Tag Archives: destination

Back in Time: Here Is How to Enjoy a Long Weekend in Historic London

2018-07-18

For those looking for the perfect way to while away a long weekend, the vast and fascinating history that London has to offer is hard to beat. From ancient relics in its numerous museums to crumbling Roman ruins and glamorous boutique hotels to the oldest pub you’re likely to find, the capital has it all.
London. Photo by vgallova.Photo: vgallova / Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Roman Temple of Mithras

When it comes to sightseeing in London it makes sense to begin chronologically, with the oldest building in the capital. Discovered in 1954 by a team of builders in the heart of the City, the Roman Temple of Mithras is a second-century AD ruin. It was originally built in honour of the Roman God Mithras and was situated on the banks of one of London’s long lost rivers, the Walbrook.

Not too long ago, this ruin was showcased on the top of a multi-storey car park! However the relocation to its original home has certainly been a great success. The ruins of the temple can now be found underneath the ultra-modern Bloomberg Building, alongside a number of notable roman artefacts. With new low level lighting, eerie mist and an atmospheric soundscape, a visit to The Mithraeum is truly like taking a step back in time.
The Mithraeum in London.  Photo by Allan Harris.Travel back in time at the London Mithraeum. Photo: Allan Harris / CC BY-ND 2.0.

Lunch at the Jamaica Winehouse

Just a stones-throw from the Mithraeum is The Jamaica Winehouse. Even though the name might not suggest it, this place is actually famous for being the home of the oldest coffee shop in London, which opened in 1652.

The walk here is a pleasant stroll through winding alleyways and courtyards dating from the middle ages. The façade of the Jamaican Winehouse is charming – now a characterful red sandstone building designed in the Art Nouveau style, the coffee shop has been reborn.

Although Samuel Pepys no longer makes such frequent calls, ‘The Jampot’ as known by locals, is still definitely worth making time to visit. One can now find mainly city workers in the downstairs snug, enjoying the atmosphere and incredible fine dining of Todd’s wine bar. The ground floor is home to a traditional and cosy London pub, with dark wood panelling, serving real ale and simple food.

Lates at the Natural History Museum

It may seem like an obvious choice, and in a sense it is, but have you ever visited a museum after dark? ‘Lates’ at the Natural History Museum run on the last Friday of each month from 18:00 until 22:00 and whilst free, give you the option to pay for perks such as tours of the behind the scenes collections. A fascinating and awe inspiring museum during the day, the museum becomes truly special after dark. Luckily, ‘Lates’ are just for grown-ups, so you can enjoy a tour of the Hintze Hall with a drink in hand.

If a race to the oldest is what you’re hoping for, then the Paleobotany collection at the Natural History Museum is the indisputable winner. In fact, one particular fossil takes that honour. Discovered in 1993, but dating from 3.5 billion years ago, the imprint of cyanobacteria is one of the Earth’s earliest life forms, almost three quarters of the age of the planet itself. It doesn’t get a great deal older than that!
Natural History Museum in London. Photo:  Kathryn Wright.Explore the magnificent Natural History Museum after dark. Photo: Kathryn Wright/ CC BY-ND 2.0

Opulence at Blake’s Hotel

After a first day full of culture, a good night’s sleep is essential. Many of the capital’s hotel buildings are steeped in rich history, so why not choose the most luxury option for your three days in London? Blake’s Hotel is a truly lavish place to spend the night.

Established in 1978 by Anouska Hempel, this timeless design classic was arguably the birth of the ‘couture’ hotel. Constantly updating and changing, but never leaving behind its elegance, a night spent here is luxury in the extreme. Chinoiserie and Western elegance collide in the interiors of the bedrooms – rich drapes and lacquered furniture can be found alongside canopied beds and lustrous gilt finishes. Understated is not what Blake’s aims for.

With day one completed, it’s likely that you’ll have begun to find your bearings around the centre of the city. One of the best parts of any trip is finding little places you stumble upon and there are so many around London’s winding streets it would be impossible to plan for them all. A list of notable places to spend the remainder of your visit can be found below; including plenty of iconic photo opportunities! Take time to pick and choose, part of the joy of travelling are the places we discover when we’re a little lost!

