, Morocco

is a pretty, mountainside town

That Spanish influence dates from 1912–56, when Tetouan was the capital of the Spanish protectorate, which encompassed much of northern Morocco. The town’s long relationship with Andalucia has left it with a Hispano-Moorish character that is unique in Morocco, as physically reflected in the white buildings and broad boulevards of the Spanish part of the city, known as the Ensanche (extension).

A woman passes through a market in the medina of Tétouan, Morocco.

Seoraksan National Park, South Korea

Embrace the Olympic spirit.

Peak season is July and August, while in mid-October visitors flock to see the changing colours of the autumn leaves – best appreciated over a bottle of meoruju (wild fruit wine). Given the park’s size (nearly 400,000 sq km), sections are sometimes closed for restoration or preservation, or to prevent wildfires. Check with the Visitor Centre before you head out.

The park is divided into three sections, unconnected by road: Outer Seorak is the most accessible and popular area, nearest to Sokcho and the sea. Seorak-dong has hotels, motels, minbak (private homes with rooms for rent), restaurants, bars, noraebang (karaoke rooms) and general stores; Inner Seorak covers the western end of the park and is the least commercialised; Southern Seorak is the name given to the Osaek (Five Colours) area, which is famous for its mineral springs.

the most beautiful and iconic on the entire Korean Peninsula

Albania

is unspoiled rugged coastline

Albania has natural beauty in such abundance that you might wonder why it took 20 years for the country to take off as a tourist destination since the end of a particularly brutal strain of communism in 1991. So backward was Albania when it emerged blinking into the bright light of freedom that it needed two decades just to catch up with the rest of Eastern Europe. Now that it has arguably done so, Albania offers a remarkable array of unique attractions, not least due to this very isolation: ancient mountain codes of behaviour, forgotten archaeological sites and villages where time seems to have stood still are all on the menu. With its stunning mountain scenery, a thriving capital in Tirana and beaches to rival any elsewhere in the Mediterranean, Albania has become the sleeper hit of the Balkans. But hurry here, as word is well and truly out.

is unspoiled rugged coastline

San Antonio, Texas

is a stroll along the river

The biggest surprise for visitors? The fact that two of the state’s most popular destinations – the aforementioned Alamo and River Walk – are smack dab in the middle of downtown, surrounded by historical hotels, tourist attractions and souvenir shops. The rest of the city sprawls out beyond them, never impinging on the tourist trade.

Colorful lights decorate the River Walk in downtown San Antonio at night.

Labrador, Canada

Undulating, rocky, puddled expanses form the sparse, primeval landscape of Labrador

The simplest way to take a bite of the Big Land is via the Labrador Straits region, which connects to Newfoundland via a daily ferry. From there, a solitary road – the stark, rough Trans-Labrador Hwy – connects the interior’s main towns. The aboriginal-influenced northern coast is accessible only by plane or supply ferry. Here, the newly designated Torngat Mountains National Park offers a privileged glimpse into ultra-remote wilderness.

Labrador is cold, wet and windy, and its bugs are murderous. Facilities are few and far between throughout the behemoth region, so planning ahead is essential.

Undulating, rocky, puddled expanses form the sparse, primeval landscape of Labrador

Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Tanzania’s largest national park

Ruaha is notable for its wild and striking topography, especially around the Great Ruaha River, which is its heart, and which is home to crocodiles, hippos and wading birds. Much of it is undulating plateau averaging about 900m in height with occasional rocky outcrops and stands of baobabs. Mountains in the south and west reach to about 1600m and 1900m, respectively. Running through the park are several ‘sand’ rivers, most of which dry up during the dry season, when they are used by wildlife as corridors to reach areas where water remains.

Tanzania’s largest national park


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12 Most Charming Small Towns in France

Tags :

Category : Europe , France

Many travelers to France don’t stray far from the big cities like Paris and Lyon. They don’t know what they’re missing: Picture-postcard medieval villages with narrow cobblestone streets and city walls. They’re also missing out on charming towns where wine-making reigns supreme and a more traditional France can still be found. Even better, many small towns in France are often situated amid gorgeous scenery of both mountains and sea.

12. Peillon

Peillon

 

Peillon is unique among France’s charming, picturesque small towns. For one, it’s perched on a cliff about 18 km (11 miles) north of Nice on the French Riviera. Secondly, it’s pedestrian only. Thirdly, it lacks the numerous souvenir stands, restaurants and shops found elsewhere, though there are a couple at the village entrance. Comfortable walking shoes are a must as you walk through the village with its sometimes steep stairs and low passageways. And, of course, the views from here are spectacular.

