A New Year is on the horizon, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2022. As you start to plan out your calendar, make your resolutions or set your personal goals it is likely that some type of travel experience is crossing your mind. Whether you’re heading out of town on business, visiting relatives for the holidays, finally taking that long overdue getaway or turning your dream honeymoon into a reality; you will likely need some assistance navigating the current travel environment. Our Team of expert Travel Designers is here to help with as many or as few travel arrangements as you may need. And the first step to planning any trip is identifying the destination. For the past couple of years, we have released a Top Destination Recommendation List (21 for 2021, 20 for 2020) to help educate and inspire our travelers and followers on the diverse variety of incredible experiences that the world has to offer. Each year we raise the bar on ourselves to create the most eclectic list of destinations that offer travelers enriching experiences. We have been painstakingly assembling our list for 2022 over the last month. Now we strongly feel that once again we have compiled a list with some special for every type of traveler. Whether you’re a rugged explorer, beach bunny, social media star, wandering foodie, wine connoisseur or cultural student like us, you’ll want to get to know these destinations. This is truly a destination list like no other. As you read, please keep in mind that this list is not ranked or organized in any particular order. Please enjoy our Top 22 Destination Recommendations for 2022!
Formentera is a dazzlingly pure, get far away from it all island escape. Although it’s only a 30-minute ferry ride away from the popular party haven Ibiza, the two islands feel worlds apart. Formentera has a blissfully languorous pace of life, designed specifically for lazy days spent lounging on some of the world's most exquisite beaches. Nowhere in the Balearics is the lure of the sea more compelling than here, where frost-colored slithers of sand are smoothed by water in unbelievable shades of blue with flowing glimmers of green that will have you itching to take a dip. Tourism here is built off of sustainability and environmental ethics. Hotel numbers are strictly restricted, new construction is tightly controlled and most visitors are limited to exploring the 12.5 miles long island via two wheels. There are only a few sightseeing points of interest and very little nightlife, Formentera is more about reveling in barefoot bohemian living. It’s the kind of the place where if you ask people what they've done this week, they’re likely to smile and simply reply “Nothing. It was amazing!”.
Berlin mesmerizes travelers with its combination of grit and glamour. The city’s mix of vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, world-class cuisine, late-night parties and substantial historical importance is tough to match. Bismarck, Marx, Einstein, JFK and Bowie were all shaped by and at the same time helped to shape Berlin. This city’s deeply textured history awaits you around every corner. This is the city that staged a revolution, once headquartered the Nazis, was later bombed to rubble, became divided into two separate cities and finally was reunified better than ever. And all of that was just in the 20th century! Today, Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps. Berliners love nothing more than a good time. The city's diverse party scene caters for every taste, budget and demographic. From intimate basement clubs to industrial size techno temples, laidback beer gardens to fancy cocktail caverns, racy cabarets to symphonic concert halls; Berlin delivers unbridled entertainment experiences 24/7. Berlin’s creativity does end at sunrise. In the last 20 years, the city has become a giant lab of cultural experimentation thanks to a spirit that nurtures and encourages new ideas. From lowbrow to highbrow, there’s plenty of room for the full gambit of cultural expression in Berlin.
Mérida has been the cultural capital of the entire Yucatán Peninsula ever since the Spanish conquest in the early 1500’s. A delightful blend of provincial and cosmopolitan, it is a town steeped in colonial history. It's a great place to explore, with narrow streets, broad central plazas and the region’s best museums. Nicknamed “ciudad blanca” (white city) after the predominantly white structures that made up the heart of the old city. Today these buildings seem to be outnumbered by droves of colorful pastel painted dwellings, which adds much vibrancy to the aesthetic of Mérida’s colonial center. Mérida is also the perfect place to kick off your adventure into the rest of the Yucatán state from. It has excellent cuisine and accommodations, thriving local markets, and tons of special events happening just about every night. Long popular with European travelers looking to go beyond the hubbub of Quintana Roo’s resort towns, Mérida is a tourist town, but a tourist town too big to feel like a tourist trap. Mérida is also the cultural crossroads of the region, which seems to have elevated its intellectual, artistic and creative perspectives. Influences from Mérida can be seen throughout the rest of the Yucatán.