The Geffrye Museum – Meticulously Restored 18th Century Almshouses
www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/explore-the-geffrye/explore-almshouses
Westminster Abbey – 700 year old Coronation Church of England
www.westminster-abbey.org
Lambeth Palace – Residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury
www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/lambeth-palace/visit-lambeth-palace
Dr Johnson’s House – Home of Samuel Johnson, composer of the English Dictionary
www.drjohnsonshouse.org
Sir John Soane’s Museum – Home of 19th Century Architect John Soane
www.soane.org

The most recommended places to visit in each country around the world

2018-06-26

If you want to visit the places that many other people are visiting, these are the most recommended destinations in each country. Tripadvisor collected the data from user comments and compiled a list of the best things to do in countries around the world. There are surprises, for instance, in Paris, the art museum Musee D’Orsay is the number one destination (instead of Eiffel Tower).

Denmark, Copenhagen, NyhavnNyhavn in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Here’s what tourists have recommended for a few countries in Europe that tend to attract travelers.

Denmark: Nyhavn (Copenhagen).
France: Musee d’Orsay (Paris).
Germany: Miniature Wonderland.
Greece: Acropolis Museum (Athens).
Italy: Colosseum (Rome).
Netherlands: Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam).
Portugal: Quinta de Regaleira (Sintra, near Lisbon).
Spain: Basilica Sagrada Familia (Barcelona).
Sweden: Wasa Museum (Stockholm).
Switzerland: Matternhorn (mountain peak).
UK: Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Vouchercloud map of Europe: best sightsMap by VoucherCloud.
If you are planning to travel in southern France instead of Paris, we can recommend the Castle Hill in Nice or the Royal Castle in Monaco as the key sights. This guidebook covers the Riviera region.

For explorers of the Nordic countries, a guide to the Arctic region of Lapland is essential.

In Portugal, Algarve is a popular year-round destination. Sagres is our recommended sight in South Portugal. This travel guide has more details for Algarve.

All the top recommendations around the world by Tripadvisor users presented as a map (by VoucherCloud).
VoucherCloud: map of world. Best places.

The travel destinations and activities that are trending in 2018 according to social media

2018-01-29

In 2017, the travel destination that continuously showed up as a trendy place to go was Portugal. It won so many travel awards that everyone is convinced it really is an exciting destination (if Portugal is a new destination for you, download a travel guide to Algarve, Portugal’s south coast here). The hot travel destinations of 2018 that are trending in social media are located in Europe, America, and in other locations around the world.

river cruise boat in Budapest, photo by Viking River Cruise
Pinterest is a popular social media service for sharing images in albums that may include memories, ideas, plans, wish lists, or product catalogues. Pinterest members save and share tagged photographs on their accounts.

If we search photos on Pinterest that have been saved with a specific tag, for instance, Iceland or Portugal, we get an indication of the destination’s attractiveness. The more photos tagged with Iceland, the more people are paying attention to Iceland. By pinning a photo, Pinterest users are thinking of that particular destination for one reason or another.

According to data listed by Coveteur, the following destinations have seen the biggest increase in photo saves on Pinterest, indicating growing interest for the places and activities.

1. River cruises.
When most tourists think about cruises, they tend to think about the Mediterranean or the Caribbean Sea, but a river cruise along the Nile in Egypt, Rhein in Germany, or perhaps a canal cruise in the Netherlands is certainly a new experience for most travelers.

2. Deserts.
A large number of people are showing interest in visiting a desert, because photo saves have considerably increased for destinations like Morocco, Dubai, Atacama Desert, and Joshua Tree in the US.
Sahara desert. Photo by James Byrum.

3. Mediterranean islands.
The famous islands in the Mediterranean Sea, like Mallorca, Crete, Malta, Sicily and Rhodos are one of the pioneers of mass tourism. Tourists have been flocking to these islands for decades, and still do. The reason is simple, they are still very nice places to spend a vacation. The trending islands in the Mediterranean are, however, the Croatian islands and Mykonos in Greece.
Mykonos island in Greece. Photo by byus.

4. Mexico City.
It is the only city destination that has seen strong growth of interest among Pinterest members.

Mexico City. Photo by Paul Sableman

Via Travel User Guide.