11. Dinan

Dinan

 

Cobblestone streets and half-timbered buildings still exist in Dinan, considered one of the best medieval villages in Brittany. As travel expert Rick Steves says, forget the formal museums, the town itself is the museum. It’s a delightful place to wander at will, with a bustling market on Thursday mornings in Place du Guesclin, Dinan’s town square. The view of the River Rance, the old post and the surrounding area is best from St. Catherine’s Tower; nearby is a well-preserved section of the city wall.

10. Rochefort-en-Terre 

Rochefort-en-Terre

 

Stone and timber combine with pots and baskets of geraniums to make Rochefort-en-Terre one of the most visited villages in Brittany and one of the beautiful villages in all of France. Many of the buildings date back to the 16th century, while others are more modern. It all adds up to a picturesque scene. Known for delicious biscuits, the village hosts a festival honoring Notre Dame de la Tronchaye, a Black Virgin, every August. A chateau, once owned by the 20th century American painter Alfred Klotz, shows his paintings.

9. Eze

Eze

 

Eze is a small village on the French Riviera famous for its medieval castle that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea. Getting to the top of the castle with its narrow cobblestone streets is a bit of a climb, but well worth the effort. When you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a pretty cactus garden and stunning views of the Mediterranean. Take time to visit the old church with its Egyptian cross, said to be a reminder of the Phoenician temple that once stood there.

8. Etretat 

Etretat

Étretat is a small village on the Normandy coast in northwest France. This resort town on the English Channel is known for its spectacular white chalk cliffs and three natural arches that have inspired such artists as Courbet and Monet. Guy de Maupassant wrote short stories here. It’s famous, too, as being the last place The White Bird was seen in 1927; the plane was carrying two aviators trying to fly nonstop between Paris and New York.

7. Riquewihr 

Riquewihr

 

Riquewihr is a village of less than 1,500 souls in northeastern France that is known for two things: its historic architecture and its great wines. Still looking much like it did in the 16th century, Riquewihr is considered one of the most beautiful small towns in France. Medieval fortifications surround the town; the old castle has been turned into a museum. The village was relatively untouched during World War II and is home to a museum about the war’s impact on Alsace.

6. Saint-Veran

Saint-Veran

 

Saint-Véran is a small village located in Queyras Regional Natural Park in the Haute-Alps of southeastern France. This pretty village, sitting on a hillside overlooking a river valley, is one of the highest in Europe, attracting winter and summer tourists. It is famous for its houses with their high, wooden attic balconies. Old sun dials and wood fountains are other draws. The area is popular with hikers, but they should check the weather forecast before starting out as weather changes frequently.

5. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

 

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, located in southeastern France, is another picturesque village that is considered one of the most beautiful in France. Mountains in the background make this a very picturesque village. Famous for its pottery, the village is nestled in terraces on a hillside. Since the 10th century, a gold-colored star on a 225-meter (738-foot) long chain has hung from between two cliffs; legend has it a knight captured by the Saracens during the crusades vowed to hang a star if he escaped.

4. Sant’Antonino

Sant'Antonino

 

Sant’Antonino is a tiny extremely picturesque village that sits 460 meters (1,500 feet) above sea level on the island of Corsica, giving it the nickname “Eagle’s Nest.” It is one of the most beautiful and oldest places in Corsica. Known for its architecture, the village’s 75 houses are joined together. Besides stunning views, top sights include at 11th century church, medieval castle ruins and an old bread oven. It’s a good place to hike, ride a donkey or enjoy water sports on the nearby beach.

3. Roussillon 

Roussillon

 

Roussillon, sitting at the foot of Monts de Vaucluse. It’s a colorful, must-see sight in the Luberon. Here you’ll find red buildings, instead of the white or gray that are so common elsewhere. This is because Roussillon is located in one of the world’s largest ochre deposits. The red cliffs add to the city’s very scenic characteristics. The village and surrounding area is so colorful it has often been compared to an artist’s palette, and definitely is an inspiration to them.

2. Eguisheim 

Eguisheim

 

Eguisheim is the stuff that our pre-conceived notions of what Europe should be like are made of: narrow cobblestone streets and old colorful buildings with charmingly decorated entrances. Locat4ed in Alsace not too far from the German border, Eguisheim was voted France’s favorite village in 2013. This medieval village is uniquely wrapped in circles around the local castle. It’s famous for its wines, with the Alsace wine route passing through it. Eguisheim is, in fact, known as “the cradle of the Alsatian vineyard.”