St George’s, Bermuda
Bermuda is a small string of islands bathed in the balmy turquoise waters of the Sargasso Sea. This island nation is ringed by reefs that are treacherous to ships. Bermuda has more shipwrecks per square mile than other place in the world. The number of derelict vessels and the unique makeup of the reefs themselves, make it one of the world's top diving destinations. Towns on the island are lined with multi-colored houses and stately mansions drowning in lush greenery and fragrant frangipani and bougainvillea, their step-like white roofs poised to catch rainwater, Bermuda feels like a genteel chunk of rural England that was accidently teleported onto an Atlantic Island. But it's much more diverse than that, with British, North American, African, Portuguese and West Indian influences adding to the unique cultural hodgepodge. In spite of its tiny size, Bermuda has a lot to offer travelers. Step back in time as you stroll the centuries-old brick streets of the Town of St. George, Bermuda's former capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The well-preserved historic town and nearby fortress make St. George's and the East End a haven for British colonial architecture, history and culture abound. Discover many unique natural attractions including Iconic pink-sand beaches, the limestone formations of Tobacco Bay Beach, Tom Moore’s Jungle and the Crystal Caves of Bermuda. Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve and Ferry Reach National Park are both flush with flora and birdlife, including several rare species. Be inspired by Bermuda’s exhilarating outdoor adventures throughout its 21 square miles of natural beauty.
Crete is a tapestry of splendid beaches, ancient treasures and majestic landscapes, weaving in vibrant cities and dreamy villages, where locals share their traditions, wonderful cuisine and generous spirit. There’s something undeniably artistic in the way the Cretan landscape unfolds, from the sun-drenched beaches in the north to the rugged canyons spilling out at the cove-carved and cliff-lined southern coast. In between, valleys cradle moody villages, and round-shouldered hills are the overture to often snow-dabbed mountains. Take it all in on a driving tour, trek through Europe’s longest gorge, hike to the cave where Zeus was born or cycle among orchards on the Lasithi Plateau. Leave time to plant your footprints on a sandy beach, snorkel and boat or kayak in the crystalline waters. Crete’s natural beauty is equaled only by the richness of its history. The island is the birthplace of the first advanced society on European soil, the Minoans, who ruled some 4000 years ago. You’ll find evocative vestiges all over, most famously at the Palace of Knossos. At the crossroads of three continents, Crete has been coveted and occupied by consecutive invaders. History imbues Hania and Rethymno, where labyrinthine lanes are lorded over by mighty fortresses, and where gorgeously restored Renaissance mansions rub rafters with mosques and Turkish bathhouses. The Byzantine influence stands in magnificent frescoed chapels, churches and monasteries. If you’re a foodie, you will be in heaven in Crete, where ‘locavore’ is not a trend but a way of life. Rural tavernas often produce their own meat, cheese, olive oil, raki and wine, and catch their own seafood. Follow a gourmet trail across the landscape and you’ll delight in distinctive herbs and greens gathered from each hillside, cheeses made fresh with unique village- or household-specific recipes, and honey flavored by mountain herbs. The Cretan diet is among the healthiest in the world. Pair your meal with excellent local wine, and cap it off with a fiery shot of raki. Untouched by mass tourism, villages are the backbone of Cretan culture and identity – especially those tucked in the hills and mountains. The island's spirited people still champion many of their unique customs, and time-honored traditions remain a dynamic part of daily life. Look for musicians striking up a free-form jam on local instruments, such as the stringed lyra (lyre), or wedding celebrants weaving their traditional regional dances. Meeting regular folk gossiping in kafeneia (coffee houses), preparing their Easter feast, tending to their sheep or celebrating during the island’s many festivals is what makes a visit to Crete so special.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap was always destined for greatness. The name of the city literally means Siamese defeated, referring to the victory of the Khmer Empire over the army of the Thai kingdom in the 17th century. Siem Reap province is located in northwest Cambodia, the provincial capital is also called Siem Reap and is located in the South of the province on the shores of the Tonle Sap Lake. It is the major tourist hub in Cambodia as it serves as the gateway for the temples of Angkor. At the turn of the millennium Siem Reap was a Cambodian provincial town with very limited facilities, few surfaced roads and little in the way of nightlife. The proximity to the Angkorian ruins turned Siem Reap into a boomtown in less than half a decade. Now there is plenty to do in and around the city besides visiting the temples. Siem Reap has reinvented itself as the epicenter of chic Cambodia, with everything from backpacker party pads to hip hotels, wining and dining options across a range of cuisines, sumptuous spas, great shopping, local tours for all types of travelers and a creative cultural scene that includes Cambodia's leading contemporary circus. Property values have soared to European levels and tourism has become a vast, lucrative industry. The Siem Reap of today is barely recognizable from the Siem Reap of the early 2000’s. There are endless choices of accommodations, places to dine and activities for any visitor. Despite its drastic growth and expansion, Siem Reap remains a safe, friendly and pleasant town. And of course, you still have the temples of Angkor to explore. Angkor is a place to be savored, not rushed. Many visitors spend three days or more exploring the temple complex and Siem Reap is the best base to plan your adventures from.
