Category Archives: Baltic States

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22 Top Tourist Attractions in Athens

Category : Baltic States

Athens is a sprawling city established among seven historic hills and surrounded by remarkable mountains. Inhabited for more than 3,000 years, Athens is widely known as the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Consisting of a large city center, an urban district and metropolitan area, Athens presents a confusing blend of historical and modern features.

The city is famous for its archaeological ruins and monuments. However, Athens is not just about ancient ruins. This bustling city is also an important center for culture, nightlife and sports. An overview of the top tourist attractions in Athens.

22. Theatre of Dionysus

Theatre of Dionysus

 

Travelers who are mad about theatre won’t want to miss the Theatre of Dionysus, the oldest theatre in Greece. Many of the most famous ancient Greek comedies and tragedies debuted on the stage here. The theatre, originally a temple built in the sixth century BC, is dedicated to Dionysus, the god of merriment and wine. Cut into a cliff on the Acropolis, the theatre could seat 17,000 people. It has been continuously remodeled over the centuries. The best views of the Theatre of Dionysus, usually credited as the birthplace of European theatre, can be seen from higher up on the Acropolis.

21. Byzantine and Christian Museum

Byzantine and Christian Museum

 

The glories of Greek Orthodox Christianity await visitors to the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens. The museum is chock full of more than 25,000 artifacts relating to Grecian artifacts from approximately the third to the 20th centuries. The exhibits include artifacts from regions where Hellenism took root, and covers the Byzantium, post-Byzantium, medieval and early Christian periods. Some of its holdings are rare, including collections of pottery, manuscripts, fabrics and frescoes. It has one of the largest collections of Byzantine art in the world. The museum has a collection of marble and limestone slabs and icons.

20. Roman Agora

Roman Agora

 

Centuries ago, shoppers may have rubbed shoulders with the likes of Julius Caesar and Augustus since they helped fund the Roman Agora. In contrary to the Ancient Agora which it replaced, it had a purely commercial character. The Roman Agora was built during the waning years of the first century BC when Greece was part of the Roman Empire. The new agora featured a large open space surrounded by colonnades and columns; shops were inside these borders. The 12-meter (40-foot) Tower of Wind, just east of the Roman market, features reliefs of the eight winds with a sundial underneath each.

19. Museum of Cycladic Art

Museum of Cycladic Art

 

What started out in the 1960s as two people acquiring artifacts associated with Greece’s Cyclades Islands resulted in a world-class collection of Cycladic art. The Museum of Cycladic Art opened in 1986 featuring more than 3,000 artifacts and figures created between 3300 and 1100 BC on the Aegean Sea archipelago. Some of the marble figurines are lifelike in size. The statues feature nude people in an abstract or simple style and are said to have influenced 20th century artists such as Modigliani and Brancusi. Some artifacts are in groups such a heroes and gods to better give a picture of ancient Greek civilization.

18. Philopappos Hill

Philopappos Hill

 

The Acropolis may be the most famous hill in Athens, but Philopappos Hill isn’t far behind. It also has an ancient history. Ancient Greeks believed the nine muses lived there and eventually named the hill after a monument to Philopappos, a Roman senator who is considered a benefactor of Athens. At 147 meters (482 feet) high, it offers great views of the Acropolis and the rest of Athens. To the south, the Aegean Sea can be seen on a clear day. Philopappos is buried in a marble tomb in 115 AD at the highest point on the hill.

17. Temple of Athena Nike

Temple of Athena Nike

 

There’s something indescribably graceful about the Temple of Athena Nike that has been standing in a prominent spot on the Acropolis since 420 BC. Athena was the goddess of war and wisdom. Nike is the Greek word for victory. It was at this temple the ancient Greeks prayed for victory in a war against Sparta. The temple was destroyed in the 17th century during a war between the Venetians and the Turks, but was rebuilt. It’s famous for a “wet drapery” (a type of sculpture in which “fabric” drapes over a nude body) of Nike adjusting her sandal.

16. Anafiotika

Anafiotika

 

Ruins aren’t the only things worth visiting in Athens. In-between the ancient and the sparkling new lies Anafiotika, an old neighborhood that is worth a wander. This picturesque slice of Athens can be found below the Acropolis and just north of the historic neighborhood of Plaka. Anafiotika was built by workers from the Cyclade island of Anafi in the 1860s on the order of King Otto I. Many of the houses were destroyed in the 1950s for archeological digs, but 45 of the original houses remain. The houses feature Cycladic style architecture, reminiscent of that found on the Greek Islands. The modest houses are still inhabited and many are decorated with colorful bougainvillea.

15. Benaki Museum

Benaki Museum

 

The Benaki Museum, housed in the Benaki family’s former mansion, is home to an outstanding collection of art representing various stages of Greek culture. Its holdings include 120,000 works of art starting in prehistoric times and ending today. With 181,000 books, it is Greece’s largest Muslim library, though they are housed in one of the museum’s four satellite facilities. The museum also has an extensive collection of Asian art. The museum started in 1934 when the Benakis donated 37,000 Islamic and Byzantine objects. Other donations over the years have made the Benaki Museum one of Greece’s top museums.