1. Gordes

#1 of Small Towns In France

 

Wandering at will is the best way to see Gordes, another one of France’s beautiful villages. Located in Provence’s Luberon region, the gray and white stone houses spiral up a rock hill that is topped by a church and medieval castle. The best place to photograph this picturesque village is from Bel-Air rock on road D15. A top sight is the 12th century Semanque Abbey where monks still make honey, lavender and liqueurs. You may also see bories, round stone huts, used by shepherds.


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10 Awesome Beaches around the World

Category : Africa , Asia , Europe , Latin America , Oceania

Picking the 10 most awesome beaches in the world is like picking the best star in the Milky Way. But that didn’t stop us from trying. So for the sea and sun worshipers here is our list of the most awesome beaches in the world.

10. Navagio Beach

Navagio Beach

 

Navagio Beach is an isolated sandy cove on Zakynthos island only accessible by boat. It is one of the trademark beaches in Greece, frequently featured on postcards. Navagio Beach is home to the wreck of an alleged smuggler and features sheer limestone cliffs, white sandy beaches, and clear blue water. No wonder this stunning beach attracts thousands of tourists every year.

9. The Baths

The Baths

 

The Baths are situated at the southern tip of Virgin Gorda, the third largest island of the British Virgin Islands. Huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming spectacular tunnels and grottoes that are open to the sea and flood at high tide. The sandy beaches are lined with tropical palms, adding to the dramatic effect.

8. Tapuaetai

Tapuaetai

 

Tapuaetai (One Foot Island) is a small islet in the Aitutaki atoll of the Cook Islands. It offers the visitor some great views of the Aitutaki lagoon and depending on the tide one is able to walk on a sandbank a decent distance away from Tapuaetai. The beach was awarded “Australasia’s Leading Beach” at the World Travel Awards held in Sydney in June 2008.

7. Zlatni Rat

Zlatni Rat

 

Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) is among Europe’s most famous beaches and one of the top tourist attractions in Croatia. Situated near the city of Bol on the southern coast of the island of Brac, Zlatni Rat is a narrow white pebble beach. The amazing shape of the beach shifts with the changes in tide, currents and wind. In 2009, it was named as one of the top ten best beaches in the world by Lonely Planet.

6. Oludeniz

Oludeniz

 

Ölüdeniz is a small village located on the south west coast of Turkey on the Aegean Sea. It has a secluded sandy bay at the mouth of Ölüdeniz, on a blue lagoon. This beach is famous for its shades of turquoise and remains one of the most photographed beaches on the Mediterranean. Ölüdeniz is also regarded as one of the best places in the world to paraglide due to its unique panoramic views.

5. Trunk Bay

Trunk Bay

 

Trunk Bay is a National Park beach on St. John in the United States Virgin Islands. Rated as one the world’s most beautiful beaches by the National Geographic Society it attracts hordes of cruise ship passengers. Amenities on the beach include a snack bar, showers and restrooms, a lifeguard, and, most famously, an underwater trail for snorkeling its coral reef.

4. Maya Bay

Maya Bay

 

Maya Bay is a shallow bay surrounded by a ring of steep limestone hills on Koh Phi Phi Leh, the second largest island of the Phi Phi Islands. The bay has superb marine life and is a favorite spot for divers. Maya Bay became world famous after the 2000 movie The Beach was filmed there and today many tourists come to Koh Phi Phi just to see this beach.

3. Whitehaven Beach

Whitehaven Beach

 

Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsunday Island, the largest island in the Whitsunday group. The beach is almost 6 km long and consists of a very fine white sand that is 98% pure silica. The sand is in fact so pure that is has been used in the construction of the lens for the Hubble telescope. At the northern end of Whitehaven Beach is Hill Inlet, a beautiful cove where the tide shifts the sand and water to create a beautiful fusion of colors.

2. Tulum

Tulum

 

Tulum is situated on the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. It once served as the major port of the Mayan city of Coba. Tulum was built around 1200 AD when the Mayan civilization was already in decline and therefore lacks the elegance of some other famous sites. The tropical beach backdrop however makes this one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico that is a heaven for the photographer or artist.

1. Anse Source D’Argent 

#1 of Awesome Beaches Around The World

 

Anse Source D’Argent is located on La Digue, one of the smaller islands of the Seychelles. It is one of the most photographed beaches in the world and featured in countless travel magazines. One of the world’s top beaches, Anse Source D’Argent contains a winning combination of large granite boulders studding the coastline, coupled with pink sand beaches and coconut palms.