Nice is unlike anywhere else in France. The city takes old-world opulence and combines it with a dynamic street life set in a stunning seaside location with sunshine all year round. Before the city developed into the metropolis that it is today there was the sea and the Mediterranean climate. The main two factors that made Nice a tourist draw as early as the 1700s. Look around and you’ll still find the same elemental attractions that drew Europe's classical aristocrats to the waterfront in horse-drawn carriages. Even today, nothing compares to the simple joy of a refreshing beach day interspersed with a spot of people-watching from the Promenade des Anglais' famous blue chairs. Whether you're skating, kayaking, swimming, sprawled on a beach lounger or simply watching the sunset over the Med, everything is happening by the water. Nice is the perfect hybrid city for lovers of both Italian and French cultures. It has long been affiliated with Piedmont and Liguria to the east, Savoy to the north and Sardinia to the south, the city only joined France in 1860. Most visitors would say that Nice still has one foot stuck in Italy. You can find Italian influences in everything from architecture to cuisine and local customs. The Côte d'Azur has ensnared many a visitor with the beauty of its light. Art museums are abound throughout the region, Nice's three superstars – the Musées Matisse, Chagall and d’Art Moderne – are reason enough to justify an aesthetic pilgrimage here. Be sure to bring your appetite when you come to Nice. This city is meant for foodies. The city celebrates its uniqueness with street snacks like socca, pissaladière or tourte de blettes, while its countless cozy bistros serve everything from hearty Provençal beef stew to true salade niçoise and vegan cheesecake.
Bocas del Toro Island, Panama
Bocas del Toro is everything that embodies tropical island life. This is Panama’s principal tourist draw and it will no doubt provide you the country’s most memorable experiences. The archipelago consists of six densely forested islands, scores of uninhabited islets and the Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos, Panama’s oldest marine park. In Bocas, expect to find a relatively undeveloped landscape housing many of the country’s most popular beaches and a friendly, laid-back vibe. There are three main islands in Bocas Del Toro: The main island, Isla Colon is the longtime base of the Chiquita Banana company; Isla Bastimentos, which is one of the largest islands in Panama; and the small island of Isla Carenero. The mainland portion of Bocas boasts the Parque Internacional La Amistad, a nature reserve shared with Costa Rica. It's also home to diverse wildlife like the elusive jaguar, traditional Ngöbe-Buglé settlements, and the Naso, one of few remaining American tribes with its own monarch. Most visitors come for a hefty dose of sun and surf. And few leave disappointed with the Bocas offering of fun in the sun, refreshing waters and accessible luxury, but there's a lot more to what might be Panama's most beautiful corner. Bocas Del Toro is home to a natural laboratory for evolutionary study and climate change, as well as Panama's first Mission Blue Hope Spot, a program that focuses on the rehabilitation and preservation of the marine ecosystem. While visiting Bocas Del Toro, you can spend your days exploring the local nature, and your evenings enjoying the nightlife. If you’re an experienced diver, you may be able to take a science dive with the Smithsonian. For more accessible marine activity, head to Isla Bastimentos National Park, where you can surf, snorkel and dive. With 95% of the Caribbean coral species found in Bocas del Toro, you can expect to see a wonderful variety of tropical reef creatures including nurse sharks, stingrays and many species of crab and lobster. For even more variety, take a bioluminescent tour, or explore the Nivida Bat Cave.
Sorrento is a beautiful, civilized resort town. It has a more seasoned and refined traveler profile than a lot of other cities in Italy. Even the souvenirs are a cut above the norm, with plenty of fine old-world shops selling the ceramics, lacework and intarsio (marquetry items) that are famously produced here. Tourism has a long history here. It was a compulsory stop on the 19th-century 'Grand Tour' and interest in the town was first sparked by the poet Byron, who inspired a long line of other holidaying literary geniuses including Goethe, Dickens and Tolstoy. All flocking to the shore to sample the Sorrentine air. While it lies on the coast facing the Bay of Naples, Sorrento doesn’t have a largescale public beach. Instead, Sorrento’s beaches are small and often crowded, particularly in the summer months. To enjoy the truly beautiful beaches in the area, you just have to follow the road less traveled out of the center of Sorrento though. Here you’ll find tiny pristine beach coves that appear untouched and feel like a private oasis. Arguably even better than the hidden beaches, is the vantage point of Sorrento itself. The town straddles the cliffs overlooking the water to Naples and Mt Vesuvius. The views are picturesque wherever you look. Sorrento also makes a good base for exploring the region's other highlights: to the south is the best of the peninsula’s unspoiled countryside, to the east is the Amalfi Coast, to the north lies Pompeii and other archaeological sites, and offshore lies the fabled island of Capri. Sorrento is the perfect setting for a Honeymoon or Destination Wedding. The romance that inspired literary classics persists. Wander through Piazza Tasso on any given Sunday and you’ll be exposed to one of Italy’s finer strolls as you pass palatial hotels and simple Campanian restaurants serving gnocchi alla sorrentina finished off with a shot of ice-cold limoncello.