14. National Garden

National Garden

 

In the heart of Athens, the National Garden provides a green oasis for sunny afternoon trips. The Royal Garden has a private garden for the Royal Palace, which is now the Parliament Building. The Public Garden was established in 1923. This is a quiet and peaceful place away from the bustling city with a gorgeous green canopy of trees and vibrant plant life. Statues decorate the gardens as well as flowerbeds and small ruins of antiquity. The gardens of Zappeion can also be found here, which surround the ancient congress hall that was built in the 19th century.

13. Panathenaic Stadium

Panathenaic Stadium

 

Though built by the ancients, Panathenaic Stadium holds a special place in sports history. This original stadium, which dates to around 300 BC and was rebuilt in 144, has hosted several Olympics. More importantly, the stadium is where the Olympic flame starts on its journey to the nation hosting that year’s athletic contests. In ancient times, the stadium hosted a religious festival dedicated to the goddess Athena every four years. The current structure was restored in the 19th century for the first modern version of the Olympics Games after centuries of disuse. Panathenaic Stadium seats 50,000 spectators and is the largest stadium in the world made entirely of marble. The stadium is a major attraction in Athens.

12. Monastiraki

Monastiraki

 

Travelers who like to shop ‘til they drop may enjoy a visit to Monastiraki, a huge market and neighborhood in the historic district in Athens. On weekdays, there is a normal marketplace with shops selling souvenirs. On the weekends, it transforms into a huge flea market, with vendors carting in tables and carpets from which they sell junk, antiques and everything in-between. One of Athens’ top shopping areas, Monastiraki is a good place to buy clothing, icons and souvenirs, and people watch from a sidewalk café. Haggling over prices is expected here, but be wary about paying antique prices for a fake made in another country.

11. Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

 

The Odeon of Herodes Atticus was – and is – a top music venue in Athens. Built in 161 by Herodes Atticus in memory of his wife, the amphitheatre could seat more than 6,000 in steeply sloped tiers at the base of the Acropolis. Alas, it was destroyed by invaders a hundred years later, only to be resurrected in the 1950s. It hosts the annual Athens Festival, an annual celebration featuring performances by international entertainers. The odeon also is a good place to take in classical Greek performances. Although a roof covered the theatre in ancient times, everything takes place under the stars today.

10. New Acropolis Museum

New Acropolis Museum

 

A main stop on any Athens tour is the New Acropolis Museum, which resides near the base of the hill overlooking the city. It has the largest collection of Greek architecture and ancient sculptures including statues of the goddess Athena and “Kritios Boy.” The museum was originally scheduled to be built in time for the 2004 Olympics, but its completion was delayed due to legal battles. The museum has five floors that showcase 4,000 artifacts. Permanent exhibitions here include the Parthenon Frieze, Athena statue, Color the Peplos Kore, Parthenon Gallery and Athena Nike.

9. Mount Lycabettus

Mount Lycabettus

 

For romantic evenings, gorgeous sunsets and an amazing panoramic view of Athens, Mount Lycabettus is an incredible adventure. As the highest point in Athens, it allows visitors to see all across the Attica basin and the Aegean Sea. Climbers can also see as the chapel of St. George from its peak. A little cafe here will serve up a fantastic dinner for two. To start the hike, visitors go up the path that begins at the end of Aristippou Street in Kolonaki. The path continues to wind upwards around the mountain. Visitors can also take the funicular, which departs from Ploutarchou and Aristippou Street.

8. National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum

 

For visitors who love art exhibitions, there is no better place to visit in Greece than the National Archaeological Museum. Multiple collections can be found here from contemporary artists all the way back to antiquity. The museum also has a large collection of artwork dating back to the Neolithic Age. The collections include small vases, working tools, clay vases and other small artifacts that are some of the oldest archaeological finds dating back to the 7th millennium. Over thirty rooms, sculptures from every century can be viewed including ancient Kouroi Egyptian sculptures.

7. Syntagma Square

Syntagma Square

 

A major point of interest for any traveler to Athens is the Syntagma Square. The most famous aspect of Syntagma is the changing of the guards by the Evzones in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Hellenic Parliament Building is located here as well as various buses, trolleys and tram stops. A fountain, ancient statues and two large grassy areas offer the picture perfect place for photos and picnics. Most major events that occur in Greece have been celebrated at the Syntagma Square. It’s also the site of various political functions, and it was also at this square that the Military Junta government was overthrown in 1974. Besides the Hellenic Parliament building, other interests include the historic hotels Grande Bretagne and George II.

6. Temple of Olympian Zeus

Temple of Olympian Zeus

 

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is known as the largest temple in Greece. The massive ancient complex took nearly seven centuries to complete. Building originally began in 515 BC by order of Peisistratos, but work stopped on the temple as it was seen as oppressive as Peisistratos and his son were seen as tyrants by the Athenians. Work resumed in 175 BC but was halted 10 years later when the Roman architect Cossutius died. Under emperor Hardian in 132 BC, the temple was finally completed and dedicated to Zeus Olympios. The temple stands today mostly as a reminder of Greek history, but only 15 of 104 huge columns remain. The columns each rise 17 meters (57 feet) into the air and once surrounded a cella where two large statues were once placed.

5. Erechtheum

Erechtheum

 

The Erechtheus or Erechtheion is a temple made from Pentelic marble. It’s located on the Acropolis, and it’s one of the legendary pieces of Greek architecture. Its construction dates back to c. 421 and 405 when the earlier temple to Athena was destroyed by the Persian invasion. The Erechtheum was once a sanctuary dedicated to Athena Polias, Erechtheus and Poseidon. Visitors can access the shrine to Athena by going through the eastern portico. The northern portico leads to the western cella. The Porch of the Caryatids can be found through the southern portico. The six draped female figures can be found here that support the entablature, which is the Erechtheum’s most defining feature.