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10 Best Places to Visit in Central America

Category : Central America

Central America is the thin section of land that links the North American continent with the South American continent. The region is made up of seven small, mostly tropical countries that would be easy to skip on a map. Yet they represent a complex mixture of cultures, ancient ruins, tropical wildlife, active volcanoes and great beaches. Mexico is occasionally considered part of Central America due to the language and cultural heritage it shares with several of its southern neighbors. This list of best places to visit in Central America however, focuses only on the countries of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

10. Leon, Nicaragua

Leon, Nicaragua

A thriving university town and one of Nicaragua’s oldest cities, Leon is the country’s political and intellectual center. Situated along the Chiquito River, Leon is rich in Spanish colonial architecture as well as arts and culture, and teeming in students and backpackers. Located just a few miles inland of the Pacific Ocean, Leon is also home to popular beaches like Poneloya and Las Peñitas, which offer water activities and nightlife options.

9. Copan

Copan

 

Once an important Mayan center of government, art, culture and astronomy, Copan today is a large complex consisting of two large pyramids, several plazas, a ball court and numerous stone temples, altars and stelae, which are famous for their hieroglyphics and intricate carvings that depict history, events, beliefs and customs of the ancient Mayans.

8. Arenal Volcano

Arenal Volcano

 

Until the past few years, Arenal was the most active volcano in Costa Rica, and it’s frequent, small explosions once provided incredible shows of spewing lava. However, in 2010, Arenal’s cycle entered into a resting phase, putting an indeterminate pause on the eruptions. Nevertheless, the area surrounding Arenal still offers plenty of outstanding sights and exciting activities.

7. Granada, Nicaragua

Granada, Nicaragua

 

One of Nicaragua’s largest cities, Granada is also one of the country’s oldest and most historically important centers, featuring a wealth of Spanish history and well-preserved colonial architecture. Located in western Nicaragua along the shores of Lake Nicaragua, Granada offers tourists plenty to see and do from sightseeing to outdoor recreation and arts and culture.

6. Panama City

Panama City

 

Panama’s capital and largest city, Panama City, is a concentration of modern high-rise towers rising up from a surrounding tropical rainforest. A vibrant, cosmopolitan city made prosperous by the development of the Panama Canal, Panama City is one of the best places to visit in Central America. While a visit to the city’s most famous attraction, the Panama Canal, ranks at the top of most sightseeing itineraries, exploring the cobblestone streets and colonial buildings of the historic quarter, Casco Viejo, is also a must-do.

5. Antigua Guatemala

Antigua Guatemala

 

Set against the pictorial backdrop of three imposing volcanoes in the central highlands of Guatemala, the beautiful, old colonial town of Antigua is one of the country’s top tourist destinations. A major center for learning the Spanish language, Antigua provides a plethora of impressive sights and activities. Just a simple stroll through the city center awards views of spectacular architecture, historic churches and prominent landmarks like the Santa Catalina Arch.

4. Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye

 

The largest of Belize’s several hundred islands, Ambergris Caye is a dreamy, tropical place where shorts and flip-flops are the dress code, golf carts are the mode of transportation, and lazing away on sandy white beaches is the primary activity. A short plane flight or ferry ride from Belize City, Ambergris Caye is one of Belize’s top travel destinations because it presents the ultimate Caribbean getaway with classic beaches, world-class accommodations, fabulous dining and ultra relaxation.

3. Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve 

Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

 

Located in central Costa Rica, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is one of the country’s most coveted tourist destinations due to its astonishing natural beauty and abundance of activities including ziplining and canopy tours. The reserve however is most famous for its extraordinary biodiversity: Around 400 species of birds are found here, more than 100 species of mammals including howler and capuchin monkeys and 1,200 species of amphibians and reptiles. Along with the mega-diversity of wildlife, there are 2,500 species of plants, 420 of which are orchids.

2. Roatan 

Roatan

 

A prominent scuba diving destination and cruise ship port-of-call, Roatan is the largest of the Bay Islands, off the east coast of Honduras. Surrounded by the second-largest barrier reef in the world, Roatan is a prime spot for diving and snorkeling. What’s more, the island’s beaches provide an array of activities from swimming to kayaking and dolphin watching.

1. Tikal 

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Central America

 

Located in the tropical rainforest of the Petén province in northern Guatemala, Tikal was one of the largest cities of the ancient Mayan civilization. Archaeologists estimate that, at its peak, Tikal’s population ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants. Among the many Mayan sites in Central America, Tikal is perhaps the most breathtaking due to its jungle setting with impressive temples poking through the canopy. Visitors can climb to the top of a few of the pyramids and get panoramic views from above the treetops.


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10 Most Beautiful Palaces in the World

Category : Africa , Asia , Europe , Latin America , Oceania

Once the homes of kings and emperors, now popular tourist attractions. A list of some of the most beautiful palaces in the world.