Miyako Island, Japan
Miyako Island is known for having the best beaches in Japan and as a great destination for snorkeling or diving in the coral reefs. Yonaha Maehama Beach is the most popular, it is truly exquisite and has been called by many the most beautiful beach in the Far East. Located less than 200 miles south of Okinawa Main Island and 60 miles north of the Yaeyama Islands, Miyako’s sub-tropical climate provides enjoyable mild weather all year around. Miyako is the fourth largest island in the Okinawa Prefecture. It lacks any major hills or mountains and is mostly covered by sugar cane fields and a few small towns, Hirara is the largest with a moderate range of restaurants and bars. Resort hotels and pensions are found all across the island. Unlike other parts of Okinawa, Miyako is free of venomous habu snakes. While the beaches are Miyako’s most famous attraction, the island also offers a small range of places of natural beauty and unique cultural interest. Additionally, the island has a couple of iconic bridges that connect it to neighboring islands including the Irabu Bridge, which is Japan's longest toll-free bridge. Fans of fauna flock to Miyakojima City Tropical Plant Garden to marvel at over 1,500 species of exotic tropical plants. In the evening, toast your travel companions with locally made Japanese shochu while you nibble on specialty soba noodles. Its also important to note that Miyako Beef is counted among the best kinds of Japanese wagyu beef, acclaimed for its extremely high quality. The cows are raised on beautifully maintained island pastures and enjoy life comfortably in the mild Miyako climate.
Copenhagen is the epitome of Scandinavian cool. Modernist lamps light New Nordic tables, bridges buzz with cycling commuters and eye-candy locals dive into pristine waterways. In just over a decade, Copenhagen has gone from a dining scene dud to a culinary powerhouse. The Danish capital houses more than 15 Michelin-starred restaurants, more than any other Scandinavian capital. In recent years, sous chefs from numerous high-profile kitchens have spread their own wings, opening a string of thrilling new eateries where culinary prowess comes with a more approachable price tag. Across the city, a wave of eateries are plating pure, organic produce from their own greenhouses, gardens and farms. Among them is the reincarnation of New Nordic maverick Noma. Come curious, come hungry. Only here does the morning rush of cyclists look more like a runway show on wheels. When it comes to style and fashion, it's hard to beat Copenhagen's denizens. Few people have such a knack for effortless cool, driven by a reverence for simplicity, detail and understated beauty. These tenets drive everything from Copenhagen's painfully hip streetwear labels, its world-famous furniture and lighting, to its grassroots ceramics and glassware. Together they have created a city of endless visual pleasures. A place where even the most mundane activities are laced with a sense of quiet wonder and delight. When cities seek enlightenment, they commonly look to Copenhagen for guidance. The hometown of architect Jan Gehl, one of the world's leading authorities on sustainable urban planning, Copenhagen regularly tops world livability lists. After all, this is one of the globe's greenest, cleanest, most sustainable urban centers, a place where cycling is serious transport, where buses and the metro run frequently and around the clock, and where the harbor is squeaky clean enough for a bracing dip. Leaving the sprawl to cities like Melbourne and LA, Copenhagen wisely keeps things compact and accessible, making it a super-easy place to explore. From Viking treasures in a former prince's palace to iconic Danish chairs in a one-time baroque hospital, Copenhagen's cultural offerings are rich and eclectic. Snoop around royal palaces crammed with blue-blood jewels and art, muse on the world's largest collection of Danish Golden Age paintings or get up close and personal with the finest collection of ancient Egyptian sculptures in northern Europe. Copenhagen is also home to Scandinavia's largest collection of Islamic art, which is casually tucked away in a private collector's neoclassical mansion. There are so many contemporary marvels to discover in the city.