4. Ancient Agora

Ancient Agora

 

Located to the northwest of the Acropolis, the ancient Agora of Athens was once a marketplace and civic center. The people gathered here to browse all kinds of commodities. It was also a place to meet others and talk about politics, business, current events and the nature of the universe and divine. The ancient Greek democracy can actually be traced to this ancient spot. It’s a wonderful area to look at the cultural beginnings of Athens. Overlooking the Ancient Agora from its elevated position on the hill of Agoraios Kolonos, the Temple of Hephaistos was built in the 5th century BC. Similar in style but smaller than the Parthenon, the temple consists of 34 Doric columns that support a still partially intact roof. It is the best preserved temple in all of Greece thanks to its conversion into a church in the 7th century.

3. Plaka

Plaka

 

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Athens is the Plaka District, which resides under the Acropolis and spreads out to Syntagma. This village is almost like an island within the city, and it’s the perfect way to experience authentic Greek culture. The area is quite private and boasts truly unique scenery with several cafes, ancient trees, green leaf canopies and stone walkways. The area is well-known for its food, boutique shops and cafes. Along Kydathineon Street, visitors find the Jewish Museum, Folk-Art Museum and Saita Taverna, which serves delicious bakalairo and other grilled meats.

2. Parthenon
Parthenon

 

The Parthenon is the most famous building in Athens and all of Greece. It stands majestically at the top of the Acropolis and is considered the epitome of Doric architecture, the simplest of Greek architectural styles. The temple was built to honor the goddess Athena Parthenos, the patron of Athens, to thank her for protecting the city during the Persian Wars. Situated on the site of a former temple to Athena, the Parthenon was considered completed in 438 BC, when Athens was at its peak. The symbol of ancient Greece, the Parthenon is decorated with sculptures that are considered outstanding examples of Greek art.

1. Acropolis 

#1 of Tourist Attractions In Athens

 

No visit to Athens is complete without a visit to the Acropolis, the most famous hill in the Greek capital. It’s impossible not to visit this landmark since so many important Greek ruins are located here, including an old citadel for which it is named. Though only 156 meters (511 feet) high, the Acropolis is considered the highest point in the spirit of ancient Greek culture. From the Parthenon at the summit, travelers can look down on monuments built on its sides as well as over a more modem Athens. The buildings on this hill are considered a great blending of architecture with natural surroundings.


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10 Top Tourist Attractions in South Africa

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Category : Baltic States

South Africa is diverse and beautiful country, about the size of France and Spain combined or roughly twice the size of Texas. Its varied cultures, intriguing wildlife, stunning scenery, and remarkable beaches make it a haven for travelers from around the world. Visitors quickly discover that the rich history and colorful inhabitants ideally complement the top tourist attractions in South Africa, which creates an unforgettable experience.

10. Sun City Resort

Sun City Resort

Known regionally as Africa’s Kingdom of Pleasure, Sun City Resort is a luxury casino and resort, situated about two hours’ drive from Johannesburg. The complex contains four hotels, two championship golf courses, two casinos, an atmospheric South African cultural village and more than 7000 crocodiles within a sanctuary. The adjacent Pilanesberg Game Reserve is the most popular public Game Reserve in South Africa.

9. Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve

 

As the only park under a formal conservation effort in KwaZulu Natal where you can see the Big Five – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalo and rhinoceros – the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve offers visitors wildlife viewing opportunities second to none. Wildlife enthusiasts may enjoy the vast expanses of native plants and native animals during guided walks, self-guided drives, or opt for a thrilling viewing experience by boat along the Hluhluwe dam.

8. Blyde River Canyon

Blyde River Canyon

 

Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in Africa, after the Fish River Canyon, although it is much greener due to its lush subtropical foliage. Walking treks through the rich diversity of flora and fauna filled canyon offer views of magnificent escarpments, waterfalls and ancient geological phenomenon. Visitors have the opportunity to encounter all five of South Africa’s primates here, as well as hippos and crocodiles near the wetlands of Swadini Dam.

7. Cape Winelands

Cape Winelands

 

The fertile valleys of the Cape Winelands are surrounded by majestic mountains, sleepy villages, brilliant monuments, fruitful orchards and some of the lushest scenery in South Africa. Visitors can follow the Wine Routes of the Cape to visit the vineyards of the country’s finest winemakers, whose sherries, ports, brandies and intriguing whites and reds are world famous for their delicate flavors and savory palatability.

6. Victoria and Alfred Waterfront 

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

 

As one of Cape Town’s largest tourist attractions and most visited destinations, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront invokes images of the earliest days of the harbor. Situated within an entertainment mecca filled with restaurants, specialty shops, pubs, and theaters, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. Beyond amusements, there are also some attractions including the infamous Clock Tower, Chavonnes Battery, the South African Maritime Museum and the coastal Seal Landing where Cape Fur Seals reside.

5. Knysna

Knysna

 

The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions and is generally thought to stretch from Mossel Bay to St Francis along the Indian ocean and also includes parts of the inland. A trove of indigenous canopied forests, mountains, rivers, tranquil lakes and golden beaches grace this extensive South Africa region.