10. Pena National Palace

Pena National Palace

Built in 1842 by King Ferdinand II, the Pena National Palace in Portugal is the oldest European castle in the Romanticism style. The palace was constructed on the ruins of a monastery severely damaged in the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755. Today, with it original colors of red and yellow restored, the Pena National Palace is one of Portugal’s most visited monuments.

9. Mysore Palace

Mysore Palace

 

Commonly described as the City of Palaces, Mysore in India has a number of historic palaces of which Mysore Palace is the most famous one. The palace was commissioned in 1897 after the old palace was destroyed in a fire during a wedding, and its construction was completed in 1912. During the Dasara festival in the months of September and October the palace is illuminated with more than 10,000 bulbs, offering a magnificent sight.

8. Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace

 

The 1,441 room Schönbrunn Palace, comparable in grandeur to Versailles, is one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. The palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I and turned into the imperial summer palace by Maria Theresa. The Palace Park offers a lot of attractions, such as the Privy Garden, the oldest zoo in the world, a maze and labyrinth, and the Gloriette (a marble summerhouse) situated on top of a 60 meter high hill.

7. Summer Palace

Summer Palace

 

The Summer Palace is located 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing and is mainly dominated by the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. As its name implies, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China’s imperial rulers – as a retreat from the ‘Forbidden City’. The gardens were substantially extended in 1750, reproducing the styles of various palaces and gardens from around China. Kunming Lake was extended to imitate the West Lake in HangZhou.

6. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace

 

When Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror took Constantinople in 1453, he first ordered the construction of a new residence. This was to become the palace later known as Topkapi. The palace would remain the imperial enclave of the Ottoman sultans for 4 centuries, from 1465 to 1853. Over the years the palace complex underwent constant modifications. Today the complex is made up of four main courtyards of increasing grandeur and many smaller buildings.

5. Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

 

This second most visited château in France (after Versailles), is a masterpiece of the French Renaissance. Chateau de Chambord features 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, and 84 staircases. Construction of the chateau started in 1519 by King François I so he could hunt in the nearby forests. The cold and massive rooms of the Château made it unpopular as an actual residence and François I himself stayed here for less than 40 days in total.

4. Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

 

Versailles was originally a hunting lodge, built in 1624 by Louis XIII. His successor, Louis XIV, expanded the site into one of the largest palaces in the world, and from 1682, used it to control France by absolute rule. The Palace of Versailles remained the official residence of the Kings of France until October 1789 when the royal family was forced to return to Paris during the French Revolution.

3. Alhambra

Alhambra

 

Part fortress, part palace and part garden the Alhambra is situated on a plateau overlooking the city of Granada in southern Spain. The palace was constructed during the mid 14th century by the Nasrid sultans and is a testament to the skill of Muslim craftsmen of that time. The Alhambra is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions and many visitors come to Granada just to see the Alhambra.

2. Potala Palace

Potala Palace

 

Situated on Marpo Ri hill, 130 meters above the Lhasa valley, the Potala Palace rises a further 170 meters and is the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. Although a palace was already built here in the 7th century the construction of the present palace began in 1645 during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama and by 1648 the Potrang Karpo, or White Palace, was completed. The Potrang Marpo, or Red Palace, was added between 1690 and 1694. The Potala Palace remained the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India, after the Chinese invasion in 1959.

1. Forbidden City

#1 of Beautiful Palaces In The World

 

Located in the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City is the world’s largest palace complex covering 72 hectares. Built from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,707 rooms surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall . The distance between the Tiananmen Gate and the Gate of Divine Might is 960 meters. Twenty-four emperors reigned over the country for almost 5 centuries from the Forbidden City until the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperorof China.


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10 Most Famous Mausoleums in the World

Category : Africa , Asia , Europe , Latin America

The Tomb of Mausolus, was a tomb built at Halicarnassus for Mausolus, a governor in the Persian Empire. The structure was considered to be such an aesthetic triumph that Antipater of Sidon identified it as one of his Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The word mausoleum has since come to be used generically for any grand tomb and this top 10 features some of the most famous ones. Unfortunately the famous Tomb of Mausolus didn’t make it to this list. It was damaged by an earthquake and eventually disassembled by European Crusaders in the 15th century.

10. Tomb of Cyrus

Tomb of Cyrus

 

Cyrus the Great was the founder and ruler of the vast Persian Empire in the 6th century BC. Hist tomb is the most important monument in Pasargadae, the ancient capital of Persia in modern-day Iran. When Alexander looted and destroyed Persepolis, he paid a visit to the tomb of Cyrus and commanded one of his warriors, to enter the monument. Inside he found a golden bed, a table set with drinking vessels, a gold coffin, some ornaments studded with precious stones and an inscription of the tomb: “Passer-by, I am Cyrus, who gave the Persians an empire, and was king of Asia”. Unfortunately, no trace of any such inscription survived to modern times.