Douro Valley, Portugal
The Douro Valley region is simply one of the most glorious spots on earth. Established in 1756, it’s one of the world’s oldest demarcated wine regions. The Douro River and the Douro Valley are known primarily for producing Port, a sweet wine that has been produced here for two thousand years. The Alto (upper) Douro, also known as the “Douro Vinhateiro” is dominated by big placards on the hillsides bearing the names of famous Port producers such as Cockburns, Taylors and Sandeman. The spectacular landscape is characterized by improbably steep terraces covered in vines and dotted with wine-producing farms called quintas. Hills fall steeply to the water's edge and the region becomes more and more sparsely populated as it travels inland from the coast. Local presunto (smoked hams) and chouriço (spicy sausages) are often on the menu local restaurants. The Douro Valley can be accessed by roads that zig-zag up and down the steep hills, although it is probably easier and certainly more scenic to travel by rail or boat. The Linha do Douro is one of Europe's great rail journeys, connecting Porto with the towns of Rio Tinto, Ermesinde, Valongo, Paredes, Penafiel, Livracao, Marco de Canaveses, Pinhão, Régua, Tua and Pocinho. The one hundred- and eight-mile route joins the river at Mosteiro and runs alongside it climbing steeply and travelling around unbelievably sharp horse-shoe bends. River Cruises set out regularly from Porto to points along the Douro, cruises vary from a few hours to several days. The Douro Alto was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, in recognition of the spectacular beauty of both the natural and built landscape and the industrial heritage associated with the Port producing industry. The Douro Vinhateiro is a microclimate where olives, almonds and grapes all grow easily. The 'capital' of the Douro Valley is a town called Peso da Régua, which is dominated by a huge Sandeman's logo perched on top of a hill, straddles the river and has a lively selection of waterside cafes and bars. It is also home to the headquarters of the Port Wine Institute. Historically, It was here that wines were collected before being transported downriver to Porto. Come to the Douro Valley for the ports and wines but stay for the winding scenic roads, postcard-pretty villages and excellent regional restaurants.
Bwindi National Park is home to nearly half the world’s surviving mountain gorillas. Located in the southwestern part of Uganda on the rim of the Rift Valley, the hillsides which are mist-covered are sheltered by one of the oldest and biologically divervse rainforests in Uganda that dates back more than 25,000 years. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of East Africa’s most famous national parks. Spread across just over 200 square miles of improbably steep mountain rainforest, the park is home to an estimated 340 gorillas. It is undoubtedly Uganda’s biggest tourist draw. In addition to its famous primates, the park is also home to over 120 other mammal species, the largest assortment of wildlife of any national park in the region. The word “Bwindi” means “darkness” and taking a hike through this lush rainforest will certainly show you the meaning behind its name. Sighting all the species can be challenging due to the denseness of the rainforest but if you’re lucky you have the opportunity of seeing 11 other primate species (including chimpanzees and L’Hoest’s monkeys), duikers, bushbucks, African golden cats, forest elephants and the rare giant forest hog. For birdwatchers it’s one of the most exciting destinations in the country, with over 350 species, including 23 of the 24 endemics to the Albertine Rift and several other endangered species, such as the African green broadbill. Several travelers have reported sighting daily totals of more than 150 different species in one visit. On the greener side of the aisle, Bwindi also offers sanctuary to eight endemic plants. This experience is a far cry from the jeep safari experience in Southern Africa. A certain level of physical fitness and an adventurous spirit are required to participate in this gorilla trekking expedition, as it requires climbing steep terrain. The experience is very special and is becoming one of the most coveted bucket list items for nature lovers. While in Uganda you can also enjoy a more standard safari experience in Kidepo National Park, Murchison Falls National Park, Queen Elizabeth National Park or Lake Mburo National Park.
Antalya, the largest city on Turkey's western Mediterranean coastline, is both classically beautiful and stylishly modern. Once seen simply as the gateway to the Turkish Riviera, Antalya today is very much a destination in its own right. At its core is it’s wonderfully preserved old-city district of Kaleiçi, which offers atmospheric accommodations in the finely restored Ottoman houses on its winding lanes. The old city wraps around a splendid Roman-era harbor with clifftop views of hazy-blue mountain silhouettes that are worth raising a toast to. The area around the city is known as the Turkish Riviera for a good reason. It experiences hot and dry summers and mild rainy winters and a typically Mediterranean climate throughout the year. Antalya on average experiences around 300 sunny days every year, making it a great spot for Sun worshippers. Most of these tourists visiting Antalya flock to Konyaalti Beach and Lara Beach. Both offer many restaurants, bars and a variety of leisure activities. The rest of the region around Antalya is brimming with a variety of natural beauty. The city itself sits atop tall coastal cliffs, boasting vista views of the Taurus Mountains and is home to the spectacular Düden Waterfalls. Just outside the city you will find canyons, wild rivers, and alluring national parks. The landscape isn’t just breathtaking to enjoy while hiking, there are numerous adventure tours offering white water rafting, canyoning, climbing and other outdoor experiences. Turkey as a whole, is loaded with numerous UNESCO heritage sites and historical remnants. And Antalya is no exception, the city was once a major settlement in the Byzantine Empire and later the Ottoman Empire. Travelers can enjoy several preserved artifacts and visit structures that date back to the early 3rd Century. The mixture of ancient history with a thriving contemporary culture and glorious beaches make Antalya one of Turkey’s must-see cities.