One of the Garden Route’s best known travel destinations, Knysna is situated between lush forests and the shores of a peaceful lagoon. Extensive opportunities for outdoor adventure are easily accessible in Knysna, as well as plenty of leisurely strolling paths filled with authentic dining and shopping venues. Visiting the heads – two cliffs guarding the mouth of the lagoon – is a must, and each one offers spectacular views of the adjacent colorful cliffs and the brilliant lagoon where seasonal whale watching is top-notch.

4. Durban Beaches

Durbanflickr/Kleinz1

Often compared to Miami Beach, Durban’s beaches provide a vibrant atmosphere that pulses with energy. Boasting balmy weather year round and sporting a genuine beach culture, Durban beaches are lively areas that are remarkably clean and safe, and many of the beaches offer varietal entertainments throughout the day. Also known as the Golden Mile, there are expansive stretches of soft, golden sands and subtropical sunshine along Durban’s South and North Coast beaches.

3. Amphitheatre, Drakensberg

Amphitheatre, Drakensberg

 

The Drakensberg is the highest mountain range in Southern Africa, rising to 3,482 meters (11,420 ft) in height. The name is derived from the dutch and means “dragons mountain”. The Amphitheatre is one of the geographical features of the Northern Drakensberg, and is widely regarded as one of the most impressive cliff faces on earth.

2. Table Mountain

Table Mountain

 

Situated within a national park, reaching the pinnacle of the Table Mountain is an thrilling experience that offers phenomenal, birds-eye views overlooking the city of Cape Town, Robben Island to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south. Peaking at 1,086 meters (3,563 ft), reaching the top is simple via an ingenuous cableway, and each Rotair car features revolving floors allowing passengers to enjoy 360-degree views during the trek to the top.

1. Kruger National Park

#1 of Tourist Attractions In South Africa

 

The Kruger National Park is the largest game reserve on the continent and one the main tourist attractions in South Africa. The park boasts more species of mammals than any other African game reserve which includes the Big Five, cheetahs, giraffes and more. Unlike most other safari parks, Kruger is a self-drive destination with an excellent infrastructure and many places to stay inside the park, from tented camps to luxury lodges.


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Top 10 cycling routes in Europe

Take to two wheels for your next adventure

When it’s time to get on your bike, Europe really offers something for everyone. There are mountain climbs for those who like a challenge (this is the continent that birthed the Tour de France, after all) as well as scenic flat-as-a-pancake rides along coasts and through bucolic landscapes, many of which are suitable for families. Here, Paul Sullivan picks 10 of the best cycling routes in Europe.

1. Alpe d’Huez, France

Best for: dramatic Alpine scenery
Distance: 13 km (9 miles)
Duration: 1–3 hours, depending on fitness levels

This iconic ascent, best known as one of the key sections of the Tour de France, offers 21 bends that corkscrew between Bourg d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez in the French alps. The scenic 3,670 ft climb is unrelenting, yet 1,000 riders per day – pros as well as determined amateurs – tackle it each summer.

The Alps

The Alps

2. Baltic Sea Cycle Route (Hansa Circuit)

Best for: fresh sea air
Distance: 7,980 km (4,958 miles)
Duration: varies

Otherwise known as Eurovelo 10, this route loops through the Baltic State countries (LatviaEstonia, Lithuania), as well as Germany, Poland, Denmark, RussiaSweden and Finland. Sticking to the Baltic Sea coastline pretty much all the way around, you can pick up the route from your town or country of choice, and enjoy the numerous long sandy beaches, picturesque coastal towns and national parks along the way.

Beach on the Baltic Sea, Saulkrasti, Latvia 

Beach on the Baltic Sea, Saulkrasti, Latvia

3. Camino Frances, Spain

Best for: spiritual reflection
Distance: 790 km (490 miles)
Duration: 8–20 days

Although it’s associated more with walking, this famous pilgrimage path is also set-up for cycling. Several routes lead to Santiago de Compostela, but Camino Frances, which starts at the village of Roncesvalle, is one of the most popular, passing through striking medieval towns, the vineyards of La Rioja and the memorable – and mountainous – landscapes of the Pyrenees.

Laguardia vineyards, La Rioja

Laguardia vineyards, La Rioja

4. Cornish Coastal Way, Britain

Best for: seaside vibes
Distance: 197 km (123 miles)
Duration: 3–6 days

There are two routes possible along this classic ride through some of the loveliest parts of Cornwall: one via Padstow, the other via St Austell. Whichever you choose, you’re guaranteed fresh sea air, classic British scenery – think quaint seaside villages where you can eat fish and chips on the beach – and the chance to say you’ve visited Land’s End.

Padstow harbour, Cornwall

Padstow harbour, Cornwall

5. Danube Cycle Path

Best for: riverside riding
Distance: 2,860 km (1,777 miles)
Duration: varies

Passing through no less than eight countries – including GermanyAustria, SlovakiaHungaryCroatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania – this long-distance route follows Europe’s second-longest river and offers a multitude of sections and experiences to choose from. In general, the western countries are better developed but the eastern European stretches are arguably more exotic and adventurous. Incredibly, the entire route is more or less hill-free.