Five new Unesco World Heritage sites located in Europe

2016-10-12

If a destination has been granted the honor of being included in the Unesco World Heritage List, it usually means that the site worth visiting and exploring. Recently, we were traveling in central Spain, and on a chilly morning we arrived in a town called Avila. We hadn’t done any research because we intended to drive through the town. There was, however, something interesting on top of the hill in the town center. Closer inspection revealed that a large ancient town was located inside a kilometers/miles long stone wall. A magnificent travel destination, and a Unesco World Heritage site since 1985.
avila, spain. a walled city
In 2016, five new sites in Europe were granted the title World Heritage Site by Unesco. They are:

Antequera Dolmens Site (Spain) – in Malaga region.
Archaeological Site of Ani (Turkey) – a medieval city on the Armenian border.
Archaeological Site of Philippi (Greece) – in north-eastern Greece.
Gorham’s Cave Complex (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) – the site is in Gibraltar.
Stećci Medieval Tombstones Graveyards (Bosnia and Herzegovina) – 28 sites located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, western Serbia, western Montenegro and central and southern Croatia.

Antequera Dolmens by Feli Garcia

In other parts of the world, the new (nominated in 2016) World Heritage Sites are:

Antigua Naval Dockyard and Related Archaeological Sites (Antigua and Barbuda)
Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara (Nalanda University) at Nalanda, Bihar (India)
Archipiélago de Revillagigedo (Mexico)
Ennedi Massif: Natural and Cultural Landscape (Chad)
Hubei Shennongjia (China)
Khangchendzonga National Park (India)
Lut Desert (Iran (Islamic Republic of))
Mistaken Point (Canada)
Nan Madol: Ceremonial Centre of Eastern Micronesia (Micronesia (Federated States of))
Pampulha Modern Ensemble (Brazil)
Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay – Mukkawar Island Marine National Park (Sudan)
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (Iraq)
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (Argentina)
The Persian Qanat (Iran (Islamic Republic of))
Western Tien-Shan (Kazakhstan) *
Zuojiang Huashan Rock Art Cultural Landscape (China)

To be included on the Unesco World Heritage List, sites must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The ten criteria are:

1) to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius;
2) to exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design;
3) to bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared;
4) to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history;
5) to be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change;
6) to be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance;
7) to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance;
8) to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features;
9) to be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals;
10) to contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.

Where travellers want to go and where they really end up in are two different things

2016-09-26

What we dream of doing and what we actually end up doing are often two different things in real life. Yet, dreaming and planning towards a goal is valuable because it may make us strive for something. This applies to travel as well: the travel destinations that people are most interested in are not the same as the destinations where they decide to travel.
Dubrovnik, Croatia. Port by Maarten Elings.
Top 10 countries where people across the world are interested in as a travel destination:

1. Croatia
2. Greece
3. Turkey
4. Thailand
5. Spain
6. Italy
7. Cuba
8. Portugal
9. Malta
10. United States

The top ten list was produced by Teflsearch that crunched the numbers of travel related Google searches for a whole year (July 2015 – July 2016). They used Google search data to analyse keywords people used in their online queries in 80 countries.

This is probably a good method to reveal what people are dreaming of when they start planning a vacation all the way to the moment when they have decided the destination. People are likely to use search engines in all stages of their vacation planning to find information about sights, activities and accommodation. Once the destination is locked, many travelers also download a travel guide that gives them accurate, reliable information on the chosen destination.

Although the most visited country in the world, France, is not on the top ten list at the moment (probably because of recent attacks in Paris and Nice), the majority of countries still are European. Turkey’s unstable situation may mean that the country drops considerably as a travel destination next time we review the top 10 list, and we expect United Kingdom to rise on the list.
bangkok, river boat tour, temple
The reality differs from dreams and plans. Here are the top 20 travel destinations in the world according to Mastercard:

1 Bangkok
2 London
3 Paris
4 Dubai
5 New York
6 Singapore
7 Kuala Lumpur
8 Istanbul
9 Tokyo
10 Seoul
11 Hong Kong
12 Barcelona
13 Amsterdam
14 Milan
15 Taipei
16 Rome
17 Osaka
18 Vienna
19 Shanghai
20 Prague

Business travel is included in the list, but it makes up around 9-19% of visitors in most of these destinations. In Paris, Tokyo, Milan and Shanghai, the ratio of business travelers is higher, from 20 to 54% in Shanghai.

The big news of the Mastercard 2016 list was that Bangkok topped the list as the most visited destination in the world, dropping London to second.