Cartagena is the undisputed queen of South America’s Caribbean coast, a historic city of wonderfully preserved beauty lying within an equally impressive 8 miles of centuries-old colonial stone walls. Cartagena's Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage Site, a labyrinth of cobbled alleyways, bougainvillea covered balconies and massive churches that cast their shadows across leafy plazas. Cartagena is known for bringing together the charm of its colonial architecture, the excitement of a vivid night life, fascinating cultural festivals and lush landscapes to bring travelers the perfect vacation experience. The city is the scene of a number of important world-class events, there’s always something to do in Cartagena. This is a place to ensure you spread your time equally between sightseeing routines and leisurely strolling through the Old Town, day and night. Soak up all of the city’s atmosphere, pausing only to ward off the sometimes-brutal humidity or to stop in one of the city's many excellent bars and restaurants. When night falls over the city, the charm of Cartagena’s colonial area is perfect for taking a horse drawn carriage ride, an experience that will transport you back in time. Holding its own against any other city as the continent's most enthralling and impressively preserved historic city, Cartagena is hard to walk away from. The city seizes you in its enthralling clutches and refuses to let go. If you manage to escape the city, the city’s beaches will beckon. Inviting you to unwind and enjoy yourself in the refreshing breeze and warm waters of the sea. Cartagena also has several archipelagos and islands nearby that are perfect paradises for true rest. Among these are Tierra Bomba Island, Múcura Islan, and Barú Island.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Proudly modern and cosmopolitan, Abu Dhabi is the UAE's forward-thinking cultural heart where nothing stands still, except perhaps the herons in its mangroves. The name Abu Dhabi means 'Land of the Gazelle' in Arabic. The story goes that the emirate was founded when a young antelope led a wandering tribe to fresh water on an island with no more than 300 Barasti huts, a few coral buildings and the Ruler's fort. That modest island settlement has since been transformed into the gleaming high-rise capital of the United Arab Emirates. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, with its globe-trotting collection covering the breadth of humanity's artistic achievements, finally threw open its doors in 2017. It's the first of the city's planned mega-museum projects to open and a major feather in Abu Dhabi's cap as it pushes to become the region's cultural leader. Opulent, dramatic and no expense spared: the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a triumph of Islamic architecture for the modern world. Architectural nods to all the great Islamic empires of past from Fatimid Egypt to South Asia's Mughal dynasty are represented among its blinding white marble facade, but this is a mosque thoroughly of and for the 21st century, with striking contemporary artistry at its heart. For the adrenaline junkie, Yas Island provides enough distractions to keep even the most dedicated thrill-seeker happy. This is the setting for the famed Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the track hallowed ground for Formula One fans. Year-round there are opportunities to hop in the driving seat yourself and make your own Yas Marina Circuit memories. Off the track, Ferrari World and its speed-freak favorite Formula Rossa roller coaster plus Warner Bros World provide full-on family entertainment with enough rides to wear out kids and adults alike. There's no need to leave the city for a beach-break, Abu Dhabi offers a swath of sand for everyone. Saadiyat Island has one of the nicest slices of public beach (with a minimal fee) while Al Bateen, the Corniche and the brand-spanking-new beach on Hudayriat Island offer up completely free swags of sandy fun. On the water, Abu Dhabi's Mangrove National Park showcases a completely different face to a city more known for glinting glass-and-steel skyscrapers than nature. Keep your eyes peeled for flamingos, heron and scuttling crabs as you explore the waterways of this vast forest by kayak. Abu Dhabi offers a mix of ancient history, rich culture and heritage, stunning nature, beautiful beaches, high-end luxury, surprising wildlife, family-friendly adventure, world-class shopping, renowned golf courses and a welcoming atmosphere.