Autumn colour along the Danube

Autumn colour along the Danube

6. Elbe Route, Germany

Best for: discovering Germany
Distance: 1,260 km (782 miles)
Duration: 14–28 days

The Elbe Route follows the famous river from Cuxhaven on Germany’s northern coast down to the striking sandstone mountains of the Saxon Switzerland National Park at the border of the Czech Republic. On this largely hill-free route, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy an almost endless variety of scenery, from dramatic gorges to undulating vineyards, and visit famous German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden.

Fog along the Elbe

Fog along the Elbe

7. Ecovia do Litoral, Portugal

Best for: nature fans
Distance: 214 km (132 miles)
Total duration: 4–5 days

This route, which cuts across the Algarve from Cabo de São Vicente in the west to Vila Real de Santa António on the Spanish border, takes in twelve different municipalities. The name translates as “coastal eco-way”, which aptly describes the peaceful landscape of nature reserves and forests, peppered with marine and bird life.

Bikes parked near Praia do Zavial in the Algarve

Bikes parked near Praia do Zavial in the Algarve

8. EuroVelo Mediterranean Cycle Route

Best for: sunshine
Distance: 5,888 km (3,658 miles)
Duration: varies

Probably the most popular Eurovelo route, No. 8 passes along the Mediterranean coast, incorporating a non-stop parade of glittering sea and sand, and some of the most laid-back, sun-filled lifestyles Europe has to offer. Officially beginning in the Spanish city of Cadiz, the route also passes through a slew of famous and ancient cities, including Barcelona, Monaco, Nice, Dubrovnik, Venice and Athens.

Cadiz

Cadiz

9. North West Trail, Ireland

Best for: family fun
Distance: 326 km (200 miles)
Duration: 4–8 days

Sustrans’ North West Trail is a beautifully varied 200-mile cycle loop around Ireland’s rugged north-west. Passing through six counties – Donegal, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan, Leitrim and Sligo – the route takes in mountain climbs, ocean views, friendly villages and more. Since the majority of the trail is on calm country roads, many traffic-free, it’s a fine option for families too.

Errigal Mountain, Donegal

Errigal Mountain, Donegal

10. Route du Comte Jean, Belgium and France

Best for: vineyards and villages
Distance: 220 km (137 miles)
Duration: 3–5 days

Part of the Flemish Cycle Route (Vlaanderen Fietsroute), this short but sweet path crosses from Antwerp or Bruges into northern France. Taking in the coast at Zeebrugge, it passes through Ostend before crossing the French border towards Dunkirk and Gravelines. The riding is pleasantly flat and there are plenty of scenic diversions, including vineyards, sand dunes and wetlands.

Oostende (Ostend) beach huts

Oostende (Ostend) beach huts


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Meoto Iwa (Wedded Rocks) Shrine

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Meoto Iwa (Wedded Rocks) Shrine in Ise Shima

Meoto Iwa (夫婦岩, the Wedded Rocks) are two sacred rocks in the ocean near Futami, a small town in Ise City. The larger of the two rocks represents the husband and the smaller one represents the wife. Both rocks are connected by a shimenawa rope which acts as the division between the spiritual and earthly realms. In a ceremony, the shimenawa rope is replaced three times a year.

Visitors are advised to visit the Meoto Iwa during high tide when the rocks are actually separated by water. More difficult to catch is the famous view of the sun rising between the two rocks on a fine summer morning. If you are in favor with the gods, you get both the sun rising between the rocks at high tide plus the silhouette of Mt.Fuji in the distance. Visibility needs to be extraordinarily good in order for the iconic mountain to be visible.

Diagram of where the sun rises from

Not far from the Meoto Iwa is the Futami-Okitama Shrine, where a number of shinto deities (kami) are enshrined. Many frog sculptures can be seen in the vicinity of the shrine as they are believed to be a type of charm for bringing people or things back. The term for frog in Japanese (kaeru) uses the same phonetic term for the verb “return”. There is a small shop not far from the shrine that sells amulets and fortune telling paper slips (omikuji)

The path that leads to the rocks carries on eastwards, passing another small shrine, the Ryugu Shrine which is dedicated to the dragon god of the seas. The pathway ends at Futami Plaza, a souvenir and restaurant complex that also features a small, aging aquarium. A stone’s throw from Meoto Iwa on the opposite side is the Hinjitsukan, a former accomodation for important guests visiting the Ise shrines, which is now opened to the public as a museum.

Water purification trough with lots of frogs in it

Access

The rocks are a 15 minute walk from JR Futaminoura Station, which can be reached by JR trains in less than 10 minutes from Iseshi Station (210 yen one way, hourly departures).

Meoto Iwa (Wedded Rocks) Shrine in Ise Shima

RELATED ITEMS: Asia, Japan, Wedded Rocks, Meoto Iwa, Ise-Shima, shinto shrine, Japanese Culture, Japanese Traditions


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The Perfect Cruise for You

Category : Baltic States

It’s that time of year again to plan your next cruise vacation! Whether you dream of exploring cities on an intimate European river cruise or sail the open waters of the Mediterranean, we have plenty of options to help you find the perfect fit. A Cruise vacation is not just about the destination you’re heading to, but it’s also about the journey. We offer cruises that allow you to experience comfortable accommodation, great cuisine and entertainment – along with views to die for.

Browse through our featured cruise itineraries and reserve your dream trip before it’s gone!  We’re giving away $100 E.E.TRAVEL EUROPE Travel gift cards for new Cruise Vacations! Make sure you grab this chance before time runs out.