Instead of tiny islands and white beaches of Greece or sights and beaches of Croatia, the most popular destinations in real life are well-known major cities where probably every traveler wants to go at least once in their lives. Many cities in the top 20 also are favourite destinations for digital nomads.

Top destinations for digital nomads 2016

2016-09-07

The only way to really experience world’s amazing destinations is to go those places by yourself. Digital nomads are people who work while they travel across the world. The new lifestyle has inspired many new businesses and services that aim at assisting mobile workers on their journey.

To save you the hassle of weighing up the pros and cons of popular destinations across the world, here is a list that introduces the world’s top 7 nomad destinations in 2016.

Top 7 Nomad Destinations 2016

Infographic by Blogtrepreneur.

Since we have visited the top 7 cities, here are a few personal remarks on them.

1. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is an affordable city with a food culture that you’ll never forget. Tropical climate and difficult traffic may not please everyone.

2. Prague, Czech Republic
The old town is one of the most magnificent places to stroll for hours. Living in Prague is affordable. Continental climate with warm/hot summers and cold winters.

3. Hong Kong
Everything is business and trade in Hong Kong, so jump on board. Very busy, but well functioning city where you can find anything and everything the world has to offer.

4. Porto, Portugal
Portugal second largest city, the home of delicious Port wine. Mild climate that is rather pleasant through the year with most rain in winter. Porto, and Portugal in general, is an affordable destination.

5. Budapest, Hungary
The cost of living is a delight in Budapest for a nomad who has to work to pay the rent and the food. Summers can be very hot and winters mild.

6. Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei is becoming a megacity where everything under the sun is available. City center can be expensive and not that welcoming, but outside the city beautiful, lush sceneries await.

7. London, UK
A digital nomad who wants to stay in London has to have clients that pay well because the city is one of the most expensive in Europe and the world. As a megacity it is one of the most pleasant ones where people still are friendly and everything (mostly) works (apart from the old underground network that is constantly being repaired).

Top 20 tourist regions in Europe: Spain, France, Italy have the most popular destinations

2016-01-20

Europe is the world’s number one tourist destination, but anyone who has traveled in the culturally rich continent knows how different the countries are. Which countries and which regions exactly are the most visited destinations in Europe? The European Union has vast databases of information on tourism that reveals interesting details where travelers like to spend most of their time.

This particular statistics from EU is calculated from the nights tourists have stayed in hotels, B&B, rental cottages and campgrounds. The number of nights is different than the number of visitors, because the number one destination Canary Islands (Spain) is likely to get at least seven nights per visitor because most travelers fly to the islands and stay there for one or more weeks. That’s why number two destination Ile de France (in practice, Paris) may get more visitors than Canary Islands but since they are likely to stay only a few nights in Paris, the number of nights doesn’t add up to the same level as in the islands.
europe most visited tourist places
Anyhow, the statistics show where tourists really like to spend time (and money), which means there has to be something special in the destination that gets millions of visitors travel there every year. EU has updated the statistics on July 3rd, 2015, but the actual numbers maybe older.

The total number is million nights spent by residents and non-residents in each destination. The blue bar shows the number of nights for hotel accommodation, green for holiday homes and the color of sand for campgrounds.

Top 20 tourist regions of Europe are:

1. Canary Islands, Spain.
2. Ile de France (Paris).
3. Catalonia. The province in Northeast Spain where Barcelona and the Costa Brava are located.
4. Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca).
5. Adriatic Croatia (Jadranska Hrvatska), the coastal region of Croatia.
6. Veneto, Italy. The region around Venice.
7. Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, France. The region where Nice, Monaco, the French Riviera and the Southernmost Alps in France are located.
8. Andalusia, Spain. The province in southern Spain where, for instance, Sevilla, Malaga and Marbella are located.
9. Rhones-Alpes, France. The high Alps, and the city of Lyon in the valley of Rhone.
10. Inner London, UK.
11. Tuscany, Italy. Florence, Siena and other towns on the rolling hills of Tuscany.
12. Valencia region in Spain. For instance, Benidorm, Alicante and Torrevieja are here.
13. Emila Romagna, Italy. Rimini, San Marino, Bologna, Parma are some of the towns in the region.
14. Tirol, Austria. The province in the high Alps, Innsbruck is the largest town.
15. Languedoc-Roussillon, France. The province is bordered by the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
16. Lombardy, Italy. The region where the large lakes of Garda, Lugano and the city Milan meet the Dolomites mountain range.
17. Upper Bavaria, Germany. The region around Munich.
18. Aquitane, France. The province between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees from Biarritz to Bordeaux.
19. Lazio, Italy. The region around Rome.
20. Bolzano, Italy. The high Alps region in Italy.