Edinburgh is a city begging to be discovered. Filled with quirky, tempting nooks that are alluring on the surface but still have to be explored a bit further to be fully appreciated. Draped across a series of rocky hills overlooking the sea, Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. It’s a town intimately entwined with its landscape, with buildings and monuments perched atop steep cliffs and yet still overshadowed by surrounding cliffs. From the Old Town’s picturesque jumble of medieval tenements piled high along the Royal Mile, its turreted skyline strung between the black, bull-nosed Castle Rock and the russet palisade of Salisbury Crags, to the New Town’s neat grid of neoclassical respectability, the city offers a constantly changing perspective. Nicknamed “The Athens of the North” by the great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th-century. Edinburgh is a city of high culture and lofty ideals, of art and literature, philosophy and science. Home to the world's biggest arts festival and the Scottish parliament but also known as Auld Reekie. Auld Reekie represents the city’s fun-loving side made up of loud crowded pubs, decadent restaurants, late-night drinking, all-night parties, beer-fueled poets and foul-mouthed comedians. Like a favorite movie, Edinburgh is a city you’ll want to see again and again, savoring a different experience each time. Captivated by the castle silhouetted against a blue spring sky with a yellow haze of daffodils misting the slopes below the esplanade one time; stumbling out of a late-night club into a summer dawn with only the yawp of seagulls to break the unexpected silence another time or heading to a cafe on a chill December morning with the fog snagging the spires of the Old Town. The possibilities are as boundless as you’re prepared to handle.
Koh Samui, Thailand
Phuket, Thailand's largest island, is so diverse you may never want to leave. Jade-hued waves conceal never ending rainbows of fish and its wash white-gold beaches are wrapped in Phuketian heritage. The pearly white, palm fringed beaches that ring Phuket's southern and western coasts are the island's key bounty. Each beach on the island is different, from the northwest's upmarket Surin and Ao Bang Thao (with their luxe resorts and beach clubs) to mellow, jungled Rawai on far south Phuket, or the infamous west-coast sin city of Patong, home of hangovers and go-go bars. There's space for everyone, whether you're a backpacking couple, a luxury jetsetter, a wandering budgeteer or a travelling family on the hunt for seaside fun. Of course those tropical beaches are glorious, but venture just a little beyond and you'll uncover astonishing cultural riches that many visitors zip right past. East-coast capital Phuket Town delights with its eye-opening museums, Peranakan cooking, Chinese shrines and historic mansions and shophouses done in characteristic Sino-Portuguese style. Major temples stand in Chalong and Thalang, while two national parks and a smattering of wildlife sanctuaries await exploration in the island's northern reaches. Even a speedy trip up into the hills behind Kata to Big Buddha connects you to modern-day Phuket's pulse. In Phuket, Thai cuisine takes on its own distinct character. Soulful, spicy, salty southern-Thai cooking collides with Chinese and Malay flavors and influences. This interaction leads you to find Thai-style dim sum or roti dipped in curry for breakfast, along with local culinary creations like mèe pad hokkien (stir-fried hokkien noodles in a broth), mŏo hong (pepper-and-garlic-braised pork), mèe gaang pôo (crab-meat curry with noodles) and pàk miang (scrambled spinach-like leaves). You'll also uncover a world of exquisite fusion menus, elegant international cuisine and freshly caught seafood.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague's maze of cobbled lanes and hidden courtyards is a paradise for the aimless wanderer, always inviting you to explore a little further. Just a few blocks away from the Old Town Square you can stumble across ancient chapels, unexpected gardens, cute cafes and old-fashioned bars with hardly a tourist in sight. One of the great joys of the city is its potential for exploration. Neighborhoods such as Vinohrady and Bubeneč can reward the urban adventurer with countless memorable moments, from the setting sun glinting off church domes, to the strains of Dvořák wafting from an open window. The 1989 Velvet Revolution that freed the Czechs from communism bequeathed to Europe a gem of a city to stand beside stalwarts such as Rome, Paris and London. Not surprisingly, visitors from around the world have come in droves, and on a hot summer's day it can feel like you’re sharing Charles Bridge with half of humanity. But even the crowds can’t take away from the spectacle of a 14th-century stone bridge, a hilltop castle and the lovely Vltava River. Prague’s beauty inspired one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of 19th-century classical music, Smetana’s Moldau symphony. Some of the best beer in the world keeps getting better. Since the invention of Pilsner Urquell in 1842, the Czechs have been famous for producing some of the world's finest brews. But the internationally famous brand names – Urquell, Staropramen and Budvar – have been equalled, and even surpassed, by a bunch of regional Czech beers and microbreweries that are catering to a renewed interest in traditional brewing. Never before have Czech pubs offered such a wide range of brews, somes names you'll have to make note of include Kout na Šumavě, Primátor, Únětice and Matuška.