1) Spring Tulip Time Cruise (AMAWaterways)


This is the perfect way to get over the winter blues and kick off your spring cruising through one of Europe’s romantic cities. Start your 2017 with a Springtime European Adventure! 2 nights in Amsterdam with tours and canal cruise, followed by a luxurious 7 night River Cruise. Ports of call include Amsterdam, Hoorn, Arnhem, Nijmegen, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges, Rotterdam, Kinderdijk and Schoonhoven.


2) Southern Cross (Holland America)

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Take in New Zealand and Australia’s natural wonders and picturesque coastlines on this 14-day journey with Holland America. If you’ve always felt intrigued to explore “down under”, there’s no better way to see the beauty of the South Pacific than on a relaxing cruise this spring.


3) Seville, Morocco & Canary Islands (Voyages to Antiquity)


Historic churches, rugged landscapes and stunning coastlines are just some of the best moments on this cruise. Start your journey by sailing up to Seville, then through to Morocco for a chance to experience the bustling city of Marrakech and more – then off to Canary Islands. Plan your relaxing cruise with us and we’ll show you the way!


4) Northeastern Quest(Oceania Cruises)


Board your cruise in Miami and prepare your sense as you cruise up the east coast to Boston, St. John’s and then northbound to Greenland and Iceland. Relax on board and experience the finest cuisine at sea and unique ports awaiting your arrival.


5) Glamorous Caribbean Escape (Star Clippers)


Treat yourself to a tropical paradise aboard Star Clippers. A cruise in the Caribbean is one of the most popular vacations to find discovery and relaxation. Beaches are mesmerizing, with views that will take your breath away. And what’s better than sailing across tranquil blue waters? Some of the Caribbean’s most glamorous points you’ll explore include:  St. Lucia, Dominica, Antiqua, St. Kitts and Isles de Saintes.

Do you like the sound of a cruise vacation in 2017? There’s no better time to start planning! From Europe, Australia to the Caribbean, you’ll get to choose from a variety of top destinations.


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A Different Side to Europe: The Baltic Journey

If you’ve travelled across Europe and are looking for a slightly different experience, then exploring the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia may be for you. Situated on the Baltic sea, having a diverse history, there are a large number of interesting places to visit. I’ve put together a list of must-do’s that will help you decide to visit this amazing part of the world.

Key reasons to visit the Baltics:
1. Not overcrowded like the rest of Europe, meaning you can really take it all in, enjoy scenery and mingle with the locals.
2. Beautiful architecture: from Art Nouveau to Baroque, you are constantly looking up in amazement.
3. Medieval experiences: lots of castles with interesting history lessons.
4. Great place for nature lovers and is ideal for trekking, hiking and cycling.
5. Costs are cheap compared to the rest of Europe.
6. Great food and drinks!

Must Do’s in Lithuania:

1. Be sure to try cepelinas or “zeppelins” for an authentic Lithuanian meal.


2. Wander around the capital, Vilnius, while exploring the Baroque architecture.


3. A great day trip about 25km from Vilnius is Trakai, where you can experience a fairy tale like atmosphere with a castle on an island surrounded by a moat.


4. Located on the Baltic sea is the Curonian Spit, a 98km long sand dune spit that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


5. The Hill of Crosses located near Šiauliai showcases Lithuania’s long history of dedication to their faith. It’s truly worth it for the unique experience. There are estimated to be over 300,000 crosses, each representing a memory of a loved one who has passed.


Must Do’s in Latvia:

1. Explore the Old Town of Riga and take in the Art Nouveau architecture while walking along cobbled streets.


2. Check out the Riga Central Market and bazaar which is inside old German Zeppelin hangars. It has a vast selection of meat, seafood, cheese, bread, fruits, vegetables, spices, and flowers.


3. Do a day trip to Cēsis to see one of the most beautiful cities in Latvia. One of the biggest highlights is the Medieval castle dating back to the 13th century.


Must Do’s in Estonia:

1. Explore the charming Old Town in Tallinn and take in the medieval experience throughout. See various towers and a castle wall surrounding the city. It’s charming and unique but shares a similar history to that of Lithuania and Latvia.


2. There are a number of cathedrals in Tallinn, such as the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral built in the 1900’s when Estonia was still part of the Czarist Empire.


3. The Town Hall Square is a great place to have a delicious meal outside on the patio. Restaurants and cafes here even have a blanket placed on each chair for the cool evenings.


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11 Things You Need to Experience in Rome in 2017

While it might seem near impossible to conquer this impressive city in just a few days, we have created a list of 11 things you need to do in Rome, featuring the essentials to complete your Rome bucket list.

Basically, what we’re really trying to say is that Rome is jam-packed with history and flavour, and you’d be crazy not to totally fall in love.

1. Go underground at the Christian Catacombs


Seriously spooky, the Christian Catacombs in Rome are one of the first large-scale burial sites and home to some of the oldest burial underground tunnels in the world. Containing many frescoes and carvings with historic and religious references, the Catacombs are bursting with eerie history. Step below the surface for an alternative way to experience Rome.

2. Stick your hand inside the Mouth of Truth


This one is kind of strange, but stay with us here. Legend has it, The Mouth of Truth was said to bite the hand of those who lied. You can find this handsome marble face standing at the Piazza della Bocca della Verità, and while we don’t personally know anyone that has had their hand bitten off, we highly recommend a stop to brave the marble face – just shoot us a message if the legend fares true.