If we look at the same statistical data and take into account only foreigners who have stayed in another country, the most popular travel destinations in Europe looks a bit different.
europe most visited tourist places, foreigners
Destinations that rise to the Top 20 when only foreigners are taken into account are: Crete (Greece), South Aegean Sea (Notio Aigaio, Greece), Salzburg (Austria), North Netherlands. Other destinations are the same as in the Total Top 20.

If you want to know where residents like spend their vacation in their own countries, here is a statistics for that as well.
europe most visited tourist places, residents

Try something new on your next trip: visit the most unfriendly cities of the world

2015-09-28

Many polls and surveys have asked travelers opinions on the best cities of the world, and the best cities to live in. These polls give you ideas which cities feel easy to digest, look beautiful or have people who are keen to help a tourist. If you look at the tail end of one of these lists, you will find cities that get little or no love from visitors. Travel + Leisure did exactly this: they wanted to discover which cities are the most unfriendly in the world.

The top 10 list of the world’s most unfriendly cities is dominated by U.S., Russian and French destinations:
1. Moscow, Russia
Bad traffic, aloofness and poor culinary culture don’t impress tourists.
Moscow, Russia

2. Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
Not exactly a jewel of the east coast where fast-paced people run gambling businesses.
Atlantic City, New Jersey

3. St Petersburg, Russia
Beautiful city, but language problems and cautious residents don’t welcome visitors.
St Petersburg, Russia

4. Marseille, France
A long history of high crime rates shows, although the city has developed into a cultural destination in recent years.
France

5. Los Angeles, California, USA
Rude people who are trying to scam one another and tourists.
Los Angeles, California

6. New York, USA
Don’t bother to ask for help or advice from a New Yorker.
New York, Manhattan

7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
If you are a sports fan, you better be a fan of a local team or talk about something else.

Philadelphia, Photo by Chris Hunkeler

Philadelphia Night Skyline, Photo by Chris Hunkeler

8. Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Protests kept tourists away from the city.

Baltimore harbor, photo by Beau Considine

Baltimore harbor, photo by Beau Considine

9. Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Seedy nightlife and flamboyant performances didn’t convince visitors.
Las Vegas

10. Cannes, France
Voters didn’t like high prices in Cannes that don’t justify the aging beauty’s charm anymore.
Cannes, France

In order to find friendly and charming towns and villages in southern France, read the travel guide The Gems of Nice and the French Riviera.

View the whole Top 30 list of the worl’d unfriendliest cities at Travel + Leisure web site.

Let a robot take a sightseeing tour in a tourist destination for you

2015-09-15

So little time, so many places, and so limited travel budget. It is impossible to visit every interesting destination on earth personally. What if there was a robot that could visit some of the destinations for you, would you pay for the service? Teletrip is trying to do exactly that: the company is building a network of remote controlled devices that are located in popular tourist spots.

teletrip remote controlled device in new york

Here is how Teletrip works. Teletrip sets up tablets on wheels in popular tourist destinations. The tablets come with special software, and they are connected to the Internet. If you want to see how Avenue des Champs Élysées in Paris really looks like, and a Teletrip device is available on the spot, you can hire it. Teletrip charges you by minute. You logon to the Teletrip site, and control the device that is actually on Champs Élysées. You can move it (it has wheels), rotate and tilt it. The tablet camera shows you the surroundings.

Teletrip is a startup at its early stages, but the concept and a couple of remote controlled devices are ready. The company is asking people around the world to become hosts for Teletrip devices in their neighborhoods. Plans for drones and underwater devices are being sketched as well.

We have traveled a lot, and we will travel a lot. A remote controlled device like Teletrip could help us with planning and researching a trip, but it can’t replace the experience. Google has great tools, like Earth and Street View Maps, making basic research from our own couch convenient. Of course Teletrip gives you a bit more because you can tell it to peek around the corner that Google Street View has missed, but still we are not convinced. Teletrip may have created a technology that works, but it may have better applications than travel.

Introduction video by Teletrip:

Via tnooz.