Iquique will steal your heart. Spend your days in front of the ocean sunbathing on a deck chair, exploring the Pacific seabed scuba diving, or hop on a jet ski to ride the waves. On Iquique’s beaches nothing seems impossible and the nightlife is intensely felt in the coastal city’s bohemian establishments. Everywhere you go in Iquique there is a constant cultural mix. Somehow the city brings together barefoot surfers, paragliding pros, casino snobs and frenzied merchants. Located in a golden crescent of coastline 1151 miles north of Santiago and 196 miles south of Arica, it is squeezed between the ocean and the desolate brown coastal range rising up abruptly behind it. Iquique is Chile's premier beach resort area. From the beachfront boardwalk to its glitzy casinos, Iquique offers more activities than any sane person can take on in a week. The big draw here is definitely the swaths of pitch-perfect beach, which also happen to offer some of the best surfing around. Refurbished Georgian-style architecture from the 19th-century mining boom is remains preserved, and the more modern Baquedano pedestrian strip sports charming wooden sidewalks. Enjoy its fine cuisine in restaurants overlooking the ocean and treat yourself with a traditional mango sour. Tropical fruits like guavas, grapefruits and lemons are are among the city’s locally grown treasures. Iquique’s duty-free status is its second strongest appeal to international tourists. Visit its Free Trade Zone, a business center for Mercosur and Asia Pacific countries, a true shopping paradise, where you will find everything from electronic products to fine perfumes.
Entwined with the Baltic's bays, inlets and islands, Helsinki's boulevards and backstreets overflow with magnificent architecture, intriguing drinking and dining venues and groundbreaking design. Finland is famous for its stylish functional and streamlined design. In the 20th century, pioneers such as Alvar and Aino Aalto cemented its reputation, and the capital remains the country's creative hub. Helsinki's design scene is one of the most electrifying in the world today, and a major influence across the globe. Boutique workshops and galleries filled with glassware, lighting, textiles and innovative homewares proliferate in the Design District just south of the city center in Punavuori. This area is home to Helsinki's superb Design Museum and its influences can be seen throughout the area in its thoroughfares and repurposed industrial spaces. Taking its cues from the design scene, architecture in Helsinki is flourishing. Contemporary highlights include the Kiasma museum of contemporary art (1998) and concert hall Musiikkitalo (2011). Finland's art-nouveau movement centered around the concept of National Romanticism left a glorious legacy of buildings from the early 1900’s that are all woven into the city's fabric. Locally sourced, seasonal, sustainably farmed and foraged ingredients might be red-hot worldwide trends today, but in Finland they have long been a way of life. Wildlife such as reindeer, elk, bear and snow grouse, along with shoals of fish such as salmon and freshwater arctic char, find their way onto plates here, together with forest mushrooms, bushels of berries, including lingonberries and prized cloudberries, herbs and specialties such as tar. Truly Finnish flavors can be found all over Helsinki, from a historic kauppahalli (covered market) to venerable restaurants, creative bistros and Michelin-starred gastronomy labs, in addition to international cuisines. While it's a culturally-packed urban center, Helsinki is surrounded by a sublime natural environment that's easily reached from every part of the city. Opportunities to get active abound from boating to its archipelago's islands, strolling along its beaches and through its extensive parks and gardens or hiking in its surrounding forests. When snow blankets the city in winter and the seas freeze, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, ice skating and ice fishing on the many bays are all invigorating ways to keep warm while staying in touch with nature.
Skardu exemplifies the serenity and beauty of untouched wilderness. Located in the extreme north of Pakistan the central valley of Gilgit-Baltistan offers paths to some of the world’s highest mountains including K2, K3, and Gasherbrum. All of these iconic peaks are connected through this valley. These towering mountains attract thousands of climbers from all over the world each year. All seeking the opportunity to push to the limit of their abilities. Visitors to the valley are greeted with several small streams, babbling springs and the warm hospitality of the local people. The contrast between the blue waters and high reaching snow capped mountains creates a panoramic feast for the eyes or camera lens. The beauty of the valley is further enhanced by blooming fruit trees, Tibetan and Islamic historical sites, pristine lakes, and pleasant weather throughout most of the year. Skardu is all about getting out and enjoying the scenery. Most visitors come for mountain climbing or hiking but in the summer Lake Kachura, Mantokha waterfall and other bodies of water are also popular. In the winter the roads to Skardu are often impassable. Travelers who visit during this time of year tend to head to Sarfranga Cold Desert or one the glacier sites. The majestic valley also has impressive glaciers in Baltoro, Gyari and Gyong in the Siachen region. Ft. Shigar and Buddha Rock are other popular highlights in Skardu.