9. Lenin Mausoleu

Lenin Mausoleum

 

Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow serves as the current resting place of Vladimir Lenin. His embalmed body has been on public display there since the year he died in 1924. The corps requires daily work to moisturize the features and inject preservatives under the clothes. Lenin’s sarcophagus is kept at a temperature of 16 °C (61 °F) and kept at a humidity of 80 – 90 percent. Every eighteen months the corpse is removed and undergoes a special chemical bath. Visitors are not allowed to take photos or video, as well as talking and smoking in the tomb.

8. Humayun’s Tomb

Humayun's Tomb

 

The Mughal Emperor Humayun’s tomb, was commissioned by his wife in 1562 AD. It was the first garden-tomb on the Indian subcontinent and set a precedent for subsequent Mughal architecture. The mausoleum is located in Delhi, India. Inspired by Persian architecture; the tomb reaches a height of 47 meter (154 feet). The outer layer of the double dome supports the white marble exterior, while the inner part gives shape to the cavernous interior volume. As a contrast to the pure white exterior dome, the rest of the building is made up of red sandstone. While the main tomb took over 8 years to build, it was also placed in center of a 30-acre Persian-style garden.

7. Castel Sant’Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo

 

The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant’Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Rome, initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Hadrian’s ashes were placed here a year after his death in 138, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217. The building was later used as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

6. Tomb of Jahangir

Tomb of Jahangir

 

The Tomb of Jahangir is the mausoleum built for the Mughal Emperor Jahangir who ruled from 1605 to 1627. This famous mausoleum is located in Lahore, Pakistan. His son built the mausoleum 10 years after his father’s death. It is sited in an attractive walled garden and has four 30 meter high minarets. The interior is embellished with frescoes and colored marble. The interior of the mausoleum is an elevated sarcophagus of white marble, the sides of which are wrought with flowers of mosaic.

5. Imam Husayn Shrine

Imam Husayn Shrine

 

The Shrine of Husayn ibn ‘Ali is located in the city of Karbala, Iraq and stands on the site of the grave of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the second grandson of Muhammad, near the place where he was killed during the Battle of Karbala. The tomb is one of the holiest places for Shi‘as and many make pilgrimages to the site. The boundary wall of the shrine surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations. The gates open into a courtyard separated into 65 smaller rooms, well decorated from the inside and outside. The grave of Husayn is enclosed within a cage-like structure, found directly beneath a golden dome.

4. Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs

Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs

 

This mausoleum is part of the Palace of the Shirvanshahs, the biggest monument of the Shirvan-Absheron branch of the Azerbaijan architecture, situated in the Inner City of Baku. Besides the Mausoleum of the Shirvanshahs the complex contains the main building of the palace, a small stone pavilion, the burial-vaults, a mosque and the remnants of the bath-house. The mausoleum is of a rectangular shape and crowned with a hexahedral cupola which is decorated from outside with multi-radial stars. Sultan Khalilullah I ordered the construction of this light burial-vault for his mother and son in the 15th century.

3. Shah-i-Zinda

Shah-i-Zinda

 

Shah-i-Zinda is one of the most famous mausoleums of Central Asia, which is situated in the north-eastern part of Uzbekistan. The Shah-i-Zinda complex comprises of three groups of structures connected by four-arched domed passages. The earliest buildings date back to the 11-12th centuries. Most of the buildings however date back to the 14-15th centuries. The name Shah-i-Zinda, “The living king”, is connected with the legend of Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of the prophet Muhammad. According to the legend he was beheaded but took his head and went into the deep well (Garden of Paradise), where he’s still living now.

2. Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

The Mausoleum of the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC), who successfully defeated all rival states and unified China, is located near the city of Xi’an. The tomb of the emperor has not been excavated yet but his buried terracotta army unearthed nearby has already become one of the top tourist attractions in China. It is estimated that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried. The figures are life-like and life-sized. The colored lacquer finish, individual facial features, and actual weapons that were used in manufacturing these figures created a realistic appearance. Although the weapons were stolen and the coloring has faded greatly, their existence serves as a testament to the amount of labor and skill involved in their construction.

1. Taj Mahal

#1 of Famous Mausoleums In The World

 

The Taj Mahal in Agra is an immense mausoleum of white marble, built between 1632 and 1653 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife. The Taj is one of the most well preserved and architecturally beautiful tombs in the world, one of the masterpieces of Mughal architecture, and one of the great wonders of India. Called “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”, the monument is actually an integrated complex of structures. Besides the white domed marble mausoleum it includes several other beautiful buildings, reflecting pools, and extensive ornamental gardens with flowering trees and bushes.


