From mountaintops to vibrant cities, tourist attractions to world heritage sites, we round up a few places to add to your travel checklist—if you haven't yet.
Undiscovered by the outside world until early in the 20th century, this awesome archeological site is an ancient Inca city that sits above the Urubamba River, saddling between two peaks: Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. The ruins exude a sense of mystique that is kept intact, despite the influx of thousands of daily visitors, most of whom choose to get there by hiking the Inca Trail. The stairs that lead up to the Sun Gate is a vantage point as the sunrise—which peeks over the mountain through the gate—is nothing short of spectacular. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
(In photo: Macchu Pichu)
The oldest city in South Africa, Cape Town is dubbed as the country’s “Mother City.” Home to the iconic Table Mountain, the flat-topped summit serves as the backdrop of the culturally diverse city with a stunning coastline. Not often does one place entice visitors and natives alike to go wine-tasting in vineyards, hike up the mountain, or simply relax on the beach. Cape Town is always buzzing with activity and visitors are spoilt with never-ending options for leisure and dining. Not to miss is the recently opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art, which is proving to be a valuable addition to the city’s thriving art scene.
(In photo: Muizenberg Beach)
New Zealand is known as the world’s centre of adventure, with extreme sports and outdoor activities contributing largely to its tourism. But beyond this reputation is a country that is abundant with magnificent mountains, forests, beaches, and fjords that made it the ideal setting for The Lord of the Rings’ Middle-earth. The Marlborough Sounds in particular, covers one-fifth of the country’s coastline, and offers scenic views for those who cruise through its waters. One can even opt to swim with the dolphins, of which there are five different species in the area. It is home to a number of other native animals as well, such as the fur seal and the little blue penguin.
Though Paris may be the first city that a traveller may think about in France, Lyon is worth a visit, being the country’s gastronomical capital. Its popularity is largely thanks to the late Paul Bocuse, the internationally renowned chef famed for his innovative approach to nouvelle cuisine; thus, a call on his eponymous three Michelin-star restaurant is a must. Apart from its rich food scene, Lyon is filled with historical sites, some dating all the way back to the Roman era and many of which are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourvière is worth one’s time, not only for its religious significance but for its beautiful mosaics and regal design.
(In photo: Temple du Change)
The little country of Montenegro, an emerging Balkan nation, is steadily proving that it is not one to be overlooked. Amazing beaches and awe-inspiring mountains offer an array of sights to see and activities to do. A stay at the luxurious Aman resort with its cobbled streets and sea views, is one of the best ways to enjoy one’s holiday. The islet is connected to the mainland by an isthmus, and entry is exclusive to those checked-in at the resort. The former medieval residential village and its beachfront are hardly caught in a bad light, making it one of the most photographed places in the country.
(In photo: Aman Sveti Stefan)
Copenhagen has been hailed as the world’s most liveable city. It boasts a transport system of the highest quality, one that complements its modern infrastructure and contemporary architecture. Its streets are friendly to those who prefer to bike or walk. Through its canals run clean water, safe for swimming or even drinking, if one so dares. One of the city’s most popular attractions is the statue of the Little Mermaid on Langelinje Pier, inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale. Life in Copenhagen is all about comfort and contentment—true to the Danish concept of hygge.
(In photo: Nyhavn)
Located along the Dalmatian coastline, just outside of Split, is the old town of Trogir in Croatia. Founded by Greek colonists over 2000 years ago, it remains one of the most preserved medieval towns in Europe and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Such is its medieval charm that it served as a location for the trading harbour of Qarth in Game of Thrones. Trogir is home to the Kamerlengo Castle, built in 1420. While the structure itself is hollow, visitors can climb and circle its walls. Apart from its many historical sights, Trogir offers stunning views of cerulean waters via a stroll along the Riva.
(In photo: The Riva)
The Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most luxurious destinations, with breathtaking scenery that manifests what la dolce vita truly is. Arguably the most picturesque among its towns is Positano, home to some of the best hotels and resorts in the world. Pastel-hued boutiques and restaurants cascade down the cliff and onto the beach. The mountaintop town of Ravello, on the other hand, boasts lush greenery and some of the best views of the coast. It is also known for the Duomo di Ravello, a cathedral famed for its bronze doors and marble pulpit. It’ll likewise be a shame not to sample a limoncello from Sorrento, with its abundance of homegrown lemons.
(In photo: Positano)
On a rocky hill in the city of Granada, Spain sits the fortress of Alhambra. The name is derived from al-qala’a al-hamra, an Arabic term for “the red castle.” Alhambra maintains its distinct Moorish style from when the Nasrid dynasty stood on its ground, despite the Christian conquest that took over the space in 1492. To the east of this UNESCO World Heritage site are the magnificent gardens of the Generalife, the former rural residence of the emirs who ruled this part of Spain in the 13th and 14th centuries. If you are lucky, you can catch a flamenco performance among the ruins and the giant cypress trees.
(In photo: Nasrid Palace)
Portugal’s capital of Lisbon is one of the oldest cities in the world, offering interesting architectural sites, the old juxtaposed with the new, some even covered in intricate murals. Alfama, in particular, shows a more traditional side of the city. Lisbon also shines bright—literally: the seven hills that it rests on naturally reflect light, making it the sunniest city in Europe. Lisbon is also proud of its role during the Age of Discovery, when it pioneered in world exploration, and is commemorated by the Padrão dos Descobrimento, a huge monument by the Tagus River, from where ships departed to explore and trade with India and Orient.
(In photo: Belém Tower)