3. Discover aperitivo

The real question here is why has the world not jumped onboard the Italian ritual of aperitivo? The prelude to an indulgent meal, this is like the Italian version of Happy Hour. How does it work? It’s easy. Simply order a drink, ideally a spritz (prosecco with Aperol or Campari, served with ice and a splash of soda) and off you go, feasting on local food until the sun goes down.

4. Step out of Italy and into the Vatican City

Tick another country off the ‘places to visit before I die’ list with a stop at the Vatican City. How you spend your time here is up to you. Navigate your way through the whirlwind of local guides on hand to escort you through the Vatican, or go solo and explore at your own pace.

5. Eat, eat, eat gelato

Italy is home to some of the best gastronomic traditions in the world, with one of those being gelato – of course. One of life’s greatest pleasures, from the classic flavours to the out-there-crazy taste sensations, Rome is home to the best gelato in the world.

6. Spend all day in the Trastevere neighbourhood

Never, ever pass up an opportunity to visit the Trastevere area, tucked away on the edge of Rome and home to trendy restaurants, a thriving social scene and cobbled-streets. Ditch the crowds and take a break on the west bank of the Tiber River. Here, you will find typical dishes served the ‘right’ way – cooked in the same way for generations. Once you step into this hidden neighbourhood, be sure to clear your afternoon of sightseeing – once you sit down for lunch, the hours just slip away and before you know it, it’s time for another round of aperitivo and dinner.

7. Explore the Piazza Navona

Three fountains. Two churches. Swarms of tourists. But 100% worth it for the cafés that line the square. Touristy? Sure. Worth a visit? Absolutely. When you’re searching for a pizza break, make sure you visit one of the many traditional family-run trattorias tucked away in the side streets edging around the square.

8. Battle like a gladiator at the Colosseum

Rock your best gladiator pose and prepare for a supremely popular (but impressive) tourist trap that is well worth a visit. Top tip: rise and shine to beat the crowds for a dose of Roman history.

9. Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain

Throw a coin. Make a wish. You know what to do. Just like the Colosseum, pack your day pack in the early hours and see if you can snap the holy grail of all selfies at the Trevi Fountain, sans crowds. After battling the crowds, be sure to grab something to eat and do NOT leave Rome without trying the essential dishes born out of this city, such as the Pasta Carbonara and Bucatini all’ Amatriciana.

10. Gaze at the Pantheon

First of all, the Pantheon is free to enter, instantly winning points for travellers on a budget. And while there may be a few more elbows to brush past through the crowds, when the sun streams through the gigantic hole in the roof, it will make you say ‘ahhhh’. Plus, the added bonus of impressive marble columns and grand architecture will satisfy your eyes.

11. Hang on the Spanish Steps

You must, we repeat must stop by the Spanish steps to complete your journey through Rome. A somewhat commercial side of town, the steps come alive at night and are truly magnetic.


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Copenhagen – perfect for weekend getaway!

Scandinavian countries – astounding destination. Of course, if you simply have one short weekend in your city break plans – choose Denmark and hit the road for Copenhagen. Why? Because it’s a lovely, quite small and not tiring city to visit. Moreover, you will get inspired by the shades of the city – it is completely sparkling with fascinating colour palette. Officially, Copenhagen is being kept one of the most colourful cities in the whole Europe. Are you ready to visit Denmark? Prepared for tours in Copenhagen? Make it happen, from dream – to reality!

So what’s the plan?

The best way to explore the city properly and feel like a local – bike. So get ready for adventures, cause’ Copenhagen is one of those crazy biking-culture cities. The bicycle has already become quite a symbol of whole Denmark, because most of the people use it every single day. So be careful and stay cool!

copenhagen-biking-tour-in-denmark-visit-denmark-baltic-tours

Another great tip – don’t forget to buy famouse Copenhagen Card. It will help you with cheaper sightseeing! More than 70 museums and parks – all in one card – unlimited. If you wan to to see and to feel the real culture of Denmark we recommend to visit The Workers Museum in Copenhagen. And what’s that about? Well, you will be able to explore homes and shops of the 20th century. Travellers, who have already visited Copenhagen, are saying that you can feel where like in fairy-tale. Especially, if you are Hans Christian Andersen fan! In Copenhagen you can find his study and hear some intriguing stories about his life and pieces and works. Or… maybe you consider yourself a fan of operas & theatres? You can easily find really cheap standing tickets and watch famous performances in controversial Copenhagen Opera Hause.

Copenhagen is also a perfect city to go to if you are travelling with small kids. Denmark suggests free activities for families. Where you can find LEGOLAND and some great inspirational buildings. Or just go for a walk in streets, because most of the streets in Copenhagen are so colourful and giving good energy for every tourist.

Food. Where shall we go? What shall we order?

In Copenhagen you can find a lot of cosy places to eat or to drink coffee and spend time. Most of the places have really unique and stylish design. Some places are even called 2in1 – restaurants and painting studio combination, or cafe and also tattoo studio. How cool is that, huh? Anyway, always try to ask locals where they go and eat, this is the easiest way to find a local great place, not crowded with tourists.

Also, we really recommend to visit and buy some fresh fruits and vegetables in local markets. Those markets offer you everything from smoked fish, cheese or bread and salad. Just give yourself time and try to taste local food. In Copenhagen where are a lot of beautiful parks where everyone can arrange a picnic. Easy as that!