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10 Most Famous Temples in Asia

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Category : Asia

No other continent on the planet contains so many temples as Asia. This is perhaps not surprising as Asia was the birthplace of most of the world’s mainstream religions as well as many other beliefs. A number of these, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism and Taoism, were the inspiration for some of the most famous temples in the world.

10. Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple

 

Known as the Lotus Temple due to its flowerlike shape, the Bahá’í House of Worship is the most famous temple of the Bahá’í Faith. The lotus shape of the temple is formed by 27 free-standing marble clad petals arranged in clusters of three to form nine sides. Since its opening in 1986 it has become one of Delhi’s most visited buildings. The lush park around is well landscaped but mostly off-limits.

9. Ranakpur Temple

Ranakpur Temple

 

Dedicated to Adinatha, the Jain Temple in Ranakpur rises majestically from the slope of a hill. The temple is supported by over 1444 marble pillars, carved in exquisite detail. The pillars are all differently carved and no two pillars are the same. The construction of the temple and quadrupled image symbolize the Tirthankara’s conquest of the four cardinal directions and hence the cosmos. The dating of this temple is controversial but it was probably built between the late 14th and mid-15th centuries.

8. Taktsang Dzong

Taktsang Dzong

 

Situated on the edge of a 900 meter (3,000 feet) cliff, the Taktsang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest creates an impressive sight, and is the unofficial symbol of Bhutan. It is about 2-3 hour, totally uphill hike from the parking lot to the temple. The original monastery was constructed in the 17th century but most of its buildings were destroyed in a tragic fire in 1998. Since then the temple has been painstakingly restored to its former glory.

7. Temple of the Emerald Buddha

Temple of the Emerald Buddha

 

The Wat Phra Kaew or Temple of the Emerald Buddha is a famous temple in Bangkok, located within the grounds of the Grand Palace. The main building is the central ubosot, which houses The Emerald Buddha. A jade statue adorned in gold clothing it is one of the oldest and most famous Buddha statues in the world.

6. Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

 

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is regarded as a Taoist Temple although Chinese Heaven worship pre-dates Taoism. The temple was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Not only a beautiful sight, the temple is also surrounded by a vast public park popular with local residents practicing tai chi in the mornings and on weekends.

5. Golden Pavilion

Golden Pavilion

 

Kinkaku-ji or the Temple of the Golden Pavilion is the most popular tourist attraction in Kyoto. The pavilion was originally built as a retirement villa for Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in the late 14th century, and converted into a Zen temple by his son. Unfortunately, the pavilion was burnt down in 1950 by a young monk who had become obsessed with it. Five years later, the temple was rebuilt as an exact copy of the original. The beautiful landscaping and the reflection of the famous temple on the face of the water make for a striking sight.

4. Harmandir Sahib

Harmandir Sahib

 

The Harmandir Sahib, better known as the Golden Temple is the main attraction in Amritsar, and the most important religious place to the Sikhs. Construction of the famous temple was begun by Guru Ramdas ji. in the 16th century and completed by his successor Guru Arjan. In the 19th century, Maharaja Ranjit Singh covered the upper floors of the temple with gold, which gives it its distinctive appearance and English name. It’s a stunning temple, and always full of thousands of pilgrims from all over India, excited to be at a place that they usually only see on television.

3. Baalbek

Baalbek

 

Baalbek is a spectacular archaeological site in northeastern Lebanon. From the 1st century BC and over a period of two centuries, the Romans built three temples here: Jupiter, Bacchus and Venus. Created to be the largest temple in the Roman empire, the temple of Jupiter was lined by 54 massive granite columns each of which were 21 meters (70 feet) tall. Only 6 of these colossal columns remain standing but even they are incredibly impressive. The best preserved temple at the site is the Temple of Bacchus built in 150 AD.

2. Borobudur

Borobudur

 

Located on the Indonesian island of Java, 40 km (25 miles) northwest of Yogyakarta, the Borobudur is the largest and most famous Buddhist temple in Indonesia. The Borobudur was built over a period of some 75 years in the 8th and 9th centuries by the kingdom of Sailendra, out of an estimated 2 million blocks of stone. It was abandoned in the 14th century for reasons that still remain a mystery and for centuries lay hidden in the jungle under layers of volcanic ash.

1. Angkor Wat

#1 of Famous Temples

 

Angkor Wat (”City Temple”) is a vast temple complex at Angkor, built for king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. Angkor Wat stands on a raised terrace above the rest of the city. It is made of three rectangular galleries rising to a central tower, each level higher than the last. It is the only temple at Angkor to have remained a religious center since its construction, first as a Hindu temple then as a Buddhist temple.