5 top dishes to eat in Copenhagen: Open-Faced Sandwiches called Smørrebrød, trendy Organic Hotdogs, Linguini with clams, Raspberry Bars called Hindbærsnitter and fresh and hipster New Nordic Cuisine.

copenhagen-restaurand-food-danish-tour-in-denmark-visit-denmark-baltic-tours

Things you need to know before going to Copenhagen

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to find a restaurant which is open over 10 p.m. Because most of the people are eating dinner around 6pm. Copenhagen is a very green city so you need to know before going to visit this city what people don’t like to use cars they prefer bikes. They also don’t like to use a metro. They even joking what there are no reasons to disappear underground. Local people are super friendly for all tourists. If you lost your way or need some advice, they will help you easily and will smile to you all the time.

Explore Scandinavia


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St. John‘s Festival – where miracles happen

Have you ever heard about St. Johns’ festival? For your interest, it is also known as Midsummer Festival. There is no doubt – once in a lifetime, you must experience it! Baltic Tours team is more than sure that you will enjoy this magnificent event. To be honest, loads of our travellers are coming back for this festival again and again! IT’S INTRIGUING, isn’t it? Continue reading!

St. John‘s Festival

St. John‘s Festival

Who Celebrates?

The day of St. John’s or, also known as Midsummer Day, is one of the oldest and most joyful festival, which is more than widely popular among European countries including Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Scandinavian nations, Finland and some other countries. Immerse yourself into spectacular traditional summer festival!

St. John‘s Festival

St. John‘s Festival

When?

St. John’s day is being celebrated on the 24th of June. The festival has such a special and an extremely important meaning for people. This night is kept as the shortest night of the year, so that means that after that night, the day time is getting shorter and shorter. Also, during this night people believe nature to have magic powers. What is more, St. John’s day is an official day-off in most of the countries mentioned. So many reasons for people to celebrate this terrific day, so everyone start it on the eve of the 23rd.

Why is it so special?

This Midsummer Festival connects all the people, who believe, that this shortest night of the year is as special, as the four elements – water, fire, earth and air! During this night, the air smells like freshly cut grass and bonfire smoke! Sounds spooky and mythical, right? From the pagan times till nowadays, this eve is transfused of culture and traditions, full of spells and magical atmosphere.

St. John‘s Festival

St. John‘s Festival

The most remarkable symbols of this St. John’s Festival are a big bonfire and the Fern Blossom. It would be a shame not to mention all revels and fun activities that make this summer night unforgettable. The traditions remaining the pagan times include singing folk songs and dancing until the sun set, telling tales, searching for the magic fern blossom at midnight, jumping over bonfires, greeting the rising midsummer’s sun and washing the face with a morning dew… Young girls float flower wreaths on the water of the river or lake. Just try to imagine this for a moment, can it be more charming?

What about the blossom?

Story tells that the fern shows its blossom only on this miraculous night, and those who will find it – will be lucky all their life! Maybe, you should try to find your own luck? Hit the road and visit magical Baltics, Fabulous Scandinavia, Poland and Russia! Midsummer festival is about to blow your mind away, so get ready to fill your luggage with unforgettable memories!

Explore Europe


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National parks of Estonia

Are you ready to explore National Parks of Estonia?

There is no doubt that visiting at least one of Estonia’s national parks should belong to every visitors “must see” list. As you may have already known, Estonia is truly famous of its magnificent nature. Even if it is a small country, where are loads of parks and natural monuments to see and enjoy. Especially if you are tired of strolling around cities and you want to enjoy nature and wilderness calmly. Baltic Tours team has some great and tempting recommendations and suggestions for your future trip. So just grab your luggage and prepare to explore a beauty of one of the Baltic StatesEstonia!

National parks of Estonia

National parks of Estonia

Still thinking which park to choose?

It is hard to say which park is better and more worth to see… It’s a fact – all parks have spectacular places to visit. So if you have a chance, take a few more days off and visit as much as you possibly can. But if you want to visit most popular and more famous – these are the special advices for you.

Lahemaa National Park is known for its natural sights and cultural landscape. In order to make it easier for people to get around and get to know the national park, there are both hiking and study trails. Let’s continue! Would you like to see some wild animals? Silma nature reserve is a key nesting site for aquatic birds and an important resting place for migratory birds. Have you ever known that one of the best places to see bird destinations is in Estonia? Matsalu National Park covering over 400km² of land and coast, Matsalu is a first and foremost known as one of the best Europe’s bird watching destinations. Matsalu is a rural and laid back holiday destination, where you can find hiking trails for casual and serious hikers as well as several guesthouses great for relaxing in the nature. Visitors can explore and enjoy the compelling landscape of Matsalu National Park on foot, using a bicycle or a boat. Have never been in a cave before? So you have possibility to do it in Piusa Caves Nature Reserve. The purpose of these caves were mainly geological observations. Piusa caves have evolved into a popular site for hibernating bats. It is the largest known hibernation colony in Eastern Europe. It is possible to visit the caves with a guide and via the visitor centre. And this just a few National parks we promise everyone will find place for themselves.

National parks of Estonia

National parks of Estonia

Can’t decide whether to go or not?

We strongly recommend you to explore as much as you can. An incredible Estonia’s nature will give you unforgettable experience and the best memories.

Explore Estonia


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