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Discover the Sigiriya Rock Fortress in Sri Lanka

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Category : Asia , Sri Lanka

In the center of Sri Lanka, an immense column of rock rises out of the forest surrounding it. The rock is nearly 200 meters (660 feet) tall and is home to the ruins of a fortress as well as an ancient palace complex. It was constructed during the reign of King Kasyapa, which lasted from 477 A.D. to 495 A.D. This site is called Sigiriya, which means Lion Rock. After the king’s death, the palace was abandoned, but was later used as a Buddhist monastery until the 14th century. After this period, no records are found on Sigiriya until 300 years later when it was used briefly as an outpost of the Kingdom of Kandy.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, seen from Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka

The Sigiriya rock itself is a hardened magma plug from an extinct and long-eroded volcano, similar to the Devils Tower in Wyoming. Archaeologists believe that this region has been inhabited since the third century B.C. King Kasyapa chose this site for his capital because, with the 360-degree view from the summit, it would give him an advantage if attacked. After several years, plans to create a palace complex on the top of the rock finally came to fruition, and the complex became a major palace as well as a fortress. The plans called for an upper palace on top of the rock and lower palaces at ground level.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

The king had lavish gardens built throughout the complex. The gardens, one of the most beautiful aspects of Sigiriya, consist of three sections: the water gardens, the terraced gardens, and the cave and boulder gardens. Of the three gardens, the terraced gardens seem to grab the most attention from visitors. These landscaped gardens are among the oldest in the world, and tourists are able to follow the paths through the gardens to the palace at the top of the rock.

Climbing

Climbing

 

Nearly all the visitors strive to reach to the top of Sigiriya where the king’s palace complex is located. There is a stairway made of stone that leads from the bottom of the rock to the top.

Lion Paws

About halfway up, there are two lion paws that were part of a massive lion with an open mouth. The open mouth is the entrance to the palace. Today only the lion paws remain.

Sigiriya maiden

The Cobra Hood Cave contains paintings more than 1,500 years old. These frescoes, protected from the elements by the cave, depict Sinhalese maidens performing various tasks. Archaeologists do not know if the images show religious rituals or if they depict the numerous wives of the king.

Mirror Wall

One fascinating feature of the site is the Mirror Wall. Situated on the western side of the rock, the Mirror Wall was a brick wall covered with white plaster so highly polished that it could produce reflections. As time passed, this wall became a graffiti board, covered with messages from the various visitors to Sigiriya. Some of the Sigiri Graffiti has been dated as far back as the eighth century A.D. With so many visitors wanting to leave a message, the tradition was discontinued and the wall is now undergoing protective restoration.

The ancient palace

Today, the palace complex is one of the best-preserved examples of urban planning. The fact that Sigiriya still exists for visitors to explore is a testament to the innovative engineering and design used in the building of the palace/fortress.

View from Sigiriya Mounatain

The Sigiriya Museum has exhibits of tools and other artifacts found during the excavation of the site. It also contains photos and reproductions of the exquisite frescoes found in the Cobra Hood Cave. Additionally, translations of the graffiti from the Mirror Wall are available for viewing at this museum.

Aerial

Sunset over the Lion Rock in Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

It is amazing to see how an untouched rock can be transformed into a living complex as well as an impressive work of art. A visit to Sigiriya should definitely be a part of any itinerary when traveling to Sri Lanka.

Cheap Flights to Colombo

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Hotels in Colombo: 4 stars

Hotel Stars Discount Price per night, from Choose dates

Ellen's Place

★★★★

-8%

7570

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Anarva Mount Lavinia

★★★★

-12%

5548

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Cinnamon Red Colombo

★★★★

-10%

9485

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Fairway Colombo

★★★★

-36%

11171

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The Ocean Front

★★★★

-12%

7465

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Rockwell Colombo

★★★★

-7%

7065

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Mount Lavinia Hotel

★★★★

-10%

125113

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Colombo Court Hotel & Spa

★★★★

-8%

10698

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AV15

★★★★

-38%

7446

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The Havelock Place Bungalow

★★★★

-24%

9672

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OZO Colombo

★★★★

-35%

172111

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The Canes Boutique Hotel

★★★★

-7%

5349

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The Steuart by Citrus

★★★★

-15%

6556

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Renuka City Hotel

★★★★

-18%

8772

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Pearl Grand Hotel

★★★★

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Ramada Colombo

★★★★

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★★★★

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★★★★

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Palms, Mount Lavinia

★★★★

-22%

5039

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Ocean Edge Suites & Hotel Colombo

★★★★

-9%

9283

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